Bordeaux 1986: Tasting in 2001
The 1986 vintage followed on from a string of successes for Bordeaux, including the much lauded 1982 vintage, but also the 1985 vintage which has provided plenty of delicious, balanced wines which I have enjoyed. In fact, 1984 was the only disappointment in the preceding five years, but even here there are one or two good wines to be found.
The summer of 1986 was dry and hot, and unusually a little light rain in mid-September was welcomed because of concerns over the near-drought conditions. This brief period of precipitation prevented significant dehydration stress and permitted continuing photosynthesis and maturation of the fruit. Unfortunately, however, before the end of the month a storm hit Bordeaux, and this was much less welcome.
This storm swept through Graves, Pomerol and St Emilion, with some influence on the more northerly communes. This storm was a crucial factor in determining the quality of the final wines. Those châteaux that harvested immediately after the storm brought in swollen grapes which made poor, dilute wine. Aggressive selection was necessary to produce anything of quality. Those that waited, however, reaped the benefit of several weeks of excellent weather. It is these châteaux that made the most successful wines.