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    Bordeaux's Top Wine Shops

    Our next Meeting of the Minds will cover the issues and challenges facing Bordeaux, France's largest AOC wine region and an area that drives the global fine wine market. Jane Anson, Bordeaux expert and author of the encyclopedic Inside Bordeaux (described as a 'category buster' by Jamie Goode and 'the most complete, up to date and scientifically accurate book on Bordeaux' by Imbibe magazine) will host the discussion. She will bring together one of the region's leading négociants (and organic winemaker at his home estate) Mathieu Chardonnier of CVBG-Dourthe-Kressmann (Compagnie des vins de Bordeaux et de Gironde), Smith Haut Lafitte's technical director Fabien Teitgen and wine educator Tanisha Townsend to debate new developments in viticulture and winemaking in the face of a changing climate, as well as looking out how the commerce and marketing of the region should take on the challenges of the next decade in the face of Covid, changing consumer behaviour and the challenges of selling En Primeur.


    Jane Anson is Bordeaux correspondent for Decanter, and has lived in the region since 2003. She is author of Inside Bordeaux (BB&R Publishing 2020), Wine Revolution (Quarto Publishing 2017), The Club of Nine with Andy Katz (2016), Angélus (Editions de la Martinière 2015), Bordeaux Legends, a history of the First Growth wines (November 2012 Editions de la Martiniere as Elixirs (French title) / April 2013 Stewart, Tabori & Chang, English version), the Bordeaux and Southwest France author of The Wine Opus and 1000 Great Wines That Won’t Cost A Fortune (both Dorling Kindersley, 2010 and 2011). Anson is contributing writer of the Michelin Guide to the Wine Regions of France (March 2010, Michelin Publications), and writes a monthly wine column for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, where she lived from 1994 to 1997, and a weekly column for DecanterChina.com. Accredited wine teacher at the Bordeaux Ecole du Vin, with a Masters in publishing from University College London, WSET qualified, Diplôme Universitaire d'Aptitude à la Dégustation des vins (DUAD) from Bordeaux Faculty of Oenology (2013).



    Mathieu Chardonnier, CEO of CVBG (Compagnie des vins de Bordeaux et de Gironde)

    Mathieu Chadronnier, CEO of CVBG, is one of Bordeaux's most influential wine negociants and one of its youngest top players. A modernist in this traditionalist world, he has pioneered new IT solutions to fine wine distribution, and is at the forefront of the recent introduction of great “Beyond Bordeaux” wines on the place de Bordeaux.
    In a sometimes commoditized market, he has always placed trust in relationships, candid passion and extensive knowledge of fine wines among his core values.
    Beyond his busy career as a grand cru negociant, Mathieu runs Château Marsau with his wife Anne-Laurence, a professional winemaker, with whom he shares his passion for great wines.

    Fabien Teitgen, General Manager of Château Smith Haut Lafitte

    Fabien Teitgen is a child of Nature. From a very early age he would accompany his grandfather through his vineyard and as he grew up, developed a very deep respect for Nature around him. It was thus, that a true passion was born...

    After graduating from viticulture and winemaking in Rennes and in Montpellier, Fabien Teitgen was then initiated into “listening to the earth” by Paul Pétrou, (Château Canon la Gaffelière). Over the years he learned to “read the signs of the vines, to respect and to love them.

    Drawing upon this extensive experience, Fabien joined Château Smith Haut Lafitte at the beginning of the 90’s and quickly rose to became Technical Director of the estate.

    With his agricultural and winemaking qualification he brought extensive knowledge of viticulture and wine, whilst on the other hand his experience of the soil brought a practical wisdom and a strong ability to listen and understand the behaviour of the vines.

    It is in this vein, that Fabien along with Florence and Daniel Cathiard ; owners of Château Smith Haut Lafitte, have developed a unique working method called : «Organic Precision ».

    After more than 25 years of commitment, this approach ; from ploughing with horses in the vineyard, to the establishment of an on-site cooperage and an island-based rootstock nursery in the Garonne river. As well as the building of a positive energy Stealth Cellar, have all been hailed as a great success by wine professionals, global press and wine lovers from all around the world.

    Fabien Teitgen strives to make wines in perfect harmony with Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte’s magnificent terroir. Wines that are full-bodied and powerful but also smooth, harmonious, and elegant.

    These rather opposing characteristics stand testament, as one of the greatest wines from a great terroir which captures the pleasure and emotions of wine lovers.

    Since 2014, Fabien Teitgen has been responsible for the wine making at Château Beauregard in Pomerol.

    In 2016, Fabien Teitgen was promoted to General Manager of Château Smith Haut Lafitte.

