First vintage of fine quality to emerge after the difficult four-year period between 2011 and 2014, 2015 has lived up to all the qualitative and therefore commercial expectations for a Bordeaux region that has often been disparaged and denigrated in recent years. Although vintages like 2011, 2012 and 2014 will undoubtedly gain in reputation in the coming years, 2015 has many advantages, including overall quality and quantity as well as wines that will be ready to be drunk fairly quickly.
It was enough for critics to jump on the bandwagon to tout this vintage as the most “bankable” one since 2010. The « place de Bordeaux » marketplace was quick to spread such optimism, as it was necessary for some to replenish their revenue streams.
We were more cautious in our assessment of this vintage during our “en primeur” wine tastings. Certainly, it is a very good vintage, but one with its own singularity – very low acidities, merlot behaving like cabernets and cabernets like merlots, the striking terroir character of the wines – that required, in our opinion, particular care during the crucial “elevage” phase in the cellar with special attention for the individuality of the vintage.
Maintaining the balance between low acidity, freshness, and the terroir markers, such as the distinct verticality of some Saint-Émilion wines produced from limestone soils, was essential as a gauge of success. Most of the wines have met this criterion. However, as always when faced with wines having such density and structure, some producers went too far in their winemaking choices.
Although the ‘en primeurs’ tastings showed that the wines had the requisite roundness for a very good vintage, it is nonetheless true that low acidity tends to allow coarse tannin from new oak barrels to come to the fore during the cellar-aging stage. The result can be wine that has a dry finish and a high amount of not very refined tannins. While the majority of wines from 2015 are not affected by that, there are a sufficient number of them to require mentioning here. Bottle aging will undoubtedly soften such a dry tannic edge for some, but we remain convinced that it can also highlight the problems for others.
2015 is a year that favoured the winegrowers ready to meet the challenges of the growing season. A qualitative edge went to those who harvested early. As was the case in 2016, for that matter.
By striving to keep freshness and avoid overripe grapes, they have been able to produce wines of greater precision and structured mouthfeel with that vertical dimension that is the marker of a great wine, and all of which bestow on Bordeaux wine that distinctive depth of character that had been neglected during the years of over-the-top wines made from excessively ripe grapes.
Overall, the 2015 vintage is keeping its promise. After just a few months in the bottle, the wines are fresh, fruity, and spicy, with the best of them expressing the elegance and the tension that are once again the prerogative of Bordeaux wines after years of being excessively dense and oaky in character. The era of California-style wines in Bordeaux is thankfully over.
a very good vintage, the interest for 2015 lies in the countless examples of great value. The whole region of Bordeaux has produced some superlative wines. It is an encouragement for the many unknown producers and the wide variety of fine wines that Bordeaux can offer in abundance. We urge you to try these excellent wines which, thanks to this very good vintage, provide both a certain aging-capacity and precocious pleasure. All this can surely, and we hope truly, now put an end to Bordeaux bashing!