Beautifully balanced clarets – fragrant, intense and fresh
We have been visiting Bordeaux to taste the new vintage for many years… but we have never encountered a year quite like 2017.
I found some wonderfully fragrant wines with beautiful balance, displaying intensity and fresh, long-lasting flavour.
Interestingly for a vintage that suffered such extremes of weather, I found the quality of the wines to be very consistent, both across the different communes of the left and right banks, and at all price levels (with the exception of the most basic generic claret).
The reds have the structure to ensure long life, but tannins are soft and silky, so many of these wines will be a delight to drink relatively young. Top Médocs are completely dominated by cabernet sauvignon, which is their trump card in great years. Pomerol produced glorious full fragrant but fresh merlot. Christian Moueix, whom you can always trust to give an honest assessment of the new vintage, described 2017 as surprisingly good, in some instances very good indeed.
This is all very good news considering that 2017 will forever be associated with the frost of 27th and 28th April, the most destructive in more than a quarter of a century. Angludet, Grand Corbin Despagne, La Pointe and Climens, for example, have produced no grand vin in 2017. In complete contrast to this heartbreaking news, however, all the classic Médoc vineyards that sit on gravel slopes beside the Gironde have made a full crop of marvellous wine, benefitting from the precocity of vine growth which made many others vulnerable. Top châteaux of the Pomerol plateau and on the limestone ridge beside the town of Saint-Emilion were similarly (largely) untouched by frost damage, and produced beautifully ripe grapes.
The key to making the best wines in 2017 was not to over-extract in the winery. Philippe Dambrine at Château Cantemerle likened the handling of grapes to making a good cup of tea – ‘infusion, not extraction’ was his pithy metaphor!
All in all, this was a vintage which demanded close observation, good decision making, hard work and the luck to have frost-free vines. But the happy result is a group of lovely fragrant clarets with depth of flavour and class, and a very promising future.
Among the vines in sunny Fronsac!
Château Rauzan Ségla – consistently great wine
I visited Bordeaux twice in April 2018 to taste the vintage, spending as much time as possible getting to know its unique character, seeking out the best of the best and fine-tuning my selection. In this offer, you’ll find those wines that I felt really stood out.
This year, for the first time, we are including indicative alcohol levels for all the wines in this offer. Please note that these are intended as a guideline, and may vary slightly before bottling.
For those who like variety, there are nine mixed cases to choose from, including for the first time this year, a ‘Class of 2017’ case of three top châteaux. For those who find a whole case from a top property out of reach price-wise, this six-bottle collection of three different wines is a great option. At the back of the offer you will also find a selection of our favourite dry whites (which enjoyed a superb vintage) and some delicious sweet wines from Sauternes and Barsac.
Barrel cellar at Phélan Ségur
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien
A roller coaster of a year! After the late April frosts, a hot June was punctuated by a heavy dose of rain which helped the vines to endure one of the driest July and August periods ever, although, paradoxically, temperatures were below the seasonal average. More rain in September helped and enhanced maturation of cabernet sauvignon, though some earlier-picked merlot was diluted. On the right bank, merlots were splendid but cabernet franc tended to suffer, and the less-planted cabernet sauvignon came into its own.
This offer will close at 8pm, Friday 20th July, 2018.