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   2012 En Primeur
En Primeur
Drinkaware

France Latest Vintages

Best Wine Vintages
2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007

2000:

Champagne: A very robust vintage. Spring showed much promise with an encouraging amount of growth by the end of April to the beginning of May. Buds opened in early June. July saw rainfall that was four times higher than usual and was also host to a particularly violent hailstorm, which destroyed many vines. August was sunny and dry. The torrential weather meant that acidity was low by the end of the month, but pleasant weather in September accelerated the ripening of the fruit. Sun shone for the duration of the picking. 4/5

Red Burgundy: A spring devoid of frost following a mild winter showed much initial promise. May and June were warm and dry with early flowering. Sadly, a cool and altogether tempestuous July resulted in widespread mildew and various other issues. A scorching August counteracted most of these issues. Early September was especially cold, but this picked up again by the 13th. Storms interrupted the harvest, with notable rot among the Pinot Noir, and so stringent selection was necessary. 3/5

Cote de Beaune offered some very good specimens (for example the Marquis d’Angerville and Michel Lafarge). However it is best to focus on Cotes de Nuits:
  • NUITS-SAINT-GEORGES: Robert Chevillon; J.J. Confuron; Henri Gouges.
  • VOSNE-ROMANÉE: Sylvain Cathiard; René Engel; Jean Grivot; Anne Gros; Gros Frère & Soeur; Méo-Camuzet; Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
  • CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY: Ghislaine Barthod; Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier; Georges Roumier; Comte Georges de Vogüéi
  • MOREY-SAINT-DENIS: Hubert Lignier; Lignier-Michelot; Perrot-Minot; Ponsot; Clos de Tart.
  • GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN: Denis Bachelet; Bruno Clair (Marsannay); Claude Dugat; Dugat-Py; Fourrier; Humbert Frères; Denis Mortet; Armand Rousseau
Medoc and Graves: A mild winter led into a hot, rainy spring. The early onset of summer brought considerable problems with mildew. From mid-July there was near constant sunshine, with heavy rain on the 19th and 20th September, far from being detrimental, actually quenched vines that were just beginning to feel the strain. Harvesting took place in optimum conditions over 3 weeks, with no problems during vinification. An outstanding vintage overall. 5/5

La Mission Haut-Brion is, predictably, the top dog in Graves. So too are Margaux, Latour and Leoville-Barton in the Medoc. Less illustrious names benefited from the same conditions, however, including many crus bourgeois.

Red Rhone: A damp spring meant early flowering in the north, but there was some damage to vines because of hail. An overcast July gave way to hot, dry weather in August that continued through September (interrupted notably on 21st August with heavy rainfall). In the south picking began earlier than usual – dry weather produced extremely healthy grapes with thick skins and ample tannins. 4/5

The vintage was especially good in the south, with Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Cotes du Rhone Villages producing wines of stellar quality. The north was also good, especially Condrieu. Massive yields in the north were perhaps not helpful, but yield conscious producers such as Cotie Rotie, Hermitage and Cornas fared very well indeed.

Saint-Emilion and Pomerol: An exceptional vintage, though it required much work. A damp winter meant that mildew was a danger. A scorching hot and bone-dry August and September helped reverse the vintage’s fortunes. The harvest was perfect and producers were allowed to pick grapes at optimum levels of maturity until 10th October. 5/5

Winemakers agreed that the vintage as a whole turned out to be superlative, providing the very best elements of the top wines. The Pomerols are well-rounded and vibrant, while the St-Emilions had a delicious fruity element to them, much depth and also a firm but elegant tannic structure (making ageing an attractive prospect). Keep an eye out for these producers:
  • ST-EMILION: Angélus, Ausone, Belair, Beau-Séjour Bécot, Cheval Blanc, Clos Fourtet, La Mondotte, Pavie, Pavie-Macquin, Rol Valentin, Le Tertre Roteboeuf
  • POMEROL: Clos l'Eglise, l'Eglise-Clinet, l'Evangile, Lafleur, Pétrus, Trotanoy, Vieux Château Certan
Sauternes and Barsac: Sauternes shared the hot weather of mid-July that the rest of the Bordeaux enjoyed. There was little noble rot present on the grapes by September. In early October some prime grapes were picked, but heavy rainfall on the 12th sealed the vintage’s fate. Chateau Nairac commented on how the wine was ‘correct’, yet unexciting. The discerning Chateau d’Yquem dismissed 90 percent of the yield. 2/5

Due to the rainfall affecting the whole area there was little to no regional variation. However, Broustet, Coutet, Filhot, Guiraud, Rieussec and Suduiraut produced very good wines.

White Burgundy:
A mild winter and much warmer weather in May and early June lead to early flowering. July put an end to this trend, and in Maconnais it was the wettest and coldest in fifty years. Harvesting began early and much depends on the yields, as it was a fairly large crop. The wines have a definite fruitiness to them with a good balance of acidity.

