The best of Bordeaux 2007

Our wine columnist Matthew Jukes picks the best Bordeaux vintages from last year – a dreadful summer made it a notoriously tricky year for Bordeaux.

This time last week, I was rolling off a plane at Heathrow, having tasted most of the 2007 vintage en primeur' offerings in Bordeaux. Here is the very first preview, so you can decide whether to invest in a few cases or not.

Firstly, what happened in 2007? You recall the dreadful summer it was the same in Bordeaux. Rain and cold weather retarded the ripening of the grapes. Bunches were dotted with red, pink (lagging behind) and green (totally unripe) berries. If left, these would result in an uneven harvest and wines would taste tart, green' and mean. The best wines come from the chateaux who brought in armies of workers in August to cut off the unripe grapes, and then to leaf-pluck the vines to ensure any sunshine would make its way onto the bunches, hastening the ripening.

In September, the sun came out. The harvest was carried out at the end of September and start of October (a little later than usual). If you hadn't sacrificed the unripe grapes in August, then even though they might look dark and juicy at harvest, they would still be loaded with green tannins and the resulting wine would taste raw and hollow.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

Most of the successful wines on the Left Bank cut their Merlot content; Merlot tends to suck up rain water and taste dilute. Cabernet Sauvignon is more resilient and so is the dominant grape in these blends. But green' Cabernet is truly dreadful, so they had to ensure only the very best barrels went into the main chateau label. Many of the second' wines are Merlot-heavy and wishy-washy.

The Right Bank, despite large plantings of Merlot, did not seem to suffer the dilution issues that plagued the Mdoc/Left Bank and the reliable chateaux-made good wines, especially in Pomerol. But I feel the Cabernet-dominant Left Bank superstars just have the edge in 2007, although there will be a lot of juicy St-Emilions and Pomerols coming onto restaurant lists earlier than usual, giving us some nice, short-term drinking wines.

Julian Chamberlen from Goedhuis & Co, one of the best en primeur' specialists in the UK (020-7793 7900), said: "This is a year that needs very careful inspection before you buy. We have our entire team in Bordeaux analysing every wine and getting under the skin of the vintage in microscopic detail. We have definitely identified the very best 2007s. This year is a case of caveat emptor' like never before".

The wines are undoubtedly more forward than the past few years' wines this is not a bad thing. The main bone of contention will be pricing: 2007 is not as good a vintage as 2005 or 2006. Will the Bordelais ignore the merchants and maintain stellar prices, knowing that emerging markets around the world will mop up the stock? Or will they act responsibly and cut prices in line with their quality? We will find out very soon.

One thing is certain: when the reds have a tricky time, the sweet whites tend to be fantastic. This is true in 2007. You must make sure you buy a case of any of these Sauternes Bastor-Lamontagne; de Fargues; d'Arche; Doisy-Dane; Filhot; Rabaud-Promis; Rieussec; Guiraud; Coutet; Suduiraut; Lafaurie-Peyraguey, or my favourite, La Tour Blanche.

Meanwhile, cast your eyes over the lists below and take my advice these are early drinking wines. If you stick to my tips, you won't go wrong, but do not pay over the odds for them because they are not investment certainties. They are just delicious, medium-weight, harmonious wines for enjoying over the next decade.

Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year Trophy

My favourite wines (at any price)

Chteau Margaux, 1er Cru (Margaux) 19/20

Chteau Ausone, Grand Cru Class A' (St-Emilion) 19/20

Chteau Latour, 1er Cru (Pauillac) 18.5/20

Chteau Cheval Blanc, Grand Cru Class A' (St-Emilion) 18.5/20

Chteau Ptrus, (Pomerol) 18.5/20

Chteau Cos d'Estournel, 2me Cru (St-Estphe) 18.0/20

Chteau Loville-Las Cases, 2me Cru (St-Julien) 18.0/20

Chteau Ducru-Beaucaillou, 2me Cru (St-Julien) 18.0/20

Chteau Loville-Poyferr, 2me Cru (St-Julien) 18.0/20

Le Pin (Pomerol) 18.0/20

Vieux-Chteau Certan (Pomerol) 18.0/20

Chteau Pontet-Canet, 5me Cru (Pauillac) 18.0/20

My favourite great value wines (assuming prices are fair)

Chteau Grand-Puy-Lacoste, 5me Cru (Pauillac) 17.5/20

Chteau Talbot, 4me Cru (St-Julien) 17.5/20

Chteau Lynch-Bages, 5me Cru (Pauillac) 17.5/20

Chteau Gruaud-Larose, 2me Cru (St-Julien) 17.5/20

Chteau Calon-Sgur, 3me Cru (St-Estphe) 17.5/20

Le Petit Cheval (2nd wine of Ch. Cheval Blanc) 17.5/20

Chapelle d'Ausone (2nd wine of Ch. Ausone) 17.5/20

Chteau Lafon-Rochet, 4me Cru (St-Estphe) 17.0/20

Chteau Langoa-Barton, 3me Cru (St-Julien) 17.0/20

Chteau d'Armailhac, 5me Cru (Pauillac) 17.0/20

Pagodes de Cos (2nd wine of Ch. Cos d'Estournel) 17.0/20

Chteau Haut-Batailley, 5me Cru (Pauillac) 17.0/20

Matthew Jukes

Matthew Jukes has worked in the UK wine business for well over three decades and during this time has written 14 wine books.  

Matthew regularly lectures, judges, speaks at wine conferences and runs masterclass tastings for both corporate and private clients all over the world. Matthew is also the creator of his ground-breaking initiative, the One Day Wine School, an indulgent day of tasting and learning first performed in 2006.

He has been the MoneyWeek wine correspondent since 2006 and has written a weekly column for the Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine since 1999. His four highly-acclaimed, annual wine reports – the Burgundy En Primeur Report, the Bordeaux En Primeur Report, the Piemonte Report and the 100 Best Australian Wines – are published on his website,

Matthew is one of the world’s leading experts on Australian wine and, with Brisbane-based wine writer Tyson Stelzer, runs an annual competition in Australia to find ‘The Great Australian Red’.  He was made Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK at the 2012 Australia Day Foundation Gala dinner. 

Matthew is a winner of the International Wine and Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year Trophy.  His thoughts, recommendations and tastings notes are followed very closely by the wine world at large.