En-Primeur 2021

 

En-Primeur 2021
Bordeaux En Primeur 2021


Reports emerging from trade buyers and wine writers who attended the recent Bordeaux En Primeur tastings indicate a greater than anticipated level of success for the 2021 vintage. However, these reports come accompanied with some qualifications which should be given appropriate attention by prospective buyers of the vintage: firstly, those properties which made successful wines did so despite nature supplying every obstacle imaginable and secondly, quality levels are by no means uniform even within individual communes.

 
In terms of style 2021 represents a significant difference in style over the triumvirate of 2018, 2019 & 2020.
 
Quantities produced are down significantly – some properties lost up to 90% of their crop
 
The properties which made the most successful wines were those which had the necessary manpower to manage the challenges in the vineyards posed by mildew. Leaf plucking to allow aeration of bunches was widely employed.
 
Once the harvest began to arrive, wineries with fully-manned sorting tables alongside optical and densiometric sorting machines were able to eliminate any sub-par fruit. Not all chateaux can afford this level of investment.
 

WEATHER CONDITIONS

 

A wet winter was followed by a warm start to April which encouraged early bud break, leaving the vines vulnerable to frost which duly arrived, with more localized frost recurring in early May. Wet weather in June and July provided perfect conditions for mildew. August brought relief in the form of dry and sunny conditions which persisted through to mid-September. Rain was forecast for early October but failed to arrive in any significant form. Growers of Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc who had the courage to delay their harvest were rewarded with a small crop of healthy ripe berries.

VINTAGE CHARACTERISTICS

 

If the weather conditions of the 2021 vintage had occurred in the 1980’s or 1990’s the resulting wines would have been disasters. It is a testament to the health of the vineyards and the viticultural skills used to manage them today that they are able to produce a crop of healthy grapes in such an unpromising environment. Most leading properties have very sophisticated mapping of their vineyards and pick individual plots accordingly. This is only effective if their cellars are equipped with a variety of fermentation vessels of different sizes so plots can be vinified separately. As mentioned previously, equipment to enable rigorous sorting of fruit is essential in a problematic vintage such as 2021.

 

The most successful wines have been hailed as a return to classicism, with restrained alcohol levels, precise fruit flavours and restrained use of oak. This was also an outstanding vintage for dry white wines, particularly in Pessac-Leognan.

 

*Denotes limited availability | WA = William Kelley | JS = James Suckling | AG = Antonio Galloni | NM = Neal Martin | JR = James Lawther

 

BOTTLING Prices are for standard 750ml bottles. Wines can be bottled in half bottles, magnums, or other formats for an additional charge. Please provide special bottling instructions before 31 August 2022.

 

STORAGE There will be storage charges if we do not receive any shipping instructions before 30 Nov 2023. The charge will be HK$300 per annum per case or per large format bottle (9L-case). Cellarage invoices will be raised on 1 January 2024. If you wish to collect your wine early, we will refund you the remaining full month(s) storage fee on a pro-rata basis.

 

SHIPPING COST HK$180 per case inclusive of insurance. Please instruct us in advance for special shipping arrangements.

 

OFFER Please note that the following wines are offered ex-cellars Bordeaux. And they are available in units of 6 or 12 bottles per case. The minimum order will be 12 bottles (750ml) per wine. They will be available for delivery in Spring/Summer 2024. Payment upon receipt of invoice.

 

Wines ( * denotes Limited Allocation )
Alter Ego de Palmer 2021Angelus 2021Aromes De Pavie 2021
Ausone 2021 *Bellevue Mondotte 2021Beychevelle 2021
Branaire Ducru 2021Brane Cantenac 2021Calon Segur 2021 - New
Canon 2021Cheval Blanc 2021 *Clerc Milon 2021
Clinet 2021 - NewClos Fourtet 2021Cos d'Estournel 2021
Cos d'Estournel Blanc 2021D'Armailhac 2021D'Issan 2021
Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 2021 - NewDomaine de Chevalier Rouge 2021 - NewDucru Beaucaillou 2021 - New
Duhart Milon 2021Durfort-Vivens 2021Figeac 2021 - New
Gazin 2021Giscours 2021Grand Puy Lacoste 2021
Gruaud Larose 2021Haut Bailly 2021Haut Brion 2021 - New *
Haut Brion Blanc 2021 - New *L'Eglise Clinet 2021L'Evangile 2021
La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion 2021 - NewLa Conseillante 2021 - NewLa Fleur-Petrus 2021 - New
La Mission Haut Brion 2021 - NewLa Tour Carnet 2021Lafite Rothschild 2021 *
Lafon Rochet 2021Lagrange 2021Langoa Barton 2021
Lascombes 2021Le Carillon de l'Angelus 2021Le Clarence de Haut-Brion 2021 - New
Le Petit Mouton 2021 *Leoville Barton 2021Leoville Poyferre 2021
Leoville-Las Cases 2021Lynch Bages 2021Margaux 2021 *
Monbousquet 2021Montrose 2021Mouton Rothschild 2021 *
Pagodes de Cos d'Estournel 2021Pagodes de Cos d'Estournel Blanc 2021Palmer 2021
Pape Clement Blanc 2021 - NewPape Clement Rouge 2021 - NewPavie 2021
Pavie Decesse 2021Pavillon Blanc de Margaux 2021 *Pavillon Rouge de Margaux 2021 *
Pichon Baron 2021Pichon Lalande 2021Pontet Canet 2021
Quintus 2021 - NewRauzan Segla 2021Smith Haut Lafitte 2021
Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2021Talbot 2021Troplong Mondot 2021
Trotanoy 2021 - New *  

 

 

St. Estephe

Cos d'Estournel 2021 [WA 94-95 JS 94-95 AG 94-96 JR 17++]
€168.00

 

WA 94-95... The 2021 Cos d'Estournel is very promising, offering up rich aromas of dark berries, plums, exotic spices, loamy soil and rose petals, followed by a medium to full-bodied, deep and seamless palate that's impressively vibrant and concentrated, with powdery tannins, bright acids and a long, penetrating finish. Only 53% of the production made it into the grand vin, and the blend is 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Technical director Dominique Arangoïts reports that Cos was spared by frost and coulure at flowering, harvesting between September 23 and October 4, and fermenting a touch hotter than has been the case in recent years, at around 28-29 degrees Celsius.

JS 94-95... A firm red with solid, compact tannins. Medium to full body with plenty of blackcurrant, pencil-lead and graphite character. Compact and structured throughout, with a firm finish. Linear and muscular tannins at the end that are very formed and curated. It will be interesting to see how this one evolves. 64% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot, 4% cabernet franc and 2% petit verdot.

AG 94-96... The 2021 Cos d'Estournel is a wine of real breadth and volume. It is also quite a departure from recent vintages in that strong Cabernet aromatics are very much front and center. Cedar, tobacco, dried herbs, menthol and licorice lend notable complexity to the bouquet. I expect the 2021 will need time to be at its best. Cos is usually much more alluring in its youth than the reticent but hugely promising 2021.

