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2016 Pontet Canet

2016 Pontet Canet

98-99 JS

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Critic Reviews

A voluptuous wine, this is rich and fruity yet properly balanced by a magnificent structure. Pure, crisp and packed with a black currant flavor, this will be a remarkable wine as it develops. Still young, it needs many years to develop. Don’t think about drinking before 2025.

Wine Enthusiast | 100 WE
The 2016 Pontet-Canet is absolutely breathtaking. Powerful, ample and racy in the glass, the 2016 is one of the most exquisitely well-balanced young Pontet-Canets I can remember tasting. Savory, high-toned aromatics and brisk mineral notes lend energy and delineation as this vivid wonderfully alive wine opens up in the glass. The flavors are dark and incisive, but it is the wine’s total sense of harmony that is most compelling. All of the elements are simply in the right place. The 2016 is tremendous. It’s as simple as that. As is often the case, Pontet-Canet is one of the most singular wines in Bordeaux. Alfred Tesseron could have chosen to play things safe when he took over the management of the estate in the mid-1990s. Instead, he chose a very different path. No proprietor in Bordeaux has taken more risks over the last two decades than Alfred Tesseron. A commitment to biodynamic farming, sustainability across the entire estate more broadly, and the adoption of new concepts for Bordeaux, such as aging a portion of the wine in terra cotta, set Pontet-Canet apart from other properties in Pauillac and the Left Bank. Not surprisingly, the wine is also starkly different from the wines of neighboring estates.

Antonio Galloni | 99 AG
Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2016 Pontet-Canet hits the ground running with a hedonic nose of Black Forest cake, crème de cassis and blueberry pie plus suggestions of candied violets, hoisin, chocolate mint, charcuteries and forest floor with a waft of star anise. Full-bodied, rich, profoundly layered and powerfully fruited, the palate is built like a brick house, with very firm, super ripe, grainy tannins and harmonious freshness, finishing with incredible length and depth. Still incredibly primary and yet already strutting so many layers, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this warrants the three-digit score in a few years’ time.

Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 98+ RP
Reminding me of the 2010 and, I suspect, a wine that will merit a triple-digit rating in a decade or so (I tasted this on multiple occasions and thought it was perfect on one of them), the 2016 Château Pontet-Canet comes from 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, and the balance Petit Verdot that spent 16 months in 50% new French oak, 35% in concrete amphora, and the rest in second fill oak. Thrilling notes of pure crème de cassis, lead pencil shavings, crushed mint, graphite, and crushed rock notes all emerge from this deep, powerful, yet elegant Pauillac. The style of this wine has become more and more finesse-driven and pure, yet it hasn’t lost a beat on concentration or length. This singular, beautiful Pontet-Canet needs 7-8 years of cellaring (it has some accessibility today given its purity and balance) and will keep for 4-5 decades.

Jeb Dunnuck | 98+ JD
The 2016 is a vintage that shows off the best of Pontet, and is similar in feel to their 2010. Gorgeously rich right from the first nose, it opens stunningly in the glass, showing waves of tight black fruits, touches of redcurrant, liquorice and aniseed, fine tannins and mouthwatering salinity. It manages to remain balanced without losing the punch and concentration of Pauillac, rising up through the palate. It’s hard not to fall in love with this wine, and it will clearly age with grace and ease. Bottled in July 2018. Drinking Window 2026 - 2042.

Decanter | 98 DEC
The aromas of ripe blackcurrants, iodine, sweet tobacco and fresh flowers are spellbinding. Full-bodied with mouth-expanding, massive and natural tannins. Impressive fruit with hints of prunes. The finish is long and powerful. Needs six to seven years to soften and come together. Try from 2025.

James Suckling | 97 JS
This is sappy and rich in feel, with waves of red and black currant preserves, raspberry and bitter plum coulis. The long finish drips with sweet tobacco and anise notes, while a brambly layer courses underneath. The vivacious finish kicks into second gear as the fruit and grip come together. Best from 2023 through 2038.

