Bordeaux needs no introduction, with a rich history of excellence. The chateaux of the region take advantage of incredible terroir which has been described as a wine-growing paradise; and consistently produce some of the most sought-after wines in the world. As no vintage is created equal, we have made it easy for you to browse our immense cellar of Bordeaux by vintage, and use this guide to reference growing conditions and characteristics for each year.
Napa Valley’s infamous cyclical drought was on its third year in 2014 which resulted in an early harvest once again. The fruit thrived during the stable growing season, and was reminiscent to the 2013 summer but with cooler nights. With lower temperatures at night, brighter acidity is evident in the wines from 2014 as well as aromatic expression and rich, striking tannins. Early tastings have shown how beautiful these wines are currently as well as their potential for long aging in your cellar.
A complicated vintage, where summer weather appeared in spring as April was one of the hottest months, and included everything from drought to hail storms, as spring weather appeared in summer, including the coldest July in over thirty years. Uneven ripening meant dependence on sorting at an early harvest. Yields were at a record low, and berries were small, meaning big tannins in a lot of the wines. The dry whites were fantastic, and the Sauternes are loaded with botrytis thanks to damp mornings and warm days, and are high in acid; an excellent vintage for Sauternes. Enjoyable and ageable, the red wines are fresh and bright with more red fruit than black, and are low in alcohol.
The driest year on record since 1949, and the summer was filled with warm days and cool nights. 2010 produced wines that are ripe and powerful, high in fruit, acid, tannin, and alcohol. Contains a more classic palate that is willing to age and wait rather than the hedonistic fruit of the prior year. Another expensive vintage for collectors, yet it will age gracefully to celebrate your investment. Dry whites are great; Sauternes are clean and dense, yet lacking the complexity of 2001 and 2009.
After a slew of unfortunate vintages, 2009 is being called the vintage of the century. With a perfect sunny, long, warm growing season, and cool nights, the wines produced are at once amazingly ripe, and balanced with exquisite acidity, and showing immense power and structure creating irresistible wines. Upon release the wines are polished and ready to enjoy, with sweet fruit and all of the structure necessary to last decades in the cellar. Dry whites are a bit low on acidity; the Sauternes are exceptional with massive fruit and fine acidity. After nineteen wines were scored 100 points from Robert Parker, this is said to be the most expensive and collectable vintage in history.
A near repeat of the dreary 2007 summer weather, yet cooler and with more sun followed by ideal harvest conditions by a warm October. An average vintage sees 100 days of hang time, the 2008 saw a period of 135-160 days. The extensive hang time of the vintage produced elegant red wines, but lack concentration. Merlot flourished on the Right Bank, and the Cabernet Sauvignon excelled in the Médoc. The dry white wines and the Sauternes are not as good as the previous two vintages as they failed to fully ripen in most cases and have unbalanced acidity.
This was a difficult vintage as there was significant rot caused by the terrible weather that lasted until the end of August which concluded with a rain storm that could have been devastating. The sun came out and shone for the rest of the season, and producers allowed the grapes to hang as long as possible to achieve ripeness. The dry whites thrived in this vintage as they are bright and refreshing; the Sauternes are botrytis laden and opulent, and only a step below the 2001 stunners. With low alcohol and acid, the red wines are on the lighter side with heightened aromatics, and are best appreciated young.
The vintage saw drought and record high temperatures during the first half of the summer, and then a rare wet and chilly August, swelling and diluting the grapes. The beginning of September was dry, concluding with a rainy harvest. The red wines produced were not over extracted, producing a classic style and ranging from solid with strong tannins, to austere and hollow. The dry whites and some of the lighter reds were picked before the majority of the rain started to fall, producing some highly regarded examples in Pomerol. Many of the dry whites were fresh and resembled the crisp Sauvignon Blancs of New Zealand, whereas the Sauternes also retained substantial acidity, they lacked the concentration of previous vintages.
The 2005 vintage is being compared to 1982, a truly extraordinary year, and is among the best of the previous forty years. A warm and very dry year, with rain at just the right times, and cool nights, produced wines of endless finesse and structure, high tannins from thick skins, and abundant acidity. These wines will age for decades. Both the dry whites and the Sauternes were of exceptional quality. Record prices were set this year, and met.
This vintage is displaying a traditional style; with an abundant record setting of the largest crop that had to be managed exceptionally well due to an uneven growing season. A mild summer meant a longer than usual hang time, with the potential for rot during a wet and warm August. September brought warm days with cool nights, allowing the grapes to dry out and concentrate. Vineyard management was more important than ever to produce quality grapes. Marked by an uneven growing season, some of the wines are austere and showing hints of green, the result of not limiting bunches during the growing season. The dry white wines were vibrant and mineral laden, while the Sauternes were low in yield but outstanding, high in aromas and spice. 2004 continues to be a value in the market place.
