Bordeaux 2023: Opportunity knocks…

Fine, fragrant, age-worthy and lower-alcohol wines – a welcome return to Bordeaux’s beautiful classicism  

Bordeaux 2023 –and the chateaux plan to open the starting gates super-early on Monday 29th April. As the title indicates we are hoping that the campaign is an ‘opportunity knocks’ moment and that this early salvo offers a real reason to buy Bordeaux 2023 – not another false start.  Otherwise the Bordelais will be sipping gallons of their own claret in the boarded-up Last Chance Saloon.

Having returned from Bordeaux just yesterday we are optimistic on the wines themselves and all the noises indicate potentially considerable price drops which might reset and give a real impetus to the fine wine market.  More importantly it may present a great opportunity for buyers – new and old – to take advantage of well-priced classically beautiful Bordeaux – still the most important wine region in the world for drinkers, collectors and investors.

2023 is a year that brought us in mind of an enhanced version of a classical vintage from the mid 1990’s  – 1995/96 or perhaps, as Alexandre Thienpoint of Vieux Chateau Certan mooted 1988 with the helping hand of climate change and its more generous warmth.  The wines were more heterogenous than say 2019 but modern viticulture and winery practices aligned to location and terroir are key to the success of the best wines.  The sheer detail and precision and the assemblage of individual plots at individual chateaux far surpasses what was possible 30 years ago in Bordeaux. And while there were hurdles along the way we are in no doubt that there will be many wines to buy that will put a smile on the face of customers and perhaps reintroduce people to the joys of Bordeaux. The best wines are medium bodied, fragrant harmonious and with delightful acidity and much lower alcohol levels than say 2020 and 2022.  The ability of Bordeaux to age well is one of its strongest suits and the wines from 2023 should provide the fine-boned structure and balance to achieve this handsomely!

Chateau Haut Bailley

Chateau Haut-Bailly

While 2022 offered flamboyant wines of texture and scale – the latter term applied particularly to prices for 2023  – 2023 are more focussed, fine and fragrant.  We tasted many wines in the 13 to 13.6% alcohol range which are sure to appeal to modern preferences and the inherently fine tannic structure with higher-toned aromatic intensity are key factors in the overall picture of the 2023 wines.  Yields were higher than 2022 and recent years primarily due to an absolutely perfect window in late May/early June for flowering.  The scene was set for a good potential harvest although growers were beset by mildew pressures in June and July from spring and summer rain and warm temperatures.  Much vineyard work was required and it was not a ‘walk in the park’ of a growing season by any means. However, in the crucial months of August and September the gods smiled – more seasonal rain fell intermittently than 2022 on top of winter reserves thus alleviating any water stress concerns and while late August and September provided great warmth they did so with fewer torrid spikes than previous vintages.  Several chateaux reported sun-burned grapes on certain terroirs and expositions during this spell but pickers were easily able to discard these bunches and with the loss of only moderate overall quantities.  Good ripening was therefore possible and the only blot on the horizon was heavy rain between 10th and 12th September.  This presented ‘stick’ or ‘twist’ issues for the picking of Merlot and it is noticeable that many chateaux, particularly on the left bank, of course, utilised a greater proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon in their blends in 2023. The latter variety was able to sail on to full maturity during September and early October and the perfumed, notable moreish juiciness of the wines in 2023 are perhaps due this factor.

The grapes that were harvested were larger than the tiny berries of drought affected years and the winemaking approach having taken great strides in Bordeaux were tweaked to suit the conditions of 2023. ‘Infusion’ was the word we heard time and again and the days of over-extraction have been replaced by a more enlightened approach and there has been a reduction of pigeage in favour of remontage.  Wealthier chateaux Haut Bailly, Figeac and the newly invigorated Cantenac Brown were quick to show us the gravity-led approach in their winery investments and the general improvements in precision has led to greater advances in wines that foreground purity and perfume in modern vintages.

