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    Vintages of the Century? Bordeaux Best Vintages! | Watson's Wine

    Vintages of the Century? Bordeaux Best Vintages!


    One of the most famous Bordeaux “Vintages of the Century” is probably 1982, but an old vintage like it is not as accessible as we desire. In recent years, Bordeaux produces a good handful of stellar vintages as well, which are perfect for stocking up now. Let’s have a look at the vintages and know why they matter!

    What is the Vintage of a Wine? And Why it Matters?

    The Vintage of a wine refers to the year in which the grapes were harvested. The Vintage is important because the weather of a wine region varies every year. And the grapes’ quality highly depends on the weather, which can make or mar the resulting wines.

    The famous French wine region Bordeaux is located close to the Atlantic coast and has a moderate maritime climate; therefore, the weather may vary significantly from year to year. For example, in some Vintages there may be hailstorms and cold snaps, which can damage the vines and hinder the grapes from ripening fully; the unstable rainfall may dilute the flavours of the grapes and lead to mould as well. So, the Vintage variation is particularly obvious.


    In some good Vintages of Bordeaux, in which there are usually plenty of sunlight, allowing the grapes to be fully mature, the wineries can produce wines of exceptional quality; in more challenging years, with the aid of modern winemaking technology, quite a number of wineries still manage to maintain their standards. Such as some top Chateaux, they spare no expense to select the best grapes with high concentration and maturity only to make their wines. Under the not-so-good weather conditions, the qualified grapes may not be as many as usual, thereby lowering the volume of wines produced, but the quality may well be maintained.

    Good Vintages in Bordeaux

    In Bordeaux, there are some “Vintages of the Century”, or extraordinary Vintages, that all wine lovers should know, including 1982, 1990, 2000, 2005, 2009, and 2010. In the recent decade, the most outstanding ones include 2015 and 2016; as for 2018, 2019, and 2020, the wines are gradually being released to the market, and the reception is already great. The trio is even considered a rare case of having 3 good Vintages in a row!

    Calon Segur Bordeaux Medoc

    Among the remaining Vintages in the 2010s, quite a lot of Vintages shall not be underestimated too. According to the Vintage Guide of the wine critic authority Robert Parker Wine Advocate, from 2014 to the most recently released 2018, all Bordeaux left bank regions have earned a score of 90 or above, which means “Outstanding” or even “Extraordinary” Vintages.

    In particular, 2014 and 2017, which are not considered extraordinary Vintages, have above-average quality as well. While most consumers cast the spotlights on the more stellar Vintages, 2014 and 2017 generally have more affordable prices and are considered more good value picks. Moreover, the extraordinary Vintages usually require longer cellaring. If you are looking for something to enjoy earlier, 2014 and 2017 would be good choices.

    Other Factors to Consider

    Because of the weather variations across the years, even among the great Vintages, every year’s styles are different. For example, 2009 and 2010 are a pair of perfect Vintages, with the best examples showing exceptional concentration and richness. But generally, 2010 has stronger tannins and structure and may appeal to wine lovers who prefer a more classic style. We may pick the Vintage according to our own preference.

    In addition, when purchasing Bordeaux wines, apart from looking at the Vintage performance of the entire Bordeaux, we may pay attention to the sub-region variations. There are a number of appellations in Bordeaux, such as St Julien, Pauillac, St Estephe, and Margaux. Within the same Vintage, some regions may outperform others.


    Lastly, let’s not forget about the influences of wineries. In good Vintages, good wineries can realize the grapes’ potential to the fullest; in the average years, it’s more a challenge to their winemaking skills. With their expertise, the best wineries can maintain their consistency regardless of the vintage variation. On top of the pricing factor mentioned above, some wine lovers prefer to purchase wines of these Vintages from good wineries.

    How to Check the Vintages?

    If you want to check the general quality of a Vintage in different regions, you may visit the Vintage Guide/Vintage Chart of wine critic websites, such as Robert Parker Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator, where scores and brief descriptions of each Vintage are available.

    Wine Critics

    Related Articles:

    【Wine 101】The Beginner’s Guide to Bordeaux Wines
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    Médoc Under $500: Best Bordeaux Wines to Drink On