Pauillac & Saint-Estèphe
Whereas last year, the later ripening terroirs (which includes both these appellations) were affected by the early October rains, this year it was the turn of these regions to reap the benefits of the late harvest. The cool October nights retained acidity in the grapes, which translates to freshness and clarity in these focused and complete wines. Saint Estèphe producers in particular profited from their relatively high proportion of moisture retaining clay which was able to keep vines photosynthesizing when some elsewhere in Bordeaux started to shut down. The older vines of the top Chȃteaux of Pauillac also excelled as their deep roots were able to keep the vine replenished when areas of younger vines were struggling. Chȃteaux from these regions that shone in this vintage were, Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, Montrose, Cos d’Estournel, Pontet Canet, Grand Puy Lacoste, Pichon Longueville Baron, Haut Marbuzet and Ormes de Pez.
Margaux & Saint-Julien
With Margaux itself comprised of almost as many classed growths as Pauillac and St Estèphe combined, here was perhaps the greatest potential for variation in quality. However, the appellation showed its typical elegance and grace with alcohol levels often one degree lower than for the same Chȃteau in the previous year (a common element throughout Bordeaux in this vintage). Wine of the vintage last year, Chȃteau Margaux was again on form but Palmer, Lascombes, Malescot St-Exupéry, Rauzan Ségla and Giscours really excelled. Other highlights from the appellation include Du Tertre and Marquis de Terme, not forgetting the second wines Pavillon de Margaux and Alter Ego.
In St Julien standouts include Ducru Beaucaillou, Léoville Las Cases, Beychevelle, Branaire Ducru, Léoville Poyferré and particularly good this year was the St Julien 3rd growth Chȃteau Lagrange.
Graves & Sauternes
For lovers of the elegant wines of Pessac-Léognan, the Chȃteaux to the South of the appellation such as Smith Haut-Lafitte, Haut Bailly, Malartic Lagravière and Fieuzal benefitted from being further away from the warmth of Bordeaux, whilst those within the boundaries of the city were reliant on expertly positioned vine canopies and deep root systems established over many decades. Perennial performers Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion and Pape Clément, benefitting from both current and previous generations’ savoir-faire. Whilst the majority Cabernet Franc Carmes Haut-Brion found many admirers.
The white wines of Pessac-Leognan were rich, full and expressive, many showing tropical notes due to the heat of the Summer. Sauternes and Barsac too were particularly luscious, with plenty of exotic aromas.
Saint-Émilion & Pomerol
Of the two major Right Bank appellations, Pomerol seems to be triumphant this year, particularly towards the blue clay to the North East of the appellation where wines of incredible depth and suppleness have been produced at Lafleur, Vieux Chȃteau Certan, Petrus, Conseillante, L’Evangile, Gazin and La Fleur Petrus. Perched on its own separate plot of clay Trotanoy has also excelled.
The great wines of the gravel plateau to the North West of St Emilion such as Chȃteaux Cheval Blanc and Figeac produced wines of silkiness and succulence, as did Angelus and Ausone largely due to their high Cabernet Franc content, however elsewhere in the appellation wines such as Canon la Gaffeliere, La Mondotte, Tertre Rôteboeuf, Fombrauge, Pavie and Monbousquet display a more exotic and opulent character.