Whilst 2003 saw the earliest harvest since records began, with much of the crop gathered in August, 2004 was the latest since 1988, with a massive crop picked well into October. Although July was sunny it was not excessively hot. August, however, brought very heavy rainfall - 102mm as opposed to the normal average of 57mm! This stimulated growth and confirmed the need for green harvesting to reduce the yield.
As is so often the case, September was the pivotal month. The weather was ideal to bring the grapes to full maturity - hot sunny days followed by cool nights.
The harvest was relatively late and picking only began at the end of September for the Merlots and around the 15th October for the Cabernets. Luckily the weather remained fine and dry and the grapes were brought in ripe and healthy.
In contrast to the a-typical 2003, 2004 saw the return to a “Classic” Bordeaux vintage. The wines have good colour, depth of fruit and an excellent acid / tannin balance, which undoubtedly made them seem somewhat firm when they were tasted “En Primeur”, but will allow them to age well.
The crop was large but there is no doubt that it is an excellent vintage. If few 2004 wines can be called truly great, many can be called very good. The best have breed and elegance. They are fine and fresh with intense fruit and good tannins that are firm yet ripe.