The Bordeaux 2014 vintage in Medoc has produced fresh and fragrant wines that could last for more than two decades in the best cases, says Decanter consultant editor Steven Spurrier in his initial assessment following last week's en primeur tastings.
Bordeaux 2014 en primeur wines from the Medoc were unusually approachable during en primeur week, which can be a challenging few days for tasters due to the power of the young Cabernet Sauvignon dominated wines.
'Normally, wines from the Right Bank are easier to taste because of the Merlot, and Cabernets from the Left Bank are a bit tough,' Steven Spurrier told DecanterChina.com following the final en primeur tasting of the week at Chateau Soutard in St Emilion.
'That didn't happen this year. [In Medoc], there was a hang time of 120 days, which Cabernet really loves.' A heatwave in September has already been described as a 'miracle' by many winemakers, following a cool summer.
'I really love the freshness the fragrance and the balance of this vintage,' said Spurrier, whose scores and tasting notes for Medoc will be published on Decanter.com later this month.
While many merchants are nervous about the upcoming en primeur campaign and whether Bordeaux 2014 release prices will tempt consumers, Spurrier said of the quality in Medoc, 'It was very hard to find a poor wine. I loved the Right Bank, too, but Medoc has a seductive quality about it that it doesn't always have.'
He said the top wines should be able to age well, a point also made by Chateau Pichon Lalande's general manager, Nicolas Glumineau, and Chateau Margaux's Paul Pontallier.
'For many of the wines, I was giving [a drinking window] beginning with 18 years. The minor wines have a 10 year life span. But, the major wines have a 15, 20 to 30 year span,' Spurrier said.
There has been a lot of discussion around the tasting rooms and at dinners last week about where Bordeaux 2014 sits in the vintage league table.
'Paul Pontallier summed up the vintage very well,' Spurrier said. 'He said it's either the least good of the great vintages, or the best of the less great vintages. I think it's the best of the less great.
'And I think that's terrifically to its advantage. Take 2010, 2009, 2005, and maybe 2001 and 2000, out of the equation, and 2014 will be the best of the rest.'
Commenting on specific appellations, Spurrier said northerly St Estephe shone particularly well. 'The wines were quite superb. I'm really interested in what's happening in St Estephe.' But, he said that Pauillac wines were 'probably the best balanced.'
Of the others, he added, 'St Julien wines were balanced as they normally are. It was a very nice Margaux vintage that showed florality, fragrance and femininity of Margaux, if I may use that word.'
More broadly, Spurrier recognised a trend towards expression of terroir among the different Medoc chateaux. 'The chateaux have all been working terribly hard. The harder they work with individual terroirs, they will define themselves more and more. No one is making a Parker wine any more,' he added in reference to US critic Robert Parker Jr, who has stepped back from tasting Bordeaux 2014 en primeur.
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