I finished publishing my Bordeaux 2017 report last week, ending up with my Primeur Picks, summing up some thoughts on the vintage, as well as picking out my top wines, those we like to dream about as well as more resonably priced ‘reality’ and ‘sense’ options.
I thought it would be interesting to bring some of this report out here, onto the free-to-read Winedr blog. So over the next four days I will publish my concluding thoughts about the vintage here, in four short, bite-sized pieces. Here goes…..
Bordeaux 2017: Primeur Picks
After fifteen regional reports on the 2017 Bordeaux vintage, featuring well over 300 tasting notes (the honest truth is I lost count somewhere between Pomerol and Pessac-Léognan) it is time to sum up the vintage.
While my regional reports provide detail, with notes and scores on every wine I tasted during my time in Bordeaux (without exception, whether the wine be great or grim), in this conclusion I aim to provide a more facilitative overview of the vintage, one which perhaps answers some of the more frequently asked questions about any new Bordeaux vintage.
So, is it a bad, good or great vintage?
There is perhaps an argument for saying it is all three rolled into one, but eager to simplify things I would say that 2017 is a very good vintage, at least it is for some parts of Bordeaux, for some domaines and for some appellations. But not for others. OK, maybe that doesn’t simplify it very much, but don’t blame me, blame Jack Frost. The result of the frost that struck in late April has been marked heterogeneity in quality, as it overlooked some domaines, leaving the vines with a healthy crop, the end result a potentially excellent wine, while on other domaines it wiped out any hopes for good quality in this vintage.
If you home in on those parts of Bordeaux that escaped the frost, or those domaines which were able to reject the fruit from frosted vines and instead produce a reduced volume of wine solely from non-frosted first-generation fruit (in some cases including tiny quantities of carefully selected second-generation fruit), then quality is excellent. The very successful appellations (or part-appellations) in this vintage are St Estèphe, Pauillac, much of St Julien, select parts of St Emilion and also select parts of Pomerol. That the vintage deserves high regard in the latter of these appellations is perhaps best illustrated by the words of Denis Durantou (pictured above), of Château L’Église-Clinet, who described 2017, along with the excellent 2015 and 2016 vintages, as one of “a rare triplet for Bordeaux”. That’s true for his domaine and his neighbours, but not for many others, sadly. Other appellations such as Margaux and Pessac-Léognan suffered more in the frost; this did not stop the preeminent domaines in these regions also producing excellent wine, but it often required an incredible amount of work in the vineyard, and a strict selection at harvest.