    Tanisha Townsend, Chief Wine Officer of lifestyle agency Girl Meets Glass

    Tanisha Townsend has cultivated a community of wine enthusiasts through an unyielding passion for oenology. As Chief Wine Officer of lifestyle agency Girl Meets Glass, Tanisha leads wine classes and tours in Paris (and virtually). She also hosts the podcast, Wine School Dropout. Her goal is to empower individuals with an advanced knowledge of wine & spirits in order to build confidence in their tastes and make choices as a better informed consumer.


    Published in Bordeaux wines
    Thursday, 13 December 2018 05:23

    Bordeaux’s top wine shops


    Following on from The Wine Scholar Guild’s excellent October Bordeaux wine tour, our locally based Tour Manager, Sarah, is continuing her series of articles about travel tips to Bordeaux. This third blog looks at some of Bordeaux’s top wine-shops.

    Unlike many other wine regions in the world, the top Bordeaux Châteaux are often not the best place to purchase their wines: they sell mostly through the Place de Bordeaux’s wine négociants and although the Châteaux do sometimes keep back a small percentage of their wines for over the counter sales, this may not be the best place to find good prices and older vintages. So, for these wines, do look at the following wine shops.

    Published in Bordeaux Wine Tours
    Wednesday, 01 May 2019 06:12

    Common Knowledge: Estuary

    There have been moments in my career as a professional winophile where I’ve realized I haven’t retained a bit of information that perhaps I should have learned in grade school had I been paying attention. Everyone needs a refresher once in a while and this series of blog posts aims to fill in possible gaps of knowledge that your grade-school mind may not have realized you would use in your fabulous wine career.

    Estuary is a term that surfaces a lot when talking about Bordeaux. Though it is often used interchangeably with the word “river,” estuary has a very specific meaning.

    Published in Blog
    Thursday, 12 October 2017 12:58

    Green Bordeaux with Jane Anson

    Bordeaux is the largest AOC quality wine region in France, and is home to some of the best known names in the world of wine.

    Its oceanic climate allows the grapes a long, slow growing season that delivers complexity of flavours and long ageing potential in bottle, but also poses challenges in terms of keeping the grapes healthy during the season.

    Jane Anson, long-time resident in Bordeaux and correspondent for the region for Decanter magazine, takes a look at the green revolution that is slowly unfolding in Bordeaux, led by high profile estates such as Chateau Pontet Canet in Pauillac and Chateau Palmer in Margaux, but spreading across all appellations.

    She looks at small estates championing the natural wine movement and discusses the challenges in the commercial structure of the region that need to be overcome.

    Anson is the author of Wine Revolution, out October 26 2017 with Quarto Publishing, highlighting the best organic, biodynamic and natural wines worldwide - and this webinar looks at how Bordeaux fits into this global movement.

    Presenter: Jane Anson

    Jane Anson is Bordeaux correspondent for Decanter, and has lived in the region since 2003.

    She is author of Bordeaux Legends, a history of the First Growth wines (November 2012 Editions de la Martiniere as Elixirs (French title) / April 2013 Stewart, Tabori & Chang, English version), the Bordeaux and Southwest France author of The Wine Opus and 1000 Great Wines That Won’t Cost A Fortune (both Dorling Kindersley, 2010 and 2011).

    Anson is contributing writer of the Michelin Guide to the Wine Regions of France (March 2010, Michelin Publications), and writes a monthly wine column for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, where she lived from 1994 to 1997, and a weekly column for DecanterChina.com.

    Accredited wine teacher at the Bordeaux Ecole du Vin, with a Masters in publishing from University College London, WSET qualified, Diplôme Universitaire d'Aptitude à la Dégustation des vins (DUAD) from Bordeaux Faculty of Oenology (2013).

    Published in Bordeaux wines

    As Market Advisor to the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB) for North America, Mary is in the perfect position to provide us with an in-depth look at Bordeaux's white wines.

    Presenter: Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW

    Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW is a New York based Master of Wine. She is also a businesswoman, with 17 years’ experience in a range of environments from multinational corporations, to start-ups as well as Government agencies.

    Today Mary is Market Advisor to the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB) for North America – a position that combines her passion for wine with her extensive international business expertise.

    Mary became a Master of Wine in 2011, a distinguished title held only by 310 people worldwide. She was also awarded the Viña Errazuriz Award for excellence in the Business of Wine exam paper. During the course of her MW studies Mary was the recipient of the Trinity Champagne Scholarship and the Constellation Brands Award – international prizes for MW candidates.