Chateau Figeac

Chateau Figeac

We don’t think 2023 is a simple left bank or right bank vintage. Anyone who tastes La Conseillante in Pomerol or Cos d’Estournel in St Estephe – literally many miles apart – are going to find themselves beguiled. Rather the specific terroirs and expositions of particular chateaux across the region and the ability and means of the best properties to react to vicissitudes of the season combined with their viticultural and agronomical approaches have defined the big winners in 2023. We did find particular and perhaps more general successes in the northern Medoc with many outstanding Pauillacs and St Estephes and similarly where the limestone predominates in St Emilion.  Too many to list here but please just ask us and we may produce a list of some of our favourites in the forthcoming days.  A quick mention of the oft-forgotten dry whites and Sauternes – you can buy your favourites without a second thought – it was a super year for botrytis and the best dry whites were in the bag in late August in virtually perfect conditions for balanced exciting wines.

So, to the market. The last year or so has witnessed a major softening in an arguably over-heated fine wine market and the Bordeaux chateaux and their conduits, the negociants, face massive pressures to sell their wines to an audience that has become justifiably a little cynical of their interpretations and prices.  With much unsold 2021 and 2022 in ‘entrepots’, the 2023’s are due to hit a market that is reeling from a war-torn world, a massively lowered demand from Asia and a cost of living crisis with its higher interest rates. This market instability has already shown limited success and few returns for the 2021 and 2022 vintages – so the pricing of 2023 is absolutely crucial to its success or otherwise.  Even negociants are saying ‘ca suffit’ in terms of buying into stock. So, the onus is on Bordeaux chateaux to re-enter the real world and produce an offering akin to the 2019 vintage, released just as Covid first exerted its grip.  That was a campaign which worked in everybody’s interest. In 2023 there is more wine to sell and the Brunswick view is that consumers should – like us – buy the wines that show the chateaux are ‘getting real’ again.  There is enough going on in the wines to get excited about  – but will the chateaux join the party or will they snuff out the fun?  We are hopeful. Opportunity knocks for them – and us all.  But 2023 is a buyer’s market- don’t forget that.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss this wonderful vintage and what it offers.

Kenny Stewart, Director and Fine Wine Buyer

Brunswick's 2023 Bordeaux Offering

En Primeur wines can only be offered and purchased In Bond whilst the wines are still in barrel.

En Primeur wines will be shipped and imported in due course and upon arrival in the UK can either be stored in our reserves, delivered to the bonded warehouse of your choosing or delivered directly to you. When you do decide to take delivery of En Primeur wines to a UK address, Duty and VAT at the current rates will become payable.

Orders can be placed directly on the site or by making contact with the team. Offers subject to remaining unsold E&OE.13/07/2024

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In Bond (IB) wines have had no UK Duty or VAT paid on them. If In Bond wines are purchased for storage in a bonded warehouses or for export - no UK Duty or VAT will be payable. If In Bond wines are purchased for delivery to a UK address - UK Duty and VAT is required to be paid before any the delivery can take place.

Duty Paid (DP) wines have been removed from the Bond and cannot subsequently be returned to the Bond. Meaning that if you purchase a Duty Paid wine, VAT will be payable. However, the UK Duty has already been paid on the stock so there will be no additional duty charged.

En Primeur (EP) wines can only be offered and purchased In Bond whilst the wines are still in barrel. En Primeur wines will be shipped and imported in due course and upon arrival in the UK can either be stored in your Brunswick reserves, delivered to the bonded warehouse of your choosing or delivered directly to you. Should you decide to take delivery of En Primeur wines to a UK address, UK Duty and VAT at the current rates will become payable.
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The IN BOND pricing view will show prices excluding UK Duty and VAT. Please select the IN BOND view if your purchase is for storage in a bonded warehouse or for export (where no UK Duty or VAT will be payable).

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Please note that wines that have the Duty Paid (DP) status have been removed from the Bond and cannot subsequently be returned to the Bond. These wines must remain Duty Paid, they can be purchased for storage or delivery to the UK but the VAT will be payable. The UK Duty has already been paid on the stock so there will be no additional duty charged.

Please note that wines that have the En Primeur (EP) status can only be offered and purchased In Bond whilst the wines are still in barrel. So the RETAIL pricing view is not applicable to EP wines.
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The wines showing availability Immediate are available for immediate delivery, transfer or collection.

