Looking Backward/Looking Forward: 2000 vs 2001 Bordeaux
BY NEAL MARTIN | SEPTEMBER 23, 2021
We are only 21 years into the new millennium, and 2000 already feels like a train disappearing over a distant temporal horizon. Let’s take a nostalgic trip back in time… Flip-top Nokias. Napster downloads. Y2K Armageddon. *NSYNC. Gladiator. The Millennium Dome. Tiger Woods wins four golf majors. Big Brother. The Sims. Will Ross and Rachel get together? Pirouetting Billy Elliot. Chris Martin walking down a beach singing about his favorite color (yellow, in case you forgot).
The vintages under the microscope in this article hail from a time before 9/11. They predate the iPhone and the internet’s omnipresence. They were born before Bordeaux’s rebranding as a global luxury item, and when “high” alcohol was 13 percent – and also before I was writing. Back then, I worked for a Japanese wine importer in London, but I remember visiting Bordeaux during the 2000 en primeur campaign and feeling the palpable excitement about the wines. Proprietors, bless ’em, could barely contain their adoration for the millennial babies, convinced that they would represent the apotheosis of claret for years to come.
Traditionally, I have always endeavored to taste Bordeaux vintages after 20 years. That is an ideal juncture at which to assess a wine’s trajectory of maturation and how far it may travel. Is it fulfilling its promise or surpassing it? Does it live up to its billing?
At two decades, the furcation between châteaux allows you to gauge whether quality is evenly spread geographically, or clustered in certain pockets, and if so, to understand the reasons behind that. So when I was finally able to travel to Bordeaux post-lockdown, I seized the opportunity. And if winemakers were happy to show their 2000, would they mind opening their 2001 to compare? Instead of a vintage retrospective, this round of tastings became far more interesting as a comparative exercise; juxtaposing consecutive vintages with different backstories and different evolutions, and, as I found to my surprise, ending and beginning two different epochs for Bordeaux.
The Growing Seasons
2000 - The numerical significance and favorable growing season lit the touchpaper for the hype that surrounded the 2000 Bordeaux primeur campaign. Following a run of good but not great vintages in the late 1990s, winemakers, merchants and consumers were eager for a vintage to really get behind – and 2000 delivered. But it was not a growing season without challenges. The year began as the region was recovering from a destructive storm on December 26 that had felled some 400,000 trees and taken lives. January was normal for the season; February was warmer but rainy. Vines awoke from their dormancy around March 14 and temperatures continued to rise steadily throughout the following weeks, reaching 30°C in mid-May. The first flowers began to speckle the landscape on June 1, and full flowering arrived a week later. A combination of showers and warm temperatures provoked mildew that obliged vineyard managers to be on top of their game in terms of spraying their vines. July was cooler than average, with storms on July 3 and 24; at this time, it was still uncertain where the growing season was heading. That question was answered on July 29, when a large high-pressure system squatted over the region. August remained sunny, with temperatures peaking around 35°C, then dropping after rainfall on August 25 and 26. This rain was welcome, as there had been localized hydric stress on gravel soils and younger vines. Despite brief outbreaks of rain in early September, temperatures remained high, up to 33°C. Haut-Brion began picking their reds on September 13, Cheval Blanc the following day, and the Merlot harvest kicked off in earnest under perfect conditions on September 21. The media began to get excited. On September 27, Sud Ouest newspaper declared, “Le millésime 2000 s’annonce grandiose” – before much of the Cabernet had even been picked. But the breathless headlines were premature. A forecasted storm swept across the region from the evening of September 28, which encouraged some châteaux to expedite their harvest, while others opted to wait it out. The Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon started their picking from October 2 under cooler and more autumnal conditions. The optimal picking window was shorter than in 2005, for example; the door slammed shut on October 10, when the weather deteriorated considerably until November.
2001 – A high-pressure system lodged itself over Bordeaux between November and January, resulting in a very wet and warm winter. Pruning was delayed because the sap would not go down. That changed on January 15, when temperatures fell and the vines shut down. However, warmth returned in March and bud-burst began on March 19. April was cool, which retarded the vines’ growth, although despite frost alerts, a westerly wind managed to blow the cold air away, except in southern Léognan and Blaye on April 20. May saw the mercury rising, and growth sped ahead. There were perfect conditions during flowering in early June: 20°C to 25°C with a light breeze. Flowering was around five days later than the previous two years, though June was hot, notching up seven days in excess of 30°C, during which many chefs du culture thinned their crop and de-leafed canopies. Then July witnessed a fortnight of cold and rainy weather that only served to dampen spirits, since rain was not required following such a wet winter. Some areas saw 91% more rain than usual. The pendulum swung back the other way with a heat wave from July 21 to August 1, but after that, the weather never settled, and the fruit found it difficult to achieve concentration. “Chaotic” is how Bill Blatch described it in his annual growing season summary, with “jabs of heat.” This led to a delayed and spun-out véraison and a much more gradual and irregular ripening than in 2000, encouraging more vineyard managers to lop off bunches. September was not hot like the previous year, though it was very constant, with daytime temperatures of 20°C to 25°C. This allowed skins to thicken, anthocyanins to build, and sugar to accumulate, albeit in discreet fashion. Thankfully, it was very dry, avoiding any swelling of grapes that still had ample water reserves.
The dry whites were picked from September 10 and the Médoc reds from October 1, after a forecast of heavy rain that never really materialized. There was significant rainfall on October 3, but the southerly wind soon dried the vineyards, and most of the Cabernets were picked in the middle of the month, when temperatures reached 25°C. Vinifications were quite prolonged, partly because night temperatures were low and partly because winemakers aimed for finer wines than in 2000, with more fruit and less structure. Soft extractions were common. Many winemakers expected a shorter maceration time, but when they saw the intrinsic balance of the 2001, they opted for longer macerations – up to 30 days in some cases.
Before broaching the wines, it is important to offer some context. As I mentioned in my introduction, I attended both 2000 and 2001 en primeur tastings and wrote copious notes, though those observations predate my writing career. At that time, fine wine was not the global luxury item it is today, and even though Bordeaux had greater reach in terms of familiarity than other regions (such as Burgundy), it was a niche interest. The internet was still in its infancy, so information spread through traditional media, monthly magazines and newspaper columnists.
The 2000 vintage came after a rather fallow decade of indubitably great growing seasons. While the Nineties had offered up the 1995 and the 1996, these were not quite anointed with unanimous praise, not least the distinctly average Right Bank wines in 1996. Therefore, there was pent-up enthusiasm for a vintage that winemakers, merchants and consumers could enthuse about. And critics, of course. One cannot write about 2000 without mentioning the praise lavished by Robert Parker. When he announced that it was the best vintage since 1990, he heightened demand to almost fever pitch. “The 2000 vintage was, of course, a very successful en primeur campaign,” Stephen Browett at Farr Vintners told me. “It was our best ever by a long way, until 2009 came along. We sold 47,000 cases, the biggest-selling wine being the 2000 Lynch-Bages at £395 per dozen (now worth £2,500). The 2001 [campaign] was way smaller and we sold 7,400 cases. It was completely overshadowed by the millennial demand for 2000, and it has remained a rather overlooked vintage. The 2001 Lynch-Bages came out at £240 per dozen.” Lilian Barton-Sartorius at Léoville-Barton recalled how the price of their 2000 tripled after release, while the 2001 stayed about the same.
It is always difficult for a vintage to follow hot on the heels of one as lauded as 2000. The 2001 was reported as a “lighter” and more “elegant” vintage on release, when these were seen not as virtues but as indications of lesser-quality, less age-worthy claret. They appealed to the coterie of those who lamented the loss of that style of wine (the so-called traditionalists). Nevertheless, Sauternes aside, 2001 initially stayed in the shadow of 2000. Yet, as early as the barrel tastings, there were murmurings that the Pomerols and Saint-Émilions had great potential. A few winemakers on the Right Bank blasphemed by suggesting that their 2001s were superior to their millennial counterparts. I remember both Jean-Claude Berrouet at Petrus and the late Denis Durantou at L’Église-Clinet saying just that as they poured their unfinished 2001s that April.
As the years rolled by, more and more voices joined Jean-Claude and Denis’s chorus line. There was snowballing appreciation of the Right Bank 2001s, until only a handful of châteaux upheld that their 2000s were the better of the two. In tandem with this revised estimation of 2001, there were rumors that the 2000s had been over-praised and were not maturing as well as predicted. As the trend for lighter and more terroir-driven wines gathered pace, winemakers began to downplay their 2000s. The commonly heard phrase was, “My 2001 is the style that I want to make.”
The last time I conducted a comprehensive assessment of 2000 was at Bordeaux Index’s Ten Years On tasting, when I wrote: “Bordeaux 2000s remain structured, masculine wines; the tannins occasionally brusque and obdurate; the texture perhaps hard, occasionally chalky and rarely supple; acidity levels noticeable, occasionally racy but overall, in tune with the vintage. There is a surfeit of freshness and vitality, I suspect imparted by the cooler October climes and the growing season shutting the door firmly on 10 October, ensuring there was no opportunity to pick too late and over-ripe. The converse is truer. Some of the wines displayed green/vegetal characteristics and I have remarked on them below, with some famous culprits. But there is no doubt that apropos 2000 Bordeaux, greatness is in its DNA, a vintage that transcends its numerical significance.”
With respect to 2001, I dug out an in-bottle report from Wine-Journal in 2005 where I wrote: “Towards the end [of the tasting] I concluded that this may well be a vintage that has been overlooked by many, including those that spent all their money on the 2000 vintage. Perhaps in years to come, the 2000s which have already become too expensive to consume without guilt will be sold to make way for the 2001 vintage, as the wine cognoscenti realise the quality on offer. This is a fine, under-appreciated vintage for the benefit of those that love good-drinking claret.”
When 2005 hit the headlines, it usurped 2000, shoving it out of its eminent position; likewise 2009 and 2010 when they came along. The 2000 vintage was almost forgotten. To someone who experienced the initial flurry of adulation on its release, this is an unexpected turn of events – and one reason why I wanted to go back and examine the 2000s.
This report contains over 100 tasting notes composed during my tour of Bordeaux châteaux in the first three weeks of June 2021. Not every 2000 and 2001 pairing is included because I have preserved some for forthcoming verticals. These include Montrose, Lafon-Rochet, Branas Grand Poujeaux and Lynch-Bages, that will appear in due course and the just published La Mission Haut-Brion.
Focusing on these two vintages seemed to be just as stimulating for proprietors and head winemakers as it was for me. There was no “distraction” from other vintages. It was an either/or choice: 2000 or 2001? Many winemakers had not tasted the two vintages for a long time and were occasionally surprised by the showings, sometimes discovering facets of the wines that they had not previously noticed.
The Right Bank
The first pair that I actually tasted was Cheval Blanc. “I remember during en primeur, this wine was tight and austere,” technical director Pierre-Olivier Clouet told me as we tasted the 2001. Though less pixelated than recent vintages, the 2000 Cheval Blanc has a feral charm that is utterly irresistible, while the 2001 is initially stricter, yet opens up magnificently over two or three hours and passes the 2000 in its slipstream. Examining the pair side by side over three or four hours was enlightening, and thereafter, I allocated as much time as possible to each pairing, often requesting that they were decanted beforehand.
Cheval Blanc 2000 and 2001 is not an inexpensive pairing. Why not try the 2000 and 2001 Roc de Cambes, the Côte de Bourg from François Mitjavile that proves his wine can age gracefully for two decades and more and still offers immense pleasure? Likewise, Mitjavile’s 2000 and 2001 Tertre-Rôteboeuf showed supremely well, especially the 2001, which, similar to Cheval Blanc, responds to aeration and improves with every swirl of the glass. At Angélus, where I tasted with Stéphanie de Boüard, the 2001 is clearly more complex on the nose compared to 2000 and shows welcome reserve on the finish.
At Troplong-Mondot, I tasted the wines with Aymeric de Gironde in the tasting room of their new winery overlooking the vineyard. “The 1999 was last vintage under Michel Rolland,” de Gironde informed me. “This was made with [oenologist] Jean-Philippe Fort from 2000, and he smoothed some of the harsh tannins. The 2000 includes some north-facing Cabernet Sauvignon, which was removed before the following vintage. The 2001 was the first to use the new plantings we had made in 1998. This was when we began installing drainage in the vineyard, which has made ripening easier.” Perhaps against my expectations, here the 2001 is just pipped by the 2000, which initially lacks a bit of charm and yet meliorates in the glass, gaining more freshness, and the Cabernet perhaps imparting more backbone.
Regarding Pomerol, before going any further, no, I did not taste the 2000 and 2001 Petrus when I met Olivier Berrouet, but readers can refer to my report that includes these two vintages. However, Jacques Thienpont opened his 2000 and 2001 Le Pin. His “better half,” Fiona Morrison MW, remembers that time well. “Frank Prial was here with CNN and they chose Le Pin to do a film on vintage 2000,” she recalled. “They were here for a couple of days and in our faces from dawn to dusk during picking. Prial was lovely. I remember opening the tap on the vat of the 2000 and it just smelled of mocha and chocolate. He said that it already smelled of Le Pin. Those aromas… that is my abiding memory.” Jacques Thienpont, brandishing his glass of 2001, then told me: “We loved the 2001 all through the summer. You couldn’t talk about it because everyone was talking about the 2000. But the grapes were so good. Nothing was forced with that 2001.” At 20 years of age, there is one clear winner: the 2001 Le Pin. Without wishing to disparage the previous vintage, the 2001 unequivocally has far greater complexity, freshness and class. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it is one of Le Pin’s greatest achievements to date, up there with the legendary 1982. Jacques was beaming with delight. No wonder.
There are a few Pomerol 2001s without their millennial counterparts, sometimes because, like at J-P Moueix, they have so few bottles remaining. Of the three that Edouard Moueix poured, the 2001 Trotanoy stood out. It’s a splendid wine that needs a couple of hours to really open, having finally gotten rid of the bolshiness it showed in its youth. As usual, this is a long-term prospect, so cellar it for a few more years. The 2001 La Fleur-Pétrus is more approachable, if a little more rustic and lighter than the Trotanoy. I was never taken with the 2001 Hosanna. This was a period when the wine felt big and brawny, and this bottle suggests that some of the fruit did not quite reach phenolic ripeness. It is not a bad wine by a long way, yet it pales compared to stellar recent vintages, and bottles should be consumed in the near future. Baptiste Guinaudeau opened a bottle of 2001 Lafleur that matched my previous experiences, again, benefiting from two or three hours of exposure. While not in the same league as the incredible 2000 Lafleur, this is a great wine, a little ferrous in style, with a gorgeous, peppery finish. Readers should note that I added one bottle of 2001 Vieux Château Certan that came from my own cellar.
There were a few other pairs from Pomerol, including the 2000 and 2001 La Pointe, part of a vertical organized by Eric Monneret; the latter is clearly maturing with more class. About Clos du Clocher and La Cabanne, frankly, they both produce far superior wines nowadays, so bottles should be consumed soon.
The Left Bank
The Left Bank provided many interesting comparisons between the two vintages. What I took away from my tastings is that the top estates, in particular First Growths, triumphed in 2000, and the wines often overshadow their 2001s. However, expanding the purview across all the Left Bank wines, I prefer the 2001 vintage at 20 years of age.
It may be playing the same old record, but the 2000 Latour is a contender for wine of the vintage, a majestic First Growth flirting with perfection. Head winemaker Hélène Genin told me that 2000 was her final year as an intern as part of her oenology studies. “It was the first vintage with the new chai,” Frédéric Engerer told me when he joined us. I asked him what difference that made to their working methods. “It’s a question of using large 200-hectoliter vats and small vats, pumping and using big tubes [instead of gravity] and doing more sorting. The same team was in the vineyard.” If your wallet does not open wide enough for the 2000 Latour, rest assured that the 2000 Les Forts de Latour is frankly equal or even superior to many a Grand Cru Classé this year and surely constitutes one of the greatest Deuxième Vins ever made. It’s a pity that the 2001 Latour had to follow these 2000s, because it’s a great wine, and this bottle, in fact, is the best example of many that I have tasted over the years.
“The 2000 [vintage] is supposed to be better, but 2001 was an incredible surprise, opening rapidly and staying open for a long time,” head winemaker Eric Kohler opined when I visited Lafite-Rothschild. “We thought the 2001s would not be long-term. Today the curves of 2000 and 2001 are maybe crossing. The 2000 Lafite-Rothschild remained closed for 18 years, but now the 2000 is beginning to arrive. In 2000 everything was so good. In my heart I knew it would be my first great vintage.” Unlike Latour, where there is clearly a difference between the two, it’s hard to pick between the 2000 and 2001 Lafite-Rothschild, though now the former has the edge. But I agree that the gap is narrow, and I would not bet against the 2001 overtaking the 2000 in the future.
