Initial Report On 2023 Bordeaux Vintage
Posted by Zoran Ristanović | Thu 02 May 2024 | Offer

Initial Report on 2023 Bordeaux Vintage


Another Bordeaux tasting week is over and the campaign had kicked of much faster then usual.

We have already had few big scalps out this week, so I thought I might as well share my views on this vintage and wines performances.

2023 was one of those vintages that would have been a disaster 25-30 years ago. I am not going to bore you with the details here, but it was a very hard work - only the chateaux with deep pockets have been able to engage enough people to work all the way through the season and produce decent ( in some cases excellent) quality grapes. Mid and lower level properties had struggled a bit and it shows in the finesse of the tannins and fruit presentation. Overall, there are some very good wines especially on the Pomerol Plateau and parts of St Julien where the constant wind had kept the mildew at bay. Subject to pricing, some of these might merit a serious consideration. The others….well, you will not miss out much if you wait till they are in the bottle (or couple years after). I will not be naming the names, but as a rule of the thumb, if it is not listed below, it was not up to standard expected in this particular year irrelevant of the release price.

The main issue this year is the pricing. Fine wines, like most luxury goods, have had a bit of a rough ride over the last few months and no one seems to know when the whole thing might start showing signs of long term recovery. For once, it looks like the Chateau owners are aware of it and judging by the first few releases, the message seems to be getting through. Pontet Canet had come out at 27% below last year and Leoville Las Casses is almost 40%. Lafite had followed suit this morning with reduction of just over 30 % The rest will wait to see the market reaction and my guess is that most will be releasing within this discount range.

The question is: is it enough? The answer really depends on your point of view. If you look at it purely from a financial investment point of view, I would say not. You can still buy 2011,12,13, 14 and 17 vintages of these Chateau at a discount compared to 2023 release prices. Furthermore, these prices are not much lower than those of 2015, 16 and 19 to justify it. So 5 - 10 y down the line, I can not see that you will be able to sell these 2023 vines at a significant profit (other than possibly Lafite/Carruades).


If, on the other hand, you still remember that Bordeaux wine can also be drunk and provide a lot of emotional return, some of the releases might look like very decent buys indeed (should they follow the above pricing policy). You might not be able to sell them at a profit, however, I believe that you will not be able to buy them at these levels in 5 – 10 y time. So, for home drinking, some of them do make sense. Not to mention that you will be able to choose larger sizes should you wish to have something from 2023 for birthdays, Christening presents anniversaries etc. 


On to the wines - I will list here only the wines that showed quality, style and finesse.


Right bank:

Star of the year – Vieux Chateau Certain – critics did not rate this highly enough (most are around 96-98), To me, it was the best showing wine on the day when I tasted all of the top properties on the right bank. Due to the “low” ratings, it might be released quite low and as a pure hedonistic buy, it is unbeatable. I gave it an easy 19+. Other properties that shone bright (in no particular order) were Troplong Mondot, Canon (gorgeous and refined), Berliquet, Petit Cheval, Figeac and a little thing called Barde Haut which had for many years been punching above it’s weight.


Left Bank:

The list is slightly longer and it effectively boils down to a handful of great names. In the “value” end Le Thil - ZR 17+ (a tiny chateau owned by Smith Haut Lafitte) was outstanding for a Merlot based wine. It is normally very modestly priced and if they reduce the price in line with others, this will be a bargain and a half. The other 2 wines wine in the lower end that stood out were Pibran in Pauillac ( owned by Pichon Baron) and Labegorce in Margaux.

Other notable property in Margaux was Rauzan Segla which had for the last few years been punching way above it’s weight. Palmer was also very decent, but it is normally way overpriced, so even with serious discount, I do not think that it would justify EP purchase.

In St Julien, Langoa beats the Leoville in the Barton family match; Beychevelle stands out as does Ducru Beaucaillou. The outright winner as the Value for the money will be 2nd wine of Ducru – Croix de Ducru Beaucaillou. Talbot will be all about the price.

Pauillac was more mixed with properties further away from the river showing better tannin purity. Pichon Baron had slight edge over Comtesse. Lynch Bages beats Grad Puy Lacoste with Pontet Canet (ZR 18+) showing real class – a notch above these 2.


Pontet Canet is already released and at just under £ 400 per 6 bott, it is actually a very decent deal considering that it is a much better wine than before mentioned vintages of 2011,12,13, 14 and 17. I would say it is about as good as it had come out of Pontet Canet since 2010. Please register interest as soon as possible as I have tiny allocation.


In St Estephe, the story is similar. Vineyards further away from the river presented more finesse and precision. Calon Segur (further away) narrowly beats Montrose, but the star of the home drinking show was Dame De Montrose ( 2nd wine of Montrose) which comes from vineyards further away. The rest of St Estephe is not of much interest to me this year for en primeur purchases.

In Pessac Leognan, Smith Haut Lafitte is way ahead of Pape Clement and Dom de Chevalier. The others fall by the wayside.


Out of the 1st Growths, Margaux was the clear winner for me, followed by Haut Brion. Lafite has come out today at 30 % discount, so even at £ 400 per bott looks like decent buy for those of you with a long term view.


2023 produced some very high-quality whites with a high level of consistency. Haut Brion Blanc was on top form as usual, closely followed by Smith Haut Lafitte White which was the best I have tasted there over the last 20 years or so. I will update you should I think that the price for any of the whites is attractive.

Sauternes were also of a very high quality overall, but there is such a high supply of attractively priced mature vintages of Sauternes on the market, that I really can not see any reason to buy them En Primeur


Please register your interest with me by return and we could discuss the strategy for the vintage.


So much for this time.


All the best