Neal Martin on Bordeaux 2015 in bottle

“Does the 2015 Bordeaux vintage belong within the top tier alongside 2005, 2010 and 2016? Close, but no cigar.”

Each January some of the UK’s top tasters would gather in the Suffolk seaside town of Southwold to undertake a comprehensive blind tasting of the latest physical Bordeaux vintage. In recent years the tasting has relocated to London, but as Neal Martin said in his report last year: “the name and its ethos continue to thrive”.

Yesterday evening (UK time), Vinous published Neal Martin’s thoughts on this blind tasting. His report, Finally: Bordeaux 2015 in bottle, also marks the first time that Martin has scored the vintage collectively for Vinous. (His previous Bordeaux 2015 reports were published by the Wine Advocate).

Overall, Martin said that the tasting was a “fascinating journey through the top wines of the vintage, confirming prior opinions and throwing up more questions – as every blind tasting should”.

He commented that “the 2015 vintage was the first since 2010 that chateaux and merchants could get behind […] the primeur campaign was successful; everyone was happy”. However, he adds, “then 2016 came swaggering along and relegated 2015 to the status of a warm-up act”.

Martin continues: “whatever the pedigree of the 2016 vintage, it has no bearing on the quality of the previous year’s wines, and while comparisons are important, I wanted to assess the 2015s on their own merits”.

Overall, Martin concluded that the 2015 vintages “lacks the consistency of 2016 and the showstoppers that might have enhanced its reputation”, but adds that “while the Bordelais’ breathless praise of 2016 is justified, it was wrong to downplay the quality of 2015, because there are many excellent wines, not least in the south of the Left Bank in Saint-Julien, Margaux and Pessac-Léognan, plus a cluster of great Saint-Émilions and a handful of Pomerols”.

Martin’s top-scoring wine was Petrus 2015, which he awarded 98+ points – the same score as his in-bottle tasting for the Wine Advocate back in 2018. In his tasting note, Martin said the wine has a “fresh, detailed yet quite understated bouquet of black fruit, pencil box, smoke and light tarry aromas – very succinct and classy”.

A number of wines, however, have had their scores lowered since Martin’s last report. Canon and Haut Brion, which were both scored 100 points previously, were awarded 97+ in the critic’s latest report.

Alternatively, Valandraud (98), Ausone (98) and Clos Fourtet (97) have all had their scores upgraded. Historically, a score upgrade or 100 points from Neal Martin has stimulated activity in the secondary market. For example, Cos d’Estournel 2016 saw a flurry of activity on Liv-ex and went on to trade at an all-time high of £1,847 per 12×75 after Neal Martin awarded the wine 100 points in January.

Martin’s top-scoring wines can be found in the table below. You can read the full report at Vinous.com, here.