Many Bordeaux 2015 en primeur wines 'tick all of the boxes', says Steven Spurrier as newly published Decanter scores and tasting notes show a vintage with real gems but also marked variation between some estates and appellations.

A lot of Bordeaux 2015 en primeur red wines were described as enjoyable to taste by Decanter‘s quartet of experts:

Bordeaux 2015 overview

Fine tannins and purity of fruit were descriptions repeated frequently throughout en primeur tasting week, and the best red wines will be up there with those from the most celebrated vintages – even if the 2015 vintage as a whole cannot be described as truly great, our tasters said.

There was also surprising freshness in the dry whites – including those from Pessac-Léognan and Graves, and Sauternes and Barsac wines, most of which again showed well.

Bordeaux 2015 was an unusual growing season. August rain was proclaimed to have, for once, ‘saved the vintage’ for all concerned following several weeks of drought.

That rain continued for a bit too long in northern Médoc, giving appellations from Margaux downwards and eastwards – also including Pomerol and St-Emilion – a natural advantage, according to right bank-based consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt.

But, excellent wines were still made in the northerly areas of Pauillac and St-Estèphe, show Decanter’s scores.

Top wines

Honours for wine of the vintage were shared between the right and left banks. Château Cheval Blanc, Mouton-Rothschild and Margaux all scored 98 points, with a host of 97s and 96s following close behind – for example, Haut-Bailly coming in at 97 points and Canon on 96.

On the dry whites, Château Haut-Brion shared the top spot with Smith Haut Lafitte on 96 points; Jane Anson praising the ‘incredible intensity’ of the latter.

In Sauternes and Barsac, Château d’Yquem scored 95 points, closely followed by Château de Fargues on 94. But, there was a surprise hit from Denis Dubourdieu’s Château Doisy-Daëne L’Extravagance, which scored 94 points in the first year that Dubourdieu has ‘ever dared’ to do a 100% Sauvignon Blanc on this wine.

There was evidence, too, that Bordeaux 2015 might provide good deals in some of the lesser-known appellations, particularly on the right bank, with plenty of 90-and-above scores across areas such as Fronsac, Lalande de Pomerol and Côtes de Castillon.

Summing up the vintage

Summing up the Bordeaux 2015 vintage, Spurrier said, ‘The message was that we were going to enjoy the en primeur tastings and this was proved correct.

‘Bordeaux 2015 is a very fine vintage across the whole region, including dry and sweet whites, and while it is not the greatest vintage ever, some very great wines have been made.

‘I feel that its reputation, already high from the vast range of six-month-old wines on offer, will grow over the years.’

However, enthusiasm for the vintage has been tapered by merchants’ nervousness over release prices for the subsequent en primeur campaign. While some critics believe 2015 will offer value all the way down the price ladder, there continues to be caution around the financial rationale for buying en primeur.

Read the rest of Steven Spurrier’s verdict on the vintage, as well as our experts’ verdicts from their own areas, in the June issue of Decanter magazine on general sale from 4 May.

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