    In 2012 she was honored as a Dame Chevalier de L’Ordre des Côteaux de Champagne.

    As one of the foremost Wine Educators in the United States, Mary is a Board member of the Society of Wine Educators and a member of the North American Education committee for the Institute of Masters of Wine. She also teaches the globally recognized WSET wine programs. 

    Fluent French speaker with excellent communications and editorial skills, Mary has a highly trained wine tasting palate and international experience in wine judging, reviewing and scoring. She is a judge at the Decanter Wine Awards, the Ultimate Wine Challenge and the Dallas Morning News/TexSom international wine competitions. Between 2008 and 2014 she was the wine columnist for the highly trafficked lifestyle website Apartment Therapy.

    Mary has a BA (Honors) in Languages and International Marketing from Dublin City University, and an MBS in International Marketing (First Class Honors) from the Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business (University College Dublin), where she was awarded both the Dean’s List Award & the Sir Charles Harvey Award for academic excellence in post-graduate studies.

    Delve into Bordeaux with the insight of Bordeaux experts and masterful instructors..sign up for the Bordeaux Master-Level program and Bordeaux Study Trips. Learn more about French wines with the French Wine Scholar study & certification program.

    Published in Bordeaux wines
    Wednesday, 28 May 2014 00:00

    Bordeaux Vintage Charts & Ratings

    Back to French Vintage Chart

    The vintage chart and harvest reports provided by the Wine Scholar Guild gives you the ranking for every French wine region and vintage from 2000 to today.

    Andrew Jefford, award-winning wine journalist for Decanter Magazine and author of twelve books on wine including The New France has compiled information and written the vintage charts starting with the 2013 vintage. He is also updating information for the vintages prior to 2013.

    Last updated: Jan. 14, 2021

    Bordeaux Médoc & Graves 

    Vintage Quality Drink Comments
    2019 Red:


    Drink/Cellar white wines; Cellar red wines

    After a mild, dry start to the year, April was wet and a little cooler than normal, followed by a cool May.  Budburst was early, and there was some frost damage in areas set well back from the Gironde on April 13th and May 5th and 6th.   Flowering, after the cooler late spring, came as normal from May 20th onwards, though rain during the flowering period caused some irregular fruit set.  After an unsettled early June, late June was fiercely hot; July continued hot and dry, with some welcome heavy rain at the end of the month.  August was copybook, with a pulse of heat towards the end, by which time the vines were showing signs of heat stress, though early September warmth was more temperate.  Once again rain came to the rescue between 23rd and 26th September followed by fine weather at the end of the month and into October: a perfect script for Cabernet Sauvignon, and an untroubled harvest was completed in early October.  Magnificent wines can be found in every Left Bank appellation, with St Julien, Margaux and Pessac-Léognan all outstanding.  The style of the wines is dense yet vivacious, with striking structure, intensity, purity and poise: they will age very well.  The dry whites (including an increasingly large cohort from the Médoc) are scented and attractive.   
    2018 Red:


    Drink white wines; Cellar red wines

    The first six months of 2018 were extraordinarily wet in Bordeaux: December 2017, then January, March, April and June 2018 all had rainfall above the 30-year average. March and early April were cool, delaying budbreak and flowering, and there was hail in both late May and in July in the southern Médoc; flowering itself, though, took place in fine conditions in the first part of June. Mildew pressure, however, was intense and unremitting due to saturated soils and high levels of humidity.  By mid-June, however, temperatures rose and the sun began to shine; a magnificent summer then ensued. July, August and September temperatures were all well above the 30-year-average, and September was notably dry and sunny throughout the month. Drought stress, however, was rare since there was so much water in the ground -- though this did mean that the threat of mildew persisted until well into August, with organically and biodynamically cultivated properties at particular risk (the biodynamic Ch Palmer’s yields were just 11 hl/ha this year, having lost three-quarters of its crop to mildew, while the biodynamic Ch Pontet-Canet lost two-thirds of its crop to mildew). The harvest was lengthy, with plenty of time to pick according to each property’s definition of perfect ripeness. The red wines are generous, vital and richly constituted, with ample tannins and fresh acidity, too; they will age very well. The best dry white wines are rich with tropical fruit characters, but less successful examples are flabby and lack vitality.
    2017 Red:


    Drink/Cellar white wines; Cellar red wines

    The year began with the coldest January for 30 years, followed by a warm early spring, with February and March both 1.5˚C over the long-term average. Fatally warm: frost struck in the early hours of April 27th, with Margaux and Pessac-Léognan being particularly badly affected on the left bank, and with more modestly sited vineyards in general suffering greater losses than propitiously sited, well-known châteaux. Overall, Bordeaux production was 40% down on 2016, and 33 per cent lower than the long-term average; these were the worst frosts in living memory, and worse than the frosts of 1945, 1977 and 1991.  Summer was very dry, apart from a period of heavy rain at the end of June; July was cloudy and mild, and August cool to begin with, followed by hot and sunny weather later in the month (though properties in the Graves were hit by hail at the end of August). After the early start to the year, véraison (the grape’s colour change) was three weeks ahead of normal. There were more rains in the first part of September, and good harvest weather afterwards, though with rain and rot threatening, the Cabernets were often brought in hastily. Leading properties in St Estèphe, Pauillac and St Julien have made the best red wines of the Médoc: fresh, but balanced and structured, too, like a cross between 2014 and 2015. The dry white wines of Pessac-Léognan, by contrast, are impressive.
    2016 Red:

    Drink/Cellar white wines; Cellar red wines A dry, warm autumn gave way, in January, to a prodigiously wet though mild winter (including the wettest month of January since 1920) and a cool March. April and May were chaotic, but the weather during flowering in early June turned propitious. After flowering and some further rain, summer became hot and dry; were it not for the wet spring, the almost complete lack of rain in July and August would have caused drought damage. July’s heat was normal, and there were two small heatwaves in August, but in general nights were cool. The whites were picked from the beginning of September. In mid-September, welcome heavy rains helped the parched vines to restart their drought-blocked maturation process, and the rest of the month was cool and fine before a little more rain on September 30 th. Merlots began to be picked in early October, and the Cabernets in mid-October. Little sorting was required. Some dry whites are drought-affected and sinewy, but the Cabernet-based reds are structured, fine and fresh.



    Drink white wines; Drink/Cellar red wines  After the driest autumn for 115 years, a wet winter was needed but only partially supplied: November was wet; December dry; and January and February normal.  March and early April saw a combination of warm days and cool nights, then the rest of April and May were very warm and dry, leading to a rapid and precocious flowering.  June and July were exceptionally hot and rainless, eventually causing some drought stress.  Fortunately, four separate storms in August brought the vines some relief, and an early white-wine harvest began on August 24th.  Heavy rains came prior to the red wine harvest, in mid-September, followed by sunshine with cool nights.  There was more heavy rain over the first weekend of October, but in general, both Merlots and Cabernets were picked in unhurried conditions.  It was an excellent harvest for dry whites, which are pure, concentrated and fresh.  The red wines have had a good though not quite great year, the mitigating factors being the drought of high summer and the intermittent rains of the harvest period.  Weather conditions favoured the southern Médoc and Pessac-Léognan.
    2014 Red:

