Bordeaux Primeur 2023 Report

Our views on the 2023 campaign - How will Bordeaux react?

I have just returned from Bordeaux with a big smile on my face. The 2023 vintage is in fact a really, really good vintage. It doesn't have the intensity and richness of the legendary 2022 vintage, but it's a vintage where the best wines have ample freshness, purity of fruit and an elegant power that will see them age gracefully for many years to come.

When speaking to the winemakers, they all mentioned the mildew issues that happened due to the tropical & humid heat during June, but many have managed to combat the spread effectively and in general the yield was pretty good throughout Bordeaux.

The biggest issue on the left bank was the warning of storms in late September which was a huge concern for all. The question beckoned: Do we pick a tad early before the storm hits and avoid losing crop to the storm, or do we wait it out for the berries to reach optimum phenolic ripeness?

Those who waited were rewarded with gorgeous sweet fruit, a layered mid palate and an electric freshness! I agree with International Sales Director of Chateau Palmer who described the vintage as one of 'Patience' .

Those wineries who took the decision to pick early, ended up with wines that lacked in intensity, sweet fruit and natural tannins. Many of these wines were still fresh, but needed that little bit of extra oak and extraction to make up for the lack of phenolic ripeness.

If I had to choose, I think it was a Cabernet year, where both Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc really performed well, but there were several Merlots that were incredibly juicy and delicious.

The wines were more homogeneous than we expected, maybe even more than the 2022 vintage. The average rating was also pretty high, however we didn't score any of the wines the perfect 100, but seven wines came pretty close with a potential 99/100.

The white wines really performed well such that all the whites we tried were so fresh, intense and precise. Even the entry level white wines had beautiful fruit, structure and purity and we would have no issues in suggesting you add some 2023 whites from Bordeaux - you wont be disappointed.

Same with Sauternes. Definitely not as opulent and intense and 2022, but with searing acidity that keeps the sweetness light and elegant. I dont think the Sauternes are as legendary as the 2013 vintage, but they are definitely worth considering if you have a sweet tooth.

Ok, so is 2023 worth buying?

If you want to add some delicious wines to your cellar - absolutely! There are some stunning wines. However, prices are going to really dictate whether 2023 will be a top investment or fall flat on its face. There is much speculation that the wines will come down in prices from the 2022 vintage and I have no doubt that most will be reduced, but the question is by how much?

There is talk that the Crème de la crème may be reduced in price by 20% or even 30% from the 2022 vintage and this would definitely increase the investment-interest in the vintage. That being said, certain wines such as Chateau Angelus has increased by a whopping 35% in from 2021 to 2022 alone. Would a 20% decease in price be sufficient to make the 2023 Chateau Angelus an investment?

Yesterday (26th April 2024) Chateau Angludet was released at a 10% less than the 2022, but the wine is in fact the highest rated in the history of Angludet by James Suckling making it a very interesting proposition, but we remain hopeful that the big guns take a larger hit than 10%. That said, I do believe Chateau Angludet to be one of the better wines in the vintage and though not a wine that will skyrocket in price, the 2023 will be a fantastic addition to any wine cellar.

My top wines for 2023

Unfortunately, I did not manage to visit Pessac-Léognan, due to cancelled flights and having to make a dash to Barcelona to get back home on time, so I cannot include any wines from this appellation. However, good sources have have told me that Chateau Haut Bailly was the stand out and that the whites were all exceptional. Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte was well structured and rich, whilst Chateau Haut Brion had a classic style with pretty high alcohol.

98-99/100 (my potential 99/100 wines)
Château  Canon : Absolutely  gorgeous! An electric wine with beautiful fruit and well integrated supple  tannins. A  never ending finish.
Château  Pontet-Canet : Clean,  precise with beautiful aromatics of thyme and a bursting juiciness of  blackberries. I loved the salinity that kept me wanting more. Great Length
Château  La Conseillante: A sweet  and aromatic perfume of violets on the nose. A beautiful lift of freshness on  the mid palate that keeps the wine juicy. Very good structure with elegance  and layers of complexity. Perfect balance
Château  Margaux: A  sophistication and elegance that is so typical of Chateau Margaux. So much  power that is restrained and sophisticated. A Classic wine that will drink  beautifully for many years to come
Château  Palmer: Slightly  more structured than the Alter Ego with a slightly longer and more  persistent finish. The Mid-palate is magical and precise with delicious dark  fruit. The finish is long and savoury that makes you keep going back for me.  Gorgeous!
Château  Montrose: One of  the best wines of the left bank. A fantastic lift on the palate with juicy  and crunchy fruit. A never ending finish
Tasting from the Barrel at Chateau Canon
Such an elegant & savoury Chateau Pontet Canet

Chateau Montrose is bright, juicy and perfectly poised - a polished wine indeed

Having achieved the perfect Phenolic ripeness is evident at Chateau Palmer