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Our Head of Private Clients Joe Fogg, sits on a wall outside of Duhart Milon whilst writing his notes after tasting

Bordeaux 2023: Our Initial Thoughts

Bordeaux 2023: Our Initial Thoughts

The team have been busy out in Bordeaux this week, visiting a myriad of châteaux and tastings to judge the style and quality of the 2023 vintage. They returned last night, with a buzz of excitement, both in the quality that was found across the appellations and from their discussions with producers about prices, which seem set to be very appealing for consumers.

With releases starting earlier than ever, this will be a fast-paced campaign. Starting us off we have:

Tuesday 30th April: Léoville Lases Cases & Pontet Canet

Thursday 2nd May: Lafite Rothschild

Monday 6th May: Mouton Rothschild

Below Joe Fogg, our Head of Private Clients, has summed up his thoughts on this year’s campaign.

I always do my best to approach each primeurs tasting trip with an open mind, but with murmurings of a tough growing season in 2023 due to climatic conditions and severe mildew pressure, there was a little more trepidation than I had before flying out to taste the 2022s from barrel at the same time last year. What was clear very early on though, is that 2023 is very much a vintage to get excited about…

The Style

In terms of style, the wines couldn’t be more different than the more ‘international’ 2022s that were released last year, even though they both come from warm vintages. The 2023s have lower alcohol, higher acidity and fruit profiles that tend more towards the purple, blue and floral end of the spectrum. They are fresh, elegant, vivacious and in most cases have beautifully supple tannins that glide across the palate. This is in part due to cooler nights versus 2022, which helps to preserve acidity in the grapes, but it is also down to some excellent winemaking too.

Many producers are experimenting with, and are already employing very different oak regimes to the past. Using less new oak and larger oak vessels such as tonneaux allows the fruit to really shine, and this combined with what many winemakers describe as ‘infusion’, rather than ‘extraction’ of the grapes during fermentation, gives the tannins some wonderful profiles that I found to be silky and velvety. Put all of these elements together and what you have are ‘classic’ Bordeaux wines, but with a real modern touch due to the continued advancements in both the vineyard and cellar, which is evidently a compelling mix.

The Cru Wine Team with Daniel Cathiard at Smith Haut Lafitte, new wooden "eggs" at Pontet Canet and Edouard Moueix at Belair Monange

Reasons to Buy

One thing that is clear is that large price rises each year for Bordeaux En Primeur wines don’t provide a seriously compelling prospect in order for consumers to part with their hard earned cash. After spending the whole of this week tasting with, and talking to the top producers in Bordeaux, I can now say with certainty that there is a clear understanding that pricing is key to generate interest in the 2023 campaign.

Whilst we are yet to see the actual release prices, I am now far more confident that there will be some prices that will be hard to ignore, and given that we have the unprecedented move of producers such as Château Lafite-Rothschild releasing as early as the 2nd of May, I would strongly advise paying attention to these releases, as they could be the most compelling wines on offer since the 2019s were released during the Covid lockdown.

Final Thoughts

Rarely has there been a more complicated backdrop to a Bordeaux En Primeur campaign, yet after having doubts about both quality of the wines and pricing of them on release, I must say I have been pleasantly surprised on both fronts. Due to mildew pressure and some rain events in September, producers had to be diligent in the vineyards and get picking dates right, however most of those we spoke to managed this well. There were lots of producers such as Montrose, who didn’t suffer at all, with their prime terroir next to the Gironde with its breezes keeping the vineyard very healthy, and as a result made incredible wines.

Many of the wines are delicious, and show true typicity of their respective appellations, which will delight fans of Bordeaux. If pricing is as keen as we are expecting, then there will be lots to get excited about so keep your eyes peeled for our offers which will be starting from Monday.


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