Bordeaux 2023 En Primeur: Vintage Preview

Bordeaux 2023 En Primeur: Vintage Preview

We are now gearing up for the Bordeaux 2023 En Primeur campaign and it’s definitely going to be an interesting vintage to watch for Club Members (and we have a special cashback offer too). In terms of quality our expectation is that there will be some excellent wine in spite of a challenging growing season, and the CIVB has already rated 2023 as a “Good Vintage”. There is also talk of large price cuts in the mould of 2019 to re-build excitement around Bordeaux En Primeur. Time will tell on that front, though the release of Latour 2017 at a 23.5% price cut is certainly encouraging.


The 2023 growing season posed one major challenge; mildew. Along with much of Europe, Bordeaux faced significant mildew pressure during June when the weather turned hot and humid (described variously as “tropical”). Mildew affects the taste of wine even in small quantities, though thankfully modern technology and sheer labour power in the vineyards means the best Chateaux are well-adapted to preventing its proliferation and bringing only the highest quality fruit into the winery.

The threat of mildew means “we can expect less even results overall than 2022” according to Jane Anson, "with big differences between estates. And the widening economic disparity between haves and have-nots in Bordeaux will be once again underlined”. Given the continuing increase in overall wine quality we anticipate many chateaux at various levels from across sub-regions will have produced very good wine, though this won’t be true of the entire region, so this is definitely a vintage to be selective.

The harvest itself was one of the longest on record, extending all the way into October. Much like in 2018 there was a heatwave beginning in late September and certainly early samples show a lot of phenolic ripeness, with firm tannins supporting a core of ripe, expressive fruit. We were fortunate to taste the Phelan Segur 2023 with the estate’s CEO Veronique Dausse, and the wine showed impressive balance and cohesion, with alcohol at just 13.5%, much lower than what was widely produced under similar conditions in 2018 (another testament to the wizardry of modern winemaking). We are looking forward to tasting samples from other chateaux in the weeks to come, though this was certainly a promising start.

Looking ahead to the campaign itself, the rumour mill points towards a fast-paced campaign set to kick off in late April, with First Growths leading the charge and a number of negociants predicting attractive price cuts.. This is certainly encouraging, although the question remains what percentage reduction is enough to stimulate sufficient interest from collectors & Club Members? Back vintages are still readily available on the secondary market, and whilst 2023 will offer many worthy wines you will want in the cellar, the pricing needs to be sharp enough to justifying buying it En Primeur. We will certainly only be recommending the best and best value wines to Club Members.

Many of us here fondly remember the 2019 releases, a campaign defined by headline price cuts and excellent wine. If critics determine the quality to be good, and the wines priced sensibly, we could have a similarly exciting campaign on our hands. As such 2023 is going to be a fascinating vintage to follow, and we will have plenty more news to share in the weeks ahead.

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