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Top wines of Bordeaux 2014

Every year Liv-ex asks the merchants around the world that make up its members to rate the best and worst wines of the vintage as well as other forecasts surrounding pricing.

Last year the outlook was muted, the wines described as “pretty” at best and “rasping” at worst. This time the overview is more positive, with tasting notes describing wines once again as “rich” and “pure” and “succulent”.

If the first growths were no better than 2007 last year, this year they rank better than 2008 and indeed all five first growths appear on the “best of” list.

The Right Bank’s reliance on Merlot might have proved a handicap this year as the vintage conditions weren’t kind to the early-ripening variety but once again improved viticulture techniques and technology have allowed the best producers to triumph and there are several Saint-Emilion and Pomerol high-flyers scattered throughout the list – Vieux Chateau Certan was named wine of the vintage.

Will these estates now repay the merchants’ and critics’ kind words with pricing the buyers will love?

10. Ausone – 60% Cabernet Franc/40% Merlot

The Saint-Emilion cru classé A has been highly rated by a number of critics. Considering the estate’s fame and pedigree this is hardly surprising but in what was a fairly poor year may also have something to do with the record levels of Cabernet Franc used in the blend – an all-time high at 60%.

Invariably described as “pure” and “powerful”, as well as “sweet” and “fresh”, it was also said to have something “sinewy” and “linear”.

8= Le Pin – 100% Merlot

Image credit: Jonathan Warrender

Although it wasn’t a stellar Merlot year due to the cool and damp summer, the best can always overcome and this micro-Pomerol estate was reckoned to have done just that.

Jancis Robinson MW described it as “meaty”, while Farr Vintners noted a “Burgundy-like” character.

8= Lafite – 87% Cabernet Sauvignon/10% Merlot/3% Cabernet Franc

A return to form for the Pauillac first growth which last year was rated one of the most disappointing wines of the vintage.

James Suckling called it “sexy, perfumed and feminine”, while Derek Smedley MW agreed it had a “fragrant floral charm”.

7. Mouton Rothschild – 81% Cabernet Sauvignon/3% Cabernet Franc/16% Merlot

Mouton is increasingly the wine of the moment among the first growths and the praise only grows as the years go by with regards its winemaking too.

“Charming” was the word often used to describe this Mouton as well as being hailed as a classic example of both a Mouton and a Pauillac. “A delight” said Bordeaux Index, although Justerini & Brooks thought it caught the wine in “fractious mood” and hoped it would prove “rather more harmonious” after elevage.

6. Montrose – 61% Cabernet Sauvignon/30% Merlot/ 85 Cabernet Franc/ 1% Petit Verdot

Montrose’s CEO had already told the drinks business that he thought 2014 would be a “top, top vintage” and the trade appear to have agreed.

“Impressive” said Farr, “fantastic” said Bordeaux Index and a further “top drawer!” from Justerini & Brooks.

4= Margaux – 90% Cabernet Sauvignon/5% Merlot/3% Cabernet Franc/2% Petit Verdot

Chateau Margaux

Like Lafite a return to form for this first growth which was simultaneously one of the best and worst of Bordeaux 2013.

“Fabulous balance and poise,” thought Bordeaux Index, “charming” thought Smedley but also “muscular and toned” thought Suckling. “Has real structure, presence and harmony,” noted J&B rather neatly tying those disparate views together.

It was joint fourth place with…

4= Haut-Brion – 50% Merlot/39% Cabernet Sauvignon/11% Cabernet Franc

Fellow first Haut-Brion, which plumped for rather more Merlot in its blend than the others but which was hailed as “a spell-binding and serious Haut-Brion,” by J&B, while Farr noted its “power and refinement”.

3. Cheval Blanc – 55% Merlot/45% Cabernet Franc

Another Saint-Emilion A, Cheval Blanc has not appeared on the “best” list since 2011 but a third of Liv-ex’s respondents named it on their lists.

Another Right Bank that didn’t go too heavy on Cabernet Franc although there is a little more than usual it is, nonetheless, “brilliant” according to Bordeaux Index, while Robinson thought it “gentle and rather balletic”. An “assured and confident Cheval,” agreed J&B.

2. Latour – 89.8% Cabernet Sauvignon/9.2% Merlot/0.6% Cabernet Franc/0.3% Petit Verdot

An eighth place finisher on the best of chart in 2013, Latour was named the favourite first growth in 2014.

Even if it will not be available en primeur, Michael Schuster described it as “effortlessly classy and complete” as did Bordeaux Index.

J&B thought it “aristocratic” but lacking the “stature of a great Latour”.

1. Vieux Château Certan – 80% Merlot/19% Cabernet Franc/1% Cabernet Sauvignon         

Again proving that it isn’t entirely a Cabernet vintage if you know where to look, Pomerol-based VCC swept the boards in the survey with appearances in the top five lists for half of the respondents.

“An understated masterpiece” said J&B after its more circumspect observation of Latour. “A rich perfumed, succulent and subtly seductive beauty,” according to Schuster, while it was elsewhere passed for its “poise”, delicious fruit, “completeness” and “purity”.

“It’s like a wonderfully cut ruby,” thought Suckling.

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