Underrated Bordeaux 2014

Worth seeking out from bottle: both white and red

29 January 2017

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com

When I tasted 2014 and 2015 Château Montrose side-by-side in October last year at the estate, I learned that less than 40% of the harvest was used to make the first wine in 2015, while over 50% was used to make the 2014.

Rains came at the wrong time in parts of the northern Médoc in the more heralded vintage, putting vintners to the test. Montrose certainly lived up to that test, with an excellent 2015. But the 2014 seems to be just as good, if not better. At the estate tasting, the 2014 came across as more seamless and elegant, as well as substantial. I had a similar experience with Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande, which I had also compared side-by-side.

They were not empty for long: loads of glasses for the UGCB tasting in New York City in January 2017

In much the same way, I noticed how 2014 northern Medoc cru bourgeois wines did very well as compared to 2015, which seems to have favored the southern Médoc (no rains causing any problems in Margaux, for example).

Savvy consumers should take note that you are getting good deals from the northern Médoc in 2014, as prices – for the most part – went up in 2015.

Am impressive number of people showed up to assess Bordeaux 2014 from bottle

But you can find many fine 2014s throughout Bordeaux, especially on the Right Bank, where Merlots reached lovely maturities without ever going too far in alcohol levels, as they sometimes did in more solar vintages. As much was proven at the the UGCB tasting of 2014 Bordeaux in New York in January 2017, which revealed Saint Emilions and Pomerols with pleasing expressions of cooler blue fruit, as well as rich plum fruit, for example. This applies as well to some of the under-estimated Right Bank satellite appellations, such as Fronsac, which I had assessed at a tasting in October last year in Bordeaux.

Bordeaux First

I agree very much with fellow wine writer Michael Apstein of Wine Review Online while tasting 2014s Bordeaux in New York: “The wines are better than the impression left by some early press reports. The reds are ripe and balanced, and the dry whites are fresh and exciting to taste.”

Indeed, the dry whites are quite special in 2014, as they exude exciting freshness and focus as well as concentration. 2014 is certainly a great white wine vintage for Bordeaux. Alas, I did not get to any of the Sauternes…

As usual here, wines I liked in particular are in bold. When both bold and red, even more. And when underlined, too, close to wine nirvana.

With Reno, Nevada-based taster Gina Peraldo

Margaux 2014 was bright and fresh, although 2015 is the better vintage

2014 Château Dauzac – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
There is much red fruit to like here! But a clear example of 2015 being superior to 2014. While I loved the 2015 Dauzac, the 2014 is a bit steely and a touch austere from bottle. Give it time in bottle, as it should soften up! (88 pts.)

2014 Château Giscours – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
I really like Giscours from bottle, as among the best Medocs I tried at this tasting: balanced, fruit driven and fresh, with a floral finish. Give it time in barrel to let is sing properly. (92 pts.)

2014 Château Kirwan – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
This needs time in bottle to mature. For now the high toned aspect and a certain tannic edge leaves an overall closed impression. The parts are there; they need to come together so will be neutral overall in my evaluation. (90 pts.)

2014 Château Lascombes – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
While from barrel it seemed more balanced, I am getting the Lascombes oak derivation which dominates too much…

2014 Château Marquis de Terme – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
I like this just enough but it is now evidently driven by its acidity and a high tone and noticeable tannin that screams needed cellar time. Upside potential, but not worth opening now. (89 pts.)

2014 Château du Tertre – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
A bit closed in, conveying spicy fruit and opulence but at this stage rather contained. Not as floral and lifting as the Giscours, for example, with tannins noticeable. Give it some time in bottle and it should get a higher rating. (89 pts.)

2014 Château Rauzan-Ségla – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
Here we have a second growth worth its pedigree. Much finesse, opulence and floral aspects that are packaged in a precise and linear fashion at this very early stage. A promising wine of excellence. (93 pts.)

