The Bordeaux 2014 vintage is ‘one to watch’, says Steven Spurrier, as newly published scores and tasting notes from Decanter’s tasting quartet show high quality wines from chateaux across the region.
Read comments and key scores below, or go straight to the Bordeaux 2014 results page.
Vineyard managers confessed to having sleepless nights through much of last summer, as cool and damp weather threatened to make Bordeaux 2014 to another weak vintage.
But, soaring temperatures from late August saved the crop and set the tone for 2014 vintage wines that Steven Spurrier described as a ‘joy to taste’ during the recent en primeur week. He described Bordeaux 2014 as the ‘best of the lesser vintages’ in recent memory, though not quite on the level of 2009 or 2010.
Release prices will be crucial, but ‘if I didn’t have my vineyard in Dorset to support, many cases of 2014 would end up in my own cellar,’ he said in a commentary set to appear in the June issue of Decanter magazine.
There was little hint of those early summer nerves in this week’s scores and tasting notes from the Decanter.com team, which comprised of Spurrier on Medoc, James Lawther MW on the Right Bank, Jane Anson on Graves and Pessac-Leognan and Ian D’Agata on Sauternes and Barsac.
Few chateaux broke the 18-point barrier of the 20-point scale last year – or 93 on the 100 point system – but a host of wines did so this time around.
There have been early claims to declare 2014 a Left Bank vintage, thanks to the later ripening qualities of Cabernet Sauvignon versus the earlier ripening Merlot, and the top estates all came out well.
Chateau Latour, which officially sits outside of the en primeur system but still showed its young 2014 wine, led the Left Bank field with 19 points, or 96 on the 100-point scale. Its first growth counterparts – Lafite-Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, Margaux and Haut-Brion – followed closely behind with 18.75 (95+) each for their reds.
Other top Left Bank performers included biodynamic estate Pontet-Canet, which scored 18.5 (95), as did several others, including Palmer in Margaux and a St Estephe trio of Calon-Segur, Cos d’Estournel and Montrose.
Graves and Pessac-Leognan Reds
In Graves and Pessac-Leognan, the top reds – aside from Haut-Brion – included Chateau Roquetaillade La Grange and also Denis Dubourdieu’s Haura, both on 17 (90) in Graves, with La Mission Haut-Brion reaching 18.5 (95) in Pessac and Haut-Bailly, Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Pape Clement and Domaine de Chevalier all scoring 18.25 (94).
And yet, for all the high scores, the overall prize for best scoring wine of the vintage went south to Sauternes. Chateau d’Yquem, officially a first growth ‘supieror’, scored 19.25 (97).
Plenty of Sauternes estates were as fretful of the September heatwave as their red winemaking counterparts were overjoyed – but sizeable bouts of botrytis in October enabled the region to produce some top wines.
D’Agata rated Climens, Doisy-Daene L’Extravagance and Lafaurie-Peyraguey all at 19 (96); the latter marking a solid debut for new estate owner Silvio Denz. Beyond that, a whole host of wines made it to at least the 18-point mark, including Raymond Lafon, the relatively small estate run by Jean-Pierre Meslier and nestled among wealthy giants.
‘It’s really a unique Sauternes and Barsac vintage, quite unlike any vintage of the past 30 years, because these remarkably opulent, rich wines really come across as almost dry,’ D’Agata said in his first impression of the vintage.
James Lawther MW described the 2014 Right Bank wines as a bit ‘up and down’, but hard work in the vineyard paid off for several chateaux. In St Emilion, Ausone led the line with 18.75 (95+), followed by fellow Grand Cru Classe A estates Angelus and Cheval Blanc on 18.5 (95) and grand cru Le Dome, which equalled the score of its higher classed counterparts. Pavie was close behind on 18.25 (94).
In Pomerol, several of the big names performed well, with Lafleur heading the list on 18.75 (95+) followed by Petrus and Vieux Chateau Certan on 18.5 (95) and Le Pin on 18.25 (94+). Lafleur’s second wine, Pensees de Lafleur, scored 17.5 (91), and was ahead of several grands vins.
Dry whites, considered one of Bordeaux’s most consistent styles, also had a strong year, albeit with some producers having to taper acidity levels due to the long, cool summer. Anson rated Haut-Brion Blanc at 19 (96), with La Mission Haut-Brion at 18.75 (95+). On the Right Bank, Valandraud Blanc got 17.5 (91).
Read more commentary from Decanter’s tasting team in the June issue of Decanter magazine, out on 6 May.
Written by Chris Mercer