Neal Martin Headlines
1) 2015 excellent vintage although not as consistent as 2009 or 2010. Possibly beating the 2005s.
2) Margaux, Pessac-Léognan, St Emilion and Pomerol produced the best wines.
3) Top 2015s compete with top 2009 & 2010s.
Neal’s Memorable Names
1) Château Belair-Monange
The first vintage since J-P Moueix acquired the estate in 2011, where the wine reminded me why this vineyard was ranked among the greatest in Saint Emilion.
2) Château Canon
Last September I tasted a number of vintages of Canon back to 1929 and guess what... The 2015 Canon trounces them all. Winemaker Nicolas Audebert has overseen a benchmark wine that should serve as a wake-up call to his Saint Emilion neighbors. Canon is back and it is gunning for the top rank.
3) Chateau Cheval Blanc
How arrogant. No second wine in 2015. Was every lot worthy of the grand vin? I sharpened my pencil in preparation to pick out faults, tasted the barrel sample and hastily put pencil back into pocket.
4) Château Figeac
Winemaker Frédéric Faye, together with the Manoncourt family and Michel Rolland, has reinvigorated Figeac. He has produced an astonishing 2015 that revels in a growing season that favored both Figeac's terroir and vineyard composition. It is a wine that looks forward without forgetting the past.
5) Chateau Haut Brion
Pessac-Léognan produced a bevy of outstanding wines in 2015 and it is no surprise that the "king" produced a wine that marries intensity with finesse and personality. Granted, there are plenty of "princes" in 2015, but in 20-30 years' time, this will be counted among the canon of magnificent wines from this timeless estate.
6) Château Margaux
do not read my glowing review of Chateau Margaux presuming that it is a sop to late and already much-missed winemaker Paul Pontallier. Reviews will glow because the 2015 is the First Growth's most accomplished wine since 2010, sitting comfortably among classics such as 1983 and 2005.
Cliché? Predictable? Unobtainable? Unaffordable? Yes. However, this might turn out to be the best Petrus that Olivier Berrouet has ever made, and I include the 2009 and 2010 among those. Since tasting from barrel here in 2002, I cannot remember a more riveting, life-affirming and profound Petrus.
8) Chateau Mouton Rothschild
Philippe Dhalluin has taken this First Growth to a higher level over the last decade, and his 2015 is the standout of the appellation that is perhaps a little piqued that its not the star attraction this year.
9) Chateau Rauzan-Segla
John Kolasa was instrumental in reviving this Margaux, estate and Nicolas Audebert and his team continue where he left off - creating a benchmark wine that future vintages will be judged against.
10) Château Le Tertre-Rôteboeuf
All four of François Mitjavile's wines left you grinning from ear to ear, but his 2015 Le Tertre Roteboeuf, dressed in cashmere tannin and dare I say, almost Romanée-Saint-Vivant like purity, is a wine destined to seduce wine-lovers for two or three decades.
11) Vieux Chateau Certan
Guillaume Thienpont is being handed more and more responsibility at this great Pomerol estate. Together with his father, Alexandre, they conjured both a sensual and intellectual masterpiece that could rank among the likes of 1947, 1948 and 1964.
12) Château Yquem
Falling into the Petrus category of predictability, admittedly there is a subconscious desire to select an alternative Sauternes or Barsac. Yet there was such electricity running through this astonishing Yquem that at the end of the day, you have no choice.
“What more could Pomerol ask for? Surely it was set up for a couple of potential perfect scores... Too right.
The first is so bleeding obvious that I am almost embarrassed. In fact, unless you are a multi-millionaire or extremely well connected, then you might reasonably argue that the following paragraph is pointless, however, I write about fermented grape juice and it is, at the end of the day, exactly what it is...
The 2015 Petrus is one of the greatest wines of the vintage. In fact, it is most likely to become one of the pinnacles of the decade. If you read my previous tasting notes, then you will see that I do not place it up at the top of the Pomerol tree because of who it is or what it represents. As I have written before, Petrus is a maverick that can excel in some vintages and drop the ball in others. I must confess that at times I wondered whether Olivier Berrouet could produce as many legends as his father Jean-Claude. Had he inherited that magic touch? As soon as his 2015 Petrus electrified my senses, I immediately knew the answer to that question.”
Notable scores (some high-scoring Sauternes/Barsac and lower scoring reds) have been omitted for relevance: