The wines of Bordeaux 2006 are extremely variable but if you know where to look there are some great finds.
Bordeaux 2006 In a Nutshell
A merlot year on the Right Bank with Pomerol the star
A cabernet year on the Left Bank
St Julien consistent, parts of Margaux and Pauillac also very fine
First rate dry white wines
Dry White Wines
Conditions were perfectly suited to the production of dry white wines: the cool weather in August preserved the acidity which is so important to maintain the fresh, zesty character of these wines, while the burst of September heat ripened the grapes beautifully. The wines are concentrated, aromatic, beautifully structured and as exciting as we have seen for many years.
Not quite such good news for the sweeter white wines however. A first trie during the early September fine weather was mostly to clean out inappropriate grey rot, though various subsequent pickings through to early October yielded some good pourriture noble. Overall however the wines tasted en primeur do not show the exceptional qualities of 2001, 2003 and 2005.
The early parts of the Right Bank - such as Cheval Blanc and the gravel plateau of Pomerol - had to choose whether to pick their merlot before the rain when perhaps not quite physiologically ripe, or to risk waiting. The best decision may have been to do a bit of both, and there are some very fine wines here to prove the point. The later parts of the Right Bank which had to wait until after the rain were less successful.
Without considering 2006 a great vintage throughout the Right Bank in the 1998 mould, there are some individual wines which do belong alongside 1990, 1995 and 2000.
Red Wines: Left Bank
The Medoc merlots were a little more affected by the late September rains, so most chateaux used them as the mainstay of their second labels. The cabernets survived the mid September showers and were ripe for picking at the very end of the month and during the first week of October. They proved to be very exciting where they ripened sufficiently and producers were meticulous about excluding anything substandard. The other crucial key to quality in 2006 lies in what has been selected for the grand vin.
Many chateaux are declaring a notably small percentage of the crop, and with a much higher percentage of cabernet than usual - thus only 45% of the crop has made it into Chateau Margaux 2006 which has 90% cabernet in the blend. The figures for Latour (38% Grand Vin and 86% cabernet) tell the same story. Stylistically the wines do not have the rounded style of recent fine vintages but refer back to the more classical structure as such `classic claret' vintages as 1986 and 1988.
Red Wines : Pessac Leognan
A Merlot vintage for the right bank, a cabernet vintage for the left - so where did that leave the vignerons of Pessac-Leognan? They are firmly of the opinion that it is a cabernet vintage, even though they were also able to pick their merlot in good conditions. The cabernets were often stunning as at La Mission, Domaine de Chevalier and Haut Bailly) enabling fine and well balanced wines to be made. A very good year for this somewhat overlooked (in the UK) district of Bordeaux.