Bordeaux Vintage Chart

Bordeaux Vintage Charts & Ratings

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Médoc & Graves 

Vintage

Red Wine Quality

White Wine Quality Drink Comments
2012 Pending

Wet spring, dry summer, extended flowering in poor conditions; coulure in Merlot. Extremely dry from mid-July, boosting sugars, then rain in Médoc 24-26 September. High humidity, more rain in October. Irregular & incomplete ripening in Médoc: reds are problematic, contrasting high alcohol & unripe, dry tannin. Cabernets are heterogeneous, weakest lack center & are herbaceous. En primeur tastings suggest Pessac-Léognan is more reliable, though still uneven: most Cabernet in this zone had reached maturity before October rains. Top estates obliged to make severe selections for grand vin. White grapes achieved sugars similar to 2010. White wines show richness and are stars of vintage.

2011 Cellar top wines

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 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 whites/Cellar top whites
Cellar top reds
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/Cellar top whites
Cellar reds
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 Reds show good color & structure, but are somewhat withdrawn.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/Cellar top whitesDrink/Cellar top reds 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/Cellar top whitesCellar reds Cabernet Sauvignon performed well. Classic reds with color and structure. Require further time in bottle to reveal themselves. Aromatic, concentrated whites.
2005 Drink/Cellar top whitesCellar most reds 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 most reds & whites/Cellar top wines 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 top whites/Others past peak
Drink all including top reds
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 Drink nearly all wines 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 whites
Drink/Cellar top reds
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 whites
Drink/Cellar top reds
Hot, dry August & September, ideal ripening, creating small berries with thick skins. Rain-free harvest. Complete, fleshy reds, rich in color & phenolic content.

St.-Emilion & Pomerol

Vintage

Quality

Drink Comments
2012 Pending Challenging season, wet April disrupted flowering. Coulure & mildew reduced Merlot crop. Late summer was hot & dry. Brief rainstorm in late September  boosts ripening of Merlot which was harvested in good condition prior to late October rains. Well-drained soils enjoyed advantage. Merlot attained sugar level of 2009/2010, with lower acidity; Cabernets struggled to reach maturity. En primeur reports indicate 2012s are forward, will drink well early & suggest Pomerol is most uniformly successful red appellation on either Bank: good color, complete maturity.
2011 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 Cellar Ideal, very dry season without heat extremes. Small berries, higher anthocyanin content than 2009/2005. Concentrated, structured wines for long cellaring.
2009 Cellar Hot, sunny, dry year. Merlot achieves very high sugars exceeding recent exceptional vintages. Rich, velvety, powerful wines, high alcohol in some cases.
2008 Cellar Merlot achieved maturity in general. Supple wines, some highly extracted. Pomerol stands out. A vintage offering value for money among recent years.
2007 Drink/Cellar top wines Merlot struggled to ripen, some harvested too early. Low sugar levels, generally less than 2002 & 2004. Clay soils performed best.
2006 Cellar Merlot performed best on clay & limestone soils. Aromatic, tannic wines for long cellaring.
2005 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/Cellar top wines 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 Drink 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 Cellar top winesDrink most/ 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 Cellar top wines Drink most/ 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.

Sauternes

Vintage Quality Drink Comments
2012 Pending 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 Cellar Rapid burst of botrytis in September, only seen twice in 40 years (2011/2009).
2010 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 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. One of the greatest modern vintages.
2008 Cellar Slow spread of botrytis required multiple tries. Best display fine sugar-acid balance, others are light.
2007 Cellar 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 Cellar 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 Cellar 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 Cellar 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 Cellar Irregular botrytis infection late in season. Well-balanced wines; the best have prominent noble rot.
2001 Cellar 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.

 

Quality Poor Poor-to-Fair Fair Fair-to-Good Good Good to Excellent Excellent Excellent to Exceptional Exceptional
Chart Legend

Methodology: This report has been compiled utilizing multiple authoritative sources including regional trade associations, experts in each region, wine producers, academic studies, leading journalists, and the editor’s personal notes.
Acknowledgements: E. Gabay MW (Provence); E. Hugel (Alsace); D. Markham (Bordeaux); K. McAuliffe (Rhône); M. Stubbs MW (Languedoc-Roussillon).
Editor’s comment: This chart is intended to serve as a reliable guide for professionals, educators and collectors. Judgments as to the quality, longevity and current maturity of a given vintage are by definition simplified assessments describing the average profile of the year. There will always be individual wines which surpass, or fail to reach, the overall standard, or which may have a shorter or longer life than their peers. Last, these evaluations are not fixed and permanent; rather, they will be revised as needed to reflect the wines as they age in bottle.

 

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