2014 Château Siran – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
Punching above its weight this cru bourgeois, and I like it a lot. Medium opulence, high toned, with red fruit and a smooth aspect, with over 50% Merlot lending soft tannin. This is a great QPR. (91 pts.)

2014 Château Prieuré-Lichine – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
Lovely wine. While it clamps down on the finish, the opening is engaging and conveys a smooth texture that bodes well for aging in bottle. (91 pts.)

Domaine de Chevalier owner Olivier Bernard having a chat with one of many tasters in New York

A pleasure to taste the red Graves, where you find good quality throughout albeit with stylistic differences

2014 Château Bouscaut – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
A solid red Graves, that comes across perhaps a bit high toned, but not as much as the 2008 did when it was being tasted first from bottle five years ago. Give it time to mature in bottle, as much red fruit and nuance on the palate, which has medium plus body and a medium plus finish. (90 pts.)

2014 Château Carbonnieux – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
A slight let down after the promise from barrel. Not as intense or as concentrated as the Bouscaut tasted just before, coming across as somewhat light and quite high in acidity. But, hey, this would go very well with a barbecued steak and it is tasty. So there you are! (88 pts.)

2014 Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
I sometimes worry about the high amount of new oak used to make this wine and sometimes it comes through too much, but not in this vintage. Really opulent, with quite a bit of serious tannic grip for the long haul. Full bodied and a long finish without being modern glossy but more serious and worthy of cellar aging. Nice. (92 pts.)

2014 Domaine de Chevalier – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
This proved the promise from barrel, hitting the higher end of my score range when tasted en primeur. Really lovely because at once smoothly textured, elegant, nuanced and substantial. There is a long and lingering finish that beguiles. Great Graves indeed. (94 pts.)

2014 Château de Fieuzal – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
Fine grip and rich on the palate, with dark and red fruits but lacking the finesse of the best Graves at this tasting, and just somewhat hard tannin on the finish. (89 pts.)

2014 Château de France – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
Always a lighter weight red compared to some of its siblings in Graves, but just a great job in 2014, with a smooth and bright delivery in a medium scale with a medium finish. Recommended purchase as a likely interesting QPR. (89 pts.)

2014 Château Haut-Bailly – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
As expected (also what was suggested from barrel), this wine exudes pristine focus and elegance and freshness. I realize that some people who prefer the style of, say, Pape Clement, may not appreciate Haut Bailly as much, but this is my style of wine. I would say that Domaine de Chevalier in 2014 has a bit more mid-palate richness that edges above, as does Smith Haut Lafitte, but Haut Bailly pleases with refinement and a long, subtle finish. Give it time in bottle to truly appreciate. (93 pts.)

2014 Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
Somewhat marked by the high acidity of the vintage with just slightly underripe tannins, this wine nevertheless conveys freshness and charm with mid palate juiciness (red fruits, mostly) and a smooth medium finish. (88 pts.)

2014 Château La Tour-Martillac – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
The nose is engaging with a cornucopia of fresh red and dark fruit, followed through by a brisk and rather tight palate at this early stage of development, marked, as others can be in this vintage, more by acidity than by super ripe fruit. Still, the freshness and lift on the finish make it an appealing Graves! (89 pts.)

2014 Château La Louvière – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
A slight disappointment for me as I got a bit too much green on the palate here that detracted enough from the positives, which include briskness and freshness and lift, along with red fruit of course. But I was not getting past an underripe aspect that bothered. (87 pts.)

2014 Château Malartic-Lagravière – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
Very rich and up front fruit offers hedonistic pleasure. The wine seems to come from a more solar vintage, so kudos to the estate for making this so appealing. It has a modern somewhat glossy feel but never drying or hard, so the seamless richness pleases my senses! (92 pts.)

Jean Jacques Bonnie of Malartic Lagraviere

2014 Château Olivier – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
This is my style of Graves and underrated in my opinion, as it conveys a smooth and elegant style, more refined than rich, with pleasing palate sap and a long finish. Nice! (91 pts.)

