BORDEAUX 2019 VINTAGE
When I was visiting Bordeaux early March, Corona was a threat on the horizon and France has been more concerned by a strike of the air traffic control. However, I was travelling to Bordeaux and had the chance to get some first insights to the 2019 vintage. I was very much looking forward to the “en primeur tastings” which were scheduled for March 26, 2020 but the tastings were cancelled mid-March. Immediately I contacted the different associations and wineries in Bordeaux and asked for samples.
The result was a small number of wines which arrived in Essen before the shutdown of France made shipments rather difficult. These first samples of the vintage 2019 were tasted under pristine conditions to assure a fair and equal assessment of all qualities. In fact, the samples proved right the opinion of some of Bordeaux’ leading figures. Bruno-Eugène Borie from Château Ducru-Beaucaillou sees 2019 in a line with the excellent vintages of 2016, 2010, 2009 und 2005.
Henri Lurton talks about his best vintage, along with 2016, he has ever vinified at Château Brane-Cantenac. Philippe Dhalluin from Château Mouton-Rothschild asses the vintage as rich and abundant in quality and also in quantity. After some smaller crops they came back to an average production.
Emmanuel Cruse from Château d’Issan sees that 2019 has a lot in common with 2016 yet preserving more freshness. It is a very good vintage but appearing at a very difficult time on the market. In fact, the start of this vintage was very positive. Enough precipitations during winter were retained by soils like chalk and clay. Vineyards on these water retaining soils had a huge advantage in the future growing period. With exception of a wet June, the vintage has taken advantage of a rather dry climatic condition, which prevented diseases in the vineyards to a huge extend. No chance for powdery or downy mildew. Even the heat waves were not really harming the vines as rain set in, always at the last moment but still early enough to prevent massive water stress and a slow-down of the maturity. The late physiological maturity brought a lot of alcohol, but the wines show more freshness as in the previous years.
Fabien Teitgen, Winemaker of Smith-Haut-Lafitte relates this freshness to the good acidity “due to cool night temperatures during the ripening period”. This fact is also good news for white wines. „They are the big surprise “, says Olivier Bernard of Domaine de Chevalier.
At Château Coutet in Barsac, Philippe and Aline Baly were harvesting in three passes with a total of 19 harvesting days. They judge the conditions as rather ideal: “These climatic conditions have generated a harvest whose quality is indisputably present.” Same samples made their way to Essen and I have tasted them. Some more samples are announced and will hopefully arrive during the current week. There will be a weekly update of my tasting notes, whenever samples will arrive.
Unfortunately, 2019 arrives in a difficult time, the Corona virus puts the world in fear and makes trade more and more difficult. Trade berries and new customs duties create a difficult frame for this vintage. However, we should not forget one thing: there are wonderful 2019s waiting for us, wines with ageing potential and charm which will survive every crisis.
TOP 100 WINES FROM THE 2018 BORDEAUX VINTAGE
"The best vintage of my live" says Christian Moueix of the Ets. Jean Pierre Moueix in Libourne. In fact, 2018 is a vintage with wonderfully ripe tannins which taste almost sweet and are characterizing wine with excellent structured. However this vintage was everything else than easy-going. The first six months of the year saw the complete annual rainfall for the Bordeaux region, over 800mm. Mildew attacked the grapes, what meant a reduction in quantity but as the leaves have not been attacked the maturity process continued and the lower yields brought concentrated grapes. Another problem where hailstorms bringing further damage. Some Châteaux like Château Guiraud have lost the complete harvest. "We went from hell to heaven" summarizes Véronique Sanders from Château Haut-Bailly in Pessac-Léognan the vintage. After the deluge in the first half of 2018, there was a dramatic change for the second half bringing great, dry weather with a lot of sun. The partially high daily temperatures were in change with lower night temperatures and created a tension for aromatic wines. The correct amount of extraction and maceration was crucial and some vintners have changed their maceration processes and made great wines with a lot of freshness. These vintners are amongst the winners of the vintage. If 2018 will belong to the greatest vintages in Bordeaux for the overall production might show the future. However already today there is a number of Châteaux performing well above the vintages of 2010 or 2016. In every case this vintage is easy to taste. The wines seem already perfectly ripe today. This is a new experience in the primeur week.
