News

Neal Martin reveals scores on this year’s top Bordeaux wines

4th May 2016


Robert Parker’s Essex-born successor has at last released his assessment of the Bordeaux 2015 vintage wines in barrel, deeming the year an “excellent vintage” and likening the distribution of quality to a “narrow pyramid”.

After a relatively slow week on the market front, the news sparked a string of exciting releases that really marked the start of the 2015 campaign, including Coutet, Gazin and several Petit Chateaux releases.

Capital Vintners is delighted to bring you the highlights from this long-awaited report – the full version can be accessed by subscribers to the Wine Advocate online.

 

Summary of the 2015 Bordeaux vintage

“Generally, 2015 is an excellent vintage. Across the region, the wines do not possess the consistency demonstrated by 2009 or 2010 at this stage, though you could argue that it might pip the quality of 2005 due to subsequent advances in technology and know-how. Certainly, I cannot remember the 2005s displaying such fine tannin, although they did show more density and structure out of barrel.

…The best 2015s have the substance, balance and complexity to merit long-term aging. My fear, one shared with winemakers, is that many of these 2015s will not be given the opportunity to reach their plateau of maturity after 20, 30 or 40 years. That would be a crying shame. There are plenty of wines that are born to drink earlier and will give just as much pleasure.

The best wines tend to be in the southern Médoc, specifically Margaux and Pessac-Léognan, across the Right Bank in Saint Emilion and Pomerol, then into several satellite appellations.

Do not overlook Sauternes! You will…I know that…but there is no harm in repeating it. The region produced a host of outstanding sweet wines with good botrytis levels, rich in sugar between 130-150 grams per liter, but more crucially, marked acidity and tension. One mark of the 2015 vintage is a consistency across the board thanks to the almost leisurely manner in which botrytis spread across the vineyards. For once, the pickers in Sauternes had “options” and the results can be seen in the glass.”

 

The “narrow pyramid” of the best Bordeaux wines

Before the release of the report Neal wrote: “Three weeks in Bordeaux tasting the 2015 vintage from barrel has unveiled a clutch of wines so sublime that they are certain to become landmarks for their respective châteaux… not necessarily from the most obvious names.”

Now we know what those names are. Six of the wines are given potential 100-point scores, forming Martin’s “narrow pyramid” of quality distribution. Translating this to analogy to other vintages, he says “2009 and 2010 would be flatter” and their “average height higher”.

The table below shows his top barrel scores.

 

Wine Score
Haut Brion (98-100)
Canon (98-100)
Chateau Margaux (98-100)
Petrus (98-100)
Chateau d’Yquem (98-100)
Vieux Chateau Certan (98-100)
La Mission Haut Brion (97-99)
Figeac (97-99)
Mouton-Rothschild (97-99)
Cheval Blanc (97-99)
La Tertre Roteboeuf (97-99)
Lafleur (97-99)

Source: Liv-ex

 

A word of warning on Bordeaux wine prices

Martin also makes clear his views on the Bordeaux En Primeur market, stressing that it “works when the price is right”. He expresses common concerns about the fact that Chateaux pricing strategy is often geared towards competitors rather than consumers, calling this “a dangerous game to play”.

 

Bordeaux fine wines at Capital Vintners

Like many other merchants, we have been eagerly awaiting the release of the 2015 wines and will be stocking up on all the top brands, including Neal Martin’s favourites. Recent releases, as well as many more fine and rare wines, are currently available to order directly from our website.

Company registration number: 05496760 | Company VAT number: 978959226 | AWRS: XPAW00000102646