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Recommendations for En Primeur 2017

As reports of this year’s 2017 Bordeaux vintage come pouring in, we have set aside a collection of our favorite reactions thus far. Coming from the most influential wine critics, and of course, our very own Head Sommelier, Davide Vaccarini, the selection of reviews and top wines are meant to give a concise overview of 2017 En Primeur.

Please note that En Primeur tastings are an introduction to the vintage. The samples are supplied directly by the châteaux and often tasted blind by the world’s leading wine critics. The cask-samples presented are approximations of the wines’ final blend. The red wines tasted still have another six months or more before they are bottled.

Davide Vaccarini, ARVI’s Head Sommelier

After a week of carefully tasting the Bordeaux 2017 En Primeurs, Davide Vaccarini, ARVI’s Head Sommelier says, “I am utterly surprised by the overall freshness and elegance of this 2017 vintage. A level up from 2014, 2017 is not as exuberant as 2015 or as big as 2016, but we can’t always wait 30 years to enjoy a bottle of Bordeaux! I’m looking forward the approachability of these wines.”

While it is a variable vintage, he continues, “2017 seems to be a cool, fresh and above all, elegant vintage, which also explains the general low alcohol content.”

In the end, Davide harps on the fact that terroir is the key to this vintage, he explains “Great terroir means the soils, the location, the microclimate and this year, the most important factor, the protection. This year, the region’s leading producers were those who met each of these criteria, specifically properties along the estuary or vineyards planted at high altitudes.”

Davide Vaccarini’s Top Ten Wines of 2017


Château Ausone 19.5 - 20
Château Comtesse Lalande 19.5 - 20
Château Cos d’Estournel 19.5 - 20
Château Haut-Brion 19.5 - 20
Château Haut-Brion Blanc 19.5 - 20
Château La Consiellante 19.5 - 20
Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion 19.5 - 20
Château Margaux 19.5 - 20
Château Mouton Rothschild 19.5 - 20
Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 19.5 - 20

Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker Wine Advocate

After two separate trips to Bordeaux this spring, Robert Parker Wine Advocate’s Editor-in-Chief, Lisa Perrotti-Brown writes a glowing report entitled “The Vintage Divergence” describing this “inconsistent vintage with pockets of wines at the pinnacles of greatness”. After tasting over 500 wines, Perrotti-Brown reports that there “are many divergent 2017 vintage paths, leading to a wide range of styles and quality levels”.

She writes, “opportunities for greatness are well-spread throughout Bordeaux in 2017, and there was no single commune or grape variety that excelled, although the best wines tend to come from the superlative vineyards…those close to the estuary in Saint-Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien and Margaux on the Left Bank and the Right Bank vineyards on the plateaus in Pomerol and Saint-Émilion.”

In general, if we can generalized, “the best 2017 reds are approachable when young yet are also built to age,” they “tend to have moderate acidity” and “they are mainly elegant, medium-bodied styles with moderate alcohol (generally 13-14%) and have intensely perfumed, multi-layered aromatic profiles.”

Perrotti-Brown points out the high-quality of dry whites, they “are bright, refreshing, elegant and intense, with far more consistency of quality than any other Bordeaux style in 2017.” The dessert wines of Sauternes and Barsac also performed extremely well this year, she writes that they “are rich and exotic yet refreshing, sporting plenty of botrytis-laced depth and incredible staying power.”

The Best of the Best 2017 – Robert Parker Wine Advocate


Château Cos d’Estournel 97-100
Château Haut-Brion Blanc 97-100
Château Lafleur 97-100
Château Ausone 97-99
Château Lafite Rothschild 97-99
Château Mouton Rothschild 97-99
Château Pavie 97-99
Château d’Yquem 97-99
Château Montrose 96-99
Château L’Eglise Clinet 96-98+
Château La Mondotte 96-98+
Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 96-98+

James Suckling

As always, James Suckling’s scores were among the first to hit the books. He starts off, “The quality of 2017 is much better than most people might expect.” Explaining that 2017 doesn’t rival the 2016 and 2015 vintages, but its no where as near disappointing as the 2013.

