Bordeaux Vintage 2014 by Markus del Monego MW

Timed usually ath the end of March and beginning of April the Primeur Week in Bordeaux is always an exciting moment as it allows a first view on the latest vintage. The huge number of wines available for tasting is impressing and one week seems almost to short. Therefore the Union de Grand Crus offers a well organised blind tasting for the press on every morning during the week. On the precendt weekend the Grand Cercle des vins de Bordeaux holds blind tastings of over 200 samples. These impressions are complemented by tastings at various Châteaux and tastings organized by the Bordeaux trade. Therefore some oft he wines can be tasted twice or even more often during this week to doublecheck on quality and style.


An interesting fact is the weather situation. Meterologic low pressure means that wines may close down, meanwhile meterologic high pressure presents the wines in a more open and flavourful style. This year the wheather was quite bad during the first days of the tasting week but ameliorated a lot in the second half of the week. This had an influence on the tasting notes in general which has to be considered. Another effect has been the late harvest in 2014, which shortened the time period between harvest and Primeur tastings for up to a month. A month less time for maturation has effects on the tasting results which is another aspect to consider, always keeping in mind that each tasting result remains a snap-shot and is not an absolute and final judgement.


2014 had an early start with budbreak around 10 days ahead of the 10 years average. End of May flowering started on the early terroirs in heterogeneous conditions, whereas the later varieties such as Cabernet-Sauvignon and Franc as well as later terroirs took advantage of a warm and sunny period beginning of June. July and August where quite cool and humid and in the second half of August the vintners prepared themselves for a vintage even worse than 2013 but at the end of August everything changed. A spledid indian summer througout September and October saved the quality. Harvest started for the white grapes started three days later than in 2012 but two weeks later than 2011. For the red grapes the harvest startet with Merlot at the end of September and ended with the Cabernets in the second half of October. The cool climate during summer provides a higher acidity, the indian summer is responsible for the right ripening.


The dry white wines are on a very good quality level showing crisp acidity and ripe flavours. The noble sweet white wines also take advantage of the higher acidity balancing the opulent sweetness. Therefore this vintage seems more on the elegant side. The presentation of red wines depends very much on the grape varietes and terroirs. Overall the red wines are on a higher quality level than the three previous vintages. Saint-Emilion is excellent on the plateau calcaire and shows in general very good wines.

 In Pomerol the centre of the plateau was in advantage over the surrounding areas. Fronsac was a very positive surprise for 2014. In the Médoc the southern part proved to be more heterogenous than the northern part, where especially Saint-Estèphe was homogenous and excellent. South of Bordeaux Pessac-Léognan presented a very homogenous picture of a very good quality level with outstanding wines from Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion.

One last observation: This vintage digests oak in a great way. The oak is even not obvious in wines with a 100% new oak barrels for maturation. Now there are roughtly twelve month to follow for the maturation of the 2014s untill the bottling in 2016. A lot can happen in this period. Let us see how the wines will present themselves after bottling, it will be a very interesting tasting again. 2014 is not a great vintage like 2005, 2009 or 2010 but it will be able to secure a position as one of the very good vintages of Bordeaux.



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Vintage Report

Vintage Report 2014 by Weingut Dr. H. Thanisch:

The 2014 harvest demanded a lot of sensitivity and strong nerves from the growers in the Mosel valley. The continuously changing weather conditions during summer and early autumn presented us with a challenging situation. We started harvesting as well the Pinot Noir as the Riesling earlier than anticipated.

Following a mild winter and a very warm spring bud-break and flowering took place early indicating only the best for 2014.

Already in the beginning of April vines were budding, and the flowering took place in the beginning till mid of June at dry weather without problems.

After the very dry spring, rain was badly needed and hoped for. It came with a vengeance during July and August – 295 liters alone during the month of August. September fortunately dried up again.