Lafite-Rothschild 2018 - Château Lafite-Rothschild - 99+p
Cheval Blanc 2018 - Château Cheval Blanc - 99p
Château Latour 2018 - Château Latour - 99p
Château Haut-Brion 2018 - Château Haut-Brion - 99p
Château Margaux 2018 - Château Margaux - 99p
Château Mouton-Rothschild 2018 - Château Mouton-Rothschild - 99p
Pétrus 2018 - Château Pétrus - 99p
Le Pin 2018 - Le Pin - 99p
Château L´Evangile 2018 - Château L´Evangile - 98p
Château Haut-Bailly 2018 - Château Haut-Bailly - 98p
Château Angelus 2018 - Château Angelus - 98p
Château Haut-Brion Blanc 2018 - Château Haut-Brion - 98p
Château de Figeac 2018 - Château de Figeac - 98p
Pavie 2018 - Château Pavie - 98p
Trotanoy 2018 - Château Trotanoy - 98p
Château Trottevieille 2018 - Château Trottevieille - 98p
Château de Valandraud 2018 - Château Valandraud - 98p
Château Violette 2018- Château La Violette - 98p
La Mondotte 2018 - La Mondotte - 98p
L'Eglise-Clinet 2018 - Château L'Eglise-Clinet - 98p
Château Troplong-Mondot 2018 - Château Troplong-Mondot - 98p
Château Palmer 2018 - Château Palmer - 98p
La Mission Haut Brion Blanc 2018 - Château La Mission Haut-Brion - 98p
La Mission Haut-Brion 2018 - Château La Mission Haut-Brion - 98p
Château Ausone 2018 - Château Ausone - 98p
Chateau Beausejour Duffau-Lagarosse 2018 - Château Beausejour Duffau-Lagarosse - 97p
Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou 2018 - Château Ducru-Beaucaillou - 97p
Château La Fleur-Pétrus 2018 - Château Lafleur-Pétrus - 97p
Montrose 2018 - Château Montrose - 97p
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2018 - Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande - 97p
Château Pontet Canet 2018 - Château Pontet Canet - 97p
Château Pavie-Macquin 2018 - Château Pavie-Macquin - 97p
Virginie de Valandraud Blanc 2018 - Château Valandraud - 97p
Vieux Chateau Certan 2018 - Vieux Château Certan - 97p
Château Cos d'Estournel 2018 - Château Cos d'Estournel - 97p
Léoville-Las Cases 2018 - Château Léoville-Las Cases - 96p
Château Canon 2018 - Château Canon - 96p
Clos Fourtet 2018 - Clos Fourtet - 96p
Beau Sejour-Becot 2018 - Château Beausejour-Becot - 96p
L'If 2018 - L'If - 96p
La Gaffelière 2018 - Château La Gaffelière - 96p
Chateau Margaux Pavillon Blanc 2018 - Château Margaux - 96p
Château Péby Faugères 2018 - Château Péby Faugères - 96p
Château Calon Ségur 2018 - Château Calon-Ségur - 96p
Château Brane-Cantenac 2018 - Château Brane-Cantenac - 96p
Château Smith Haut Lafitte 2018 - Château Smith Haut Lafitte - 96p
Château Rieussec 2018 - Château Rieussec - 96p
Château Rauzan-Ségla 2018 - Château Rauzan-Ségla - 96p
Château Pichon-Longueville Baron 2018 - Château Pichon-Longueville Baron - 96p
Bélair Monange 2018 - Château Bélair Monange - 96p
Château Nenin 2018 - Château Nenin - 96p
Château Malescot-Saint-Exupery 2018 - Château Malescot St-Exupéry - 96p
Château Léoville Poyferré 2018 - Château Léoville Poyferré - 96p
Chateau Leoville-Barton 2018 - Château Leoville-Barton - 96p
Château Lascombes 2018 - Château Lascombes - 96p
Château Larcis Ducasse 2018 - Château Larcis Ducasse - 96p
Les Forts de Latour 2018 - Château Latour - 95p
Château Gruaud-Larose 2018 - Château Gruaud-Larose - 95p
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 2018 - Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey - 95p
