Last week the Wine Invest team descended upon Bordeaux to taste the 2013 vintage. Swathes of wine merchants, traders, journalists and critics make the trip and try to gauge the quality of wine on show.
In general, 2013 was not an easy vintage, mainly due to adverse weather. With every vintage, some Chateau just get it right and work with unfriendly conditions, producing wines that deserve consideration. I hope this report gives you some insight into the quality of the vintage as a whole and some specific tips for wines that were showing particularly well. In general, the press has been quick to dismiss the 2013 crop as a disaster; something we believe is a little premature given that nobody had tried the wines! It was a ‘hit and miss’ vintage and where the wines are poor, it is very obvious that the grapes were not fully ripe with green, astringent flavours but where they are good; the wines have lovely clean and fresh characteristics. The best wines (most of which mentioned are below) add power, precision and depth.
One factor that will influence most buyers will be the pricing. For the 2011s, we saw significant price drops from the dizzy heights of 2010 and a further fall, on the whole, for the 2012s. 2013 was a vintage that has seen yields slashed – most Chateau that regularly work to 30-35 Hectolitres per hectare, produced yields of near 20-25 hl / h – so naturally, producers would want to make up the shortfall in volume with higher prices. Despite this, prices will generally decrease from last year. We are likely to see a small reduction; probably averaging at 10% less.
The main reason for these low yields were the cool temperatures and rain in spring that affected consistent flowering. This was particularly a problem for the early ripening Merlots. A dry summer saw grapes ripen under very good conditions and while the harvest would be small, those Chateaux that picked at the right time, avoiding the September showers, managed to produce some charming, clean juice with an elegant fruit profile.
Below is the list of wines, with notes, that we believe outperformed the general quality of the vintage:
– Chateau Lafite Rothschild
98% Cabernet Sauvignon
2 % Merlot
“Fragrant and expressive nose. Bramble fruits, cherry and heather. Palate is well concentrated with lean, delicate tannin. Cohesive and balanced well with precise acidity giving a long, satisfying finish”.
– Chateau Mouton Rothschild
89% Cabernet Sauvignon
4% Cabernet Franc
“Dark, brooding aromas. Stewed cherry and blackberry with spice, hay and meaty/roasted nose. Very clean and fresh entry. Big, rich and wholesome mid-palate underpinned by firm tannin. Well rounded but very intense and aromatic. Excellent!”
– Chateau Pontet Canet
Cepage NA (Cabernet Dominant)
“Very complex and striking aromas of dark red berries, smoked meat, fennel. Impressive concentration of fruit on the palate cut by acidity and wrapped up by sweet tannin. A lot to like here…very much on point again from Pontet Canet. 50% down on production! While their early release was widely greeted with distain, they were obviously confident in the quality and the wine is undoubtedly a first rate effort. Probably the best wine tasted on the day”.
– Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
“The first time this wine has exclusively contained Cabernet Sauvignon. Wide open and fragrant bouquet of Blackcurrant and Raspberry. Like most 2013 Pauillac wines, the tannins are sweet, almost chewy. This is a pleasing open-knit, early drinking style not a million miles away from leading Napa Cabernets”.
– Chateau Calon Segur
92% Cabernet Sauvignon
2% Petit Verdot
“Deep, earthy scents of dark red fruit, lead pencil, wet slate. The palate is graceful and lingering. All the fruit is enveloped by tough tannin. One of few that will last a long time”.
78% Cabernet Sauvignon
2% Cabernet Franc
“Superb aromas of red fruit conserve, pepper and anise. Lovely freshness on the palate but real weight on the mid-palate but the class is all in the finish…spicy, peppery and very long”.
– Chateau Leoville Las Cases
74% Cabernet Sauvignon
12 % Merlot
14% Cabernet Franc
“Dark brambly fruits, smoked meats, stewed plum and eucalyptus all jump out of the glass. Elaborate and complex. A charged, coiled palate starts with clear, pure fruit yet unfolds to show chestnuts, game meat and notes. The structure and acidity are sound with firm tannins. Excellent.
It would seem their decision to pick the fruit late on (right up to October 17th!) has paid dividends”.
– Chateau Gloria
“Often dubbed the ‘Wine Merchants Wine’, Chateau Gloria doesn’t disappoint at the value end. An enticing nose of blackcurrants, mincemeat and spice. A textural, lucious palate is comforting and coats the palate well…almost creamy. There is a bite of tannin and acidity but a young drinker”.
– Chateau Potensac
28% Cabernet Sauvignon
6 % Cabernet Franc
“The most energetic and lively wine from the Medoc appellation. Once again, Domaine Delas’ decision to pick late has meant they are one of very few wines to have ripe Merlot in the blend! A lovely, perfumed nose and a bright clean palate of plum, mincemeat and pepper. Tannins are soft and pliable. Last year, this wine released at circa 13€ per bottle! This is amazing value and one to load up on this year. Tasted on 3 occasions and consistent notes each time”.
– Chateau La Conseillante
“Initially a suppressed nose of black cherry, and green peppers but really opens up after 1-2 minutes in the glass. A sticky, jammy palate of damson and layers of black fruits. A sterling effort from a problematic year for the right bank”.
– Chateau L’Evangile
13% Cabernet Franc
“Best of the Pomerols we tried. A very plump, full nose of fig and raisin. Juicy, palate of raspberry and blackberry with sweet tannin and a buttery, thick texture. Very nice indeed!”
GRAVES & PESSAC:
– Chateau Haut Brion Blanc
“This is the best young white wine I have ever tried. Unreal! Nose has white stone fruits, candied citrus peel then rich butter, banana, toasted pine nuts. The palate has so much going on and different flavours come through every 3-4 seconds and the finish lasted for about 5 minutes. Perfect!”
Chateau Pape Clement Blanc
“Very clean and fresh nose of Lemon, Pineapple and flint. Acidity is precise and persistent. The body wraps around fruit to complete a lovely wine!”
Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc
“A more energetic and aromatic nose of pear drops, Citrus rind, faint smoke. Tastes of Lime, gooseberry then melon and apricot. Sweeter, fuller palate with honey and vanilla”.
Please do let us know if there are specific wines you have interest in buying and we will do our upmost to secure them for you: http://www.wine-invest.co.uk/special/