The Vintner Out & About
Following the hugely successful 2016 campaign last year, we packed Charlie and Nick off to Bordeaux to assess the quality of the 2017 vintage and report back on which wines we should be recommending this year. They spent 5 days touring all the key regions and tasting all the key wines. Here is their report: …
2017 doesn’t have the greatest of legacies as you have to go back 70 years to find the last decent vintage to end with a 7 (1947), however this vintage really is one to explore.
Much like what happened in Burgundy in 2016, there was trouble brewing as a warm winter was followed by a very early spring. Budding was very early with leaves bursting through before April had even begun – any significant drop in temperature could be devastating. Then, as feared, April frosts struck and decimated crops around the region. Overall Bordeaux’s yields are down by 40%-50% on 2016. The right bank and St Emilion suffered the worst of it with some estates losing up to 100% of their crop. The Left Bank didn’t avoid it all but the nearer you were to the Gironde, the luckier you got.
By and large the rest of the vintage was much kinder. A very hot June was followed by a mild July and August allowing a smooth and consistent ripening period. Warm days and cool nights actually enhanced the phenolic ripeness without losing acidity. There was a little excitement in September when rain arrived just before harvest, however those that held their nerve waited a little longer to harvest their Cabernet Sauvignon and were rewarded with wonderfully ripe, pure and consistent fruit.
In fact, those chateaux that avoided the frost enjoyed a pretty good vintage and have produced excellent wines with purity, elegance, bright acidity and good concentration. The wealthier estates dealt with the frost with a variety of defense systems, the most extravagant being Chateau Margaux with a sprinkler system whilst Chateaux Figeac and La Conseillante deployed helicopters to disperse the cold air.
Whilst we do not see the same concentration or precision of the 2016s or the ripeness of the 2015s, the best wines are more elegant and refined than any of the vintages between 2010-2015.
The challenge for those hit by frost was to look after what was left and decide how to manage the 2nd generation buds, which were about a month behind. All said and done, the wines came out well if a little light.
There is no doubt in this vintage that customers need to be selective, but hopefully we will see some attractive prices on wines that will offer relatively early drinking with the potential to age nicely in the mid-term.
Whilst it may come as no surprise, the real success stories come from Chateaux Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Canon and VCC on the right bank and then Mouton Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild, Cos d’Estournel and Palmer on the left.
If you would like to hear more about The Vintner Bordeaux En Primeur trip, or have any questions do please get in touch. We will be announcing the most important releases and specifically the wines we recommend. There really are some hidden gems and we will let you know about them when they appear.
The releases have begun early and with a bang as Chateau Palmer was offered last week. This is a truly wonderful wine which managed to avoid much of the frost that hit Margaux. Fully biodynamic, the purity of the fruit is reminiscent of the outstanding 2016 with mind-blowingly fine and silky tannins. What is more, they have released almost 20% below last year.
Hopefully it will set the tone for the rest of the campaign.
*A REMINDER OF HOW IT WORKS*
- Send us a wish list of either the below Vintner recommendations or any other Château that has grabbed your attention.
- We receive great allocations each year and will confirm pricing of your chosen wines back to you before taking any orders.
- You confirm whether you want the wine at the stated price.
- Wines are purchased exclusive of Duty and VAT (but inclusive of shipping and insurance).
- Payment is required upon invoice.
- Once the wine arrives in the UK, Duty and VAT can be deferred further if the wine is stored 'in bond' in a registered bonded warehouse.