Fully balanced and harmonious
Tasting the 2016 Château Magnol, this is what springs to my mind most. This is a perfect wine for convincing a wide audience of the merits of Bordeaux. Even at its youthful stage it is expressive and easy to drink, not overbearing and overly extracted as many of its neighbours’ wines can be these days. Of course, the year is a wonderful vintage in the region and I’m sure the winemakers of Château Magnol could have pushed ripeness, more alcohol, more darkness, more toasty oak in order to create a more “impressive” wine, but I am thankful that they did not. Instead they took the much nobler decision and went for a classic expression, fully balanced and harmonious. It is not without ripeness, but the aroma profile here are more graceful, full of red berries and subtle spice and wood notes. It is a wine that seems very comfortable in itself, nothing sticks out or begs for attention, instead it invites you to come explore its facets. There are some warm spice notes that derive from the oak barrels that come through in the nose and the grit of the tannins, but again it is not too much and given the youth of this wine, I am sure that it will integrate with grace with a year or two of ageing.
For me, and many in my generation of sommeliers, Bordeaux is often seen in a polarized view. It is either the bounty of cheap, inanimate swill that we see on French supermarket shelves or the unattainable first growths, wines we gave up on even being able to buy professionally and age until perfection long ago, and frankly they weren’t that interested in our support either. Not at our formative years at least.
Our older colleagues often lament “Where’s the Bordeaux on your wine list/wine shop shelves/personal cellars?” And truth is that we to a large degree gave up on Bordeaux.
But truth of the matter, which is now becoming pleasantly apparent is that even if Bordeaux perhaps wasn’t inviting to us as novices, there is so much of Bordeaux beyond the polar extremes mentioned earlier. I have been privileged and lucky enough, later in my career, to travel the region, walk the land, speak with the winemakers to understand that it’s a place of deep history, culture and soul too, not just immaculate winemaking and slick marketing.
The 2016 Château Magnol is a wonderful effort, a delicious, uncomplicated wine that vastly overdelivers. My hope is that this wine falls into the right hand of curious drinkers who not only appreciate it for its relative value but take it up on its invitation to get to know Bordeaux for real.
In line with the effortless intensity and laid-back character of this wine, my mind wanders to slightly nostalgic “comfort food” when it comes to what to pair on the plate with this wine. So I propose a real Swedish classic, which I’m sure has its French equivalent: Biff à la Rydberg, a supremely honest, simple but delicious serving of prime ingredients: beef tenderloin, potatoes and onion all diced neatly and pan-fried separately in lots of butter and served with parsley, raw egg yolk and a touch of strong mustard. Food that lets the wine shine.