Martin: no thrill but much to admire in 2014s

The Wine Advocate’s Bordeaux critic, Neal Martin, has returned to taste the 2014 vintage in bottle, the first vintage he rated for the journal.

Remembering his initial view at en primeur, that he found the wines to be “fresh and lively” with a good sense of place if not a ‘great’ vintage, his latest report quickly lays out: “2014 Bordeaux is a very good to excellent vintage, however it is unequivocally not in the same realm as 2005, 2009 or 2010, nor does it boast the snow-capped peaks that you occasionally find with respect to 2015.

“The leitmotifs of 2014 are freshness, terroir expression, an erring towards red rather than black fruit, crisp and occasionally quite edgy tannins and vivacity. These are wines destined to sing in the wine glass.”

Despite finding much to admire in the wines (that they were not the 2013 vintage was already a huge help) Martin nevertheless said that it was both his and the producers’ opinion that the 2014s generally lacked, “the ambition of the truly great vintages.”

There were no ‘perfect’ scores, the highest points awarded were to Trotanoy and Haut-Brion blanc both rated 97.

Other top-scoring wines included: Latour, Montrose, Vieux Château Certan, Haut-Brion, Ducru-Beaucaillou, Cheval Blanc and Léoville-las-Cases (all 96).

Martin zeroed in on Saint Estèphe in particular as a “trove” of fine wines and reinforced many of the positive views already held of Montrose, which he said was “one of the few anomalies whereby the 2014 may surpass the 2015.”

Saint Julien too was “ever-reliable” and there were of course a number of highly rated wines from Margaux and Pauillac but Martin questioned whether, given a choice, buyers might opt for the “superior” 2015s from these appellations instead.

On the Right Bank, having eulogised about Trotanoy, Martin also pointed out Vieux Château Certan as a “succinct, complex, detailed and discretely intense…beauty”.

There was a hint of disappointment in his review with regards to Pomerol which he thought “did not shine as it has done in some vintages,” with certain famous names seeming a little “backward”.

Finally, Saint Emilion was a “never-ending vista of highs and low” but away from the bigger names there were still “plenty of hidden gems tucked away.”

Overall, he concluded, the 2014s made up for their lack of substance with “tension and terroir expression”.

The full report can be read here.

READ MORE: Martin unveils his 2014 notes

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