When Sara and myself arrived in Bordeaux on 20th September, more than half the 2023 Harvest was in – overall a large crop with the quality somewhere between good and very good. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are being picked now in perfect weather conditions.
There was a lot of rain in June and hot steamy weather necessitating multiple crop spraying to prevent rot. Those who followed this strict regime saved all their crop – those who didn’t lost a lot of their grapes. My friends Gavin and Angela at Chateau Bauduc invested E50k in a new. state of the art crop spayer which paid for itself in a month resulting in one of their biggest crops they havehad in their 25 years at Bauduc.
There was a similar story at Leoville Barton where Daniel Sartorious told me that they were going to make more than in any vintage since 2004. I tasted the Merlot with him – it was rich and concentrated with a lot of flavour. I then joined the family for a splendid Harvest lunch with Leoville 2017, Langoa & Mauvesin Barton 2015 (Mauvesin is becoming a serious wine now – their 2022 is exceptional).
We also visited Le Dôme (where there was a marvellous photgraphic exhibitionby Gerard Rancinon) – much the same story as with Leoville. Their 2023 will be very good.
What does all this mean to all of us – it is too early to make anything other than a preliminary judgement but with the size of the crop, prices should be lower than in 2022.
My other objective was to find more wines for Christmas and beyond. – I struck gold with my friend Charlie Sichel where we tasted multiple vintages of Chateau Loudenne from 1996 to 2020 and are putting together an offer of magnums, double magnums, jeraboams and imperials. The Chateau lies just to the north of St Estephe with the same terroir – we first visited the Chateau on our honeymoon (a long time ago) where Martin Bamford, a Bordeaux legend put on a lunch for us with 3 Masters of Wine. We were a bit out of our depth (aged 20 & 22) but we held our own and it was memorable.
Charlie then took us to lunch at Moelleuse et Persillée. In the Quai de Chatrons which specialises in aged beef from around the world – it was some of the best beef I have eaten and highly recommended.
We also had dinner at Le Lion D’Or in Arcins half way up the Medoc. The restaurant is where all the Chateau owners and winemakers eat and drink their own wines and have done for several decades. The cuisine is old school and very good.
On our trip we also visited:
- Chateau Cissac
- Chateau Chasse Spleen
- Legrand & Associes
- Carriere & Associes
A full-on trip – a first look at the 2023 harvest and some exciting new wines.
A final note – The King and Queen were in Bordeaux at the same time and visited Chateau Smith Haut Lafite – one of the first Chateau to adopt organic and biodynamic viticultural and vinification practices. A wine we follow.
Esme, September 2023