This article was originally written by Jonathan White for the Berry Bros. & Rudd Wine blog, who have kindly given us permission to republish the piece here. Berry Bros. & Rudd are a Spectator wine partner.
At the end of the team’s third day of tasting Bordeaux 2015 en primeur, Jonathan White compares the vintage to the ‘greats’ of the last 20 years, highlighting the freshness of the wines.
This 2015 Bordeaux vintage isn’t easy to describe as a collective. We, the merchants, will have to be very selective when recommending the best wines this year, both before and indeed once the prices are released.
Our Buying Director, Max Lalondrelle, wrote ahead of tasting the vintage that 2015 had the potential to sit amongst the top five vintages of the last 20 years and he has certainly been proven correct. It is not a 2000, 2005, 2009 or 2010, but it certainly sits comfortably in between these stellar years and all of the others that remain.
What should be noted is that the best wines from 2015 really are excellent. Unlike some recent vintages, where the best wines were good or sometimes very good, the best of 2015 certainly exceed them in terms of quality and perhaps just as importantly, style. In several cases this year, we would even propose that certain estates have produced better wines than those from the outstanding, blockbuster vintages of the last 20 years.
There is a freshness to these wines. They take the best characteristics of recent vintages. They are ever so precise and classic, which is meant positively (they taste like wines should, from their various appellations), and the tannins are soft, but present and approachable. The better wines also share the concentration, persistence, vibrancy and underbelly of the wholly approachable 2009s and 2010s too.
Today we found that there are great wines in Pauillac and that, whilst Merlot has been excellent and crucial in some parts of Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon has managed to lead the blend in many wines that are quite frankly excellent. To our mind, this is certainly not a Left or Right Bank, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon vintage. There are fantastic wines to be found from all communes and from blends with various proportions of these two major grape varieties.
Ch. Batailley and Ch. Trotte Vielle were both standout wines from our morning tasting. We will have no hesitation recommending these two excellent wines. Throughout the course of Wednesday we started to find the really serious, powerful wines that we expected from the vintage. François-Xavier Borie’s Ch. Grand-Puy-Lacoste is another fantastic wine. It’s really classic Pauillac: so precise, polished and direct. The charming wine is so representative of this great estate. Ch. Lynch Bages and Ch. Léoville-Las Cases are a further duo which should be seriously considered. Both chateaux have managed to generate this underlying power, whilst maintaining focus, complexity and multiple layers of fruit.
We spent part of the afternoon in St Estèphe and found three headline wines of truly excellent quality at Ch. Montrose, Ch. Cos d’Estournel and Ch. Calon Ségur. The nose on Ch. Montrose is a contender for perfume of the vintage, and the palate has a sense of pace, building slowly but surely to a tremendously long finish. Aymeric de Gironde at Cos was very happy and justifiably so. There was a sense of power to the wine, generosity of fruit and real length. It’s grainy, textured and gravelly, a true representation of this appellation. Calon is another must-buy for 2015. It is so beautifully precise, with hints of grit to the tannins. It is really complete, no edges to the wine at all, a serious crunch to the fruit and the hallmark freshness that is such a common theme to this 2015 vintage. This St Estèphe trio really impressed us, they are really classy wines.