Recently, Master of Wine Rebecca Gibb MW expressed her thoughts on the Bordeaux 2017 vintage on the Wine-Searcher website, along with her picks for the best en primeur wines.
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In the report, Rebecca Gibb begins by mentioning the sudden frost that hit on the night of April 27 and 28, 2017. Local people tried to reduce the impact of the frost as much as possible by lighting fires, candles, using sprinklers and frost blowers. Unfortunately, the frost did have a significant impact, with the Bordeaux region losing 30% to 50% of its harvest. Pauillac and Saint-Estephe in the northern part of the Medoc were not affected by the frost due to their proximity to the Gironde estuary, and these two appellations were the lucky ones in 2017.
For those wineries that escaped the effects of the frost, April was a warm and dry month with earlier than usual budding, May and June were hot and sunny allowing the grapes to thrive, July was overcast and August was moderate, September saw rainfall but the winery picked the grapes quickly to avoid the fruit being washed away by the rain and thus preserve the concentrated flavors. The issue of frost caused many to worry about the quality of the 2017 vintage, but in fact the vintage performed above expectations. Rebecca Gibb said that many of the wines still maturing in barrel are already quite approachable.
In the Left Bank region, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe are less affected by frost and produce wines that are both ripe and fresh. In these two regions, Cabernet Sauvignon is better than Merlot, giving the wines a sense of power. The Saint-Julien and Margaux appellations are more complex and, in general, the wines from the vineyards near the mouth of the Gironde will perform better. Graves and Pessac-Leognan in the southern part of the Médoc are more affected by frost and the wines are slim, but there are still some outstanding wines, such as Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan, France). Here are the best en primeur wines from the Left Bank as rated by Rebecca Gibb.
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On the Right Bank, Pomerol and Saint-Emilion were more severely affected, but some châteaux with excellent terroir still produced some wonderfully approachable wines. On the Pomerol plateau, some of the top châteaux produced wines in the typical Pomerol style: full-bodied, aromatic and tannic, while the top wines of Saint-Emilion were aromatic and fresh. These wines are not as impressive as the 2015 and 2016 vintages, but they are still very enjoyable. Here are the best en primeur wines from the Right Bank, as rated by Rebecca Gibb.
Image from: wineworld.com
Rebecca Gibb also said that 2017 was an excellent vintage for white wines. She also singled out the vintage"s cool mid-August weather, which maintained the freshness and liveliness of the white varietal. Of all the white wines Rebecca Gibb tasted, she was impressed by the Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux, Margaux, France. It was a full-bodied, textured wine, probably the best Sauvignon Blanc of the vintage. In addition, Chateau Haut-Brion Blanc, Pessac-Leognan, France, Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, Pessac-Leognan, France and Chateau Cos d'Estour (Chateau Cos d'Estournel Blanc, Saint-Estephe, France) were all outstanding.