Category Archives: Bordeaux 2014

Bordeaux 2014 – review of the vintage

2014 is a good to very good vintage, but not in the same league as 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010 for the reds. Every vintage has its own unique character but, in terms of quality, the red wines of 2014 arguably rank alongside or just ahead of the second tier vintages of 2001, 2006, 2008 and 2012 (the latter having been underrated en primeur, but now showing well in bottle). The 2014s are superior, in general, to their counterparts of 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011 and, of course, 2013.

Lafite 24 Sept 2014 - 117 - Version 3

The 2014 harvest at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild

As for the dry whites, 2014 is a very good vintage – in fact, the dry whites of Bordeaux have been favoured by the weather in the last five years (discounting the hail in the Entre Deux Mers in 2013). For the late picked sweet whites, it’s another excellent vintage to add to the stocks of the lovely 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013.

Overall then, 2014 could certainly be considered ’the best of the rest’. Keep reading

Bordeaux 2014 – Scores and when to drink them

Cos d'Estournel - 223I tasted over 600 wines over 12 days in late March and early April, including the 250 ‘most searched for’ Bordeaux wines on wine-searcher.com. Here are my scores for 100 red wines that merited at least 90 out of 100, and that are likely to be of interest to UK en primeur buyers; they are listed by appellation.

*With prices starting to come out, I’ve noted the average list price for the 2012 in bottle as a comparison, as quoted by Liv-ex. The price is per case of 12, in bond (excl  duty and VAT).

Added to which, a few of my favourite dry whites and sweet white wines from 2014.

You can download my Excel sheet of 500 wines that rate at least 85 points in my book. (The number on the left is a trade ID number that’s used by Liv-ex.) Keep reading

Should you buy en primeur – or in bottle?

Brane Cantenac - 176 - Version 3There’s been little incentive for consumers to buy Bordeaux en primeur in recent years, so can the chateaux turn that around with some ultra tasty prices? For the first time in four years, there’s genuine enthusiasm amongst the wine trade to get behind the 2014 en primeur campaign. “The market, though, is tepid” says James Miles, MD of Liv-ex.

There was a positive reaction to the wines at the annual Spring tastings here in Bordeaux just before Easter but, as most collectors know, there’s been no advantage in buying recent vintages while the wines were still in barrel. The 2011s, 2012s and 2013s failed to ignite much interest en primeur, so consumers are going to need some convincing; it’s now in the hands of the leading chateaux as they set their opening prices a year or so before the wines are bottled. For UK buyers, the exchange rate will help too.

Robert Parker, the world’s most influential critic, is no longer reviewing Bordeaux from barrel, but only in bottle, and this may affect the way people buy Bordeaux. However, if consumers don’t buy Bordeaux during the en primeur season, will they ever get around to buying once the wines are bottled? The golden goose could be in mortal danger.

There are umpteen 2014s that will be really enjoyable to drink. The question is, which should you buy, at what price, and when? Keep reading

Bordeaux 2014 from barrel – en primeur article

Here’s my article for Harpers Wine & Spirit magazine, May 2015 issue.

Harpers Wine & Spirit

Get the article here. pdfpdf – 1.9mb

Download

Bordeaux 2014 – the verdict

Good wines, now down to price

There’s been little incentive for people to buy Bordeaux en primeur in recent years. Can the chateaux turn that around? Our man on the ground, local winemaker Gavin Quinney, reviews the latest vintage.

For the first time in four years, there’s genuine enthusiasm amongst the trade to get behind the Bordeaux en primeur campaign. There was a positive reaction to the wines at the annual tastings but, as we all know, there’s been no advantage in buying recent vintages while the wines were still in barrel. The 2011s, 2012s and 2013s failed to ignite much interest en primeur, so consumers are going to need some convincing; it’s now in the hands of the leading chateaux as they set their opening prices a year or so before the wines are bottled. For UK buyers, the exchange rate should help too.

Where does 2014 rank?

So how good are the wines of 2014? In short, it’s a good to very good vintage, but not in the same league as 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010 for the reds. Every vintage has its own unique character but, in terms of quality, the red wines of 2014 arguably rank alongside or just ahead of the second tier vintages of 2001, 2006, 2008 and 2012 (the latter having been underrated en primeur, but now showing well in bottle). The 2014s are superior, in general, to their counterparts of 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011 and, of course, 2013.

As for the dry whites, 2014 is a very good vintage – in fact, the dry whites of Bordeaux have been favoured by the weather in the last five years (discounting the hail in the Entre Deux Mers in 2013). For the late picked sweet whites, it’s another excellent vintage to add to the stocks of the lovely 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013.

Overall then, 2014 could certainly be considered ’the best of the rest’.

The ’Miracle’ Vintage? Keep reading

Bordeaux 2014 – the weather report

This report has also been published on JancisRobinson.com and Liv-ex.

Cos d'Estournel - 151 - Version 3As the wine trade and critics descend on Bordeaux to taste the 2014s, I thought it would be useful to review how the weather affected the vintage.

