Bordeaux, which year is the best?
with 4 great vintages at all different price points which year is the best to buy? 2014, 2015,2016 or 2017?
With 2014 Bordeaux already in stores, 2015 arriving in the next few weeks, 2016 still available 'En Primeur' and 2017 fully 'En Primeur'. There are lots of options out there. So which vintage is 'the best'? Well it depends....
Each vintage performed well for different appellations, so saying 2015 or 2016 was the best, would be like saying Bordeaux has the best wine in the world. Bordeaux does have some of the best, it also has some average wine, so we cannot generalize. Urgh, this is complicated I know! Stay with me.
Without writing an essay about this, I need to split this into a couple of different categories without loosing you. So I am going to 'try' and 'generalize' each vintage.
Cheapest out of the 4 vintages
Ready to drink the soonest with little or no cellaring required (First/Second growths require 5ish years or so)
Fruit forward, easy style
Left/Right banks similar, sweet wines did well
Lacks the depth and concentration of 2015, 2016
Will never reach the quality of other vintages
Pomerol and Margaux had phenomenal vintages
St-Emilion, Pauillac, St-Estephe, Pessac-Léognan and St-Julien had very good years
Prices are at a discount compared to 2016
Fresh, concentrated and exciting vintage, this is New Bordeaux, long gone of the over extracted, high alcohol 'Parker Years'
Certain Chateaux produced some of their best wines: Clinet, La Mission Haut-Brion, Margaux, Le Pin, Petrus, Lafleur, Trotanoy, Vieux Chateau Certan, Cheval Blanc.
Long ageing potential
More expensive than 2014
Availability not as good as 2014 or 2017
Pauillac, St-Emilion were stand out vintages
Pomerol, Pessac-Léognan, St-Estephe and St-Julien had very good years
More concentration and less fruit driven than 2015
Most age worthy
Availability better than 2015
Most expensive vintage
Less fresh than 2015 (very subjective)
Discount compared to 2016
Pessac-Léognan whites and Saint-Julien had a strong vintage
A lot of vines were lost to frost
Summer less consistent and so ripening was less consistent
Very much a terroir year, hence difficult to generalize
Similar prices and/or little discount to 2015
So what do I recommend?
Again, depends on your favourite Chateaux. I believe 2014 and 2015 should be where to look first. 2014 for early drinking, while you wait for your 2015's to mature. 2017 should only be for Pessac-Léognan whites and maybe St-Julien. I think 2016's are too highly priced compared to 2015's.
What am I doing?
2015 is my big highlight and so I am stocking up with that vintage, I have picked up some of the Chateaux which did better in 2016 compared to 2015. For 2017, I am only selecting those I keep a vertical of, and a couple of Pessac-Léognans. I am now focusing on 2014 for my early drinking pleasure :)
What are you doing?