After spending three weeks in Bordeaux tasting 1,200 wines, the largest barrel tasting of his 34-year career as a wine critic, James Suckling declares the 2016 vintage shows wonderful promise, with dynamic, bright and structured wines, especially from the Left Bank. The region continues to produce some of the best-value wines in the world.  The Calon-Ségur at the top of the pyramid costs just US$70, a bargain compared to trophy wines like the first growths.

Château Calon Ségur Saint-Estèphe

Wow. This is the Calon we have been waiting for. Intensity and power. Chewy and polished tannins. Full body, great depth. It goes on for minutes. Shows a classic, historical character that really excites me. The essence of this estate and Saint-Estèphe. Best ever?  98-99 points

Château Pichon-Longueville Baron Pauillac

I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. It’s a remake of the legendary 1990 Pichon Baron. Full body, ultra-polished yet powerful tannins and a glorious finish. Will evolve beautifully. The core of fruit and tannins is wonderful. A truly great Pichon Baron. 98-99 points

Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry Margaux 

This is a superb wine. I didn’t think it could be better than the 2015 but it is. Full, layered and sexy. It goes on for minutes with dense fruit, yet it’s also vivid and showcases sublime tannins and balance of acidity. Great finish. 98-99 points

Château Lynch Bages Pauillac   

This is really back-ended thanks to a powerful and almost endless finish. Full-bodied, dense and powerful with incredible concentration and length. Round and polished tannins. Layered. Unravels bit by bit. Energetic acidity gives it superb freshness. This is at the 2009/10 level. 98-99 points

Château Haut-Bailly Pessac-Léognan 

This young wine shows such pinpoint precision, with a full body, dense fruit and gorgeous intensity. Muscular yet toned and beautiful. It really builds on the finish. Very fine-grained. So long and beautiful. Sophisticated power. Oyster shell and iodine undertones. Traditional style yet with a modern interpretation. Savoury. 98-99 points

Château Pontet-Canet Pauillac   

Vivid and full of energy, with blackberry, currant and salt. Full body, intense and long. Harmony. Purpose. Classicism. Mineral character too. A seamless tannin texture. Great wine. You want to drink it now. 98-99 points

Château Lafite Rothschild Pauillac   

Even stronger and more toned than the excellent 2015, this Lafite shows incredible power yet also finesse. Full-bodied, superfine and chewy. Muscular yet agile. Goes on for minutes. Stunning. Perhaps the greatest Lafite since the legendary 1959? 100 points

Château La Conseillante Pomerol   

This is the greatest Conseillante in modern times. A full body and incredible tannins that are polished and velvety. The texture lasts for minutes. I am speechless. What a young and awe-inspiring wine. 98-100 points

Château Mouton Rothschild Pauillac     

This is a phenomenal, muscular red that shows incredible power and depth. Full-bodied and with great concentration of tannins, but remains agile and polished. The form is stupendous. Such precision and clarity. The new 1986 but better. 100 points

Château Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan    

This is a monument for Haut-Brion and reminds me of the great 1998 but in a modern and bright style. Full-bodied, very tannic and superbly structured yet always agile and vivid. Its energy and dynamic nature grab you by the shoulder and tell you it’s great. Staggeringly precise. It can’t get better than this, can it? 100 points

To see the full list of the Bordeaux En Primeur 2016 top 100 wines, visit jamessuckling.com

Tags: James Suckling, Bordeaux wines, best wines, vintage 2016