En Primeur Bordeaux 2014 – Day 1

A great start to what is shaping up to be a very interesting week of tasting. When it comes to looking at a new vintage, it is often that you compare to previous vintages. It’s a curious approach really, when each vintage is an expression of that years weather, what nature gave and what the winemaker made from that fruit. Yet, it does prove useful as comparing to previous vintages gives a background, a frame of reference to which we have some familiarity with. So here it goes – my initial take on Bordeaux 2014. The lively fresh acidity, particularly in the Cabernet based wines, reminds me very much of the 2009 vintage. The classic restrained and poised nature, together with the shape of the tannins, reminds me of the 2008 vintage. The fragrant delightful approachable of the 2012 vintage. Imagine the characteristics of 2012, 2008 and 2009 all together and you’ve got an idea of what this vintage is all about.

First up today was the UGC tasting at Smith Haut Lafitte. The whites are excellent, it’s a great vintage for white wine. Standouts for me were Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Château Larrivet-Haut Brion Blanc, Domaine de Chevalier Blanc and I found surprise in the quality of Château de Fieuzal – this could be a good value option. In the reds, Smith Haut Lafitte again was a standout as was Château Pape Clement, Domaine de Chevalier and Château Les Carmes Haut Brion- with 53% Cabernet Franc making up the blend.

After a lovely lunch, next up were the wines of the Haut-Médoc, Listrac and Moulis. These were a real mixed bag; the wines that stood out, Château Poujeaux, Château Chasse Spleen, Château Fourcas Dupre, Château Camensac and Château Cantemerle.

Then on to Château Pichon Baron to taste the family of wines there. Château Pibran is 70% Merlot this year, with hail in July damaging a lot of their Cabernet. Tourelles de Longueville and Pichon Baron are both excellent and Château Suduiraut is exceptional.

Last stop for today was Château Cos’d Estournel. Gouée is 78% Merlot this year, partly due to replanting of the Merlot to head Goulee towards being more Merlot dominant and vintage conditions. Cos is excellent, immensely balanced, lots of ripe fruit with leathery tannins and a concentrated finish. Cos Blanc is a standout – what a wine, tiny production and very rare – a highlight from today’s tastings.

A great first day, much more to follow; initial thoughts – this is a very smart vintage.