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The wines showing availability En Primeur are still maturing in barrel at the producer, and will be available in due course. Our Logistics team will get in touch as soon as the wines become physical with us and will arrange to deliver, store or transfer the wines as per your instructions.
Score
Qty
Buy
Carruades de Lafite, Pauillac
2023
3x75cl
EP
£465.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
92-94 VM
1
Max: 1
Min: 1
Step: 1
Chapelle d'Ausone, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
2023
6x75cl
EP
£726.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
92-94 VM
2
Max: 2
Min: 1
Step: 1
2023
3x75cl
EP
£1,320.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
96-98 VM
2
Max: 2
Min: 1
Step: 1
Chateau Batailley 5eme Cru Classe, Pauillac
2023
3x150cl
EP
£174.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
93-95 VM
2
Max: 2
Min: 1
Step: 1
Chateau Batailley 5eme Cru Classe, Pauillac
2023
6x75cl
EP
£162.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
93-95 VM
18
Max: 18
Min: 1
Step: 1
Chateau Beaumont, Haut-Medoc
2023
12x75cl
EP
£102.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
88-90 VM
9
Max: 9
Min: 1
Step: 1
New Chateau Berliquet Grand Cru Classe, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
2023
6x75cl
EP
£216.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
91-93 VM
5
Max: 5
Min: 1
Step: 1
Chateau Beychevelle 4eme Cru Classe, Saint-Julien
2023
6x75cl
EP
£359.50exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
94-96 VM
7
Max: 7
Min: 1
Step: 1
New Chateau Branaire-Ducru 4eme Cru Classe, Saint-Julien
2023
6x75cl
EP
£193.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
91-93 VM
5
Max: 5
Min: 1
Step: 1
Chateau Brane-Cantenac 2eme Cru Classe, Margaux
2023
6x75cl
EP
£267.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
94-96 VM
2
Max: 2
Min: 1
Step: 1
New Chateau Canon Premier Grand Cru Classe B, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
2023
6x75cl
EP
£537.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
94-96 VM
2
Max: 2
Min: 1
Step: 1
New Chateau Cantemerle 5eme Cru Classe, Haut-Medoc
2023
6x75cl
EP
£99.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
88-90 VM
5
Max: 5
Min: 1
Step: 1
New Chateau Chasse-Spleen, Moulis en Medoc
2023
6x75cl
EP
£125.40exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
89-91 VM
5
Max: 5
Min: 1
Step: 1
Chateau d'Issan 3eme Cru Classe, Margaux
2023
6x75cl
EP
£225.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
93-95 VM
5
Max: 5
Min: 1
Step: 1
Chateau Duhart-Milon 4eme Cru Classe, Pauillac
2023
6x75cl
EP
£342.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
92-94 VM
8
Max: 8
Min: 1
Step: 1
New Chateau Figeac Premier Grand Cru Classe B, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
2023
6x75cl
EP
£894.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
96-98 VM
5
Max: 5
Min: 1
Step: 1
2023
6x75cl
EP
£291.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
91-93 VM
5
Max: 5
Min: 1
Step: 1
New Chateau Giscours 3eme Cru Classe, Margaux
2023
6x75cl
EP
£246.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
96-98 VM
5
Max: 5
Min: 1
Step: 1
New Chateau Gloria, Saint-Julien
2023
6x75cl
EP
£138.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
91-93 VM
5
Max: 5
Min: 1
Step: 1
New Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste 5eme Cru Classe, Pauillac
2023
6x75cl
EP
£273.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
92-94 VM
5
Max: 5
Min: 1
Step: 1
New Chateau L'Eglise-Clinet, Pomerol
2023
6x75cl
EP
£1,254.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
98-100 VM
5
Max: 5
Min: 1
Step: 1
Chateau L'Evangile, Pomerol
2023
6x75cl
EP
£900.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
94-96 VM
2
Max: 2
Min: 1
Step: 1
New Chateau La Conseillante, Pomerol
2023
6x75cl
EP
£894.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
95-97 VM
2
Max: 2
Min: 1
Step: 1
New Chateau La Lagune 3eme Cru Classe, Haut-Medoc
2023
6x75cl
EP
£165.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
92-94 VM
5
Max: 5
Min: 1
Step: 1
New Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion Cru Classe, Pessac-Leognan
2023
6x75cl
EP
£1,110.00exc. UK Duty & VAT
En Primeur
92-95 VM
5
Max: 5
Min: 1
Step: 1
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