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Bordeaux 2021 En Primeur

The grand colonnaded barrel cellar at Château Margaux, built in 1815
Register your interest in Bordeaux 2021 En Primeur by completing our Expression Of Interest Form.

Introduction to the 2021 Bordeaux vintage, 2nd May 2022

Last week we were in Bordeaux to taste the 2021 vintage from barrel.  Usually, we take a few days to reflect on what we have tasted and compare our notes, but this year we have no hesitation in saying these were some of the most charming, enjoyable wines we have tasted en primeur in a long time.  We found them to be full of fine, delicate aromas, fresh acidity and in exquisite balance, with alcohol levels often in the 12.5-13.5% range, making them particularly drinkable.  The acidity and tannic structure will also make these long-lived wines and we will probably still be debating their merits many decades from now.

Before our visit, we suggested that the best wines might compare with the best of 2014 and 2017, but we were off by several decades!  A far stronger comparison is with the 1985 and '88 vintages and we were regularly transported to those years when we tasted.  To be more precise, they tasted uncannily like those vintages might have done, had they had all the benefits of modern winemaking technology.

We also wrote before our visit that this is a heterogeneous vintage, with lots of variations between châteaux (small differences in terroir having a great impact on the prevalence of frost and mildew).  This certainly was the case, but overall the standard was higher than expected and the wines did show uniformity in being very typical of both their origins (both château and commune).  There was no clear winner between the left and right bank, but the white wines were notably excellent (indeed, this may well be a "great" year for white bordeaux).

Writing about wine is like writing about music; both subjects are inherently tricky to convey in words and qualitative judgements lose meaning when we try to create hierarchies.  Is 2021 up there with 'great' vintages like 2018, 2019 and 2020?  No, it isn't...hence the critics' scores may not grab as many headlines.  But the wines are SO delightful and novel (in their old-fashioned way) that they made us look at the whole region afresh and left us very excited at the prospect of drinking them.  

To help us put together our shopping list of wines for you, please register your interest in any particular wines, via our Expression Of Interest Form.  

The wines listed are châteaux we have offered in previous years.  We may not offer some of these châteaux in the 2021 vintage and other new wines may be added.  Our buying decisions will be based on tasting the wines in cask and release prices.  We can't promise allocations will automatically be offered, but it will help place wines with the customers who would like them.


The Growing Season

Across Europe, spring frosts and a subsequent cool, wet summer (which led to mildew problems) mean that the 2021 vintage will be one of the smallest on record.   The French agriculture ministry predicts that the harvest size across France will be at its lowest level since 1977.

In Bordeaux, as elsewhere, the 2021 growing season began with low temperatures and sustained rainfall.  Catastrophic frosts in the spring meant that, from the outset, volumes were destined to be low.  This will be a “terroir-driven vintage" with important contrasts between appellations and even individual vineyards, depending on the soils, and the way drainage and vine vigour were managed.  In very wet years, the vines can go crazy and produce enormous, super-abundant canopies of leaves, which can draw nutrients and energy away from the fruit.  If further rain then hits in the summer, the abundant leaf canopies promote damp conditions which can lead to mildew, and that was just what happened in June.  The approach taken by individual vineyards to managing mildew and later botrytis will also be key.

Despite these headlines, the individual experiences at each vineyard appear to vary greatly, with some reporting losses of 50%, others just 10%; some beset by mildew and others managing to escape the worst of it.  

