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Top 10 wines of Bordeaux 2013

Liv-ex: the fine wine marketplace recently released the details of its Bordeaux 2013 survey where it canvassed merchants for their opinion of the vintage.

The responses made fairly grim reading, with the year largely voted the weakest since 2007 when it came to quality and 78% expected demand to be 20% less than last year.

At worst the vintage was described as “skeletal” and “rasping”, at best it was “charming” and “pleasant”.

The whites though were singled out for special praise with the majority described as “excellent” and even “superb” – though whether they will make a decent showing when it comes to buying is another question.

Prices are trickling out, with Pontet-Canet, Pichon Baron and Smith Haut-Lafitte being the only notable releases of late.

So here are the 10 estates that impressed the trade the most. The wines that disappointed them and those they believe will be the best value will be published soon.

10. Vieux Château Certan

The Pomerol estate clocked in at number 10, with Fine & Rare director of fine wine, Joss Fowler describing it as one of the “prettiest” wines of the vintage in his own vintage round-up.

Ben Kennedy a Bordeaux négociant who provided tasting notes for the drinks business during primeurs tasting week called it, “quite delicious”.

9. Haut-Brion

The Pessac-Léognan first growth stood out in an appellation that was described as one of the most difficult to taste through.

Kennedy said: “Haut-Brion presents wafting wood smoke, upfront dark fruit followed by sweet red fruit on the nose, aromas filling out slowly. My search for depth and complexity is rewarded instead with an example of pure fruit and utter harmony of the various parts.”

8. Latour

Panos Kakaviatos has said elsewhere he thinks this may be the “red of the vintage”.

Kennedy described it as having: “Impressive intensity on the palate, however, rich, deep and stony, with fine-grained tannins carving a groove on the tongue into which a dose of pure cassis fruit, brooding and constant, is delivered.”

However, with Latour having pulled out of the en primeur game, no one is going to be able to buy this for a good while yet.

6=. Pétrus

Another Pomerol heavy-weight transcending what was generally thought to be a tough year for Merlot.

It shared sixth place with…

6=. Pichon-Lalande

Latour’s Pauillac neighbour was generally thought, said Fowler, to have produced something “really quite special” in 2013.

Kennedy said it has, “a harmonious bouquet of red fruits and rose petals which moves seamlessly onto the palate, although the tannins – smooth and chewy – are currently somewhat disjointed on the finish.”

5. Cos d’Estournel

Sometimes a divisive estate come en primeur time. Its super-ripe 2009 caused a minor rift between Jancis Robinson MW and Robert Parker over style (guess which one liked it).

However, its 2013 is back to a more classic 12.7% abv and Fowler said it was rather a pleasant surprise to see Cos making proper St-Estèphe again.

He thought St-Estèphe to be one of the more widely successful appellations on the Left Bank overall.

Kennedy said it offered, “a splendid nose of Christmas spice, wood smoke and fine gravelly terroir loaded with ripe vibrant red fruit behind.”

4. Ausone

The Saint-Emilion giant made fourth by being, according to Kennedy, “slightly toned-down on the nose, more mineral, reserved and serious, and the earthy feel continues on the palate with a pebbly texture to the sweet raspberry and blackcurrant core. This is very elegant indeed, balanced and persistent.”

3. Margaux

Château Margaux

Another first growth and possibly the wine that will lead to the most disagreement this year as it was also listed as one of the most disappointing wines by merchants (those who didn’t rate it highly evidently).

Kennedy noted that the group he was with acclaimed it though he has his doubts saying: “The grand vin has a super-elegant multi-layered nose but it remains distant and doesn’t engage easily.”

2. Mouton Rothschild

The Pauillac estate made second with its: “layers of flavour and aroma – cassis, raspberry cream, hints of cherry, sweet vanilla,” according to Kennedy, who thought it didn’t quite offer the “profound complexity” one expected from a first growth however.

And the winner is…

1. Yquem

© Gerard Uferas
Chateau D’Yquem juin 2012

For the first time a white wine topped the Liv-ex survey. Yquem has been widely proclaimed as one of the best wines of any colour.

Kennedy called it a, “very fine Yquem indeed”, with: “A very deep buttery golden colour with yellow glints; a pronounced and complex nose offering aromas of toasty caramel, vanilla, mint, baked pear, mango and clove. Very rich and sweet on the palate, masculine in style and weight yet beautifully smooth with a light creamy, peppery, spicy edge, the ripe orange fruit is broad, mouth-filling, and very round. The finish is very long indeed, with a distant hint of fleur de sel.”

Maybe, just maybe this could be the year for white wine en primeur despite a well-established lack of interest in this shamefully neglected sector of Bordeaux winemaking.

Then again, with all Yquem vintages since 2005 having seen huge losses since release as prices have been driven up by brand positioning – perhaps buyers will continue to stay away from this too.


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