The 2017 Bordeaux campaign is officially over. Because reviews for the vintage were initially mixed, many in the industry feared the wine wouldn’t sell. Indeed, a few of our buyers decided not to participate in the futures pre-sell this year.
Clearly, this was a very unusual vintage and many folks still don’t understand what happened in Bordeaux in 2017. There’s no doubt that an unprecedented frost affected many vineyards in Bordeaux. But the sad truth is that the weather damaged the properties that could least afford to lose their production. In Bordeaux, they call it the “Snob Frost.” The Grands Crus Classés were not affected in the least. The best properties are, after all, on the most optimal terroir. On the Left Bank, estates on the Gironde and Garonne Rivers were untouched. On the Right Bank, properties on the Pomerol gravel plateau and Saint-Émilion limestone plateau were also, for the most part, unharmed.
So, what to make of this vintage?
Well, if you listen to the professional critics, there’s little to complain about. The ratings for the classified wines are excellent. Here’s a quick list:
Château d’Issan – 94 from Decanter. Not bad for a $58.49 wine.
Château Cos d’Estournel – Wine Advocate 97-100, priced at $144.49.
Domaine de Chevalier Rouge – An amazing 94-97 rating from Jeb Dunnuck, with a $58.49 price tag.
What of the upper tier? Let’s take a look.
Château l’Eglise Clinet – Wine Advocate 96-98
Vieux Château Certan – Always superb, also scored 96-98 from Wine Advocate.
Château Palmer – 97-98 James Suckling and 96-98 Wine Advocate
Château Mouton Rothschild – Wine Advocate 97-99
You get the drift. Ratings for 2017 are excellent. These critics, from Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin of Vinous to Lisa Perrotti-Brown of Wine Advocate put their name and reputation on the line when they score every wine. So even when we disagree with them, we have to respect their knowledge and opinion.
Our best advice: Look deeper into pricing. When the first wines were offered in early May, the standard pricing was a 15% discount compared to 2016. As time went on and the bigger names came out, the discounts became smaller, and as the First Growths and elite estates debuted, their pricing is almost identical to the 2016 vintage.
Why is that? Ratings, of course! A cult wine like Tertre Roteboeuf was priced only 3 Euros less than in 2016, because the wine ratings were identical. Château Bellefont-Belcier 2017 is the same price as 2016, but that is because the estate is owned by Peter Kwok, who has invested heavily in the property and the industry knows the quality of his wines improve with every vintage.
Bottom Line: Don’t screw up! Find the jewels. More examples of good investments:Château Clinet – When we met Ronan Laborde a few weeks ago, he said his 2017 was a 93-95 pts wine, probably going to a full 95 with bottle age. Accordingly, the price is $77.99. Last year’s Clinet 2016 was $99.99. A sure bet!