VINTAGE NOTES


The following chart is a compilation (or cuvee if you will!) of notes from the major Bordeaux critics – Jancis Robinson (JR), Decanter (DC), Wine Spectator (WS), Robert Parker (RP), as well as the lesser known, but thorough, website – Wine Cellar Insider (WCI).  If there is anything that was solidified while compiling all the information, is that each critic can have widely different opinions regarding each appellation and each vintage, which can result in conflicting information with regards to the quality. The best advice is to find a critic whose palate and assessments you respect and align with your own palate.

This is by no means meant to be taken as gospel, but rather hopefully a way to view & compare several opinions about each vintage in a succinct way, rather than flipping through various tabs and websites.  Although there was some editing done on our part on the verbiage used by each publication, we did our best to remain true to their words. Not every vintage has notes from each critic for a few reasons – their publication didn’t offer anything specific enough, or any information at all in some cases, or just a blanket assessment was offered.  If there are specific appellations mentioned in each column, it’s referring to the lauded overall quality of the appellation for that vintage.

One of the top 3 questions any wine professional or Sommelier is often asked “when can I drink this (insert wine name here)?  The answer is rarely an easy one but there is this basic guideline you can follow: if you like your wines to have big fruit flavours and assertive structure, drink the wine soon (and don’t forget to decant it), if you prefer to drink wines that are starting to show tertiary or savoury characteristics (more earthy and leather notes, maybe some smokiness and mushroom), tuck the bottle to the back corner of your cellar or wine fridge and try to forget about it for a few years.  It’s always a gamble to choose the ‘right time’, which is part of the fun of wine! When you can, try to purchase wines in at least groups of 3 and open them at different intervals. And remember, you don’t have to buy extremely expensive wines for cellaring. $20 well made wines, especially from a great vintage, will age gracefully in proper conditions.

Also, if you require information that is more specific than what is listed, it’s encouraged to visit our Bordeaux portfolio for technical sheets on individual wines that are or have been imported by LEW in the past.  

 

Vintage

Left Bank (LB)

Medoc, St Estephe, Pauillac, St. Julien, Listrac, Moulis, Margaux, Pessac Leognan, Graves, Haut Medoc

Right Bank (RB)

Pomerol, Saint Emilion, Fronsac, Cotes de Bordeaux, Cotes du Castillon, Bordeaux Superior

2017

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General Vintage Overview

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2016

Upper Medoc superb with Margaux and Pessac Leognan excellent (WS). Excellent value in Graves. So far it looks like the RB will be slightly favoured over LB, with St Emilion pulling ahead of Pomerol. Clay rich soils were able to handle the heat.

General Vintage Overview

Start of the season was wet and cool, but by mid June, it became hot with drought conditions for mid summer. Late season brought rain at the right times for harvest.Solid vintage with decent quantity and aromatics (JR)

2015

Margaux, St Julien, Pessac Leognan were the standouts. (WS) Slightly favoured over the Left Bank with a lot of value in Castillon and Fronsac. (WS)

General Vintage Overview

Hot & dry summer, however August had record rainfall which saved the vintage. September & October was optimal weather & temperatures (cool nights) which likely saved the vintage.Extraordinary vintage (RP)perfect tannin structure and optimum fruit ripeness (DC)

2014

Upper Medoc with the edge going to Cab Sauv & Franc, as well as Petit Verdot. Margaux & Pessac Leognan less so. Hold (WS) Cab Franc managed the rain better. Drink or hold (WS)

General Vintage Overview

The first 2/3 of the season was cool and wet but it finally quit raining in August and warmed up slightly. Late & long fall helped ripening substantially. Good vintage after a string of weak vintages.Outstanding. Hold. Sauternes accessible early. (RP)

2013

Low quantity. Reds will be lighter in body with fresh fruit. Early drinkers. Pessac Leognan whites (WCI)St Estephe (DC)St Estephe, St Julien (JR)Sauternes (RP) Low quantity. More consistent in quality over LB. Soft and approachable wines. Early drinkers.Pomerol (JR)Pomerol & St Estephe (RP)

General Vintage Overview

Difficult vintage that resulted in low quantities. Many producers had to perform green harvesting at the beginning to save young fruit from mold & disease. Vineyard management was crucial to any degree of success.

2012

Drink. Margaux & Pessac Leognan slightly favoured. (WS) Pomerol is consistent. Hold. (WS)RB Overall better quality (DC)

General Vintage Overview

Difficult vintage with low yields, which are most often described as a ‘winemakers/vineyard manager’s vintage’.Started off very cold and wet, but ended the season being hot and dry.Both LB and RB=drink now (RP)

2011

Small berries=small yields. Fresh wines overall. (WS)Dry whites (Pessac Leognan) & Sauternes/Barsac retained quality. (DC) Pomerol fresh and ripe. St Emilion’s Cab Franc excelled and will age well. (WS)Cab Franc generally more successful. (DC)Pomerol & old vines produced quality fruit.

General Vintage Overview

Difficult vintage after a rock star one. Early & dry spring that became the opposite in July. Overall, the wines are fresher, brighter acidity and better suited to early drinking.

2010

More structure driven than ’09, for longer lived wines. (WS)St Julien, Pauillac, St Estephe, Graves, Pessac Leognan – all extraordinary. (RP) Powerful wines with great values coming from Fronsac & Castillon. (WS)

General Vintage Overview

It was a slow, damp start to the season, but by mid June, everything fell into place – sun, temperatures, and rain – and stayed there until harvest. JR considers this vintage a more classical style than ’09.Overall, these wines will cellar for decades.

