2015 Bordeaux in bottle

The first major UGC (Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux) tasting of the 2015 vintage since the wines were bottled earlier this year was held here in London a couple of weeks ago and provided an excellent opportunity to taste a range of wines from all the major appellations.

I tasted more than 100 wines and can confirm that 2015 is a very good if not great vintage.  I still think that 2005, 2009 & 2010 are better vintages across the board but the very best 2015’s will rival even those vintages in time (another 2000 perhaps?).  The reds are generally quite ripe, with lovely flavours that are representative of their terroirs, arromatics are good if not terribly forthcoming at this stage.  These are well structured wines, many have good balance, tannins are big and a bit obvious at the moment but not overpowering, some wines were a bit disjointed but that could be because they’ve only been bottled in the past few months.  I thought the wines from Pessac-Leognan and St. Emilion were showing best on the day, although there were also some lovely wines from the other appellations as well.  A list of some of my favourites, in no particular order, is shown below.

The dry whites were more variable and some were a little tart with slightly agressive acidities.  Several were excellent and absolutely delicious.  Domaine de Chevalier was my favourite, followed closely by Pape Clement & SHL, Bouscaut was also excellent.

The sweet wines from Barsac & Sauternes were very good indeed.  Stylistically, they varied quite a lot and it was interesting to taste neighbours who have produced different intrepretations from the same vintage. de Fargues was my favourite, followed closely by Suduiraut, Lafaurie Peyraguey (great acidity here), Guiraud and Coutet.  These are wonderful wines, extremely under appreciated and great value.  They go superbly with food, especially spicy food.  I wish more people would get out of their comfort zone and try them.

A few thoughts on pricing: younger wines should be cheaper than more mature vintages of a similar quality!  The implied cost of carry – storage & time value of money, mean that older more well known, less risky vintages should trade at a premium.  This is not the case.  Current vintages seem to be trading at a premium, so there is no financial incentive to take on the additional risk & expense of younger wines.  Think of it as an investment where you are asked to pay more now for riskier assets (young wines) that will take longer to show a profit (or be ready to drink) and you’ll have to continue to pay to keep those assets safe (storage).

Where older wines of a similar quality are the same price or cheaper, you didn’t have to pay for them when they were young (so presumably you’ve put your money to work doing something else), you haven’t had to pay storage (no cost of carry), the wines are better known and have been tasted many times by you and experts (so you can be more confident of the quality and whether you like them, less risky).  And, the wines are more mature, so closer to being ready to drink, there is less around because people drink them, so they are more likely to go up in value.  Regardless of whether you are buying for Investment or drinking, and I certainly hope that you are planning to drink some great wines, you should buy good wines from back vintages.  They are cheaper in relative terms, closer to being ready to drink and will out perform in the medium term.

I especially liked:

Bouscaut – red & white – one to watch, up and coming

Carmes Haut Brion – making great wine in recent years

Domaine de Chevalier –  red & white – my wines of the day

Haut Bailly – some liked this very much, big

Pape Clement – red & white – lovely

SHL – red & white – very good

Canon – not a 100 point wine but very good

Dominique – huge leap in quality here

la Tour Figeac – below the radar, great value

Troplong Mondot – wine of the day for Tim

Trottevieille – excellent

Clinet – quite closed but good

Conseillante – lovely

la Pointe – surprisingly good

Ferriere – another under the radar, great value wine

Labegorce – lovely, very Margaux

Lascombes – less overpowering that recent years

Rauzan Segla – coming along nicely

Beychevelle – always beautiful

Leoville Barton – a bit disjointed but good

Leoville Poyferre – superb

Clerc Milon – excellent & great value for the quality

Pichon Lalande – very nice, indeed

Phelan Segur – up and coming but getting there

Chasse Spleen – surprisingly good