Château Penin, Bordeaux Supérieur Rouge Grande Sélection 2015

£14.50 (75cl)

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About the wine



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This blend is produced from a selection of parcels spread over 15 hectares of the château’s best soils, where the vines are all more than 30 years old. Soils are gravelly, pebbly, and sandy. Harvesting at optimum grape ripeness. Total destemming. Cold maceration during 5 days. Fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats for 20 to 30 days. The wines are racked into barrel at the beginning of November. The barrels are made of fine-grained Allier oak. One third of them are renewed every year. The wines age traditionally for a period of 12 months, of which 6 are spent on the lees. The wines are regularly oxygenated at the beginning of the ageing. The doses of oxygen incorporated are determined according to the richness and tannic structure of each batch.

Tasting note

A harmonious, rich and fleshy wine, with vanilla aromas coming from the oak, mingling well with jammy red berry fruit notes. The overall impression is complex, fine, mellow and full of charm. A wine that is unanimously accepted by the consumers.

About the producer

Château Penin’s 40 hectares of vines are located between the limestone plateau and the marshland on the left bank of the Dordogne River, facing Saint Emilion. The estate has been family owned since its beginnings in 1854, when Louis Carteyron and his son Jacques purchased it. For many years, the production was divided between fruit and wine. Hubert Carteyron began direct sales of Château Penin in bottle with the 1964 vintage. His son Patrick, representing the 5th generation, took over the estate in 1982, after working as an oenologist for several years. The fruit production side of the farm then disappeared, making way for the vines, which were planted with the clear aim of producing quality grapes for wine. In 1985, a new vat cellar was built, enabling the temperature in the vats to be carefully controlled during fermentation and maceration. In 1990, a barrel cellar was built, along with a completely air-conditioned bottle storage cellar.

In 2001, a new vinification cellar was built and in 2005, respect of the environment and of customers’ health became key priorities to be addressed: setting of quality procedures and waste treatment (recovery of washing water from cellars, treatment of this water and putting on sewage farm). The vineyard has a majority of high density Merlot planted on gravel soil. Patrick Carteyron has been making cracking Bordeaux wines for a number of years now. He consistently receives high praise for his work and is one of the new wave of Bordeaux producers who succeed in delivering great early drinking wines, whilst still keeping some of the traditional balance between fruit, tannin and acidity.

Regions Vintage Report:

