After five years of steady decline in Bordeaux fine wine trade, fingers are firmly crossed throughout the region as this year’s harvest proves promising and plentiful. Renaud Ruer, a leading Bordeaux negociant, has heard “magic” things from the Médoc, and thinks Château Margaux will produce the best Left Bank wine this year.
Early harvest makes for valuable vintage wines
“A good sign was the period of harvest – very early and consistently week after week”, Ruer says, while Youmna Asseily of Château Biac likened the pace to a “tango rhythm”.
The “ideal” weather conditions, celebrated by the Bordeaux Wine Council in their recent statement on the vintage, made this possible – a cool winter, a warm and dry spring followed by an equally pleasant autumn meant ripe and juicy grapes bursting to be picked.
“We’ve never seen such clean-looking, healthy white grapes as this year’s crop”, said Gavin Quinney, winemaker at Château Bauduc, situated in between the two Bordeaux river banks in the region called ‘Entre-deux-mers’ (between two seas).
Harvesting for Bordeaux’s dry whites and white crèmants started in late August and was in full swing by early September, with sweet Semillon grapes picked around 10th. Collection of early-ripening Merlot started mid-September followed closely by the Cabernets.
The rise of the Right Bank
Meanwhile, over on the Right Bank, Tom Davey of Château Gaby chose to wait until early-mid October to harvest his Cabernet grapes, for “optimum ripeness”.
“Tasting from vat at Gaby over the last few days has proved that the intense heat of August ripened the fruit to leave it rich in sugar and full of flavour”, Davey says. “Damien (winemaker) expects 2015 to be a vintage to remember and sees it as the continuation of a euphoric bounce back from the difficulties of 2013.”
Davey isn’t blowing Château Gaby’s trumpet for nothing – their 2008 vintage Cuvée Gaby was declared best wine of the vintage in 2014, and the remaining stock sold out on the UK market in just over 24 hours.
Other Right Bank wines have also enjoyed great success since Robert Parker’s palate helped raise their profile – compared to a price drop of 40% for the Liv-ex 50 (Bordeaux First Growths) and a 21% slash in market share for Bordeaux wines since 2011, the Right Bank 100 sub-index is in fact up 9% since the market’s peak.
Renaud Ruer has high hopes for the Right Bank this year, after having visited each Chateau and talked to its winemakers. “St Emilion and Pomerol may be the winners in 2015”, he declares. “Chateaux like Troplong Mondot could give one of their best vintages and I would not be surprised after the Primeur tasting if the scores show differently to the general classification. Of course, Angélus, Pavie and Cheval Blanc looked amazing as well.”
Ruer, however, shies away from the classic Left vs. Right Bank observations, focussing instead on a more diplomatic “north-south” divide. While this might confuse prospective investors, at least it’s something us Londoners can relate to.
Top Bordeaux wines at Capital Vintners
Our wine list includes an extensive portfolio of both Left and Right Bank wines – feel free to have a browse on the website, or get in touch for further information.