    Drink/Cellar white wines; Drink/Cellar red wines  After a warm and unusually wet winter, spring began with very mild March temperatures, and budburst was two weeks ahead of average.  The inevitable frost risk was generally averted by further warmth in April.  A cool and damp May led to an extended flowering period, but early June heat confirmed the advanced cycle.  After that, though, the weather cooled considerably, and there were violent storms in the Northern Médoc with hail on June 8th and heavy rain on the 22nd.  July was damp and dull, and August cool (2°C below normal), slowing the cycle again. Finally the weather changed once again at the end of August, and it remained fine thereafter until the end of October.  The overall summer pattern was perfect for dry white wines, which were picked early and which have great freshness and definition.  The record-breaking Indian summer meant that both Cabernets and Merlots could be picked at optimum ripeness.  The stop-go nature of the summer, though, left its mark in vibrant acidity for the red wines too, which are built in a fresh, ‘classical’ style.
    2013 Red:
    Past peak Spring was miserable: cold and rainy.  Budburst was late and flowering was late and uneven; heavy storms hit Bordeaux in early June, and there was continual disease pressure.  July was, by contrast, very hot and dry, mitigating some of the disease pressure; but then the worst storm to hit Bordeaux since the 1999 hurricane caused extensive damage on July 26th, with trees uprooted in the Médoc; hail followed in early August.  Fine, warm weather ensued, though the cycle was so late that all the fruit was still on the vines when new storms came at the end of September.  A crop of mixed ripeness required extensive sorting.  Merlot suffered more extensively from disease pressure than Cabernet, but Cabernet struggled comprehensively to achieve ripeness, and was extensively chaptalised in the Médoc.  The red wine crop is at best light, charming and for early drinking, at worst thin.  The season favoured the dry white wines of Pessac-Léognan and the Graves, by contrast; these retain considerable freshness and poise, and the very best will last well.
    2012 Drink Wet spring, with extended flowering in poor conditions; coulure in Merlot. Extremely dry from mid-July, then rain in Médoc 24-26 September, with more rain in October. Irregular and incomplete ripening in Médoc; Cabernets are heterogeneous and can be herbaceous. Pessac-Léognan is more reliable. White wines show some richness and are the stars of the vintage.
    2011 Drink Atypical season, near record for driest, hottest April/May, scorched berries in June, water stress. Some properties picked before full maturity; sorting essential to remove unripe berries. St.-Julien & St.-Estèphe are most successful. Irregular reds, at best elegant, lighter weight with lower alcohol for mid-term cellaring. Whites with concentration & backbone.
    2010 Drink/Cellar Ideal conditions without temperature extremes; lowest precipitation of decade from July-September. Higher sugars in Cabernets than 2009/2005. Deeply colored, fully mature, firmly structured reds requiring long cellaring: a modern classic.Concentrated whites with elevated acidity.
    2009 Drink/Cellar Hot, dry year, cooler nights with fewer heat spikes than 2003/2005. Higher sun hours than 1947, 1961, 1982 (slightly more precipitation). Ripe, healthy grapes with higher sugars than 2003 & 2005, optimal phenolic & seed maturities. Cabernet excels. Well-endowed, profound red wines displaying density, fruit & flesh: a powerful vintage.Generous, full & flavorful whites, sometimes lacking vivacity.
    2008 Drink Challenging late season, some irregular ripening. Reds show good color & structure, but are somewhat withdrawn. Many may merit excellent rating with further bottle aging.Sauvignon & Sémillon enjoyed ideal conditions. A year offering an exemplary price-value relationship for the Crus Classés.
    2007 Drink Reds, at best fresh, elegant, some lacking concentration. Cabernet & Médoc most successful. Weakest are angular & may dry out with age. Balanced & poised whites with expressive fruit qualities.
    2006 Drink Cabernet Sauvignon performed well. Classic reds with color and structure. Require further time in bottle to reveal themselves. Aromatic, concentrated whites.
    2005 Drink/Cellar Exceptionally dry year from winter to autumn. High sun hours & temperatures in spring & summer. Optimal maturation, all varieties were successful. Substantial reds with deep color, powerful tannins. Full, flavorful, balanced whites equal to reds: an uncommon result.
    2004 Drink Sorting essential to remove green grapes. Reds range from under ripe and weak to moderately concentrated, framed by acidity & tannin. Only those with sufficient substance will gain with cellaring. Whites possess attractive fruit & fresh acidity.
    2003 Drink Very dry, extremely hot summer days & nights (16 days > 95°F  vs. 2 in 2000, 6 in 2005, 4 in 2009). Need to eliminate the superscript here. I can’t figure out how to do it.) Deeply colored reds, low acidities & high tannin deviate from classic Left Bank profile. St.-Estèphe, Pauillac are most successful. Reds have largely reached their apogee. Remains a controversial vintage, with strongly divided views as to its intrinsic quality. Harvesting of white grapes started mid-August. Rich, fat whites, some acidified, not for long keeping.
    2002 Past peak Lower yields. Cabernet Sauvignon more successful than Merlot. Northern Médoc communes stand out as successes on the Left Bank. Other reds were irregular in maturity.
    2001 Drink Colder September produces classic, firm reds with some variability in maturity of Cabernet Sauvignon. Very well-balanced, aromatic whites benefitted from cooler weather.
    2000 Drink/Cellar

    Hot, dry August & September, ideal ripening, creating small berries with thick skins. Rain-free harvest. Complete, fleshy reds, rich in color & phenolic content.


