Bordeaux 2013 – 10 things about the weather and the wines

10 highlights about the weather

  • 2013 was the most difficult growing season in Bordeaux for 20 years or more.
  • It was the smallest crop in Bordeaux since 1991 and 27% down on the low crop of 2012.
  • An unusually cold first half of the year held up growth in the vineyard.
  • A cold, wet May and June culminated in late, uneven flowering. Many Chateaux had much lower yields as a result.
  • July was hot and dry and August quite sunny – one of the plus points of the vintage.
  • An August hailstorm hit more than 10,000 hectares, mostly in the Entre Deux Mers, but none of the top châteaux.
  • Harvest conditions for both dry and sweet whites were good.
  • It was a late red harvest but it would have been later still, given the chance.
  • Rain and humidity at the end of September and into October forced Chateaux to pick their reds as rot set in.
  • Picking at the right moment was critical, as was the ability to eliminate unhealthy and unripe grapes.

10 things about the winesBordeaux201316

  • Chateaux with the resources and manpower were able to harvest and sort the grapes.
  • The red grapes were lower in natural sugar so (for the first time in years) some chaptalisation was common.
  • Gentle extraction was used to get the most from the skins without over-extraction from unripe pips.
  • Acidity is higher, in general.
  • Lower yields in the vineyard and sorting of grapes were further exacerbated by selection for the final blends.
  • Reds are lighter in structure but few show the green, unripe character of weaker vintages due to the warm July and fair August.
  • The reds will be drinkable sooner and have a shorter life span.
  • The reds show it was a difficult vintage but that Bordeaux can make good wines in really tough conditions.
  • If there’s a vintage to re-assess in bottle, after ageing in barrel, it is 2013. The élevage of many quite fragile red wines will be key.
  • 2013 was a very good year for the dry whites, on the whole, and an excellent one for sweet whites.