With respect to Mouton-Rothschild, I will not pull any punches. I was never impressed by the 2000 Mouton-Rothschild, which was made by the late Patrick Léon. Subsequent tastings, both sighted and blind, have not altered my opinion, and that includes this latest assessment, where I much preferred the superior 2001 Mouton-Rothschild. I asked current winemaker Jean-Emmanuel Danjoy, then working at Clerc-Milon, what changed between then and now. “The type of vin de presse is quite different,” he elucidated. “We’ve always used a vertical press, but today [the pressed wine] is richer and makes more of an impact. In the past we used around 20% pressed wine, but nowadays it’s only around 10–11%. This means that we can do a shorter maceration at lower temperatures. It rarely passes 30°C. Also, some of the pressed wine back then would have come from deselected lots, whereas now it only comes from plots used for the Grand Vin.”
The one challenger to Latour’s supremacy on the Left Bank is the sensational Château Margaux. This was overseen by the much-missed Paul Pontallier, who was working alongside Philippe Bascaules at the time. “The 2000 Château Margaux is my favorite vintage,” Bascaules told me. “It was a difficult spring with mildew. The beginning of September was dry and there was strong hydric stress, relieved by intermittent rainfall. Compare this to, say, 1998, when there was no relief. The 2000 was the first vintage with a high level of concentration like the 1986, but the charm and opulence of Château Margaux. And the 1986 was not approachable for 20 years, whereas the 2000 has always been drinkable. It marked the beginning of an era where there is better tannin ripeness with more concentration and at the same time high acidity. The 2000 Château Margaux had a low pH compared to vintages such as 1990. We had never made a vintage like it before. For the 2001 vintage, that was a late harvest with a relatively high proportion of Petit Verdot – in fact, the most ever. It reached full ripeness and in good quantity. These three or four hectares [of Petit Verdot] were pulled up in the Noughties, although there are still some old vines planted back in 1928. The young Petit Verdot goes into Pavillon Rouge now.” Bascaule admitted that the 2001 Château Margaux was a more challenging vintage than 2000, and that is translated into the wines. Like Latour, the 2000 is clearly the better of the two, an audacious yet beguilingly elegant Margaux that will age for another 40 or 50 years.
At Haut-Brion, I tasted the First Growth alongside the La Mission Haut-Brion with Jean-Philippe Delmas. The latter are included in my recent vertical published on Vinous. “My father [Jean-Bernard] was the boss,” replied Delmas when I asked who oversaw these vintages. “His last vintage was 2003. In 2000 I was very fortunate because the Dillon family had allowed me to learn close to my father for 10 years. There was a lot of exchange of information just through speaking. When my grandfather talked to my father, I wrote everything down. Two thousand is what you call a chaise-longue vintage, like 2005, but in 2001 it was very humid in July.” Delmas produced two great wines in those vintages. Though I prefer the 2000 Haut-Brion, its follow-up is certainly no slouch, and it’s interesting to see that the alcohol levels are 13.2° compared to around 15.0° in recent vintages. As an aside, many of the alcohol levels are between 12.5° and 13.5°; how amusing to think that these were considered high at the time.
Another estate where the 2000 trumps the 2001 is Léoville Las Cases; the former is a brilliant, audacious wine equal to most of the First Growths. At Beychevelle, Philippe Blanc remarked: “For me, 2000 is the last wine with obvious greenness and capsicum. It’s a vintage that shows well with decanting and food. The 2001 has more flesh. It was an underdog but now it’s doing quite well.” The 2000 Grand Puy-Lacoste just has the edge over 2001; likewise, the 2000 Pichon-Baron is reaching its peak and has a little more persistence compared to the elegant 2001. It is the same at Palmer, where Thomas Duroux, who was working in the Languedoc for the Mondavis in 2000 and then at Ornellaia the following year, remarked that the difference between now and then is the improvements in extraction.
However, there are several estates where at 20 years on, the 2001 is the better wine and has more to offer consumers, even on the Left Bank. Take Branaire-Ducru, for example. This was an interesting juncture for the estate because both 2000 and 2001 were made by Philippe Dhalluin before he transferred to Mouton-Rothschild in 2002. “The 2000 Branaire-Ducru is a vintage that we rediscovered two or three years ago, and we often serve it at dinners,” current winemaker Jean-Dominique Videau told me. “For a long time, I preferred the 2001, even if the 2000 was more complex, which was difficult to understand. It’s an older-style Cabernet Sauvignon with some pyrazines on the nose, though this greenness has turned into a spiciness. The 2001 is more precise and fruit-focused. There is better control of brettanomyces nowadays, which you don’t get in 2001.” Frédéric-Xavier Maroteaux, who was doing his baccalaureate in Paris at the time, commented: “When you eat, the 2000 Branaire-Ducru is great. This kind of wine needs time in bottle and needs to be served with food.” Perhaps. Yet, I still lean toward the 2001 because of that freshness and vibrancy and, at this stage, its greater longevity.