The Growing Season The warm daytime temperatures of early March started to become much higher, but the cold nights quickly halted a very precocious bud burst and the few swellings that were noticeable in some warmer sites around the middle of the month were promptly arrested by cold north winds of 22-26th . The first few days of April stayed cool but the vine was getting impatient. Its wood was strong and healthy and it was raring to go. So, when the weather suddenly warmed up on 6th April, quickly peaking in the high 20s, there occurred the most amazingly rapid bud-burst, whites and reds, Merlots and Cabernets, all in unison. It became clear we were off to an early start to the growing season. With the added help of rain during the last 10 days of April, the foliage raced ahead. May continued very dry (April had seen a 70% rainfall deficit and May would be almost 60%) and also very hot as the foliage continued to grow well. The vines were now ready to flower but got slightly delayed by the cooler nights from 14th -23rd . Then, with the very regular warmth of the next 10 days, 10-12°C every night and 21-24°C every day, it blossomed into the most rapid, even flowering possible, this being perhaps the most important stage on the way to a quality vintage. The heat climbed during the first few days of June, culminating at 35°C on 4th. Such a sudden burst of heat just as the flowering was concluding could have been an issue, in the form of an aborted grape-set, but it came just after the main part of the job had been done, timed perfectly to accelerate the end of the process. With the gentle warmth of the following week and with some beneficial rain the week after, the bunches started to look in fine fettle. Now there was the prospect of a September rather than October harvest, a further indicator of a top quality vintage. The only snag at this point was the extreme heat and drought. June was turning into the fourth successive month of 50% rainfall deficit and of scorching temperatures: April and June were both a full 3.2°C above the mean normal temperature and both broke records for the number of sun hours, and in the case of June, just as the sun is at its most powerful. Up until now, the vine had withstood the pressure of drought and heat remarkably well. The month ended up as the fourth hottest July in the region in the last century. The vines started to suffer, especially those on lighter soils, but only here and there as total shut-down, more generally as a sort of closing in on itself, ceasing to give priority to its reproduction in favour of its own survival. This key three week period was enough to ensure that the grapes would remain very small and that they would prematurely thicken their skins. It was precisely now, with the vines at the end of their tether, that the air started to change, the wind at last bringing some dampness from the ocean. All this quickly escalated into two violent coastal storms on 22nd and 24th July, which then changed into strong rains as they passed over the parched vineyards, providing up to 30mm inland, especially on the Right Bank. This set the stage for what came to be known as “August 2015’s rains of salvation”. With 13 days over 30°C, August remained hot but it brought four welcome episodes of rain – eight in Sauternes (which would account for the very early first stage of botrytis this year). This August rainfall was unequally distributed: up to 140mm on parts of the Right Bank, up to 100 in parts of the Médoc and Graves. It also coincided with the “véraison”, which quickly became the most even and earliest since 2009 and was finished by the weekend of 8th -9 th August under the influence of the re-invigorating rain showers. This premature halt in the growth of the foliage and the nourishment of the bunches was possibly the biggest factor in explaining the extreme health of the crop at the end, allowing most proprietors to wait calmly for the optimum picking date for each parcel and variety. The harvest started during the week of 24th August with the earliest dry whites in Sauternes and PessacLéognan. Apart from light showers on 31st, they enjoyed perfect sunny conditions and suddenly much cooler temperatures. In addition, the diurnal / nocturnal difference, often 15°C between night and day temperatures, ensured excellent acid retention and lovely freshness. The spritely but powerful Sauvignons were quite clearly the leaders over the softer-styled Sémillons, which had not reacted so well to the August moisture. Rain was then forecast for the middle of the month, normally September rain accelerates the harvest dates (1999, 2006); this time it delayed them. Growers could sense their grapes’ resistance and didn’t need to fret unduly or to panic. The geographical distribution of this rain was very erratic, at its heaviest in the northern Médoc, only 40mm or so in Pessac-Léognan, Margaux and Sauternes, and varying from almost 0 to 40mm on the Right Bank. With the return of sunny days and cold nights 20th September -1 st October, almost all the rest of the Merlots were picked, at leisure, each parcel constantly being re-scheduled to take advantage of maximum ripeness, wherever possible always delaying rather than advancing the programme. The great majority of the top estates picked their Merlots over the last 4 days of the month, in perfect conditions. This year, both Cabernets (Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc) were picked simultaneously, and with the return of fine weather and cool winds from 8th October, they could be concluded once again at a leisurely pace. The weekend nights of 3 rd -4 th October brought heavy rain, once again especially on the Médoc which motivated the Left Bank to accelerate more than the Right Bank. By the time the rain returned on 27th, the whole harvest was finished, with the final Cabernets and Sauternes in perfect cool and sunny conditions around 20th -22nd . Resulting Wine Styles Red Wines The reds range from acceptable to very good to quite superb (with some chateaux possibly producing their best wines ever), depending on many different factors, not least of which being the amount of mid-September and early October rain and how the grapes reacted to it; also how stressed they got in the extreme heat/drought of June & July. It is a very complex picture, but generally speaking, Left Bank Merlots are lighter, less fleshy and solid than their Right Bank counterparts, Left Bank Cabernets gain in intensity from North to South, meaning that Margaux and Pessac-Léognan did very well, Right Bank Merlots range from a more delicate style on the thinner cooler soils to an extremely impressive brooding, powerful style on the St Emilion Côte and parts of the plateau, especially in the parcels and zones of lesser rainfall. However, there are, as so often, many exceptions to this generalisation. There are some outstanding wines in most communes, albeit not always with same degree of consistency. As a result of all the ‘regularity’ of ripeness dates, the wines are beginning to show a true vintage hallmark. The character lies firstly in their naturally quite high alcohol levels, secondly in their often enchanting aromatic complexity and thirdly in the remarkable silky texture of their suave, lithe tannins. The best wines are beautifully balanced marrying purity, intensity and freshness culminating in wines of undoubted poise and class. Dry White Wines The dry whites, harvested in the most perfect conditions possible, after invigorating August rainfall and during the brilliantly sunny coolness of end August / early September, have an extraordinary freshness and clarity of fruit, enhanced by the generally greater proportion of Sauvignon in the blends. They have fine concentration (lower average yields per hectare than the reds). They possess a similarly refreshing acidity to the ‘07s and ‘12s. Furthermore, and in tune with the times, there has been a trend to reduce the level of new oak influence. Sauternes/Barsac 2015 is an outstanding vintage for Sauternes/Barsac. The origin of its quality is to be found in the extra, very localised, June and August rainfall which precipitated a very early start to the development of botrytis. Most estates picked in a series of four “tries”. For each, pickers were spared the tedious task of weeding out the bad rot, because there just wasn’t any and nobody had to pick in the rain either. As a result, the fruit arrived in a wonderfully pure and high quality state. Most juice was in the magic window of 20-22° potential throughout. The majority of the harvest came in during the second and third “tries” of the first two weeks of October and for once the final “tries” during the week of 19th October were just as pure and just as fine. The style of the wines is intensely rich, but, with a few notable exceptions, less absolutely sweet than the more “spherical” 2005 or the very powerful 2009: very generally, the average sweetness for the Crus Classés of the 2015 is around 130g/l rather than 140-150 for the 2009. But their main feature is the great definition of fine, fresh fruit, even more so than in ’07 and ’11 but a little less dense than the latter. Conclusion In general, all growers are extremely pleased with their wines, many exceptionally so. Quite clearly 2015 is by far the most eye-catching vintage of the last five years and, in line with current trends, and contrary to the year’s weather, the best wines are beautifully refined. There is far less instance of “excess” than many previous vintages. Their fine balance will allow them to age very well indeed, with many wines also lending themselves to earlier drinking thanks to the sheer beauty of their seductively creamy tannins. Past vintages that were most often quoted as being ‘similar’ in style & quality were 1985 & 1989, with the most bullish comments hinting at a blend of 2009 & 2010! Finally, I must thank the highly respected Bill Blatch in Bordeaux for agreeing to allow us to be informed and guided by his own erudite & authoritative 2015 Vintage Report. Neil Sommerfelt MW, Fine Wine Buyer April 2016©adVINture 2020

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