After tasting over 800 samples with his son, James over two weeks in Bordeaux, Suckling writes “I was very surprised by the relatively outstanding quality of the top wines I have tasted so far…most of the top wine estates of Bordeaux made some outstanding quality wines that will deliver beautiful drinking for years ahead.”

Ending with the note, “The 2017 vintage will always be remembered for the horrible frost, but the top wines of the vintage should also add to the reputation of this unique year.”

James Suckling’s Leading 2017s


Château d’Yquem 98-99
Château Latour 98-99
Château Cheval Blanc 97-98
Château Cos d’Estournel 97-98
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 97-98
Château L’Eglise Clinet 97-98
Château Lafite Rothschild 97-98
Château Lafleur 97-98
Château Margaux 97-98
Château Mouton Rothschild 97-98
Château Palmer 97-98
Château Pape Clement 97-98
Pétrus 97-98
Château Rieussec 97-98
Château Suduiraut 97-98
Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux 97-98
Vieux Château Certan 97-98

James Molesworth, Wine Spectator

James Molesworth, reporting for Wine Spectator broke down this year’s review of the 2017 vintage by wine type: red, dry white and dessert. As you can see below, that this year was definitely a vintage for dry white wines and sweet Sauternes wines. Molesworth rates, Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc higher than any other dry wine, white or red.

In general he describes the 2017 vintage, “for the most part was a good growing season, save for one little thing: the worst frost in 25 years.”

Please note that James Molesworth tasted all of this year’s En Primeur wines blind. The châteaux that did not agree to send him samples, have not yet been rated. Therefore, most of the important wines, including First Growths – Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Pétrus, Palmer, Pontet Canet and others – have not been ranked in the list below.

James Molesworth’s Top Reds of EP 2017


Château Angélus 93-96
Château Beau-Séjour Bécot 93-96
Château Beauséjour Duffau 93-96
Château Canon 93-96
Clos Fourtet 93-96
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 93-96
Château La Fleur-Pétrus 93-96
Château Léoville Barton 93-96
Château Léoville Las Cases 93-96
Château Mondotte 93-96
Château Pavie 93-96
Château Trotanoy 93-96
Château Valandraud 93-96

James Molesworth’s Top Dry Whites of EP 2017


Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 94-97
Château Pape Clément Blanc 93-96
Château Doisy Daëne Blanc 92-95
Château Valandraud 92-95

James Molesworth’s Top Dessert of EP 2017


Château de Fargues 94-97
Château Doisy Daëne L’Extravagant 93-96
Château Clos Haut-Peyraguey 92-95
Château Coutet 92-95
Château Doisy Daëne 92-95
Château Doisy-Védrines 92-95
Château Guiraud 92-95
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 92-95
Château de Rayne Vigneau 92-95
Château Suduiraut 92-95

Antonio Galloni, Vinous

Founder of Vinous, Antonio Galloni published his 2017 Vintage Report just a couple days after fellow wine-critic and Vinous reporter, Neal Martin on May 3, 2018. The two wine experts have authored separate, independent articles on the 2017 Bordeaux vintage, without discussing a single wine beforehand.

Galloni describes the style of this vintage, “the 2017s are mid-weight, fruity wines” he adds that they are “built on an axis of persistence and length”. In general, he writes, “Stylistically, the 2017s are reminiscent of the 2014s, but with a bit more flesh.”

Breaking down the vintage, Galloni reports that “It all came down to location in 2017.” On the Right Bank he writes, “In the very best sites…the wines aren’t just good, they are often stellar.” While on the Left Bank, he confirms that “Saint-Julien is once again the most consistent appellation”. He proceeds, “the 2017 dry whites are terrific” they are “bright and focused”.

Antonio Galloni Highest Scorers EP 2017


Château Lafite Rothschild 94-97
Château Latour 94-97
Château Léovilles Las Cases 94-97
Château Margaux 94-97
Château Pape Clément 94-97
Pavillon Blanc, Château Margaux 94-97
Château Smith Haut Lafitte 94-97

Neal Martin, Vinous

Neal Martin, previously reporting for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, has since joined Antonio Galloni at his publication Vinous as of 2017. Releasing his report on May 1, 2018, Martin comments that “The 2017 Bordeaux vintage is a good to very good vintage”. Martin also confirms the diversity of this vintage, but also the surprises of 2017, stating “It is not a Left or Right Bank vintage. Quality can be found on both banks”.