Wine Spectator | 95 WS

Wine Details for 2016 Pontet Canet

Type of Wine Bordeaux Red : Picture in your mind a combination of cedar, lead pencil, blackcurrant, plum and mineral aromatics, and texture that caresses your palate like a playful lover. The experience is thrilling from the first whiff to the final seconds of a tannic, generous finish - that is what you'll get from a Bordeaux Red
Varietal Red Bordeaux Blend : The inhabitants of the Bordeaux region of France have been cultivating wine-grapes for thousands of years. Ancient Roman ruins litter the vineyards from Saint Emilion to Graves where the art of blending Bordeaux varietals has been practiced and perfected over a very long history. Bordeaux’s climate, terroir and soils, though varied, provide the optimal growing conditions for the red grape varietals planted in the region.

Rarely listed on the labels as “blend,” the red wines of Bordeaux are perhaps the most artfully designed and celebrated in the world. The calculated art of blending the native Bordeaux varietals is impressively accomplished in the most famous winegrowing region in the world. The phrase Bordeaux Blend which seems to have been coined by British wine merchants in the 19th Century relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and occasionally Carmenere are the lead characters in the creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. Each plays a part in their own fashion and implemented in various combinations and percentages in each appellation within Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux Blends are majorly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, roughly making up 90% of all Bordeaux Blends. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (occasionally Carmenere) are also important components and vital to the production of the region’s red wines.

For simplicity, the winegrowing region of Bordeaux can be divided into three main appellations producing Red Bordeaux Blends; the Left Bank (Medoc), Right Bank and Pessac-Leognan (Graves). The Left Bank has a terroir comprised of a wide variety of gravel, stones, sand, limestone and clay soils on a natural terrain of gentle slopes. This sets the stage perfectly for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the dominant grape of the Left Bank. For example, Chateau Lafite (Paulliac) is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Right Bank is dominated by clay and limestone with sand and gravel, but the clay in the Right Bank is distinctly its own and adds to the health, growth and vitality of the vines of the varietals grown here. Right Bank wines are typically 80% Merlot-based, which are often denser, richer and mature earlier than those of the Left Bank (with exceptions – Petrus for example). Merlot is a vital component to Pomerol winegrowing and making. Cabernet Franc also plays a major role in the Right Bank, most notably, in Saint Emilion, where the infamous vineyards of Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc are planted to 55% and 52% Cabernet Franc, respectively. Chateaux that produce wines with a majority of Cabernet Franc are considered “old school” producers, but have perfected the use of Cabernet Franc, which was originally used as a blending grape.

Pessac-Leognan (Graves) enjoys a temperate climate, natural hygrometry influenced by the ocean, and has a terroir composed of gravelly soil over a clay subsoil on sloping, hilly terrain. Natural drainage due to the hilly terrain as well as the gravelly soil structure are perfectly attuned to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine, which prospers under these conditions. Pessac reaps the benefits of having the terroir of both the Left and Right Bank as it contains gravel and clay. The clay sub-soil allows the growth and success of Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc. It is home to the only First Growth not in the Medoc. The 50-hectare vineyard of Haut Brion is planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.

The percentage of Petit Verdot and Malbec may be lesser in quantity, but not in quality. They are vital to the region’s creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. The combination of Bordeaux varietals is legendary in the region, around the world and has influenced winegrowers worldwide to plant and vinify wines which resemble those of Red Bordeaux Blends.

Country France : Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.



For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.



France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.



France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.



With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.


Region Bordeaux : Even among the greatest and most reputable wine regions on the planet, Bordeaux stands above the rest. The winemakers of this region have a single-minded dedication to the fine art of viticulture and their efforts never fail to show. If you consider yourself a fine wine enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to visit Bordeaux - life changing. Whether you wish to drink some inspirational and gripping wine as soon as possible, or you want to add some masterpieces to your collection, no region on Earth is a more obvious choice.

The noble and beautiful Garonne and Dordogne rivers surge through southwestern France, enriching the soil in a way very few other places can boast. The limestone-based earth is rich in calcium, and the almost oceanic climate conditions give the staple Bordeaux grape varietals vigor and flavor like nowhere else. For their illustrious reds, Bordeaux winemakers rely on a proven combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Meanwhile, a sip of their excellent white wine hints at the use of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc.Each of these varietals carries a unique identity, making every quality wine a character piece to rival Citizen Kane. It can be incredibly hard to choose only a few wines to collect for your cellar!
Subregion Left Bank
Appellation Pauillac
Cru Fifth Growth

Overview

Producer Chateau Pontet Canet : Situated just beneath Chateau Mouton Rothschild, in perhaps the most prestigious appellation of Bordeaux, and home to three of the five First Growths, resides Chateau Pontet Canet. With the Gironde Estuary to the East and the Atlantic to the west, famous neighbors all around and resting upon the famous Pauillac terroir, Pontet Canet is in possession of some of the most prized and coveted vineyards in the Medoc. The estate’s fame; however, is not attributed solely by its prime location, but for its long history of producing high quality wines that have consistently outperformed their Fifth Growth status.