JR 17++... Dark and reticent with a touch of cassis as the wine opens. Linear and firm with a rich but fine tannic frame. Solid through the mid palate and on through the finish. Structured and with plenty of matière. Well within itself so room to develop.

 

Cos d'Estournel Blanc 2021 [WA 91-93 JS 97-98 AG 93-95 JR 16.5]
€124.00

 

WA 91-93... Including fully 29% Sémillon, the 2021 Cos d'Estournel Blanc is a terrific effort from holdings in the northern Médoc. Offering up aromas of confit citrus, crisp orchard fruit, lime zest, pastry cream and freshly braked bread, it's medium to full-bodied, layered and incisive, with chalky structuring dry extract and a penetrating finish. There's no question that it's one of the Médoc's most interesting white wines.

JS 97-98... This is layered and serious, with intense yet subtle notes of dried pineapple, lemon, crushed stones and shells. Salty. Long and driven with vivacity and energy. So minerally, in every sense. Grabs hold of you. 71% sauvignon blanc and 29% semillon.

AG 93-95... The 2021 Cos d'Estournel Blanc is fabulous. In fact, the 2021 is one of the finest vintages I can remember tasting. Readers will find a white of tremendous stature and sheer palate presence. Lemon oil, chamomile, pear, baked apple tart and light tropical accents are all amplified in this dramatic, racy white from Cos d'Estournel. I can't wait to taste this in bottle.

JR 16.5... Intense, pure and long, again with marked tension and acidity. Persistent fruit with a floral-citrus nuance. Pebble-sucking finish. Clean cut, if a little hard on the finish but should develop further.

 

Pagodes de Cos d'Estournel 2021 [WA 90-92 JS 92-93 AG 91-94 JR 16]
€36.40

 

WA 90-92... Impressively rich and concentrated for a second wine in this vintage, the 2021 Les Pagodes de Cos delivers notes of raspberries, spiced plums and violets, followed by a medium to full-bodied, velvety and salted palate framed by ripe tannins and lively acids.

JS 92-93... Blackberry and blueberry aromas and flavors with black licorice and asphalt. Medium-bodied with round, lightly chewy tannins and a juicy finish. A little fluid in the mid-palate. Bright and focused at the end. 60% merlot, 36% cabernet sauvignon, 3% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot.

AG 91-94... The 2021 Les Pagodes de Cos is a gorgeous second wine. Blackberry, gravel, spice, menthol and licorice all run through the 2021, a wine that is marked by notable freshness and bright acids. Beams of supporting tannin give the wine its energy. There is plenty of Merlot-driven richness, but I suspect the 2021 will need a few years to come together. It is far from an easygoing second wine, that much is pretty clear.

JR 16... Dark- and red-berry aromas. Medium-bodied, round and juicy but lacks some intensity. Firm tannins with a bit of bite on the finish so some structure. May develop but not much excitement at present.

 

Pagodes de Cos d'Estournel Blanc 2021 [WA 90-92 JS 93-94 AG 91-93]
€46.20

 

WA 90-92... The 2021 Pagodes de Cos Blanc unwinds in the glass to exhibit notions of crisp citrus and orchard fruit mingled with hints of gooseberries and pastry cream. Medium to full-bodied, satiny and seamless, it's taut and concentrated, concluding with a saline finish.

JS 93-94... Intense, with plenty of flint, dried herbs, dried lemons, guava and a smoky touch. Medium-to full-bodied with bright acidity. Concentrated, yet vivid and energetic. Tangy. So delicious. 85% sauvignon blanc and 15% semillon.

AG 91-93... The 2021 Les Pagodes de Cos Blanc is bright, punchy and super-expressive. Technical Director Dominique Arangoits added a bit more Sémillon than normal, which helps give the wine its striking mid-palate presence. Lemon confit, almonds, chamomile and sage build nicely in this attractive second wine from Cos. Bright saline notes linger on the taut, salivating finish.

 

Calon Segur 2021 [WA 95-96+ JS 93-94 NM 95-97 JR 17+]
€95.20

 

WA 95-96+... A brilliant effort that will delight Médoc purists, the 2021 Calon-Ségur wafts from the glass with aromas of rose petals, wild berries, plums, Indian spices, woodsmoke and pencil shavings. Medium to full-bodied, velvety and seamless, it's deep and lively, with beautifully ripe tannins and an exquisitely balanced profile. In spirit, this blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot is reminiscent of the 1996 vintage, though the 2021 won't go through such an extended period of hibernation and will attain a much higher peak of quality. It attained 12.9% alcohol without any chaptalization, saignée or osmosis. Tasted twice.

JS 93-94... Polished and perfumed already, with very fine, powdery tannins. So silky. Bright red and black berries here with sandalwood and orange-zest notes. Medium-bodied. Refined. 81% cabernet sauvignon, 11% cabernet franc, 7% merlot and 1% petit verdot.

NM 95-97... The 2021 Calon Ségur was cropped at 36hL/ha and aged entirely in new oak for a planned 20 months. This year, the gap between the Grand Vin and the Marquis is blatantly obvious, to the extent that they are practically different wines, which is how Vincent Millet and his team treat them. The Cabernet is firmly in the driving seat here, with detailed, graphite-infused black fruit and a background florality that comes through with aeration. The medium-bodied palate displays very fine tannins, superb acidity (pH 3.65) and impressive harmony. This has exemplary build in the mouth, fine weight on the finish and a persistent aftertaste. An outstanding Calon-Ségur, elevated by the risks taken in de-leafing in June and waiting to pick. Bravo. 12.9% alcohol

JR 17+... Fine, floral bouquet. Density on attack, the oak a touch present but plentiful tannins that are smooth and honed. Plenty of matière and freshness from beginning to end. Clearly has potential.

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Montrose 2021 [WA 94-96 JS 95-96 AG 94-96 JR 17++]
€133.00

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WA 94-96... A brilliant achievement, the 2021 Montrose is reminiscent of a purer, more precise, modern-day version of the estate's 1996. Unwinding in the glass with aromas of blackcurrants, pencil shavings, sweet loamy soil, black truffle and nicely integrated new oak, it's full-bodied, layered and concentrated, with terrific depth at the core, lively acids and a seamless, harmonious profile. Exhibiting beautifully refined tannins and an impressive sense of completeness, it's a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot—standing out as one of the few top wines of the vintage that actually includes more Merlot and less Cabernet than in recent years.

JS 95-96... A very classy and refined Montrose with excellent length and a compact, medium-bodied palate, showing fine, silky tannins and a fresh, bright finish. Lots of currant, blackberry and tar at the end, as well as some graphite. 62% cabernet sauvignon, 31% merlot, 6% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot.

AG 94-96... The 2021 is a fine choice for Montrose fans who want to drink the Grand Vin without waiting for decades. I imagine the slightly high amount of Merlot also helps in giving the Grand Vin a measure of suppleness that is rarely found in Montrose. Gentle extractions bring out gorgeous purity in the fruit. Scorched earth, licorice, rose petal and blood orange develop in the glass, followed by a kick of Montrose structure on the finish. The 2021 is not an especially typical Montrose, but it is an undeniably attractive wine. The 13.1% alcohol has not been seen here in years.

