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 Pavie Macquin||75cl||£590 per case of 12||IB|
"The 2019 Pavie Macquin feels very tight on the nose at first and certainly from... Read more
"The 2019 Pavie Macquin feels very tight on the nose at first and certainly from my sample bottle, I allowed it 15-20 minutes to open. Eventually it reveals very intense scents of black cherries, cassis and crushed violet, touches of blood orange in the background. The palate has a satin-like texture, almost Vosne-Romanée-like, with extraordinarily pure blue and black fruit. Seamless! There is fine tension on the finish with impressive persistence. This is a seriously good Pavie-Macquin from Nicolas Thienpont and his team. 95-97 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com "Really classy red, offering blueberries, minerals, salt, limestone and light fresh herbs. It’s full-bodied, but so refined. Fine layers of fruit and tannins. It’s like millefeuille. The 2018 is more exuberant, but I love the elegance and structure here. Subtle and complex. 78% merlot, 20% cabernet franc and 2% cabernet sauvignon. 98-99 points" jamessuckling.com "Violet-edged floral attack, hitting you straight up with the full range of concentrated black fruits and spices. Such a great quality wine that stands out from the pack. Full of nuance, just when you think you are done it pushes another flavour into the room. The texture is controlled and precise, with slate edges that slow down its progress through the palate; just all round excellent terroir and winemaking. Tasted twice, a week apart, and its the depth to the palate that really sets it apart, and the mouth-scrapingly slow slate finish. Drinking Window 2028 - 2044. 97 points" Jane Anson, Decanter Magazine Close
|Red||2019||Château Phelan Ségur||75cl||£360 per case of 12||IB|
“Another impressive vintage at this estate, one that is regularly turning out wi... Read more
“Another impressive vintage at this estate, one that is regularly turning out wines to sit up and take notice of. A touch more austerity than was seen at this stage in the 2018, but the same level of intensity and concentration and just sheer confidence without trying too hard. Undertow of crushed granite and liquorice root, with real precision in the cassis fruits, and a wall of tannins that manage to be both present and unobtrusive. Great winemaking going on here. 56% new oak, 3.8pH, 1PT81. Could go higher when retasting in bottle. Tasted twice two weeks apart. Drinking Window 2026 – 2042. 94 points" Jane Anson, Decanter Magazine “The complexity and depth is fantastic in this beautifully crafted, refined red. Such poise, finesse and length. Yet dense and very compacted. Love the texture precision. Goes on and on. Best ever? 96-97 points". James Suckling, jamessuckling.com Close
|Red||2019||Château Pichon Lalande||75cl||£750 per case of 6||IB|
|Red||2019||Château Pontet Canet||75cl||£875 per case of 12||IB|
|Red||2019||Château Potensac||75cl||£188 per case of 12||IB|
“Excellent Potensac with a creamy and tight tannin structure. Blueberries and bl... Read more
“Excellent Potensac with a creamy and tight tannin structure. Blueberries and blackberries with some salt and minerals at the end. Classic structure. One of the best ever. 94-95 points" jamessuckling.com Close
|Red||2019||Château Poujeaux||75cl||£210 per case of 12||IB|
"Solid as a rock this year with blueberries and crushed stones. Dried lavender, ... Read more
"Solid as a rock this year with blueberries and crushed stones. Dried lavender, too. It’s medium-bodied, yet structured and long. Excellent. 93-94 points" jamessuckling.com "The 2019 Poujeaux has a more introverted bouquet than some of its Moulis associates, though it opens nicely offering black cherries, liquorice, pressed iris petals and touches of crushed stone. The palate is medium-bodied with insistent grip on the entry. This Poujeaux has good backbone, almost Pauillac-like in style with a dense and persistent finish that augers for a long-term wine that will repay those with the nous to cellar it a few years. Superb. 93-95 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com Close
|Red||2019||Château Quintus||75cl||£395 per case of 6||IB|
"The 2019 Quintus is a blend of 55.4% Merlot and 44.6% Cabernet Franc, harvested... Read more
"The 2019 Quintus is a blend of 55.4% Merlot and 44.6% Cabernet Franc, harvested from the 19th of September to the 9th of October. The estimated alcohol degree on the label is 15%. Deep garnet-purple colored, it sails out of the glass with intense scents of plum preserves, blueberry pie and boysenberries with nuances of Chinese five spice, mocha, dried lavender and licorice plus a waft of chargrill. Full-bodied, the decadently fruited palate is jam-packed with layers of blue and black fruit preserves, supported by beautifully plush, ripe tannins and seamless freshness, finishing with an epically long, exotic spice-laced finish. Impactful! 94-96+ points." Lisa Perotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate Close
|Red||2019||Château Rauzan Ségla||75cl||£342 per case of 6||IB|
VERY LIMITED AVAILABILITY - PLEASE ENQUIRE "62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35.5 % Merlo... Read more
