Bordeaux 2023: what the critics are saying

After weeks and months of tasting, the world’s leading wine critics are announcing their verdict on the latest Bordeaux vintage. Here you’ll find a round-up of what they’re all saying, with a summary of each report and the wines they rated most highly added as they’re released
Bordeaux 2023: what the critics are saying

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James Suckling 

James Suckling was the first out with part one of his report, published on 15th April, before most people have even touched down in Bordeaux. Based on his tasting of over 900 barrel samples, he is clearly a fan of the 2023 vintage. 

“The best show balance and freshness with deep center palates of ripe fruit and a complement of polished tannins,” he writes – saying that he even likes them more than the very highly rated 2022s. He feels they’re more classically built, with “tensioned mouthfeels and energetic finishes” which makes them “so Bordeaux”. 

It is, however, not “an across-the-board home run”, with some wines not matching 2022 for quality at the lower level – but “top terroirs and top winemakers delivered terrific-quality wines”. He compares 2023 to the 2019, 2001 or even 1990 vintages for the reds, with lower alcohol and vibrant acidity levels that make them “some of the brightest and liveliest red Bordeaux [he’s] tasted in years”. 

In the second part of his report, he added 2016, 1996 or 1995 to his list of comparable years – those with “ripe, balanced fruit and firm tannins with slightly lower alcohol and lower pH”. While some have noted “the inconsistent nature of the vintage”, this isn’t something he agrees with, writing, “I found a very high level of quality”. For him, their “transparency and freshness” made them some of the most enjoyable wines to taste en primeur, comparing them to 2019 for their brightness. The question, of course, is price – and he’s hopeful that producers will get it right.

Suckling’s highlights: Canon, Le Pin, Margaux, Pavie, Montrose, Pétrus, Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Cos d’Estournel, Haut-Brion, Hosanna, Lafleur, Latour, Les Carmes Haut-Brion, Mouton Rothschild, Pavie-Macquin, Pichon Comtesse, Smith Haut Lafitte, Trottevieille 

Read part one and two of James Suckling’s report, along with his full notes and scores

William Kelley – Wine Advocate

For Kelley, 2023 is “make or break” for Bordeaux in terms of pricing, warning that if prices don’t drop significantly “difficult times lie ahead”, but he is clear on the quality of the wines: “The best 2023s are just as exciting as the best 2022s”.

Running through the growing season, he emphasises how the time between flowering and harvest was typical – meaning that the best combine “the depth, density and ripe tannin of a sunny vintage but also the vibrant, expressive aromas and flavors of a more traditionally ‘Atlantic’ season”. Mildew impacted yields in some instances, but it seems for him that picking dates and sorting were those that influenced the quality of the vintage most.

It is “a hybrid vintage” he says – combining characters of both modern, sunny vintages and more traditionally classic years. They offer “fully ripe tannins and suave, seamless mouthfeels” but “vibrant aromas and flavors, evocative of fresh fruits and flowers” – yet are “far from frivolous” with the structure and pH that will allow them to age. Those who picked a little early have produced wines dominated by their tannin, however generally this is a vintage that “tended to amplify the voice of each estate and terroir”.

As with last year, individual reviews were divided between Kelley and Yohan Castaing – so there are notes from both.

The Wine Advocate’s highlights: Lafleur, Cheval Blanc, La Conseillante, Montrose, Pétrus, Pichon Comtesse, Lafite Rothschild, Les Carmes Haut-Brion, Pontet-Canet, Beau-Séjour Bécot, Beauséjour, Figeac, Canon

Read the Wine Advocate's full report, notes and scores

The cellar at Vieux Château Certan

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW – The Wine Independent

Following on from her preliminary coverage, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW has published her full report. She emphasises the unpredictability of the growing season, a “game of Jumanji” that came with “a roll-of-the-dice element of luck” when it came to rain. While she emphasises that this is not “a ‘classic’ great growing season nor a consistent one”, there are “some classically styled wines at the pinnacles of greatness” that have “emerged from the 2023 Bordeaux jungle”.

It is, she says, a “devil-in-the-details vintage”, with these details revealing why some triumphed and others didn’t. She echoes others describing the more classic feel to the year, “delivering fresher, more elegant, energetic styles” that will appeal to more traditional Bordeaux drinkers. Some producers “have potentially produced their best wines ever”.