2014 Château Pape Clément – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
Pays your money and takes your choice. Opulent and full of dark fruit on the mid palate, this wine envelopes your senses. I am less enthusiastic about the finish, however, which seems marked by some drying (oak-derived, it seems) tannins. (92 pts.)

2014 Château Smith Haut Lafitte – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
Bravo to the Cathiards for crafting this fresh yet substantial wine that mixed red and black fruits on the nose and on the palate, which is smooth and savory, with a burgeoning complexity. Having tasted the 2000 earlier for lunch with the New York Wine Media Guild, the 2014 reminds me of a younger version of that very successful Y2K at this estate. Give it time and the score may go up. (93 pts.)

Overall a fine series of Right Bank wines, starting with Saint Emilion 

2014 Château Beau-Séjour Bécot – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
Better from bottle than from barrel. Plum and red fruit, juicy on the palate, fine concentration and just a pleasure to drink, with never overripe Merlot pleasing the senses to a long finish, with lift. Nice! (92 pts.)

2014 Château Canon – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
A superb wine that more than fulfills my impression from barrel. Fine grained tannins and a multi-layered feel on the palate, that is smooth and nuanced in flavor, combining floral freshness with ripe fruit driven opulence and finesse. Long and subtle finish. Bravo! One of the very best reds tasted today, if not the best. (94+ pts.)

Perhaps my favorite red 2014 that I tasted from bottle in New York City

2014 Château Canon-la-Gaffelière – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
I love the full body and concentration here, very fruit driven with some freshness. Alas, somewhat like Pape Clement, it ends on some oak derived and slightly drying tannins that detract. But just a bit, and not enough to reduce my overall excellent impression, as some tasters are less sensitive to this. (92 pts.)

2014 Clos Fourtet – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
Loads of plum and spice, with touches of vanilla. Somewhat like Canon La Gaffeliere, but there is slightly more floral aspects and brightness to this wine, even though a bit of oak derivation is felt on the finish. (92 pts.)

2014 Château La Gaffelière – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
I could not give this a 90 or above because I felt that the tannins were a bit too hard for that. While the fruit is there and sap comes through on the mid palate, the end game is rather hard on the gums. Give it time in bottle to see how it pans out… (89 pts.)

2014 Château Grand Mayne – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
Bravo to Grand Mayne! This conveys succulence and fine tannin at once, with spicy fruit and excellent integration of oak. While not as precise and floral as Canon, this is an excellent Saint Emilion in 2014 from bottle! (92 pts.)

2014 Château Villemaurine – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
As experienced from barrel, this wine has briskness on the attack and smoothness on the mid palate but the finish is marked by somewhat edgy tannins. (89 pts.)

Pomerols 

2014 Château Beauregard – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
Much better from barrel! This is lovely and perfumed in its expression, with mid palate sap and opulence, and just finely grained tannins that leave a smooth texture on the palate, and a lingering finish. Bravo. (92 pts.)

Vincent Priou of Beauregard and Dany Rolland of Bon Pasteur

2014 Château Le Bon Pasteur – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
I love the fruit and a certain pleasing density on the palate, but I feel some oak extraction that is enough to bug me. For lovers of the style, however, score higher. (90 pts.)

2014 Château La Cabanne – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
Wow, I was really pleased with this estate from barrel and it is proven again in bottle. Softer touch, with fine expressions of ripe red and black fruit, medium concentration and a smooth texture leading to a medium finish. (90 pts.)

2014 Château Clinet – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
As experienced from barrel, an excellent wine! Juicy red fruit, rich mid palate, with some cooler fruit on the finish, never too drying or modern glossy or high alcohol (as it can be in other vintages). The high tone lends lift. (92 pts.)

2014 Château Gazin Pomerol – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
The candied fruit nose is quite intense, but then the palate conveys richness and concentration that never goes “overboard” and thus leaves the impression of a suave and sensual Pomerol. Nice job! (91 pts.)

