11 Jun
Chateau Pontet Canet

Your insiders guide to Bordeaux 2023

Our GM Liz Wheadon has been in Bordeaux for the last week and has sent back this report, your insiders guide to 2023 Bordeaux. As she notes in this report, the first offers will be out early this week. With many big names, including Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Chateau Pontet Canet and Chateau Leoville Las Cases already giving release dates. This is early and the pre planning of it unusual for an En Primeur campaign. The planning appreciated by the Negociants and Merchants, perhaps signaling a change in Bordeaux.

2023 Bordeaux – Defining a modern Classic

Many references have been made to the 2023 vintage as a classic year. Traditionally, the term ‘classic’ in Bordeaux has often denoted a cooler year, one conducive to earlier drinking. So, why is the 2023 vintage being labeled as such? Not a growing season that is defined by being cool and with many of the wines from 2023 requiring long cellaring.

This vintage exhibits significant variation among Chateaux, with wines truly reflecting the terroir in which they were cultivated and crafted. Each winery’s approach in the vineyard—whether to harvest early before the imminent rain or wait—along with techniques in extraction and aging, greatly influence the character of the wines.

Unlike the more uniform vintage style of the warm 2022 vintage, 2023 showcases a diverse array of flavors, which might be mistaken for inconsistent quality. However, this is far from the case; 2023 is a highly qualitative vintage, with flavors stemming from terroir expression and deliberate decisions in the winemaking process.

A comparative tasting of the 2021, 2022, and 2023 vintages at Chateau Branaire Ducru revealed fascinating insights. The 2021 vintage exhibited remarkable charm, delicacy, and approachability. In contrast, the 2022 vintage was more expressive, reflecting the warmth of the year, and displayed an impressive, somewhat international style. Standing beside these, the 2023 vintage emerged as quintessentially Bordeaux—a warm year marked by finesse, fruit ripeness, well formed tannins, and freshness. The 2023 wines can be aptly described as defining what are ‘Modern Classics.’

Many of the wines were notably easier to taste En Primeur, with lower alcohol levels, lower pH, ripe fruit flavors, and well-integrated tannins. Notably, there are exceptional second wines, many of which appear enjoyable immediately.