VERY LIMITED AVAILABILITY - PLEASE ENQUIRE "62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35.5 % Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 0.5% Cabernet Franc. Barrel sample. Margaux finesse at the top table. Poised and fragrant with vineyard-fresh dark fruit and cassis aromas. Exquisite palate, juicy but seamless, the fine tannins and perfectly pitched fruit in absolute harmony. Silky texture. Long, clean, digeste finish. 17.5 points." James Lawther MW, Jancis Robinson.com "The black fruits burrow downwards through the palate at first, keeping things pretty closed, everything holding its breath, before the fruit opens. There is the precision of Rauzan Ségla that is reminiscent of the 2016, less of the immediate voluptuous impact of 2018 but the density becomes extremely clear in the glass. A serious Rauzan, cassis and cedar, still with a rinse of iris flowers to give it the Margaux touch. 3.73pH. 50/50 1st and 2nd wine. A yield of 42l/ha. Drinking Window 2028 - 2044. 96 points." Jane Anson, Decanter Close
|Red||2019||Château Roc de Cambes||75cl||£260 per case of 6||IB|
Rich earth and humus notes on the nose alongside powerful red and black cherry f... Read more
Rich earth and humus notes on the nose alongside powerful red and black cherry fruits, with additional notes of figs, black tea. Extraordinary glycerin-like texture on the palate, with obvious full alcochol but no sense of heat or imbalance. Despite a sweatness to the fruit flavours the overall impression is entirely savoury, with tremendous length. A complete tour de force. RKL "Ripe, jammy fruit with a present but integrated toasty edge. Less expressive than some years (François Mitjavile conceded afterwards that it needed racking). Rich and round on the palate but there’s freshness as well. Tannins firm on the finish. On another day probably worth a higher score. Drink 2026 – 2034. 16+ points" jancisrobinson.com (JL) "The 2019 Roc de Cambes is focused and intense on the nose with Japanese nori tinged black fruit, damp loamy soil and later, hints of violet and incense. The palate is very well balanced with supple tannins, supremely well judged acidity and an irresistible creamy texture that maintains tension on the finish. This is a sophisticated and very satisfying Roc de Cambes in the making. 92-94 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com Close
|Red||2019||Château Saintayme||75cl||£125 per case of 12||IB|
From a single 9 hectare parcel of 35 year old vines, almost entirely Merlot with... Read more
From a single 9 hectare parcel of 35 year old vines, almost entirely Merlot with a very small proportion of Cabernet Franc. The wine will be aged in 30% new oak for 18 months. RKL “A red with lovely, juicy character and plenty of ripe fruit and chocolate undertones. It’s rich and layered. Flavorful. More concentration than the 2018. 93-94 points" jamessuckling.com "Black chocolate, baked earth, liquorice root and silky smooth tannins greet you on the first attack of this wine. I've never found this the easiest to love of the Durantou range but it is strikingly successful in 2019. Silky and yet slatey in texture, this both eases you through the palate and pulls you up short, slowing things down. Sparks of fresh minerality accompany the pulsing blueberry and raspberry fruits, and the juicy finish makes this one to look out for. Drinking Window 2027 - 2042. 94 points." Jane Anson, Decanter Close
|Red||2019||Château Sénéjac||75cl||£125 per case of 12||IB|
|Red||2019||Château Smith Haut Lafitte||75cl||£815 per case of 12||IB|
"The 2019 Smith Haut-Lafitte was cropped at 36hl/ha, undergoing manual pigeage a... Read more
"The 2019 Smith Haut-Lafitte was cropped at 36hl/ha, undergoing manual pigeage and maturation in 60% new barrels for a planned 18 months. It has an intense, very pure bouquet with blackberry, briary and cherry compote and a hint of black olive tapenade in the background. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannins that frame the pure, mineral-infused black fruit. Undercurrents of graphite and black olive surface towards the complex finish that I feel is less opulent but maybe more sophisticated than recent vintages of this top performer. Very elegant and refined, this is an outstanding success for winemaker Fabien Teitgen and his team. Tasted twice including samples direct from the château. 96-98 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com "The blend this year is 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, harvested from the 17th of September to the 10th of October. The wine is aging in French oak barriques, 60% new. Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2019 Smith Haut Lafitte is downright hedonic on the nose, rolling sensuously out of the glass with notions of warm cassis, chocolate-covered cherries, Black Forest cake and black raspberries with nuances of cinnamon toast, lilacs, camphor and iron ore. Medium to full-bodied, the palate juxtaposes remarkable energy and brightness with densely packed, rich, ripe black fruits, framed by wonderfully ripe, finely grained tannins and fantastically invigorating freshness, finishing long with mineral-tinged fireworks. Stunning! 96-98+ points" Lisa Perotti-Brown, RobertParker.com Close
