With the UGC tastings for En Primeur less than a week away, Bordeaux grower, winemaker and writer Gavin Quinney (@GavinQuinney) reviews the growing season of the 2014 vintage.

As the wine trade and critics descend on Bordeaux to taste the 2014s, I thought it would be useful to review how the weather affected the vintage.

(For more on the 2014 Bordeaux harvest as it happened, see ‘Après la pluie le beau temps’, ‘The red harvest begins’ and ‘Guarded optimism as harvest ends’.)

As well as living with the weather day-to-day in a professional sense (which isn’t recommended), I’ve collected and compiled a fair amount of data. As a result, my report contains rather too much information for an online article, so I’ve created a pdf document that should be easy to view on a laptop, desktop, iPad or mobile with a large screen. Just two of the 16 graphs in the report are included below but for the full Bordeaux 2014 weather report, download the pdf here.

Here are 10 points about the weather in 2014:

  • Overall, 2014 was a ‘book-end’ vintage: a relatively cool and damp summer was propped up by excellent flowering in June, and glorious September sunshine prior to the harvest.
  • The wet and mild winter, notably in January and February, led to an early bud burst at the end of an equally mild March.
  • The vines burst into life with the April sunshine, but slowed down during a chilly May
  • Plenty of sunshine in the first half of June was excellent for the flowering on the whole, with some exceptions.
  • July was relatively cool and damp, despite heat spikes. The vines didn’t get the hydric stress they needed to focus on fruit production.
  • August was cooler and damper too, mildew had to be kept at bay during the holidays, and confidence was low.
  • September saw the turnaround. A dry and sunny six weeks from the end of August to early October transformed the vintage.
  • Rain in the second week of October took some of the shine off the harvest. A week more of sunshine would have been perfect.
  • Unlike 2011, 2012 and 2013, there was minimal threat of rot at harvest time on the reds in 2014 (largely down to good weather during the June flowering, as the vines can be quite vulnerable to botrytis then).
  • Yields were approaching normal after the disastrous 2013 crop; the September drought upped the quality – but it reduced the juice.

Here are two graphs that reveal a lot about the vintage:

Bordeaux rainfall

Bordeaux sunshine hours

Although June rainfall was above average, much of the rain fell towards the end of the month and we had less rainy days than the norm. We also had more hours of sunshine at the crucial time of the flowering in the first fortnight of June. It’s also clear to see how dry and sunny September was in the critical build up to the harvest, after a cool summer with rather too many days with rain.

It should, at the very least, be an interesting vintage to taste.