Château Cantenac-Brown 2018 - Château Cantenac-Brown - 95p
Château Beauregard 2018 - Château Beauregard - 95p
Domaine de L´Eglise 2018 - Domaine de L´Eglise - 95p
Petit Cheval 2018 - Château Cheval Blanc - 95p
Château Clerc Milon 2018 - Château Clerc Milon - 95p
Le Defi de Fontenil Lot 18 2018 - Château Fontenil - 95p
Cos d’Estournel Blanc 2018 - Château Cos d'Estournel - 95p
Château Malartic-Lagraviere 2018 - Château Malartic-Lagraviere - 95p
Château Hosanna 2018 - Château Hosanna - 95p
Château Gazin 2018 - Château Gazin - 95p
Château Pape Clément 2018 - Château Pape Clément - 95p
Château Suduiraut 2018 - Château Suduiraut - 95p
Château Clinet 2018 - Château Clinet - 95p
Château de Fargues 2018 - Château de Fargues - 95p
Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 2018 - Domaine de Chevalier - 95p
Domaine de Chevalier 2018 - Domaine de Chevalier - 95p
Chäteau La Clotte 2018 - Château La Clotte - 95p
Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2018 - Château Smith Haut Lafitte - 95p
Chateau Certan de May 2018 - Château Certan de May - 95p
Château Duhart-Milon Rothschild 2018 - Château Duhart-Milon Rothschild - 95p
Le Gay 2018 - Le Gay - 95p
Château Lafleur-Gazin 2018 - Château Lafleur-Gazin 95p
Château D´Issan 2018 - Château D´Issan - 95p
Château Coutet 2018 - Château Coutet - 95p
Château Pavie-Decesse 2018 - Château Pavie-Decesse - 95p
Château Petit-Village 2018 - Château Petit-Village - 95p
Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste 2018 - Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste - 95p
Château Doisy-Daene 2018 - Château Doisy-Daëne - 95p
Chateau Lynch-Bages 2018 - Château Lynch-Bages - 94p
Château Marquis-D´Alesme-Becker 2018 - Château Marquis-D´Alesme-Becker - 94p
Château Oliver 2018 - Château Oliver - 94p
Château Plince 2018 - Château Plince - 94p
Quintus 2018 - Château Quintus - 94p
Château Malartic-Lagraviere Blanc 2018 - Château Malartic-Lagraviere - 94p
Château Phelan-Segur 2018 - Château Phelan-Segur - 94p
Le Petit Mouton 2018 - Château Mouton-Rothschild - 94p
Chapelle Ausone 2018 - Château Ausone - 94p
Chateau Monbousquet 2018 - Château Monbousquet - 94p
Château La Fleur de Boüard 2018 - Château La Fleur de Boüard - 94p
Clos du Marquis 2018 - Château Clos du Marquis - 94p
Château Talbot 2018 - Château Talbot - 94p
TOP 50 WINES FROM THE 2017 BORDEAUX VINTAGE
A heterogeneous vintage, 2017 will remain in the memory of a lot of vintners with very mixed feelings.
An early bud break put hopes very high for a good vintage. These hopes were destroyed by a frost period of historical dimensions. On April 20 an 21 as well as on April 27 and 28 the frost destroyed 30 to 50% of the harvest in the Gironde area, though the best terroirs and famous appellations have been less affected. An early and regular flowering set new hopes. Summer was very dry and the harvest was quite early, even accelerated by rain at the beginning of September. This was rather a problem for the Merlot grapes than for Cabernets. The Cabernet-Sauvignon took advantage of a dry Indian Summer. Overall the vintage produced remarkable dry white wines above the qualities of 2015 and 2016. The sweet wines took advantage of a fast and regular Botrytis resulting in great wines.
