Bordeaux 2013: Pauillac’s highs and lows


Photograph: Jason Lowe

Photograph: Jason Lowe

Putting rumour and conjecture to one side, a clearer picture of the 2013 vintage is emerging for our buying team as they complete their third full day of tasting. Jonathan White reports.

It was a day of both historic blends and record yields today, with Ch. Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande in particular achieving just 13hl/ha and 80 percent less wine than in 2012. To make matters worse, 2012 was already 30 percent down compared to 2011. It has made a 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon this year which is a great expression of the variety, but quite unlike other wines we have tasted from this great estate in the past. It will be fascinating to taste this alongside other vintages in the years to come.

Merlot was infected by botrytis at Ch. Pichon Baron and, by eliminating bunches, the vignerons were able to find some really nice pure fruit – interestingly, it has no Cabernet Franc at all in its three wines. The estate found a significant difference between the juice from its grand terroir and the rest of its plots, which meant that along with yields and selections, the production is also reduced in 2013. This works favourably for the wine though, with it being many of our team members’ favourite so far.

Bruno Borie from Ch. Ducru-Beaucaillou shares our view that tasting is even more important in vintages such as 2013, giving merchants the chance to meet the winemakers, understand the difficulties they have faced and discuss the wines made. Ducru was the first to harvest on 26th September and benefited from cleaning vines throughout the summer – but no green harvesting took place.

The Ch. Lynch-Bages portfolio (including Ormes de Pez) has managed to achieve a fleshiness of fruit that some others have failed to do, while Ch. Batailley and Clos du Marquis were other notable successes from our informative tasting in Pauillac today.

We are beginning to develop a selection of our teams favourites wines from this challenging vintage, and we will share these with you along with our scores, tasting notes and vintage report early next week.