Tue 21 Apr 2015

Bordeaux 2014: First Tastes & Unexpected Treats

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I was recently fortunate enough to pay a flying visit to Bordeaux with Society buyers Tim Sykes, Joanna Locke MW and Sebastian Payne MW to gain some insights into how well the 2014 vintage had turned out in Bordeaux.

View our opening offer of the top wines from Bordeaux 2014

Having made similar trips in previous vintages I knew that tasting the ‘primeurs’, as they call them in Bordeaux, is no picnic. Tasting a hundred or so young, tannic reds before breakfast is not unheard of and not for the faint-hearted! But there is really no substitute for tasting and retasting the wines side by side in situ to form a proper judgement before making our selection for members.

François Mitjaville

François Mitjaville of Tertre Rôteboeuf and Roc de Cambes – my personal wines of the vintage.

On this occasion we had an exceptionally early start leaving at 2am on Sunday to catch the first flight to Bordeaux to make a big négociant tasting of more than 200 wines at 9.30am. Four hours later we had a quick lunch followed by another tasting of a similar number of wines with another négociant; our palates and critical faculties were being put to the test, but this is where the experience and professionalism of our buyers come into their own.

By now I too had gained a feel for the character of the vintage and there were already proving to be some real highlights among the wines. We had heard producers talk optimistically about the 2014 vintage being saved by a late summer and the wines certainly seem better than any of the last three years and have a real freshness about them; very much in a classic mould.

I confess, after such an early start and packed programme with so many wines to taste, I was a little apprehensive about the schedule for any equally long day on the Monday. But one of the visits planned was to prove the highlight of the trip: a visit to the cellars of François Mitjaville, who owns Tertre Rôteboeuf and Roc de Cambes.

Though I have helped to sell both wines to members for more than 20 years I have never had the opportunity to try them. And what a treat it was, not least because François is such a charming host and very generous with his time, most eloquently and patiently explaining the different character of each of his vineyards as he took us round them, huddled under an umbrella against the pouring rain.

Somewhat relieved to get out of the rain, we made our way to his cellar, a short walk from the vineyard, set up on the slope above Saint-Emilion to taste, straight from barrel, what were, I thought, my wines of the vintage. Both Roc de Cambes and Tertre Rôteboeuf have an ethereal quality about them and I was hugely impressed.

His passion and drive for high quality were inspirational and really left a mark on me, as did the wines, whose memory I shall savour. After tasting more than 400 wines from the 2014 vintage I can say that I am extremely optimistic about this vintage.

Shaun Kiernan
Fine Wine Manager

Our first offer of en primeur 2014 clarets is now available. This is an opportunity to pre-order the top red wines of Bordeaux with prices shown as a guide at this stage.

Find out more about buying wines en primeur (or from opening offers).

Categories : Bordeaux, France

Comments

  1. Alastair Mcinnes says:

    Good report and sounds very promising. What do you think will happen on pricing of 2014 Bordeaux wine given the over pricing of the previous 2 or 3 vintages? Thanks. Alastair

    • Shaun Kiernan says:

      Thanks for your query. Until the majority of prices are out the only thing we can say with certainty is that the exchange rate is more favourable and we are keeping our fingers crossed. We were co-signatories of an open letter to the region’s trade in the hope of price reductions. Although thus far we have seen a few come out at similar prices to, or slightly above, those of last year, thanks to a favourable exchange rate we have been able to offer the majority of these top wines at lower prices than the last few vintages. We very much hope to be able to do so for the remainder when their prices are released.

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