|Red||2019||Château Talbot||75cl||£420 per case of 12||IB|
"A great St-Julien that reflects the estate more than the vintage - a definite c... Read more
"A great St-Julien that reflects the estate more than the vintage - a definite compliment to the winemaking team as well as those 50-year-old (on average) vines that are less swayed by climatic changes. This is full of blackberry and bilberry, with a touch of tobacco on the nose. There's good sweetness to the fruit, and although it's not quite as punchy, deep or concentrated as some, this means that it has a beautifully balanced appellation signature. 45hl/ha yield. 60% new oak. Drinking Window 2027-2040. 94 points" Jane Anson, Decanter Magazine "St Julien's largest property at 110ha (up there with Lagrange if you're keeping track), this has lovely plump black fruits on the nose. Takes hold right from the start, with clear tannic build and a silky character to the tannins. This continues the run of good vintages that Talbot has been producing since 2016. Well balanced, with plenty of St Julien character. Tasted twice two weeks apart. Highest ever level of Cabernet Sauvignon at the estate. Harvest 19 September to 8 October. 60% new oak. Drinking Window 2026 – 2040. 93 Points." Jane Anson, Decanter "A juicy, fruity wine with lots of blue fruit, blackberries and dark chocolate. Pretty depth and structure to this. Polished and structured at the same time. 94-95 points." jamessuckling.com "The 2019 Talbot has a very cohesive bouquet, "streamlined" being the operative word, before opening gradually to reveal a Pauillac-inspired aromatics, pencil shaving scents permeating the black fruit. Yet it is still unmistakably Talbot. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannins, creamy in texture with more depth in the middle than previous vintages (a shortcoming that, estate director Jean-Michel Laporte told me in the past he wants to address.) The great aspect of this Talbot is that it doesn't take its foot off the pedal on the finish, exerting impressive grip with that pencil lead lingering in the mouth. Superb. Expect this to land at the top of my banded score. 93-95 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com Close
|Red||2019||Château Troplong Mondot||75cl||£760 per case of 12||IB|
"The 2019 Troplong Mondot is a blend this year of 85% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvi... Read more
"The 2019 Troplong Mondot is a blend this year of 85% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc, harvested from the 10th to the 25th of September. The pH is 3.55—pretty incredible when you consider the alcohol is nearly 15%! I hasten to add that from tasting, I would have guessed this was 14.3% to 14.5% alcohol. It is the kind of wine with so much energy it practically does pirouettes on your palate. Opaque purple-black colored, the nose is fantastically floral, bursting from the glass with notes of candied violets, red roses and lavender over a core of plum preserves, wild blueberries and black raspberries with touches of garrigue, tilled soil, wild fungi and crushed rocks plus a waft of powdered cinnamon. The medium-bodied palate is like a tightly coiled spring, featuring beautifully knit layers of black and red fruits, earth and floral notes within a firm, fine-grained frame and bags of freshness, finishing long and mineral laced. This is a far cry from the old-school style of Troplong Mondot from a few years back, and it is incredibly impressive. This wine is aging in French oak barriques, some larger vats, and a small proportion is in amphorae. The oak portion is 60% new. 96-98 points" Lisa Perotti-Brown, Robert.Parker.com "The 2019 Troplong Mondot is sensational. Rich, vibrant and explosive, the 2019 pulses with energy. Black cherry, violet plum, licorice, lavender and dark spice build in a statuesque Saint-Émilion endowed with tremendous energy and pure power. Troplong Mondot is not as obvious a wine as it was a few years ago, but its grandeur - and more importantly, the grandeur of this site - are evident. Troplong Mondot is a wine that simply can't be denied. The 2019 is aging in 60% new oak and 40% a combination of once-used barrels, foudres and amphora. Troplong Mondot has undergone a radical transformation since 2017 under the stewardship of Managing Director Aymeric de Gironde. Today, picking is earlier, there is greater focus on a parcel by parcel approach at harvest, no SO2 is used until barreling down, and for the first time, none of the malolactic fermentation was done in oak. Harvest took place from September 10 through October 7. De Gironde was among the managers who reported clusters of uneven ripeness, but added he is more comfortable with that than he might have been a few years ago, a way of thinking that is becoming more common in Bordeaux. In tasting, Troplong Mondot remains a big, broad-shouldered Saint-Émilion, but now it also has more energy and vibrancy than in the past. 96-98 points" Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com Close
|Red||2019||Clos du Marquis||75cl||£400 per case of 12||IB|
"The 2019 Clos du Marquis is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Fra... Read more
