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BORDEAUX EN PRIMEUR 2021

The 2021 Bordeaux en-primeur campaign has started and one big gun – Chateau Cheval Blanc has already been released. We are expecting that this will see the release of more notable chateaux over the coming days, although in our opinion, it will be mid June when more of the big beasts will become available.

As ever the campaign will move fast and allocations will be keenly contested. We invite you to register your interest or send us a wish list for what is proving a low allocation vintage!

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2021 – FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The team went to Bordeaux earlier this year to discover the upcoming 2021 vintage, both with a sense of trepidation following the rumours about the vintage and  a sense of joy after two long years without visiting this incredible region.

As has been well documented, spring frosts, hail and inclement weather made the 2021 growing season a challenge to say the least, which led to much reduced yields across the board. Thankfully, our apprehension was misplaced and the more wines we tasted, the more we fell in love with this vintage. Yes, there are a few Chateau who have struggled to maintain their quality in comparison to recent vintages, but others have produced superb, classical wines that will stand the test of time. Keys words such as Vigilance, Passion, Self-sacrifice and Experience, had to be combined to understand this vintage.

CONCLUSIONS

  1. The 80s and 90s are back; 2021 is a beautifully classic Bordeaux vintage as we used to know them.
  2. Yields are low, so there will not be wine for everyone.
  3. The white wines are excellent. In many cases the best they have ever made. Domaine de Chevalier is the overall winner for us.
  4. The red wines are best described by these words: elegance, finesse, great balance, low alcohol 12.5-13.5%, high acidity and, here comes the strange part: the density is the same as 2019 was!
  5. Difficult, not homogenous, and certainly not a blockbuster vintage!
  6. One must be very selective!
  7. On the other hand, those who did make great wines, their wines are spectacular.
  8. These wines will age a very long time, because of their acidity and density.
  9. Last very interesting point: the second wines are very good across the board from what we tasted.
  10. The punch line is: all this is well and good, but the prices need to be good as well. We will see soon, won’t we?

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS

Saint Estephe

Château Cos d’Estournel
94 – 95pts “very promising… that’s impressively vibrant and concentrated”

Château Calon Segur
95 – 96pts “A brilliant effort that will delight Médoc purists”

Le Marquis de Calon-Ségur was the best second wine from the appellation that we have tasted at this price range, extremely balanced with integrated tannins and a good level of freshness, this is a true success from the Chateau. 89-90pts “medium to full-bodied, layered and lively, with powdery tannins and an impressively penetrating finish.”

Château Montrose
94 – 96pts “full-bodied, layered and concentrated, with terrific depth at the core, lively acids and a seamless, harmonious profile.”

Montrose La Dame de Montrose
88-90pts “It’s a fine effort that will likely take on additional depth with élevage”.

Château Phélan Ségur
92-93 pts “Concentrated and well-constructed, this is a serious wine with a bright future ahead of it.”

Château Lafon-Rochet
89-91 pts “A charming, supple effort, it will drink well on release.

Pauillac

Château Lafite
95 – 97pts “A brilliant wine that shares some similarities with the formidable 1996”

Château Mouton Rothschild
95 – 96pts “The 2021 Mouton Rothschild is a terrific wine”

Chateau Clerc Milon
92-94pts “The 2021 Clerc Milon is a success, bursting with aromas of blackberries, cassis and plums mingled with violets, tobacco leaf and nicely integrated new oak.”

Château Pichon-Longueville Baron
94 – 96+pts “A brilliant achievement”

Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
94 – 95+pts “This estate is one of the most dynamic in contemporary Bordeaux”

Saint Julien

Château Léoville Las Cases
95 – 97pts “One of the wines of the vintage”

Clos du Marquis
91 – 93+pts “Clos du Marquis is a lovely wine” – We really enjoyed this wine as it had a medium body, an expressive nose and a wonderful freshness.

Château Ducru Beaucaillou
94 – 96pts “Complete and penetrating, it’s a true classic”

The full range from Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou is unbelievable, including Ducru-Beaucaillou La Croix de Beaucaillou, Ducru-Beaucaillou Le Petit Ducru, Ducru-Beaucaillou Madame de Beaucaillou. If you want an easy to drink, outstanding claret, these wines are the perfect choice.