Martin points out certain appellations for their quality, on the Left Bank, he highlights the northern Médoc, Saint-Estèphe and Pauillac; while on the Right Bank, he confesses his affection for Saint-Émilion and those producers situated on the limestone plateau; as for Sauternes he states that these wines show “good potential”.

He sums up his thoughts on this 2017 Bordeaux vintage, “In banal terms, I like this vintage. I am not saying it is the best, but they were mostly a pleasure to taste and fascinating to learn about.” The red wines are in his opinion very perfumed, leaning more towards floral notes, he continues “The 2017s boast plenty of freshness with crisp acidity, noticeable but not strong or grippy tannins, more black fruit compared to recent vintages.”

Neal Martin’s Top Scoring 2017s


Château Lafite Rothschild 95-97
Château L’Eglise Clinet 95-97
Château Lafleur 95-97
Château d’Yquem 95-97
Château Doisy-Daëne L’Extravagant 95-97
Château Angélus 94-96
Château Ausone 94-96
Château Bélair-Monange 94-96
Château Cos d’Estournel 94-96
Château Haut-Brion 94-96
Château Hosanna 94-96
Château Latour 94-96
Château Montrose 94-96
Château Mouton Rothschild 94-96
Pétrus 94-96
Vieux Château Certan 94-96
Château Suduiraut 94-96
Château de Fargues 94-96
Château de Rayne Vignaud 94-96
Château Haut-Brion Blanc 94-96
Château Coutet 94-96

Neal Martin’s Twelve Great 2017s For A Friend


Château Lafite Rothschild 94-97
Château Lafleur 94-97
Château L’Eglise Clinet 94-97
Château Angélus 94-97
Château Bélair-Monange 94-97
Château Haut-Brion 94-97
Château Montrose 94-97
Château Léoville Barton 94-97
Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 94-97
Château Calon-Ségur 94-97
Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion 94-97
Château Marquis d’Alesme Becker 94-97

Jean-Marc Quarin

Like many wine critics this year, Jean-Marc struggles to pin down the 2017 vintage. He starts off by stating, “there is no 2017 vintage but several ones”, noting the variance in quality that the Bordeaux 2017 vintage produced. In general, he resolves “2017 is a cool oceanic vintage, but without crudity and without harsh tannin”, adding that it is “the very vintage that will be blessed by ageing”.

He is pleasantly surprised that “some wines prove to be well structured in the mid-palate and in the finish” which is what this vintage is about – the surprise. In the end, after tasting hundreds of wines, Quarin has given quite high scores, similar to those he gave to the 2014 and 2015 Bordeaux vintages.

Jean-Marc Quarin’s Best Scoring En Primeur Reds


Pétrus 98
Château Ausone 97
Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion 97
Château Cheval Blanc 97
Château Lafleur 97
Château La Conseillante 96-97
Château L’Eglise Clinet 96-97
Château La Fleur-Pétrus 96-97

Jeb Dunnuck

Former Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate reviewer, Jeb Dunnuck, started his own publication in the late 2017s to focus on a handful of his favorite wine regions. This year, Dunnuck covered En Primeur 2017 himself, writing that in general it is an “irregular vintage where consumers will need to be selective.” Yet in in his opinion, “the finest wines represent an elegant, charming, and classic style of Bordeaux.”

He compares the wines of 2017 with those of 2014, saying “with their pure, clean fruit, cooler-climate style, and approachable, yet straight characters” however, he adds that the quality of Bordeaux’s latest vintage is not as consistent.

At the top of his list, Château Pavie takes home the prize for Dunnuck’s favorite red. He adds, “If I had to pick one wine to be the wine of the vintage, at least at this early stage, it would be the 2017 Pavie…hats off to the Perse family for this incredible effort.”

