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En PrimeurBordeaux 2023 Vintage Report

The 2023 growing season in Bordeaux unfolded as a tale of contrasts, blending moments of promise with challenges that tested the resilience of vineyards across the region. While temperatures remained above average for the most part, the season was notably cooler than in 2022.

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Bordeaux 2023: A Vintage Preview

The 2023 growing season in Bordeaux unfolded as a tale of contrasts, blending moments of promise with challenges that tested the resilience of vineyards across the region. While temperatures remained above average for the most part, the season was notably cooler than in 2022.

"Winemakers have had the freedom to play around with lots of components to get where they wanted to be. The results are wines that speak of the terroir, and variety, but are also classic in style, without the scorching heat of the past few years." Armit Wines

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The Growing Season

From the outset, it became apparent that 2023 would be characterised early by warmth and humidity , with nearly every month during the growing season surpassing the average temperatures of the past three decades with February and July deviating from the trend. However, the heat was not as extreme as in 2022. The winter was marked by 17 nights below freezing, setting the stage for a season that demanded vigilance and adaptability from vineyard managers.



"The wines tasted in Saint Emilion have a sense of lusciousness and purity of fruit, driven by the limestone terroir, showing ripe tannins and a racy, fresh acidity." Armit Wines

Highlights: Château Beau-Séjour Bécot, Château de Fonbel, Château Canon 

The Challenges

The season presented its share of challenges, the first of which was intense mildew pressure at the beginning of the growing season, impacting the southern sectors of Médoc. While some appellations and wineries thrived, others faced greater difficulties in realising their full potential. “The vintage was not an across-the-board home run for all appellations or wineries with some smaller wine estates in lesser-known regions seeming to struggle to make really outstanding wines” writes James Suckling.

One of the most pressing issues faced during the 2023 vintage was the occurrence of dried berries, a consequence of earlier mildew pressure exacerbated by the late-season heat spikes. The presence of mildew can adversely affect the taste of wine even in small quantities due to its impact on the grape’s acidity, resulting in wines that lack freshness and balance. Thankfully with modern technology, meticulous sorting and sheer dedication in the vineyards, producers who were proactive in preventing its spread were able to reap the rewards.

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"The wines of Pomerol show opulence, and concentrated black fruit character with a nice tannic firmness supported by balanced acidity. A more classic Bordeaux style with complexity, perfume and freshness." Armit Wines

Highlights: Château Lafleur, Vieux Château Certan, Château La Conseillante 

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The Triumphs

Despite these challenges, there were moments of triumph scattered throughout the vintage. The diverse terroirs of Bordeaux meant that the estates with well-drained soils saw minimum impact from mildew- mainly in the Northern Médoc where terroirs are heavily based in limestone soils which played a pivotal role in mitigating the effects of heat and dryness, preserving the freshness and vigour of the vines. Those who leveraged modern technology found themselves better equipped to navigate the complexities of the growing season.

The reds especially are poised to offer consumers a compelling narrative of the vintage, characterised by remarkable structure (due to lower alcohols) and vibrant acidities. The dry whites are also of excellent quality this year “perhaps better than 2022 in many instances…” writes James Suckling. Whilst, the sweet wines such as Sauternes and Barsac are also sure to impress thanks to heavy early rainfall encouraging botrytis during the growing season.


"The wines of Pessac-Léognan are showing good quality both in reds and whites. The Cabernet Sauvignon took a larger part of the blend, lending more texture, solidity and that classic cassis/violet perfume. The whites show an element of ripeness with tropical fruit, honeycomb, but with focus, tension and salinity." Armit Wines

Highlights: Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Château Larrivet Haut-Brion, Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion

The Harvest

After a rollercoaster of a growing season harvest began on the 20th of August and extended all the way until October 8th, making it one of the longest harvests on record. The ‘Indian Summer’ conditions (which many attribute to saving the vintage and essential in maximising the quality of the fruit), led to a challenging picking season with the heatwave temperatures in extreme cases leading to some grape shrivellingSorting of the grapes in the cellar was essential.

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"The proximity to the ocean has favoured the microclimate of Saint Estephe with a growing season void of excessive mildew pressure, frost or hail storms, giving the ability to pick each variety at optimal maturity. The wines are among the best we have tasted layered with pure cassis-like character, graphite and pressed violets. The tightly-knit tannic frame is supported by great tension resulting in refined and precise wines." Armit Wines

Highlights: Château Montrose, Château Calon Ségur, Château Phélan-Ségur

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The young parcels of Merlot were picked slightly early from the 4th of September, and although picking presented its challenges due to intermittent rain on the 10-12th, the Merlot parcels on well-draining soils typically fared better than expected. Growers who waited to pick had the best results allowing them to harvest more precisely over a longer period bringing fruit of exceptional quality.


"The small appellation of Saint-Julien has shown great homogeneity among estates, the wines are finely perfumed and bright with a supple filigree of savoury, chalky tannins." Armit Wines

Highlights: Château Léoville Las Cases, Château Léoville Barton, Château Gruaud-Larose

Cabernet Sauvignon/Franc

Cabernet is said to be of similar quality to the vintages of 2019 and 2020 in terms of sugar and acidity. The prolonged heat wave elevated the quality of the Cabernet Franc on the right bank and the Cabernet Sauvignon on the left bank. However, the terroir type, varietal and age of the vines were essential in determining the quality. Despite the 2023 vintage seeing lower overall volume, prestigious appellations like St-Julien, St-Estèphe, Pauillac, Margaux, and Pomerol saw comparatively generous yields, which should positively impact pricing strategies during the En Primeur campaign.

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"Known to be among the more structured wines of the Medoc, the wines of Pauillac have shown great definition and depth: plush and perfumed with coating, savoury tannins balanced by vibrant freshness." Armit Wines

Highlights: Château Latour, Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

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The Bordeaux 2023 season was a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the winemakers. It is clear the producers who employed meticulous selection methods will reap the rewards. Overall, the Conseil Interprofessionnel Du Vin De Bordeaux (CIVB) declared 2023 a “Good Vintage”.

Looking ahead to the campaign itself, it will be earlier this year, starting on the 29th of April with First Growths set to be leading the charge. Great news for those of us with early summer plans. There has been a lot of speculation around price this year, with many negociants predicting attractive cuts where required. A lot of scores are yet to be released but if the critics determine the quality of the wines to be as good as early indications, and they are priced attractively, we will certainly have a very exciting campaign on our hands.


"The second largest appellation in the Left Bank, in Margaux the Cabernet Sauvignon shines in the glass and represents the core of the blend for many estates, giving a certain muscularity and firmness without being imposing: bright and floral, the wines of this appellation are quite exuberant and seductive in 2023." Armit Wines 

Highlights: Château Palmer, Château Brane-Cantenac, Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux