This vintage showed more than any other the importance of location, and, in some cases, a little bit of luck. It would be wrong to call it a right bank or left bank vintage. As a generalisation, Jean-Sebastian Philippe at Ch Lafite-Rothschild’s quote “that Cabernet was king” is true, as some of our favourites of the vintage, such as Ch Latour, had their highest proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon ever. At Lafite they even considered making a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon cuvée, for the first time since 1961! However, the best Merlots should not be overlooked. Here it is all about vineyard position, as highlighted by Jacques Thienpont at Le Pin who praised his well-drained Pomerol soils benefitting the quality of the Merlot this year.
Location rather than appellation allowed so many estates to defy the odds. In the Medoc, the top estates’ proximity to the estuary endorses the famed 1855 classification. It was a recurring theme, whether at the northerly tip of St Estephe, such as Calon Segur and Montrose, or further south down in Margaux, that the warmth of the river allowed them to escape the worst of the frost. The same can be said for the famed plateau of St Emilion, which includes properties such as Ch Canon and Ch Ausone. Whilst they don’t have the benefit of a river, height was their saviour, and it was the lower lying vineyards in the plains that took the full brunt of the April frost.