Every great claret evolves in its own inimitable fashion, and deciding when to open your bottles can be tricky. Bordeaux expert Sebastian Payne MW assesses the drinkability of the great vintages between 1995 and 2005...

I find vintage charts maddening. A broad brush mark out of 7 or 10 scarcely begins to explain differences in style between châteaux or why vintages vary in different parts of Bordeaux. In reality, each year has some wines that are more forward, some more backward. Date of picking, grape mix, terroir and competence and resources of each team play their part.