    Bordeaux St.-Emilion & Pomerol

    Vintage Quality Drink Comments
    2019 Cellar As in 2018, there were no major differences between right and left bank in Bordeaux this year, and Bordeaux overall saw a growing season 1.5°C above the 30-year average.  A mild late winter gave way to a cool spring with a wet April, with frost affecting parts of St Emilion and Pomerol on April 13th; there was some unevenness of flowering in early June, meaning reduced yields (Merlot bunches averaged 120 grapes rather than 200-berry norm in 2019, according to the Moueix family).  The late June and July heat was a challenge for Pomerol, whereas St Emilion’s cooler, moister soils resisted these conditions more successfully; the rain of July 26th resolved everyone’s anxieties, though, and the dry warmth of August and September provided perfect ripening weather.  Much of the Pomerol Merlot had been picked before the late September rains, with St Emilion Merlot and Cabernet Franc being picked afterwards.  The wines are deeply coloured, concentrated and fresh, rich in both tannins and acidity.  The balance is similar to 2016 but the wines have, if anything, even more flesh and depth than in 2016.
    2018 Cellar There is no systematic left bank/right bank differentiation in this vintage, though differences between individual properties can be marked. After a wet winter, St Emilion and Pomerol endured copious rain during spring and early summer leading to intense fungal-disease pressure. Flowering passed off well, though the depradations of downy mildew subsequently reduced the crop in some cases. The three summer months, by contrast, were hot and sunny; indeed Pomerol experienced its sunniest September on record while temperatures in St Emilion were a full 1.5°C above long-term averages throughout August, September and October. Harvesting unfolded at a leisurely pace, and the result is in general a magnficent crop of amply dimensioned yet highly focussed wines. Pomerol has achieved some of the most consistently successful results in Bordeaux 2018, while in St Emilion those properties with a high percentage of Cabernet Franc in their blends were often outstanding.  Some Merlot-dominated St Emilion wines are high in alcohol (Tertre-Roteboeuf is 16.2% this year). The wines will in general age very well.
    2017 Cellar As throughout the region, treacherously mild February, March and early April temperatures preceded savage frosts in late April. The resulted in average yields in St Emilion of 21.7 hl/ha (compared to 46.2 hl/ha in 2016) and in Pomerol of 23.9 hl/ha (compared to 44.4 hl/ha in 2016); the worst-hit properties in both regions were the lowest and least propitiously sited. (Lalande de Pomerol lost between 50% and 80% of its crop.) After a very warm May and June, and a very wet period over the last five days of June, July was dry and mild, and August variable, with the first half of the month cool and the end of the month very warm (and wet). The Merlot crop was picked in generally good weather in mid-September, though with rot threatening some of the bunches. The wines are soft and attractive, fresh without greenness, and will make attractive short to mid-term drinking.
    2016 Cellar After considerable anxiety about disease pressure during the long and colossally wet spring, spirits lifted on the Right Bank during June as summer warmth arrived and the rain clouds cleared.  The very dry weather and tempered heat of summer suited Merlot, with July in particular leading to the formation of propitiously thick yet supple skins on the grapes.  Following the mid-September rains, the Merlot berries increased in weight but without any skin-splitting, and the fine weather of the latter half of September was perfect for final ripening.   Quality in general is outstanding, with dark, sumptuously rich yet freshly balanced wines; Merlot looks even better than Cabernet Franc.  The only exception are those wines grown on sandy soils in St Emilion which sometimes suffered during the long dry months of July and August.

    Drink/Cellar The early growing cycle of Merlot combined with the very warm weather in March and early April put the right bank at considerable frost risk, but this danger was averted.  Early June heat caused some Merlot coulure (shatter) on the right bank, but the overall size of the fruit set mitigated losses.  Hot weather in June and July meant that some Pomerol and Merlot producers did less mid-season leaf-plucking than normal.  The right bank received the best of the August rains (5.5 inches/140 mm in some areas), and this set the scene for a very healthy Merlot and Cabernet Franc crop, with the harvest beginning in the third week in September for Merlot and early October for Cabernet Franc.  Sumptuous, softly textured wines have been made with quality in Pomerol approaching that of a great vintage for the top estates.
    2014 Drink/Cellar Both winter and spring were mild, with ample rainfall until March and a dry April.  May, by contrast, was cool and damp up to and including the flowering period. This poor weather negatively influenced the early Merlots.  June began with ample warmth and dry conditions, and the storms of this month were less severe on the right bank than in the Médoc (though there were hail episodes in St Emilion on the 19th).  July was a little cooler than usual, and August decidedly so.  The magnificent conditions in September and October, though, meant that the Merlots could be teased to perfect ripeness – which came precociously for Pomerol (where the harvest began before that of Pessac-Léognan this year). Harvest, however, came much later, well into October, for wines from the cooler soils and higher altitudes of St Emilion.  The conditions suited Cabernet Franc.  The wines have both richness and freshness, even if quality is slightly more mixed on the right bank than on the left.
    2013 Past peak A cold, late spring, with troublesome, extended, late flowering with comprehensive coulure (shatter) and millerandage (shot berries) affecting the Merlot.  A warm and dry July saved the season from catastrophe, but ended with more storms.  St Emilion was particularly badly hit by hail in early August. Late August and September were warm but very humid, causing further severe disease pressure.  Harvest took place at the end of September and early October, and required extensive sorting.  Pomerol is more successful than St Emilion, owing to its well-drained gravels and lower, warmer altitudes, but even there the wines are light and lack their customary fleshiness.  St Emilion is extremely heterogenous.
    2012 Drink/Cellar Challenging season: A wet April disrupted flowering; coulure and mildew reduced the Merlot crop. Late summer was hot and dry. Cabernets and high-sited vineyards struggled to reach maturity. St Emilion inconsistent although the best wines are very good; Pomerol is more consistent.
    2011 Drink/Cellar Difficult & unusual season, early summer, dry. Clay-rich soils fared better, sandy soils worse, due to water stress. Best are balanced, medium-weight & elegant.
    2010 Drink/Cellar Ideal, very dry season without heat extremes. Small berries, higher anthocyanin content than 2009/2005. Concentrated, structured wines for long cellaring.
    2009 Drink/Cellar Hot, sunny, dry year. Merlot achieves very high sugars exceeding recent exceptional vintages. Rich, velvety, powerful wines, high alcohol in some cases.
    2008 Drink Merlot achieved maturity in general. Supple wines, some highly extracted. Pomerol stands out. A vintage offering value for money among recent years.
    2007 Drink Merlot struggled to ripen, some harvested too early. Low sugar levels, generally less than 2002 & 2004. Clay soils performed best.
    2006 Drink Merlot performed best on clay & limestone soils. Aromatic, tannic wines for long cellaring.
    2005 Drink/Cellar Very dry from winter to harvest. Hot without the extremes of 2003 in spring & summer. Right Bank as successful as Left. Concentrated, generous, fleshy wines with ripe tannins.
    2004 Drink Good color, fruit & backbone, but generally lighter wines. Some reveal lack of maturity, over-extraction.
    2003 Drink Heat wave vintage: hot days & nights. Some sites suffered water stress. Powerful, full wines at best, though atypical & controversial. Most ready now & are unlikely to gain with additional bottle aging.
    2002 Past peak Irregular flowering affected Merlot which struggled in late season. Lack of complete & uniform ripeness. Triage was needed to remove undesirable fruit.  Very low yields. Diluted wines.
    2001 Drink Gravel soils dealt best with higher rainfall. Good October weather insures ripening. At its best, concentrated, structured wines which have aged well, though initially in shadow of 2000. Vibrating sorting tables make appearance at top estates.
    2000 Drink/Cellar

