Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Bordeaux En Primeur 2014 Vintage Report

Bordeaux produced a very good vintage in 2014. Sometimes it’s extremely good, even if it only knocks on the door of 2009/10 greatness rather than actually stepping over the threshold. Having spent a week in the region tasting hundreds of samples, I would rate 2014 ahead of 2008 and alongside vintages I really enjoy drinking, such as 2001, 2004 and 2006.

Stylistically, I find it quite difficult to pigeon-hole the 2014s. Scanning through my notes, the words that crop up again and again are ‘charming’, ‘floral’ and ‘supple’. The best reds share fully ripe and succulent red and black fruit characters, but with a sense of coolness and restraint. They are less sweet and concentrated than in the biggest of vintages but a benefit of this is that
alcohol levels are generally pretty modest this year. Chateau Lafite, for me the finest of the first growths in 2014, is just 12.6% ABV; a welcome dialling back from the 15%+ clarets of the ripest vintages.

There are a few things that really struck me about this vintage which may help you decide which wines to buy from 2014:

A Northern Soul Vintage
For me, the greatest concentration of really exciting 2014s is to be found in the northern Médoc. The north saw less rain than the south of the region and the vineyards of Saint-Estèphe undoubtedly benefited from Bordeaux’s Indian summer that warmed even the cool northern outpost of the Médoc. There are wines of energy, complexity and – yes – soul to be found in this region in 2014.

A Cabernet Vintage
For lots of tasters, 2014 is a ‘left-bank vintage’ and this makes sense as the later ripening Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated vineyards were logically better-placed to benefit from the warm autumn that brought the grapes to ripeness and saved the harvest. However, this analysis doesn’t accommodate the high points of Saint-Émilion and Pomerol, where some extremely good wines were made.

Calling 2014 a Cabernet vintage is deliberately ambiguous because it allows the inclusion of Cabernet Franc which was tremendous in 2014 and helps explain some of the great successes on the right-bank.


A Terroir Vintage
Whilst it’s hardly a ground-breaking assertion, it is certainly true that wines from the best sites are frequently the finest examples of 2014. For example, in Pomerol, the châteaux on the plateau consistently outshine those from the sandier margins of the region and in Saint Émilion, wines from the limestone cotes have the most energy, intensity and depth.

Overall, 2014 has produced some intriguing, flattering wines that will provide delicious mid-term drinking. It is a very good vintage in a style that Bordeaux has not produced in some years – supple, charming, fragrant and gourmand rather than blockbusting.

Attempting to do justice to the wines of an entire region in such a short report is near impossible but I hope I’ve furnished you with some useful morsels of information. If you’d like to chat further about the wines or vintage, do please get in touch – you can email me at finewine@averys.com or call 03330 148 210.

I look forward to hearing from you soon,

Matthew Hemming MW

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