1997 Vintage Ratings:
Médoc Rating: 86
Pessac-Léognan Rating: 85
Saint-Émilion & Pomerol Rating: 85
Sauternes & Barsac Rating: 91
Dry Whites Rating: 89
1997 Top Three Bordeaux Wines Today:
After a warm winter and early budburst, the pleasant, dry weather turned broody in May, slowing the 1997 growing season right down. The erratic weather adversely affected the flowering and fruit set, resulting in some uneven ripening. Drought conditions continued throughout June, July, and early August, causing the vines to falter until storms at the end of August relieved the parched vines yet led to dilution. The later that growers could wait to pick, the better, but some lost their nerve and jumped the gun.
The best 1997 reds turned out pleasant but unexciting. The top wines are ripe enough but lack real backbone and are short on nuances. They were great for short to mid-term drinking, but even the finest wines have now hit their peak. The dry whites were fruity and delicious but lacked the stuffing for long-ageing.
Upon release, 1997 was touted as a great Sauternes year, and it certainly is a better year for the sweets than the table wines. The wines are generous with sufficient botrytis character, yet they have aged more quickly than I would have liked. As with the reds, these tend to be for earlier consumption and, while drinking well now, are not to be forgotten in the cellar.