These weather conditions influenced the harvest extremely. All growers carefully observed the continuously changing weather during September: the spectrum went from sometimes almost ideal conditions with sunny days and cool nights to unfavorable humid-warm phases. The health condition of the grapes was the decisive criterion for the start of the harvest. To prevent rot and loss of quantity in our main variety Riesling we started picking earlier than in the previous years.

We started picking our Pinot Noir very selectively on October 2nd and harvested at 90° of Oechsle. The quality of the grapes was very good, even though there was a heavy quantity reduction due to an extremely severe selection process which already took place in the vineyard. An additional challenge presented this year an insect brought to Europe from Asia. The “Kirschessigfliege” affected mainly red grape varieties and made special attention to each single grape indispensable.

Picking was completed on October 30th.An extreme selection process was carried out in our Rieslings vineyards. The quantity harvested in our top vineyards was reduced to no more than 2000 litres / hectare. The average quantity in our Riesling vineyards amounted to 2700 litres/hectare. The extreme attention to quality finally paid off. We were rewarded with a good spread of quality levels from our Qualitätswein to Kabinett, Spätlese and some beautiful Auslese musts.

We are very pleased with the development of our 2014 vintage in the cellar. The musts and wines are characterized by good extract-values, a harmonious and well integrated acidity and very beautiful clean fruit aromas. Similar to the last years, the wines will be kept on the lees for a long time, so that they will stabilize in a natural way and have the time to develop complexity and structure.

We are very much looking forwards to the next summer, when we will be able to show you the new vintage.

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Vintage Report

Australia 2014 vintage report overview

In its annual vintage survey, the Winemakers' Federation of Australia estimated that the 2014 Australian grape crush overall dropped by 7% compared with 2013 (see table below). The 2014 is estimated at 1.70 million tonnes, down considerably from the record 2005 vintage (see table below). This figure is on par with the seven-year average but 136,000 tonnes lower than last year's crush estimate. The decrease in overall crush is attributable to generally lower yields per hectare in some of the cooler temperate regions, offset by higher yields in the warm inland regions.

The crush of red varieties decreased by 5% and whites by 9%. The red crush was around 884,000 tonnes or 52% of total crush, while whites accounted for 813,000 tonnes or 48% of total crush. 


The top three red varieties were Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, together accounting for 87% of the total red crush. Shiraz continues to dominate with 48% of the total red crush - a 3% increase from last year. Most varieties decreased in tonnage except for Ruby Cabernet (+1%), Lagrein (+10%), Malbec (+12%), Tempranillo (+22%) and Dolcetto (+43%). The largest decreases, in terms of tonnages, were Cabernet Sauvignon (-15,729 tonnes), Merlot (-13,752 tonnes) and Pinot Noir (-8,514 tonnes). 

In the whites, Chardonnay still dominates the white crush at 44% despite decreasing 46,521 tonnes from last year. Sauvignon Blanc remains in second place with 12% although tonnage has marginally decreased, followed by Semillon accounting for 9% of total white crush even though tonnage decreased by 4,514 from last year. Most of the white varieties decreased with Viognier (-83%), Sultana (-53%) and Moscato Giallo (-37%) recording the biggest reductions. The biggest relative increases were for Marsanne (+158%), Doradillo (+118%) and Palomino & Pedro Ximenes (50%).

There was no change in the composition of the Top 10 varieties from last year, except for Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio which is now ranked 8th while Colombard dropped to 9th place.


Vintage 2015 outlook

The below is adapted from the Winemakers' Federation of Australia 2015 vintage outlook as reported in its 2014 Vintage Report.

The resilient 2014 winegrape crush, decrease in average winegrape prices, increase in stock-to-sales ratio, increase in unprofitable production and relatively flat demand projections suggest the 2015 vintage will not see a fundamental change in industry dynamics or profitability unless action is taken. Further, expected above average vintages in Spain, Italy and France will continue to put pressure on global commodity wine prices.

