2015; Bordeaux’s latest vintage has been widely heralded as the most exciting since 2010. Despite near drought conditions throughout the height of the summer, late rains provided relief to the vines and ‘saved’ the fruit giving many Chateaux near perfect fruit at harvest. More about the vintage conditions can be read about on our blog here. Having visited Bordeaux during the primeurs week of 4th to 8th April we now have a more complete view of the vintage. It was a surprisingly enjoyable week with the wines showing much more expression than previous years and supple tannins delivering easier tastings and more immediate enjoyment.
The general consensus seems to be mixed. There are some fantastic wines with an open fruit forward appeal like the 2009s at this stage. There is however a tighter structure to a lot of the wines that seem to lack the crunchy purity of the ‘10s but certainly shows the potential to become one of the more age-worthy vintages of this decade. It’s a vintage where, if you do your homework you can find some real gems outside the more famous and increasingly expensive big names. We found some pleasant surprises; Châteaux that are not currently in the spotlight but were producing some fantastic wines.
Commune quality varied with St.Julien showing great uniformity despite seeing the heaviest rainfall. Seamless integration of tannins and acid lending the wines a supple elegance; enticing at this point, but perhaps not as capable of age as those of the 2010 vintage. From North to South: St. Estèphe certainly benefitted from the long autumn with the usual power and chunky tannins off set by concentrated fruit and a mid palate density that was generous even at this early stage. Pauillac showed greater variance with a couple of Châteaux lacking the expected fruit weight on the mid palate; casualties from early picking before the late summer rain. Lynch-Bages, Pontet-Canet and Pichon-Baron were all fantastic, really highlighting the potential of this vintage. Margaux was the first commune we visited, the best Châteaux showed wonderful succulent fruit and perfume, others seemed a little gawky, like a young foal yet to find its balance. Haut-Médoc shared the balance and integration of tannins seen across the board with classic savoury tones showing good potential. Pessac-Léognan whites have a tension and concentration to suggest this will emerge as one of the more age-worthy vintages. As ever these whites are very closed at this stage, more so than the reds, but the structure of the wines shows all the hallmarks of an excellent vintage. Pessac reds have the brooding dark fruit and graphite richness achieved only in riper years. Château Haut-Brion has been hallowed as one of the few 100 pointers of this year. Its neighbours have also benefitted from the long autumn it seems. High quality was pretty evenly spread amongst the wines.
Right bank has seen 2015 hailed by some as a great vintage. We heard mixed views and looking at the varying scores on our sheets we too had mixed views on the wines. Pomerol showed a tightness and depth suggestive of longevity and potential. There was a lifting freshness in some wines that lent an elegance and lifted expression to the wines. Château Clinet was the perfect example of this vibrant fresh persistence. Sadly due to the pressures of primeur week we missed the St.Emilion tasting but that didn’t stop us walking through the doors of Cheval Blanc, Angélus and Figeac. All three displayed fantastic depth and a promising darkness, density and reserve with Cheval Blanc proving to be the wine of the vintage for some of us.
So as the prices are released and speculators wonder which way they will go, we can only report on what has been. Increasing unrest within the ‘Place de Bordeaux’ means discussion as to the future of en primeur is frequent. As merchants we continue to offer wines still in barrel, cogs in a system that is centuries old and has supported Châteaux, Negociants and Courtiers alike. There is an excitement in buying a wine in barrel, seeing it mature and knowing the provenance. Bordeaux prices will almost certainly remain high as global demand led by the East continues to grow. There are ‘bargains’ to be had, hopefully our commune specific notes* will help you find them. As a vintage 2015 has left us unsure. Unlike any recent vintage, the rain rescued drought will be an interesting one to follow and certainly a talking point for years to come.
*To follow over the coming days.Google+