Maconnais coped better than regions further north due to higher levels of acidity – a result of the torrential weather. Chablis escaped some of the worst excesses of the rainfall, producing consistently excellent wines. Look out for these producers:
  • CHASSAGNE-MONTRACHET: Michel Colin-Déléger; Richard Fontaine-Gagnard; Jean-Noël Gagnard; Château de la Maltroye; Jean & Jean-Marc Pillot; Ramonet.
  • SAINT-AUBIN: Marc Colin; Hubert Lamy.
  • PULIGNY-MONTRACHET: Jean Boillot (Volnay); Jean-Marc Boillot (Pommard); Louis Carillon; Leflaive; Paul Pernot; Étienne Sauzet.
  • MEURSAULT: Coche-Dury; Patrick Javillier; Rémi Jobard; Lafon; Latour-Giraud; Pierre Morey; Guy Roulot.
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2001:
Champagne: A particularly miserable winter meant that flowering occurred half a month later than usual. This was partly made up for with ideal conditions in May and June. Torrential weather in July spurred many growers to green harvest. The ripening of the grapes began perfectly with soaring temperatures. Wetter, colder weather in September held up the ripening process and diluted the grapes somewhat. Selective picking was needed. 3/5 - overall rather watery wines that lack richness of flavour.

Red Burgundy: 2001 was a gloomy year in general. The flowering was late coming, leading to unbalanced levels of ripeness during harvest. July was especially miserable and only dried up towards the very end of the month. A hailstorm on 2nd August caused significant damage in Volnay and part of Monthelie and Pommard. The rest of August was fine however, and thickened the skins of the grapes. September was overcast with intermittent showers. Many growers doubled the amount of pickers out in the field, fearing that they would not have enough time before bad weather set in. 4/5 – very fruity wines with great structure and constitution.

Look out for these producers:
  • BEAUJOLAIS: Dom. Aucoeur, Morgon; Château de Bellevue, Morgon (Jadot); Patrick Bouland, Morgon; André Collange, Fleurie; Thierry Descombes, Juliénas; Dom. Desperrier, Moulin à Vent; Bernard Douzel, Morgon; Jean Foillard, Morgon; Dom. Franchet, Côte de Brouilly; Château des Jacques, Moulin à Vent (Jadot); Château de Juliénas/MM Condemine; Hubert Lapierre, Chenas and Moulin à Vent; Dom. de la Madone, Fleurie; Jean-Pierre Margerand, Château de Moulin à Vent; Juliénas; Michel Tête, Juliénas; Joseph Pellerin, Fleurie; Domaine du Petit Puits/Gilles Méziat, Chiroubles; Olivier Rabier, Fleurie; Chateau de Raousset, Chiroubles; Château Thivin, Brouilly; Plus the estate selections of Georges Duboeuf, Paul Beaudet, Loron and Mommessin.
  • CÔTE CHALONNAISE René Bourgeon; Luc Brintet; Faiveley; Jacquesson; Joblot; Michel Juillot; Bruno Lorenzon; François Lumpp; Rodet, François Racquillet; Clos Salomon.
  • CÔTE DE BEAUNE Comte Armand; Château de Chorey; Lucien Jacob; Jean-Marc Pavelot; Plus the selections of Bouchard Père & Fils; Chanson, Vincent Girardin; Jadot and Nicolas Potel.
  • CÔTE DE NUITS Arlaud Père & Fils; Denis Bachelet; Sylvain Cathiard; Robert Chevillon; Bernard Dugat-Py; Faiveley; Fourrier; Gouges; Jean Grivot; Robert Groffier, Hubert Lignier; Alain Michelot; Dr. Georges Mugneret; Armand Rousseau and De Vogüé. Plus the selections of Joseph Drouhin, Louis Jadot and Nicolas Potel.
Medoc and Graves: A very wet winter led into a surprisingly mild season. Vines reacted early, though this was hindered somewhat by a damaging frost in the middle of April. May and June were dry and so flowering went without a hitch. Early July was cold and damp, but ended warm and dry. August was very hot with normal rainfall, resulting in prime conditions for ripening. For dry whites conditions were truly perfect, resulting in examples that are bustling with refined aromas and loaded with refreshing fruity flavours - all balanced with crisp acidity.
  • PAUILLAC: Mouton produced wines of slightly better qualities than the other premier crus. Lafite and Latour were a very close second, while both Pichons and Clerc-Milon were an equally close third.
  • MARGAUX: Chateau Margaux was top dog while Giscours, Rauzan-Segla and Brane-Cantenac came close.
  • SAINT JULIEN: Uniformly excellent results here. Gruaud-Larose, Beaucaillou, all three Leovilles and Beycheville all performed brilliantly.
  • GRAVES: Unsurprisingly Haut-Brion and Pape-Clement were the forerunners, while La Mission and Fieuzal were hot on their heels.
Red Rhone: September was the real focus of this year, when northerly winds and fine weather caused the grapes to concentrate. Acidity and tannins reached good levels as a result. The summer was dry, and so the real task at hand was curbing the excess crop. Premium wines benefited from ideal tannic structures.

Cotie Rotie had a very complete year, with wines incorporating the early acidity. Hermitage and Cornas had similarly excellent year. Both St Josephs and Crozes have great ageing potential. Vacqueyras, Gigondas and Chateauneuf had tannic support and much ripeness. Sablet, Cairanne, Rasteau, Seguret and Beaunes-de-Venise all performed greatly. In terms of producers stick to the famous names, though many smaller owners did extremely well.

Saint-Emilion and Pomerol: A mild but torrential winter led to flowering taking place early towards the end of May. The temperature was very high, regularly reaching 30 Celsius. The persistently warm, dry weather helped the grapes develop steadily. Ripening was held up by rapid shifts in temperature and sudden storms. September and October were very mild and dry, offering ideal conditions for harvesters as they could wait for peak maturity before picking.
  • SAINT EMILION: Cheval Blanc is top of the pile, with Cheval Blanc close behind. Pavie and Angelus were close competitors.
  •  POMEROL: L’Evangile is truly impeccable, while Vieux-Chateau-Certan and Nenin also performed well.
Sauternes and Barsac: Perfect conditions persisted through August and September, while October was graced with optimum Botrytis weather. Frequent rainfall, cooler nights and gentle breezes with low humidity all encouraged the fungus to take hold. This concentrated the musts, providing vividly aromatic wines. 5/5 -
  • SAUTERNES: The prestigious d’Yquem and Rieussec were the top performers. Guiraud, de Malle and Suduiraut also produced wines of great distinction.
  • BARSAC: Coutet produced the best wines here, though Doisy-Vedrines, Doisy-Daene, De Myrat and Nairac produced wines of supreme quality also.
White Burgundy: A damp, cool and overcast year. Flowering came late and went slowly, which resulted in uneven ripeness. July was wet and cold and only began to dry up towards the end of the month. A hailstorm on the 2nd August caused much damage, but the remainder of the month was calm, which helped thicken the skins of the grapes. September was clouded over and cool, with irregular showers during harvest time. 4/5 – Crisp with alluring mineral hints. Look out for the producers listed below:
  • MACONNAIS: Bret Bros; Cordier; Corsin; Ferret; Guffens-Heynen; Lafon; Olivier Merlin; Saumaize; Saumaize-Michelin; Rijckart; Soufrandise; Valette.
  • CÔTE CHALONNAISE: Aladame; Vincent Dureuil-Janthial; Domaine de La Folie; Grangemoulin; Jacquesson; Michel Juillot; François Lummp.
  • CÔTE D'OR: Bonneau du Martray; Carillon; Coche-Dury; Marc Colin; Colin-Déléger; Jean-Noël Gagnard; Javillier; Lafon; Hubert Lamy; Latour-Giraud; Leflaive; Chateau de la Maltroye; Ramonet; Roulot; Sauzet. Plus négociants Bouchard Père & Fils, Drouhin, Girardin and Jadot.
  • CHABLIS: Alain Besson; Billaud-Simon; R & V Dauvissat; Droin; Drouhin; William Fèvre; Dom. des Malandes; Raveneau; Louis Michel; Christian Moreau; Gérard Tremblay.
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2002:
Champagne: A warm, dry year in general. August took off with a few bursts of rain followed by soaring temperatures and thunderstorms. Rain persisted throughout early September, with the rest of the month easing into sunny weather that lasted throughout the harvest. 4/5 – very good quality with an unusual, though pleasant, ripeness not usually found in Champagne.

Red Burgundy: A cold May hindered flowering. July and August were hot and dry, devoid of thunderstorms. However the dryness persisted into September, putting strain on the vines. This trend ended with excessive downpours, though this wasn’t too detrimental. Fine weather made harvesting easier.
  • BEAUJOLAIS: Dom. Aucoeur, Morgon; Château de Bellevue, Morgon (Jadot); Patrick Bouland, Morgon; André Collange, Fleurie; Thierry Descombes, Juliénas; Dom. Desperrier, Moulin à Vent; Bernard Douzel, Morgon; Jean Foillard, Morgon; Dom. Franchet, Côte de Brouilly; Château des Jacques, Moulin à Vent (Jadot); Château de Juliénas/MM Condemine; Hubert Lapierre, Chenas and Moulin à Vent; Dom. de la Madone, Fleurie; Jean-Pierre Margerand, Château de Moulin à Vent; Juliénas; Michel Tête, Juliénas; Joseph Pellerin, Fleurie; Domaine du Petit Puits/Gilles Méziat, Chiroubles; Olivier Rabier, Fleurie; Chateau de Raousset, Chiroubles; Château Thivin, Brouilly; Plus the estate selections of Georges Duboeuf, Paul Beaudet, Loron and Mommessin.
  • CÔTE CHALONNAISE René Bourgeon; Luc Brintet; Faiveley; Jacquesson; Joblot; Michel Juillot; Bruno Lorenzon; François Lumpp; Rodet, François Racquillet; Clos Salomon.
  • CÔTE DE BEAUNE Marquis d'Angerville; Comte Armand; Roger Belland; Billard-Gonnet; Simon Bize; Jean Boillot; Château de Chorey; Coste-Caumartin; Jean-Marc Giboulot; Lucien Jacob; Michel Lafarge; Lucien Muzard; René Lequin-Colin; Jean-Marc Pavelot; Aleth Le Royer-Girardin; Plus the selections of Bouchard Père & Fils; Chanson, Vincent Girardin; Jadot and Nicolas Potel.
  • CÔTE DE NUITS Arlaud Père & Fils; Denis Bachelet; Ghislaine Barthod; Sylvain Cathiard; Jean Chauvenet; Robert Chevillon; Claude Dugat; Bernard Dugat-Py; René Engel; Faiveley; Fourrier; Gouges; Jean Grivot; Robert Groffier, Anne Gros; Michel Gros; Gros Frère & Soeur; Alain Hudelot-Noëllat; Clos des Lambrays; Liger-Belair; Hubert Lignier; Méo-Camuzet; Alain Michelot; Dr. Georges Mugneret; J.F. Mugnier; Dom. Roumier; Armand Rousseau, Clos de Tart and De Vogüé. Plus the selections of Joseph Drouhin, Louis Jadot and Nicolas Potel.
Medoc and Graves: Weather was chaotic in the Medoc. November and December was host to very poor conditions, while spring and summer boasted soaring temperatures. Bad weather again reared its head in June, which hampered fertilisation – particularly on the Merlot. North-east winds dried the grapes which reduced volume by a whopping 15-20%. September was extremely sunny, racking up over 52 hours of sunshine. Extremely violent storms hit on the 20th and 21st of September, causing tremendous damage – albeit in small areas. The harvest period was bright and sunny, which permitted optimum grape ripeness. Although the grapes were small in terms of size, they were otherwise in fine condition. 4/5