Looking at AGWA's export approvals data, Australian wine (in terms of volume and value) continues to fall short of pre-GFC levels. Australia is still not regaining volume share in the US market and has lost volume in China (as have most other competitors) due to austerity measures imposed by the Chinese government. Unless the industry takes proactive action to grow the demand opportunity and accelerate the correction in the supply base, the industry will continue to see seasonal pricing fluctuations around an already low base. This should be a further incentive for the industry to pursue the necessary initiatives outlined in WFA's Actions for Industry Profitability.

WFA and AGWA believe there are opportunities to build demand. Although Australia has not reached pre-GFC volumes in the US market, the above A$7.50 per litre fob categories continue to improve.

Similarly, the UK and Canadian markets also present growth opportunities. Australia is still under-represented at the higher end of the UK market and in the independent retail sector, but there are some positive signs with growth in exports above A$7.50 per litre fob. Further, Canadian agents (importers) report recent Australian premium sales success and sense that 'things are starting to turn around' at higher price points. 

Austerity measures introduced by the Chinese Government to curb spending by government officials on luxury goods such as wine have had a negative impact on the growth of imported wines to China. However, there are signs of recovery and Australia is well-placed to resume growth, particularly in the above A$7.50 per litre fob categories.

In the Australian domestic market, the Australian wine category holds an 85% share while imports continue to gain share particularly through New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Champagne. However, Australian wines are continuing to grow at all price points above A$12 per bottle, with the strongest growth coming at above A$25 per bottle, albeit off a relatively small base. The on-premise represents an opportunity as Australia is likely under-represented in this channel.

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2014 California Winegrape Harvest: Earliest and Third in a String of Great Vintages this Decade

California vintners and growers across the state are grateful for another excellent vintage, despite an ongoing drought and earthquake that rocked south Napa in late August just as crush was getting underway. A mild winter and spring caused early bud break, although the overall length of the growing season was similar to past years. A compacted harvest began in July for sparkling wines and started winding down by mid-October for later ripening varieties. Moderate temperatures, with only minimal rain in September, allowed for even ripening.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture Pacific Regional Crop Production Report of August 2014, California's winegrape production this year is forecast at 3.9 million tons, down 8 percent from 2013's record high crop. The 2014 harvest is the third largest on record.


"We are about 80 percent done, going into the second week of October," said Glenn Andrade, vice-president winemaking for Trinchero Family Estates, farmers of more than 10,000 acres of vineyards across Napa, Sonoma, the Central Coast, Lodi and Amador. "We've had pretty light to moderate yields this harvest, resulting in exceptional quality. Our Amador Zinfandels are amazing—great intensity and quality. We should be done by the week of October 20, which is early for us, as typically, it's the first week in November."

"The 2014 vintage was by far the earliest start of any harvest I can recall," said Adam Mettler, director of winemaking for Michael David Winery in Lodi. "Early concerns about adequate storage quickly faded as our vineyards continued to check in at 20-25 percent down in volume from the previous two years. The moderate crop size allowed for rapid sugar accumulation early, which created some challenging high-density fermentations, but resulted in some real nice wines."

Renee Ary, winemaker at Duckhorn Vineyards in Napa Valley is also very pleased with the vintage. "2014 will be noted as one of the earliest vintages in over a decade, but it will also go down as one of the best. Challenged by drought, an earthquake, rain, hail and significant heat, you would think there would be a lot of obstacles to navigate, however the timing of the events paired with some planning allowed us to dodge these curveballs and land another fantastic vintage. Tannins are in check and berries are small, which is translating into great balance and concentration in the cellar. Yields and quality are above average across all varieties, and I am anticipating a lot of beautiful 2014 wines to come."


"Quality is outstanding," echoed Chrissy Wittmann, winemaker at Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards in Paso Robles. "There are small berries with good tannin and color release on the reds, and flavorful fruit with bright aromatics on the whites. Now, we are in the home stretch, with this latest heat wave pushing the last of the hanging grapes into pick mode."

