Bordeaux Vintage Guide

Welcome to Decanter’s Bordeaux vintage guide page. Below, you’ll find a vintage ratings chart and summaries of recent Bordeaux red wine vintages, spanning the key appellations on Left and Right banks.

Click on the vintage years below to see full reports, including more in-depth weather information, en primeur verdicts and quality assessments.

Bordeaux 2023

Provisional ratings: 3.75/5 red wines | 4/5 dry & sweet wines

Summary: Another year of challenges and contrasts has produced a Bordeaux 2023 vintage that reflects both the warm and wet conditions of the year, as well as key winemaker decisions at crucial moments. The best wines have superior freshness and concentration, and will delight lovers of ‘classic’ Bordeaux wines. Quality can be found at every price point, yet the vintage is not a widespread success. The whites have a slight edge overall. The dry wines are zesty, with high acidities, finesse and long lengths. The sweet wines are bold and flavourful with balanced acidities providing mouthwatering and unctuous mid palates.

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Bordeaux 2022

Provisional ratings: 4/5 red wines | 3.5/5 dry & sweet wines

Summary: Conditions were so hot and dry that irrigation was permitted for the first time in some regions, and clay ‘sunscreen’ was used by some estates to try and protect grapes from the sunshine. Neither a Left or Right Bank vintage, with outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon in the Médoc and Graves as well as Merlot in St-Émilion and Pomerol. Styles vary considerably from fine and elegant, to opulent and hedonistic. The worst wines demonstrate the potential for excess with too much richness, a lack of acidity and dry tannins. White wines are a mixed bag: some exotic and generous others lean and crisp. However, the sweet wines exceed expectations and are extremely rich and luscious with high levels of residual sugar.

Bordeaux 2021

Overall red wine rating: 3.5/5

Summary: Despite fears at the time of a potential disaster of a year, the 2021 Bordeaux vintage has ultimately yielded a number of gorgeous wines that will delight Bordeaux drinkers who appreciate freshness and energy, not to mention the notably moderate alcohol levels. Not a vintage to buy blind, with patchy quality and a number of disappointing wines. But in the end, time in bottle has favoured producers with sufficient resources or who didn’t attempt to override the intrinsic character of the vintage.

Bordeaux 2020

Overall red wine rating: 4/5

Summary: Another vintage of extremes in Bordeaux, with both challenging weather and pandemic lockdowns sparing few. Yet 2020 has produced a number of excellent wines and in parts can be confirmed as the conclusion of a great trilogy. Comparatively, the 2020s offer a combination of the 2005 and 2016 vintages in terms of structure and refinement – more elegant and fresh than the ripe and opulent 2018s, and more focused but less immediately charming than the 2019s.

Bordeaux 2019

Overall red wine rating: 4.5/5

Summary: Bordeaux 2019 was not a straightforward year. The season began cool and wet but improved after June. However, with only patchy rainfall there were drought conditions by September. Rainfall just before harvest proved a welcome relief. The majority of wines are beautifully expressive, ranging truly from ripe, opulent and hedonistic to delicate, elegant and aerial, with balance and appeal. There are some fantastic dry white and sweet wines too, so there really is something for everyone in 2019.

Bordeaux 2018

Rating: 4/5 Left Bank | 4.5/5 Right Bank

Summary: Bordeaux 2018 was split into two distinct halves, where things were extremely wet until early July, and then extremely dry right through until October. Yields were low in some cases due to mildew, but sorting had to be unbelievably careful to avoid dried fruit flavours. In general, 2018 wines are not as well-built and muscular as 2016, and so should be ready to drink a little earlier, but will age better than the lighter 2017s.

Bordeaux 2017

Left Bank report

Right Bank report

Summary: Bordeaux 2017 was marked by devastating frosts early in the growing season. That said, en primeur tastings showed there is a lot of pleasure in this vintage if you know where to look. In terms of drinking, 2017 will be earlier to approach than the 2015s or 2016s, probably coming into play around the same time as the 2014s, so think six to eight years rather than 10 to 12.

Bordeaux 2016

Rating: 5/5 Left Bank | 4.5/5 Right Bank

Summary: The best Médoc red wines since 2010 as a general rule, although several estates also produced excellent 2015s, especially in Margaux and southern parts of Médoc and Left Bank in general. A number of Bordeaux 2016 wines have improved in the bottle since en primeur season. On the Right Bank, Pomerol is a particular highlight. Wines have power and ageing potential, but lack some of the seductive charm of the 2015s.

Bordeaux 2015

Rating: 4.5/5 Left Bank | 5/5 Right Bank

Summary: Predominantly a victory for the Right Bank, although Château Margaux’s 100-point effort would beg to differ. No doubt at all that the Pessac-Léognan and Margaux appellations produced some spectacular wines, but for consistency of achievement you have to go to St-Emilion and Pomerol. There are plenty of good options at Cru Bourgeois level in this vintage.

Bordeaux 2014

Rating: 4/5 Left Bank | 3.5/5 Right Bank

Summary: Some excellent wines, particularly in that northern Médoc triumvirate of St-Julien, Pauillac and St-Estèphe. Those three appellations had the best of the glorious late autumn weather and most crucially suffered less from rain in August and October. However, clear differences between first and second wines suggest careful selection was needed.