The earliest harvest since 1893 because of a record setting, extremely hot year that produced bold and powerful wines of varying quality across the board. Starting with a hot May and continuing throughout August with a break for much needed rain in July, panic set in causing many to pick before full maturation, leading to wines high in alcohol and low in color and flavor. Those that waited until the near perfect conditions of the warm days and cool nights of September were rewarded with wines both fully ripe, and with returned acidity. The dry whites lack acidity, whereas the Sauternes are rich and oily with low acidity and copious amounts of botrytis, comparable to the 1990 style.
The conditions of the vintage were nearly devastating, with cold and damp conditions not showing any improvement until October with finally warm weather that provided ideal rot conditions. Remaining yields were already drastically low and quality was all over the map. Those that had dedicated time and skill to maintaining the vineyards were rewarded for their efforts with very good, to great wines. The Left Bank Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and Right Bank Petit Verdot came out on top for the vintage. The best wines are powerful, with dark pigment, are high in alcohol, acid, tannins, and fruit. The dry whites are solid with slightly more acid than the 2001s, and the Sauternes had another great vintage, comparable to that of 1988.
An easy drinking vintage, the yields were nearly 10% less than in 2000. The qualities of the wines are great, as they are refined with balance and structure. 2001 is turning out to be a vintage that is rivaling the quality of 2000. A cold winter and spring, followed by a heat spike in May, then a wet July, and finally a warm and dry September proved to be all that was needed to create another stunning vintage. The Right Bank was able to pick under near perfect conditions, while the Left bank experienced just enough rain to cause a mildly diluted quality to the wines. The majorities of these wines are rich and elegant, and are continuing to evolve in character. The Sauternes of 2001 are said to be the best of the decade, and the first of six vintages to shine in the 2000s. The conditions were perfect for botrytis and the wines have a noted vibrancy.
Known as the first perfect vintage in decade, this was an excellent and consistent vintage across the board. What started out a cold and challenging year until July as it was drastically reversed when the sun arrived and stayed through harvest, bringing an almost perfectly dry September, with heat waves that thickened the skins of the grapes and concentrated the flavors. While the dry white wines and Sauternes were not as impressive, the red wines from both banks are rich, concentrated, complex, showy, and have great structure. A stunning vintage, and unsurprisingly the most expensive vintage offered en primeur, these wines will show well for decades.
A warm, but late spring turned humid, and was followed by an ideal summer until a violent hail storm devastated the region at the beginning of September. The grapes that survived were diluted by the massive amount of rain that fell for the rest of the month. Many of the red wines show a green note; the Sauternes are rich with a creamy texture, and noticeable spice.
This vintage produced exceptional wines on the Right Bank where Merlot and Cabernet Franc reached optimal ripeness. The weather boomeranged back and forth from hot to cold, and then in August a severe hailstorm in Pomerol necessitated a drastic green harvest, that ended up resulting in exceptional concentrated wines for the region. Merlot on the Right Bank was picked under ideal conditions, but the Cabernet on the Left was far behind in ripeness and succumbed to rain storms in late September and will require additional cellar aging. A great year for dry whites and the Sauternes are elegant and refined.
The weather fluctuated back and forth from rainy and wet to warm and humid conditions. Many grapes were lost to rot or uneven ripening. Surviving grapes resulted in lighter red wines. Wineries that practiced extreme selection in the vineyards produced exceptional Sauternes.
A mild winter was followed by a cool to hot spring and summer. Much needed rain came in August following a dry and cool night September. The vintage ended up producing exceptional concentrated Cabernets that will continue to age for decades. Sauternes were the best since 1990, and offer great value.
A year of large yields, a mild winter was followed by substantial rains in spring and a hot and dry summer. Harvest happened on time for Merlot and on the early side for Cabernet. Both the red wines and the Sauternes are of good quality, and are expected to age well.
The best vintage since 1990, although following an ideal year of weather, including a warm and dry summer, it rained throughout harvest. The Right Bank fared better than the Left, having been picked earlier and suffering less dilution. The red wines are medium bodied with firm tannins. Dry whites were good, but Sauternes were not, and did not receive a score from Wine Spectator.
A year with unrelenting rainfall throughout harvest with a couple of warm and dry days in July and August which resulted in lighter wines for all regions. Sauternes experience almost no botrytis, and the vintage was not scored by Wine Spectator.
While early summer was warm and dry, it rained continuously from August through harvest into October. The wines are light and diluted, with bright fruit that was enjoyable upon release. Dry whites were acceptable, but Sauternes did not develop significant botrytis and are quite dilute.
The second coldest vintage in recorded history, where April temperatures were fifteen degrees below zero causing the worst spring frosts since 1945. A warmer than usual summer was followed by drenching rains. The red wines are light and lean, and Sauternes are seen as moderately sweet, and suggested as an aperitif enjoyed upon release.
One of the hottest years since 1947 where May was warm and sunny, which pushed an early flowering. This sunny and hot summer where July and August were the driest months happily ended with much needed rain mid-September. A historically early harvest took place, and the wines are said to be rich, powerful and seductive, and will continue to age for decades. Dry whites are exceptional, as are the Sauternes.