"The 2014 vintage was phenomenal for Wente Family Estates and Livermore Valley," exclaimed Karl Wente, fifth generation winemaker for the family winery. "We had outstanding color, the extractions were fantastic and we had great fruit character throughout. The lack of late-season rain and a long growing season helped ensure optimum fruit maturity."


In Sonoma County, there were more accolades for the vintage from Corey Beck, president and director of winemaking at Francis Ford Coppola Winery. "In the past 17 years that I've been with Coppola, this has to be the best vintage I've ever seen. I remember saying that about the 2013 vintage, too. We've been so fortunate to have two back-to-back phenomenal harvests. We buy grapes from a variety of growers in various sub-appellations throughout Sonoma County, and to see that level of quality and consistency in each of the diverse varieties across the region is remarkable. The Chardonnay grapes were supple and succulent; the Cabernets were deep and complex—across the board, it's a great vintage."

"We are very pleased with the assessments of an exceptional 2014 vintage for California wine statewide," said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, president and CEO of Wine Institute. "And we look forward to sharing these outstanding 2014 wines with wine lovers throughout the nation and the world. Although we came through this harvest without major impact, we're keenly aware of the ongoing drought and its effects on California's entire agricultural community, including wine. We are doing our part as vintners and growers to mitigate water usage through a variety of sustainable practices." 





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“After three very small vintages what Burgundy urgently needs in 2014 is quantity,” wrote Clive Coates MW on 1 June. With much of the harvest in, his prayers may have been answered, up to a point. “We’re talking quality and enough of it to stabilise the market and take the pressure off pricing,” said Jasper Morris MW, speaking from Burgundy.

As the man in charge of the region for Berry Bros & Rudd, Morris is particularly impressed with the whites. “They look really great, and it’s a long time I have seen grapes of this quality with excellent sugar levels and good acidity.” The quantity of Côtes de Beaune reds has suffered, particularly in Beaune, Volnay and Pommard, due to devastating hail storms on 26 June. Grégory Patriat, winemaker at Jean-Claude Boisset, put the losses in Beaune at around 80%, with Mersault down 50%. He said: “I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

For some villages it is the eighth hail attack in 10 years, and insurance premiums have gone through the roof. “Some people are closing down because they don’t have the means to pay,” said Charles Lachaux of Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux. While the Côtes de Nuits escaped relatively unscathed, losing no more than 5% of its vineyards, Grand Crus like Clos Vougeot, Richebourg and Échezeaux lost 20 – 35%, claimed Lachaux. In August a new vinegar fly (drosophila suzukii) made an unwelcome appearance in some of the red vineyards.

“It’s going to be a good harvest – the weather was great,” said Lachaux, who finished picking on Wednesday, 14 September. “But we’re not in Bordeaux where every year’s the ‘vintage of the century’. In Burgundy it’s going to be a fresh easy-drinking vintage.”


2014 Vintage Report by Moillard: Another vintage with surprising weather!
In the spring, the vintage seemed quite precocious. There were, however, some signs of the grapes not setting. A violent thunder storm at the end of June caused heavy damage in a few Côte de Beaune villages. The summer was difficult with damp, cool weather. The sun was back at the beginning of September, accompanied by the north wind that allowed the grapes to reach peak ripeness and guaranteed great health for the vines.

Our 2014 white wines will be well-balanced with a clear-cut, precise personality. The reds are showing great concentration, supple and pleasant tannins and lovely finesse. A vintage brimming with promise…

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The best wines of the 2014 vintage