Jeb Dunnuck’s Top Scorers for Bordeaux 2017


Château Pavie 95-97+
Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 95-97+
Château Margaux 95-97
Château Suduiraut 95-97
Château Cheval Blanc 95-97
Château Latour 95-97
Château Léoville Las Cases 95-97
Château Mouton Rothschild 95-97
Château Le Dôme 95-97
Château Lafleur 95-97
Château Rieussec 95-97

Roger Voss, Wine Enthusiast

Roger Voss, reporting for Wine Enthusiast writes comments on the quality of the latest En Primeur vintage, “The 2017 red Bordeaux may not live up the extraordinary 2015 and 2016 vintages, but it is the year for the region’s white dessert wines to shine.” He continues, “Even though it’s not a noteworthy vintage like the previous two, it’s still a good one.”

While it is clear that 2017 is not as legendary as some the vintages of the recent past, many producers performed extremely well. Voss states “As always, the best terroirs made the best wines a fact that really showed in 2017.” He was impressed with the overall level of certain appellations, “There have been some good surprises, such as the wines from the Right Bank’s Saint-Émilion appellation…The Médoc’s Pauillac and Saint-Julien appellation had successes in the world of Cabernet Sauvignon.”

He also continues to point out the greatest of dry white and dessert wines this vintage. “Also, don’t forget the whites, many of which are turning out very fine for 2017. And, of course, there’s always the impressive dessert wines from Sauternes and Barsac.”

Roger Voss’ Favorite EP 2017 Wines


Château Haut-Brion 98
Château La Mission Haut-Brion 97
Château Haut-Bailly 96
Vieux Château Certan 96
Clos Haut-Peyraguey 96
Château Rieussec 96
Château Haut-Brion Blanc 96
Château Pavie 96
Château Angélus 96
Château Ausone 96
Château Cheval Blanc 96
Château Coutet 96
Château Valandraud 96
Château La Conseillante 96
Château Bélair-Monange 95-97

Elin McCoy, Bloomberg

After following reports over the past year about Bordeaux’s growing season, Elin McCoy, reporting for Bloomberg, was not too optimistic about tasting the 2017 vintage, however she states “after 10 days of tastings during the annual event known as ‘En Primeur,’ my main takeaway was surprise at how good many of the wines are.”

The region was buzzing, she comments “The word I heard over and over again was ‘surprise’.” In general, “The overall style of the 2017s is bright fruit, soft tannins, juicy acidity, and succulent, silky textures. The wines really show the different personality of each estate.”

She continues, “The first growths—châteaux Mouton Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild, Haut-Brion, Margaux, and Latour—are superb, as are the Right Bank’s vibrant, complex Petrus, Le Pin, and Château Ausone. Of those, I’d single out as super-standouts Lafite and Haut-Brion.”

Bloomberg’s Top 12 Wines (Beyond the First Growths)

Château Angélus
Château Belair-Monange
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou
Château Haut-Bailly
Château Lafleur
Château L’Eglise Clinet
Château Léoville Barton
Château Léoville Las Cases
Château Montrose
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
Vieux Château Certan

EP 2017 Bargains

While the trophy wines definitely preformed at their best, they only represent a small percentage of Bordeaux’s total production. There are great wines, but also great bargain wines to be discovered in the world’s most celebrated wine-producing region. For this reason, we expect to see lots of exceptional wines available in the 15 CHF to 30 CHF bottle range.

We have put together a summary of this year’s best-value wines based on reviews from several of reliable wine-critics.

Neal Martin’s Twelve Best Potential Value-for-Money Wines

With prices still being released, Neal Martin has put together twelve of his greatest value wines of the 2017 vintage. He has proposed the following wines based on their overall quality and the price of previous vintages.

Château Carbonnieux Blanc 92-94
Château Les Champs Libres Blanc 92-94
Château Saint-Pierre 92-94
Château Les Trois Croix 91-93
Château Montlandrie 91-92
Château Carlmagnus 90-92
Château La Grande Clotte Blanc 90-92
Château Pierre de Lune 90-92
Réserve de la Comtesse,
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
Château Capbern 89-91
Château Malescasse 89-91
Château Teyssier 89-91

Bloomberg’s Top Six Value Wines

Elin McCoy shares her leading six wines of the 2017 En Primeur campaign that offer a great quality-price ratio. These wines are traditionally sold for under CHF 35.00.

Blason d’Issan
Château Haut-Brisson
Château Le Pape
Château Montlandrie
Château Pibran
Vieux Château Saint André

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