For three centuries, Pontet Canet has witness only three ownerships, which has greatly contributed to the success and stability of the estate’s winemaking and growing. The name Pontet Canet was birthed in 1781 when Jean-Francois de Pontet merged his existing property with newly acquired vineyards in the Canet area. Following the custom of the day, he joined his surname to that of the estate, officially creating the estate we know today. A century later, Chateau Pontet-Canet was enjoying an extraordinary period of prosperity. The famous classification of 1855, ordered by Emperor Napoleon III, brought the estate recognition. Chateau Pontet Canet now figured on the list of Medoc Grands Crus Classes.

This rise to fame was quickly recognized by one of the most influential Bordeaux negociants of the time, Henri Herman Cruse, who went on to acquire the estate in 1865. Cruse’s incredible vision and understanding of the Bordeaux wine trade, implemented swift modernizations of the property’s infrastructures and hired Charles Skawinski, a highly respected estate manager, in the Medoc. Revolutionary (for the times) cellars were built which enhanced the winemaking process, and the vineyards were given greater attention. Thanks to Cruse’s tireless efforts, the wines of Pontet Canet acquired a reputation of high quality and integrity throughout the world, which would in turn, garner the attention of another Bordeaux Negociant, Guy Tesseron.

Since 1975, the Tesserons have been stewards of the land; respecting the environment, extracting only what is needed for a successful harvest with minimal intervention and an in-depth understanding of the estate’s terroir. Today, Alfred Tesseron (Guy’s son) operates under a unique philosophy, “I am not a winemaker. My team members are not winemakers either. As most of the work is done in the vineyards, we are growers. Our success and achievements at Pontet Canet are due to our efforts in the vineyards, not the winemaking. At the end of the day, our goal is to produce unique vintages of Pontet Canet that are for drinking, not just for wine tasting”. The vineyards of Pontet Canet are treasured and cared for using only organic and biodynamic farming methods. Practices respectful of the natural balances in the vineyard are implemented, such as the use of plow-horses, hand picking, the use of natural fertilizers and natural decoctions used to dust the vines. Fields of horsetail, yarrow, chamomile, dandelion, wicker and rosemary, which all possess extraordinary properties, also help to boost the vine’s defenses against harsh weather and infestation.

The 81-hectare Left Bank estate is planted to 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. It is made up of around one hundred plots and 800,000 vines looking out over the Gironde Estuary. At the heart of Pontet Canet, the terroir is known as the “plateau”, a gentle broad outcrop of Garonne gravel soil dating back to the Gunz era that sits on a bedrock of limestone. This poor, well-drained soil is renowned for being particularly suited to the character of great Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up over 60% of the Grand Vin. Some of the plots in this location were planted at the end of the 1940s and very deep-rooted, producing the finest quality grapes. There are still a great many of these old vines, and the average age of the vineyard is 50 years.

Another plot of the vineyard, located near the river, is composed of chalkier soils. In some areas the limestone can be seen on the surface and in others clay shows through. These cooler, richer soils are better suited to Merlot and produce wines that are more structured and fleshy in texture. To establish a link with the viticultural past, four plots located on the edge of the outcrop have been planted with the Petit Verdot variety, which brings spicy aromas to the Pontet-Canet “grand vin”. Cabernet Franc is also planted in small quantities, bringing forth earthy qualities, reminiscent of the land that is so cherished. “Revealing the wine’s essence rather than its make-up is our goal.” – Alfred Tesseron.

Though Pontet Canet is classified a Fifth Growth, the wines produced are consistently of Second Growth quality and in some vintages as good as the Firsts. Based on current prices for the wine, the market agrees. For nearly 250 years, Pontet Canet has been a force in Pauillac, the Medoc and all of Bordeaux, producing wines of uncompromised quality. Three centuries, three families, one goal.


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