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Bordeaux Vintage Chart

Bordeaux Vintage Charts & Ratings

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Bordeaux Médoc & Graves 

Vintage Quality Drink Comments
2016 Red:

White:
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.
2015

Red:

White:

Drink/Cellar 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:

white:
Cellar 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:
White:
Drink/Cellar whites 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/Cellar 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Drink 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 reds

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
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.
2015

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 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 Drink/Cellar whites 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 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 Drink/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  Merlot struggled to ripen, some harvested too early. Low sugar levels, generally less than 2002 & 2004. Clay soils performed best.
2006 Drink/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 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 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.

Sauternes

Vintage Quality Drink Comments
2016 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.
2015

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 magnificent levels of fruit sweetness and soft but sustained acidity.  They will age well.
2014 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.  Magnificent wines of both power and freshness have been made.
2013 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 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 Drink Slow spread of botrytis required multiple tries. Best display fine sugar-acid balance, others are light.
2007 Drink/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 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/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 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/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.

 

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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); Hugel family (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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