Bordeaux 2015: the other side of the fence

2015 is a delicious vintage across the board.  After tasting a range of wines from both banks you cannot say that one area or grape variety reigns supreme.There is wonderful freshness to the wines and the tannins are present but supple and smooth.

The Right Bank Merlots are rich, concentrated and rounded. Over the Gironde the Cabernet Sauvignon basked in the hot summer and Autumn sunshine when producers could wait as long as they wanted to pick which is not usually the case. in this maritime climate when the autumn is often cut short by storms and rain.  These Cabernet Sauvignon dominated wines of the Left Bank in 2015 are delicious too and probably more classic in their style. (My favorite wines were neighbours, well they look across from eachother; Pauillac’s Pontet Canet and Grand Puy Lacoste. Powerful and minerally with an incredible purity of fruit and precision. Like a piece of granite that has been split with an axe!)

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Varied Styles  – In 2015 winemakers could make whichever style of wines they liked.  Normally in Bordeaux Mother Nature is in charge and choices are limited. So there is some variation this year depending on what you like!

2015 is great news for Bordeaux’s 8000 smaller châteaux who were not the focus of this last week’s futures tastings (6000 professional visitors from round the world). Nobody wants to buy these value wines in advance, but wait until they are in bottle  not until in 2017. For this reason their prices stay similar each year.

The average wine drinker does not care about the futures market of the 2015 and the pricing. What they care about is that Bordeaux has produced a great vintage of delicious wine in 2015 which will be available very soon and able to be enjoyed without need for lengthy further ageing!

Bordeaux is one region where you can find excellent value wines (to read more about this). Look for the unfashionable wines such as Fronsac, Listrac, Moulis or the Haut Medoc. Here neighbours to the famous well-known names but just lieing on the wrong side of the boundary are producing great value (even more so in good years!). It is incredible to see the ‘malcomprehension’ of certain wine writers to talk of ‘Boring Bordeaux’ and its escalated prices and ignore this source of authentic affordable wines.

But the limelight this week was on the 200 or so elite (Grand Cru Classé properties or equivalent). Yes this fabled châteaux all produced fabulous wines, some more successful than others but all delicious. Yes the prices will go up as it is for sure the most successful year since 2010. The wines of 2015 do not have the fabulous class – concentration and freshness of 2010 that is making this vintage ‘the one of the century’ but for long-term ageing ideally (if we can resist the temptation that is).

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So 2015 of the smaller châteaux we will be able to drink once it is in the bottle in June of next year (2017) decanting well with food starting from 2018. Delicious wines full of ripe rounded fruit! Great news as these small guys (what I call my SIP small independent producers – to read more) have had a tough time over the last few years. 2011 (simple ‘gourmand’ wines), 2012 (much better than first labelled but not a lot of demand) and the 100% shunned 2013 which sent many wine producers in the lesser appellations to the wall. With no demand for this vintage, there is no cash flow, the grave situation is compounded by tight-fisted banks. No salaries and no payments to the MSA (the agricultual industry social security). Something like an additional 60% of a paid salary to a worker is collected by the MSA.

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Back to the big boys. Now we wait to see what prices will be released. They will start to come out in May usually but no-one wants to go first – everyone is looking for a maximum of 10%) hike on last year. Buying on the futures is a failing system with pallets of wine from the recent unsexy vintages (2011, 2012, 2013) stockpiling in the wine merchant’s cellars. The reward for putting your money upfront is that when you receive your wines two years down the line that the price is cheaper than what is on the market (this has been failing to happen due to escalated primeur pricing due to new hot demand from the asian market). Lets see what happens in the next month or two.

Do we care? I know that not long from now I will be able to be drinking delicious Bordeaux wines for 15€ a bottle and I will be spoilt for choice!


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