The notes were written by Mike Supple and myself (Shaun Bishop). In all, we tasted about 100 wines a day, but have only posted notes on about half. We will add additional notes in the coming days, including some from Le Pin and Vieux Chateau Certan among others.
The 2005 vintage in Bordeaux was characterized by exceptional climate. The winter was colder than average which caused the buds to break a bit earlier. Then, a hot, sunny spring brought about even vegetation growth which led to a quick flowering. The summer saw only four inches of rain between May 1 and harvest – that is about half the average of the past 30 years. Unlike 2003, the weather was not extremely hot…just very dry. All this lead to very consistent quality across all the appellations as well as up and down the tiers of the various Chateaus, making for especially great buys in the lower levels. In addition, the second labels of many of the top Chateaus will prove to be terrific wines at reasonable prices. What the splendid weather conditions did for the wines was give them slightly higher alcohols (Chateau Margaux saw record alcohol levels of up to 15.5% in their Merlot), high tannins, crisp acidity as well as high pH. The end result is total harmony - rich wines that are in balance with a degree of freshness.
As for the individual wines, Cheval Blanc, Ausone and Margaux were simply stunning and at this point, one of these is the candidate for wine of the vintage. There were other wines that you might ‘expect’ to be in the top tier and then there were a few ‘upside surprises’, such as Smith-Haut-Lafitte, La Tour Figeac, Pichon Longueville Baron, Trotanoy, Malescot St-Exupery, Grand Mayne, Larcis Ducasse, Chauvin, Clos Fourtet, Haut Bergey, and Larrivet Haut Brion to mention a few. All in all, there was terrific quality across the board with a slight bias toward the Right Bank.