RED 2021 Château Angludet 75cl £276 per case of 12 Château Angludet
2021 / / 75cl
£276 per case of 12
Tasting Notes"The 2021 D'Angludet exhibits aromas of cherries, cassis, licorice and loamy soil, followed by a medium-bodied, supple and lively palate that's seamless and charming, even if it isn't the most characterful wine this Margaux estate has ever produced. 87-88 points" (WK)------"The 2021 Château d'Angludet contains less Merlot and more Petit Verdot due to the three-week frost. Daisy Sichel told me that it was aged in 50% amphora this year. It has a relatively light yet well-defined bouquet featuring strawberry and red cherry scents. The palate delivers fine tannins framing the red fruit, quite Burgundian in texture, and hints of graphite, leading to a nicely poised finish. Curiously, the Petit Verdot is quite disguised given the amount used. 88-90 points" Neal Martin,"53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 23% Petit Verdot. Cask sample. Mid crimson. Rather alluring ripe nose. Very soft and round. Not a long-distance runner but a true Margaux-style wine for early drinking. There’s even a hint of an ethereal quality about this. GV? 16 points.” JH,, Apr 2021------'A sterling name in the Margaux appellation, often offering outstanding value in muliple vintages. They have leaned into the vintage charater not trying to fight against it, and what you get as a result is savoury juic red and black fruits, with waves of Margaux-signature florality. 26hl/h yield after frost. 50% amphora, 50% oak barrels. 90 points.' (JA) Apr 2022
RED 2021 Château Beaumont 75cl £105 per case of 12 Château Beaumont
2021 / / 75cl
£105 per case of 12
Tasting Notes"Offering up aromas of sweet berries, spices and loamy soil, the 2021 Beaumont is medium-bodied, lively and nicely balanced, concluding with a discreetly minty finish. The blend is dominated by an unusually high 65% of Cabernet Sauvignon. 87-89 points." Wine Advocate (WK) Apr 2022
RED 2021 Château Duhart Milon 75cl £336 per case of 6 Château Duhart Milon
2021 / / 75cl
£336 per case of 6
Tasting NotesInky depth to colour, deep plum, cassis, graphite and cedar aromas, suggesting excellent concentration, but more taut on the palate than the open nose suggests, with excellent refinement, polish and linearity to the tannins (more so than we have encountered elsewhere so far). Impressive depth, but at the same time the overall impression is of a balanced, medium-bodied wine. The relationship to Lafite seems more evident than in previous years. RKL "81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot. Cask sample.------"Last time there was this much Cabernet was 2000 (but that was another vintage altogether…). Crimson hue but lighter at the rim. Pencil shavings and cassis notes. Upright and linear with a certain amount of drive but a little light in heft and structure. Could improve if it fills out in the bottle. 16+ points." (JL) May 2022------"The 2021 Duhart-Milon is a potent, brooding wine. Dark fruit, herbs, licorice and incense fill out the layers nicely. The oak still needs time to come together, but that is what élevage is for. The 2021 is a serious Duhart. Whether or not it will acquire a bit more charm remains an open question. 90-92 points." (AG) Apr 2022------"Incorporating fully 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2021 Duhart-Milon unwinds in the glass with aromas of sweet berries, cigar wrapper and pencil shavings. Medium to full-bodied, lively and persuasively concentrated, with beautifully refined tannins and a long, penetrating finish, it's a classy, serious wine that reflects all the progress this estate has been making over the last decade. (91-93+ points). William Kelley, Wine Advocate------"Precise and finessed black fruits here right from the first moments, this is high Cabernet Sauvignon, lovely black savoury fruits that suit the slighly serious feel of Duhart. Expect precision, strict tannins, straight lines, plenty of freshness but without the rusticity that you could find in older Duharts. About 15% press wine after careful extraction and a short maceration. A little more old school Duhart than we have seen over the past few years, but thoroughly enjoyable. 1st year organic conversion, 30hl/h yields. 93 points." Jane (JA), May 2022
RED 2021 Château Pavie 75cl £1,392 per case of 6 Château Pavie
2021 / / 75cl
£1,392 per case of 6
Tasting Notes"The 2021 Pavie was picked at 33hL/ha from 28 September until 12 October and matured in 75% new oak, the rest one-year. Team Pavie decided to wait to pick the Cabernet until after the rains just prior to harvest. This is clean and precise on the nose, the Cabernet components (48% of the blend) imparting graphite and light cedar aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannins that frame layered limestone-infused black fruit, quite vibrant and conveying a sense of energy towards the finish. This has the most persistency of Gérard Perse's wines, and whilst I do not hold it up as the greatest Pavie in recent years, it is clearly top of the tree among his portfolio this year. Superb. 14.14% alcohol. 93-95 points." Vinous (NM)) Apr 2022------"Successful, with concentration and power managing a full extraction without bitter edges. Enjoyable cassis, blackberry, with fresher acidities coming through in mandarin peel and white peach. 75% new oak, full on Pavie signature, with plenty of oak caressing, but overall excellent quality. Harvest September 28 to October 12. No chaptilisation, the powerful south-facing slopes coming in extremely handy in 2021. 94 points." (JA)------"Deep black and blue fruit with cocoa and tar character. Compact and full-bodied with firm, ripe tannins that are very textured and interwoven into the wine. This has a lot of structure to go a long way. Yet it remains in balance with finesse. 52% merlot, 30% cabernet franc and 18% cabernet sauvignon. 95-96 points." James Suckling------"The 2021 Pavie is a wine of tremendous potential. Naturally, it shows the more mid-weight style of the year and yet there is plenty of depth as well as energy that starts to emerge with a bit of time in the glass. Bright saline notes shape the wine while extending the finish and adding so much drive. The 2021 is shaping up to be a very special wine. All it needs is time. 95-97 points." (AG)
RED 2021 Château Potensac 75cl £195 per case of 12 Château Potensac
2021 / / 75cl
£195 per case of 12
Tasting Notes"The 2021 Potensac is beguiling. Perhaps it is the high amount of Cabernet Franc (23%) in the blend this year. The 2021 exudes refinement from the very first taste. Rose petal, spice, crushed red berry fruit and sweet pipe tobacco all open effortlessly. Readers will find a Haut-Médoc endowed with compelling aromatic presence and exceptional balance. The purity of the flavors is striking. 90-92 points" Antonio Galloni,
RED 2021 Château Tour Saint Christophe 75cl £138 per case of 6 Château Tour Saint Christophe
2021 / / 75cl
£138 per case of 6
Tasting Notes"Vignobles K is on a roll, with a series of great vintages, and there is clear depth to the fruit, heavy on the limestone salinity, enjoyable pumice stone minerality, and a push and pull between tannins and acidity. The signature of the vintage comes through in a sharp finish as the acidity kicks in, emphasising the austerity, but this is a successful wine. Emmanuelle Fulchi D’Aligny arrived from Château Angélus as technical director in March 2022. 91 Points." Jane Anson, Inside Bordeaux------"The 2021 Tour Saint Christophe has turned out very well, delivering aromas of cherries and sweet berries mingled with hints of loamy soil and sweet new oak. Medium to full-bodied, pure and lively, it's elegantly muscular, with powdery tannins and a penetrating finish. 90-92+ Points." William Kelley, Wine Advocate------"The 2021 Tour Saint Christophe is perfumed and high-toned on the nose, featuring blueberry and raspberry fruit mixed with violet and iris flower. The palate is well balanced with sappy black fruit, gentle grip, impressive balance and a correct, quite linear finish. Stylish and with good ageing potential. It should end up at the top of my banded score. 90-92 Points." Neal Martin, Vinous------"The 2021 Tour Saint Christophe is terrific. Naturally, the 2021 doesn’t have the breadth of previous vintages. Instead, there is a sense of energy running through the 2021 that is compelling. Dark fruit, leather, gravel, incense and mocha all meld together nicely. Once again, Tour Saint Christophe is a star for the appellation for its quality and value. Tasted two times. 91-93 Points." Vinous (AG)

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