JR 17++... Dark and minerally through and through. Good fruit concentration. Hint of barrel but integrated. Velvety attack, the tannins dense but finely framed. Long, cool finish. Evident potential for ageing.

 

Lafon Rochet 2021 [WA 89-91 JS 92-93 AG 91-93 JR 16.5]
€29.40

 

WA 89-91... The last vintage produced under the Tesseron family, the 2021 Lafon-Rochet exhibits aromas of dark berries, plums, licorice and spices, followed by a medium-bodied, lively and succulent palate that's fleshy and layered, framed by powdery tannins. A charming, supple effort, it will drink well on release.

JS 92-93... A firm and linear wine with blackberry and blackcurrant character. Medium body. Creamy. Focused for the vintage. Turns to plums and citrus at the end. From organically grown grapes. 69% cabernet sauvignon, 26% merlot, 4% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot.

AG 91-93... The 2021 Lafon-Rochet is a wine of notable precision. It will be interesting to see if it gains a bit more flesh in élevage. Today, the 2021 is decidedly lithe in feel. Crushed flowers, mint, rose petal and bright acids lend energy to a core of red berry fruit. Captivating in its inner perfume and elegance, Lafon-Rochet is the most Pauillac-like of the Saint-Estèphes.

JR 16.5... Quite luscious and almost more luscious than the St-Estèphe norm. Although it finishes on a distinctly stony note. Set for the long term with no shortage of character or ripe fruit. Persistence is pretty impressive! This is almost a 17 though for the moment the finish is a little bit pinched.

 

 

Pauillac

Pontet Canet 2021 [WA 91-93 JS 95-96 AG 93-95 JR 16+]
€86.80

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WA 91-93... Offering up wild, exotic aromas of blackberries, cloves and Indian spices mingled with notions of rose petal, bruised orchard fruit and cherry pit that evolve rapidly in the glass, the 2021 Pontet-Canet is medium to full-bodied, ample and fleshy, with a layered mid-palate and refined tannins that assert themselves on the firm, saline finish. Always one of the Médoc's most singular, idiosyncratic wines, it will be interesting to see how it performs in bottle.

JS 95-96... Plenty of blackberry and blueberry with wet earth and crushed stone. Some spice,tobacco and lead pencil, too. It’s full-bodied with layered tannins and brightness. Fine and chewy at the end.

AG 93-95... The 2021 is the most classically Pauillac Pontet-Canet I have tasted in modern times. Medium in body, with striking aromatic presence, the 2021 screams with character. Grilled herbs, incense, leather, lavender and plum open with a bit of coaxing, all framed by beams of tannin and bright, salivating acids that give the wine shape and real sense of direction. There's a bit more Petit Verdot in this year's blend, and that comes through in the wine's intensely savory profile. Aging is 50% in new wood, 35% in amphora and 15% in one year-old barrels. The 2021 was impressive all three times I tasted it.

JR 16+... Purple-crimson hue. Dark, dense and rich with a brush-stroke of vanilla oak. Broad across the palate on attack then prominent tannins on the finish. Certainly, chalky, dry and chewy. Elévage should help. Awkward at present but hopefully will pull together.

 

Duhart Milon 2021 [WA 91-93+ JR 16+]
€65.00

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WA 91-93+… 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.

JR 16+… 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.

 

Lafite Rothschild 2021 [WA 95-97 JS 97-98 NM 95-97 JR 17.5++]
€565.00

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WA 95-97... A brilliant wine that shares some similarities with the formidable 1996, the 2021 Lafite Rothschild wafts from the glass with inviting aromas of dark berries, cigar box, loamy soil, black truffle and violets. Medium to full-bodied, deep and layered, it's rich and concentrated, with beautifully powdery tannins, lively acids and a long, saline finish. Of course, this isn't as dramatic as the 2020 or 2019 out of the gates, but the 2021 is a brilliant success in its own right. What's more, its structure and balance mean that it is likely to prove almost immortal. It's a blend of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot, which is one of the all-time highest percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon chez Lafite.

JS 97-98... Polished and refined with a firm, fine and linear tannin structure. Harmonious. Perfumed violets, roses and subtle licorice. All in balance here, with precise layers of black fruit, minerals and pencil lead. Rather seamless. Firm, yet fine and sleek to the end. Very classy. Fine-velvet texture. 96% cabernet sauvignon, 3% merlot and 1% petit verdot.

NM 95-97... The 2021 Lafite-Rothschild, which was aged in 90% new oak, has a deep, almost opaque hue. This has quite an arresting bouquet with dense blackberry, sous-bois and pencil box scents, quintessential Lafite aromas with nuanced floral scents surfacing with time. The palate is medium-bodied, though with more weight than you would expect given the growing season. The Cabernet Sauvignon imparts graphite and almost briny elements into the aromatic profile. Sapid and classic in style, head winemaker Eric Kohler suggests that it is a return to the style of Lafite-Rothschild of the nineties in terms of freshness. I concur.

JR 17.5++... Deep crimson hue. Customary elegance rather than power. Perfumed nose, attractive fruit and a surprising density of tannin (15% press wine to bolster the structure). Quite discreet and measured in its form but good length and should improve further in bottle.

 

Mouton Rothschild 2021 [WA 95-96 JS 96-97 AG 94-96 JR 17.5+]
€495.00

 

WA 95-96... The 2021 Mouton Rothschild is a terrific wine in the making, unfurling in the glass with aromas of cherries and wild berries mingled with notions of violets, espresso roast, pipe tobacco and mint. Medium to full-bodied, deep and seamless, it's a layered, enveloping wine that's ample and concentrated, with succulent acids, melting tannins and a long, resonant finish. A blend of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc that attained 13.1% alcohol, this is a demonstrative, sensual Mouton that's the fruit of extreme selection, and that may well make my score seem conservative with further élevage. Bravo to the talented Jean-Emmanuel Danjoy and his team.

JS 96-97... A firm and compact Mouton with a powerful tannin frame for the vintage, yet it remains fine and precise as it opens to a velvety texture. Black fruit with tar, pencil lead and tobacco. Driven and firm. A little angular and tight at the moment. 89% cabernet sauvignon, 10% merlot and 1% cabernet franc.

AG 94-96... The 2021 Mouton Rothschild is a potent, tightly wound Pauillac that will need a number of years to come together. Driving in its intensity, with searing tannins, the 2021 comes across as a bit severe today, with less of the charm and sensuality that is such a Mouton signature. That said, I was not thrilled with the quality of either of the two samples of the Grand Vin I tasted.

JR 17.5+... Blackcurrant and cranberry notes indicate the dominance of Cabernet in the blend. Meaty but fresh on the palate, the tannins silky and dense. Plenty of substance here, the fruit generous, the tannins firm, providing length on the finish. Rich, within the context of the vintage, but fresh at the same time. Looks to have staying power.