    Rainless from mid-July to 19 September. Conditions favored colder, water-holding soils; sandy vineyards at disadvantage. Merlot reached very high sugars (well above 1982, 1989). Pomerol is particularly impressive. Healthy, ripe & rich wines with sensual textures.


    Vintage Quality Drink Comments
    2019 Cellar The growing season in Sauternes was similar to that seen elsewhere in Bordeaux -- with one significant difference.  This was that the late July rain in Sauternes was heavier than elsewhere, with up to 100 mm falling over the month as a whole.  When combined with the warm conditions, this produced a troubling attack of acid rot which growers were, in the end, able to combat thanks to the dry weather which followed in August and early September (though the unfortunate Ch Nairac lost its entire harvest).  These dry conditions meant that noble rot took a long time to develop, as it had in 2018, only appearing from October onwards -- by which time some of the picking had already been completed.  The wines are in general succulent and opulent yet well-balanced, if sometimes lacking in the tang which comes from botrytis.
    2018 Cellar After the very wet spring and late-spring weather which typified Bordeaux in 2018, July brought some localised hail problems with, for example, Ch Guiraud losing 95 per cent of its crop on July 15th; other properties lost crop to mildew depradations. The long, warm, dry summer which followed improved matters... almost to excess, since the lack of humidity in September meant that noble rot didn’t develop as it should have done, and growers had to sit back and wait. Around 30 mm of rain finally fell at the end of the month, provoking botrytis spores into action, with full botrytisation under way by mid-October. It was, in the end, a very late harvest for the sweet wines (though a very early one for the dry wines, with a full two months’ difference between the two in some cases). Acidities are sometimes low but the wines are lush, fruity and sensual, and should make an attractive mid-term ageing prospect.
    2017 Cellar Sauternes, and especially the sub-region of Barsac, was as badly hit as other regions of Bordeaux by the April frosts, and some properties (like Ch Climens) have made no wine at all this year. Others (like Ch Myrat, Ch Coutet and Ch La Tour Blanche) have produced very little, while a fortunate third group (such as Ch Sigalas-Rabaud and Ch Rayne-Vigneau) enjoyed a near-normal harvest. The mixed but generally warm, dry summer was ideal for white grapes maturation, and the rain which came at the end of August perfect for unleashing botrytis (though it also provoked some grey rot). There were three main harvest sweeps, one in September (perfumed and fresh), and two in October (much richer). Quantities were very small, but quality is outstanding: concentrated and dense, but lively and racy, too.
    2016 Drink/Cellar The long, dry, warm summer meant ample ripeness but no botrytis by the beginning of September.  The mid-September rains initiated the process, but it wasn’t until the rains of September 30th and October 10th that noble rot could proliferate, and superb quality fruit was picked between October 17th and 25th, with further tries continuing into November.  The wines aren’t quite as rich as in 2015, but have great finesse, purity and poise, with the balance to endure.

