2008 Bordeaux Wine Vintage Report and Buying Guide

2008 Bordeaux Wine vintage guide with harvest information, vintage characteristics, list of the top wines, buying tips and links. If you are seeking more in-depth information on anything and everything related to the Bordeaux wine region please see the: All About Bordeaux Wine Guide

The 2008 Bordeaux wine harvest got off to an auspicious start after the moderate winter conditions. Problems with mold and mildew, cool temperatures and rain were pervasive. Flowering was uneven and delayed. The flowering was uneven, due to a cool, wet, May.  Growers needed to spray to control the onset of rot in the vineyards. St. Emilion and Cotes de Castillon was struck by a massive hail storm in the spring that caused damage to large sections of the vineyards in some properties. The summer months were not helped by the damp, cool conditions experienced in June, July, August and even the beginning of September. However, it’s important to note, even though temperatures were cool, there was plenty of sun during the summer months.

Once again, fortune smiled on the Bordeaux wine region with sunshine, warm days and cool nights during the harvest, which took place under good conditions.  It was exactly what the vintage needed. While the growing season was below average, the 2008 Bordeaux vintage was saved by the long growing season and extended harvest time.  Some growers in St. Emilion did not finish picking until the first week in November! The grapes were allowed a much longer period of hang time than usual. This additional hang time awarded the fruit a better chance to ripen.

Generally speaking, the average amount of hang time in a growing season is close to 100 days.  With the 2008 Bordeaux vintage, hang times ranged from 135 days to as long as an amazing 160 days! 2008 Bordeaux wine is also the result of as a small harvest. Yields were low. This was due to the combination of nature, along with the need for selection and the hail storms that took place in the spring.

At the top end for 2008 Bordeaux wine, the properties that were ready, willing and able to wait , as well as exercise prudent selection in their vineyards and cellars  produced very good, 2008 Bordeaux wine. The style of 2008 Bordeaux wine show the signs of a cooler vintage in their red fruit dominated finish. Pomerol is the top appellation of the vintage.  Numerous vintners produced outstanding wines. Clinet, L’Eglise Clinet, Trotanoy, Hosanna, Lafleur, Le Gay, La Conseillante, La Fleur Petrus and La Violette are just some the properties worth looking at from Pomerol. St. Emilion, due to their extended hang times made some very fine wine, Troplong Mondot, Fleur Cardinale, Angelus, Pavie and others are outstanding.  2008 Ausone is perhaps the wine of the vintage. It remains to be seen if 2008 Bordeaux wine from the Right Bank turns out as good, or better than the wines from 2001.

2008 Bordeaux wine from the Left Bank also offers attractive wines. Pontet Canet is the wine to buy.  Pichon Baron, Pichon Lalande, Cos dEstournel, Ducru Beaucaillou, Palmer, Leoville Poyferre, Malescot St. Exupery and Haut Bailly are just some of the better names.

2008 Bordeaux wine enjoys the fact that is was the last of the well priced Bordeaux wine vintages. Due to the world-wide economic crisis, and because Robert Parker was not going to review or rate 2008 Bordeaux wine until later that year, the wines were first offered at very low prices. The wines languished. There was very little demand until Robert Parker published his notes later that year.   Keep in mind, the First Growths were being offered at $200 per bottle.  As a point of comparison, at the time, 2005 First Growths were selling for close to $1,000 per bottle! Since that time, the First Growths have continued to skyrocket. Trust me on this, you will never see the First Growths selling for $200 dollars again. Due to the continuing economic problems and lack of demand caused by consumers seeking to purchase 2009 Bordeaux as well as 2010 Bordeaux, prices remain low for 2008 Bordeaux wine.

By the time 2008 Bordeaux wine first hit the market, China had become the biggest buyer of high end Bordeaux wine. This shifted the balance of allocations in the wines with the highest demand. In China, Chateau Lafite Rothschild had become the most important wine to collect for extremely wealthy consumers. Lafite was selling for up to twice the price of the other First Growth’s. Seeking to capitalize on this new demand, the 2008 Lafite Rothschild bottle was changed by the chateau. They added an engraved image of the Chinese symbol for the number 8 to the bottle. The number 8 is considered good luck in China.  This caused prices to surge. They doubled overnight to a high of almost $1,800 per bottle! Buyers who purchased at the top of the market were not exactly lucky as prices plummeted by close to 50% after the wines initial release.

If you want to read my reviews on 2008 Bordeaux wine: 2008 Bordeaux in bottle reviews and tasting notes

To read about other Bordeaux vintages from 1945 to today:

For a look at the best wine values from the vintage: Best 2008 Bordeaux wine for the money today