Summary of the French wine vintages on a year by year basis, with recommendations of wines to look out for. This section is updated regularly.
Generally a good vintage all round, but very good for red wine producers in Bordeaux. It wasn't the best weather for growing that year since August was so horribly damp, but things improved in September and somewhat saved the harvest. Medoc wines get a VG rating whereas St Emilion and Pomerol wines, did not do so well and only get a G rating.
In Burgundy, things were even better and this year was one of the best vintages in recent times, thanks to almost perfect weather patterns in the region - sunny but not too hot with cool winds keeping the grapes nice and dry on the vines. Definitely a year to remember, with the wines drinking very well now.
The good weather benefited the white Burgundy growers too, although because yields were high this year, the quality was probably not as good as it should have been and as usual when picking out Burgundy wines, it is the producer that matters the most and there is no easy way of ensuring you've bagged a good wine unless you are intimate with the producer.
In Rhone, this was a firm G, bordering on a VG, especially in Southern Rhone. Yields were again high, resulting in a mixed bag in some areas. Generally though, this year is a year for starting to drink now and for keeping longer, with the majority of wines benefitting from at least 10 to 15 years in the bottle before they realise their true potential.
Only a good year in Bordeaux, made difficult by a horrible May when most of the area suffered much lower than average temperatures and was decidely wet. The rain continued throughout the summer and this affected the overall quality. If you have an 97 Claret in your cellar then you can definitely drink it up now.
Burgundy growers fared better and with reduced yields some of the white Burgundies are incredibly rich in flavour.
In northern Rhone, conditions were very good throughout the season and this is a year to look out for if you fancy adding a case of Hermitage or two to your cellar - these will keep for many years thanks to the concentration achieved by growers.
An excellent year for wines from St Emilion and Pomerol that survived a cold and wet Spring and a very hot summer. Medoc wines suffered from adverse weather towards the end of September but are still worth hunting down and should be drinking nicely now.
In Burgundy, the growers were up against it with poor weather throughout the growing season resulting in lower than average yields. Reds are better than whites, especially if you are looking to hang on to them for a few more years.
Keep an eye out for southern Rhone wines from 1998 which enjoyed excellent weather conditions throughout the year, leading to amazingly fruit driven wines that will keep for years. Northern Rhone wines suffered from terrible weather around Easter which reduced crops, but benefited from near perfect harvesting conditions. The top appellations will keep well.
Challenging would be a good word to describe this Bordeaux vintage - the top vintages have produced some very good wines, especially in Medoc. Stick to the better respected Chateaux to be sure of a very good wine.
The 1999 Burgundy vintage is one of the best of the 90's with a 'perfect summer' four week period over August and September resulting in a decent harvest with wines that will wow you - the Pinot's are very fruity and drinking beautifully now.
In Rhone, conditions could not have been more perfect, benefiting both the Syrah and Grenache grapes and leading to outstanding wines in both northern and southern Rhone - keep an eye out for these ones!
A long hot summer and an excellent year for Bordeaux - a vintage to be proud of, in both Medoc and St Emilion regions. Buy and keep for the long term!
White Burgundy producers did better than Red Burgundy this year and the wines are complex and worth keeping, whereas the reds can be drunk up now.
A very hot August across northern and southern Rhone resulted in intense wines and another cracking vintage. Harvesting began earlier than usual and marked another great year for Rhone producers.
Not as good as the 2000 but still a vintage worth looking out for if you hope to back a good value Bordeaux. Some of the St Emilions and Pomerols have the edge over the Medocs.
In Burgundy, growers were caught out with severe hailstorms in August that damaged crops and affected the product of some growers although the ones that took the time to let the vines recover were rewarded with good conditions into mid September that allowed for longer ripening of berries and wines that have great ageing potential. General the whites are better than the reds and this year depends very much on you picking the right producer to guarantee a very good wine.
Another amazing year for Rhone growers, capping off four or five great years, with both northern and southern Rhone wines worth hunting down and keeping for many years to come.
One of the smallest crops for over 10 years in Bordeaux, with a horrible Spring significantly reducing yields and not being helped by rainy weather throughout July and August. A late hot summer helped salvage what could have been a disaster. The general view is that 2002 was a good but not great vintage for reds and a poor vintage for whites.
