Bordeaux 2005 at Fifteen Years

My last opportunity to check in on the 2005 Bordeaux vintage was when the wines hit ten years of age, back in 2015. It was not the first time I had returned to the 2005s; I had also taken a comprehensive look at the wines just after bottling, in 2007, and again on their fourth birthday, in 2009, but the tasting in 2015 was the first opportunity to take a look as the wines potentially approached a state of maturity. It was a fairly comprehensive look at the vintage, taking in all levels of wine, from exalted names such as Château Latour, Château Lafite-Rothschild, Petrus and Le Pin, down to some less celebrated bottles we can actually afford to buy and drink such as Château Potensac, Château Poujeaux and Château Belgrave.

Bordeaux 2005

At ten years, I found the vintage reasserting itself as one of the greatest seen in Bordeaux in recent years. The peaks of quality were very high, with many wines just as convincing as they had been on previous encounters, affirming my earlier judgements (always a relief!). The quality was also widespread; some Bordeaux vintages favour one region, variety or style more than others, but in 2005 the success was essentially universal, with excellent wines across the board, from Pauillac to Pessac-Léognan to Pomerol. Revisiting the wines on their tenth birthday allowed these many achievements to shine once again.

But while the quality was admirable, to me it seemed that at ten years the wines simply were not ready. While I know some commentators on Bordeaux have always found joy in this vintage, drinking the wines with pleasure whether they were two or ten years old, for me even after a decade had passed the wines still had a brooding unevolved reticence. Yes, they were ‘drinkable’, maybe even ‘enjoyable’, but I ask more of my wine than that. Where was the mature and balanced Bordeaux character that – having shelled out some considerable cash for the wines – I expect to see? It was clear to me the wines needed more time in the cellar, and it was time I was willing to give them.

So here we are, another five (and a bit) years on. It is time to take another, albeit rather less broad, look at the vintage.

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