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.
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 Duhart Milon||75cl||£620 per case of 12||IB|
"The 2019 Duhart-Milon is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot, harv... Read more
"The 2019 Duhart-Milon is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot, harvested from the 19th of September to the 4th of October. Deep garnet-purple in color, it springs from the glass with vivacious notes of plums preserves, black raspberries and blackcurrant pastilles with suggestions of menthol, dark chocolate, pencil lead and woodsmoke plus a touch of garrigue. Medium-bodied, the palate is spritely and refreshing, with bags of juicy, mint-laced black fruits and an approachable, plush texture, finishing long and lively. 92-94 points" Lisa Perotti-Brown, Robert.Parker.com "A very balanced, refined Duhart with ever so fine tannins and currant, tobacco and cedar aromas and flavors. Medium to fine tannins. It’s extremely long and polished. Direct. You already want to drink this. 95-96 points" James Suckling Close
|Red||2019||Château Enclos Tourmaline||75cl||£320 per case of 3||IB|
"A dense, very minerally red with iron, dark berries and black olives. Full-bodi... Read more
"A dense, very minerally red with iron, dark berries and black olives. Full-bodied and agile. It’s very structured, though not heavy. Opulent, yet reserved. 96-97 points." James Suckling Close
|Red||2019||Château Feytit Clinet||75cl||£250 per case of 6||IB|
"The 2019 Feytit-Clinet was cropped at 34hl/ha between 18 September and 3 Octobe... Read more
"The 2019 Feytit-Clinet was cropped at 34hl/ha between 18 September and 3 October and matured in 70% new oak for an expected 16 months. It is understated at first and demands coaxing from the glass. It rewards you with pure black fruit, freshly shaved black truffles and touches of crushed stone. The palate is magnificent: precise tannins, a perfect line of acidity, impressive complexity and amazing focus. Oddly it reminds me of a Lafleur, though there is much less Cabernet Franc here. Unquestionably, this is the best Feytit-Clinet that Jeremy Chasseuil has overseen and I cannot wait to taste it in bottle. 94-96 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com "The 2019 Château Feytit-Clinet is a beauty, offering loads of opulent blackcurrants, damp earth, licorice, new leather, and espresso aromas and flavors. It's a big, rich barrel sample that packs plenty of depth and richness, yet also stays light on its feet, with no sensation of weight or heaviness. It also offers integrated oak and a great finish. I'd be thrilled to have bottles in the cellar. 95-97+ points" Jebdunnuck.com Close
|Red||2019||Château Gazin||75cl||£630 per case of 12||IB|
"The 2019 Gazin is tightly wound at first and needs coaxing from the glass. Broo... Read more
"The 2019 Gazin is tightly wound at first and needs coaxing from the glass. Broody dark berry fruit, truffle and smoke eventually emerge, flanked by a discrete marine influence. The palate is very promising with saturated tannins that belie the structure of this Pomerol. The freshness is very impressive, lighting up the senses. The finish is imbued with wonderful tension and traces of iron on the aftertaste. Quintessentially Gazin, this is a superb wine. 95-97 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com Close
|Red||2019||Château Gloria||75cl||£295 per case of 12||IB|
" A firm, chewy red with blackberries, earth and hints of chocolate. It’s full-b... Read more
" A firm, chewy red with blackberries, earth and hints of chocolate. It’s full-bodied and very structured. Better than the 2018. 94-95 points" jamessuckling.com "The 2019 Gloria continues a strong run of form - those rustic Glorias of the 1970s and 1980s are a distant memory. This has a precise and detailed bouquet that offers blackberry, briary, cedar and light tobacco aromas that gently unfurl in the glass. The palate is very well structured with a lovely citric undercurrent lending freshness and sharpness. This is a nimble Saint-Julien, athletic in build with a sapid finish that urges you back for another sip. Excellent. 93-95 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com Close
|Red||2019||Château Grand Puy Lacoste||75cl||£270 per case of 6||IB|
|Red||2019||Château Grand Puy Lacoste||75cl||£540 per case of 12||IB|
"Lovely depth of colour, a big difference between the 1st and 2nd wine in this v... Read more
"Lovely depth of colour, a big difference between the 1st and 2nd wine in this vintage, this just screams Pauillac with its pencil lead, charcoal and cassis notes. Glass-staining colour, extremely silky, with liquorice and chocolate adding layers without taking away from the purity of expression. Fine tannic hold, tons of character and clear longevity - this is a brilliant wine, easily equal to the 2018 and approaching the 2016. Drinking Window 2027 - 2046. 96 points." Jane Anson, Decanter "The 2019 Grand Puy Lacoste is deep purple in colour. Initially the bouquet is tight and so I left my sample for 15-20 minutes to open. It rewards patience with a beguiling mélange of pure blackberry, raspberry, crushed violet and pencil shavings, very focused and mineral-driven. The palate is medium-bodied with finely chiseled tannins. Compared to the robust, tannic GPL's of old, this is much more lithe and approachable, yet it still bears the DNA of this Pauillac estate. It might not possess the flair of other 2019 Left Banks, but that it is not what I seek from this estate. Classy and full of breeding - quintessential Pauillac. 95-97 points." Neal Martin, Vinous.com Close
