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2023 Bordeaux

2023 Bordeaux First Impressions

This is a short, overview report so let’s cut straight to the chase: in 20 years of primeurs tasting never have my expectations been so torpedoed, never have I been so surprised to the upside, than I have been by Bordeaux 2023.

Travelling to France, I was expecting a wildly variable vintage with a few notable highs and, frankly, lots of low lows. A week’s tasting later,

“I readily admit I’ve been thoroughly seduced by the reds of Bordeaux’s most recent harvest.”

Don’t get me wrong: 2023 is no 2019 or 2016; it is not a great vintage, but I prefer many wines to their 2022 and 2020 counterparts. There are individual 2023s that I found absolutely compelling – I will be excited to add these to my own cellar and hope to be able to recommend them with enthusiasm to my friends and clients.

If you are a lover of fine Bordeaux, building a collection to treasure in your cellar and delight your friends and loved ones in years to come, Bordeaux 2023 will offer wines worth close consideration.

“The 2023s that excite me are lithe, racy, gourmand reds.”

They are not big on fruit but emphasise floral and mineral characteristics. Acidities are vivid and tannins substantial, yet fine-spun and tensile rather than chunky. Alcohol is refreshingly low this year, frequently sitting at pre-Parker, pre-global warming levels.

Often almost imperceptible at first, the structure of the wines seems to sneak up, so you only notice the grip and saline crunch on the finish – and when you check the analyses it is amazing to see tannin levels towards the top of the scale.

The grapes have been picked, fermented, and the wines are in barrel.  The next stage of producers’ jobs will be pricing and release. A few chateaux have already released – before my plane home has taken off – and we are promised early releases from Las Cases, Pontet Canet and Lafite within a week – but ultimately 2023 will sink or swim on price.

Mother nature delivered a bountiful crop last year, so producers have more wine than usual to sell to a market not short of top Bordeaux.

“Early indications are that chateaux understand the market needs lower prices and there is a lot of very credible talk of wines being released at a 20-30% discount to last year.”

If this comes to fruition, 2023 could be one of those rare years in which wine lovers who aspire to buy elite Bordeaux for their cellars are able to do so at attractive prices

I would be tone deaf to the wider world to talk about unmissable wines, to encourage people to pile into 2023 en primeur or fill their boots. But I suggest you watch this space. We’ve tasted the wines and identified those we believe promise something truly special in 2023.

As the en primeur machine rumbles into life once more, we will be watching like hawks for the alignment of quality and price and highlighting these wines to our clients. This will not be the year to apply a scattergun approach to en primeur buying, but carefully selected purchases will reward patience and delight and thrill their owners when corks are pulled.

“At the right prices, 2023 should offer Bordeaux lovers a rare opportunity to top-up their cellars with Bordeaux gems, priced for drinkers at all levels.”

This is a Test 2