So what are the principal characteristics of the Bordeaux 2015 vintage? Firstly there is a real beauty to the fruit tones in the red wines this year. Time after time, especially on the Right Bank but also on the Left I kept writing ‘beautiful,’ ‘pretty,’ and ‘delicious.’ There is freshness, despite pretty high alcohols in the main. The vintage is almost a hypothetical blend of 2009 and 2010, but with less evident structure and weight than those vintages. For me it recalls 1985 in terms of that vintage’s early beauty and freshness – and ‘85 remains in great shape today. But the 2015 vintage is by no means homogeneous. In fact there is considerable variability. What is in no doubt is that ‘15 is terrific in St Emilion. There is concentration and delight in so many wines there this year. It has also been strong vintage in the surrounding Côtes de Bordeaux appellation, especially Castillon and Francs.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Doisy-Vedrines’
Thursday’s 2014 primeurs tastings started at Château Latour and the wines showed impressive blackcurrant purity and freshness. Since Latour have withdrawn from the primeurs system, the current releases were also on show including their wonderful 2003 [more on this later]. Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste has also produced very refined and balanced wines in 2014 [including Haut-Batailley]. Lynch Moussas held the UGC tastings for St Estèphe and Pauillac. Top for me amongst the Pauillacs were Batailley, Lynch-Bages and an excellent Pichon Baron. In St Estèphe, Lafon Rochet is full and harmonious and Ormes de Pez concentrated. There was inconsistency in a few others, with hard tannins in some. At Pontet-Canet the chais was packed with visitors and the wine was round and vivacious. Pichon Lalande too has succeeded with a powerful wine with attractive fragrance. Cabernet has certainly done well in the Left Bank this year.
One man’s meat is another man’s poison. If botrytis was the enemy across most of Bordeaux in 2013, it was certainly most welcome in Sauternes and Barsac. The warm and humid conditions favourable for the development of ‘noble’ rot from mid-September onwards, allied to drying winds, proved the classic mix for a very good sweet wine harvest in 2013. The region has produced many beautiful wines with the vintage’s trademark acidity. It gives extra freshness and vibrancy. Some are comparing the quality to 2007 and 1997. Château d’Yquem has produced something tremendous, but there are also very impressive efforts from Château Coutet, Château Doisy-Daëne, Château de Fargues, Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Château de Rayne Vigneau, Château Rieussec, Château Sigalas Rabaud, Château Suduiraut and Château La Tour Blanche.
There is still no doubt that the most exciting wines coming out of Bordeaux in 2011 are the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac. If that sounds like faint praise given that the reds are not up to much, it is not meant to be. 2011 forms the third in a trio of successful, consecutive vintages here in this district and by any gauge it is a very good vintage. The wines have slightly less weight and perhaps more obvious acidity than those of 2009 and 2010, though the picture is not really that straightforward. Certainly they seem to have much more to them than 2007. Given that 2011 remains well priced and that many are already delicious, these are Bordeaux 2011s you could be enjoying this winter, although they also have the depth and acidity for further bottle development.
The clues were there. Fewer big gun proprietors stood behind the tables at this year’s Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting. Some château regulars to Covent Garden were missing completely. And the braying roar of excitement from the trade that accompanied the 2009 and 2010 in-bottle tastings was missing here, replaced by a low, gentle, pinstriped murmur, ‘What on earth are we going to do with this vintage?’ I’m exaggerating a little because there were some good Bordeaux reds from 2011 on offer at the tasting, though relatively few set the pulse really racing. The real joy in this vintage is amongst the whites, particularly the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac, and the dry whites from Pessac-Léognan, though that’s not much consolation for a region mostly concerned with red wine production.
If anything 2012 Sauternes and Barsac is a little better than expected in what was an extremely difficult harvest in the region, spoiled by vintage rain. The very best wines are light yet with enough depth to make appetizing sweet wine that will be comparatively early maturing. A few are in a strange sort of purgatory, a half-way house position, between sweet styles and the off-dry, emphasizing the kind of all-or-nothing risk taking that Bordeaux’s bravest winemakers undertake here each vintage. There’s always the danger that you might get left high and dry in Sauternes [no pun intended] and some brave souls clearly have.