One of last year’s most interesting tastings was organized by the Danish on line wine shop WineFinder in collaboration with the Swede Fredrik Rudebeck, owner of the oldest négociant firm, Maison Beyerman, which dates back to 1620! Fifty Bordeaux chateaux were present.
From the late 1960s, almost all of the chateaux take care of their own work when it comes to production, storage and bottling. However, when it comes to the sales part over seventy percent of the wine production in Bordeaux is sold by the 400 negociants to buyers around the world.
A peculiarity for Bordeaux is that every year in early April a so-called en primeur tasting takes place show-casing last year’s harvest which is still in the barrel. This is when the quality of the vintage is evaluated, the prices are set, and the buyers can order and pay in advance for wines that they will get delivered 1 ½ to 2 years later.
A combination of global warming, green harvest (you cut off some of the bunches to increase concentration), reduction of the foliage so that the remaining grapes will get more sun, has resulted in harvest taking place later than before. This means riper grapes and more concentration and therefore higher alcohol. An alcohol content that in the past normally reached 12% today reaches 14.5%. Is that good or bad? Hard to say, but some wines are more similar to wines from the USA or Australia than from Bordeaux. But nevertheless, the climate in Bordeaux is unreliable. The 2000s began with the fine vintages of 2000, 2005, 2009, and probably the best of them all, the 2010. Then came a number of weaker years before the vintage 2015 arrived which is similar to those of 2005 and 2009. Despite this, we were told during the tasting that the 2015 vintage does not have the same ageing potential as the 2010!
About fifty chateaux attended the tasting with the latest vintage 2015 as barrel samples as well with some older vintages of varying age.
One interesting thing about this type of tasting is that most of the wines feel quite accessible despite their young age. The quality of almost all wines from 2015 is very good regardless of price. One can notice that the more prestigious chateaux use more new oak that gives more tannins, and because of this, requires longer ageing. When you have the opportunity to try many the of older vintages, it is easy to note that vintages 2011, 2012 and 2013 offer a lot of rather weak cards, while the 2010s continue to impress!
My ten best red wines of 2015 are the following wines:
- Chateau Beychevelle 2015 (~76€)
- Chateau Brane Cantenac 2015 (~67€)
- Château Canon 2015 (~201€)
- Château Chasse-Spleen 2015 (~30€, a bargain!)
- Chateau Giscours 2015 (~69€)
- Château Larrivet Haut-Brion 2015 (~35€, a bargain!)
- Château Léoville-Barton 2015 (~93€)
- Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron 2015 (~145€ Best!)
- Chateau Rauzan-Ségla 2015 (~101€)
- Domaine de Chevalier 2015 (~81€)
Two best white wines:
- Domaine de Chevalier 2015 (~115€)
- Chateau Suduiraut 2015 (~69 €)
Best of the older vintages:
- Chateau Beychevelle 2008 (~129€)
- Chateau Cantemerle 2009 (~49 €)
- Château Coutet 2009 (~67€, lovely!)
- Chateau Giscours 2003 (~87€, powerful!)
- Château Petit-Village 2010 (~85€, top wine!)
- Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron 2010 (~199€, top wine!)
- Chateau Rauzan-Ségla 2010 (~85€, top wine!)
- Chateau La Conseillante 2010 (~199€ top wine!)
All prices (indicative) are the price per bottle in an unopened box of 12 bottles, retail from Winefinder in Denmark.
We also tasted a number of older vintages in magnum. Here are my favourites.
- Château Canon 2005
- Chateau Beychevelle 2005
- Château Talbot 2002
- Château Léoville-Barton 2000
- Château Giscours 2004
- Château Suduiraut 2009
This year´s en primeur tasting had many visitors. According to Winefinder´s Magnus Ericsson there were a couple of hundred more visitors than previous year. Whether that is due to interest in the 2015 top vintage or to that Bordeaux is back in fashion, is a question that remains. In any case Winefinder is looking for a bigger place for next year’s en primeur tasting when the 2016 vintage is on the agenda. A vintage that is also brilliant!
Roland Eriksson writes on BKWine Magazine on wine tastings with wine merchants and importers in Sweden. Roland is the author of a book on cognac (A Handbook: Cognac, 2007, published in Swedish) and one on rum as well as one on tea.
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This post is also available in: Swedish