Whilst weather conditions across Burgundy were similar to Bordeaux, the conditions benefited the red growers whose crops continued to ripen throughout September and have resulted in very powerful, tannic wines that will keep for many years to come. Seek them out now but don't expect to drink them for at least 10 years. White Burgundy producers were also blessed with an excellent vintage and you will find some amazingly crisp 2002's around now.
Extensive flooding in Rhone made for a difficult harvest with the 2002 being rated as a Good for only the better producers. Keep your eye open because there are some bargains to be had, but you will be taking more of a risk with this vintage than with previous years.
Overall a very good vintage for red bordeaux growers. 2003 was one of the hottest on record and this has resulted in very rich, fruit driven wines that have great ageing potential. Lay down now for drinking from 2010 onwards.
Similar, extremely hot conditions in Burgundy presented challenges for growers with acid levels needing to be supplemented in some cases. Reds fared better than whites, which should be drunk up now.
Rhone also saw high temperatures throughout the summer and the southern Rhone wines, especially the Mourvedre based ones benefited from later harvesting and are rich, rounded and worth hanging on to.
A good, but not great vintage all round with both Bordeaux and Burgundy growers having to put up with cooler than average conditions throughout the summer, although things improved into September for those that could dodge the hailstorms. You should be able to find some good deals on all 2004 vintages since yields were up across the board and growers calling this vintage 'classic' but not saying much more...
In Rhone, conditions were much more favourable and 2004 is likely to produce some of the best wines of the decade.
Quite simply, this will be one of the greatest ever and best remembered vintages across the whole of France. Conditions were exceptional and the wines produced exceptional. Be prepared for very high prices which will put the top names way out of most people's budgets. The lesser known labels across Bordeaux and Burgundy are worth snapping up and laying down to be enjoyed for years to come.
This was a very mixed year due to rain at the wrong times. Can't say much more than that, other than, if you've got 2006 bottles in your cellar, it's probably worth drinking them up. On the right bank, Pomerol probably fared the best. The St Emillion's were variable. On the left bank, the heavy Cabernet Sauvignon wines from the better chateaux did rather well. Overall, a year to be avoided unless you really know your stuff.
When you hear a wine maker say it was a 'strategic year', you know things have been pretty tough. 2007 was basically terrible - loads of rain throughout the summer across the bordeaux region, smaller than usual crops, average wines at best. Burgundy didn't do much better. The only light at the end of this gloomy tunnel was in southern Rhone, that had a much better, sunnier summer and chateau neuf du pape's from 2007 are worth looking out for.
Growers were getting ready to throw in towel at the start of the season, as rain and winds reminded them of the terrible time they had only a year ago. Yes, 2008 was shaping up to be one ugly year for wine makers. Then, miracle of miracles, the sun came out, grapes ripened and yields ended up being not so bad. Many had to harvest late, but the wines came out surprisingly good, especially the left bank bordeaux wines. As is the case with Burgundy, you have to know what you're looking for and 2008 was no exception. Most were average and overpriced, although there were a few outstanding wines from the top producers.
OK. This is the vintage you are looking for. Absolutely stunning. The best since 2005, possible better than 2005. An amazing summer across the board, plenty of sun, hot and dry, which created highly structured wines with great depth and the ability to age for many years. Fruity, plump, delicious, no matter where you happen to pick from. Burgundies were great, as were Rhone's and even the Loire region produced some outstanding whites. Pick up a few bottles and enjoy them while you can.
Copy and paste from 2009 above. Another outstanding vintage thanks to a cool spring and a hot summer, with hardly any rain. The left bank bordeaux wines are sensational and the right banks are concentrated and pack a punch. Burgundy suffered more, but still produced some amazing wines. Most of the rest of wine producing regions produced very decent wines in 2010, but this is definitely a bordeaux year.
Oh dear. After two amazing years, we find ourselves back in 2007 territory. The weather really didn't play ball this year. It rained at the wrong times, it was sunny only sometimes. Rot set in. Trouble at mill. Stear clear unless you know what you're looking for.
Uh oh. Here we go again. What's with all this terrible weather. Most wine-makers in France would have called this year 'un challenge' as indeed it was. Cool, wet and sometimes downright cold, does not a happy wine make. Bordeaux wines lacked depth and concentration, Burgundies were average. Rhones the same. Stay in bed.