2009

Medoc & Pessac Leognan over the others, but overall great. (WS)Dramatic & voluptuous. (JR) Drink or hold. Loads of fruit, especially Pomerol. (WS)Luscious wines with higher ABV. (DC)

General Vintage Overview

An average spring with some hail in Pessac Leognan and parts of the RB. It was a warm, sunny vintage with minor rainfall, which was a nice long harvest. Fruit is fresher and riper as it was a generally warmer year.Overall, wines are easily accessible and drinking well. (RP)

2008

Pauillac & St Julien (DC)LB mostly inconsistent. (RP) Pomerol in general. Wines from RB more muscular. (RP)Wines fleshier and more approachable young. (WS)

General Vintage Overview

Small yields due to uneven and late flowering in early spring. Season was cooler than normal until harvest, which was extended.This vintage is an example that careful research of producers within each appellation will garner some winners.

2007

St Julien & Margaux good/homogenous. Pauillac & St Estephe varied quality. (Know your producers) (DC) St Emilion – stick to the producers with vineyards on the plateaus & slopes. (DC)

General Vintage Overview

Moderate to poor season with a lot of cool, wet weather. Luckily a long fall for harvest. Most of the wines ended up being soft, pleasant, and early drinkers.Most dry whites – regardless of appellation – will show well.

2006

Pauillac is the most consistent & Pessac Leognan’s dry whites outstanding. (WCI)St Julien quintessential; Medoc the unsung hero; Haut Medoc is reliable. (DC)Big & Tannic wines – Drink or Hold. (WS)Pauillac (JR) Choose Pomerol over St Emilion. (DC)Top producers your best bet – Drink or Hold. (WS)Pomerol (JR)

General Vintage Overview

Cold, wet winter, but an early spring led to a hot June & July. The fall harvest was cool and wet. If the grapes made it to the winery before the rains (such as Pomerol), the wines were outstanding. Most of the top producers will have big, long lived, tannic wines.

2005

Medoc, Pauillac and Pessac Leognan Both Pomerol and St Emilion equally lauded

General Vintage Overview

One of the legendary vintages. Hot, dry growing season with moisture happening at all the right times.Wines show depth, finesse, and structure. (WS)Consensus from these critics is to HOLD these bottles (for decades). Congratulations if you were born or had a child in 2005!

2004

Overlooked – drink or hold. (WS)St. Julien/Pauillac/St Estephe – drink or hold. (RP)St. Julien/Pauillac (DC) Cabernet Franc dominant blends the winners – Drink or hold. (WS)Drink (RP)

General Vintage Overview

One of the largest yields due to even flowering. Many wineries had to perform significant thinning in early spring. Mid summer was cool and/or wet, but, once again, late summer/early fall saved the vintage.

2003

Big tannins – drink/hold (WS)St. Julien/Pauillac/St Estephe – drink (RP) Big, ripe, and slightly jammy. Drink (WS)Pomerol – drink (RP)

General Vintage Overview

Inconsistent vintage, but northern Medoc has pulled ahead.There are some great wines to be had, but research needed.

2002

Any appellation – Drink (RP)Stick to top producers – Drink (WS) Pomerol – Drink (RP)Fruity with balance – Drink (WS)

General Vintage Overview

Pretty classic vintage.

2001

Pauillac/St Estephe/Sauternes‘Sleeper vintage’ (meaning it’s aged well with some good surprises) (WS) Both Pomerol and St EmilionDrink (JR) (RP) (WS)

General Vintage Overview

Large crops with varied quality (JR)

2000

Medoc/Graves favoured but Margaux/St Julien/Pauillac also strong. (DC)Drink or Hold. Wines starting to hit their stride. (WS)Outstanding vintage. Hold a bit longer. Sauternes exceptional. (RP)Drink petit chateaux now (2nd labels from the major producers. Best wines should last into 2 or 3 decades. (JR) Drink or Hold. Wines are starting to open up. (WS)Outstanding vintage. Hold a bit longer. (RP)Drink petit chateaux now. Best wines should last into 2 or 3 decades. (JR)

General Vintage Overview

One of the banner vintages. Although the weather was up and down, it wasn’t on the extreme side. Rain was well timed before harvest.

1998

Graves has some winners (RP)Drink now (JR) (DC) (RP) (WS) Both Pomerol & St Emilion are outstanding.Muscular wines. Drink or hold (WS)

General Vintage Overview

Beginning Spring to mid summer pretty moody but the weather turned around mid summer to harvest. Pomerol had a severe hailstorm, which resulted in a green harvest, which made way for some concentrated wines.

1996

Drink now. Medoc (JR)St Julien/Pauillac/St Estephe could hold on to a bit longer (RP) Hardly anyone mentions RB. Drink now.

General Vintage Overview

A great vintage for Cabernet Sauvignon, weather effect was nice, firm tannins.

1995

Drink or hold (WS)Pauillac (JR) Drink or hold (WS)Pomerol (JR)

General Vintage Overview

Moderate winter with a mild spring. Summer was dry and hot with some mid September rain.

1990

Drink Haut Medoc, Pauillac, Pessac Leognan, St Estephe, St Julien Drink St Emilion

General Vintage Overview

One of the top vintages of the 20th century. Weather throughout the growing season was hot and sunny, with rains at the right time in September. Wines overall are ripe and opulent.