Wines produced in Saint Estephe, Saint Julien, Margaux, Pauillac, Listrac, Pessac-Leognan and Moulis are of great quality. The dry whites of the Graves region uniformly benefited from the conditions.

Red Rhone: The north Rhone suffered from several issues including sketchy, uneven flowering, violent hailstorms and widespread rot. Yields were less than 60% of the average. July and August had neither a positive nor negative influence on viticulture. Meanwhile, the southern Rhone was burdened with intense torrential weather and floods during the first week of September. Crops were down by almost 50 percent across the board. 3/5 – A poor vintage in the south, while some wines have classic distinction in the north.

Wines from the north have a fighting chance this year – the fruit is gummy in texture and not particularly clear. In the south wines should be drunk early. For good quality wines stick with the big names, although the poor conditions have had little impact on prices.

Saint-Emilion and Pomerol: Problematic flowering lead to uneven grape growth. A wet summer with low temperatures resulted in widespread rot. Fortunately four weeks of hot, bright weather in September went some way to rectifying the situation. Weather remained fair for most of the harvest and remained warm. 4/5

Sauternes and Barsac: Whereas the four weeks of high temperatures in September saved the vintage for many other producers, sadly it was not conducive to botrytis – resulting in rather lighter wines than usual. Drink early. 2/5

White Burgundy:
Flowering was staggered somewhat due to a cool late spring. July and August were dry and warm, but not scorching, and therefore devoid of any thunderstorms. By September vines were struggling a little due to an absence of rainfall, however. The much needed rain came in time and lead into a fair spell of weather. A chilly northerly wind concentrated the fruit whilst maintaining appropriate levels of acidity. 5/5 - an excellent vintage with much ageing potential.
  • MACONNAIS: Bret Bros; Cordier; Corsin; Ferret; Guffens-Heynen; Lafon; Olivier Merlin; Saumaize; Saumaize-Michelin; Rijckairt; Soufrandise; Valette.
  • CÔTE CHALONNAISE: Aladame; Vincent Dureuil-Janthial; Domaine de La Folie; Grangemoulin; Jacquesson; Michel Juillot; François Lummp; A & P. de Villaine.
  • CÔTE D'OR: Bonneau du Martray; Carillon; Coche-Dury; Marc Colin; Colin-Déléger; Jean-Noël Gagnard; Javillier; Lafon; Hubert Lamy; Latour-Giraud; Leflaive; Chateau de la Maltroye; Ramonet; Roulot; Sauzet. Plus négociants Bouchard Père & Fils, Drouhin, Girardin and Jadot.
  • CHABLIS: Alain Besson; Billaud-Simon; R & V Dauvissat; Droin; Drouhin; William Fèvre; Dom. des Malandes; Louis Michel; Christian Moreau; Raveneau; Gérard Tremblay.
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2003:
Champagne: A chilly winter lead into a warm March, with budding beginning in April. Sadly this promising start was marred with a series of damaging frosts and snow in early April – taking its toll on the vulnerable buds. May and June were thankfully warm and flowering took place early by June 9th.

June witnessed soaring temperatures and the occasional hailstorm – fortunately the damage was extremely localised. July and August were hot and dry, which increased sugars in the grapes and caused a drop in acidity. Picking began in late August during ideal weather. 3/5 – extremely ripe with good aromas and fruitiness, though lacking slightly in complexity.

Red Burgundy:
A humid winter and early spring spurred early growth in vines. Sadly this promising start was halted in its tracks with the onset of heavy frosts. The mild weather picked up again and flowering began early – a full three weeks earlier than usual in fact. Soaring temperatures that remained at a peak, coupled with very low rainfall, meant that some grapes dried out entirely. As a result the harvest was so early it broke records, when picking began on 13th August. The boiling temperatures and absence of moisture resulted in very low yields – a full 50 percent less than average. 4/5 - A high quality, flamboyant wine that is certainly worth cellaring.

Medoc and Graves: In 2003 Bordeaux experienced the hottest summer on record. The usual problem of reaching maximum ripeness was trivially easy this year. By late March the ever-warmer weather had resulted in accelerated growth, with bud break occurring a week ahead of schedule. Sadly this left vines vulnerable to April frosts, though this did not cause too much damage. May was tempestuous and choppy, which did little for flowering. June, July and August were uniformly sweltering, with temperatures exceeding 40 Celsius on a regular basis. A heat wave of three weeks without any rainfall whatsoever put enormous strain on the vines, whilst roasting and hardening the grape skins. The harvest of whites began in mid-August while reds were picked in early September – sometimes in less than ideal conditions. Those who held their nerve, despite the risk of bad weather, allowed the grapes to ripen fully and were rewarded with higher quality wines. 3/5

Red Rhone: The scorching 2003 summer had an interesting impact on the Rhone region.

