The last 15 years have yielded some of the best Bordeaux wines in recent history. In particular, five of those years—2005, 2009, 2010, 2015, and 2016—treated critics, collectors, and enthusiasts to early tastings that revealed exceptional quality and suggested these wines would age well for decades.
These extraordinary years tend to be compared with one another, too. For example, debate continues over which year wins out when you compare the 2009 and 2010 Bordeaux vintages. And there is still some question regarding how these two vintages stack up against the 2005.
Comparing Bordeaux 2015 vs. 2016 is also a hot topic of discussion—and rightly so, since these two years round out the top five of some of the region’s best years of production. There’s no doubt that both vintages are worth collecting and trying, but how do they differ from each other and which estates made the best wine in each year? We’ll explore those questions in this post.
How the 2015 and 2016 Bordeaux Vintages Differ
Depending on what your investment goals are or simply what you prefer to drink, the differences between these two vintages may affect which year you choose to focus on in your collection. Below, we’ll look at differences between Bordeaux 2015 and 2016 in terms of weather conditions, flavor, and aging potential.
Bordeaux is known for being warm during the summer months and much cooler, even cold, during the winter, which typically provides an ideal climate for cultivating the grapes used in Bordeaux blends. Climate change has started to shift the region’s conditions overall, but so far the impact on Bordeaux hasn’t been particularly negative. In fact, for both 2015 and 2016 Bordeaux wines, warm weather conditions contributed to these vintages’ success:
- 2015: The warmest year on record at the time and a fairly dry one in Bordeaux, in 2015 nearly all of the grape varieties in the region remained healthy—and ripened beautifully. And, though the early winter months of January and February were cold and there was a great deal of rainfall later in August, these had minimal negative impacts on the vines and the rise in the water table benefited harvests. The biggest problem most producers faced was deciding when to pick. Most estates chose wisely and the results were wines high in tannins, yet uncharacteristically low in acidity.
- 2016: Another record hot year for the planet, and the Bordeaux region, 2016 brought with it more rainfall than the previous year—and larger yields. Rains were fairly consistent from January to March and, before the hot and dry summer hit, the region remained damp through spring. This ushered in successful flowering for all grape varieties (especially Merlot) and helped produce Bordeaux wines with both a relatively approachable level of tannins and exhilarating acidity.
The flavor profile of a Bordeaux wine will of course vary depending on where in Bordeaux the producer is located. Depending on whether the wine is a Left Bank or Right Bank Bordeaux, the blend may be dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon (Left Bank) or Merlot (Right Bank). However, the year’s weather conditions also had an overall effect on each vintage, regardless of which grape dominated the blend:
- 2015: This vintage produced Bordeaux wines with great depth of character, striking opulence, and a finely tuned concentration of flavors. The very high tannins found in wines throughout the region didn’t diminish the warm, well-rounded, approachable fruit flavors that even early tastings revealed. In fact, the unusually successful partnership of low acidity and high tannins resulted in wines with sensual-tasting fruit and distinctly bright aromas that also feel surprisingly silky in the mouth.
- 2016: Wines from both banks have exquisite notes of ripe fruit and a velvety red opacity. Since neither tannins nor alcohol is overly assertive in this vintage, and acidity levels are very high, even the typically more powerful Cabernet Sauvignon blends are a little more balanced than usual. This has allowed the fresh, ripe taste of sumptuous red fruit to take front and center, and has given the wines a long and fluid finish and an intense, yet refined, aroma.
Buying top vintages of Bordeaux almost always means buying wines that are destined for greatness with the passage of time. Those produced in 2015 and 2016 are no exception. What’s more, the aging potential for both vintages is quite remarkable; some bottles can be held for thirty or more years. In general, Bordeaux wines from 2016 will be longer lasting, though you’ll want to check the latest tasting notes for the specific estate you purchase from.
Top Bordeaux Wines from Two Equally Excellent Years
These two vintages have something very special in common: both will make great additions to your portfolio. Not all of the standouts from each year are first-growth Bordeaux wines, either. That means you’ve got a lot of options to choose from, including many wines at a very reasonable price.
To narrow the field a little, we’ve listed Bordeaux wines from 2015 and 2016 that scored 98 points or higher from respected critics like Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker of Wine Advocate. The list includes wines from both the Left and Right Banks, in simple alphabetical order. We’ve added their drinking windows, as well, so you’ll know how long you can hold them:
Top Bordeaux Wines from 2015:
Drinking window: 2024-2052
Drinking window: 2025-2045
Drinking window: 2022 to 2047
Drinking window: 2024 to 2064
Drinking window: 2024 – 2055
Drinking window: 2024 to 2054
Drinking window: 2023 – 2050
Drinking window: 2024 to 2055
Drinking window: 2025 – 2050
Drinking window: 2024 – 2045
Drinking window: 2024 – 2058
Drinking window: 2024 to 2047
Drinking window: 2020 – 2050
Top Bordeaux Wines from 2016:
Drinking window: 2023 to 2050
Drinking window: 2020 to 2045
Drinking window: 2023 to 2048
Drinking window: 2023 – 2046
Drinking window: 2024 to 2064
Drinking window: 2021 to 2050
Drinking window: 2026 – 2070
Drinking window: 2022 – 2070
Drinking window: 2028 – 2078
Drinking window: 2022 to 2043
Drinking window: 2022 – 2085
Drinking window 2024 – 2060
Drinking window: 2021 – 2060
Drinking window: 2023 – 2059
Drinking window: 2026 – 2045
Drinking window: 2021 – 2070
Choosing Bordeaux 2015 Vs. 2016 for Your Portfolio
If you’re comparing Bordeaux 2015 vs. 2016 in order to choose between them, you might not want to pick just one. Neither vintage will disappoint in taste and both will add value to your portfolio. If you’re able to buy 2015 and 2016 vintages from an estate that received exceptional scores for both years, like Château Haut-Brion or Château Palmer, you can conduct your own taste test of each vintage at home. Then, decide for yourself which year you like best.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.