The 2015 Bordeaux En Primeur campaign has rolled into life this week with a few early releases. The first wine which got us excited was the superb Grand Village from the Guinaudeau family of Lafleur fame – so much so that it sold out in a day or so. More recently we have seen some excellent Sauternes released, all quite well priced, and the first release from the much-awaited Pomerol region in the form of Gazin at £480. All released and available wines can be viewed and ordered through our website.
The latest, and hotly-awaited, notes and scores to recently be released are from none other than the Wine Advocate’s Bordeaux critic Neal Martin. Before the report came out Neal stated: “Three weeks in Bordeaux tasting the 2015 vintage from barrel has unveiled a clutch of wines so sublime that they are certain to become landmarks for their respective châteaux... not necessarily from the most obvious names.” We now have the benefit of knowing those names and, with these scores probably the final piece of the puzzle for the Bordelais, we expect releases to come in thick and fast over the coming weeks.
Neal’s Summary of the 2015 Vintage
“Generally, 2015 is an excellent vintage. Across the region, the wines do not possess the consistency demonstrated by 2009 or 2010 at this stage, though you could argue that it might pip the quality of 2005 due to subsequent advances in technology and know-how. Certainly, I cannot remember the 2005s displaying such fine tannin, although they did show more density and structure out of barrel.
…The best 2015s have the substance, balance and complexity to merit long-term aging. My fear, one shared with winemakers, is that many of these 2015s will not be given the opportunity to reach their plateau of maturity after 20, 30 or 40 years. That would be a crying shame. There are plenty of wines that are born to drink earlier and will give just as much pleasure.
Do not overlook Sauternes! You will...I know that...but there is no harm in repeating it. The region produced a host of outstanding sweet wines with good botrytis levels, rich in sugar between 130-150 grams per liter, but more crucially, marked acidity and tension. One mark of the 2015 vintage is a consistency across the board thanks to the almost leisurely manner in which botrytis spread across the vineyards. For once, the pickers in Sauternes had "options" and the results can be seen in the glass.”
Neal’s Key Wines of the 2015 Report
Château Belair-Monange – The first vintage since J-P Moueix acquired the estate in 2011, where the wine reminded me why this vineyard was ranked among the greatest in Saint Emilion. (95-97 points)
Château Canon – Last September I tasted a number of vintages of Canon back to 1929 and guess what... The 2015 Canon trounces them all. Winemaker Nicolas Audebert has overseen a benchmark wine that should serve as a wake-up call to his Saint Emilion neighbors. Canon is back and it is gunning for the top rank. (98-100 points)
Château Cheval Blanc – How arrogant. No second wine in 2015. Was every lot worthy of the grand vin? I sharpened my pencil in preparation to pick out faults, tasted the barrel sample and hastily put pencil back into pocket. (97-99 points)
Château Figeac – Winemaker Frédéric Faye, together with the Manoncourt family and Michel Rolland, has reinvigorated Figeac. He has produced an astonishing 2015 that revels in a growing season that favored both Figeac's terroir and vineyard composition. It is a wine that looks forward without forgetting the past. (97-99 points)
Château Haut-Brion – Pessac-Léognan produced a bevy of outstanding wines in 2015 and it is no surprise that the "king" produced a wine that marries intensity with finesse and personality. Granted, there are plenty of "princes" in 2015, but in 20-30 years' time, this will be counted among the canon of magnificent wines from this timeless estate. (98-100 points)
Château Margaux – do not read my glowing review of Château Margaux presuming that it is a sop to late and already much-missed winemaker Paul Pontallier. Reviews will glow because the 2015 is the First Growth's most accomplished wine since 2010, sitting comfortably among classics such as 1983 and 2005. (98-100 points)
Petrus – Cliché? Predictable? Unobtainable? Unaffordable? Yes. However, this might turn out to be the best Petrus that Olivier Berrouet has ever made, and I include the 2009 and 2010 among those. Since tasting from barrel here in 2002, I cannot remember a more riveting, life-affirming and profound Petrus. (98-100 points)
Château Mouton-Rothschild – Philippe Dhalluin has taken this First Growth to a higher level over the last decade, and his 2015 is the standout of the appellation that is perhaps a little piqued that its not the star attraction this year. (97-99 points)
Château Rauzan-Segla – John Kolasa was instrumental in reviving this Margaux, estate and Nicolas Audebert and his team continue where he left off - creating a benchmark wine that future vintages will be judged against. (96-98 points)
Château Le Tertre-Rôteboeuf – All four of François Mitjavile's wines left you grinning from ear to ear, but his 2015 Le Tertre-Rôteboeuf, dressed in cashmere tannin and dare I say, almost Romanée-Saint-Vivant like purity, is a wine destined to seduce wine-lovers for two or three decades. (97-99 points)
Vieux Château Certan – Guillaume Thienpont is being handed more and more responsibility at this great Pomerol estate. Together with his father, Alexandre, they conjured both a sensual and intellectual masterpiece that could rank among the likes of 1947, 1948 and 1964. (98-100 points)
Château d’Yquem – Falling into the Petrus category of predictability, admittedly there is a subconscious desire to select an alternative Sauternes or Barsac. Yet there was such electricity running through this astonishing Yquem that at the end of the day, you have no choice. (98-100 points)
Pre-Orders and Wishlist
As many of you already know, due to the number of requests we have had so far, pre-ordering is the best way for you to ensure that you will get the wines you want without worrying about when releases may occur – particularly important in what we suspect may be quite a fragmented campaign. We have provided a spread for each wine, based on what we estimate the release prices to be; if you place a pre-order and the release price falls below the upper end of the spread you will be automatically invoiced at the release price (i.e. by placing a pre-order you are committing to the purchase). You can see your pre-orders by logging into your account and checking the ‘My Account’ page.
Due to the huge scope of demand across all communes for this vintage, and uncertainties around price, we have also re-introduced the wishlist function. This enables you to register your interest for a wine without committing to the purchase; once a wine is released and all pre-orders have been fulfilled (these take priority), all customers with that wine on their wishlist will be contacted and given first option to buy (subject to stock still being available post pre-order fulfilment). To add a wine to your wishlist simply click on the heart symbol next to the wine – to remove it, simply click again. You can change your mind as many times as you like prior to the wine’s release and to help you keep track you can view your active wishlist by logging into your account, where you will find it at the bottom of the ‘My Account’ page.
Top 10 wines as scored by the BI Team
10 wines we loved (which will definitely be worth having if the price is right)
...And a few no-brainers
Visit the BI website for our thoughts and reviews and to place pre-orders for anything you don’t want to miss. We will also be adding critics’ notes as they come out. You can find out more from our tastings in Bordeaux on our blog. Don’t forget to register on our website to make sure you receive updates on new releases as they happen. In addition you can follow us on twitter or like us on Facebook for more updates and views as the campaign progresses.