2014 Château La Pointe – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
Well, well, well. Possibly one of the very best La Pointes I have tried. Smooth, rich and nuanced, and better than the barrel sample. (91 pts.)

Mark Wessels of MacArthur Beverages (Washington D.C.) and my sister Konstantina Zaras

An excellent showing from the Saint Juliens

2014 Château Beychevelle – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
An excellent Saint Julien! Smooth and elegant and long on the finish. Bravo! (93 pts.)

2014 Château Branaire-Ducru – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Another fine Saint Julien, displaying nuance and elegance as well as fine body leading to a long finish. (93 pts.)

2014 Château Gloria – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Saint Julien did very well in 2014, as evidenced from this tasting. While not as floral as the Beychevelle or as concentrated as the Branaire, tasted before, this 2014 has a smooth texture and pleasing body. (91 pts.)

2014 Château Langoa Barton – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Fulfills its promise from barrel with a smooth palate, and fine grained tannins. Ripe fruit with wet stone like minerality leading to a lingering finish make Langoa an excellent wine from bottle in 2014. (92 pts.)

2014 Château Léoville Barton – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
Somewhat like the Pichon Baron, this is powerful and certainly tightly wound. In 2014, the Langoa is clearly more elegant at this very early stage. But there is much substance to the palate and Barton is notorious for taking a bit of time before being ready to drink. I like the full body and the grain of tannin which is very fine. Long finish. (94 pts.)

2014 Château Léoville Poyferré – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
An opulent nose of dark fruit leads to a full bodied and rich palate that has balancing acidity and adequate tension. The high tannin is ripe and smooth and – even somewhat glossy overall – with a long finish, albeit with a hint of noticeable extraction. Give it time in bottle. (94 pts.)

2014 Château Saint-Pierre – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
The 50% new oak is well integrated here yielding a smooth and lip smacking juiciness. While not as profound or deep as, say, Leoville Poyferre, this is an excellent Saint Julien in 2014! (92 pts.)

2014 Château Talbot – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
The Saint Juliens were all rather singing from bottle. This was smooth and savory, with a long finish. (92+ pts.)

Give it some time in your cellar

The Pauillacs are pretty darn good! 

2014 Château d’Armailhac – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
While not as deep or concentrated as its sibling Clerc Milon, this wine certainly offers pleasing ripe fruit and freshness throughout, and has come together since being a touch disjointed from barrel. The texture is smooth on the palate, ending with an agreeable finish. (90 pts.)

2014 Château Clerc Milon – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
Lovely expression of cassis and blackberry fruits, but also raspberry freshness. This displays fine mature Cabernet with some Merlot fat, that lends some richness to the high tone of the vintage. I like the mid palate, much juice and smooth texture, leading to a rather long finish. Nice job indeed! (92 pts.)

2014 Château Grand-Puy Ducasse – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
The least interesting of the Pauillacs tasted, as it comes across somewhat flat. Sure, you get fruit and the appropriate aromatics, but it lacks verve and lift on the finish, which is strictly medium in length. (88 pts.)

2014 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
This was fantastic from barrel and it fulfills its promise in bottle. Such gorgeous perfumed aromatics of bright fruit, and a delicious lip smacking juiciness on the mid palate lead to a long and lifting finish, displaying excellent verve. Bravo! (94 pts.)

2014 Château Lynch-Bages – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
Unlike the Pichon Baron, which comes across rather closed, this wine shows a very smooth texture with much evident sap. A full on Pauillac, with power as well, but I get the feeling that the Lynch Bages has slightly more raw tannin, hence not as high a score. Give it time in bottle. (93 pts.)

2014 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
A gorgeous nose, very pure fruit with pencil lead, graphite, a “minerality” that shows breed. The palate is full bodied, layered and feels substantial, weighty, and yet the tannins clamp down and give off a definitively closed impression. Much going on, give it time! (94 pts.)

