As I pen this musing, the 2019 wines of Bordeaux have firmly landed. I have only begun to taste the wines in anticipation of our planned September event – 2019 Bordeaux (https://musingsonthevine.com/events/#), but I thought it useful to offer some thoughts about what I expect to taste.
The 2019 vintage in Bordeaux has been called the “miracle” vintage. According to Colin Hay of The Drinks Business, the term “miracle” vintage applies to the fact that there was no characteristic, often-damaging hail in the Spring (as there was in 2017), nor was there the usual mildew and rot so common in the Fall (as there was in 2018). Another factor that makes this a “miraculous” vintage is the beneficial rains that fell in late September, virtually saving the vintage from certain ruin. Weather-wise, 2019 was a hot growing season with very little rain, leading to hydric stress across the region. As students in my classes know, AOC regions are not permitted to irrigate, regardless of weather conditions. This means that in a vintage like 2019, grape growers can watch their bountiful fruit shrivel on the vine as Summer heat sizzles.
Fortunately, in 2019 the rains came just in time and they came in judicious amounts, promoting the restart of ripening without introducing enough moisture to cause the usual rot and mildew. So, what can we expect from these “miracle” wines?
For one, the wines should be tannic and structured, owing to a higher percentage of dried, concentrated grapes. Along with firm tannins, one can expect high alcohol, again due to higher percentages of sugar in the harvested grapes. The concentrated grapes are also going to contribute to good midpalate weight and firmness, along with higher levels of acidity. The fruit should be bright and, in some cases, almost jammy. When compared to other recent vintages, the cognoscenti are concluding that 2019 ranks ahead of 2018 in overall quality and aging potential, but behind 2015 and 2016 in those categories.
The first 2019 wine I have tasted is the Château Pédesclaux from Pauillac. The property is a fifth growth wine from the famous Classification of 1855 and is currently owned by the Lorenzetti family. The wine is composed of Cabernet Sauvignon (72%), Merlot (20%), Cabernet franc (6%), and Petit Verdot (2%). The wine sees 16 months of aging in 60% new oak barrels. The soil is classic Garonne gravel over limestone. In 2019, harvest ran from September 23rd to October 5th. The winery uses a long, cold maceration to extract flavors and does not press, nor pump the juice, leading to a less tannic wine.
I found the wine to be spectacular, and my tasting note is as follows:
The Pédesclaux is a monster… Jammy nose with classic left bank notes of licorice, menthol, and black currants. Well-balanced with moderate acidity and firm, tight tannins. Cacao, crushed dried flowers, fresh herbs and wet stone on the palate. Seductive. Long finish, tightly-wound… Easily needs 10 years before this wine shows its true character.
If this wine is any indicator, I am very much looking forward to tasting more of the 2019 Bordeaux wines!