Bordeaux Vintage Review
"These are my personal views on the vintages which should be used as a guideline. Every spring we head of for the Union de Grand Cru (UGC) tastings normally the 1st week of April to taste the 'New Vintage' and often pop in to as many Chateaux as possible (Chateaux hopping) to interview the Owners and winemakers on their views. We also believe in getting opinions from International tasters, critics and merchants from around the world as Bordeaux wines (claret) is now truely an international market place" James Goodhart, MD, Bon Coeur Fine Wines
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1995 - 8.5/10 Drink Now
Excellent on both sides of the Gironde but the Merlot wines of St Emilion and Pomerol (Right Bank) have the edge over the Cabernet based wines of the Medoc. Most Cru Classés are starting to drink but you should be in no hurry. Weather was perfect from 20th September through October.
1996 - 9/10 Drink Now/Lay Down
Another excellent vintage. September was dry and sunny but not too hot, giving the grapes high sugar levels without affecting the level of acidity. The Cabernets in the Medoc have the edge of the Right Bank. One of the best post war vintages.
1997 - 7/10 Drink Now
This vintage was originally released more expensive than the 1996. In September 1998 the Far East market collapsed leaving Bordeaux with huge stock levels. The 1997 vintage was later sold at greatly reduced prices by the Negociants offsetting their profits from the 2000 Vintage. A light styled vintage but plenty of fruit and drinking well now for the Cru Classés. Best to drink these up as the majority are starting to thin out, but still good.
1998 - Left Bank 7/10 Right Bank 9/10 Drink Now
Excellent on the Right Bank although a very hot July and August caused some heat stress on the vines. The Merlots on the Right Bank were mainly picked before the rains at the end of September which adversely affected the Medoc Cabernets creating dilution during harvest.
1999 - 7/10 Drink Now
This was a difficult vintage. Hail storms on the Right Bank affected quite a few properties. The better wines are on the Left Bank where the later picked cabernets were harvested in dry weather. Not a fashionable vintage nevertheless so many 1999 wine give good value for money.
2000 - 10/10 Drink Now/Lay Down
Excellent vintage which received a great deal of media hype hence most of the top wines are now very expensive. Best value is at the bottom end. Perfect weather from the middle of July to the middle of September. Warm vintage which at its time was the best since 1990.
2001 - 8/10 (Sauternes 10/10) Drink Now/Lay Down
Under the shadow of the 2000 vintage. It will never beat 2000 for power and opulence but has grace and finesse and may rival the 1985 and 1986 vintages with time. Left Bank wines have the edge. Wines now look good value compared to the high prices of the 2005’s. Some cracking wines.
2002 - 8/10 Drink Now
Worst possible start. Cold weather in the spring hampered flowering (lowest yields since 1991) and a wet August caused disease and rot but the vintage was saved by glorious weather in September and October (a true Indian Summer). Modern wine making techniques also greatly helped. Early drinking vintage but prices are attractive and it offers great value for money.
2003 - 9/10 Drink Now/Lay Down
Hottest vintage on record. Very much a Left Bank vintage as many of the Right Bank, Merlots suffered from heat stress. The Northern Medoc Communes of St Estephe and Pauillac where helped by their proximity to the sea which reduced the average temperatures.
2004 - 8/10 Drink Now/Lay Down
A cool vintage, but in many ways a classic style that could be compared to the 1988 vintage. Some properties picked early before the grapes fully ripened and consequently the wines are slightly green. The majority of wines were released at higher prices than the 2002 vintage but with 2005 on average being 100% more expensive for the Cru Classé the prices now look very attractive.
2005 - 10/10 Lay Down
Considered by many to be a cult vintage and the best vintage since 1982, or even 1959 or 1961 vintages. The most expensive vintage ever with the top wines being released at 400% up on 2004. The best value in our view is at the lower price end. Without doubt an outstanding vintage but only time will tell on price justification.
2006 - 8/10 Lay Down
No real rule to which Châteaux have done well. On par with 2004 on quality but the prices were more expensive than 2004. Prices were generally half way between 2004 & 2005. The top 30 – 50 Château on the whole did well. No point buying the Cru Bourgeois wines as they are likely to be available at near the original price when they are ready for drinking from 2010 onwards.
2007 - Right Bank 6/10 Left Bank 7/10 (Sauternes 9/10) Drinking / Lay down
2007 was an awful summer which was saved at the 11th hour (last week of August and September) by some excellent weather. St Emilion even at the top end has been disappointing. Green and light in style. It was a difficult vintage to make. The châteaux that invested more time and money into the vineyards to counteract the problems with mildew have been able to produce the best wine. It’s a light, early drinking vintage. Prices came out expensive.
We tasted a lot of 2007s in May (2012) and were impressed by their charming nature and finesse. It's like another 1997 vintage and prices now are reasonable.
2008 - 8/10 Lay Down
Another vintage saved at the 11th hour. Yields in 2008 were naturally low (lowest since the great frost of 1991) giving high concentrations to the must/juice of the grape. Richer and more complex than the 2007 vintage. En Primeur prices, two years on look very favourable, with many of the top wines doubling in value.
2009 - 9.5+/10 Lay Down
Awesome vintage. Without doubt one of the best vintage since 2005 and 2000. The 2009’s have a sweetness of concentrated fruit with a seductive with higher alcohol levels and riper tannin. Prices looked fairly high when released En Primeur but with price rises again in 2010 they look more attractive.
2010 - 9.5/10 Lay Down
Fantastic, Impressive vintage. A vintage all about extremes. Very concentrated fruit levels with big tannins and high acidity. Hard to make a final judgement but all depends on how these three elements blend together.
The big question. Which is better between 2009 and 2010. I think for the UK market we will end up preferring the 2009 as the tannins are softer. The Bordelais and US market are more likely to prefer the more tannic wines of the 2010 vintage.