Wow! The hype is just about true, even if there are notable exceptions. What an amazing vintage...
Just back from the great Bordeaux 2005 tasting experience and feeling thoroughly uplifted and very enthusiastic about a high proportion of the wines – a higher proportion than ever before, I'd say. There are some absolutely stunning successes, as you'll see as I publish my notes, commune by commune over the next couple of weeks, on a total of well over 600 wines, many tasted more than once.
The best wines are chock full of everything but not overweighted in any single direction. They also have a lovely brilliance and freshness about them that to my palate makes them definitely springlike rather than autumnal. But then they have so much (generally delightfully ripe) tannin that for the first time ever I find myself recommending drinking dates long after my likely demise.
There are also alas some real disappointments so, contrary to my expectations, this is not a vintage to buy almost without a care. In fact I think 2000 was possibly more consistent right down the ranks and across the appellations, even if less extraordinary in terms of the forces that shaped it and the constitution of the best wines. See more detail in my overall reports on the vintage in fine wine news on 15 apr and 22 apr and in the individual tasting notes articles listed below.
Please note that I could not possibly have published my notes so quickly and efficiently were it not for the fantastic help I had from Julia Harding MW. She did all the driving and tasted many of the wines, so providing me with excellent back-up. When we had a range of less-than-tiptop wines that was too big for one person, we split the work, as you will see from the initials (JH) at the end of tasting notes written by her. Furthermore, at the end of our very concentrated seven days of tasting when it became clear that there was a great deal of processing of tasting notes to be done, she bravely foreswore the big right bank and Pessac-Léognan tastings to concentrate on getting the notes into shape for your delectation. Greater love for purple pagers hath no woman. "Have you not heard of the Geneva Convention?" commented my wine-loving son when I reported this instance of slave-driving.
Please note that, as explained already, unlike the merchants, we tasted these cask samples blind when at all possible. If there were surprising results, we did our utmost to re-taste, and many of the wines described have been tasted several times.
The malolactics were exceptionally long and late for 2005s and some wines, particularly those on the rich clay-limestones of St-Emilion were so high in alcohol they still hadn't finished their malos. A few strange terms: I have used the French word aérien in a few instances to describe the most airborne, non-earthbound wines that seemed almost ethereal in their appeal. This was a characteristic of some of the best wines. I may also have used the term IPT, the index of total phenolics (usually tannins) which was particularly high in 2005.