2001 Bordeaux - The Wine Independent

2001 Bordeaux

2001 Vintage Ratings:


Médoc Rating: 89

Pessac-Léognan Rating: 90

Saint-Émilion & Pomerol Rating: 89

Sauternes & Barsac Rating: 96

Dry Whites Rating: 92

2001 Top Three Bordeaux Wines Today:



Coutet Cuvee Madame

La Mission Haut-Brion

Is 2001 better than 2000? This is the question a lot of Bordeaux lovers ask. My experience suggests that 2001 is not the better vintage, but it is the style many prefer.


The winter prior was relatively warm and wet. Otherwise, there is little to report about the run-up to bud burst, which occurred in mid-March. There was some frost risk, but ultimately to little avail.


From May through June, the vines took off with vigor. The subsequent warm, dry conditions led to even flowering and fruit set. It looked like a hefty crop, necessitating thinning if quality was the goal. When July came in cold and damp, it was reality check time for those who still had their sights set on bumper yields. August was fitful heat spikes followed by cold bouts, leading to a prolonged period of veraison and varied ripening.


The harvest for dry whites and reds occurred during an extended dry period of moderate temperatures in September and early October. As predicted, it was indeed a large crop, although many quality-conscious producers did a good job dropping fruit when the writing was on the wall, bringing the vines into balance. The dry whites came in bright and chirpy with sufficient freshness. The reds largely managed to get ripe, albeit with lower sugar levels and less concentration than 2000, to which the vintage was ultimately compared. The tannins of 2001 were less ripe than in 2000 and, therefore, stand out more, especially considering there was less flavor intensity in 2001. With all this said, the 2001s come off as very drinkable. The emphasis of this vintage has always been more on structure (tannins and acids) and less on the fruit, lending a savory personality to the wines that many old-school Bordeaux fans embrace as a classic style. La Mission Haut-Brion, Latour, Léoville Las Cases, and Figeac are among my favorite reds from this vintage. I still have a few cases of 2001 Léoville Barton that I bought for an absolute bargain upon release, which remains absolutely delicious.


Down in Sauternes, 2001 was a textbook great vintage. A little rain at the end of August kick-started the first signs of noble rot, while moderate temperatures in September slowed the development of Botrytis. Then, light rain in early October, followed by warm temperatures, ensured widespread infection. Most growers picked the heart of the Sauternes vintage in mid-October. The 2001 Yquem is legendary, although Coutet’s Cuvee Madame is not far off.