The 2017 Bordeaux en-primeur campaign started last week with the sale of the first cuvées. While the vines were damaged by frost a year ago, the winemakers who’ve chosen not to compromise on quality have produced wines that offer both elegance and complexity.
2017 weather conditions
Bordeaux 2017 will be remembered for the fierce frost that ravaged the region’s vineyards in April 2017. The Right Bank and southern areas were the hardest hit and have reported an historically low harvest. These extreme weather conditions have drastically reduced the overall harvest by nearly 50%.
Even though it was hard and time consuming, the winemakers had to meticulously select the grapes during harvest. In some vineyards, where the first-generation bunches were destroyed by frost, the secondary bunches which the vine grows when its first brunches are touched by frost, developed during May 2017. Because they are visually distinguishable, some producers chose to discard this fruit. Nevertheless, others wine estates let them grow to maturity and harvested them to increase their yields. The issue with second-generation grapes is that they don’t offer the same quality as the first bunches because of their irregular maturation during their growing season.
Overall, the 2017 vintage was good for the terroirs that were less affected by frost and rewarded the winemakers who chose not to compromise on quality and discard the unevenly developed bunches. The advantage that this new vintage offers buyers the chance to purchase incredible cuvées for lower prices than 2015 and 2016.
Zoom in on appellations
According to the first tastings, the 2017 Bordeaux whites are very aromatic, fresh and rich. More precisely, 2017 is a wonderful vintage for white wines from the Pessac-Léognan appellation, including Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Domaine de Chevalier and Château Haut-Brion.
It is the same for Sauternes. 2017 is a good vintage and offers rich and powerful sweet wines. Even though some domaines lost 100% of their crop to the frost, including Château Climens, most of the wine estates have complex cuvées on offer. Look to buy the Château la Tour Blanche and Château Suduiraut.
Finally, the quality is more varied for the red wines. Firstly, the great and old terroirs have been less affected by frost and offer higher quality. Within the different appellations, Merlots from the Right Bank offer good ageing potential. Therefore, wines from Saint-Émilion and Pomerol present structure, balance and a great ageing potential. Look out for Château Cheval-Blanc, Château Figeac and Château l’Eglise-Clinet.
On the Left Bank, winemakers who waited to harvest their Cabernet Sauvignon grapes have produced very fine wines. This is particularly true for the Médoc First Growths, and for the Pauillac, Saint-Estèphe, Margaux and Saint-Julien appellations.
In conclusion, 2017 is an ideal vintage to invest in promising wines from the great châteaux as they offer good value for money. Wine Cellar offers wines from a selection of domaines, see the full list here.
For an in-depth review, read here.