Bordeaux 2019 En Primeur

 

"Two thousand and nineteen is a great vintage. I know. Boring. But my job is to tell it as it is, and that is what it is. It is an excellent vintage."  Neal Martin, Vinous.com, Jun 2020

 

The background to Bordeaux 2019 En Primeur may have been highly unusual, but there is no doubt about the brilliant quality of the wines, nor about the extremely attractive release prices from many top châteaux.  Even the most grudging critics of the en primeur system concede that in this year, Bordeaux "got it right".

We usually pride ourselves on taking a view early in the campaign, based on tasting hundreds of wines and speaking directly to winemakers and châteaux owners when we visit the region in April.  For obvious reasons, our appreciation of the 2019s has been a movable feast, evolving as each new cask sample arrived at the office.

Our FULL & FINAL BORDEAUX 2019 EN PRIMEUR OFFER now includes all of those wines we particularly recommend; a little over eighty châteaux, including over forty crus classés (around two-thirds of the total) and a further forty cru bourgeois, right bank wines and deuxièmes vins.  Hopefully, this puts the enthusiasm of our notes into context!  These are in our opinion a selection of the very best wines, from an excellent vintage, from possibly the world's greatest wine region.

 

2019 harvest in full-swing at Pavie

 

Growing season & effect on the vintage

The question raised by so many wines we tasted was "how can such an elegant, balanced wine be made in such a warm year?".  Early on in the process, we expected each sample to show aromas of prune or fig, or a kind of 'hot' character to the alcohol indicating lack of integration, but on the contrary, sample after sample proved to be fresh and aromatically complex with excellent acidity. 

Gradually, with more and more tasting, we have gained a sense of how the weather shaped the vintage.  Each year, with advancing technology, analysis of the growing season grows more complex.  This year we have even begun to receive reports from a satellite telecommunications company who have branched out into analysis of classic wine regions.  More detailed information is available than ever before, both to winemakers and to the trade, so we offer just a summary of the key points.

The early part of the growing season saw far fewer extreme weather events than 2018, with frost damage and mildew far less prevalent, resulting in a clean, healthy crop.  This was not a heatwave year in the sense of 2003 (with sustained extreme temperatures without relief) but a year which saw some intense heat spikes, mitigated by a later start to ripening and some very useful rainfall at key times, namely in June, July and just before harvest time. 

Record readings on the car dashboard thermometer from last summer may stick in the memory, but in the terms which matter to the vines (i.e. 'average heat accumulation days') 2019 scored lower than 2018.  The first of those heat spikes was in June, before ripening had even begun.  Add to this the healthiness of the crop and we have a year with wonderful ripeness levels and an aromatic complexity to the fruit which will probably prove to be the defining characteristic of the vintage.

Excellent vintages seem almost miraculously to come in pairs (1995/'96, '2005/'06, 09' &'10, '15/'16) and this is no coincidence.  The reproductive cycle of the vine is spread over two years and in a good growing season, the vines will take the opportunity to produce embryonic buds both for the current year and for the next, so potential was already developing during the 2018 growing season.

In 2018, a hot summer was accompanied by low summer rainfall and a reduction in the harvest due to frost and mildew which concentrated the fruit at many properties.  Described as a 'winemakers' vintage', the challenge was to handle the fruit to extracts its full (tremendous) potential. 

Despite casual similarities with 2018 and although there was less overall rainfall, the conditions in 2019 were just enough rain (as in 2009, '10 and '16) falling at just the right time.  Writing for Jancisrobinson.com, Gavin Quinney's prediction in November last year seems pretty spot-on to us:

"Stylistically, based on this, it would be no surprise if 2019 ended up as a mythical blend of 2012, 2014 and 2016, with a little 2015 thrown in. (By that I mean the charm and drinkability of the 2012s, the straightness and classicism of the 2014s, the freshness and fruity appeal of the 2016s, and the warmth of 2015.)"

Rather than the very interventionist approach needed to winemaking in 2018, this was a year in which winemakers needed to decide "when to act and when to do nothing" (Lisa Perotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate).

 

 

Crop 'sanitation'...not the most glamorous phrase, but an important factor in the fruit purity in the 2019s.

 

 

Vintage quality & comparisons

What is harder to say with certainty at this stage is where 2019 sits on the (very subjective and fluid) scale between 'excellent' and 'great'.  This was an extraordinarily easy and pleasurable vintage to taste from barrel samples, in contrast to years like 2018 and 2010.  For an elegant year, it has an easy charm quite unlike the 2016s at the same stage, but there is also a wonderful aromatic complexity, with fine acidity and tannic structure which points to excellent ageing potential.  Jane Anson writes:  "I am extremely confident that the best wines have decades ahead of them."  - Decanter, June 2020.