In the South the water table was high after the heavy downpours of autumn 2002, and so overall the region withstood the heat well. Old vines with deep, extensive root systems fared better than younger specimens.

In the North the heat was stratospheric, reaching an astonishing 60 Celsius among the hillside vines. This sort of temperature led to very early harvests. By the 26th August nearly all growers had completed picking.

In the best examples this soaring heat led to great concentration of flavour. 4/5 – Full wines with ripe tannins.

Saint-Emilion and Pomerol: Quite a chaotic year for this region. First off, a hailstorm on April 28th devastated areas of Saint-Emilion. Next came a mini-tornado, of all things, that struck on June 24th – fortunately it caused only localised damage. Finally the hot weather set in, with sub-tropical temperatures putting strain on the grapes.

Thankfully light rain fell throughout a mainly calm, sunny September. When picked the grapes were in fantastic condition. However, the yield was much lower than average. 4/5 – Powerful wines with a lot of flesh on their tannic bones.

Sauternes and Barsac: The Semillon grapes benefited from the summer heat and drought, with sugars becoming concentrated. Light rainfall came in early September and botrytis soon set in. Alternating temperatures during further helped concentration. The result? The highest sugar-levels in many years, combined with high alcohol content. Delicious aromas of apricots are to be found. 4/5 – Concentrated, sweet wines that are both powerful and structured.

White Burgundy: The scorching temperatures of 2003 took their toll on many growers, especially those who didn’t manage their vineyards correctly to prevent grape scorching. A number of wines turned out to be extremely ripe and flabby. However, a number of successful wines did emerge – particularly from older vineyards. The harvest was complete by 1st September.

Look out for wines from Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault and the wines of Domaine Patrick Javillier.

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2004:
Champagne: Budding began in early April with flowering taking place by the end of June. Good conditions meant that high yields were in danger of compromising grape quality, and so thinning measures were adopted by responsible growers. August was wet and cool to begin with, but sunshine made an appearance towards the end of the month – ripening the grapes and concentrating sugars. Rainfall was low while nights were cool during September – ideal conditions for harvesting. 4/5 – Exceptional quality with superb balance between acidity and fruitiness.

Red Burgundy: The year began with promise with mild temperatures and a lack of frost. May was warm but became chilly, stunting the flowering. Then summer came, and with it heavy rainfall. This damp, torrential weather meant that mould was a constant danger. Those who cut back the leaf canopy and green harvested consistently ended up with the best grapes.

Terrible hailstorms hit the Cote de Beaune in August which totally ravaged sections of Pommard, Volnay, Beaune and Savigny. Especially cruel was the way in which some vineyards were spared while others suffered up to 90 percent devastation. Complete failure was averted by sunshine during late August, complete with a drying northerly wind. Hotter afternoons and cooler nights helped grapes develop good colour, ripeness and acidity. Harvest took place in the latter half of September without complications.

Medoc and Graves: After 2003’s sky-high temperatures, 2004 was a more sedate affair. A dry, sunny June resulted in uniform flowering. Temperatures in July, August and September were still way above average. Rainfall was more consistent than in 2003, and unusually so for the region. A warm, sunny spell through September and early October sped ripening along nicely and allowed grapes to be picked at their best. 4/5 – much fruit concentration with striking acidity.

Red Rhone: Ideal conditions all round. A warm, mild spring and summer with refreshing rains in August. This was rounded off with a long, cool and altogether dry autumn which allowed perfect levels of ripeness to develop. Extremely good quality across the board – particularly in Saint-Joseph, Vinsobres, Chateaneuf, Cornas, Beaumes-de-Venise, Cotes du Rhones-Villages. In terms of producers look out for Alain Graillot and Domaine Coursodon. 4/5 – Balanced, fruity and pure wines.

Saint-Emilion and Pomerol: A dry, sunny June permitted a rapid and even flowering process across the board. July, August and September were especially hot and well above the thirty years average. Rainfall came steady while September and October were dry and sunny, allowing for optimum levels of ripeness.

The yield was massive and even the most ruthless green-harvesters found their expectations had been surpassed by ten or even twenty percent. 4/5 – Deep, alluring wines with correct structure.

Sauternes and Barsac: A mild, sunny and warm year with consistent rainfall. September and October were dry and warm as in other regions – however, rain from 11th October reduced quality. A small amount of quality botrytised wine will be around, but overall this is not an overly great year. 3/5 – Balanced wine rich in botrytis from the better producers.

White Burgundy: A good start with very successful flowering. June and July were, however, quite cool and this coincided with an outbreak of mildew. August was overcast when the sunlight was most direly needed for ripening, while rain swelled the berries. September was, however, absolutely perfect in all respects. The sky was clear with much light, while a northerly wind helped concentrate the sugars and acidity within the grapes. Harvesting took place as late as possible prior to October’s rain. 3/5 – Good wines from the best producers – however, acidity is a little sharp and racy.

Look out for wines from St Aubin, Mersault and Auxey Duresses.

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2005:
Champagne: After a cold but dry winter bud break took place in April. Mild temperatures and rainfall from August into June served to support excellent growth, with flowering taking place in mid-June.