 

Lynch Bages 2021 [WA 93-95 JS 96-97 NM 94-96]
€105.00

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WA 93-95... The second vintage vinified in the Caze family's new winery, the 2021 Lynch-Bages unwinds in the glass with aromas of minty cassis, sweet berries, loamy soil, black truffle and cigar wrapper, framed by nicely integrated new oak. Medium to full-bodied, concentrated and muscular, it's a serious, layered, powerful, youthfully structured wine that will come together beautifully with maturation in barrel.

JS 96-97... This is really cool to smell, with lead pencil shavings, iron filings and oyster shells. Blackcurrants, too. Full to medium body with layers of firm tannins, but a dusty and powdery texture, too. Lovely finish. 67% cabernet sauvignon, 25% merlot, 5% petit verdot and 3% cabernet franc.

NM 94-96... The 2021 Lynch-Bages, picked at 34hL/ha and matured in 75% new oak for a planned 18 months, has an outstanding bouquet, beautifully-defined and sensual, a mixture of black and blueberry fruit, very fragrant. The palate is medium-bodied with grippy tannins, good body and density, quite precise with a tensile finish. This fans out nicely on the finish. A very classy Lynch Bages with echoes of Jean-Michel Cazes' classics from the late eighties. 13.14% alcohol.

 

D'Armailhac 2021 [WA 91-93 JS 92-93 NM 90-92 JR 16]
€38.20

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WA 91-93... Reminiscent of a modern-day version of this estate's delicious 1999, the 2021 d'Armailhac is a terrific wine bursting with aromas of wild berries, cherries, exotic spices and rose petals. Medium to full-bodied, supple and seamless, it's fleshy and enveloping, with melting tannins and an ample core of sweet, succulent fruit. This is a pleasure-bent wine that will offer a broad drinking window.

JS 92-93... A firm and linear young red with currant and graphite character. Medium body. Fresh finish. Crunchy acidity. 63% cabernet sauvignon, 22% merlot, 13% cabernet franc and 2% petit verdot.

NM 90-92... The 2021 d'Armailhac, aged in 50% new oak, is the first vintage to be vinified in the new winery, which was completed a month before the harvest. It has quite a strict bouquet, tight and focused, with broody dark berry fruit, pencil box and tar, quite classic in style. The palate is harmonious and smooth with fine tannins, just the right amount of acidity and a sapid finish that lingers in the mouth. Residual graphite notes linger after the wine has exited. Very fine. (13.0% alcohol)

JR 16... Fragrant nose with brambly fruit and floral notes. Fresh, fruity and sapid on the palate with grainy tannin in behind. Lacks intensity but zest and energy to compensate. More for the medium than long term.

 

Grand Puy Lacoste 2021 [WA 92-94+ JS 94-95 AG 94-96]
€58.80

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WA 92-94+... The 2021 Grand-Puy-Lacoste is a beauty, bursting with aromas of dark berries, plums, rose petals, violets, warm spices and cigar wrapper. Medium to full-bodied, supple and seamless, it's fleshy and enveloping, with melting tannins, succulent acids and a pleasure-bent, demonstrative personality. While it's clear that this is an irresistibly charming, satisfying Pauillac from the Borie family, it wouldn't surprise me to see it acquire additional depth, flesh and seriousness with further barrel maturation.

JS 94-95... Very fine and polished tannins with lovely balance and beauty. Blackberries, blackcurrants and a creamy texture. Lovely finesse and focus. There’s delicacy and beauty to this. 85% cabernet sauvignon and 15% merlot.

AG 94-96... The 2021 Grand-Puy-Lacoste is fabulous. Bright and punchy, with terrific aromatic presence, the 2021 is a terrific example of the modern classicism of the year at its best. It's the sort of wine that needs years or maybe even decades to truly blossom, and yet all the requisites are there for that to happen. There is something about Grand-Puy-Lacoste that is absolutely striking in 2021. I can't wait to taste it from bottle. Tasted two times.

 

Pichon Baron 2021 [WA 94-96+ JS 96-97 AG 95-97 JR 16.5+]
€128.80

 

WA 94-96+... A brilliant achievement, the 2021 Pichon-Longueville Baron opens in the glass with aromas of dark berries, blackcurrants, cigar wrapper, loamy soil, pencil shavings and licorice. Medium to full-bodied, deep and layered, it's concentrated and penetrating, with terrific concentration and a beautifully refined, classy profile. A blend of fully 89% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Merlot, it represents the wine this great estate could have produced in 1996. One of the real successes of the vintage, readers who overlook this wine will live to regret it.

JS 96-97Blackcurrant, blueberry, violet and blackberry notes, as well as plenty of spices. Medium to full body with plenty of richness and blackcurrant and ink character. Tar and graphite, too. Precise and structured. Very Pichon Baron in nature here. 88% cabernet sauvignon.

AG 95-97... The 2021 Pichon-Baron is a dense, packed wine, its mid-weight structure notwithstanding. There is a lot of wine here, but readers have to be patient. Red-toned fruit, blood orange, mint, rose petal and cinnamon add layers of nuance, but more than anything else, the 2021 stands out for its persistence.

JR 16.5+... Like other wines from this estate, this wine has a distinctly pink rim and is not that concentrated a crimson. Smells ripe and satisfying. The palate is on a tightrope – only just ripe enough but one little tremor would be disastrous. Bone dry and defiant. Rather an inky finish. There is a little hole in the middle but the palate entry is convincing and suave. Major refreshment factor!

 

Pichon Lalande 2021 [WA 94-95+ JS 94-95 AG 96-98 JR 17]
€156.00

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WA 94-95+... This estate is one of the most dynamic in contemporary Bordeaux, so it's no surprise that the 2021 Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is a terrific wine—though its a very atypical blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 2% Merlot, cropped at a derisory 15 hectoliters per hectare, hints at what a challenging year this was in the vineyards. Unwinding in the glass with aromas of wild berries, blackcurrants, iris, licorice, black truffles, cigar wrapper and sweet soil tones, it's medium to full-bodied, layered and textural, with beautifully refined tannins, lively acids and a supple but serious profile. It will see 60% new oak and, in all likelihood, a classical élevage of fully 18 months.

JS 94-95... This is really spicy with peppercorns, cloves and Chinese spices, especially on the finish. Blackcurrants, too. Medium-bodied, firm and polished with a long, intense finish. 88% cabernet sauvignon, 10% cabernet franc and 2% merlot.

AG 96-98... Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Let's start with the good. The 2021 Pichon Comtesse is epic and certainly among the great wines of this vintage. Sadly, the coulure and mildew in the first year of organic farming plus dehydration at the end of the growing season took with it fully two thirds of the crop. In other words, there's not much wine to go around. Rich and sumptuous in the glass, yet clocking in at 12.9% alcohol, the 2021 is beautifully layered and totally sensual from the very first taste. Hints of red fruit, flowers, mint, white pepper and dried savory herbs develop with a bit of coaxing. The Cabernet Sauvignon, at 88%, is very high by historical standards. Quite simply, the 2021 is a tour de force from Technical Director Nicolas Glumineau and his team. If there is one wine readers will absolutely jump on en primeur it is Pichon Comtesse. Should the bottled wine turn out as well as this sample, pricing is likely to jump materially because of the tiny production. Don't miss it.

