Back 2014 Bordeaux – Big Rewards in the Top Picks

Published on 9 July, 2021

©Linden Wilkie, 9th July 2021

In the Spring of 2015 I travelled to Bordeaux to taste the 2014s in barrel. I found the quality of this year to be mixed, but with some outstanding wines included. Moreover, the style of those few that I rated highly also appealed. I noted at the time ‘A poor summer produced a vintage of unlikely potential, but a long fine autumn produced full phenolic ripeness at some, but not all estates. The wines are generally, fine, elegant, very fresh in style, moderate in weight (no excess alcohol or glycerin-texture), and juicy-berryish in expression. They are, in a way, very classically ‘Bordeaux’.’ This last point proved critical for me because as climate change has delivered more ‘Napa-like’ vintages, classic Bordeaux elegance is a great part of the region’s appeal in my view. 

Seven years from vintage, I thought, we should revisit some of the cream of the crop to see how they are doing now in bottle. Would a choice of six wines show something a bit green and emaciated after all, or something finely balanced, fresh and appealing?

To help matters along, I asked those who joined our tasting this week to taste the six wines single-blind with me (i.e. we know the list, but not the serving order). My colleagues hid the serving order from me too.

Overall, I found the wines are today indeed fresh and elegant. There is just a hint of very slightly underripe tannin in one or two, but just a smidgen, and in others, the phenolics are at perfect maturity. One or two have surprising stuffing. At this level, I like this vintage, and I would recommend you try some for yourself.

My reasoning is partly this: finding winners in less famous vintages can yield you both a discount, and sometimes too an earlier start date for drinking. A win win. Take for instance Vieux Château Certan. It was one of my star wines in 2014, tasting from barrel, and it was this week too. It’s HKD 1500 per bottle, while the 2015 and 2018 are HKD 2500. Are the latter two big years better? Only if you want a whole lot more stuffing, and that’s fine if you do. But the 2014 is super complex, elegant and expressive, and you could begin to dip into it already. If you are into fine Burgundy, you might even prefer the 2014’s more elegant feel.

This tasting reconfirmed too something I felt during the primeurs – Château Montrose made one of their greatest wines in 2014. (Also, while 2014 Château Lafite-Rothschild was one of my top wines of the vintage during the primeurs it is the cheapest vintage on our list. I think it is very smart buying.) It is HKD 1100 per bottle.

I asked all the participants in our tasting to rank the wines from 1st favourite to 6th. We then aggregated those rankings, to see where the group placed them. Here are the results:
1st 2014 Vieux Château Certan
2nd 2014 Château Figeac
3rd= 2014 Château La Mission Haut Brion
3rd= 2014 Château Grand Puy Lacoste 
5th 2014 Château Montrose
6th 2014 Château L’Eglise-Clinet

Here’s how I ranked them:
1st 2014 Château Montrose
2nd 2014 Vieux Château Certan
3rd 2014 Château Grand Puy Lacoste
4th 2014 Château Figeac
5th 2014 Château La Mission Haut Brion
6th 2014 Château L’Eglise-Clinet

Yes, a special mention must be made of 2014 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, that has for years punched above its price point. It was superb last night. It’s serious wine at everyday drinking prices. 

Below you will find my tasting notes – from this event, and from the primeurs back in Spring 2015.

2014 Vieux Château Certan
Open and aromatic, a singed note, florals, some leafiness, fine spices, this is really very pretty on the nose as well as complex; elegant and fine on the palate, bright and fresh with exotic spices, floral notes, a hint of clove, it is also beautifully harmonious, and really very lovely.
96. July 2021

Fine, semi-clear; lovely fragrance, perfumed and beguiling, Musigny-like; succulent, pure, very expressive, aromatic, buoyant and transparent, very long and fine, supremely elegant. A total joy to taste. Completely seamless. My wine of the vintage, as it turned out.
96-98. April 2015

2014 Château La Mission Haut-Brion
A full fresh colour; fine focused fruit on the nose, cool yet ripe, still fairly primary, unevolved, the aroma is refined; fine fruit on the palate, a mid-weight wine, Cabernet is to the fore, juicy fresh acidity, there’s also a little toastiness in the oak sticking out, and there is also just a hint of dryness in the tannins. But mostly it just seems a bit dormant and closed. It’s good, but it needs time in bottle still.
93. July 2021

Semi-clear; super freshness greets the nose, and also a coolness of expression, a touch of mint, spice; moderate concentration, nice fruit, expressed with typical LMHB reserve, dark fruit, freshness, some buoyancy in the mid-palate, quite present tannins on the finish, nicely coated. Overall though there is a distinct coolness of expression – not overt unripeness, but this is right on the cusp. I find this wine attractive in its refined coolness, but it will not be to everyone’s taste. This vintage seems to have played more to its stablemate neighbour at Haut-Brion.
90-92. April 2015

2014 Château Figeac
Freshness, some spices, some florals, this has a complex nose; the palate is fleshy, perfumed, fine, with some fine details and very fine tannin – though still with some tannin to shed before it is ready. This has the perfume, and is very fine.
93. July 2021

(Not tasted during the primeurs).

2014 Château L’Eglise-Clinet
The aromas here are cool, and even a touch leathery, indistinct; very good fruit to be found on the attack, but there is something a touch muted in the expression, the tannins feel cool, a touch leafy, but fine. There is a certain thickness, good concentration, but that is leaving it with the muted expression feeling a bit monolithic. 91? July 2021

Semi-clear; ripe, but rather mute right now on the nose, a touch of vanilla oak to the fore; very good, dark cherry and plum fruit, concentrated, fine, some nice tension, ample fruit, firm, grippy, highly structured, a touch of cocoa in the finish. The acidity keeps it buoyant. All the right material and intensity and ripeness, my reservation is a question mark over the level of extraction – it might be just a touch too much.
91-93? April 2015

2014 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste
This has a very fine, spicy and expressive nose, old school, with a hint of ginger; good concentration here on the palate, it is mouthfilling but elegant and expressive. It has some plumpness, fine tannin. Feels long haul, spices and some minerality on the satisfying finish. Very correct. Superb Médocain expression.
94. July 2021

Fine, semi-opaque; beautifully floral fresh nose, lovely Cabernet; very good palate, tight, focused and juicy, layered and concentrated. Nice floral edge. Needs plenty of cellaring time. Solid, but with lovely freshness.
92-94. April 2015

2014 Château Montrose
A deep full appearance; a gorgeous nose of dark cherry and dark chocolate (that threw me off identifying it correctly), spices, floral notes – this is so seductive on the nose; very fine on the palate with near perfect ripeness and an amazing knife’s edge fruitiness/fresh acidity balance, a sense of real precision, yet it is also seductive. A fine tannic backbone. This is fabulous.
97. July 2021

Deep colour; beautiful nose, violetty, very pretty, so floral and expressive and effortlessly expressive; fleshy on the palate, ripe, violetty, effortlessly expressive and generous, yet elegant and sleek. Great balance and poise. Very long finish. Absolutely terrific – one of my top picks for the vintage. Recommended.
95-97. April 2015