Bordeaux 2017: The Wine Advocate’s scores are in

Bordeaux 2017: The Wine Advocate’s scores are in

Monday 30th April 2018
by Tom Jenkins

We thoroughly enjoyed our week tasting 2017s from barrel. We loved the style, the aromatics, the precision and the freshness of the best wines. 

We thought it would be a vintage that would appeal to those who like restraint and charm, dare we say it, something for a European palate (we are still European for the time being…). Lisa Perrotti-Brown, the new Bordeaux correspondence for the influential Wine Advocate is also smitten, awarding three wines 97-100 points and numerous scores into the high nineties. Please find an overview of her thoughts below.

"The greatest 2017 wines are generally medium-bodied, elegant, and perfumed with beautifully ripe tannins and fully expressed aroma/flavor compounds. They possess the structure and intensity of fruit to evolve incredibly and be very long-lived…

…No, it is not 2015 or 2016. Stylistically, 2017 is a far cry from either of its two former vintages. The one thing that is not up for dispute: 2017 is not a universally great vintage across Bordeaux, nor is it as consistently great as 2015 or 2016. However, there are singularities and sometimes pockets of extraordinary wines that certainly should not be dismissed or missed by wine lovers. And there are a few estates that produced wines equal to or better than their 2015s, with particular reference to vineyards in Saint-Estephe and Pauillac."

 

Bordeaux 2017 in a Nutshell

"2017 was a divergent vintage that splintered into a number of viticultural and winemaking paths, primarily as a consequence of the devastating April frosts, resulting in very different styles and varying quality levels across the region.

The most obvious divergence occurred after the frost, splitting those producers that were completely or largely unaffected from those that lost a significant portion of their vineyards.

The next divergence is among those with significant frost damage. There were those who chose to cut their losses and work only with the unaffected vines, often creating atypical styles since only part of the vineyard was used, versus those who chose to isolate the affected vines and ripen the second-generation fruit, some going on to create double-personality “Gemini wines” from blends of first-generation and second-generation fruit. (For more information on this, see the dedicated Gemini Wines article on Wine Journal.)

Opportunities for greatness are well-spread throughout Bordeaux in 2017, and there was no single commune or grape variety that excelled, although the best wines tend to come from the superlative vineyards that were relatively untouched by the frosts, including those close to the estuary in Saint-Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien and Margaux on the Left Bank and the Right Bank vineyards on the plateaus in Pomerol and Saint-Émilion.

In the end, 2017 is not nearly as consistently great as 2015 or 2016, but this vintage did produce some extraordinary wines.
Stylistically, 2017 is a far cry from either 2015 or 2016, both of these being significantly warmer, sunnier vintages. In fact, 2017 is completely different from any recent vintage, and this is not a bad thing.

The best 2017 reds are approachable when young yet are also built to age. This “good young/can hold” signature is something that Bordeaux hasn’t really ever been able to nail quite like this. Previous earlier-drinking vintages with cellaring potential relied on rich, concentrated, hedonistic fruit to carry it off, à la 2009. But, 2017 is all about finesse, perfume and aromatic intensity as opposed to weighty richness.

2017’s “good young/can hold” style is mainly due to the quality of tannins: super ripe, finely grained and soft-textured in the very best wines. We also have some very clever winemaking to thank for this. With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps, the best winemakers were ultra cautious about not over-extracting.
What’s more, there is also a moderate to high quantity of tannins in the best wines, with IPT levels ranging from around 60 to 80, in many cases at a similar level to 2015 counterparts.

The most successful 2017 reds tend to have moderate acidity, although the acids can appear fresher because the wines aren’t as rich and powerful as 2015 or 2016. They are mainly elegant, medium-bodied styles with moderate alcohol (generally 13-14%) and have intensely perfumed, multi-layered aromatic profiles. Dry white Bordeaux wines generally need a huge shout-out this year – wow! These are bright, refreshing, elegant and intense, with far more consistency of quality than any other Bordeaux style in 2017.

A separate report on the 2017 wines from Sauternes reveals a very good if smaller vintage for Bordeaux’s sweet whites.

Now for the bad news: Unlike in 2015, in 2017 there is not a lot of value to be had at the lower price points. These vineyards were generally hit hardest by the frosts and tended to have less resources at their disposal.

The least successful 2017 wines can be downright astringent, bitter and hard on the finish - lean, green and mean – sometimes as a consequence of attempts at using under-ripe second-generation fruit. Alternatively, and occasionally additionally, a number of wines were impacted by dilution as a result of the mid-September rains. This dilution can be experienced as anything from a slight dip in the mid-palate to, in extreme cases, downright hollow wines with abrupt finishes”.

The top scoring wines of the vintage: 

Wine Name

Rating   

Cos d'Estournel

(97 - 100)

Haut-Brion Blanc

(97 - 100)

Lafleur

(97 - 100)

Ausone

(97 - 99)

Lafite Rothschild

(97 - 99)

Latour

(97 - 99)

Mouton Rothschild

(97 - 99)

Pavie

(97 - 99)

Montrose

(96 - 99)

L'Eglise Clinet

(96 - 98)+

La Mondotte

(96 - 98)+

Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc

(96 - 98)+

Belair Monange

(96 - 98)

Bellevue Mondotte

(96 - 98)

Château Margaux

(96 - 98)

Hosanna

(96 - 98)

La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc

(96 - 98)

Le Tertre Roteboeuf

(96 - 98)

Léoville Las Cases

(96 - 98)

Palmer

(96 - 98)

Pontet-Canet

(96 - 98)

Trotanoy

(96 - 98)

Vieux Château Certan

(96 - 98)

Ducru-Beaucaillou

(95 - 97)+

La Gaffeliere

(95 - 97)+

Haut-Brion

(95 - 97)

La Conseillante

(95 - 97)

La Mission Haut-Brion

(95 - 97)

Pavie Decesse

(95 - 97)

Pavie Macquin

(95 - 97)

Pichon-Longueville Baron

(95 - 97)

Troplong Mondot

(95 - 97)

La Violette

(94 - 96)+

Le Pin

(94 - 96)+

Pape Clement Blanc

(94 - 96)+

Angélus

(94 - 96)

Beausejour Heritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse

(94 - 96)

Canon

(94 - 96)

Figeac

(94 - 96)

Haut-Bailly

(94 - 96)

Le Dome

(94 - 96)

Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

(94 - 96)

Rauzan-Segla (Rausan-Segla)

(94 - 96)

Smith Haut Lafitte

(94 - 96)

la Fleur-Petrus

(94 - 96)

Domaine de Chevalier

(93 - 95)+