The 2016 Le Pape is a gorgeous wine to drink now and over the next decade or so. Ripe and luscious in the glass, with terrific depth and character, the 2016 offers tremendous near and medium-term appeal. Black cherry, plum, licorice, leather, spice and smoke add to an impression of darkness in this supple Pessac-Léognan.
Drink 2019 - 2028
Antonio Galloni, vinsous.com (Jan 2019)
The 2016 Le Pape is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon picked from 3-4 September and on 14 October respectively. It is matured in 30% new oak, although my sample contained 50% (which was accounted for in my assessment). It offers plenty of raspberry coulis and crushed strawberry aromas on the nose, the new oak nicely integrated, quite generous and almost opulent in the context of the vintage. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin, a splash of soy on the entry, a keen line of acidity. There is a touch of austerity towards the saline finish, but that will abate by the time it is bottled. This is a fine Château Le Pape from l'equipe Haut-Bailly.
Drink 2020 - 2032
Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (Apr 2017)
So elegant, right from the first nose. The fourth vintage under Haut-Bailly ownership (because they declassified the 2013), this has appealing rich caramel and coffee bean edges and is beautifully elegant. It has soft, elongated tannins, and concentrated violet and fern notes, that seem to float through the palate. This property is really starting to show exactly what it can achieve. 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Drink 2025 - 2040
Jane Anson, Decanter.com (Apr 2017)
About this WINE
Ch. Le Pape
In 1986 a new communal district was created within Graves, in Bordeaux, based on the districts of Pessac and Léognan, the first of which lies within the suburbs of the city. Essentially this came about through pressure from Pessac-Léognan vignerons, who wished to disassociate themselves from growers with predominately sandy soils further south in Graves.
Pessac-Léognan has the best soils of the region, very similar to those of the Médoc, although the depth of gravel is more variable, and contains all the classed growths of the region. Some of its great names, including Ch. Haut-Brion, even sit serenely and resolutely in Bordeaux's southern urban sprawl.
The climate is milder than to the north of the city and the harvest can occur up to two weeks earlier. This gives the best wines a heady, rich and almost savoury character, laced with notes of tobacco, spice and leather. Further south, the soil is sandier with more clay, and the wines are lighter, fruity and suitable for earlier drinking.
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.