Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bordeaux 2015 En Primeur - Summary

I've often been asked: How would you summarize the 2015 Bordeaux vintage?

2015 Bordeaux Vintage Overall

Beautiful depth and color of Pontet Canet 2015
Drinkable and Structured: These wines are, on the whole, very approachable and yet possessing of great depth. I was surprised by how many of wines are drinkable even now, and we're talking pretty substantial wines here! This makes it all the more challenging to hold onto them to witness their evolution as they mature and develop more smoothness and complexity in the bottle. That said, some wines, like Lafite Rothschild (Pauillac), Palmer (Margaux) and Suduiraut (Sauternes), are beautifully made and will only truly blossom in years to come - they will be worth the wait!

Full and Generous: There was a lot of heat during the growing season, and many of the wines are full-bodied, with significant tannins. Don't let this put you off! The well-made wines (see my previous reports in the Blog Archive for April and May for recommended selections) are wonderfully balanced by generous fruit and the right amount of acidity to lend them a dazzling fresh quality. We're not talking big, sappy fruit bombs; rather, we have wines with heft, lifted fragrance and concentration. 

At the gate of Château Margaux
Alcohol levels are higher than usual for Bordeaux, but again, the excellent wines are so well balanced (fruit concentration, acidity, tannins) that they don't feel "hot" at all. And believe me, I've tasted 11% alcohol wines that set my face on fire, because they lacked the other elements in balance. 

For those who know their vintages: 2015 has the structure of 2005 and the fruit concentration of 2009. This makes for an approachable wine like 2012, but with even longer potential for aging and development of complexity in the bottle. This also makes for a distinctively sunny, yet poised character for 2015. 

Not All Are Created Equal: That said, take care: Wines that didn't show as well exhibited imbalances. What I noticed most in these wines were what I call the "whale tannins" - outsized tannins that surged up like a whale beneath a ship and nearly knocked me over (and left me with numb, fuzzy lips). I realize that this is a strange analogy, but that is exactly the imagery that came to mind during tastings!

Great for Fans of California Reds: As I tasted during En Primeur week in Bordeaux, I realized increasingly that 2015 is possibly the perfect vintage to share Bordeaux wines with folks who love California red wines! Their generosity and approachability are surprising and delightful for such baby wines, and the best will mature with plenty more rewards to come. 

The Top 10

Naturally, the other question I'm being asked is: What are your Top 10 wines for Bordeaux 2015? This is difficult, not only because there are many wonderfully well-made wines, but also because the châteaux have different styles. 

My criterion: Does the wine embody the château's signature style, while expressing the very best of their land, their grapes, and the vintage conditions? 

When a wine demonstrates this simple and challenging ask, and one is left with that distinct, ineffable imprint that indicates a superbly made wine - regardless whether the wine is to one's own personal taste - it is starred for "Outstanding" on my list. 

The incredibly smooth, fragrant La Violette 2015
Without further ado, in no particular order:

  • Pontet Canet (Pauillac)
  • Ducru-Beaucaillou (Pauillac)
  • Lynch-Bages (St-Julien)
  • Pichon Lalande (St-Julien)
  • Léoville-Poyferré (St-Julien)
  • Margaux (Margaux)
  • Haut-Brion (Pessac-Léognan)
  • Pavie (St-Emilion)
  • L'Evangile (Pomerol)
  • La Violette (Pomerol)

That was tough! There are so many excellent wines for Bordeaux 2015. Again, please see my previous reports (April and May in the Blog Archive to the right) for all my selections for Standouts and Excellent wines, along with tasting notes. 

At work (Belmont Wine Exchange), I'm working hard to get allocations for my selections of wines. Their futures are being released by the châteaux, one by one, day by day. (I have an elaborate spreadsheet that is gaining more columns every day as I track the campaign.) It is incredibly exciting to be able to secure some of the best wines of the vintage. I look forward to sharing and enjoying these wines with you, in the future! 

Thank you again, as always, for joining me in my journeys. There will be more adventures!

No comments:

Post a Comment