    Drink/Cellar Sauternes’ recent luck held in 2015.  Flowering went well, though the fruit set was modest rather than generous; the vines withstood the midsummer heat well.  The four episodes of autumn rain proved particularly beneficial for Sauternes as this initiated the development of botrytis much earlier than usual. From that point onwards, storms followed by sunny weather provided ideal conditions for slow, regular harvesting between early September and late October.  The wines are rich but poised, with generous levels of fruit sweetness and soft but sustained acidity.  They will age well.
    2014 Drink/Cellar The 2014 season was by no means trouble-free in Sauternes. The tricky flowering conditions in late May caused problems for Sémillon, and the disappointing July and August weather meant considerable disease pressure in the vineyards.  Attack by Drosophila suzukii flies meant that growers had to ‘clean’ the vineyards in early September. Dry weather throughout the rest of the month held noble rot in check.  Rain on October 9th, though, finally unleashed botrytis, and the Indian summer meant a leisurely harvest of berries in perfect condition via an extensive series of tries.  Attractive wines of both power and freshness have been made.
    2013 Drink/Cellar Sauternes suffered the same problems as the rest of Bordeaux through the first half of the growing season: unseasonably wet and cold weather with difficult flowering.  The hot, dry weather in July turned the tide, and the warm, humid conditions in August and September benefitted sweet wines, with extensive noble rot developing and spreading swiftly in the latter month.  It was an early and generous harvest for Sauternes, beginning at the same time as the red harvest at the end of September and continuing throughout October, with several breaks for storms.  The wines are generous and lush, if without quite the concentration of the very greatest vintages.
    2012 Drink Botrytis did not set in until 23 September, then spread slowly & irregularly. Rain ended harvest 1st week of November. Limited volume of successful wines from Barsac & limestone soils, with sugar level similar to 2008. Some leading estates (e.g., Yquem)  produce no grand vin.
    2011 Drink/Cellar Rapid burst of botrytis in September, only seen twice in 40 years (2011/2009).
    2010 Drink/Cellar September & October had alternating rains, mists & hot, dry periods. Varying degrees of noble rot. Finely calibrated, elegant wines offering candied fruit  and perfume without the opulence of 2009.
    2009 Drink/Cellar Ideal & complete onset of botrytis. Exceptionally high sugars: 23% - 25% potential alcohol. Multidimensional, complex wines with pronounced noble rot; enormous richness matched by harmonious structure. 
    2008 Drink Slow spread of botrytis required multiple tries. Best display fine sugar-acid balance, others are light.
    2007 Drink Alternating humidity & dry heat from mid-September to end of October favored development of noble rot. Aromatic complexity, balance & elegant acidity. Sweet (and dry) whites surpassed reds in 2007.
    2006 Drink Clay soils in Sauternes, limestone in Barsac yielded best wines.Well-defined, aromatic wines combine concentration & balanced acidity. Lower production of liquoreux than 2005.
    2005 Drink Very high sugars &  clean, opulent wines with optimal noble rot. A particularly generous harvest of classic, exceptionally rich liquoreux.
    2004 Drink Rain disrupts & limits noble rot. Light, aromatic wines of moderate sweetness.
    2003 Drink High sugar grapes undergo rapid onset of botrytis initiated by early September rains. Accelerated picking with only 2-3 tries. Very full, sweet & rich wines.
    2002 Drink Irregular botrytis infection late in season. Well-balanced wines; the best have prominent noble rot.
    2001 Drink Rapid onset of botrytis on ripe grapes, high in sugar. Ideal October: brief rainstorms, elevated temperatures, windy & sun-filled afternoons. Very sweet yet balanced wines with pronounced noble rot & noteworthy complexity. A memorable year & highly uniform success for all liquoreux.
    2000 Drink

    Hot September holds off botrytis; rain in late October spoils most of crop.  Extremely limited appearance of noble rot.


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    Chart Legend

    These vintage notes have been prepared by Andrew Jefford, Academic Advisor to the Wine Scholar Guild. New vintage information, and any revisions of previous vintage drinking suggestions, are made each autumn.  Use the chart as a guide only; in every vintage there will be outperforming and underperforming wines.


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