JR 17... Characteristic elegance but the Pauillac character still evident. Fragrant nose with dark-fruit and floral notes and just a hint of chocolate. Persistent fruit through the mid palate with finely edged tannins. Well structured with good energy and drive, the finish persistent. Balanced and harmonious.

 

Clerc Milon 2021 [WA 92-94 JS 93-94 AG 92-94 JR 16.5]
€66.50

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WA 92-94... The 2021 Clerc Milon is a success, bursting with aromas of blackberries, cassis and plums mingled with violets, tobacco leaf and nicely integrated new oak. Medium to full-bodied, layered and seamless, it's deep, fleshy and complete, with a rich core of succulent fruit, beautifully polished tannins and a long, sapid finish, it's a compelling, characterful wine that transcends the vintage.

JS 93-94... Polished and well-structured red with a medium body and firm but creamy and broad tannins. Perfumed already, with sandalwood, blackberry and currant character. Crushed stones. Tea leaves, too. Firm and solid to the end. Very solid for the vintage. 59% cabernet sauvignon, 28% merlot, 10% cabernet franc, 1.5% carmenere and 1.5% petit verdot.

AG 92-94... The 2021 Clerc Milon is gorgeous. Beams of tannin lend energy and direction to an alluring Clerc Milon that marries fruit density with a classic sense of structure that is quite appealing.

JR 16.5... More restrained aromatically than some this year. Dark fruit and savoury nuance. Palate solid and firm with plenty of freshness. Tannins present but well rounded, tightening on the finish to give some persistence. Pleasantly dry finish. Pauillac muscle but in a low-key form.

 

Le Petit Mouton 2021 [WA 89-91 JS 93-94 AG 91-93 JR 16.5]
€198.00

 

WA 89-91... Since Mouton-Rothschild itself this year derives exclusively from the two plateaus that always make up the core of the blend, the 2021 Le Petit Mouton benefits from the inclusion of parcels that often make it into the grand vin. Exhibiting aromas of crème de cassis, mint, cigar wrapper, violets and espresso roast, it's medium to full-bodied, deep and fleshy, with a rich core of fruit, powdery tannins, succulent acids and a persistent finish. Characterful and beautifully made, I wonder if I'm being a little severe with my score?

JS 93-94... A well-framed Petit Mouton with a tight core of black fruit and bitter-chocolate and graphite notes. Firm, fine-tannin structure. Mineral and classic with a classy finish. Punchy. 77% cabernet sauvignon, 19.5% merlot, 3% cabernet franc and 0.5% petit verdot.

AG 91-93... The 2021 Le Petit-Mouton is a powerful wine, but not quite the charmer it can be. There's good fruit density, but the tannins are a bit severe. I imagine at least some of that is attributable to the relatively high percentage of Cabernet in the blend. Overall, the 2021 comes across as a bit severe, though.

JR 16.5... Dark-fruit and chocolate notes. Medium-bodied with supple fruit and plush tannins on entry. Reasonably generous palate, the acidity cutting through on the finish giving bite and freshness. Low key but looking to give pleasure.

 

 

St. Julien

Branaire Ducru 2021 [WA 93-94+ JS 94-95 AG 93-95 JR 16]
€36.40

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WA 93-94+... Having tasted the 2021 Branaire-Ducru six times over the course of a month and a half, I feel confident in saying that it is a beautiful wine that numbers among the vintage's real successes. Offering up aromas of raspberry coulis and red cherries mingled with notions of rose petals, cigar box and spices, it's medium to full-bodied, ample and seamless, with a layered core of fruit, lively acids and beautifully powdery tannins. Why is it quite so good? It isn't because a lot of wine was declassified, as around 60% of the estate's production went into the grand vin this year—a touch more than average. Rather, the key factors seem to be waiting to pick despite an alarming weather forecast; the blend itself, which emphasizes ripe Cabernet and the estate's later-ripening Merlot on clay-limestone soils; and the fact that a partially completed new winery means that Branaire already had fully 63 fermentation vats at its disposal to pick and vinify parcel by parcel. The exact composition is 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

JS 94-95... A very pretty wine, showing blackberry and blackcurrant aromas with crushed stone. Medium to full body with layers of fine-grained tannins. Bright and refined. Lots of dark fruit at the end. Solid weight.

AG 93-95... The 2021 Branaire-Ducru is sleek, elegant and nuanced. There is more Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in the blend than in the 2018-2020 period, when the Merlots were especially successful. As a result, the aromatics are absolutely alluring, but the wine is much less forthcoming on the palate. At 12.9% alcohol, the 2021 is a classically austere Branaire that looks like it will need quite a bit of time to blossom. It is undoubtedly a very pretty wine, even if not fully expressive at this stage. Dark cherry, plum, chocolate, leather and rose petal linger. Tasted three times.

JR 16... Open and aromatic on the nose with savoury and dark-fruit notes. Supple and fleshy on the palate. Lacks a bit of density but there’s a structure well in place. Competent rather than stirring.

 

Beychevelle 2021 [WA 91-94 JS 91-92 AG 92-94 JR 16.5]
€68.80

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WA 91-94... The 2021 Beychevelle is a strong effort, exhibiting aromas of sweet berries and plums mingled with cigar wrapper and fresh mint. Medium to full-bodied, bright and fine-boned, it's deep and layered, with powdery tannins, lively acids and a saline finish. This wine only improved over the five times I tasted it.

JS 91-92... Blueberry and some chocolate and berry character. Medium body, fine tannins and a fresh, medium finish.

AG 92-94... The 2021 Beychevelle is rich and sumptuous, but not quite as pushed in that direction as some recent vintages have been. Then again, that sort of opulence was simply not possible in 2021. Even so, the 2021 flows with dark blue/purplish fruit, incense, espresso, mocha, menthol and licorice. All the elements are so well balanced. The 2021 is a terrific Beychevelle with a bright future.

JR 16.5... Pleasantly fragrant with floral and dark-fruit notes. Juicy and ripe on the palate. Less flesh and concentration than top years but fruit present and tannins finely honed. Clean, persistent finish.

 

Leoville Poyferre 2021 [WA 93-94+ JS 95-96 AG 93-95 JR 17+]
€84.00

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WA 93-94+... The 2021 Léoville Poyferré shows considerable promise, wafting from the glass with aromas of sweet berries and plums mingled with spices, licorice and petals, framed by a deft touch of creamy new oak. Medium to full-bodied, supple and fleshy, it's a polished, charming wine with a pretty core of fruit, lively acids and ripe, powdery tannins, concluding with a penetrating finish. It's a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot.

JS 95-96... This is very typical for St.-Julien with violets, berries, blackcurrants and crushed stone. Medium to full body with very fine tannins that run the length of the wine. Powdery tannins and a rich finish. Velvety texture. 60% cabernet sauvignon, 26% merlot, 9% cabernet franc and 5% petit verdot.

