Bordeaux 2002: Tasting in 2015

The 2014 Bordeaux primeur campaign looms near (I realise it is still over a month away, but it is prominent in my mind as I have now made all but half a dozen of my appointments) and yet I have at least two Bordeaux vintages I want to take a look at before my flight to Bordeaux. One is the 2005 vintage, a fairly detailed assessment at ten years of age. The other is a mere snippet in comparison, a handful of wines from the 2002 vintage. I start here with 2002, its publication sandwiched between some of my Loire 2014 reports, before I move on in the next couple of weeks to take look, in several instalments, at 2005 Bordeaux.

The 2002 and 2003 Bordeaux vintages are (to me at least) interesting to reflect upon. After the broad success of the red wines in the 2000 vintage, and the delights of the 2001 vintage which included superlative wines from Sauternes and Barsac, and some excellent wines from Pomerol in particular (I realise I am looking back at 2001 wearing my rose-tinted spectacles here, as I think we all needed some time to realise the true quality of the red wines in this vintage), all of a sudden we had two vintages both with very big question marks hanging over them. The 2002 vintage was a cool and damp one with a dismal summer, the vintage saved by good weather after September 10th (hmmm, sounds a little like the 2014 growing season, doesn’t it?).

Bordeaux 2002

The nails in the coffin of the vintage were hammered in by Robert Parker, who didn’t bother going to Bordeaux to taste the wines during the primeurs, even though his reason for not attending was reputedly concern about the safety of air travel, a consequence of the very recent invasion of Iraq. As for the 2003 vintage, this was hailed as great by some leading critics, but in the ensuing years it has in my opinion turned out to be nothing of the sort. In a heatwave vintage temperatures in August regularly exceeded 40ºC. In a number of appellations many vines simply threw in the towel, shutting down photosynthesis, and eventually dropping their leaves. Such conditions are not necessarily conducive to making great wine; if they were, we would all be drinking wine from Libya, Algeria and Oman.

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