In summary, as voted by the Liv-ex Membership:
So, to the results:
1. List in order of preference your top five wines from Bordeaux 2015.
The results above show the top ten wines of the vintage according to the experts irrespective of price. Wines ranked number one by respondents were awarded ten points, second were given five points, third three, fourth two and fifth one. In a fitting tribute to Paul Pontallier, Margaux was unquestionably the wine of the vintage, appearing in almost two thirds of all respondents’ top five. Haut Brion, which appeared joint fourth with Margaux last year, came second with almost 40% of respondents selecting it as one of their five favourites. Meanwhile Cheval Blanc retained third place which it also held in the 2014 vintage. The top ten was split 50/50 in terms of wines from the Right and Left Banks.
2. List in order of preference your top five value wines from 2015 (value wines are wines with an expected release price of less than £500 per case)
The wines expected to be released at under £500 per case were ranked as above. Grand Puy Lacoste took the top spot for the sixth year in a row, with almost a fifth of all respondents putting it in first place. Brane Cantenac, which has not appeared in the table since the 2012 survey, came second. Canon, which has proved popular among the critics – James Suckling awarded it 100 points – came joint third with Rauzan Segla, which was in tenth place last year.
3. List your five most disappointing wines of the vintage with the most disappointing first.
The trade was heavily divided on which wines were the most disappointing in 2015. There were a vast 112 different wines listed in this category. Lafite Rothschild was the only wine to appear in both the favourite and most disappointing top ten, but due to the disparate nature of replies we have not included a list for this category.
4. Using the Parker scoring model, what score would you give to the 2015 vintage overall?
94.6 points (average out of 100)
The Liv-ex membership awarded the 2015 vintage 94.6 points; higher than 2007 (88), 2008 (91), 2011 (91), 2012 (91) and 2013 (88) and 2014 (92), but lower than 2009 and 2010 (both 96).
5. Does it compare to any previous vintage you have tasted?
Over a third of all respondents responded in the negative to this question, with some comments clarifying that it was “too varied”. Just under a third, however, compared it to the 2005, typically pairing it alongside another vintage. These included the 2009 and 2014, but quite a few respondents described it as “2001 meets 2005.” Respondents with longer memories made comparisons to the 1985.
6. Considering only the first growths, please rank 2005, 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2015 in terms of quality (first being the best).
There was a clear winner here: 66% of respondents put 2010 as their best quality vintage, and a further 26% put it second. The 2005 and 2009 were more evenly split, with half of all respondents putting them in first or second place, although 21% of people put the 2005 in first place compared to 11% for the 2009.
2015 came in fourth, with comments clarifying that this was because the vintage was “a real mixed bag” for First Growths. 62% of all votes put it in fourth place, while almost 9% put it in fifth place. 2014 was underwhelming bottom of the table with 99% of votes putting it in either fourth or fifth place – and one curiously putting it in second.
7. At this early stage, what level of demand (by volume) are you expecting for the 2015 campaign?
More than last year: 73.9%
As with the 2014, merchants are anticipating more demand for the vintage than for the previous campaign. A couple of comments noted that they expect “50% more than last year.” A good proportion of merchants clarified that their answer very much “depends on price,” while several others acknowledged that it was going to be “very difficult due to exchange rates.”
8. At what prices, in Euros per bottle, ex-negociant, do you expect (not want!) the following wines to be released in Bordeaux?
To keep our members focused we are offering one magnum of Troplong Mondot 1998 and one magnum of Château Puligny Montrachet, Puligny Montrachet Folatières 2007 to the individual who comes closest to estimating the correct opening prices for the basket of wines listed above – which we keep the same from year to year. Based on their expectations, wines will be released 18% higher than for the 2014s, and on average 38% higher than for the 2013s. The biggest price rises are expected for Mission Haut Brion, Mouton Rothschild and Pavie.
9. Briefly, how would you describe Bordeaux 2015?
While many asserted that 2015 had produced some excellent wines, one comment summed up the general view: “lack of consistent quality has left the vintage short of great.” Respondents described the lack of homogeneity, yet also disagreed amongst themselves on where the weaknesses lay. While several praised a “strong vintage” for the Right Bank, others criticised the same wines for being “over extracted” and “lacking finesse.”
Liv-ex members broadly agreed that the vintage was weak in the northern Medoc and strong for Margaux and Pomerol. Praise was given to the “ripe fruit and freshness” and “elegance” found in the best wines – some that were “really excellent.” However, several others acknowledged the high levels of alcohol and noted that 2015 wasn’t as good as the other great vintages of the century: 2005, 2009 and 2010. As one commenter observed, “it is a lovely vintage but not the blockbuster we were initially expecting.”
The last few years have seen price at the forefront of respondents’ minds. In the 2015 survey these concerns took a backseat, but were still present. One respondent advised the chateaux to “be careful with prices, and all need to open before late May.” There was more optimism than in previous years, with one comment noting that the vintage “should sell well if the price is good.” Another possibly summed up the views of many Liv-ex members – particularly those who had praised the 2015’s quality – by asserting that “everyone wants it to work, but prices are key.”