The indications are that 2017 is looking good in terms of quality but very short on quantity, following frosts in the Spring that decimated certain properties. 2016 is a worthy successor to 2015, on a par qualitatively and looking very promising across all wine types. A hot summer but with cool nights has produced wines with fruit and freshness. 2015 is exceptionally good across the region for reds, especially the Right Bank, Pessac-Léognan, dry whites (better for Sauvignon than Sémillon) and sweeties: it is certainly the best vintage since 2010. 2014 is a very good Cabernet vintage, particularly in the Médoc where the wines are fresh with fine tannins. Overall, ripeness levels are good and so are quantities. The 2013 and 2012 vintages were not particularly easy for the Bordelais, requiring dedication in the vineyard and modern techniques in the winery. Plenty of attractive short and medium-term wines have been made, but yields are low. Like 2008, 2006 and 2001, the 2011s are fresh, well-balanced wines of good quality for the mid-term. 2010 is a truly great vintage, the wines having concentrated fruit and complexity together with the tannic structure needed for long life – and 2009, without extremes of weather, now being spoken of as one of the very best of recent times: approachable early, yet with the density and structure to last. 2008 was a tricky vintage, initially dismissed by many, but the Right Bank in particular has come on well. Some very good mid-term wines were made, overlooked in the hype of 2009s on the horizon, whilst the 2007 vintage was not rated at the time but has provided some super drinking pleasure with relatively early maturing wines. Extremes of weather caused problems in 2006, but the best properties made very good wines and they look good value against 2005 which was acclaimed as a superb, possibly legendary vintage when everything came together. Concentrated, evolving into a classic, the top wines should age for a very long time. The Millennium vintage was outstanding whilst 2001 and 2004 were very good and arguably more typical, while 2003 produced super, ripe wines, many drinking better than initially predicted.
1999 was overlooked as everyone waited for the Millennium vintage but the wines have great charm. The Right Bank did particularly well in 1998 while the wines of 1997 continue to provide attractive drinking. 1996 and 1995 make for an interesting comparison; the best wines will age longer but others are drinking well now. 1994, 1993, 1992 and 1991 – all but the best ’94s are now fully mature, while 1990 remains the best vintage from this decade. Look out for top properties from 1989, 1986, 1985, 1983 (good value) and 1982 (expensive). Other ’80s vintages and lesser properties will need drinking up soon, whilst from the ’70s, just the top properties from the likes of 1978, 1976, 1979 and 1970 will carry on, though even they are now at their peak.
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