Whilst we speculate as to how the wines will develop in bottle, there is, of course, another kind of speculation to factor in, namely price.  Alfred Tesseron showed some real leadership when he released Pontet-Canet at 31% below the 2018 release price in late May.  Many chateaux subsequently followed a pattern of releases with lower prices, but scores equal to or higher than the 2018s.  Amidst uncertainty about exactly how great this vintage is, and about the wider economy, there is at least certainty that these are in many cases the best-priced examples of these wines on the fine wine market and we recommend adding them to your cellar.

 

Châteaux are listed by commune, with full release notes, tasting notes and scores on our 2019 En Primeur Offer pages.  Our selection of Featured Wines highlights wines which we think offer particular value from this excellent vintage.  You will also find them in list format, below.

All wines offered subject to availability, quantities in many cases extremely limited.  

 

 

Wine Search

Prices are ex-VAT per case of 12 bottles, unless otherwise advised.  DP = duty-paid ex-London.  IB = under bond ex-London.

Red 2019 Château Angelus 75cl £1,422 per case of 6 IB
"The most refined Angélus I think I’ve ever tasted. Almost streamlined but with ... Read more
"The most refined Angélus I think I’ve ever tasted. Almost streamlined but with trademark colour, depth and imprint of tannin. Pure, fresh and fragrant with dark fruit and spice aromas. Smooth and saline on the palate with real line and length. Pure and precise with no exaggeration but a firmness of structure evident. One of the best from this estate. Drink 2028 – 2045. 18+ points" jancisrobinson.com (JL) “An extremely refined and sharpened Angelus with super fine tannins and sweet ripe fruit in the center palate. It’s full-bodied, yet tight and so very polished. Silky. Very subtle. Bright blue fruit, black fruit and stones. Supple and minerally. 98-99 Points." James Suckling Close
Red 2019 Château Angludet 75cl £276 per case of 12 IB
Excellent intensity of colour in the glass and with vibrant, fresh aromas of bla... Read more
Excellent intensity of colour in the glass and with vibrant, fresh aromas of blackcurrant and savoury black tea. Some saline mineral notes balancing the precise fruit on the palate, with very fine Margaux tannins already in evidence, promising an elegant and complex wine in the medium-term (drinking from around 2025). RKL Close
Red 2019 Château Ausone 75cl £1,275 per case of 3 IB
Red 2019 Château Ausone 75cl £2,550 per case of 6 IB
Red 2019 Château Ausone - La Chapelle 75cl £725 per case of 6 IB
Red 2019 Château Beaumont 75cl £100 per case of 12 IB
"The 2019 Beaumont impresses on the nose with intense blackberry and briary arom... Read more
"The 2019 Beaumont impresses on the nose with intense blackberry and briary aromas, sous-bois and tobacco, all whilst maintaining its delineation. The palate is supple and silky on the entry. There is well judged acidity, plenty of cedar and seaweed, tinged black fruit and a spicy finish. Now, this is a bloody great Beaumont. 91-93 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com Close
Red 2019 Château Beaumont Magnum £115 per case of 6 IB
Red 2019 Château Berliquet 75cl £402 per case of 12 IB
"Vibrant damson in colour. I love the deep creaminess that is evident from the f... Read more
"Vibrant damson in colour. I love the deep creaminess that is evident from the first nose, with hints of cocoa and gunsmoke. There is more clay here than at Canon; about 50% of the vineyard has a clay layer over the limestone whereas at Canon it is closer to 10%, meaning Berliquet is less ethereal, more urgent and powerful, still with precision and feathery chalky tannins. They have restored the underground limestone cellars for barrel ageing. A yield of 45hl/ha. 45% new oak, for what is the 2nd full year of the Canon team working the vineyard. Thomas Duclos consultant. Drinking Window 2026 - 2042. 93 points." Jane Anson, Decanter Close
Red 2019 Château Beychevelle 75cl £657 per case of 12 IB
"The 2019 Beychevelle, one of the only wines that I actually tasted at the châte... Read more
"The 2019 Beychevelle, one of the only wines that I actually tasted at the château with Philippe Blanc prior to lockdown, has a wonderful bouquet with detailed blackberry, briary, cedar and light touches of mocha unfurling from the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins, a fine bead of acidity, a discrete marine influence taking over towards the finish. There is a tang of seaweed and brine on the aftertaste. It keeps you coming back for more. This is a great 2019 from Blanc and his team though we must wait to see if it will surpass their 2018. 93-95 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com Close
Red 2019 Château Brane Cantenac 75cl £495 per case of 12 IB
"The 2019 Brane-Cantenac was cropped at 50hl/ha between 18 September and 9 Octob... Read more
