At the Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux, a series of tastings held earlier this year, the 2015 Bordeaux vintage inspired strong reactions. Bursting with ripe fruit and structure, these wines are regarded as the region’s best since 2009 and 2010.
Or, to put it less delicately, people are freaking out about the 2015 Bordeaux.
You might be saying, “O.K., but so what? I can’t afford good Bordeaux.” That’s the best part. Several bottles from this exceptional vintage are under $50, and some for less than a twenty.
First, let’s talk about vintages. A vintage is the year in which the grapes were picked. Simple as that. But what’s not so straightforward is how every year can vary wildly.
Like any crop, grapes are subject to every whim known to Mother Nature: temperature extremes, frost, winds, snow, rain, sleet, too much sun, not enough sun, humidity, wildfires, you name it.
Bordeaux was battered by spastic weather in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. It decimated vineyards and impeded the development of really excellent grapes. Harvests were small and grape quality varied enormously.
The 2015 growing season, however, was magical. Consistent heat and no rain in May, June, and July made for happy grapes. Then, August rains cooled things down. Of course, the region is large and various appellations experienced slight differences, but the bottom line is that great weather — for the first time in years — resulted in small berries with thick skins, ripe tannins, and amazing concentration of flavor.
This is why people are flipping out. The 2015 Bordeaux wines are sexy and delicious. Balanced. Well-structured. Delicious.
And the prices are incredible manageable. From $19 for Château de Chantegrive (50 percent Merlot, 50 percent Cabernet Sauvignon) from Graves, to $195 for Château Canon St. Emilion Grand Cru (70 percent Merlot, 30 percent Cabernet Franc), there is something for every budget.
Consider investing in two bottles of a 2015 grand cru — drink one now, take notes, and burn that taste memory into your brain. Cellar the other for 10 years. These are lush, beautiful wines that will only get better with time.
Five to Try
These knockout 2015 grand cru Bordeaux are all less than $50. All prices via Wine-Searcher.com.
2015 Château Larrivet Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan: $39
2015 Château Dassault, St.-Emilion Grand Cru: $39
2015 Château La Tour Carnet: $38
2015 Château du Tertre, Margaux: $48
2015 Château Beaumont, Haut-Médoc – $19