I did not get a chance to try too many of the Saint Estephes at the UGCB tasting but the two I tried were both excellent

2014 Château Les Ormes de Pez – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
The seduces you with bright red fruit and a certain beguiling spice, and the palate has fine body and sap but the tannins are just a bit raw. Let’s see how it develops in bottle. (90 pts.)

2014 Château Lafon-Rochet – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
This has much to like, very fine expressions of dark and red fruit. The Somewhat foreboding tannins, which need time to tame, and which is normal, but they are of a fine grain. Medium body and longish finish. I still think the 2014 is more promising (than the 2015). (92 pts.)

Not a false note with the white Graves. 2014 is an excellent vintage here – and even throughout much of France for white wines. 

2014 Château de Chantegrive Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves
Not as good as, say, Bouscaut, but less expensive and much bang for your white Bordeaux buck. Has fine verve and enough creaminess to make it quite appealing indeed. Have it with oysters or snails. (88 pts.)

2014 Château Bouscaut Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
A very attractive white Graves, this, with intriguing herbal and white fruit notes, exuding both brightness and subtle opulence. Bravo! (92 pts.)

A superlative white

2014 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
Certainly fulfills the promise from barrel and then some. Such refined elegance, with white floral notes, subtle wet stone, like a very fine white Burgundy, and focused through to a long finish. Superb. (95 pts.)

2014 Château de Fieuzal Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
This counts among the richer styled white Graves and delivers the goods. It has a juicy red apple aspect that leads to a citrus fruit basket of lemon zest and hints of orange. Excellent palate texture and roundness if not among the most precise. Delicious stuff! (91 pts.)

2014 Château Malartic-Lagravière Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
Here we have a glossy modern aspect, but the mid palate sap and richness tickle the senses with much fruit and flavor, indeed two simple words sufficed as I tried this: “quite tasty!”. (92 pts.)

2014 Château Olivier Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
Far better in bottle than from barrel, where I got a more distinct varietal aspect that detracted just a bit. No hint of that in the final in bottle version. In fact a subtle just ripe enough pear aspect makes you yearn for more, as it has a thirst quenching feel. Smooth texture and long finish. Nice! (92 pts.)

2014 Château Pape Clément Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
I am just remaining neutral on this whilst giving it 92 points. Why? Because some people will go ga-ga over the full throttle, yellow stone fruit taste, which delivers such richness (and suggested sweetness) that you could enjoy this with foie gras. Very well made, and of utmost quality, but not really my style of white Graves. Although perhaps it could depend on the mood! (92 pts.)

Overall, 2014 has lived up to its promise from barrel, so I highly recommend the vintage for many of the reds, especially if you are a fan of cooler fruit expressions.

Being somewhat unfairly eclipsed by 2015 – certainly underrated for the northern Médoc – it offers good buys throughout Bordeaux, and you should take advantage especially now, as the U.S. dollar is stronger than when the wines were released as futures, without too much upward pricing since then.

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6 Comments on “Underrated Bordeaux 2014

  1. I’m sorry Panos, but I don’t agree with you on Montrose 2014 versus 2015 and Pichon Comtesse 2014 and 2015. Ripeness and depth are better in 2015 for both wines and for Comtesse richness and length are more significant. Rain for Montrose 2015 meant nothing as it run quickly down the gravel and eastern wind dried the vineyard in no time!

    • For me, northern medoc and Pessac Leognan were my favorite communes in 2014, Montrose and Pichon Comtesse were real standouts, as well as the Cab franc heavy wines from Lafleur, Haut Brion and Les Carmes Haut Brion (2015 version not as much…). Cheers!

  2. Great notes! I was at the Toronto event and agree with your thoughts on Olivier. Bought both the red and white!

    The top wines for me were Haut Bailly, Leoville Barton, and Pichon Baron.

    Cheers,

    • Thanks for reading! I am glad you enjoyed the notes. Yes, Olivier has been making much progress in recent vintages. Glad you liked Haut Bailly, Leoville Barton and Pichon Baron – all three are a bit backward but they show much promise!

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