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2004 Clarets at Ten Years, after the Bordeaux Index Annual Tasting

by Michael Schuster (Guest Blogger)

After the Bordeaux Index Annual Tasting we see there is a great deal to enjoy here, and good claret-value-for-money.

A Good to Very Good Vintage

  • BI's 2004 10 Years on Bordeaux TastingClassic wines that will give much claret pleasure without being too painful on the pocket.
  • Wines qualitatively, broadly in the mould of 2001 and 2008.
  • Consistent yes with, in this tasting, a bunching of quality in the good to very good category 16 – 17 / 89 – 92 scoring range. Even the First Growths are mostly very close in quality, and bunched around 18 / 94, though clearly different in style.
  • Plenty of satisfying, ‘another glass, please’ beverage wines, not bêtes de concours ... not competition headliners or super scorers.
  • Given the very good claret quality of many of these, that very lack of glitter and stars mean that this is an excellent hunting ground for mature claret drinkers, as distinct from wine fund investors.

Classic Clarets

  • Not big, grand or profound wines, but the best are elegant, firmish middleweights, wines of moderate to good concentration, a fresh acidity, crisp to juicy ripeness, a firm but softening tannin.
  • The freshness and moderate proportions that are classic Bordeaux, classic table wines.

Drinking Pleasure

  • There are many very good wines, and many with a surprising flesh and ‘juiciness’ of fruit: Canon La Gaffelière,  Malescot St Exupéry, Palmer, Clos du Marquis, Pontet Canet, Pichon Lalande, Petit Mouton, Forts de Latour, Montrose, Cos d’Estournel, La Mission, Latour, Petrus list a baker’s dozen from across the communes.

Value for Money

  • If you lined up all the 16.5’s / 90 point wines and tasted them next to each other, there would surely be a slightly more marked hierarchy, but this would be essentially due to differences of personal preference, detail and style. But then consider the marked differences in price of all of those wines, to see what good drinking value there is to be had, particularly in the £350 to £550 (in bond) range, wines that are therefore around £37 to £57 a bottle, all told. That, in my view, still represents good-quality claret value. Not for everyday .... but for many a weekend?


  • Ideal wines for drinking over the next decade or so.
  • Mature colours – mostly; bouquets just emerging; palates beginning to open up.
  • Most would benefit from an hour or more, a good airing, in the decanter before serving.
  • Structure without asperity in the many that are ready, with even the top end wines accessible.  But ‘readiness’ is a question of taste, and most have tannin to lose, real polish and bouquet still to come.
  • And there are more than a few which still really require another five years or so for their sinews to soften, quite a number of top end St Juliens, for example, perhaps surprisingly. See the notes for drinking windows.

Overall Sweet Spot

  • I don’t think there is a noticeable commune sweet spot as such, nor any obvious tasting evidence that one particular grape variety outperformed another. In this sense it is an even and consistent vintage across the region, with good performances everywhere. 

[Shop for 2004 Claret online]

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