Two Margaux winemakers highlighted the difference at the estates between now and then. Henri Lurton explained: “There was no pressed wine in 2000, which was the second vintage in the new cellar. The 2000 Brane-Cantenac is only 27% of the production because of the strict selection. It was not a homogenous vintage and there was a difference between the top of the plateau and the rest [of the vineyard]. We took the risk to de-select those plots when we did the blending with [oenologist] Jacques Boissenot. A lot of grapes were lost in 2001 because of botrytis. I waited too long in a couple of the plots and that is why there is a low percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon [35%].” At Giscours, Alexandre van Beek told me: “When we arrived in 1995, we had a lot of work to do in the vineyard. Some parcels were missing 45% of the vines. In 1996 we organized a planting of 130,000 vines in a single year and changed all the trellising. In 2000 we had 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, but now we have more Cabernet Sauvignon – around 75% of plantings.”
One estate that has changed radically since 2000/2001 is Les Carmes Haut-Brion. Present winemaker Guillaume Pouthier, who was then working at Bordeaux négociant CVBG prior to his tenure with Michel Chapoutier, told me: “There was a different blend in the vineyard back then, with more Merlot that dominated the blend. There were no whole bunches [unlike now] and a traditional vinification with pumping over. For me, the 2001 is above the 2000. In general, I think the 2001s are better.”
Other châteaux where I prefer the 2001 over 2000 include Pape-Clément, Haut-Bailly, Les Carmes Haut-Brion (albeit made in a completely different style than today), Beychevelle, Gruaud-Larose, Langoa and Léoville-Barton, Talbot, Léoville-Poyferré, Calon-Ségur (incidentally, both made by Nicolas Labenne, now at Lynch-Bages), Cos d’Estournel, Lafon-Rochet, Duhart-Milon, d’Armailhac, Clerc-Milon, Pichon-Comtesse de Lalande, Brane-Cantenac, Rauzan-Ségla, Giscours and Potensac. In other words, most of the Left Bank Grand Cru Classés – a pretty substantial roll call.
It is important to consider not only the performance of the 2000 and 2001 vintages today, but also where these wines are heading. What are their respective futures? Freshness and acidity stand the 2001s in good stead. At 20 years old, they have retained much of their youthful vigor. By comparison, except for the First Growths, the 2000s tend to be close in quality and yet more evolved, with more obvious secondary aromas and flavors. They are often delicious, but I have less confidence in many châteaux with respect to long-term cellaring vis-à-vis 2001.
Both the 2000 and 2001 Bordeaux vintages have much to offer. However, their stylistic differences have been exaggerated by the passing of time and their evolutionary paths have pried them apart – dramatically, in some cases. Sometimes the only common feature between the two is temporal proximity.
My take is this. The 2000 vintage is one that looks back in time whereas 2001 looks forward. I can draw a line that connects 2000 with previous vintages in the 1980s and 1990s. The 2000s have the same tropes. Some have not aged in what one might call “distinguished fashion,” and as Philippe Blanc mentioned, there is a touch of underlying greenness that one could (contentiously) argue is an element that many wine-lovers miss. There is undeniably a higher level of brettanomyces that I abide in small measures, but occasionally it comes at the cost of freshness and precision, certainly to a far greater degree than in 2001. The vintage comparisons highlighted their differences, the 2001s often being less advanced in color, fresher and more vivacious on the palate, and offering greater precision and finer tannins, even if they are not as chiseled as contemporary Bordeaux.
When I say that the 2001s look forward in time, I need to qualify that. They look forward toward the decade of the Tens rather than the Noughties. Why? Because many châteaux were still de-leafing and green harvesting, sometimes by rote, to maximize concentration and – let’s face it – satisfy the vogue for bigger and more concentrated wines that tended to receive the highest scores. They were picking late and boasting about the levels of new oak in the Noughties. The sea change occurred in the next decade, and the 2001 vintage has semblances to its counterparts in that era.
In the next article, I turn my attention to the 2001 vintage of Sauternes. Such was its importance, and so lauded was its reception, that it deserves to be examined separately.
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