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DWWA 2014: Bordeaux insights

Hear from our Bordeaux Regional Chair Stephen Brook on which wines to buy, which wines to leave on the shelf and what to keep an eye on from this year's Decanter World Wine Awards....

The tasting conf irmed that Bordeaux offers a huge range of styles and prices. Recent vintages such as 2011, 2012 and 2013 are not among the finest years, yet there is no reason to bypass them. The 2012s won plenty of medals, rewarding their robust fruit, while we awarded three Trophies to 2011s from Pessac-Léognan, St-Emilion and Sauternes. Although it is too early to assess the red 2013s, there were many delicious if simple whites from that vintage, scoring solid Silver medals.

What should we buy from here?

Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur, often overlooked, produced some excellent wines at very fair prices. There was even a Trophy! Look out, too, for some first-rate 2012s. St-Emilion Grand Cru and Grand Cru Classé again delivered some terrific wines: lush and hedonistic but with formidable structure. Of the Médoc communes, St-Julien and Pauillac outperformed Margaux. There are some impressive wines from the Côtes de Bordeaux (Castillon, Cadillac, and Blaye) and from Bourg, but quality isn’t uniform, so careful selection is required.

What should we leave on the shelf?

There were major disappointments from the St-Emilion satellites (Lussac, Montagne, and Puisseguin) though Lalande-de-Pomerol was considerably better. Many of these were too extracted and harsh, lacking the suppleness and charm that impressed the tasters in the Bordeaux Supérieur wines. Oak-aged whites, other than those from Pessac-Léognan, were clumsy; in general the unpretentious Bordeaux Sauvignon Blancs were more enjoyable. There were some good wines from Haut-Médoc in 2012, but the 2011s were patchier and did not always justify often high prices.

What should we keep an eye on?

Sauternes are not only gorgeous wines but often reasonably priced, especially given they will improve in bottle over many years. There were not a huge number of entries from Pomerol or red Pessac-Léognan, but the overall standard was very high (these regions deliver some of Bordeaux’s most seductive wines but the best don’t come cheap). Graves, with more moderate prices, also has much to offer, but quality is inconsistent. The profusion of quaffable, inexpensive whites was a welcome surprise: tricky vintages for red wines are often great for whites.

Written by Decanter

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