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Bordeaux En Primeur 2023

2023 En Primeur Report
Our top picks for 2023 Bordeaux

Cru Classe
Lafite, Mouton, Cheval Blanc, Haut Brion Blanc, Figeac

Great Drinking
Talbot, Pichon Baron, Pichon Lalande, Nenin, L’Enclos, Fonplegade, Rouget, Kirwan

Amazing Sauternes
Lafaurie Peyraguey, Coutet, Suduiraut

Great Value
Cissac, Beaumont, Angludet

Vintage Report
Make or Break? High yields, increased economic pressure from interest rates, yet a modern classic vintage.

The Vintage
This year, vineyard owners faced various challenges, from a warm and wet spring that heightened the risk of mildew to economic pressures from interest rates. However, the successful flowering period hinted at a potentially abundant harvest. The key to success was precise timing in vineyard management, especially in choosing the optimal harvest time. This approach allowed some producers to fully benefit from one of the warmest growing seasons on record, characterised by just enough summer rainfall and an extended period of ideal autumn weather.
The 2023 season began with an early bud-break in March, followed by a wet spring with temperatures above average, necessitating frequent treatments to stave off mildew. Although a dry spell during the latter half of May ensured a successful fruit set, the return of rain and a notably hot June increased the threat of fungal diseases, particularly mildew, causing significant crop loss in some areas. However, the climate cooled off in July, offering the vines a necessary respite. August brought warmer but still moderate temperatures, which, along with a few heatwaves later in the season, helped maintain the grapes' crucial acidity. The harvest of white grapes and merlot commenced under favourable conditions, although a day of varied rainfall in September briefly interrupted the harvesting activities. Despite these challenges, vineyard owners showed remarkable resilience, adapting their strategies to the changing conditions and ensuring a successful harvest.

The Wines
Despite the challenges, many top châteaux in Bordeaux have crafted delicious wines this year. Particularly in the northern Médoc, where rainfall was minimal, most classed growths have succeeded in creating the standout wines of the vintage. This year's dry whites are notably successful, harvested early to capture their fresh, acidic nature and delicate minerality. Additionally, the sweet whites 2023 are distinguished by their crispness and vitality, benefiting from the cool summer and subsequent humidity, which is ideal for developing noble rot. With generous yields and a challenging economic environment, prices for many wines are hoped to decrease, presenting purchasing opportunities for wine buyers.

Opinion - Make or Break?
We are fortunate that our economic future does not turn on the success or otherwise of any En Primeur Campaign. It is great to be involved in selling great wines to eager customers when the wines and pricing offer value. This allows us to tell it how we see it.

The September rainfall led to larger grapes with a lower flavour concentration. Most of the wines have no faults but lack that concentration and, as such, don’t justify the high premium they may well ask for.

This is not a must-buy vintage for the quality of the wines. However, when priced right, it is an opportunity to get on the list for the first Growths and other highly sought-after wines. So far, Lafite and Mouton, particularly Mouton, have hit this value point and may prove shrewd investments. Cheval Blanc has missed offering real value today (13th May), but I am sure Mr Bernard Arnault will not be too worried, as it is still one of the vintage's top wines.
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