The red wines are in general more heterogeneous. However, concerning the wines tasted and presented below, it is a vintage without aromas of peppers and vegetal components, therefore suggesting a good ripening level. For the vineyards suffering frost, often the second generation of grapes had to be used to produce wine. These wines are less impressive than the previous vintages. The best terroirs were offering wines with expressive fruit with a character allowing a good evolution.
On the left bank, Pauillac was doing remarkably well as well as Saint-Julien and generally the vineyards facing the river. On the right bank the situation is much more heterogeneous, with very good results on the plateau calcaire of Saint-Emilion and the centre of the plateau de Pomerol. Overall fruit is dominating the tasting notes and at this early stage, the aromatic expression is mainly based on red and dark berries and stone fruit for the reds. For the whites the range goes from yellow fruits and citrus fruits up to tropical fruits especially in the sweet wines. Looking back to the last vintages ending on "7" it seems, that this vintage again respects a certain "7"-Tradition.
It is a vintage bringing back Bordeaux to its roots, offering a very classic wine style with lower alcohol levels than in the previous years but with often excellent aromatic expression. 2015 and 2016 have surely been better vintages than last year, but based on a first impression 2017 seems to be better than 2014. The evolution will show, that 2017 is far from becoming a "forgotten vintage". Some nice surprises will be waiting for us.
d'Yquem 2017 99p
Le Pin 2017 99p
Pétrus 2017 99+p
Château Ausone 2017 98+p
Château Haut-Brion 2017 98p
Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou 2017 98p
Cheval Blanc 2017 98+p
Château de Valandraud 2017 98p
Vieux Chateau Certan 2017 98p
Château Haut-Brion Blanc 2017 98p
Château Margaux 2017 98p
Lafite-Rothschild 2017 98p
Château L´Evangile 2017 98p
Château Mouton-Rothschild 2017 98p
Château Latour 2017 98p
Pavie 2017 97p
Château Cos d'Estournel 2017 97p
Montrose 2017 97p
Château Suduiraut 2017 97p
Trotanoy 2017 97p
La Mission Haut Brion Blanc 2017 97p
La Mondotte 2017 97p
Château Violette 2017 97p
Château Pavie-Macquin 2017 97p
Château Trottevieille 2017 96p
Château Troplong-Mondot 2017 96p
Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2017 96p
Blanc de Valandraud No. 1 2017 96p
Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 2017 96p
Cos d’Estournel Blanc 2017 96p
Château Pontet Canet 2017 96+p
Château Rieussec 2017 96p
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2017 96p
Château Pichon-Longueville Baron 2017 96p
Château Palmer 2017 96p
Château Guiraud 2017 96p
The Angelus 2017 96p
Château Léoville Poyferré 2017 96p
Chateau Beausejour Duffau-Lagarosse 2017 96p
Léoville-Las Cases 2017 96p
Le Gay 2017 96p
Château de Figeac 2017 96p
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 2017 96p
La Mission Haut Brion 2017 96p
Château Clinet 2017 96p
Château La Conseillante 2017 96p
Château Coutet 2017 96p
Château Canon-La-Gaffelière 2017 96p
Chateau Margaux Pavillon Blanc 2017 96+p
Château Beauregard 2017 95p
Top 10 Wines of 2017
1727 Rüdesheimer Apostelwein – Bremer Rathskeller
1727, Johann Sebastian Bach presents the oratorio „Matthäus Passion“, Georg Friedrich Händel composes the Coronation Anthems for King George III, the Italian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo is born, the scientist Isaac Newton dies aged 84 and the Rheingau vintners harvest an exceptional vintage. The vintage 1727 features wines of great fame which were very much in demand. Therefore the city council of Bremen decided to cellar a barrel of this extraordinary vintage beneath the Town Hall of Bremen. The so called „12 Apostels cellar“ became the home of this rarity, already sought after in the 19th century: The London based auctioneer Christie’s presented a dozen of bottles of the 1727 in his wine catalogue from 1829. The bottles were sold for 5 pounds, a fortune in the early nineteenth century. The last half bottle sold at Christie’s was in 2008, when the wine was sold for more than 6000€.