AG 93-95... The 2021 Léoville-Poyferré is classy and polished right out of the gate. All the classic Poyferré signatures come through, but in miniature. The 2021 impresses with its pliant fruit, silky tannins and fine balance. To be sure, the 2021 is a smaller-scaled wine than the norm here over the last few years, but that is the charm of this vintage. Inky dark fruit, pencil shavings, licorice and menthol build into the super-expressive finish. Tasted three times.

JR 17+... Deep, bright colour. Attractive nose with dark-fruit and floral notes and a creamy edge. Rich and round on attack with ample substance and a juiciness to the fruit. Tannins plentiful but fine and integrated. Grip and persistence on the finish. Clear potential.

Talbot 2021 [WA 91-92+ JS 92-93 AG 91-93 JR 16++]
€46.20

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WA 91-92+... The 2021 Talbot is promising, exhibiting aromas of wild berries, cherries, cigar wrapper and sweet spices, followed by a medium to full-bodied, layered and velvety palate that's bright and seamless, with an enveloping, charming profile despite analytically rather high levels of polyphenols. This is a fine effort that reminds Jean-Michel Laporte of the 2001 vintage in style—though the 2021 will benefit from all the improvements that the last two decades have witnessed at this address. Tasted four times.

JS 92-93... A fruity and attractive 2021 with currant and berry aromas and flavors. Hints of citrus. Medium body. Fresh finish.

AG 91-93... The 2021 Talbot is impeccable. Soft and inviting, the 2021 is absolutely charming. Red-fleshed fruit, blood orange, mint and spice are front and center. Although pretty easygoing in style, the 2021 is beautifully balanced and is not penalized by some of the rougher edges that have been an issue in the past. If the 2021 is an indication of where the estate is heading, that direction appears to be quite positive.

JR 16++... Open and aromatic with blackcurrant and mineral notes. Palate unusually seductive at this stage, the fruit supple and tannins finely honed. Some grip and drive on the finish. Medium-bodied and compact, if not quite the depth of a top year.

 

Gruaud Larose 2021 [WA 94-95+ JS 93 NM 90-92]
€72.80

 

WA 94-95+... The 2021 Gruaud Larose is very impressive, exhibiting deep aromas of wild berries, cherries and cassis mingled with hints of licorice, violets and cigar wrapper. Medium to full-bodied, deep and concentrated, it's impressively rich and layered, with lively acids and ripe tannins, it concludes with a pure and penetrating finish. Classically balanced and intensely flavored, it's an elegant, beautifully made wine that is well worth seeking out. Three beautiful parcels of recently planted Cabernet Sauvignon, situated on deep gravel ideally adapted to this variety but hitherto planted with Merlot, make a contribution to the blend this year; but that's only one of the factors that explain why Gruaud has produced a 2021 that looks set to rival or surpass even recent and more propitious vintages such as 2018. The blend is fully 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, complemented by 12% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc, and it checks in at 12.5% alcohol. Congratulations are in order for technical director Virginie Sallette and the entire team at Gruaud Larose! Tasted twice.

JS93... A dense and decadent wine with chocolate, currant and licorice aromas and flavors. Medium to full body, firm tannins and a fresh finish. A beautiful wine now. It shows the finesse and class of an aged Bordeaux.

NM 90-92... The 2021 Gruaud Larose was picked from September 23 until October 7, finishing with the Petit Verdot, and stopping several times to wait for ripeness in certain plots. It was matured in 95% new oak for a planned 18 months. The Cabernet Sauvignon clearly dominates the nose, the black fruit, graphite and touches of tobacco lending it a Pauillac-like allure. The palate is medium-bodied with supple but quite firm tannins that frame the graphite-infused black fruit. Quite direct, and in some ways a no-frills Gruaud Larose, though that is not meant pejoratively. Classically styled claret – no more, no less. (12.55% alcohol)

 

Lagrange 2021 [WA 92-94 JS 92-93 AG 92-94 JR 16.5]
€39.90

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WA 92-94... Representing only 39% of the estate's production, the 2021 Lagrange is very promising indeed, mingling aromas of wild berries and blackcurrants with notions of loamy soils, pencil shavings and violets. Medium to full-bodied, ample and seamless, with fine depth at the core, powdery tannins and lively acids, it saw a cool vinification and contains a record 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, much of which was picked late, between the seventh and 12th of October. It's a brilliant effort from Matthieu Bordes and his team. Tasted five times, twice at the estate.

JR 92-93... A firm and silky red with medium body, fresh acidity and an orange-peel and berry aftertaste. Refined and bright.

AG 92-94... The 2021 Lagrange has a ton of potential. Bright Cabernet inflections lead into a core of red/purplish fruit. This mid-weight, gracious Saint-Julien is all class, all the way. Layered and super-expressive, Lagrange is a winner in 2021. Tasted two times.

JR 16.5... Open and aromatic with dark fruit to the fore. Palate shows good density, again with attractive fruit and a firm but ripe tannic frame. Drives on the finish. Some potential here.

 

Leoville Barton 2021 [WA 93-95 NM 93-95 JR 17++]
€66.00

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WA 93-95... A terrific success, the 2021 Léoville Barton unwinds in the glass with aromas of blackcurrant, wild berries and plums mingled with hints of pencil shavings, loamy soil and cigar wrapper. Medium to full-bodied, deep and seamless, it's concentrated and tensile, with beautifully refined tannins, lively acids and all the class that an elevated percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon growing in deep gravel can provide. It's the first vintage vinified in the Barton family's new winery, and I suspect that contributes to the ultra-refined quality of tannin this year. The blend is 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc. Tasted three times.

NM 93-95... The 2021 Léoville-Barton was picked from 27 September until 7 October, matured in 60% new oak. The alcohol is 13.12%. It has a clean and pure bouquet with blackberry, bilberry, cedar and hints of shucked oyster shell: focused and very well delineated, classic in style. The palate has a smooth and cohesive entry, very well-knit with beautifully integrated oak. Crisp acidity with the perfect amount of tension on the classically-styled finish, this Léoville Barton demonstrates the advantages of their brand new cellar (even though the reception was not finished in time!) I cannot see any reason not to own a few bottles of this in your cellar.

JR 17++... Minerally and racy with a density that is often missing in 2021. Layers of fruit and plentiful but refined tannins. Structured and persistent, the quality of the vineyard appreciable. Fresh and well defined. Good balance. Definite potential.

 

Langoa Barton 2021 [WA 92-94 NM 91-93 JR 16.5]
€35.00

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WA 92-94... The first vintage vinified in the Barton family's new winery, the 2021 Langoa Barton is immensely promising, offering up aromas of cassis, cigar wrapper, loamy soil and black truffle, followed by a medium to full-bodied, velvety and seamless palate that's deep and complete, its vibrant core of fruit framed by ripe tannins and lively acids. It's a blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc. Tasted three times.