For more on the 2014 Bordeaux harvest as it happened, see The start of the flowering, Hoping for September sun, The red harvest begins and Guarded optimism as harvest ends.

As well as living with the weather day-to-day in a professional sense (which isn’t recommended), I’ve collected and compiled a fair amount of data. I’ve created a pdf document that should be easy to view on a laptop, desktop, iPad or mobile with a large screen:

The Weather 2014

Get the report here. pdfpdf – 2.3mb

Download

Keep reading

Bordeaux 2014 – guarded optimism as harvest ends

This report also appears on JancisRobinson.com and Liv-ex.

There’s a sense of cautious optimism as the last of the red grapes are harvested in Bordeaux. While 2014 isn’t a great year, it could prove to be a really good one for many chateaux. An excellent flowering in June, a mixed summer, then a gorgeous September and first few days of October all give the impression of a ’bookend’ season that started and ended well.

On the face of it, the timing of the harvest and the size of the crop is almost a return to normal, if there is such a thing. The dry whites were picked in September and the reds in late September and first half of October, producing a decent yield of healthy grapes.

La Conseillante in Pomerol, Merlot, 2 October 2014

La Conseillante in Pomerol, Merlot, 2 October 2014

Yet it hasn’t simply been a case of harvesting ’à la carte’, as some Bordelais like to boast in great years like 2005, 2009 and 2010. I’ve been lucky enough to drop in to see the harvest being handled at scores of leading chateaux over the last few weeks and here are some observations.

Five glorious weeks

I caught up with Christian Moueix in St-Emilion at the beginning of October, before they picked at Ch Belair Monange. “It’s a good vintage – very good in fact” he said, speaking mainly of his Pomerols. “And a miracle compared to what we thought at the end of August.”

After a fairly lacklustre summer, we’ve had the best September and start to October that I can recall in 16 harvests here. Keep reading

Bordeaux 2014 – the red harvest begins

This report also appears on JancisRobinson.com and Liv-ex.

The red wine harvest has got under way in Bordeaux, shortly before the end of an exceptionally sunny September. Merlot, the most widely planted variety and the first of the reds to ripen, has started to come in from the more precocious terroirs and from younger vines on drier soils. Yet there’s no rush. The forecast is for more sun this weekend, and most chateaux and growers are holding off for ’optimum’ ripeness after the relatively cool and humid summer.

Even at this late stage, the vintage is still too early to call. The next two to three weeks will be crucial as most of the Merlots have yet to ripen fully and the Cabernets will soon follow.

Il faut être patient et flexible.’

Palmer 24 Sept 2014 - 081

Many of the top estates in Pomerol and on the left bank (above) tentatively started picking their early Merlots this week under blue skies, although we’ll see a lot more activity from next week onwards. The dry whites, which are always the first to be harvested, were picked from the start of September in Pessac-Léognan and later in the Graves and the Entre Deux Mers; what’s left is being brought in now. The only possible downside was that the weather was almost a little too warm for these whites: the autumnal chilly mornings only kicked in from Tuesday 23 September. Keep reading

The eve of the harvest

The white harvest kicks off this week at Bauduc with the hand picking of grapes for a new wine. For some reason, we thought we’d have a crack at making a sparkling wine, which around here means a Crémant de Bordeaux. Then it’s the turn of our Sauvignon Blanc and, touch wood, the best crop we’ve had. The vines are fairly bulging with delicious bunches.

More on the Crémant and the hand picking shortly. Meanwhile, we’ve got to hurry and clean the cagettes (the small plastic crates). The plan is to hand pick the young Sémillon, which is destined for the sparkling wine, and then wait for the Sauvignon Blanc until the week beginning 15 September – all being well.

Bordeaux 2014 – hoping for September sun

I wrote about the prospects for the 2014 Bordeaux vintage, below, for Jancis Robinson‘s popular website and for the Livex blog at the start of September. Since then, we’ve had one of the best weeks of the year, with stunning blue skies and bright sunshine. The grapes have come on in leaps and bounds at this crucial time of the season, and the forecast is good. It’s all to play for.

 

Après la pluie, le beau temps. The French equivalent of ’every cloud has a silver lining’ might just prove to be the case, taken literally, for Bordeaux 2014. After a mixed and wet July and a cool, damp August, the sun is shining brightly for the start of September and the forecast is encouraging for a good harvest – if the weather holds.

Medoc4_9_2014

Cabernet Sauvignon in St-Julien, looking towards the two Pichons in Pauillac, 4 September 2014

So far, it’s been a growing season of ups and downs. We had an early bud-burst and an initial growth spurt in April, before a chilly May slowed things down (as reported in Bordeaux 2014 – the start of the flowering). Then sunshine at the end of May and throughout the middle of June produced a largely successful flowering – crucial for decent yields after a feeble crop in 2013 and a lower than normal production in 2012. But what of quality? Keep reading