2023 Vintage Report

2023 can be characterised as a sunny vintage – much less extreme than 2022 but warm with above average temperatures for 4 months and a hot June & September.  Indian summer weather in September brought a few late heat spikes but generally temperatures were much less extreme.


Autumn was mild followed by a welcome rainy winter after the 2022 drought.  January & March were particularly wet, then April was relatively warm compared to seasonal averages kickstarting vigorous growth.  Budburst took place in the first few days of April without any significant cold spells or frost – a relief for growers after the two previous years - setting the scene for a generous crop.

From May, regular rainfall combined with stormy warm weather was the theme of the season.  The threat of mildew was the theme of the season, requiring a constant attention and intervention in the vineyard to keep it under control.  Flowering was even with a window of dry, warm and windy weather making for ideal conditions.

As summer wore on July was warm and drier, helping to advance ripening. August began cool with rain, with a heatspike in middle of the month lasting 4 days before normal temperatures returned.  The second half was warmer with bright and sunny weather, as the dry whites reached full ripeness (harvest beginning from the third week of August)

Early September started off with cool temperatures before another heatspike in the middle of the month.  Rain was then forecast being the threat of mildew &/or dilution, giving estates the dilemma of whether to pick their Cabernet Sauvignon or wait.  The rain when it came was actually less than expected, & those who waited to harvest were rewarded with a Bordeaux Indian summer of warm and dry weather that lasted into October, which allowed for long gradual ripening of Cabernet Sauvignon & Franc.  Many producers commented on the significant time lapse between harvesting their Merlot & Cabernet, as much as two weeks in some cases.

Decisions taken in the vineyard were key to quality, along with strict sorting at harvest.  The constant threat of mildew was very disruptive, especially to organic producers.  Careful sorting was necessary at harvest also, to find dried berries from the September heat or shrivelled berries from mildew - even a small percentage of mildew could affect the fruit character of the blend. 

The vintage reflects the expertise of the individual estates, depending on the resources and ability of each Chateau to react to the challenges in the vineyard - mildew & potential sunburn.  Those with the best terroirs close to the river, or on the limestone & clay terroirs of the Right Bank have once again show their class, and Cabernet (Sauvignon & Franc) is highly successful.  Alcohols are much lower than in 2022, often around 13-13.5 on the Left Bank and 13.9-14.5 on the Right Bank.

Whilst yields vary by property and greatly from appellation to appellation, it is clearly a much bigger crop overall with many prestigious appellations exceeding the ten year average & significantly higher than 2022.  Yields were generous in the Northern Medoc (St Estephe, Pauillac, St Julien) but further south in Margaux, Haut-Medoc, & Pessac-Leognan, they were not so lucky - yields comparatively much lower due to widespread mildew in early summer, and are 10% below the ten year average (though still bigger than 2022). On the Right Bank, after two very small crops, especially in Pomerol, yields are much healthier and Saint Emilion is back to average yields.


Red Wines

After a warm, sunny & much less extreme vintage than 2022, the reds show deep colour, and ripeness without excess. Stylistically the wines resemble 2019 or possibly 2016 with their vibrancy, though with less opulence than the former.

Merlots are fruity but Cabernets seems the star of the show in 2023, often making up a higher propotion of the blend than in previous vintages.  The aromatics were enticing, intense & very fine showing red & black fruit, and floral notes of violet & peony, and the taste is Bordeaux classicism, cassis & elegance.  The theme is freshness, & the vivid fruitiness of the wines means that they should have an early but wide drinking window. 

White wines

2023 is a very good vintage for dry white wines, and much better than 2022.  The wines are balanced and vibrant with bright Sauvignon fruit, richness and fleshy Semillon character in the middle.  Acidities are pleasingly high (& low pH 3.1-3.2) with moderate alcohols of c. 13% vol. 


In Sauternes the crop is slightly smaller than 2022 but from September conditions for noble rot were excellent.  Wines are richer than average – 150g/l residual sugar normal, but there is excellent acidity especially in Barsac (pH average 3.5).