Wines before iPods: 2000 vs 2001

By September 24, 2021Bordeaux, Bronze, Fine Wine Market

The 2000 vintage stands apart as one of the “great” modern vintages of Bordeaux, but after 21 years how does it compare to the long over-shadowed 2001s? 

  • Neal Martin has published a comparison of the 2000 and 2001 vintages in Bordeaux. 
  • Although the 2000 First Growths bag the highest scores, Martin judged the 2001s to be in a better place for future ageing. 

The 2000 vintage was only 21 years ago but as Neal Matin says in his latest Vinous report, it “already feels like a train disappearing over a distant temporal horizon”. 

A pre-9/11 age of flip-top Nokias and before the coming of the iPod. The 2000 vintage rang in the new millennium to great acclaim but the follow-up 2001 – now 20 years old itself – was also a strong vintage cast into its predecessor’s shadow. 

During a recent visit to Bordeaux, Martin was able to taste wines from both vintages side to side, offering up a chance to compare and contrast how both have aged. 

Endings and beginnings

Despite the initial preference for 2000 in many quarters – praised by Robert Parker and after a hugely successful En Primeur campaign – over time both winemakers and drinkers started to voice their opinion that the 2001s were much better than many gave them credit for. 

Martin himself certainly seems to have walked away from his comparative tasting with much the same impression. 

Even back in 2005, Martin had said of the 2001s: “ Perhaps in years to come, the 2000s which have already become too expensive to consume without guilt will be sold to make way for the 2001 vintage, as the wine cognoscenti realise the quality on offer. This is a fine, under-appreciated vintage for the benefit of those that love good-drinking claret.” 

His conclusion was that 2000 ultimately marks the end of an epoch in Bordeaux winemaking, whereas 2001 marks the start of a new one. 

Martin said he could “draw a line that connects 2000 with previous vintages in the 1980s and 1990s”. This goes down to an element of greenness in some wines and flashes of Brettanomyces – wines made in an era where the polish of contemporary vintages was still lacking. 

The 2001s, by contrast, are much more “modern” in style. It is the sort of wine that Bordeaux has returned to, after the obsession with more oak and extraction in the mid-2000s. 

2000 vs 2001

Overall, Martin commented: “Freshness and acidity stand the 2001s in good stead. At 20 years old, they have retained much of their youthful vigour. By comparison, except for the First Growths, the 2000s tend to be close in quality and yet more evolved, with more obvious secondary aromas and flavours.”  

For those deciding to drink or hold what stocks of these vintages they may have, it was the 2001s Martin thought would stay the course for longer. 

Throughout the report Martin states that he found the 2001s to be his favourites at several estates, especially on the Left Bank. 

The 2000 First Growths he still considers standouts in a close race, the only exception being Mouton Rothschild where he prefers the 2001. That said, he did award a slightly elevated score to the 2000 Mouton-Rothschild – a wine that has never impressed him – from 89 to 91.