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Anson: Taking advantage of Bordeaux’s ‘off vintages’

Don't dismiss the lighter-framed styles of Bordeaux's so-called 'off vintages', says Jane Anson, who talks about how to approach less powerful years and highlights wines from 1999, 2001 and 2007 that are drinking well today.

Spare a thought for Bordeaux winemakers in the 1880s. Records from local brokers describe the wines as follows;

  • 1880 – ‘mediocre quality,’
  • 1881 – ‘solid but lacking in charm, ‘
  • 1882 – ‘light but elegant’
  • 1883 – ‘average yield, light wines’
  • 1884 – ‘average quality’
  • 1885 – ‘left a mouldy taste in the mouth’
  • 1886 – ‘mildew compromised the taste’

Brutal tasting notes, until there was finally a breakthrough in 1887 with the arrival of the copper-based Bordeaux Mixture to treat mildew. That year’s crop was considered ‘clean and healthy, low yield but better quality’.

Underrated Bordeaux: Scroll down for Jane Anson’s tasting notes on ‘off vintages’ to seek out

Wines to try: Jane Anson’s tasting notes and scores

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