"The 2019 Clos du Marquis is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc and 23% Merlot, harvested between the 21st of September and 9th of October. It is aging in French oak barriques, 50% new. The alcohol is 14.1% with a pH of 3.62 and an IPT of 79. Displaying a deep purple-black color, the nose is a little reticent to begin, but with just a little coaxing, it soon opens out to show off impressively flamboyant notes of blackberry preserves, baked plums and blackcurrant pastilles with suggestions of cinnamon toast, Darjeeling tea, licorice and camphor plus a hint of wilted roses. Medium to full-bodied, the palate layers in all of these exciting mineral sparks with with the energetic, fresh black fruits, supported by rock-solid, ripe, grainy tannins and bold freshness, finishing long and earthy. This a very polished and sophisticated Clos du Marquis! 93-95 points" Lisa Perotti-Brown, RobertParker.com "The 2019 Clos du Marquis was picked from 21 September to 9 October and matured in 50% new oak. It has a deep and quite penetrating bouquet: blackberry, hoisin intermingling with cedar and light pencil shaving scents. It becomes noticeably richer with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with firm tannins that frame the vivid blackberry and wild strawberry fruit laced with orange sorbet. There is a citric freshness towards the end of this accomplished Clos du Marquis. Excellent. 93-95 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com Close
|Red||2019||Domaine de Cambes||75cl||£185 per case of 6||IB|
(80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc) | 100% new oak. Tremendous freshness to the re... Read more
(80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc) | 100% new oak. Tremendous freshness to the red fruits on the nose with more black fruits on the palate. Velvet-textured, tasted after Le Tertre but not over-shadowed by it. Some very appealing toasted notes from the oak, but also some caramelised Maillard reaction notes, probably intentional, nevertheless all remarkably in balance. Quite unique. RKL "Fruit pushed to the edge of overripeness but it works. Bright, dark-fruit notes with toasted overlay. Palate sweet, silky and gourmand, bringing a freshness to the finish. Clearly surpasses its appellation status. Drink 2024 – 2030. 16 points" jancisrobinson.com (JL) Close
|Red||2019||Domaine de Chevalier||75cl||£495 per case of 12||IB|
"The chocolate, walnut, dark-fruit and stone character is attractive. It’s full-... Read more
"The chocolate, walnut, dark-fruit and stone character is attractive. It’s full-bodied and very tight and linear with chewy yet polished tannins and a long, flavorful finish. Lots of intensity and complexity here, as always. 96-97 points" jamessuckling.com Close
|Red||2019||La Croix de Beaucaillou||75cl||£338 per case of 12||IB|
“The 2019 La Croix Ducru Beaucaillou is endowed with a gorgeous, quite sumptuous... Read more
“The 2019 La Croix Ducru Beaucaillou is endowed with a gorgeous, quite sumptuous bouquet loaded with black plum, tobacco, smoke and Earl Grey aromas that burst from the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with very pliant tannin, harmonious and velvety in texture, gradually building towards a detailed and mineral-driven finish. Maybe less opulent than the 2018 by comparison, yet a Deuxième Vin full of breeding. 94-96 Points." Neal Martin, Vinous Close
|Red||2019||La Dame de Montrose||75cl||£158 per case of 6||IB|
"The Merlots were so good this year that most have gone into the first wine, giv... Read more
"The Merlots were so good this year that most have gone into the first wine, giving this a higher percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon than usual and making it a serious Dame de Montrose, with clear ageing potential. Elegant and balanced, with purity and juicy black fruits. It has that savoury Cabernet quality which is very Médocain, this is absolutely one to look out for, packed with estate signature. 30% new oak. 43% of total production. 4% Petit Verdot completes the blend. Lovely new label here also, with rose gold roses across it. Drinking Window 2025 - 2040. 94 points" Jane Anson, Decanter Magazine Close
|Red||2019||Les Pagodes de Cos||75cl||£186 per case of 6||IB|
"The 2019 Les Pagodes de Cos (14.03% alcohol) is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvign... Read more
"The 2019 Les Pagodes de Cos (14.03% alcohol) is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc, aging in 20% new barriques. Medium to deep garnet-purple in color, notions of wild blueberries, boysenberries and redcurrant jelly come bounding out of the glass, followed by a profound core of warm cassis, licorice and bouquet garni with a touch of cinnamon stick. Medium to full-bodied, the palate bursts with bright, expressive black and red fruit flavors, framed by firm, fine-grained tannins and loads of freshness, finishing on a lingering spicy note. 92-94 points." Lisa Perotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate "This is really minerally and salty with spices, such as cloves. Full-bodied, yet tight and beautiful. Chewy, yet focused and bright. Very integrated. Hard not to drink. 94-95 points." James Suckling Close