During the ageing process in the cellars at Bremen, different bottlings have been made. The half bottle which was presented on October 6, 2017 has been bottled in the sixties, it was the last bottling. The wine originates from the so called Judas cask and is arguably the oldest, still drinkable wine worldwide. The grape variety of this wine is unknown. At the time being, the vineyards where planted in mixed plantations. It is thought that White Orleans could be the main grape variety, Riesling might have played a minor role in the blend.
Ten tasters gathered on October 6 in a cellar at Essen and were anxiously waiting to taste the wine. Tasting such a rare bottles is a special experience. Only two wines are known with an older age: the last bottle of 1540 Stein from Würzburg which is kept in the cellars of the Bürgerspital Würzburg and a cask of 1653 Rüdesheimer, which is still ageing in the Rose cellar of the town hall of Bremen. However, both of these rarities are not accessible for tastings and not on sale. Expectations were high and –to make long story short- were absolutely fulfilled. The 1727 was shipped from the Bremer Ratskeller two weeks before the tasting day and opened one hour before service. It showed an amber colour with a slight copper coloured hue. The nose was very expressive displaying an aroma reminiscent of oranges, candied orange peel and bitter almonds at the beginning. After a quarter of an hour the aroma of candied orange peel intensified and was complemented with hints of dried fruits, mainly apricots. Another ten minutes later the nose turned towards a quite spicy expression with aroma reminiscent of cinnamon and nutmeg blossoms. The fruit still developed positively remaining on dried apricots and hints of candied orange peel. After more than half an hour hints of walnuts showed up. Half an hour later the first hints of flowery and blossoms were turning up: white lilies, honey and white blossoms. It was interesting to see, how the different aromatic components showed up, intensified than faded and some of them were coming back on a regular rhythm, especially the aroma reminiscent of English fruit cake, balmy spices and roasting notes. After three hours in the glass the aroma reminiscent of walnuts, caramel, raisins and butterscotch intensified. Interestingly the nose kept hints of dried fruits for over six hours in the glass. The palate was exceptional from the beginning, displaying a creamy texture, fine acidity and a hint of sweetness. A wine with 290 years of age with surprising freshness. Even after six hours in the glass, the wine showed a mild character with hints of candied lemon peel. When the glasses were finally emptied more than six hours after service, they kept displaying an intense aroma of sherry, walnuts, dried pineapple and candied orange peel. A unique experience.
It was my second bottle of this wine. The first time I had the pleasure to taste it over five years ago. Comparing the tasting notes from that time, there were a lot of parallels, however this bottle was even more perfect. 100p
1827 Boal Madeira, Quinta de Serrado, Christie’s Auction Label
Intense amber colour with copper coloured hue. A tremendous wine giving an overwhelming tasting experience. The nose is complex and opens up extremely well with some air contact, releasing an aroma reminiscent of walnuts, dried plums and pears, with almost smoky character and hints of dark chocolate in the background. The nose is backed by mild spices, a wonderful Madeira with great purity. On the palate the taste shows great finesse, the flavour is repeating the hints of dark chocolate, nuts and dried fruits, the sweetness is very fine, balanced with very elegant acidity. A remarkable Madeira which shows a pristine character over three hours in the glass. 100p
1878 Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Café-Voisin-Label
Still lively, bright ruby colour. Excellent and expressive nose, slightly smoky, roasted chestnuts, hints of dried fruit, noble leather, classical style with perfect maturity and very persistent character. On the palate great elegance, depth and length, hints of minerality and a slight metallic hint in the background. A great bottle, close to perfection. 100p
1961 Château Margaux
