With a host of new wines hitting the market, we take a look at some of the key points that cropped up from what was quite a complicated year for Bordeaux based wines.
- Select Carefully
2017 was complicated, but there are some excellent wines. Expect plenty of freshness and drinkability from wines that will offer excellent value, and others that will rival 2016 in terms of ripeness and ageability. But they are likely to be the exception not the rule, making careful selection key.
- Frost Issues
A corridor of early-ripening gravel soils along the Garonne river protected many of the Médoc classified estates in St-Julien, Pauillac and St-Estèphe and pockets of Margaux, and again along the opposite banks of the river in Bourg and south of the city in parts of Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux and Entre deux Mers again following that corridor of the Garonne river. Some parts of Pomerol and St-Emilion also escaped the worst of the frost.
Co-fermentations of different grape varieties were more common than usual because one of the biggest challenges in frost hit areas was finding enough volume to fill tanks. It meant that some harvest dates were the same for Sauvignon and Sémillon, or Merlot and Cabernet Franc, for the practical reason of filling vats.
- Surprise Packages
There have been some good surprises, such as the wines from the Right Bank’s Saint-Émilion appellation. Estates that did not lose crop from the April frosts did end up producing wines with generous fruit and perfumed Cabernet Franc. The Médoc’s Pauillac and Saint-Julien appellations had successes in the world of Cabernet Sauvignon. As always, the best terroirs made the best wines, a fact that really showed in 2017.
- The Role of Hoodoo
Left Bank reds are most successful in Saint-Estèphe, Pauillac and Saint-Julien, with early budding merlot being hit hardest by frost. Margaux, the Haut-Médoc and greater Graves are all patchier. The Right Bank seems strong in Pomerol and Fronsac and less reliable in Saint-Emilion, where only the elevated sites stood a chance of avoiding frost. Dry whites are rather lovely, but not necessarily long-lived.