Bordeaux 2013

Rating: 2/5 Left Bank | 2/5 Right Bank

Summary: ‘Payback’ time for Sauternes, and dry whites also shone, but it was clearly the most difficult red wine vintage for decades across Bordeaux. Yields were drastically down in many cases and consultant Stephane Derenoncourt described producing the vintage from bud to barrel as a ‘war against nature’. Inevitably, some critics were pleasantly surprised with the results and rigorous selection at top estates – presumably at significant extra cost – led to several successes, said primeur tasters Steven Spurrier, James Lawther MW and Jeannie Cho Lee MW.

Here is how the vintage was holding up 10 years on.

Bordeaux 2012

Rating: 3.5/5 Left Bank | 3/5 Right Bank

Summary: Not an easy year but generally viewed as better than 2011; albeit there was talk of reappraisal for the 11s in 2018. The 2012 weather conditions got off to a terrible start in spring, so flowering was uneven and drawn out. At en primeur, a hot summer was deemed to have helped earlier-ripening Merlot, while late September rains hampered some Cabernet Sauvignon. Top wines have lovely fruit structure, real definition and excellent balance, but the warning is for consistency. In general, it’s a vintage to enjoy relatively young.

Bordeaux 2011

Rating: 2.5/5 Left Bank | 2.5/5 Right Bank

Summary: A return to reality after 2009 and 2010. There was a record start to flowering, after hot conditions early in the year, yet a cool, rainy summer, with better-but-patchy weather in the autumn, hindered ripening for both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Still, there were some good early drinking wines across both banks, with fresh fruits and some excellent gentle tannins. Look out for Pomerol and St-Emilion estates with high levels of Cabernet Franc, which did comparatively well. An exceptional year for Sauternes.

Bordeaux 2010

Rating: 5/5 Left Bank | 5/5 Right Bank

Summary: An excellent red wine vintage on both banks, helped on by a dry and sunny August, September and October with cool nights; conditions that enabled estates to pick grapes at optimal ripeness. Bordeaux 2010 is a powerful vintage with high tannin and acidity, although alcohols were considered controversially high in some cases. The best wines should age for many years and will require patience. Look out for value among smaller estates and lesser known appellations.

Bordeaux 2009

Rating: 5/5 Left Bank | 5/5 Right Bank

Summary: The ripe middle vintage of what would become a holy trinity – 2005, 2009 and 2010. Initial excitement waned in subsequent years in some circles, but 2009 was re-confirmed as among the greats in a ’10 years on’ tasting held in early 2019. Jane Anson awarded four 100-point scores after re-tasting 67 of the top estates. She said the wines were coming towards their drinking windows – 2010 is expected to be more long-lived at present. A warm and even summer following good weather during flowering with lots of sunshine. Luscious wines and ripe fruit, albeit there were some concerns about low acidity on the Left Bank. Watch out for overripe fruit from warmer sites on the Right Bank.

Bordeaux 2008

Rating: 3/5 Left Bank | 4/5 Right Bank

Summary: A mixed year for weather, including April frosts that hit Merlot disproportionately hard and also disease pressure in the spring months. July was hot but August was cool until an Indian summer arrived late-on and lasted throughout the harvest. The best 2008s are luscious, ready now and will last for around another decade. Others show some under-ripeness and tannins have struggled to soften. Overall, this vintage sits broadly between the greats of 2005, 2009 and 2010 and the lesser years of 2007 and 2006. It has become notable for being priced relatively kindly, having been released en primeur in the aftermath of the Lehman Brothers collapse.

Bordeaux 2007

Rating: 2.5/5 Left Bank | 2.5/5 Right Bank

Summary: Universally seen as the weakest red vintage of its era, several 2007s were identifiable by a certain ‘green’ character when tasted against peers from neighbouring vintages. A cool and wet summer meant that some estates struggled for ripeness. However, a re-tasting of top châteaux in 2017 revealed many classic clarets on the Left Bank that were drinking well at the time. This was a relatively light vintage and the most successful producers emphasised fruit over power.

Bordeaux 2006

Rating: 4/5 Left Bank | 4/5 Right Bank

Summary: The class of 2006 was unlucky in having to follow the outstanding crop of 2005 wines, and things were made worse by patchy weather throughout the growing season – including a July drought and a cool August. There are classic, well-structured wines if you know where to look, but also significant variations between estates and much depended on soil type and positioning. On the Right Bank, Pomerol was judged one of the most successful appellations at en primeur, while St-Emilion struggled with September rains. Rot became a concern for later ripening Cabernet plots on the Left Bank. ‘At the 10-year mark, the best reds are still deeply coloured, with fresh yet complex fruit expression and high aromatics,’ said Jane Anson.

Bordeaux 2005

Rating: 5/5 Left Bank | 5/5 Right Bank

Summary: This vintage met all the conditions for a great year and has gone down as a triumph for many, which means it is well worth considering smaller-scale estates alongside the top names. ‘It would have needed a very poor winemaker to introduce vegetal notes and a stupid one to over-extract,’ said Steven Spurrier after tasting the wines en primeur. Cabernet wines were noted for their excellent ripeness. Over in St-Émilion, many wines were big and bold, partially reflecting winemaking trends of the time. Drinking well now but the top names should have plenty of years left in them. Priced highly when released en primeur.

Vintage summaries compiled by Chris Mercer and Rupert Millar.