The most impressive wine of the tasting combining elegance and persistence. Intense garnet red colour. Elegant and persistent aroma reminiscent of mild spices, vanilla, hints of roasted aroma, fine fruit in the background, elegant minerality. On the palate excellent balance, fine tannins, freshness and great length. A wonderful wine with long lingering aftertaste and great elegance. Close to perfection. 99+p
1967 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Bertani
A wine close to perfection displaying a garnet red colour and brick red hue. Great aromatic finesse on the nose, roasted chestnuts, cigar box, cuban tobacco, candied dates, dried figs and prunes, hinte of very fine leather. On the palate sweet tannins, elegant character, perfect balance and excellent length. A wine which has kept a lot of freshness although the mature age. A wonderful experience. 99p
1986 Château Mouton-Rothschild, Premier Cru Classé, Pauillac
Although decanted four hours before service, the wine needed a long time to open up, eventually displaying a complex aroma reminiscent of elderberries and blackcurrants, slight earthy notes, Indian sandalwood, fine Cuban tobacco, cigar box, graphite and pencil shavings. On the palate the massive structure did not prevent elegance and persistence to go hand in hand. Very aromatic, repeating the flavours of the nose, ripe, silky but still somehow youthful tannins, fine acidity and deeply impressing length. An almost perfect drinking experience. 100p
1997 San Leonardo, Marchese Carlo Guerrieri Gonzaga, Magnum
A great San Leonardo with dark garnet-red colour. The nose is elegant but persistent with multi-layered character, aroma reminiscent of elder-berries, mulberries, ripe, red peppers, hints of white pepper in the background, balmy spiciness. On the palate well balanced with excellent length, wonderful mouthfeel and complex flavour of mils spices, ripe fruit and sweet tannins. A overwhelming tasting experience out of a magnum. 99p
1998 Château l’Evangile, Pomerol
A dark and garnet red wine based on 72% Merlot and 28% Cabernet Franc. The nose is excellent with a lot of freshness and a very typical aroma profile. Prunes and dark cherries, ripe and sweet elderberries, black truffles, cardamom, vanilla and toasted gingerbread, orange peel in the background. A wine which develops extremely well in the glass, the surprise of this tasting, close to perfection. On the palate elegant but very persistent with freshness, great depth, aromatic complexity, almost balmy spiciness and a long lingering aftertaste. 99p
1998 Masetto, Bolgheri DOC, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia
A massive and deeply impressing wine which is a wonderful combination of maturity and freshness. The colour is dark purple red with a slight brick red hue. The nose convinces with an aroma reminiscent of juicy plums, ripe blackberries, fresh figs, aromatic mulberries and hints of Vanilla in the background. On the palate the wine shows an opulent taste with velvety tannins and an elegant freshness. A wine with impressing length and great potential. 100p
2015 Kellerberg Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese, Domäne Wachau
Amber coloured wine of great purity with intense, multi-layered fruit reminiscent of papaya, mango and passionfruit, fresh tangerine and tangerine peel, hints of grapefruit in the background. On the palate rich but very elegant, complex with depth and extraordinary length, a monumental yet classic wine. 99p
TOP 500 BORDEAUX 2015 VINTAGE
The 2015 vintage will be one of the excellent vintages, however hardly to compare to 2009 and 2010 or 2005.
In 2015 the region played a major role, terroir was the key to success. For red wines, the limestone plateau in Saint-Emilion performed extremely well, as there was water available during the hot summer days and drainage proved to be ideal during rainy August. Therefore, the best wines of Saint-Emilion come from limestone soils. The sandy parts of the appellation produced a quite heterogeneous result. In Pomerol it looked the same, with very successful wines from the central plateau and more heterogeneous qualities from the areas around. In Fronsac it was not only the terroir which proved important, the vintners decision had a major impact. Pessac-Léognan did extremely well in this vintage, with a homogenous quality.
