2002 Bordeaux - The Wine Independent

2002 Bordeaux

2002 Vintage Ratings:


Médoc Rating: 82

Pessac-Léognan Rating: 85

Saint-Émilion & Pomerol Rating: 80

Sauternes & Barsac Rating: 91

Dry Whites Rating: 91

2002 Top Three Bordeaux Wines Today:



De Fargues


My least favorite vintage of this century for Bordeaux reds, I’ve tried to find something to love about 2002, but, apart from a few exceptions, the wines are green, underripe shadows of their true terroir selves. 


Spring set the cold, cloudy, dismal scene for the vintage. A late May warm spell provoked flowering, but it was soon hampered by the cold, rainy weather that followed. Merlot was severely impacted by mis-flowering and poor fruit set (coulure and millerandage), resulting in severe crop losses. Merlot yields would ultimately be down by 60-70% on the right bank.


It was an uncommonly cold, damp train wreck of a summer. August brought rain and ensuing outbreaks of rot. Veraison was spun out over weeks. Some dilution occurred. Growers finally caught a break during the last couple of weeks of September, bringing sunnier, relatively dry conditions. This offered a brief ripening period before the rains set in after the first week of October, and harvest hands were forced.


In the end, many enjoyable dry white wines came out of 2002. The Cabernet-based reds from the Médoc ran the gamut from lean and green to quaffable. Meanwhile, Merlot crops on the right bank were minuscule and mediocre at best. I’ve recently enjoyed bottles 2002 Lafite, Pontet-Canet, Cos d’Estournel, Latour, Pavie, and Haut-Bailly. All are at peak maturity but should keep another 10-15 years.


2002 was a far better vintage for the wines of Sauternes than for the reds, but 2001 was a tough act to follow for this style. The late season conditions weren’t quite damp enough for swift, even Botrytis infection. It was just a little too late when the rains came in October. With all this said, many excellent sweet wines were made that just fall short of the intensity and tension of their 2001 counterparts.