Reflecting on Bordeaux En Primeur 2023

David Thomas and Oliver Sharp

1 July 2024

Our Sales Director David Thomas, and Bordeaux Buyer Oliver Sharp share the true to appellation wines they loved, predict the ageability of the vintage, and comment on the varied buyers' market.

And that’s a wrap! EP 2023 has finally fizzled to its inconclusive conclusion. From a rapid start out of the blocks in early May when Lafite set the pace, followed hot on their heels by Mouton, the campaign ran on apace, in large part, thanks to notable First Growth discounts against the previous year’s pricing.

We loved many wines this year, with a handful hitting the heights of last year’s best, though stylistically they stand very much apart. As David succinctly summarised it over the course of our week’s tastings, ‘2022 is a vintage made by the sun, 2023 a vintage made by the soil’. From a purely vinous, drinking, purist’s point of view many of the 2023s are simply outstanding. The very best in every appellation speak of that appellation: wines sitting atop St Emillion’s limestone plateau roar with chalky minerality and lip-smacking salinity; the best in Pomerol are succulent, hearty wines issuing from the commune’s deep clay soils; the finest Pauillacs express classic Cabernet cassis notes with marked graphite from its gravel soils… you get the picture.

Bordeaux Index En Primeur 2023

The wines have such purity and ripeness of fruit, but with amazing acidity and freshness, and many times we commented that the wines were just so complete; a wine that is complete in youth tends to be complete in life, and the best of 2023 will drink from youth to old age without skipping a beat.

Customers appreciated the significant reductions and dived in accordingly, with all four First Growths (that release en primeur) seeing volumes sold markedly up on their 2022 counterparts. St-Emilion stars, Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Figeac and Canon also faired well, in the context of the campaign as a whole, as did Pomerol favourites, La Conseillante, L'Eglise Clinet, La Fleur Petrus and VCC. For others the story was more patchy, with some well-scored Left Bank classed growths catching the eye, like Montrose and Pichon Lalande, while others struggled to persuade a reluctant market to fully commit.

Bordeaux Index En Primeur 2023
David with Constance and Noemie Durantou of L'Eglise Clinet

In sum, volumes traded have been up on the two previous years’ numbers and those customers who have bought this year clearly recognised the notable price reductions some properties were offering this campaign. With cold, wet weather having plagued the Gironde this growing season – already having received over 30% of its average annual rainfall – it will interesting to see how 2024 pans out in time. In due course, perhaps 2023 will prove to have been an auspicious moment to buy some genuinely wonderful claret at particularly engaging prices. Only time will tell!

For now, most of the wines are still available for sale, so if you’re having last minute FOMO, don’t delay, let us know which wines you’re after and we’ll do our best to secure them for you.

David’s wines of the vintage: L’Eglise Clinet & La Conseillante

“Honestly, I’m struggling a little to pick between them. L’Eglise perhaps is influenced by sisters Noemie & Constance, who so sadly lost their father Denis at an early age and had to take control of this historic estate. In 2023 they have hit the vinous heights and maybe surpassed their father, time will tell. But then again Marielle has crafted such a beautiful and energy filled wine at La Conseillante. I’m going to have to call it a draw.”

2023 Château La Conseillante, Pomerol

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2023 Château L'Eglise-Clinet, Pomerol

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Bordeaux Index En Primeur 2023
The Bordeaux Index team with Marielle Cazaux of La Conseillante

Our top En Primeur recommendations from the 2023 campaign:

Best Value

2023 Château Alcee, Castillon-Cotes de Bordeaux

Merlot/Cabernet Franc on limestone and clay in Castillon’s finest terroir – exceptionally stylish wine from the Thienpont clan (VCC, Le Pin, Pavie Macquin) that’s sold at a frankly giveaway price.

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2023 La Petite Eglise, Pomerol

The 2nd wine of one of the stars of 2023, this is young vine Merlot and Cabernet Franc (90/10%) from the vaunted vineyards of L’Eglise Clinet.

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2023 Château Ormes de Pez, Saint-Estephe

The perennial favourite from the Cazes family (cf. Lynch Bages), this year’s Ormes is a rich, concentrated, structured beauty at a very comely price.

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Classic Claret

2023 Château Leoville Las Cases 2eme Cru Classe, Saint-Julien

Only a notch off the quality of the mind-blowing 2022 and 40% off the price, this is a classy, deep, intense Las Cases that will make very old bones.

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2023 Château Pichon Baron 2eme Cru Classe, Pauillac

The very essence of old vine Pauillac Cabernet Sauvignon, Pichon Baron’s 2023 is a celebration of its remarkable terroir.

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2023 Château La Fleur-Petrus, Pomerol

As the name suggest LFP sits between titans Petrus and Lafleur and this vintage it stands shoulder to shoulder with both – a very classy Pomerol indeed in 2023.

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Bordeaux Index En Primeur 2023

Up-and-Coming Stars

2023 Château Seraphine, Pomerol

A bijou Pomerol estate recently bought and upgraded by Brit, Martin Krajewski – 2023 is 100% succulent, caressing, perfumed, classy Merlot from their tiny 1.2ha plot – daughter Charlotte makes the wine and this is her finest year to date.

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2023 Château Canon Premier Grand Cru Classe B, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru

Up-and-coming you ask?! – given the relatively recent turnaround for this historic St-Emilion property owned by Chanel, we believe this château still promises so much more in the future – their 2023 is simply magical.

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Crème de la Crème

2023 Château Mouton Rothschild Premier Cru Classe, Pauillac

If you could distil the essential characteristics of classic Mouton into a single vintage, 2023 would be it – with its exotic yet restrained cassis fruit and almost painfully intense graphite mineral energy, 2023 Mouton is to die for.

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2023 Château La Mission Haut-Brion Cru Classe, Pessac-Leognan

LMHB never lets you down and the 2023 is everything you expect from this Pessac prince – full-bodied, refined, earth, currants, depth, energy and intensity on the long finish – what a wine!

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Discover En Primeur 2023 here