"The 2019 Brane-Cantenac was cropped at 50hl/ha between 18 September and 9 October. Matured entirely in new oak, it is in possession of an almost pixelated bouquet with beguiling blackberry, bilberry and crushed limestone aromas. I find this less austere than some vintages of Brane-Cantenac at this prenatal stage. The palate is silky smooth on the entry with filigree tannins, very harmonious, not a deep or powerful Margaux, yet very delineated. There is that signature touch of greenness that I often find on Brane-Cantenac on the finish, though I have learned through experience that this is assimilated with bottle age, so have a cool cellar handy. Excellent. 94-96 points. " Neal Martin, Vinous.com A thoroughly moreish and high-quality Brane Cantenac, this is silky and seductive with impressive extraction of the tannins giving backbone and support to brambled and cassis fruits. Plenty of crushed stone and spice to add a gourmet edge alongside the just-smoked oak. Extremely high quality and one of the best Branes I've tasted at this stage. 3% of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc complete the blend. For the first time, all of the plots for this wine come from the plateau de Brane just in front of the château, a reflection of how well this terroir withstood the heat of the summer. Drinking Window 2029 - 2046. 96 points." Jane Anson, Decanter Close
Red 2019 Château Calon Ségur 75cl £895 per case of 12 IB
Red 2019 Château Canon 75cl £940 per case of 12 IB
Red 2019 Château Cantemerle 75cl £210 per case of 12 IB
"Crushed berries and walnuts with red-chili and mushroom notes. It’s medium-to f... Read more
"Crushed berries and walnuts with red-chili and mushroom notes. It’s medium-to full-bodied and soft. Juicy at the end. Ripe tannins and good balance. 93-94 points" jamessuckling.com Close
Red 2019 Château Capbern 75cl £180 per case of 12 IB
"This is a gorgeous young sample with wonderful blue fruit and spices, as well a... Read more
"This is a gorgeous young sample with wonderful blue fruit and spices, as well as a nice overlay of pretty wood. Medium to full body and firm, silky tannins. Hints of minerals. Better than 2018. 93-94 Points." James Suckling Close
Red 2019 Château Clerc Milon 75cl £295 per case of 6 IB
"The blend this year is 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc an... Read more
"The blend this year is 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, harvested from the 19th of September to the 9th of October. Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2019 Clerc Milon starts out a little closed and broody, offering notes of tar, chargrill, tapenade and Marmite toast over an emerging core of stewed plums, black cherries and kirsch with a touch of garrigue. The medium-bodied palate delivers loads of freshness with crunchy black fruits and a lively line, backed up by grainy tannins, finishing long and savory. 92-94+ points" Lisa Perotti-Brown, Robert.Parker.com "A very tight, precise red with super fine tannins that are tight and focused. Medium-to full-bodied with linear tannins and a bright, vivid finish. It’s leaner and refined. Precise and driven. This is a very cabernet sauvignon-driven Clerc with 72% cabernet sauvignon. 94-95 points" jamessuckling.com Close
Red 2019 Château Cos d'Estournel 75cl £684 per case of 6 IB
"The 2019 Cos d'Estournel was picked from 23 September to 7 October at 43hl/ha a... Read more
"The 2019 Cos d'Estournel was picked from 23 September to 7 October at 43hl/ha and matured in a judicious 55% new oak. It marks a serious and tangible upgrade over the Les Pagodes as you would expect: far more intensity, more fruit and complexity. It delivers gorgeous, very pure scents of blackberry, raspberry, crushed stone and just a hint of truffle. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannins, pitch perfect acidity and a satin-like texture. One of the most harmonious Cos d'Estournel that I have encountered in barrel and, though it is not quite touching the same ethereal level, it reminds me of the 2016 towards the finish. Utterly divine. 96-98 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com "Harvest for the grand vin began on the 23rd of September and finished on the 7th of October. Composed of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot (with no Petit Verdot or Cabernet Franc this year), yields for this wine in 2019 were 43 hectoliters per hectare, and it is aging in 55% new oak. It came in at an alcohol level of 14.02% and an IPT of 67. Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, the 2019 Cos d'Estournel soars out of the glass with vibrant black raspberries, Black Forest cake and crushed blackcurrants scents plus nuances of red roses, wild sage, dark chocolate and cast-iron pan with a waft of woodsmoke. The medium to full-bodied palate is taut, muscular and built like a skyscraper, with firm, grainy tannins and seamless freshness supporting the concentrated black fruit flavors, finishing with incredible length and depth. This wine so beautifully, clearly captures the juxtaposition between the periods of dry heat and those hallelujah moments of refreshing rain - the hallmarks of this great vintage. It's a vinous masterpiece in the making. 97-99+ points." Lisa Perotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate "A very powerful and structured Cos. It’s full and layered, but not overpowering in terms of fruit. It’s more about the abundant, very fine tannins. It’s a classic wine with historical grip and power. Real Bordeaux. Sophisticated and provocative. 98-99 points." James Suckling Close