The summer was not particularly hot, but was instead warm and wet. August was dry but much cooler than average. These conditions resulted in good development, while a scorching period from 26th August onwards gave grapes the opportunity to ripen. September was ideal with clear days and cool nights. 3/5

Red Burgundy: Very good weather conditions in general. Rain fell on 19th August, which averted the risk of drought. The grapes were harvested in early September and had excellent balance between sugar and acidity. Uniformly excellent. 5/5 – Silky, generous and decadent. Ripe yet fresh with decent ageing potential.

Medoc and Graves: A bone dry year with tiny amounts of rainfall from May to August. This changed in September when showers broke out, before drying winds set in prior to harvest. Acidity, sugar and extract are all excellent and there was no heat damage. 5/5 – Exceptional vintage.

Red Rhone: A vintage bordering on the utopian, from spring right up to September. Rainfall was minimal throughout the season, and bordered on drought conditions. However, temperatures were lower than the scorching 2003/2004 vintages – this meant that vines remained unstressed and grapes could maintain good levels of acidity.

Storms in early September quenched the soils, followed by the Mistral which dehydrated the grapes and concentrated the flavours during harvesting. Look out for these producers:
  • CHATEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE: Domaine de la Solitude, Clos des Papes, Chateau de Beaucastel, Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Domaine Versino, Domaine Font de Michelle, Domaine Giraud.
  • COTIE-ROTIE: Delas Freres, Clusel-Roch, Rene Rostaing, Yves Cuilleron.
  • HERMITAGE: Ferraton Pere & Fils, Cvae de Tain, Domaine du Colombier, Paul Jaboulet Aine.
  • CdR-V: Domaine du Mas de Ste-Croix, Domaine Ste-Anne.
  • GIGONDAS: Domaine La Roubine.
  • CORNAS: Johann Michel, Domaine Courbis, Domaine Vincent Paris, Eric & Joel Durand, Domaine du Tunnel.
  • VACQUEYRAS: Montirius.
Saint-Emilion and Pomerol: Flowering began on 23rd May and was helped along with fantastic summer weather. Rainfall was limited throughout the year. Harvest began a fortnight earlier than usual, with quality being described by Christian Moueix as ‘impeccable’. This early harvest was borne out of fears that the heavy rain forecast for the harvest weeks would have a negative impact on grape quality. Sure enough during 9-10th of September heavy rain fell. Those who opted to pick after these rains found that their grapes were not as high quality compared to the cautious growers on the Left Bank who picked early. 4/5

Sauternes and Barsac: Unsurprisingly it was the pervasive drought that defined this region’s year, as with the rest of Bordeaux. Hot, dry years such as this always tend to produce classic vintages in Sauternes (as with 2003, 1949, 1921, 1906 and 1899). Too much dryness, however, and the cherished botrytis – known as noble rot – cannot take hold. Thankfully from 8th-12th September more rain fell than for August, July and May put together. What followed was a perfect lop of morning fogs and afternoon sunshine – absolutely perfect for the noble rot, and for concentrating sugars. Harvest took place in late September, with grapes being of exceptional quality. Look out for these producers:
  • SAUTERNES: Chateaux d’Yquem, Rieussac, Lafaurie-Peyraguey, de Fargues, de Rayne Vigneau, La Tour Blanche, Suduiraut, Giraud.
  • BARSAC: Chateaux Climens, Nairac, Coutet.
White Burgundy: Whilst the reds were astonishing, Burgundy’s whites fell a little short of the mark. The extended winter only ended around 10th March, which killed off all the pests and bugs. April and May upped the water table before the 2005 drought conditions set in. The whites overall suffered more from the drought, and this stress reduced acidity. Overall however these are very good quality wines. 4/5 – Vibrant, fruity wines that are up-front. Concentrated, but never heavy. Lacking in acidity needed for very long ageing.

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2006:
Champagne: This vintage was set apart by its unusually hot June and July. This was followed by a humid and wet August which posed the risk of squandering the early summer promise – these conditions were perfect for mildew and botrytis. Fortunately September brought sun and heat, and an extended harvest took place in optimum conditions, with grapes reaching peak maturity. 4/5 – It is still too early to say whether or not this will be a vintage year, but quality looks promising. Wines display richness, finesse and alluring aromas.

Red Burgundy:
A cold, wet winter led into an equally cold and wet spring. Flowering came late but was uniform and with lots of foliage. Temperatures in July were extremely high – even higher than in 2003. As a result by August the vines were way ahead of schedule by about three weeks. Wet and cool weather slowed this maturation down somewhat, and also brought risk of botrytis. September was a bright, clear affair with a smattering of rain mid-harvest. 3/5 – Pure and fruity but lacking in ripeness. Ageing potential is fairly limited across the board as these are precocious wines.

Medoc and Graves: An altogether precarious vintage, with weather verging on the chaotic. Winter was cold and wet, which raised the water tables after the drought of 2005. Scorching mid-summer temperatures scorched the grapes, while a damp, soggy September caused problems during harvesting and increased risk of rot. 4/5 - Quite tough wines, great for those who like their wines tannic and chewy. None of the flesh or ripeness of 2005 or 2003, but far better than 1999. The tannic structure may mean this will develop into a classic vintage akin to 1996.

Reds: Clerc-Milon, Haut-Bailly, Leoville Barton, Boyd-Cantenac, Duhart-Milon, Pontet Canet.

Whites: Haut-Brion, Laville Haut Brion, Domaine de Chevailer.

