2023 Bordeaux: vintage report

A claret vintage that shows Bordeaux at its magic best, 2023 has given us classically styled wines with a modern twist.

Well-balanced clarets with finesse, freshness and attractive perfume
Tasting the 2021 Château Palmer

Who made the best wines?

The 2023 claret vintage shows Bordeaux at its magical best. Leading châteaux of the Médoc situated close to the Gironde estuary, in the heart of Pomerol and on the limestone ridge of Saint-Emilion, have made wines with star quality and finesse unmatched elsewhere in the world. Neighbouring properties demonstrate the individual, original bouquet and flavour that makes fine claret so fascinating and enjoyable.

Growing conditions in 2023

Bordeaux’s maritime climate has become increasingly unpredictable in recent years, and weather conditions in 2023 provided more than a few challenges in the vineyard. After a mild, dry winter, spring and early summer were humid and warm – ideal conditions for the development of mildew, which has the effect of reducing yields significantly if not treated in time. Those with the financial means and manpower at their disposal managed to escape the worst of the damage, but others weren’t so lucky. Consequently, yields vary considerably from one property to the next. The first half of August was relatively cool, but from middle of the month heatwave conditions set in for over a week, helping the ripening process, followed by another temperature spike in the first ten days of September. Harvesting took place in unhurried manner over an extended period, allowing châteaux to pick their various grape varieties at optimal ripeness.

What do the wines taste like?

No two vintages are alike, but several producers on the right bank whose opinions we respect said they found similarities with 2001. Members lucky enough to have enjoyed clarets from 2001 will know how delicious they are, often superior to the much-praised 2000s. Nearly all the 2023 wines are a welcome degree or more lower in alcohol than last year, with good colour, fresh acidity levels, plenty of perfumed, polished fruit and lasting flavour. The best reds are classically styled, with attractive balance and, thanks to modern winemaking techniques (cooler fermentations and longer, gentler skin contact) they will be approachable sooner than their predecessors. Nevertheless, they have the underlying structure to age well. 
Dry whites, too often overlooked, are very good this year and 2023 is an excellent vintage for Sauternes.

Good news on pricing for the top wines

The top châteaux of Bordeaux have, in recent months, woken up to the fact that for the 2023 en primeur campaign to be a success, prices need a substantial readjustment downwards. All the signs are that the difficult economic climate, allied to a generous vintage (in volume terms) should ensure that prices for most of the top-flight wines will come down significantly. Realistic pricing for an attractive vintage like 2023 should allow members to restock their cellars with delicious wines that will provide many years of drinking pleasure.

>>Explore the Bordeaux 2023 top wines en primeur offer

Tim Sykes

Society Buyer

Tim Sykes

Tim Sykes joined The Society in March 2012. Tim is responsible for the purchasing of Bordeaux, Beaujolais and Sherry.

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