Bordeaux – sweet
A vintage hit by hail and downy mildew. Summer was rather too hot, dry and prolonged for serious noble rot to develop so the wines are a little simpler than they might have been, even if the general standard of winemaking in Sauternes and Barsac has been rising perceptibly.
The late April frosts ruined the crop of many estates in Sauternes, and noble rot came very unevenly later in the season, although where producers could afford to be selective, the wines show superb concentration and richness. Some very good wines, then, but not a vintage that will be highly sought after.
Generally lighter than the top vintages, the best sweet Bordeaux in 2016 are refreshing and zesty but not hugely complex. Noble rot came quite late in the season, and some fruit had already been picked when it arrived. Therefore, some of the wines are characterised by raisined flavours rather than the mushroom and marmalade notes of great botrytised whites.
Botrytis affected vineyards evenly and quickly in-between late autumn rains, resulting in very promising harvests. Quality looks to be very good indeed.
A triumph for Sauternes in this vintage, with some botrytis in September and plenty in late October. Some observers are even calling it the best vintage since the turn of the century.
Wildly uneven quality and excruciatingly low yields – but the good ones manage to somehow overcome the adversarial conditions. The top names of Sauternes can be trusted in 2013 in a way that their red counterparts mostly can not.
Will not be remembered fondly by the Sauternais. Headlines were made when Yquem, Rieussec, Suduiraut and Raymond-Lafon announced they would not be making any grand vin. The Barsac region had slightly better conditions, but nobody is pretending this will be a sought-after vintage.
Where red Bordeaux failed, Sauternes triumphed in 2011, giving opulent, rich, fresh wines of excellent quality.
Botrytis was late and irregular this year, giving more delicate and restrained styles than in 2009 and featuring generally lower residual sugar with higher acidity.
Tremendous conditions for the sweet wines; plenty of heat and humidity at the right time have made fantastically rich and concentrated examples, with plenty of complexity and promise.
A pretty ignoble year for noble sweeties, unfortunately: yields were devastated by April frost. The pittance that remained, however, was high quality with plenty of botrytis influence.
Complicated year requiring great precision with both picking schedules and selection. The top properties succeeded yet again.
Not that much botrytis influence.
No shortage of noble rot and almost as much sweetness as 2003 though not quite so much finesse as 2001.
A very difficult year where the strictest selection was needed. Avoid at lower levels. And even the best tend to be pretty light.
Extreme(ly sweet) but not particularly botrytised wines from this extreme(ly hot, dry) growing season.
Vineyards near the rivers were blessed with botrytis. Small crop.
The rain that spoilt the reds encouraged botrytis to such an extent that this is a truly magnificent, long-term vintage, helped by a greater degree of selection and cellar expertise than ever before. Perhaps the greatest Sauternes vintage in modern times.
Some pretty, bumptious wines for relatively short-term drinking but there was too much rain after the red wine harvest for the development of botrytis.
Those producers who used only the very rich, botrytised grapes picked first produced some exciting wines but quality is extremely variable as later-picked grapes suffered somewhat.
Rather loose, early-drinking wines without strong botrytis influence.
Some very attractive, if not especially heavy, wines from the top producers. Ready to start drinking.
Very slightly less successful than the 1997 vintage.
Best Sauternes vintage since 1990 – so probably initially overrated. The noble rot developed so rapidly that most of the grapes were picked by early October. Not the most complex vintage.
Grey rot in September, so choose the châteaux that could afford to be fussy.
Another pretty dreadful autumn, hardly anyone made interesting wine.
Endless rains ruined the crop. Many estates declassified altogether.
After the April frosts a tiny crop was eventually harvested, but not bad.
Massive rich wines that presently seem a shade less complex than 1989 and, especially, 1988.
Huge, almost corpulent wines that are dramatic and exciting.
Of the fabulous trio of vintages this shows more botrytis and elegance and may live longest. The least flashy, a slow burner?
A very strong year, plenty of botrytis and beautifully balanced, though some are a little soft.
Rich and elegant but too little noble rot to add the magic.
The best since 1976, with similar power and size. Good value too!
Overlooked as a white vintage. Limited botrytis but Suduiraut and Yquem were more successful than most.
Much better than the reds, the top châteaux are delicious and affordable.