Name Tb Producer Location
1 Montrachet 96.7 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
2 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 96.5 Bryant Family Vineyard Napa Valley, United States
3 Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 96.5 Penfolds South Australia, Australia
4 d'Yquem 96.3 Château d'Yquem Bordeaux, France
5 Lafleur 96.0 Château Lafleur Bordeaux, France
6 Realm Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Dr Crane 96.0 Realm Cellars Napa Valley, United States
7 Pahlmeyer Merlot 96.0 Pahlmeyer Napa Valley, United States
8 Château Haut-Brion Blanc 96.0 Château Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
9 Chardonnay Marcassin Vineyard 96.0 Marcassin Sonoma, United States
10 Screaming Eagle 96.0 Screaming Eagle Napa Valley, United States
11 Pinot Noir "Canary Hill Vineyard" 96.0 Cristom Vineyards Oregon, United States
12 Chassagne-Montrachet "Morgeot" 96.0 Domaine Ramonet Burgundy, France
13 Mount Edelstone 95.9 Henschke Eden Valley, Australia
14 Yattarna Chardonnay 95.9 Penfolds South Australia, Australia
15 Château Margaux 95.8 Château Margaux Bordeaux, France
16 Château Haut-Brion 95.8 Château Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
17 Brokenwood Hermitage Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz 95.7 Graveyard Vineyards Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia
18 Château Latour 95.5 Château Latour Bordeaux, France
19 Tertre Roteboeuf 95.5 Château Tertre Roteboeuf Bordeaux, France
20 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 95.5 Domaine de Chevalier Pessac Leognan, France
21 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc Vieilles Vignes 95.5 Château de Beaucastel Rhône, France
22 Purety 95.3 PureCru California, United States
23 Montrose 95.3 Château Montrose Bordeaux, France
24 Château Mouton-Rothschild 95.2 Château Mouton-Rothschild Bordeaux, France
25 Château Palmer 95.1 Château Palmer Bordeaux, France
26 Idig Großes Gewächs Riesling 95.0 A. Christman Pfalz, Germany
27 Pétrus 95.0 Château Pétrus Pomerol, France
28 The Armagh 95.0 Jim Barry Wines Clare Valley, Australia
29 Röttgen Riesling GG 95.0 Weingut Heymann-Löwenstein Mosel, Germany
30 Magill Estate Shiraz 95.0 Penfolds South Australia, Australia
31 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 95.0 Spottswoode Winery Napa Valley, United States
32 Gevrey Chambertin Les Cazetiers 95.0 Domaine Bruno Clair Burgundy, France
33 Cheval Blanc 95.0 Château Cheval Blanc Bordeaux, France
34 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Beckstoffer To Kalon 95.0 The Debate Napa Valley, United States
35 Echézeaux Grand Cru 95.0 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Burgundy, France
36 Ulhlen Laubach Riesling GG 95.0 Weingut Heymann-Löwenstein Mosel, Germany
37 Le Pin 95.0 Le Pin Bordeaux, France
38 Château de Valandraud 95.0 Château Valandraud St.Emilion, France
39 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 95.0 Farella Napa Valley, United States
40 La Mondotte 95.0 La Mondotte Bordeaux, France
41 Clos-de-Vougeot 95.0 Château de la Tour Burgundy, France
42 Lenswood Giles Vineyard Pinot Noir 95.0 Henschke Eden Valley, Australia
43 Vutti China 95.0 ORLANDO Sicilia, Italy
44 ‘Johnson Block’ Cabernet Sauvignon 95.0 Wynns Coonawarra Estate South Australia, Australia
45 Clos des Lambrays 95.0 Domaine des Lambrays Burgundy, France
46 Château L´Evangile 95.0 Château L´Evangile Pomerol, France
47 Pinot Noir "Eileen" Vineyard 95.0 Cristom Vineyards Oregon, United States
48 Pinot Noir “Bearwallow Vineyard” 95.0 Rhys Vineyards California, United States
49 McLaren Vale Ironstone Pressings 95.0 d'Arenberg South Australia, Australia
50 Chateau Beausejour Duffau-Lagarosse 95.0 Château Beausejour Duffau-Lagarosse Bordeaux, France
