Saint-Émilion & Pomerol, 2004

2004 was a classic Bordeaux vintage. A return to the more traditional style of elegance and finesse. There was consistency across all appellations with wines redolent of their individual terroirs.

Growing conditions were not ideal however. Spring budding was late, and then the number of buds flourished in May giving early signs of what was a large crop. Temperatures were above average, but sunshine hours below average, and August was wet.

Those producers that excelled (primarily first growths and super seconds in the Médoc, and the elite of Pomerol and Saint-Émilion) did so by maximising their grapes’ exposure to sunlight by thinning leaf coverage on their vines, crop thinning, picking late, and limiting their produce: producing classically ageworthy wines (due to high tannin content), rather than super-concentrated. Below this top tier, there are both under-performers and over-performers. Many producers, who could not afford to limit their production, produced less interesting wines - but amongst the over-performers there are some real bargains, especially as the vintage was originally underestimated by critics.

It was a very good year for dry whites, which have a nice balance of fruit concentration and acidity, but a poor year in Sauternes. 

The Wines

2004 produced some wonderfully subtle Merlot-based Bordeaux, offering a breather from recent super-concentrated blockbuster reds. Pomerol was the real star, which showed supple complexity, while Saint-Émilion was more irregular due to the district’s size, but still produced some good to very good wines. Like the left bank, it is a vintage that will reward some patience in the cellar.

Saint-Émilion & Pomerol, 2004

2004 was a classic Bordeaux vintage. A return to the more traditional style of elegance and finesse. There was consistency across all appellations with wines redolent of their individual terroirs.

Growing conditions were not ideal however. Spring budding was late, and then the number of buds flourished in May giving early signs of what was a large crop. Temperatures were above average, but sunshine hours below average, and August was wet.

Those producers that excelled (primarily first growths and super seconds in the Médoc, and the elite of Pomerol and Saint-Émilion) did so by maximising their grapes’ exposure to sunlight by thinning leaf coverage on their vines, crop thinning, picking late, and limiting their produce: producing classically ageworthy wines (due to high tannin content), rather than super-concentrated. Below this top tier, there are both under-performers and over-performers. Many producers, who could not afford to limit their production, produced less interesting wines - but amongst the over-performers there are some real bargains, especially as the vintage was originally underestimated by critics.

It was a very good year for dry whites, which have a nice balance of fruit concentration and acidity, but a poor year in Sauternes. 

The Wines

2004 produced some wonderfully subtle Merlot-based Bordeaux, offering a breather from recent super-concentrated blockbuster reds. Pomerol was the real star, which showed supple complexity, while Saint-Émilion was more irregular due to the district’s size, but still produced some good to very good wines. Like the left bank, it is a vintage that will reward some patience in the cellar.

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