|Red||2019||Château Haut Bailly||75cl||£420 per case of 6||IB|
"The 2019 Haut-Bailly was picked 23 September to 10 October. After 10-15 minutes... Read more
"The 2019 Haut-Bailly was picked 23 September to 10 October. After 10-15 minutes in the glass the wine gradually unfurls to reveal beautiful red berry fruit, crushed stone, wilted rose petals and faint hints of blueberry. The palate is quite brilliantly balanced, the tannins extremely fine and framing the slightly earthy black fruit laced with salt. Though Véronique Sanders suggests that it bears a semblance to the 2009 with more depth, I cannot see that verisimilitude. To me, it is a less flamboyant and more terroir expressive Haut-Bailly that has an effortless allure and a sense of sophistication. Wonderful. 96-98 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com " Such totally graceful perfumes to this, showing currants, dried flowers and stones, as well as hints of forest fruit and subtle tar, asphalt and smoke. Full-bodied, yet the texture is pristine with intense, polished and fine-grained tannins. So long, flavorful and ever so beautiful. The finish is never ending. This really is something special. 56% cabernet sauvignon, 36% merlot, 4% cabernet franc and 4% petit verdot. 98-99 points" jamessuckling.com "Composed of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot, the 2019 Haut-Bailly was harvested from the 23rd of September to 11th of October. Deep garnet-purple colored, it leaps from the glass with vivacious notes of blackcurrant cordial, black raspberries and plum preserves with a tantalizing undercurrent of candied violets, dark chocolate, menthol and licorice plus a touch of Chinese five spice. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is achingly elegant, showing off perfumed black fruit layers with a firm frame of very fine-grained, silt-like tannins and seamless freshness, finishing with incredible persistence and fragrance. Just magic. 97-99 points" Lisa Perotti-Brown, RobertParker.com Close
|Red||2019||Château Haut Batailley||75cl||£420 per case of 12||IB|
"Plenty of blueberry and chocolate aromas and flavors. It’s full and chewy with ... Read more
"Plenty of blueberry and chocolate aromas and flavors. It’s full and chewy with a powerful finish. Tar and graphite at the end. Solid core of fruit and tannin here. One of the most structured I have had from here. Cazes family making the difference. 95-96 points" jamessuckling.com Close
|Red||2019||Château Haut Brion||75cl||£2,050 per case of 6||IB|
|Red||2019||Château La Chenade||75cl||£150 per case of 12||IB|
Made from fruit sourced from Les Cruzelles, La Chenade is a blend of 80% Merlot,... Read more
Made from fruit sourced from Les Cruzelles, La Chenade is a blend of 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, aged mostly in one-year old oak barrels. RKL "Sweet, carefully extracted and poised blackberry and brambled fruits with gentle smoked oak notes and fresh acidities that cut through the heat of the summer. Delicate overall, this is an unforced and highly enjoyable wine. Drinking Window 2023 - 2036. 91 points." Jane Anson, Decanter "Plenty of sweet berries with chocolate and smoke. Even coffee. It’s medium-bodied with ripe tannins. Cherries at the end. 92-93 points" jamessuckling.com Close
|Red||2019||Château La Lagune||75cl||£300 per case of 12||IB|
"The 2019 La Lagune has a finely chiseled bouquet, a mélange of red and black fr... Read more
"The 2019 La Lagune has a finely chiseled bouquet, a mélange of red and black fruit, touches of damp clay, undergrowth and cedar developing with time. These aromatics are very nuanced and deserve time, not impactful but intellectual. The palate is medium-bodied with fine but firm tannins. Very linear and correct in style, it feels fresh and sapid, though I would have liked more flair to show through on the saline finish. Still, I like the grip and I suspect it will give 25-30 years drinking pleasure. 92-94 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com Close
|Red||2019||1 case||Château La Mission Haut Brion||75cl||£1,420 per case of 6||IB|
|Red||2019||Château Labegorce||75cl||£240 per case of 12||IB|
"The 2019 Labégorce, picked from 19 September to 12 October and matured in 40% n... Read more
"The 2019 Labégorce, picked from 19 September to 12 October and matured in 40% new oak, has one of the more flamboyant Margaux bouquets with expressive black cherries, bilberry, light cedar notes and crushed violet. It develops impressive cohesion with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied and what you first notice is the finesse of the tannins. This has a satin-like texture and very well judged acidity. The new oak does poke out a little on the finish - if that can be assimilated during its barrel maturation, this could turn into a very serious Margaux. 93-95 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com Close
