Rarely if ever has there been so much excitement contained in the advance publicity for a Bordeaux vintage.
The key for this was not only the weather in 2005 but also that over the last few years, there has in effect been a 3 year mini drought in Bordeaux, and cumulatively this has made conditions very favourable for producing a great vintage in 2005. Vines have been stressed and ultimately this has forced their efforts to be concentrated solely on the production of fruit rather than new shoots and foliage. Whilst temperatures were high in 2005 they were not excessive and crucially the summer nights were cool. After some rain early on, the long growing season was very dry allowing the grapes to develop great levels of phenolic ripeness without the problems of the diseases often associated with damper late-summer weather.
Without exception all the winemakers have harvested wonderful fruit and it was a vintage where the best wines were essentially allowed to make themselves, with little intervention. The grapes were small with thick skins and in perfect health, with the ripeness being such that some huge potential alcohol levels were reached. However, there is no question of imbalance as the alcohol is matched by intensity of fruit, full, ripe tannins and, unusual in a hot year, good levels of acidity. The wines are fresh, concentrated and well structured and there can be little doubt that they have immense potential longevity.
Unlike many vintages it seems that 2005 was equally successful for Cabernet and Merlot, left and right bank and even for the Barsac and Sauternes, where outstanding sweet wines have been made.
It is difficult to compare this vintage with others but we are even more excited about the quality than five years ago when remarkabe 2000’s were released.
‘The reds are some of the best I have tasted in my career, and they have a unique character. They are rich and powerful, with loads of juicy, opulent, ripe fruit and powerful tannins, yet they also have a wonderful freshness due to their bright, crisp acidity. This is a rarity for a ripe vintage in Bordeaux; most of the time, acidity's are lower in such mature years. The dry whites are equally exciting. They are solid and fruity, with good backbones of acidity...Meanwhile the sweets are balanced, with plenty of sugar and spiciness from noble rot...honestly, I think that many people have made their best wines ever with 2005. And I am not sure that some can ever make better wine than they have in 2005.’ - James Suckling.
‘But the great thing about the successful 2005’s is their purity. They have power, but they also have refreshment value. They have keeping potential - witness the high levels of tannins in virtually all the wines - but in the best, those tannins are ripe, beautifully managed and so well hidden by fruit that the wines are already delicious.’ - Jancis Robinson.