In some wine regions of the world, the quality of wine varies little from year to year. The reason is that the weather in some wine regions remains fairly consistent and predictable. This is particularly true in areas with Mediterranean climates. In other wine lands, such as Bordeaux, vintage means everything. The weather in Bordeaux varies enormously throughout the growing season and from one year to the next, and because weather largely determines the quality of the vintage and the resulting wine, vintage speaks volumes in the most hallowed of French appellations.
The adage in Bordeaux is June makes the quantity, August the style, and September the quality. If the flowering and subsequent berry set go well in June, growers can look forward to a bumper crop. And by August, the vignerons know roughly what to expect in style. But it’s September and, to a lesser extent, October that ultimately determine how good the Bordeaux wines will be, particularly the reds, based largely on the amount and frequency of rain that falls during those months. If a tropical depression sweeps in from the Atlantic, all bets will be off. With this said, Bordeaux has enjoyed two of the finest back to back vintages in recent memory in 2015 and 2016, and neither should be missed.
Not only is quality superb top to bottom from Grand Crus to Petits Châteaux in 2015 and 2016, subsequent vintages can hardly match this dynamic duo. Although the resulting wines are different in style, each of these vintages enjoyed ideal weather in September and October. Consequently, 2015 and 2016 produced a bevy of exciting and downright profound wines, with the red wines surpassing those even in the heretofore exceptional 2009 and 2010 vintages. Consequently, I’m putting as many 2015 and 2016 red Bordeaux in my cellar as I can afford because Bordeaux doesn’t get much better than the wines of these two vintages and neither 2017 nor 2018 can match what 2015 and 2016 have to offer.