2006 Bordeaux vintage report

How good is the 2006 likely to be? Can it surpass the 2005?
Bordeaux 2006 is a good, maybe very good, year but it is definitely not 2005.

The wines are extremely variable, but if you know where to look there are some great finds. It is difficult to think of a year of comparable character either. The 2006s have the firm acidity of 1988 with the fruit quality reminiscent of 1986. The hot July and cool August has also lead some to compare both the vintage conditions and the consequent wines to 1996.

Style-wise the 2006s are far more tannic and have less concentration than the 2005s, and are less charming than the 2004s. However, overall, 2006 is a slightly better vintage than 2004.

There are virtually no 2006s that are better than the 2005s, and in the few exceptions where this is the case it is normally because something went wrong in 2005. In some appellations like St EstFphe the 2006s are rarely even as good as the 2004s.

2006 is a vintage which shows both the wines' terroir but also reflects the work that was done in the vineyard, in terms of restricting yields, and in the cellars. The best chGteaux have made wines that reflect the vintage character, avoiding over-extracting the grapes in a search for more fruit and not getting the resulting harsh and bitter tannins. The finest wines in 2006 are rarely blockbusters but have succeeded in cloaking the fearsome tannins with an excellent concentration of ripe fruit, alongside a stylish elegance and lively acidity that seems to be very much a part of 2006.

2006 is quite unusual in that due to the differing weather conditions it is very much a Cabernet Sauvignon year on the Left Bank and very much a Merlot year on the Right Bank. Normally it is one or the other. The successes of the Right Bank are by and large more charming and beguiling than the Left Bank which, while equally impressive quality wise, are more tannic and will take longer to mature.

With some honourable exceptions, St EstFphe has been the most difficult Left Bank appellation in 2006. Margaux is good to very good, certainly very consistent, but lacks any real stars, even though Palmer and Margaux are very good. Pauillac is slightly more inconsistent and definitely has some wines to really rave about. Lynch Bages, Pontet-Canet, Mouton-Rothschild and Latour are all spellbinding.

St Julien is a contender for the best of the Left Bank appellations. There are few disappointments here, with some truly excellent wines like LToville-Las Cases, Branaire-Ducru, Gruaud-Larose and Beychevelle. Seemingly benefiting from good Merlot and Cabernet, the Pessac wines are very good indeed in 2006 - not least the stunning Haut-Bailly and La Mission Haut Brion.

On the Right Bank there are some sumptuous St Emilions and Pomerols - not least Conseillante, Cheval Blanc, AngTlus and Feytit Clinet. Pomerol is more consistent than St Emilion due to the prevalence of the gravelly soil (seen more commonly in Pomerol). Here, the grapes ripened earlier and so were in a better state to be picked before the rains came.

Bordeaux's white wines had very differing experiences in 2006. The dry whites are truly magnificent - possibly lacking the richness of 2005, but more than making up for it in acidity, minerality and freshness. The sweet wines, however, do not seem to have much botrytis character and are by and large pretty disappointing.

The Berrys' Fine Wine team have arrived back from Bordeaux and below are their top 10 wines of the vintage, cellar must-haves and best value wines.

Top 10 Wines of the Vintage
Ch. Cheval Blanc
Ch. la Conseillante
Ch. Haut-Bailly
Ch. Latour
Ch. LToville Las Cases
Ch. Lynch Bages
Ch. la Mission Haut-Brion
Ch. Mouton-Rothschild
Ch. Pontet Canet
Ch. Vieux ChGteau Certan

Domaine de Chevalier Blanc (Top White)

Top 10 Cellar Must-Haves of the Vintage
Ch. Beychevelle
Ch. Branaire-Ducru

Domaine de Chevalier Rouge

Domaine de Chevalier Blanc
Clos du Marquis
Ch. Gruaud Larose
Ch. Haut Bailly
Ch. LToville PoyferrT
Ch. Lynch-Bages
Ch. Pontet-Canet

Top 10 Best Value Wines of the Vintage
Ch. d'Armailhac
Ch. Batailley
Clos du Marquis
Ch. FerriFre
Ch. Feytit-Clinet
Ch. la Garde Blanc
Ch. Lafleur Gazin
Ch. Ormes de Pez
Ch. du Tertre
Ch. Villa Bel Air

How to buy 2006 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 2006 wines are still lying in barrel, being bottled towards the end of 2008 and shipped to the UK in the Spring of 2009 . 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. All wines bought from BBR may be shipped to Hong Kong in refrigerated containers at a specially reduced rate of HK$180 per case.
The prices will be absolutely key in 2006 but if they are well judged then there will be some great wines to buy in this vintage.

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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