|Red||2019||Château Lafite||75cl||£2,700 per case of 6||IB|
|Red||2019||Château Lafon Rochet||75cl||£340 per case of 12||IB|
"Spiced pepper and cinnamon on the first nose, good concentration, pencil lead a... Read more
"Spiced pepper and cinnamon on the first nose, good concentration, pencil lead and slate abound in this alongside cassis bud and touches of brambled hedgerow, all of which suggests fresh acidities and good backbone. Some chewy tannins also, this is a serious Lafon that will age well. Less immediately seductive than the 2018. Tasted twice two weeks apart. Drinking Window 2026 - 2042. 93 points." Jane Anson, Decanter Magazine "The 2019 Lafon-Rochet, which was picked from 25 September to 5 October, requires a little coaxing from the glass, eventually unfurling with blackberry, bilberry, violet and light crushed stone/clayey scents that is quintessential Saint-Estèphe. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-boned tannins, fresh and saline in the mouth, old school in the best sense of that expression. No, it is not the most flamboyant Lafon-Rochet, but it is imbued with a sense of nobility and classicism that I much admire. Tasted three times with consistent notes. 93-95 points." Neal Martin, Vinous.com Close
|Red||2019||Château Lagrange||75cl||£369 per case of 12||IB|
"The 2019 Lagrange was picked from 24 September and finished with the Petit Verd... Read more
"The 2019 Lagrange was picked from 24 September and finished with the Petit Verdot on 14 October - the longest harvest at 27 days. It has quite a dense, powerful bouquet with black fruit, sous-bois and cedar, taking its time to open but somehow remaining more “distant” than previous vintages of Lagrange. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins, layers of black fruit with just a light citric touch. Quite a streamlined Lagrange in the context of a warm growing season, this feels agile and nimble on the finish. Excellent. 94-96 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com Close
|Red||2019||Château Langoa Barton||75cl||£353 per case of 12||IB|
“The 2019 Langoa Barton has a very typical Langoa nose, which is a good thing, s... Read more
“The 2019 Langoa Barton has a very typical Langoa nose, which is a good thing, sporting vivacious black cherries, blackberry, crushed iris, cedar and light blood orange scents lurking offstage. Lovely oak integration here. The palate is beautifully defined on the entry, a structured almost big-boned Langoa with enormous grip on the spicy finish. I love the generosity of this Saint-Julien, one that I suspect will be seductive on release but don't be deceived - it deserves cellaring lest you get a smacked wrist for being impatient. 93-95 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com “Silky blackberry and bilberry fruits, this is a brilliant Langoa, with concentration and lift that pull you both forwards and upwards through the palate. For me this is more successful than the 2018 because it delivers an absolute punch of fruits but gently so, with elegance and control that is very St Julien. Grilled cedar finish, great stuff. Drinking Window 2027 – 2042. 94 points." Jane Anson, Decanter Magazine “Very finely textured with pure blue fruit and lavender and violet undertones. It’s full-bodied with pure, focused fruit. Extremely long and refined. Clearly better than the 2018. 95-96 points" jamessuckling.com Close
|Red||2019||Château Larcis Ducasse||75cl||£279 per case of 6||IB|
"A full-bodied red that’s powerful, very rich and very deep. Floral and spicy wi... Read more
"A full-bodied red that’s powerful, very rich and very deep. Floral and spicy with dried fruit, earth, tobacco and mushrooms. Dense center palate. Great depth. Traditional. 98-99 points" jamessuckling.com Close
|Red||2019||Château Laroque||75cl||£210 per case of 12||IB|
"This is very minerally and stony with crushed cement. Medium to full body and f... Read more
"This is very minerally and stony with crushed cement. Medium to full body and firm, polished tannins. It’s floral and complex. So fresh and bright. Wonderful balance to this. Elegance and drinkability. Better than the 2018. One of best ever. 94-95 Points". James Suckling Composed of 97% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc, the 2019 Laroque was harvested from the 30th of September to the 10th of October. Yields were 43 hectoliters per hectare this year. Alcohol came in at 14.5%, with a relatively low pH of 3.44. Deep garnet-purple in color, it bursts from the glass with bold scents of blueberry preserves, Black Forest cake, dark chocolate and lilacs with underlying hints of aniseed, espresso and pencil lead plus a waft of smoked meats. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is completely filled with dark, seductive berry layers and a whole myriad of savory nuances, framed by wonderfully soft, velvety tannins and fantastic freshness, finishing very long and perfumed. Beautiful! 95-97 points" Lisa Perotti-Brown, RobertParker.com Close