We sample a staggering number of wines during the tastings of en primeur week and there is always a treasure trove of beautifully made and very well priced options. There are particularly rich pickings in a vintage with the quality and consistency of 2016. The *Fill your cellar for under £250 a dozen* list is our pick of the bunch. £2k could easily get you 10 cases of superb claret that will bring huge amounts of pleasure in the years ahead
The (lengthy) en primeur show is drawing to a close but there are still a couple of the greatest hits left. First is LAFITE, out today at £2,950 per 6 bottles IB. Alongside HAUT BRION (now sold out) this was the first-growth that most impressed us en primeur. We found it silky, dense and brooding but still unbelievably pure.
FIGEAC has been released at £930 per 6 bottles IB. This is another potential 100-pointer according to Neal Martin. He said, 'the 2015 Figeac was stunning and the 2016 no less.
Today's releases include some of the top-rated wines from the vintage. The Chateaux certainly believe they have produced something very special, wines that are blessed with genuine greatness. The critics seem to agree. Léoville Las Cases, L'Église-Clinet and Ausone are all touching 100 points. Sadly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, the pricing reflects the hype and the high scores.
Out today is PICHON LALANDE at £710 per 6 bottles IB. This left Galloni completely spell-bound. He scored it 97-100/100 and described it as 'simply extraordinary.
CHÂTEAU SMITH HAUT LAFITTE have released their wines. The grand vin is out at £467.50 per 6 bottles IB. This was a really classy wine with an intense core of outstanding Cabernet fruit. There's gorgeous texture and lovely length here too - it's a supremely well made Pessac.
PICHON BARON has been released at £1,350 per 12 bottles IB. It is very hard to exaggerate just how good this wine is. When we tasted at the Château in April we discovered something with the level of freshness, purity and richness that you'd normally associate with a first-growth.
Two of the big-guns from Saint-Julien are out. DUCRU BEAUCAILLOU is at £852 per 6 bottles IB. Neal Martin scored this a very impressive 96-98/100. Galloni rated it 94-97/100 and called it 'simply magnificent', and 'one of the highlights of the vintage'. We found it had lovely even-toned harmonious fruit, beautifully pitched tannin, and remarkable concentration.
CLOS FOURTET is out at £500 per 6 bottles IB. Now this is really top-quality Saint Emilion. There are all the elements you'd expect in abundance; a concentrated smokey nose, a really dense and polished black fruit core, and that inimitable mineral undertow which holds it all together.
Chateau D'ISSAN has been released at £285 per 6 bottles IB. The estate's old vines meant it coped better than some of its Margaux neighbours in the long, dry summer. As a result, this isn't a wine that's obviously ripe and luscious, it's much more classical and refined in style.
Following on from the other releases of the morning, BRANE-CANTENAC is also out at £630 per 12 bottles IB. Neal Martin waxed lyrical about this wine, giving it 96-98/100. He called the palate, 'simply the best that I have ever tasted at the estate' and felt that this was 'everything you could possibly want from a Margaux.
Out today is LÉOVILLE BARTON at £372.50 per 6 bottles IB. The Wine Spectator gave this an outstanding 96-99/100(!). Jancis absolutely loved it too, scoring it 18/20. She praised its 'glorious texture and flavour' and called it a 'really a standout Barton.' Jane Anson hailed it 'a total triumph' and her 'favourite for years at this property' (96/100).