Bordeaux 2014: A Return to Relevance!

July 1, 2015

I often refer to the weather in Bordeaux as turbulent and erratic and this always seems to surprise people. The famous worldwide reputation this region has earned leads people to believe that the weather is always great. The reality is that Bordeaux deals with weather adversity almost every year; this can come in the form of early season frost’s that can kill vines, uneven flowering from rain and wind, blistering and unrelenting summer heat (remember you can’t water your vines in France!), thunder storms and hail that can badly injure vines and rain in September and October that can swell and compromise quality. On the other side of the pond here in California these conditions almost never happen.

 

2011, 2012 and 2013 all experienced different combinations of these challenging conditions. 2014 started great but a gloomy July and a cold August was cause for great worry; in almost miracle fashion the next 8 weeks in September and October featured spectacular weather and a lovely vintage was harvested. As usual, I tasted over 1000 wines from 2014 and the wines feature beautiful fruit, great freshness, fine balance and elegance; but most importantly they taste great!

 

The 2014’s are not in the same class as great long aging vintages like 2009 and 2010 and are not priced like them either, thank goodness!

 

A stronger US dollar along with some level headed pricing make this vintage very attractive to all age groups and I believe these wines will start to drink nicely with a bit of age 5-7 years and will develop into the 20 year range. This works well for everyone, someone my age because I really don’t need wines to age 30 plus years and it works well for young people that want to taste and learn about Bordeaux without have to age them for decades while laying the foundation of a wine collection. In my opinion every region of Bordeaux was very successful but I found the wines in the Northern Medoc to have a bit more concentration and complexity.

 

I found the first growths of Ch. Mouton ($369.99) and Lafite Rothschild ($439.99) to be outstanding as were many of the famous neighbors in Pauillac like Ch. Pontet Canet (92.99), Ch. Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande ($89.99), Ch. Pichon Longueville Baron ($89.99) and Ch. Lynch Bages ($84.99).

 

Just a bit further north in St-Estephe you have the exceptional trio of wines from Ch. Cos d’Estournel ($119.99), Ch. Montrose ($119.99) and Ch. Calon Segur ($62.99). The great wine of Ch. Leoville Barton from St-Julien is also ($62.99). Suberb wines from Pessac-Leognan include Ch. Haut Bailly ($59.99) Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte ($64.99) and Ch. Malartic-Lagraviere ($39.99).

 

If you are more comfortable spending less, no problem, 2014 is loaded with many values from great estates like Ch. Cantemerle ($26.99), Clos du Marquis ($42.99), Ch. Angludet ($34.99), Ch. Labegorce ($22.99), Ch. Kirwan ($34.99) and the #1 value of the vintage Ch. Capbern ($17.99) which is from the same winemaking team as Ch. Calon Segur.

 

Please note that all prices mentioned above are priced in US dollars.

 

If you would like a copy of my 2014 Vintage report with my personal tasting notes please feel free to contact me anytime.

 

Cheers and Toujours Bordeaux! 

 

Ralph Sands

Prime Cellar Consultant

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