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Bordeaux En Primeur 2023: The Views of the Critics

Most of the critics are now out with their repots on the 2023 Bordeaux vintage. Like us, they found a lot to like in 2023 and, while the wines are by no means great across the board, there are some superb 2023s out there.


William Kelley

Kelley calls the 2023 Bordeaux crop, “a fascinating paradox” as while it was warm, it wasn’t particularly sunny and the hang time was long and leisurely. This meant wines “possessing—at their best—the depth, density and ripe tannin of a sunny vintage but also the vibrant, expressive aromas and flavors of a more traditionally “Atlantic” season”. He found that “The best 2023s are just as exciting as the best 2022s, even if the vintage is more varied in quality and style”.

He goes on to add, “The best 2023s exhibit the fully ripe tannins and suave, seamless mouthfeels of a sunny vintage such as 2019; yet their vibrant aromas and flavors, evocative of fresh fruits and flowers, are more indicative of a cooler year”. Indeed, he concludes that “that is so, consumers will have the opportunity to acquire exceptional wines for an attractive price”.

William Kelley’s Top 5:

Chateau Lafleur, 98-100 points

Chateau Cheval Blanc, 98-100 points

Chateau La Conseillante, 98-100 points

Chateau Montrose, 97-100 points

Chateau Petrus, 97-99 points


Neal Martin

Neal Martin terms 2023, The Dalmatian Vintage as while there wasn’t huge quality everywhere, and a good few missteps, there were spots of greatness. In a tricky growing season, he found that the producers who worked the hardest seemed to gain the best results.

This accounts for the spots of excellence scattered throughout the region. He states, “Nobody will deny that, unlike 2022, 2023 is a heterogeneous vintage. This precludes it from being a bona fide great vintage. It would sit uncomfortably on a mantelpiece alongside 2016, 2020 and 2022.” However, he goes on to say, “Just as undeniable is that some châteaux pulled out magical wines from their top hat, surpassing those aforementioned years in one or two cases.”

In terms of style, “The watchword tattooed across 2023 is ‘classicism’.” These aren’t big opulent and “Generally, the 2023s are relatively more tannic than we’ve become accustomed to, more linear and vertical.”

There are distinct advantages for Martin as this “appeals to my predilection. The best wines embrace these traits while maintaining sufficient fruit and grip, occasionally harking back to the kind of barrel samples encountered in the early days of my career, and I mean that in a good sense.”

Neal Martin’s Top 5:

Chateau Eglise Clinet, 98-100 points

Chateau Margaux, 97-99 points

Chateau Lafleur, 97-99 points

Chateau Le Pin, 97-99 points

Chateau Suduiraut, 96-98 points


Antonio Galloni

Galloni is positive from the outset, stating, “When all is said and done, 2023 has a lot to offer. It is not a great vintage across the board, yet plenty of wines merit serious attention.

He found that “The best 2023s are intensely aromatic and perfumed. Many wines are marked by bright acids, red-toned fruit and linear, vibrant tannins”

A surprise hit is Sauternes. Galloni found “the 2023s are the most exceptional group of young wines I have ever tasted here. This is an epic vintage for Sauternes and Barsac in which many wines overachieve”.

Picks are Palmer, his overall wine of the year, Figeac, an overachieving Giscours and Troplong Mondot. Domaine de Chevalier is his dry white of the year and Suduiraut is his sweet white choice. Clos St Julien and Laroque are among his under-the-radar gems.

Antonio Galloni’s Top 5:

Chateau Suduiraut, 98-100 points

Chateau Palmer, 98-100 points

Chateau Margaux, 97-100 points

Chateau Mouton Rothschild, 96-99 points

Chateau Le Pin, 96-99 points


James Suckling

Like us, Suckling was surprised by his first tastings of the 2023s. He states, “I still remember the smile on my face the first time I tasted a red 2023”.

For Suckling, there are similarities with some of the top vintages of the modern era, “I think a few vintages of the past and present compare to 2023, such as 2019 or 2016 and something older like 2001 or 1996 or 1995”. As these all had the same ripe fruit, structured tannins and lower alcohols. However, “2023 is different… the advancements in viticulture and winemaking over the last decade. The top Bordeaux viticulturalists and winemakers are much more precise and thoughtful than in the past.”

Indeed, Suckling found a high degree of consistency in 2023 across the board, “I found a very high level of quality in the 1,200 or so wines I rated” with “The big differences in wines were due to terroir specificity, viticultural precision and different winemaking methods”. He concludes, “It was the most enjoyable en primeur tasting I have done since rating 2019 from barrel, which was similarly bright.”

James Suckling’s Top 5:

Chateau Canon, 99-100 points

Chateau Le Pin, 99-100 points

Chateau Margaux, 99-100 points

Chateau Montrose, 99-100 points

Chateau Pavie, 99-100 points


Jane Anson

Anson is measured in her take, enjoying “discovering a vintage that was never going to have the wow factor of 2022, but is a reminder that Bordeaux excels in effortless construction and producing well balanced wines that are made to delight over the long term”. For her “Not everywhere has succeeded, but there are hundreds of bottles that are worth tracking down, and that you will be thrilled to discover”.

One of the real pluses of the vintage is greater terroir specificity than last year. She writes. “personally I welcome a return to a more nuanced, terroir and estate-driven feel to the wines.”

Looking at 2023 against back-vintages, she states, “In terms of where it sits within the legendary Bordeaux years, I would say that it is not up there with 2016 or 2009/2010 for sure”. However, she goes on, “I do think it is one that people will keep rediscovering, and that will bring the kind of pleasure that vintages like 2001 have done over the decades.” With 2001 one of our favourite drinking vintages, this bodes very well for the future of these 2023s.

Jane Anson’s Top 5:

Chateau Haut Brion, 98-100 points

Chateau Mouton Rothschild, 98-100 points

Chateau Lafite Rothschild, 98-100 points

Chateau Pontet Canet, 98-100 points

Chateau Cheval Blanc, 98 points

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