Bordeaux En Primeur
The first decade of this century has brought some of the finest vintages ever to grace the Bordeaux region. The hot, dry 2005 vintage set a staggering benchmark, producing wonderfully complex wines. It seemed unlikely that such soaring quality was likely to be approached any time soon, and yet the 2009 Bordeaux once again overhauled any and all expectations. We are in the same 'predicament' as the twin 89-90 vintages; both were gorgeous, but had different styles which to this day still feed heated debate between connoisseurs.
So, what of 2014? Firstly, let's go into why the quality remains undiminished from last year (and may, in certain cases, represent a slight improvement.) An extraordinarily dry summer - drier even than 2005 - has resulted in 50-70 per cent higher tannins, with 4.5 grams per litre acidity compared to last years 3.5g/l. The result is wines that are densely concentrated and crisply acidic.
Whilst one would usually expect such a harsh drought to be detrimental to the crops, there are other factors at work: Temperatures didn't stray very far from average, whilst August was actually cooler than July. This decline in temperature allowed acids to be preserved (with all the benefits of a hot July, namely steady ripening and sugar build-up.)
"This element of acidity got exaggerated and went on to become a salient feature of the 2010 vintage's style, of fresh and often aggressive tannins for the reds, and enhanced aromatics for the whites," notes Bordeaux negociant Bill Blatch in his report on jancisrobinson.com.