Red Rhone: A pleasant spring, hot June/July with some beneficial rain and a bright, clear September. 4/5 – A very good vintage with elegance and nuance. Look out for these producers:

Jean-Michel Gerin, Stephane Ogier, Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Beaucastel.

Saint-Emilion and Pomerol:
Budding took place later than usual after a cold winter, but things sped up with the onset of warm, sunny weather right up until the end of July. Pomerol especially benefited from these ideal growing conditions. A disappointing August put a stopper on hopes for a truly brilliant vintage, as ripening was retarded. Cabernet Franc struggled to reach maturity at all.

Sunshine in September went some way towards reversing the situation, but a rainy spell mid-month disrupted picking and resulted in rot. Only those who were fastidiously selective in their harvesting met with any real success. Saint-Emilion growers were so badly affected by rot that growers had to choose whether to pick before full ripeness or risk low yields and tired flavours. This vintage is really a case of individual quality, and so generalisations are difficult to make. 3/5 – uneven quality, especially in Saint-Emilion. Pomerol could perhaps deserve four stars, with many wines displaying richness of flavour and finesse. Ideal for medium-term drinking. Look out for these producers:
  • POMEROL: L’Eglise Clinet, Vieux Chateau Certan, Lafleur, Hosanna, Le Gay, L’Evangile, Le Conseillante, Providence, Rouget, Petrus.
  • SAINT-EMILION: Figeac, Ausone, La Dome, Pavie, La Mondotte, Beausejour-Becot, Beausejour (Duffau-Lagarrosse), Pavie Macquin, Troplong Mondot, Canon, Angelus, Monbousquet, Trotte Vieille, Fonplegade, Cos d’Estournel.
Sauternes and Barsac: A year of high stakes. Fruit was extremely ripe due to high temperatures during July and September. A cool August bestowed the grapes with great freshness, but also encouraged the presence of grey rot.

Torrential weather in mid-September surprised growers who were lured into a false sense of security by clear forecasts. From 14th-18th September 100mm of rain soaked the Sauternes, with rain persisting until the 25th.

Semillon bunches on early ripening soils had split skins in the centre with acetic spoilage, while bunches on later maturing slopes saw little botrytis until late September. It was only through crop thinning, green harvesting and sorting that the vintage’s potential could be salvaged. Remarkably many growers pulled this off. 3/5 – A formidable harvest but with much potential. These wines have a cool purity about them, which is both fresh and complex and ideal for drinking in the short and long term. Look out for these producers:
  • BARSAC: Chateaux Climens, Coutet, Nairac, Doisy-Daene, Doisy-Vedrines.
  • SAUTERNES: Chateaux d’Yquem, Giraud, La Tour Blanche, Rieussec, de Malle, Suduiraut, de Farguses, Sigalas Rabaud, Romer du Hayot.
White Burgundy: Rain and snow during the winter raised the water tables after the veritable droughts of 2005. From the 30th May onwards the weather clear, hot and sunny which meant that flowering took place on 13th June amid near perfect conditions. July was hot and very dry and drought was a constant worry until a hailstorm on the 27th provided much needed moisture – and a fair bit of damage in Chambolle and Gevrey.

August was cooler and wetter than average. September picked up and ripening was accelerated, especially for the white grapes. Harvesting began on the 18th officially, but many began earlier as grapes were fully ready.

These wines are more aromatic than the previous year, with fleshiness and good structure. Acidity is not too high, which may suit some drinkers. Quite a few of these wines will be delicious whilst young while some, those who picked earlier especially, will have much ageing potential. 4/5 – Fresh acidity with supporting fruity characters. This is generally a precocious vintage.

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2007:
Champagne: April saw peculiarly high temperatures and flowering took place a full month earlier than usual. However, this was far from uniform in terms of development among parcels. A cold, damp summer meant ripening was sketchy and brought with it the risk of rot.

From the 24th August good weather returned, combined with a drying east wind. Harvesting began earlier than usual – even though the summer was dreary, the early flowering had shifted the whole season forward by a month. 3/5 – it is too early to decide whether this will be a vintage year.

Red Burgundy: The hottest April in half a century kicked the vintage off, but from May to August the weather was lacklustre. Frequent showers and little sunshine meant that mildew and the dreaded grey rot reared their head. Growers had to be vigilant and treat vineyards extensively, while grapes struggled to mature.

A warm late August and brisk, sunny September saved the vintage. Skins ripened and sugar levels rose, while the winds put a stop to the widespread rot. The late harvest became an early one. However, yields from the year were reduced by a whole fifth. 4/5 – Aromatic, sophisticated wines with fine but structured tannins. Fruity and accessible, but with drastically different styles due to the haphazard nature of the year. Look out for these key producers:

Pierre Damoy (Chambertin-Clos de Beze, Arnand Rousseau (Gevrey-Chambertin), Comte Liger-Belair (La Romanee), Henri Gouges (Nuits-St-Georges), Comte Georges de Vogue (Chambolle-Musigny), Nicolas Rossignol-Jeanniard (Volnay), Pierre Damoy (Chambertin), Domaine Josepth Voillot (Pommard).

Medoc and Graves: A mild February meant that budburst began 10 days earlier than usual towards the end of March. Then came the hottest April since 1949. Sadly, this promising start was put to waste with the arrival of a miserable, damp May. This trend persisted until August, and mildew was always playing on the minds of growers. Much maintenance was required.

