2021 Bordeaux En Primeur – The Wine

‘The 2021 Bordeaux have turned out to be such a surprise. Weather conditions were challenging, and yet the top properties turned out gorgeous, classically built wines that will absolutely thrill readers who appreciate freshness and energy. Restrained alcohols and mid-weight structures will remind readers of Bordeaux pre-2000s. The best wines offer a striking combination of old-school classicism with modern-day precision. Quality is inconsistent though, so choosing carefully is essential. Even so, there is much to like in the 2021s.’
Antonio Galloni, Vinous

Given the growing season, it’s easy to see why large parts of the press had written the 2021 vintage off before it had even been tasted. What we need to remember is that this sort of varied, challenging growing season was often the norm in Bordeaux, especially during the 1990s. If wines of this quality had been produced in any of the vintages of 1990s, it would have been hailed as an exceptional vintage.

This is thanks largely to the commitment and hard work of the winemakers, as well as huge leaps forward in vineyard understanding & management, and winemaking technologies. Fighting frosts and mildew, understanding unique terroirs and vine-canopy management, holding nerve until full ripeness and the use of optical sorting tables at harvest have ensured there are wines to get excited about. There are however a lot less of them, with production across the region down 22.5% on the 10-year-average.

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The Reds

‘The best 2021 reds are better than anyone could have dared to hope.’
William Kelley, The Wine Advocate

Lower alcohols ranging from 12% to 13.5% is, for many, a welcome return to classic styles of yester-year. Our team found reds with incredible precision, freshness and minerality and where balanced with ripe, cool fruit and silky tannins, there are scintillating wines that show off the terroir of their appellations far more clearly than they have done in recent warmer vintages.

Answering whether this is a vintage that favours the left bank or the right bank is generalising too much. It’s fair to say the consistency is probably higher on the left bank, where there was more Cabernet (which had more chance to ripen fully) to use in the final blends – however, on great terroir on the right bank, the wines also reach the top echelons of quality. Our favourites in this vintage take in a carefully chosen selection from everywhere.

The Whites

Thanks to rather cool conditions in 2021, Bordeaux’s white grapes preserved acidity and vibrant aromatics, delivering the finest set of dry whites since 2017. Chiseled and intense, they exhibit considerable potential. 2021 also had the makings of a profound vintage in the Sauternais.’
William Kelley, The Wine Advocate

‘Two-thousand twenty-one is a brilliant vintage for the dry whites of Bordeaux.’
Antonio Galloni, Vinous

The longer 2021 growing season suited the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon perfectly, as they were allowed to fully ripen into September and weren’t harvested early to retain freshness. More consistent than the reds, they show vibrancy and beautifully intense aromatics that we’ve missed for the last few years, as well as beautiful texture and richness. If your cellar is lacking in whites, the 2021s will offer an amazing opportunity to stock up with world-class wines for drinking near-term, and long-term – many of which will offer unbeatable value, especially when considering the rapid price rises seen over in the Côte de Beaune.

There are great wines in 2021 when you choose carefully and we’re here to help you do that. View our summary for more details.

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