2005 Bordeaux promises great things

The 2005 Bordeaux En Primeur promises to be very special. Here Berry Brothers offers an overview.
The Berry Brothers buying team has recently returned from Bordeaux and there is little doubt that 2005 is one of the greatest vintages of all time... more structured than 2000, more concentrated than 1996, purer fruit than the 1990 and more classic and terroir-driven than the 1982.

With perfect weather conditions during the growing season and harvest, 2005 is a vintage created by nature.

Berry Bros & Rudd Wine Director, Alun Griffiths MW says: ôIÆve never seen a vintage with such a crop of consistently excellent wines, with such incredible ripeness, fruit concentration, tannic structure, balance and sense of terroir. A hallmark of a great vintage is that it is homogenously good, and 2005 is exactly that, across Right and Left Banks, reds, white and Sauternes."

Here we offer an introduction to the wines:

The Left Bank
This is a truly outstanding vintage for the Cabernet based wines of the Left Bank - not only of exceptional quality but with an unusually high proportion of successful chGteaux. Time and again proprietors told us that they were thrilled with the quality of their Merlot this year but that even so the Merlot could not compare with the glorious Cabernets - reaching 13% alcohol naturally for the first time at many estates.

St EstFphe
Ch. Cos d'Estournel, Montrose and Calon STgur have all produced brilliant wines in 2005 and we tasted many very good examples at lower levels (Ormes de Pez, Le Crock). The clay-rich soils of the commune retained water well during this very dry summer, and both Cabernet and Merlot were hugely successful.

We were especially impressed by the wines at the St EstFphe end of the village - Lafite is outstanding, Pontet Canet is the best we have ever seen and Mouton the best for many years - but having said that there are stunning wines throughout the commune, not least the awesome Lynch Bages and top efforts from Grand Puy Lacoste and Batailley. I don't think we tasted a poor wine among the classed growths while at lower levels Haut Bages Averous and Pibran knocked our socks off.

St Julien
The near uniform success story continues through the St Julien classed growths with Gruaud Larose and Leoville PoyferrT batting above their stations and Beychevelle much improved. LToville Barton, LToville Las Cases, Branaire, Talbot - a roll call of success. Don't ignore Clos du Marquis either. Throughout the commune the glorious Cabernet speaks with a loud voice but cannot drown the nature of the terroir.

Drawing consistent conclusions from this vast commune normally flummoxes us, but we were pretty impressed across the board. Both Margaux and Palmer are transcendentally sublime, and every wine seems to show the essence of its terroir - you only have to compare the refined elegance of du Tertre with the more substantial weight and structure of Giscours, under the same ownership, to see this effect at work.

A big smile on the face of Prince Robert de Luxembourg when he showed us his Haut Brion 2005 tells the story. If we rightly fell in love with the 2004 Haut Bailly, how much more glorious is the 2005 - exactly the same impeccable rendition of terroir but in an entirely different register of structure and concentration. Certainly a brilliant vintage for this region, with powerful concentrated white wines as well as exceptional reds.

The Right Bank
2005 is an outstanding year for the Right Bank but perhaps fractionally less consistent overall. The Merlot ripened well and early, but it was important not to allow the ripeness to become exaggerated. For many producers the Cabernet Franc was outstanding too but there were a few reported troubles with drought in relation to this more obstinate grape. Talking of obstinate, there are still a few too many producers playing the over-extraction card, especially in St Emilion.

We might have feared the effect of drought on the free-draining gravel plateau of Pomerol, but we could not see any evidence in the wines. La Conseillante was humbling, neighbouring Evangile equally sublime while Vieux ChGteau Certan has produced an extraordinary wine, albeit almost entirely Merlot for once. Christian Moueix's wines have benefited from his predilection for harvesting earlier rather than later, and using a soft pedal in the vats.

St Emilion
This commune still boasts too many producers in the over-extracting account but we are not obliged to buy these wines and indeed have not. The great names - Cheval Blanc, Ausone, AngTlus, have produced extraordinarily fine wines with Ausone surely a great contender for the wine of the vintage. Here is an example of a wine with the most brilliant natural concentration secured by the work in the vineyard, aided by skilled winemaking without any suggestion of artificial maquillage. Berliquet and Moulin St Georges look like smart tips at a more affordable price level.

The fine series of Sauternes vintages over the past ten years continues with an outstanding vintage in 2005, not dissimilar in style, and not far behind in quality, from the unmatchable 2001s. A great Sauternes vintage means heat and sunshine to ripen the grapes and keep them free of grey rot, balanced by occasional showers along with foggy mornings to promote the noble rot. All this they had in 2005 to produce a bevy of fine, aromatic, well-balanced, long-lived sweet wines.

Why buy "En Primeur"?

The opening En Primeur price is almost always considerably cheaper than the future price of the wine on the open market. En Primeur can also be the only way to secure wines that are available in very limited quantities (some properties produce as little as 200 cases a year).

Buying from a reputable Merchant is very important and with our long and illustrious history and excellent relations with the leading Bordeaux proprietors and Negociants, we are in the perfect position to offer you the finest advice and guidance.

How to buy 2005 Bordeaux winesà

Also known as Wine Futures, En Primeur refers to the process of buying wines before they are bottled and released onto the market. Wines are usually delivered 2-3 years after the vintage, and can only be purchased by the unmixed case (12 bottles, 24 half bottles, 6 magnums).
Originally only Red Bordeaux was sold in this way, but increasingly wines from Burgundy, California, Rh(ne, Italy and Vintage Port are being offered 'En Primeur'.

The 2005 wines are still lying in barrel, being bottled towards the end of 2007 and shipped to the UK in the Spring of 2008 . The price of the wine is exclusive of duty and VAT, but inclusive of shipping and insurance.

Once the wine arrives in the UK, duty and VAT can be deferred further if the wine is stored in bond, in a registered Bonded warehouse, such as BerrysÆ. You will be notified of its arrival and asked for any further delivery instructions. If it is possible that you may re-sell your wine later, it is advisable to store it in bond. We will store the wine in bond, on your behalf, in our customers' Private Reserves.

We expect the top wines of 2005 to be highly sought after and highly priced, but there will also be plenty of more moderately priced wines for the drinker rather than investor.

Bordeaux 2005 is going to be a fascinating, exciting ride. We hope that you join us along the way.

To receive information on latest Chateaux releases and prices contact our Fine Wine Team on (852) 2907 2112 or [email protected]

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