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Bordeaux 2023 Vintage Report
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Bordeaux 2023 Vintage Report

The Wines

2023 has generally produced balanced, fresh, elegant red wines with plenty of attractive fruit and ripe tannins. They will drink well relatively early but will have the ability to age gracefully. They have good aromas with poise and elegance and also reflect their individual terroirs well rather than a general vintage style. All grape varieties have done well so it is not a ‘left bank’ versus a ‘right bank’ vintage but rather one where the best producers in the best positions have made the best wines. Christian Seely of Pichon Baron describes it as a ‘contemporary classic’, meaning that it combines the ripeness and generosity of a hot year with the freshness and balance of a cooler year, a style which has become more common in recent times. Most vintage comparisons were with 2019 but there were interesting exceptions with 2005 mentioned at both Pontet Canet and Pichon Comtesse. 

Most producers harvested in two main periods with a ‘rain break’ in the middle. This gave the opportunity for the Cabernet Sauvignon to get properly ripe and so the Médoc has benefitted from this with the wines having excellent depth of red and some black fruit with svelte tannins on the finish. Saint Julien and Pauillac are probably the most consistent, as usual, although St Estèphe had less rain than other areas and the top wines here are full of depth and character. Margaux, as usual, is the most inconsistent but again, the top wines have excelled with real Margaux prettiness and style. 

There is some variation in Pessac but most wines have balanced fruit character with ripe tannins. On the Right Bank, the top wines of St-Emilion on the limestone have a real freshness and vibrancy which gives wonderful uplift to the fruit. Where there is more clay and gravel the wines tend to have a bit more structure and this is particularly evident in Pomerol where those from the clay plateau have excellent power as well. 

It's also been a particularly successful vintage for white wines. The dry whites have poise and precision and are vibrant with a good core of acidity. As well as the established Pessac properties there is also an increasing number from the Médoc making excellent wines. Finally, this is a wonderful vintage for the sweet wines which have proper sweetness, richness and depth. 

The Weather

The winter was generally mild and dry, but things became difficult in April and May when persistent rainfall and above average temperatures led to outbreaks of mildew across the region, although some areas, such as St-Estèphe, were less affected than others and generally the thinner-skinned Merlot was more affected. For the vineyards with the ability to treat and sort this, it resulted in slightly lower yields but didn’t affect overall quality - indeed the reduced yield could improve quality due to the added concentration. Flowering went well with mixed weather conditions until a heatwave in mid-August followed by a cooler spell. Heat returned in early September and some picking took place then, with a break for light rainfall in mid-September. Perfect conditions then returned enabling a long harvest to take place ensuring every parcel could be harvested at optimum ripeness. So in general there was a bit of everything, the warm conditions allowing full ripeness to be reached while the cooler spells ensured the wines have their attractive, fresh character. 



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