There is an excellent Bordeaux 2015 right bank vintage sitting in estate cellars, particularly for those with vines on limestone, says Decanter expert James Lawther MW.

Some right bank producers have told Decanter.com this week that their Bordeaux 2015 en primeur wines are the best they have made in the past decade; a bold claim given those years include the vaunted classes of 2005, 2009 and 2010.

Decanter’s James Lawther MW warned against getting too carried away.

‘It’s an excellent right bank vintage,’ he told Decanter.com after tasting en primeur wines at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux on 5 April. ‘I wouldn’t say it’s the greatest ever, but it’s a very, very good vintage.’

He highlighted several key elements of what he called a ‘seductive’ vintage:

1. It has wonderful fruit character. Merlot is a big success this year. It’s a 1998 in terms of quality. You have really good Cabernet Franc as well. There’s a freshness and fragrance that you don’t always find in the wines.

2. There’s a textural element which is fantastic. Tannins are plentiful but they are very refined.

3. The identity of place and where the wines come from, in particular vineyards on the limestone plateau, where you have that chalky, minerally freshness in the wines.

4. Wines don’t necessarily have high acidities, they have good acidities, and they have good pH levels without being too low. Everything seems to be fresh and in balance.

While Lawther spoke of freshness, ripe fruit and harmony in many wines – particularly those from vineyards on limestone – he said the main pitfall for winemakers lay in going too hard on extraction.

‘Those with a lighter hand, and with a long maceration period, have the wines that came out the most balanced and the freshest.’

  • Coming soon: James Lawther MW’s full scores and tasting notes on Bordeaux 2015 right bank en primeur wines

Will the wines age?

As Stephane Derenoncourt suggested on Decanter.com earlier this week, Lawther said the right bank 2015 wines were not quite at the level of the lauded 2010 crop.

‘It’s not as exaggerated in all the elements as 2010 – which had lots of everything, such as high alcohol, high acid, lots of fruit – and needed time,’ said Lawther

‘The 2015 will be a vintage that will probably be accessible a little bit sooner. However, still a vintage – certainly for top wines – that will age as well. The quality of the fruit and the tannin belies that there is a tannin base and it will age.’

Value

‘I think there’s something for everybody,’ said Lawther. ‘If you want to pay the price for the top wines, they really are great wines.

‘If you’re looking for wines at a reasonable price, you’ll be able to find them in the smaller appellations; the Castillons, the Fronsacs, the satellite St-Emilions. You’ll also be able to find them in the more reasonably priced Pomerols, and more reasonably price St-Emilions.’

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