Margaux

Château Margaux
95 – 97+pts “Clearly one of the finest wines of the vintage.”

Château Palmer
95 – 97pts “The late-ripening, low-yielding vintage has delivered a beautifully balanced wine of striking intensity in the 2021 Palmer”

Alter Ego de Palmer
91 – 93pts “Medium to full-bodied, ample and polished, with a charming, seamless profile founded on beautifully refined structuring tannins

Chateau Cantemerle
90-91pts – The bargain of the appellation! characterized as “ a very strong effort in a challenging year” by The Wine Advocate. It will require some cellaring.

Pessac – Leognan

Domaine de Chevalier Blanc
94 – 96pts “The 2021 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc is shaping up brilliantly, bursting with aromas of citrus oil, gooseberries, crisp stone fruit, white flowers and pastry cream.”

Domaine de Chevalier Red
93 – 95pts “The 2021 Domaine de Chevalier is full of promise, bursting with aromas of dark berries and plums mingled with loamy soil, bay leaf, licorice, potpourri and spices.”

Château Haut-Brion
96 – 98pts “A candidate for the title of wine of the vintage.”

Château Haut-Brion Blanc
94 – 96+pts “At this early stage, this would appear to be one of the two or three finest Haut-Brion whites of the last 20 years.”

Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion
94 – 97pts “A brilliant and intensely individual wine, the 2021 Les Carmes Haut-Brion shows immense potential.”

Château Haut-Bailly
94 – 95+pts “With yields of a mere 19 hectoliters per hectare, it’s impressively intensely flavored despite its quintessentially elegant, classically proportioned profile.

Bargain wines from Haut Medoc

Château Coufran – Boundary of St Estephe with a high proportion of Merlot – Used to be owned by Chateau Mouton Rothschild, a splendid value for money. 88pts “medium-bodied, supple and lively wine that’s delicate and charming”

Château Camensac – Fifth growth of the Medoc – Boundary of St Julien – One of the higher scoring wines from Haut Medoc this year. 89-90pts “A fine effort, the 2021 Camensac offers up aromas of cassis, plums, loamy soil and cigar wrapper, followed by a medium-bodied, velvety palate with lively acids and impressively refined tannins”.

On the left bank, we seriously believe that a lot of less expensive wines such as Chateau Chevalier (white and red), Chateau Calon Segur, and Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou (all their range) are serious players worth buying because the quality is too good to be avoided!

On the other side of the Garonne, the Head Winemaker Marielle Cazaux from Chateau La Conseillante confessed to us that “In 2021, numerous obstacles emerged along the long road to the harvest. These presented a formidable challenge for us, on the front line, ready to make snap decisions, sometimes taking risks, while maintaining our calm. But in the end of the day, after all the tireless work put in, the satisfaction of making a very fine wine awaited us”

Pomerol

Château La Conseillante
95 – 96pts “A superb effort that transcends the challenges of the vintage”.

Vieux Château Certan
94 – 96pts “Vieux Château Certan is one of the finest wines of the appellation this year”.

To give you an idea, Petrus has scored 93-96

Saint- Émilion

Château Ausone
97 – 100pts “Ausone is a strong candidate for the title of wine of the vintage”.

Château Cheval Blanc
95 – 97pts “Long and penetrating, this is a serious, rather structured young Cheval Blanc that will require and reward patience.”

Château Troplong Mondot
93 – 96pts “The 2021 Troplong Mondot shows considerable promise.” – a great surprise for us, from 16% to 13.5% alcohol.

Château Figeac
94 – 97pts “One of the highlights of the vintage on the Right Bank.”

On the right bank, Cheval Blanc is a winner, even at this stage, this wine is already very expressive. We don’t recommend at all Chateau Angelus and we personally struggle to understand that this wine is a St Emilion Grand Cru Classe A.

Summary

Now let’s be honest, the price should be higher than this year because the quantity produced was small.  If you want any wines, please raise your hand quickly.  Once the allocations are sent we expect to sell out fast. To conclude, we think that 2021 was a vintage of extreme and contrasting climatic conditions which required attention at every turn but, when handled carefully, has produced magnificent results.