NM 91-93... The 2021 Langoa Barton was picked 27 September until 7 October, matured in 60% new oak. Analysis shows 13.03% alcohol. It has a well-defined bouquet with expressive Merlot this year. Hints of blood orange/orange sorbet percolate through the red fruit. It has a skip in its step. The palate is medium-bodied with a taut and fresh entry. Plenty of sapidity here, oyster shell tinged with a well-defined and quite persistent finish. Lovely length, this is quite a gorgeous Saint-Julien that will age beautifully in bottle.

JR 16.5... More restrained than some aromatically but there’s fruit and freshness with a structure in behind. Touch of cassis as it opens. Some oak as well but should integrate. Grippy tannins on the finish.

 

Leoville-Las Cases 2021 [WA 95-97 AG 94-96 JR 17+]
€196.00

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WA 95-97...One of the wines of the vintage, the 2021 Léoville Las Cases is reminiscent of a hypothetical blend of the 1999 and 1996—only better. Offering up incipiently complex aromas of cassis, plums and dark berries mingled with loamy soil, cigar wrapper and exotic spices, it's full-bodied, layered and multidimensional, with superb amplitude and concentration, velvety tannins, lively acids and a long, penetrating finish. Uniting classicism and charm, it exemplifies how a great terroir, exigent agronomy and meticulous winemaking can deliver greatness even in a less propitious vintage. It's a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and a mere 5% Merlot this year, checking in at 13.2% alcohol.

AG 94-96...The 2021 Léoville Las-Cases is classy, nuanced and so expressive. There's gorgeous depth, and yet the 2021 is not as explosive as it has been in the recent past. That's not a bad thing, not at all. Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc comprise fully 95% of the blend in a Las Cases that is beautifully persistent from start to finish. It's a wine that has one foot in its rich, historical past, and the other very much in the more modern style of contemporary vintages. There is so much to look forward to.

JR 17...Less restrained than usual at this stage, the nose fresh and fragrant with floral and berry-fruit notes. More elegance than power, the tannins present but finely honed and the fruit expressive. Structured, so potential but not a muscular year.

 

Ducru Beaucaillou 2021 [WA 94-96 AG 96-98 JR 17.5]
€182.00

 

WA 94-96... A wine that will delight Médoc purists, the 2021 Ducru-Beaucaillou is a blend of fully 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Merlot and checks in at a mere 12.5% alcohol. Unwinding in the glass with aromas of dark berries, cigar wrapper, violets, loamy soil and spices, it's full-bodied, layered and velvety, with superb depth at the core, lively acids and powdery tannins. Complete and penetrating, it's a true classic, reminiscent of a modern-day version of Ducru's brilliant 1996—though today's precision winemaking means that the 2021 is unlikely to go through so long a hibernation as that vintage.

AG 96-98... The 2021 Ducru-Beaucaillou is a pretty significant departure from the past, as it is nearly pure Cabernet Sauvignon. A deep, aristocratic wine, the 2021 possesses remarkable intensity from start to finish. Inky dark fruit, bittersweet chocolate and leather are some of the myriad nuances that develop with some aeration. The 2021 is so well balanced. The 100% new oak, often quite dominant in Ducru en primeur, is so well integrated, likely because lower alcohol extracted less oak imprint. The 2021 is a drop dead gorgeous wine, and a Ducru for the ages. Superb.

JR 17.5... Deep, bright purple hue. Elegant cedar, dark-fruit and cassis nose. Lovely depth of fruit, velvety texture, abundant but polished tannins and lingering freshness. Drives on the finish. A well-groomed thoroughbred. Pure, precise and long and a little more classic than recent years.

 

 

Margaux

Alter Ego de Palmer 2021 [WA 91-93 JS 94-95 AG 92-94 JR 16.5]
€65.00

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WA 91-93... The 2021 Alter Ego de Palmer is a somewhat unusual blend, in that it's fully 60% Cabernet Sauvignon this year, the estate's Merlot having suffered in the April frosts. Exhibiting aromas of cherries, sweet berries and plums mingled wit hints of spices and pencil shavings, it's medium to full-bodied, ample and polished, with a charming, seamless profile founded on beautifully refined structuring tannins. Tasted twice.

JS 94-95... Savory black and salted-olive character with oyster shells and black licorice. Fine, almost powdery yet firm tannins. Medium body. Excellent density and structure for the vintage. Second wine of Palmer. 60% cabernet sauvignon, 32% merlot and 8% petit verdot. From biodynamically grown grapes.

AG 92-94... Palmer's 2021 Alter Ego is fabulous. Dense and rich in the glass, with positively explosive energy, the 2021 dazzles from start to finish. A rush of dark cherry, plum, spice, blood orange, menthol and licorice infuses the palate with tremendous intensity. Hints of rose petal and pomegranate appear later to round things out. The 2021 possesses tremendous textural richness that is evident from the very first taste. The aromatics alone are especially present today.

JR 16.5... Less Merlot than usual due to mildew and frost. Attractive nose with dark-fruit and floral notes. Expressive fruit on the palate, lively and fresh with a refined texture. Tannins present but rounded. Finishes on a dry, chalky note.

 

Palmer 2021 [WA 95-97 JS 96-97 AG 94-97 JR 17+]
€280.00

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WA 95-97... The late-ripening, low-yielding vintage has delivered a beautifully balanced wine of striking intensity in the 2021 Palmer. Unwinding in the glass with complex aromas of blackberries, exotic spices, licorice, violets and burning embers, it's full-bodied, layered and enveloping, with a deep, concentrated core of fruit, ripe tannins and lively acids, concluding with a long, expansive finish. If recent vintages of Palmer have set new records in their power and richness, the 2021 marks a return to the classical proportions of the 1990s—with all the additional concentration and precision that Thomas Douroux's pioneering viticulture and thoughtful winemaking have brought to the equation at this address in the interim. The grand vin is a blend of 56% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot, picked between September 24 and October 15. Tasted twice.

JS 96-97... There’s brightness and clarity to this young wine, with blackcurrants, violets, lavender and blackberries. Medium body with a sold core of fruit and a long, fresh finish. Fine tannins. Bright acidity. 56% merlot, 3% petit verdot and 41% cabernet sauvignon. From biodynamically grown grapes.

AG 94-97... The 2021 Palmer is one of the truly epic wines of the year. It's not the 2018, but it is in that vein, albeit at 13% in alcohol. There's tremendous richness and sheer extract here. Blackberry jam, chocolate, smoke, licorice, lavender and mocha notes possess remarkable primary intensity, more like a young must than a wine with a few months of age. Readers will find a Palmer that offers a compelling mix of opulence and energy.

JR 17+... Less exuberance but Palmer identity intact, the old-vine Merlot to the fore. Dense and full with a generosity of fruit. Silky texture on attack, the tannins present but controlled. Slightly dry finish with a bit of chew. Should improve further with élevage.

