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. Jane Anson.
Rating: 5/5 on Left Bank | 4.5/5 on the Right Bank
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. Jane Anson.
Rating: 4.5/5 on the Left Bank | 5/5 on the Right Bank
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. Jane Anson.
Summary: Some excellent wines, particularly in that northern Médoc triumvirate of St-Julien, Pauillac and St-Estèphe. Those three appellations, that 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. Jane Anson, 2017.
Some Right Bank Merlot struggled to ripen fully, following a cool and rainy summer. There are some very good wines, but soils were key. Limestone in St Emilion helped to regulate water levels in the soil, while the same was true of clay and gravel in Pomerol. James Lawther, 2015 (en primeur)
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 are six Bordeaux 2013 wines that may surprise you, chosen by John Stimpfig in 2015.
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. Release prices led to criticism from merchants at the time.
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.
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.
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.
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 underripeness 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.
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.
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.
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-Emilion, 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.
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Updated by Jane Anson in April 2021
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