White 2019 Château Coutet 75cl £320 per case of 12 IB
"A sweet, dense and rich white with oily character. Full and layered. Extremely ... Read more
"A sweet, dense and rich white with oily character. Full and layered. Extremely long. Spicy. Very dense. 94-95 points" jamessuckling.com Close
White 2019 Château Coutet Half bottle £335 per case of 24 IB
"A sweet, dense and rich white with oily character. Full and layered. Extremely ... Read more
"A sweet, dense and rich white with oily character. Full and layered. Extremely long. Spicy. Very dense. 94-95 points" jamessuckling.com Close
Red 2019 Château d'Armailhac 75cl £360 per case of 12 IB
"This year the blend is 62%Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and... Read more
"This year the blend is 62%Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, harvested from the 19th of September to the 9th of October. The 2019 D'Armailhac sports a medium to deep garnet-purple color and notes of warm plums, stewed cherries, mulberries and blackcurrant pastilles with touches of aniseed, wild thyme and chocolate box. The medium-bodied palate has a firm frame of fine-grained tannins and bold freshness supporting the expressive black and blue fruits, finishing with a provocative herbal lift. 91-93 points" Lisa Perotti-Brown, Robert.Parker.com "A polished, refined red with blueberries, blackberries and some dark chocolate and spice, such as cloves and black pepper. Full-bodied, round and ripe. Crisp and fresh at the end. Juicy and delicious already. 92-93 points" jamessuckling.com £The 2019 d'Armailhac was the last vintage made in the old winery that has since been demolished to make way for a new gravity-fed facility that will be equipped with 50 smaller vats tailored to the parcels in the vineyard. It will provide greater space that will permit longer élevage if desired. It is fascinating to juxtapose again its Clerc Milon stablemate. There is more amplitude on the nose, it is more forthright with blackberry, wild hedgerow, tobacco and a subtle leather aroma. It comes across less high-toned than previous vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannins and slightly more mid-palate depth/grip than the Clerc Milon. The crescendo here is wonderful, fanning out towards the finish with subtle black pepper, sage and mint notes. This is a delicious d'Armailhac in the making. 92-94 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com Close
Red 2019 Château d'Issan 75cl £438 per case of 12 IB
"The 2019 d'Issan has an intense bouquet with blackberry, raspberry, pencil lead... Read more
"The 2019 d'Issan has an intense bouquet with blackberry, raspberry, pencil lead and wilted iris scents that unfold gradually from the glass. The oak seems nicely integrated here. The palate is medium-bodied with juicy ripe tannins that provide quite a firm backbone. Mainly black fruit with hints of white pepper, sage and graphite, this is a tightly-wound d'Issan with impressive persistence on the classic pencil lead finish. Maybe a bit old school? There's nothing wrong with that if it is well crafted, like this. Tasted twice, one bottle showing a little more cohesion than the first. 93-95 points." Neal Martin, Vinous.com "A concentrated but graceful feel to this Issan, showcasing why it is one of the powerhouses of Margaux without necessarily flexing its muscles the most obviously. Takes a few moments to unroll on the palate but as it does it expands both forward and outwards, beautifully filling the mid palate with creamy brambly fruits and firm but flexible tannins. This inches open, suggesting it has an extremely long life ahead of it, and is close to the 2016 in expression, although not quite with the depth of expression of that exemplary vintage. 50% new oak, 3.7pH. 45% of overall production went into the 1st wine. Harvest from 25th September to 11th October. Drinking Window 2029 – 2045. 96 Points." Jane Anson, Decanter Magazine "This is a very pure expression of cabernet sauvignon with blackcurrants, blackberries and tar. Wet earth, too. It's full-bodied, yet very tight and reserved. Extremely racy, intense finish. This is super precise. Classical. 96-97 Points." James Suckling Close

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