Talking about the mildew threat and its impact on yields, she explains that large estates with the financial means or smaller, family-owned estates that could offer the necessary overtime could both succeed, but others lost more of their crop, and – if diseased fruit was not sorted out – could impact quality, giving “rustic characters to some of the 2023 wines”. It was also key, she notes, to sort out any sunburnt or dried fruit. Other important decisions were picking each parcel when it was perfectly ripe, and avoiding potential dilution – something not all managed.

She highlights that the Pomerol plateau and limestone/clay terroirs of Saint-Emilion produced “more winners”, while there are “wines of true greatness” on the Left Bank, courtesy of “herculean efforts” by producers. She ends noting how Bordeaux continues to offer great value at the lower end – “down-right delicious bargains worth seeking out”.

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW’s highlights: Ausone, Canon, Haut-Brion, Lafleur, Le Pin, Pavie, Pétrus, Vieux Château Certan, Margaux, Cheval Blanc, L’Eglise-Clinet, La Conseillante, Lafite Rothschild, Montrose, Pontet-Canet

Read Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW’s full report

Neal Martin – Vinous

Neal Martin has rushed out his report ahead of the first releases, rapidly followed by Antonio Galloni (below). Running through the growing season, Martin describes how “Mother Nature kept winemakers guessing”. He tries to clarify the concern over mildew – pressure that varied by microclimate and estate, and was inflated by early media coverage, but the impact of which depended entirely on how producers handled it.

He has dubbed it “The Dalmatian Vintage” – writing that it offers “spots of astounding quality”, but that it is heterogenous, and therefore not “a bona fide great vintage”, but putting it firmly alongside 2016, 2020 and 2022 with some “magical wines”. He describes them as more classical in style, not possessing “the opulence and Rubenesque bodies” of 2022, but “more linear and vertical” but with more fruit than 2021, a style that he confesses “appeals to [his predilection”. He highlights a “nascent energy” that he observes in the best wines, and that terroir seems to shine through particularly strongly.

He declares it “a great vintage for dry whites”, but suggests the Sauternes fall just short of great (although Suduiraut is one of his top-scorers). Throughout, he highlights how financial resources were key – to spray as and when needed against mildew, to sacrifice yields, to pick and vinify by plot, not to mention precision in the winery. Ultimately, “human decisions were critical throughout” – but 2023 is “bejeweled with a clutch of spellbinding wines”.

Neal Martin’s highlights: L’Eglise-Clinet, Margaux, Lafleur, Le Pin, Suduiraut, La Conseillante, Pichon Comtesse, Haut-Bailly, Mouton Rothschild, Haut-Brion, Montrose, Figeac, Cheval Blanc, Ausone

Read Neal Martin’s full report, notes and scores on Vinous

Antonio Galloni – Vinous

Following just behind his colleague Neal Martin, Antonio Galloni managed to get his report out as the campaign started. He attributes the “fine, almost classical, balance” of the wines to the year’s more generous yields, and – like others – notes how the best estates were able to manage mildew pressure to avoid significant impact.

The best wines, he says, are “intensely aromatic and perfumed” with “bright acids, red-toned fruit and linear, vibrant tannins” – generally with “very clear markers of place”, although he argues that the weakest 2023s “can feel light and/or vegetal”. For him, the Left Bank was marginally more successful than the Right, with Saint-Estèphe a standout commune in his tastings – declaring the wines “superb, pretty much at all levels”, along with those of Marguax – highlighting Palmer, Margaux and Rauzan-Ségla, in particular.

He disagrees with Martin when it comes to the whites – both dry and sweet: for him the dry whites are “a mixed bag”, while the Sauternes are “the most exceptional group of young wines [he has] ever tasted here”, finding it an “epic vintage” for Sauternes and Barsac.

Antonio Galloni’s highlights: Palmer, Figeac, Giscours, Troplong Mondot, Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, Suduiraut, L’Extravagant de Doisy-Daéne, Suduiraut Pur Sémillon, Doisy-Daéne Blanc Sec, Lascombes, Beau-Séjour Bécot, Clos Saint-Julien, Grand-Puy Ducasse, Guillot-Clauzel, Haut-Bergey, Laroque, Pressac, Reynon, Marjosse Blanc

Read Antonio Galloni’s full report, notes and scores on Vinous

Ch. Palmer in Margaux

Jane Anson – Inside Bordeaux 

For Jane Anson, the 2023 vintage shows the “effortless construction” that Bordeaux does best – “producing well balanced, structured wines that are made to delight over the long term”. She has given all her potential 100-point scores to the Left Bank and feels that it is “a Cabernet Sauvignon year, particularly in the sweet spot of the northern Médoc”. 

