Bordeaux 2008: Decanter tasters give their verdict

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  • Wednesday 1 April 2009

Decanter’s team of tasters have given their first verdict on Bordeaux’s 2008s - and the early signs are that the vintage is better than had been expected.

With many of the Right Bank wines tasted, and halfway through the marathon of the Médocs, consultant editor Steven Spurrier has sounded a cautiously optimistic note.

‘It’s been very encouraging so far,’ he said. ‘The properties who have the ability to make top wines have done so. It looks better than 2004, and may be better than 2006.’

Spurrier added that he was ‘very impressed’ by the Right Bank.

‘They got the Merlot completely right there,’ he said. ‘There’s a real purity of fruit because of the lower crop – the vine put all its effort into only two-thirds of the grapes, over a long growing season. They’ve ended up with perfect ripeness.’

James Lawther MW also feels it ‘could well be a Right Bank year’ and also referenced the ‘purity of fruit’ as the region’s standout quality in a ‘good but not outstanding’ year. ‘The fruit quality is very appealing,’ he said. ‘With an Indian summer, you tend to get a round, amenable, early drinking wines, as in 2007. But the 2008s have a structure to the tannins that should [also] lead to cellaring.’

Overall, Lawther said the vintage was ‘better than expected – surprisingly good,’ though he was ‘less convinced [thus far] on the Left Bank.’

Spurrier too had reservations on the Médoc, describing the wines he had tasted until now as ‘more workmanlike’ and ‘burly’. ‘The fruit on the Right Bank is probably riper – it’s one of the most homogenous vintages I’ve ever tasted there,’ he said, adding that such a quality was ‘very rare’.

There have been, though, some outstanding examples on the Left Bank, both Spurrier and Lawther picking out the 2008 Chateau Latour as a standout example.

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