August was not this vintage’s salvation, however. It began warm and sunny but the dreary weather soon returned. The result was uneven development and by September growers had become very anxious. Then came 64 days of uninterrupted sunshine and a long, drawn-out harvest began.

Those who had the capability to perform rigorous maintenance on the vineyards benefited most from this year. 3/5 – a mixed bag. The best wines are to be found from the top chateaux, and these are fruity, soft, elegant but with little ageing potential. Look out for these producers:

Red: All first growths.
  • MARGAUX Ch. Palmer, Giscours, Rauzan-Segla.
  • SAINT-ESTEPHE: Ch. Cos d’Estournel, Montrose.
  • PAUILLAC: Ch. Pontet-Canet.
  • SAINT-JULIEN: Ch. Leoville Las Cases, Ducru-Beaucaillou, Leoville Barton, Leoville Poyferre.
  • PESSAC: Ch. Mission-Haut-Brion, de Fieuzal, Haut-Bergey.
  • HAUT-MEDOC: La Tour Carnet.
Pessac Whites: Ch. Haut-Brion, Laville Haut-Brion, Larrivet Haut-Brion, Picque-Caillou.

Red Rhone: An especially warm, dry spring resulted in early budding and dense canopies in the North. This was followed by a long, cool and altogether wet growing season with growers being haunted by the ever-present spectre of mildew. Brisk, bright summer during September reversed this situation. Grape sugars rose with earnest and the drying winds restored health.

The South saw a wet spring and a dry, hot summer with little rainfall from mid-June to mid-September. The Mistral was a bulwark against disease, and growers could afford to wait as long as possible for the ripest tannins. 5/5 – An exceptional vintage in the South, with wines that are bold, steady, fruity and splendorous. Low acidity means early maturation, however. The Northern Rhone provides wines with great structure, colour and crispness. Look out for these producers:
  • HERMITAGE: Ferraton Pere & Fils, Chapoutier, Chave.
  • COTE-ROTIE: Guigal, Michel Ogier.
  • CHATEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE: Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateau Rayas, Bosquet des Papes, Domaine Bois de Boursan, Paul Autard, Domaine de la Janasse, Domaine du Pegau, Pierre Usseglio, Clos Saint-Jean, Clos des Papes, Domaine Roger Sabon, Clos du Mont-Olivet, Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Domaine Mathieu.
  • GIGONDAS: Chateau de Saint Cosme, Domaine La Roubine.
  • COTES-DU-RHONE-VILLAGES: Cave le Gravilla, Domaine de lAmauve, Domaine Marie Blanche, Domaine La Fourmente.
Saint-Emilion and Pomerol: Both the Left and Right bank experienced the same conditions. A very warm April (the warmest in half a century) set the scene, while a rainy May boosted growing considerably – the result being one of the earliest flowerings on record. June, July and August were disappointing, however. Mildew was rife and constant vigilance on the part of the growers was necessary to preserve any kind of quality. The wealthiest estates fared best in these conditions.

Autumn ripening was so direly needed that most chateaux put off harvesting, using every sunny day available. 3/5 – Some good wines for early drinking – floral notes, light fruitiness and fine, graceful tannins. Look out for these producers:
  • SAINT-EMILION: Ch. Le Dome, Ausone, Aavie, Angelus, Pavie-Macquin, Tertre Roteboeuf, Le Carre, Les Asteries.
  • POMEROL: Ch. Lafleur, L’Eglise Clinet, La Conseillante, Petrus, Clos L’Eglise, Vieux Chateau Certan.
Sauternes and Barsac: Unlike the rest of the Bordeaux, Sauternes succeeded in making truly glorious wines this year. It suffered from the very same weather problems (torrential, damp, overcast) from May to the end of August. The difference here was that botrytis determined the quality of the wines, and so the region was able to capitalise on excellent autumn weather. Uneven ripeness became a crucial bonus this year, through the influence of the noble rot. 4/5 – outstanding vintage that has both elegance and richness, balance and breed. Very refreshing. Look out for these producers:
  • SAUTERNES: Ch Suduiraut, Rieussec, Rayne Vigneau, d’Yquem, de Fargues, Lafaurie-Peyraquey, La Tour Blanche.
  • BARSAC: Ch. Climens, Coutet, Doisy-Daene.
White Burgundy: A mild March and record-busting April saw flowering get off to a great start. Sadly the damp summer was just around the corner and with it the threat of mildew, rot and the fear that grapes would never even ripen. Much effort was required to keep the vineyards healthy.

A warm tail-end of August and breezy, sunny September saved the vintage. Growers held off for as long as possible for maximum maturity. Corp sorting was necessary for high quality wines, and so lowered the yield considerably. 4/5 – outstanding with a brisk, almost fiery acidity, fruitiness that reflects the terroir and good ageing potential. Keep an eye out for these producers:

Comte Lafon (Meursault), Etienne Sauzet (Montrachet/Puligny-Montrachet), Jean-Marc Boillot (Puligny-Montrachet), Jean-Marc Roulot (Meursault), Leflaive (Bienvenues-Bâtard-/Puligny-Montrachet), Marc Colin (Bâtard-Montrachet), Bonneau du Martray (Corton-Charlemagne), Bruno Colin (Chassagne-Montrachet), Colin-Morey (Puligny-Montrachet), Fabien & Christina Moreau (Chablis), Henri Germain (Meursault), Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin (Chablis), Vincent Dauvissat (Chablis).

 

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