2015 Bordeaux En-Primeur Overview

A review from our Bordeaux buyer and expert, Stuart McCloskey:

In short, the 2015 is an exceptional vintage for the wines of Bordeaux and is, without question, the best vintage since the legendary 2010. There has also been a lot of discussion about which of its forebears Bordeaux 2015 most resembles. Some commentaries compare the 2015 alongside the 2009 and 2010, which I am in disagreement with. Granted, some Châteaux, particularly those in Pomerol and Saint-Émilion, have produced wines equalling, if not bettering their 2009 and 2010s however, wines on the left-bank are a little off the pace when compared to the aforementioned ‘great’ vintages. Qualitative comparisons are also drawn to the superb 2000, 2005 and as far back as 1982. Some have taken the more emotional approach by declaring their wines as an assemblage of all the great, recent vintages but with a unique personality all of their own.

2015 has produced some fantastic dry white wines, many containing higher proportions of Sauvignon Blanc as the Sémillon struggled during the wet August. They are showing incredible levels of fruit, concentration and fresh balanced acidity. These are some of the best dry whites I have sampled since the 2007s.

The Sauternes are incredible, as the weather pattern was almost perfect. In fact, sugar levels were too high in some quarters and had to be tamed by the addition of ripe but un-botrytised grapes. Naturally, these are very rich but enjoy a beautiful purity. There is noticeable acidity, which balances the sugar perfectly.

The Weather:

It would be remiss of me not to comment on the weather conditions surrounding the 2015 vintage – Instead, and for those of you keen to read the detailed assessment of rainfall, flowering, potential alcohol levels and acidity, I would urge you to read Professor Denis Dubourdieu’s report from the famed Château L’Eglise Clinet. More reports are available upon request.

Critic Assessment:

Bordeaux relies upon the critic scores prior to releasing their wines En-Primeur. We are only concerned with offering a panel of critics who will present an unbiased viewpoint. We opt for critics who have many years of experience, but above all for us, bravery is of fundamental importance. Simply put, they have to write the truth, regardless of past reputations. There is nothing worse than reading a review from a critic who is overtly respectful of the same wine year in, year out. Lastly, and something we take for granted, a good palate. This reason alone is why you should review several critics’ notes for each wine; do not rely upon just one, as their individual preference may be the complete opposite of your own. My advice would be to find a balance between several critics and please do not hesitate to contact me for a candid assessment.

We have selected a balance of international and UK critics, which includes Jancis Robinson and her team, Tim Atkin, Decanter and Neal Martin of the Wine Advocate. It is worth noting that Neal has taken over the Bordeaux mantle from Robert Parker. As of May 1st 2016, Neal will be assuming full reviewer coverage of the wines of Bordeaux – both Bordeaux En-Primeur and Bordeaux in bottle reports.

International critics include James Molesworth of The Wine Spectator (US) and James Suckling who has been incredibly vocal regarding the quality of the 2015 vintage. In fact, 16 wines are rated as high as 99/100 points and a further 12 are rated 98/99 with 6 wines already being awarded 100.

I will also share my views for each and every wine, which will include historical prices and how they relate to each and every release.

Release Prices:

2015 is a superb vintage and prices will inevitably and understandably be higher than 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 however, it’s a vintage that arrives in a complicated economic time and I hope that the Châteaux are conscious of this. Without question, the campaign will fail if the Bordelaise consider releasing their 2015 prices anywhere close to the 2009s and 2010s. Furthermore, prices must be substantially cheaper than the current market values of the 2000 and 2005s. We will provide a critical financial view of each and every release before making a decision to purchase for Waud Investment Wines. In short, our focus will lie with buying the correct wines rather than getting carried away with the excitement.

Waud Investment Wines Recommendations:

Our ‘Top’ 20

  1. Château Ausone
  2. View Château Certan
  3. Château L’Eglise Clinet
  4. Château Canon
  5. Château L’Evangile
  6. Château La Conseillante
  7. Château Trotanoy
  8. Château Clinet
  9. Château Mouton Rothschild
  10. Château Margaux
  11. Château Pontet Canet
  12. Chateau Haut Brion
  13. Château Haut Brion Blanc
  14. Château La Mission Haut Brion
  15. Château Haut Bailly
  16. Château Montrose
  17. Château Ducru Beaucaillou
  18. Château Rauzan Segla
  19. Château Lynch Bages
  20. Château Leoville Las Cases

Our ‘Best’ Value

  1. Château Moulin St  Georges
  2. La Chenade
  3. Les Cruzelles
  4. Montlandrie
  5. Saintayme
  6. La Petite Eglise
  7. Fonbel
  8. Château Giscours
  9. Hauts de Pontet Canet
  10. La Croix Beaucaillou
  11. Château d’Armailhac
  12. Château Clerc Milon
  13. Dame de Montrose
  14. Smith Haut Lafitte
  15. De Fieuzal Rouge
  16. De Fieuzal Blanc
  17. Château Doisy Vedrines
  18. Château Grand Puy Lacoste
  19. Château Doisy Deane
  20. Lynch Bages Blanc