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: April 25th 2019
Bordeaux Médoc & Graves
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.|
|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/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.|
|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.|
|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/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||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 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.|
Hot, dry August & September, ideal ripening, creating small berries with thick skins. Rain-free harvest. Complete, fleshy reds, rich in color & phenolic content.
|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.|
|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||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||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||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||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.|
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.
|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||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.|
|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||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. 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.|
Hot September holds off botrytis; rain in late October spoils most of crop. Extremely limited appearance of noble rot.
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.
LEARN MORE ABOUT BORDEAUX WINES:
- BORDEAUX'S DRY WHITES, EVOLUTION + REVOLUTION
- EN PRIMEUR: UNDERSTANDING THE BORDEAUX FUTURES MARKET
- BORDEAUX VINTAGE VS. BORDEAUX TERROIR WITH DEWEY MARKHAM, JR.
- CRU BOURGEOIS BORDEAUX WITH TRACY ELLEN KAMENS
- JEFFREY DAVIES ON BORDEAUX (PART2) - THE INSIDE SCOOP
- JEFFREY DAVIES ON BORDEAUX (PART 1) - TECHNOLOGY VS TECHNIQUE
- SAINT EMILION WITH FIONA MORRISON MW