Cru Bourgeois with The Commanderie, 2019

The 2017 vintage in Bordeaux will always be remembered as the year of the frost, and so it seems appropriate that it was a particularly chilly if not downright frosty evening, just a week or two ago, on which I made my way towards a tasting and dinner featuring the wines of this vintage. Invited by the maître of the Commanderie de Bordeaux in Edinburgh, the evening was to feature a small tasting of wines from the just-bottled 2017 vintage, followed by some older vintages with dinner.

Having never attended any Commanderie events before I didn’t know quite what to expect. I turned up wearing my best tucker, the dinner jacket and black tie usually reserved for evenings with the Académie du Vin de Bordeaux, or a midweek dinner during the primeurs (I do permit myself to attend one or two). Even so, on arrival I still found myself distinctly underdressed; the room was ablaze with tartan – trousers, kilts, waistcoats and probably more (best left to your imagination I think) – while fully signed-up Commanderie members sported their medals with pride. The welcome was warm, and after a few introductions I quickly began working my way through the short selection of wines.

Cru Bourgeois with The Commanderie

The Wines

I have already provided a brief synopsis of the vintage in my recent 2017 Cru Bourgeois report, and will provide relevant detail in my forthcoming in-bottle tasting report, looking at the wines from all the big-name châteaux. As such I won’t go into the detail of the vintage again, suffice to say that in this frosted year the yields were well down; as one proprietor put it on the night, this was the smallest harvest in Bordeaux since 1945. And it was a vintage in which there is great variation in quality from one château to the next, with some vineyards protected from the frost (by their elevation, or their proximity to the Gironde) turning out good or very good wines, while those less favoured really struggled. Some in this latter group made lean or even very green wines, having clearly failed to differentiate between ripe first-generation and unripe second-generation fruit, and some proprietors threw in the towel completely, resigning themselves to making no wine at all.

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