As with others she notes that, while there are some excellent wines, it is a variable vintage and “in 2023 if you made the wrong choice, you were punished particularly quickly”. She finds Margaux and Pessac-Léognan less consistent than Saint-Julien, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe. 

She praises the “more nuanced, terroir and estate-driven feel to the wines” on both Left and Right Banks, something she favours over the richness of the 2022s. She writes that there will be little need to wait to drink the wines, but “many have the structure to go the distance”. 

For her, there are some “exceptional white wines” – “nuanced wines with excellent aromatics”. The sweet whites are richer, yet with bright acidity – wines that she “seriously recommend[s] buying”. For each of her reports, on the Left Bank, Right Bank and whites, she has provided a list of value buys – alongside her top-scoring wines. 

Anson’s highlights: Haut-Brion, Mouton Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild, Pontet-Canet, Beauséjour, Cheval Blanc, Figeac, Haut-Brion Blanc, Lafleur, Latour, Léoville Las Cases, Léoville Poyferré, Margaux, Montrose, Pichon Comtesse, Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 

Read Jane Anson’s report on the Left Bank, Right Bank and white wines 

Read Jane Anson’s commentary on the early releases 

Georgie Hindle – Decanter 

The Decanter team released their report in sections, with Panos Kakaviatos helping support the heavily pregnant Georgie Hindle. Their extensive coverage of the growing season dives into the complex conditions that defined the year. For Hindle, the wines “set a new tone for fine, controlled and accessible Bordeaux” with moderate alcohols, low pHs as well as juicy, ripe fruit. They combine “finely-integrated tannins” and “plushly textured bodies” of warmer years, with “a raciness, tension, spice, minerality and delicate floral aromatics more commonly found in cooler vintages”, and speak of their appellation and estate. 

Qualitatively, she puts it well above 2017 or 2021, yet confesses does not have the consistent quality of 2019, 2020 or 2022; even though some 2023s out-do their 2022 counterparts, with “elegance and energy”. Because of the inconsistency, it is a vintage that earns a 3.75 rating (out of five) for reds, and four for both dry and sweet whites. The best reds, she writes, are “precise, pure and approachable”; that said, “not everyone got it right in 2023” – often those from “less vaunted terroirs” that she admits are “mostly likely to be found outside the sphere of the wines sold en primeur”. Despite that, there are “lovely wines at all price-points”. The highlights we have picked out below combine some of their top-scoring wines, along with their most improved and “under-the-radar” selections. 

Decanter’s highlights: Beauséjour, Bélair-Monange, Canon, Figeac, La Conseillante, Léoville Las Cases, Latour, Margaux, Montrose, Palmer, Pichon Comtesse, Vieux Château Certan, Lascombes, Pavie, Monbousquet, Barbe Blanche, Vieux Château St André, La Vieille Curé, De Chambrun 

Read Decanter’s reports on the growing season, yields, the style of the wines, verdict and top-scoring wines 

Jeb Dunnuck 

It seems that the style of the 2023s doesn’t suit Jeb Dunnuck’s palate, feeling they are “ripe yet not massive or incredibly concentrated” and finds there are “divergent styles”, with some closer to the sunny 2019 and some more structured and cooler like 2020. He agrees that: “Yields, blends, pick dates, and luck with mildew and rain all make generalizations regarding 2023 fraught with peril.” 

For him the combination of “ripe aromatics, good freshness, and focused, more medium to medium to full-bodied, linear profiles that make the vintage so interesting” – something he attributes to the condensed ripening period at the end of the season. He feels that although there are “unquestionably impressive wines from the Right Bank”, the Left Bank won this year – offering “another level of harmony and overall balance”.  

Jeb Dunnuck’s highlights: Montrose, La Mission Haut-Brion, Margaux, Cheval Blanc, Doisy Daëne, Haut-Brion, Mouton Rothschild, Palmer, Smith Haut Lafitte, Suduiraut, Valandraud Blanc, Vieux Château Certan 

Read Jeb Dunnuck’s full report 

NB Jeff Leve, aka The Wine Cellar Insider, has released his notes and scores but no report. Check his scores in our comparison chart, or find them all on his site 

Compare all the critics’ scores in our comparison chart, or find out more about Bordeaux 2023 


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