The Médoc was divided. The southern part, mainly Margaux and the southern part of Saint-Julien, have seen less rain and produced more powerful wines. The northern part of the Médoc, especially Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe have produced a very fine and elegant style with excellent persistence. On the good terroirs, the seeds were ripe, which results in very ripe tannins with a silky or velvety expression. In addition, the cooler conditions of autumn provoked a very pure and fresh fruit. For the dry white wines, the quality depends very much on the origin again. Due to the hot and dry growing season, a lot of white wines show very mild, almost soft acidity but also some phenolic hints in the aftertaste. A few dry white wines are standing out, having preserved freshness and acidity.
The sweet wines are remarkably good, very rich in character and the best of them have a crisp acidity balancing the opulent sugar. The tasting conditions were rather good, however the weather was quite mixed, affecting the presentation of the wines. The wines were tasted blind where possible and open. The final decision on the rating is based on both tasting types.
Here is my TOP 10 Bordeaux 2015 Wines
- Château Ausone 2015 Bordeaux France 99 points
- Vieux Chateau Certan 2015 Bordeaux France 98 points
- Château L´Evangile 2015 Pomerol France 98 points
- Château Haut-Brion 2015 Bordeaux France 98 points
- Pétrus 2015 Pomerol France 98 points
- Château Latour 2015 Bordeaux France 98 points
- Château Mouton-Rothschild 2015 Bordeaux France 98 points
- Lafite-Rothschild 2015 Bordeaux France 98 points
- Cheval Blanc 2015 Bordeaux France 98 points
- Château Margaux 2015 Bordeaux France 98 points
Primeurs 2015: Snap-shot of a Vintage 2014
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 too 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 organised by the Bordeaux trade. Therefore, some oft of the 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 snapshot 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 were 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 roughly twelve months to follow for the maturation of the 2014s until 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.
Bordeaux 2013 – the challenge of the century?
It was a challenging year for the producers in Bordeaux as the weather conditions were far from ideal. A very late and bad flowering period reduced the quantity already on an early stage. The spring weather with cool temperatures and a very wet climatic situation delayed the vegetation process. The summer with hot and sunny days in July and August gave hope for a better turn. However, the warm and wet conditions in autumn destroyed this hope as rot spread around. Intense work in the vineyards was necessary to save the harvest.
Lucky were the areas in the northern part of the Médoc, as they had only half the quantity of rain compared to the southern Médoc. Saint-Julien, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe had a clear advantage with ripe Cabernet-Sauvignons, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Some good results showed up in the northern Part of the Haut-Médoc Appellation too. Margaux and Pessac-Léognan were less fortunate. On the right bank, the vintage was quite positive for Fronsac and some areas in the Côtes de Bordeaux, but Pomerol and Saint-Emilion suffered difficult times.
In general, the vintage seemed more positive for white wines. The dry whites from Pessac-Léognan and the Graves region have a pleasant character and are quite typical for its appellation. The sweet wines from Sauternes and Barsac showed some excellent examples.
With this information in mind, the Primeur tastings started as usually at the end of March, beginning of April 2014. The mood of the producers was not cheerful at all, as some articles condemned the vintage even before the Primeur tastings and some tasters even refrained from attending this tasting, judging the wines as too poor. “The worst vintage since the war” was the title of an internet publication.
Honestly speaking, it was the most challenging experience I ever had for this type of tasting, but it was also showing some surprises. Bearing the positive aspects in mind, I was quite curious how the different growth would show up in the future when bottled. During the first week of January 2016, I was able to taste almost 300 wines from the 2013 vintage in an absolute blind tasting under ideal conditions (and some late arrivals will be tasted at the end of January). Most of the appellations were present and there were some surprising aspects. The ageing process in the barrels and bottles softened the character of the wines, which were sometimes harsh and difficult to access in early April 2014. In the end, it came as a pleasant surprise that the number of the wines were performing better and getting higher scores than almost two years ago during the Primeur tasting. For sure, 2013 is not a great vintage, but producers working hard were able to save a satisfying quality level. Despite the difficulties, there are some wonderful discoveries, less powerful but nevertheless persistent and complex in character. The vintage 2013, an enormous challenge, ending with a rather positive surprise.
Add new comment