‘Do the Bordelais make bad wine anymore?’ is a question I ask myself on the plane to Bordeaux city every April. The short answer is no. Bordeaux is without a doubt the richest wine producing region in the world and this becomes ever apparent when walking past the in-house ‘laboratories’ each chateau has in-house.
“‘Do the Bordelais make bad wine anymore?’ The short answer is no.”
These combat whatever the vintage has thrown at them, which we know was frost and heavy rain in 2017. When God gives us lemons, the Bordelais make wine.
I wouldn’t believe all the poor press that the 2017s have been receiving – I went with a negative pre-conception but found myself pleasantly surprised. The Right Bank has fared considerably better than the Left – particularly the wines of Pomerol and St Emilion.
The Left Bank will require some careful buying, there are some superb bottles to be had, but they will need to be sorted from the chaff.
Sure, it’s not 2015 or 2016 – the wines are not as intense or bold, but there is a real sense of elegance and at last a vintage with far lower alcohol percentages across the board. There are lots of bright pure red fruits. In a word, it is a traditional claret vintage. The wines that have got it right will be long lived but will provide great drinking earlier than your ‘15s and ‘16s.
Although no prices have been released just yet – the conversations that we had with the Bordelais and the Negociants seemed to indicate some more sensible pricing. If this is acted upon, this will be a vintage to secure some very elegant wines that will be an absolute pleasure to drink. Think of 2017 as 2012 meets 2014 with a hint of 2008.
This is definitely a vintage to taste for yourself, so if you have the chance, join us for our 2017 tasting in London at Lord's Cricket Ground on the 16th of May.
Tickets are available here.
James' Top Picks
St Estephe Le Crock, Ormes de Peze, Montrose, Calon Segur
Pauillac D’Armaillhac, Clerc Milon, Grand Puy Lacoste, Mouton, Lafite, Lynch Bages, Pichon Lalande, Pichon Baron, Pontet Canet, Haut-Batailley
St Julien Beychevelle, Leoville Barton, Langoa Barton, Leoville Poyferre, Leoville Las Cases
Margaux Palmer, Margaux, Rauzan Segla, Brane Cantenac, Cantenac-Brown, D’Issan, Giscours
Pessac-Leognan Haut-Brion, Smith Haut-Lafite, Domaine de Chevalier, Haut Bailly, Malartic La Gravierre, Carmes Haut-Brion
Pomerol Rouget, Vieux Chateau Certan, Conseillante, l'Eglise Clinet
Saint Emilion Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Canon, Tour Saint Christophe