2001 Bordeaux — A Classic Vintage
2001 in Bordeaux is an elegant, classically styled, “claret” vintage, with wines that are mostly fresh, balanced, and cool. They are not as opulent or ripe as 2000, 2003, or 2005, but pretty, stylish wines for mid-term drinking. Having come on the heels of the excellent 2000s, this vintage is very much under the radar.
After a very wet winter, the growing season started with a cold April, but the outlook improved in May as temperatures rose with the arrival of a warm weather pattern. The up-and-down conditions continued in July, which started out wet and cool, but saw warm weather towards the end of the month. August was also warm, but the vineyards were still in need of a push to get to optimum ripeness before the harvest arrived. Fortunately, September brought beautiful, sunny, and dry — if slightly cool — weather; it was one of the sunniest Septembers on record. Earlier-ripening Right Bank wines from Saint Emilion and Pomerol fared well, with the crop coming in under near perfect conditions. Later-ripening Left Bank vineyards required more work, as the cool September weather hindered the ripening of Cabernet. Only those who selected severely and reduced yields produced fully ripe wines.
In the cellars, those who made the best of what the vintage had to offer produced elegant and balanced, classically styled wines. Winemakers who reached for more and tried to extract too much or build up the wines with more oak have turned out less exciting, heavy-handed wines lacking concentrated cores. Pomerol and Saint Emilion may have the nod as the best appellations, but one should look at each individual Chateau in a vintage like this, as there are no hard and fast rules and there is variation across all regions.
The undisputed top wines of the vintage are from Sauternes and Barsac, where it was a goldilocks year. Just the right amount of moisture, warmth, and morning mist combined to produce fantastic, concentrated sweet wines with focus and depth, plus lovely freshness and acidity, with longevity to match.