51 Corton Grand Cru 95.0 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Burgundy, France
52 Chambolle-Musigny Les Baudes 95.0 Joseph Drouhin Burgundy, France
53 Pinot Noir "Laurène" 95.0 Domaine Drouhin Oregon, United States
54 Château Ausone 95.0 Château Ausone Bordeaux, France
55 Romanée Conti 95.0 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
56 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 94.9 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Bordeaux, France
57 Château Cos d'Estournel 94.8 Château Cos d'Estournel Bordeaux, France
58 Lafite-Rothschild 94.8 Château Lafite-Rothschild Bordeaux, France
59 Chassagne-Montrachet "Les Caillerets" 94.8 Domaine Ramonet Burgundy, France
60 La Tâche 94.7 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
61 Château Climens 94.7 Château Climens Bordeaux, France
62 Corton- Charlemagne Grand Cru 94.7 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Burgundy, France
63 Cuvée Sainte Catherine Riesling Schlossberg Grand Cru 94.7 Domaine Weinbach Alsace, France
64 Vieux Chateau Certan 94.6 Vieux Château Certan Bordeaux, France
65 RWT Shiraz 94.5 Penfolds South Australia, Australia
66 Léoville-Las Cases 94.5 Château Léoville-Las Cases Saint-Julien, France
67 Pinot Noir "Carter Vineyard" 94.5 Ken Wright Cellars Oregon, United States
68 Château Angelus 94.5 Château Angelus Bordeaux, France
69 Riesling G-Max 94.5 Weingut Keller Rheinhessen, Germany
70 Pinot Noir "CASTEEL" 94.5 Bethel Heights Vineyard Oregon, United States
71 Trotanoy 94.5 Château Trotanoy Pomerol, France
72 Château Canon 94.4 Château Canon St. Emilion, France
73 The Dead Arm Shiraz 94.4 d'Arenberg South Australia, Australia
74 Château de Figeac 94.3 Château de Figeac Saint-Emilion, France
75 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou 94.3 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou Bordeaux, France
76 Chambertin Clos de Beze 94.3 Domaine Bruno Clair Burgundy, France
77 La Mission Haut Brion 94.3 Château La Mission Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
78 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 94.2 Penfolds South Australia, Australia
79 Château Léoville Poyferré 94.0 Château Léoville Poyferré Bordeaux, France
80 MITIS Amigne de Vétroz Réserve 94.0 Jean-René Germanier Valais, Switzerland
81 Côte-Rôtie La Mouline 94.0 E.Guigal Rhône, France
82 Chateau Leoville-Barton 94.0 Château Leoville-Barton Bordeaux, France
83 Bâtard-Montrachet 94.0 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
84 Château Pape Clément Blanc 94.0 Château Pape Clément Bordeaux, France
85 Marienburg "Falkenlay" Großes Gewächs Riesling 94.0 Weingut Clemens Busch Mosel, Germany
86 Viognier "Estate" 94.0 Cristom Vineyards Oregon, United States
87 Vosne Romanee Les Champs Pedrix 94.0 Domaine Bruno Clair Burgundy, France
88 Goldtröpfchen Großes Gewächs Riesling 94.0 Weingut Reinhold Haart Mosel, Germany
89 Chablis Premier Cru Montée de Tonnerre 94.0 Domaine Raveneau Burgundy, France
90 Juffer Großes Gewächs Riesling Grosse Lage 94.0 Weingut Fritz Haag Mosel, Germany
91 Sauvignon Blanc 94.0 Secret Rows Ranch California, United States
92 Le Montrachet 94.0 Bouchard Père & Fils Burgundy, France
93 Stolzenberg Riesling GG 94.0 Weingut Heymann-Löwenstein Mosel, Germany
94 Grande Chardonnay 94.0 Ocean Eight Winery Mornington Peninsula, Australia
95 Hofberg Großes Gewächs Riesling 94.0 Weingut Grans-Fassian Mosel, Germany
96 Château La Conseillante 94.0 Château La Conseillante Bordeaux, France
97 Bâtard-Montrachet 94.0 Domaine Jomain Bourgogne, France
98 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 94.0 Cade Winery Napa Valley, United States
99 Continuum 94.0 Continuum Estate Napa Valley, United States
100 Proprietary Red 94.0 Pahlmeyer Napa Valley, United States


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