 

Giscours 2021 [WA 93-95 JS 94-95 AG 94-96 JR 16.5]
€47.60

 

WA 93-95... The 2021 Giscours is immensely promising and shows just how far this important estate has come in the last few years. Unwinding in the glass with aromas of cassis, dark berries, cigar wrapper, violets, sweet forest floor and burning embers, it's medium to full-bodied, deep and layered, with terrific depth at the core, ripe tannins, lively acids and a long, penetrating finish. With wines like this, we're back to a level of quality that Giscours hasn't routinely attained since the 1970s! The blend is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot; and even if by the standards of the last decade, that isn't a particularly elevated percentage of Cabernet, this is nonetheless a very Cabernet-driven wine in style. Tasted six times.

 JS 94-95... Very precise and focused with tight, sleek yet firm tannins, framing a fresh core of black fruit, gravel and tobacco. Crushed stones and tea leaves, too. Savory and medium-bodied. Driven and linear. Lots of cabernet character. Chewy tannins. Rather muscular. But polished texture. 65% cabernet sauvignon, 32% merlot and 3% petit verdot.

AG 94-96... The 2021 Giscours is fabulous. In fact, the 2021 is one of the best Giscours in recent memory. Silky and impeccable in its balance, the 2012 possesses magnificent elegance that brings out its pedigreed personality. Rose petal, lavender, spice, gravel and black cherry all come together, framed by silky tannins that wrap it all up. The 2021 is less aromatic than most recent vintages, but the depth here is considerable, as is the potential. Taste two times.

JR 16.5... Very dark purplish crimson. One of the first 2021s I have encountered that could be described as heady. Then has masses of both fruit and freshness on the palate with no excesses even if clear delineation. Very clean and brisk without being austere. Quite a success! This wine seems to have made a virtue out of the freshness of 2021.

 

D'Issan 2021 [WA 90-93 JS 95-96 NM 90-92 JR 16.5]
€49.00

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WA 90-93... The 2021 D'Issan is performing well, exhibiting aromas of rich berries, licorice, violets, sweet soil tones and pipe tobacco. Medium to full-bodied, layered and lively, with powdery tannins and a saline finish, it will flesh out with élevage to deliver a supple, perfumed D'Issan that will offer a broad drinking window. It's a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

JS 95-96... A very fine yet structured d’Issan with blackcurrant and plum, as well as spice and walnuts. The palate is full and structured with wonderful tannins and length. It really grows on the palate. Serious balance of ripe and fine tannins with pretty fruit and a citrusy undertone. This could move up a notch. 65% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot, 2% cabernet franc, 2% malbec and 1% petit verdot.

NM 90-92... According to Emmanuel Cruse, the 2021 d'Issan is the second vintage to utilize all five permitted grape varieties, picked from September 27 to October 9 and matured in 50% new oak. Quite intense on the nose, it offers layers of raspberry, wild strawberry, iodine and incense aromas. The palate is structured on the entry with a judicious touch of white pepper and clove, building nicely without fully letting go. Linear and detailed on the finish, this is a fine Margaux that should give 20 years of drinking pleasure.

JR 16.5... Discreet but fresh with a faint floral nuance. Medium-bodied with a certain density of tannin but delicate and poised. Margaux elegance if slightly reserved.

 

Durfort-Vivens 2021 [WA 92-94 JS 94-95 AG 93-95 JR 16.5]
€50.40

 

WA 92-94... Containing fully 97% Cabernet Sauvignon this year, the 2021 Durfort Vivens shows considerable promise, unwinding in the glass with aromas of cassis, dark berries, loamy soil, cigar wrapper and spices. Medium to full-bodied, deep and layered, it's velvety and impressively concentrated, with powdery tannins, lively acids and a long, penetrating finish. Tasted twice.

JS 94-95... A very focused red, showing blackberry, blueberry and currant aromas and flavors, together with bark. It’s full and layered with lots of fine tannins that give this wine a velvety texture. 97% cabernet sauvignon and 3% merlot. From biodynamically grown grapes with Demeter certification.

AG 93-95... The 2021 Durfort-Vivens offers a compelling mix of Cabernet aromatics and notable textural richness. There's tremendous weight, depth and intensity here. Blueberry, lavender, sage, mint and tobacco come together in this potent, deeply structured Cabernet. Inky red fruit, blood orange, mint and exotic spice linger on the substantial finish. Yields were 32 hectoliters per hectare, which is about average, and certainly far better than other vintages where mildew has been a threat, most notably 2018. This is a strong showing from Gonzague Lurton. I should note that Lurton also made his new parcellaire wines, but those aren't shown or sold en primeur, hence their exclusion in this report.

JR 16.5... Lacks the depth to merit an even higher score, but lively, fresh and long with adequate mid-palate fruit and finely honed tannins offering structure. Lovely texture with energy and drive on the finish.

 

Margaux 2021 [WA 95-97+ JS 97-98 AG 95-97 JR 17.5]
€495.00

 

WA 95-97... The 2021 Château Margaux is clearly one of the finest wines of the vintage. Offering up a deep bouquet of raspberries, wild blueberries and plums mingled with sweet spices, violets, licorice and hints of cigar box, it's full-bodied, layered and multidimensional, with terrific depth at the core and beautifully refined, powdery tannins, concluding with a long, floral finish. Combining the vibrant flavors and moderate alcohol (13.1%) of a vintage of the last century with all the precision of the present in extraction and élevage, it is a timeless classic; and lest that be mistaken for a euphemism for a lack of concentration, note that the wine is analytically as high in polyphenols as the brilliant 2019. Representing only 36% of the estate's production, the 2021 is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.

JS 97-98... A Margaux with beautiful depth and grace and wonderfully well-placed, refined tannins, showing presence and a soft texture. They caress your palate. Full-bodied, yet tight and extremely long. Seamless. 87% cabernet franc, 8% merlot, 3% cabernet franc and 2% petit verdot.

AG 95-97... The 2021 Château Margaux is a powerful, surprisingly brooding wine. According to Technical Director Philippe Bascaules, dry extract numbers are in line with 2019, which is hardly surprising in tasting the wine. Today, the Grand Vin is so primary. The intensity of the dark red/purplish fruit is notable, and yet the wine is positively embryonic. Bright acids and plenty of tannin abound. The 2021 is a rich, penetrating Margaux that is going to need a lot of time.

JR 17.5... Fragrant and floral with violet and peony notes. Clean and direct on attack, mid-palate weight and drive on the finish. Low-key but refined tannic frame. Super-length and persistence. Discreet but elegant, if less substance than a wine scoring 18 or higher.

 

Pavillon Rouge de Margaux 2021 [JS 94-95 JR 16.5]
€161.00

 

JS 94-95... A nicely rounded young red with fine tannins that are polished and poised. Medium body with a solid center-palate and a creamy finish. Shows wonderful ripeness and beauty. 73% cabernet sauvignon, 18% merlot, 5% petit verdot and 4% cabernet franc.

JR 16.5... Floral notes with an attractive purity to the fruit. Firmly structured with the tannins well integrated in the fruit. Freshness and length on the finish. Demure but should age.

 

Brane Cantenac 2021 [WA 94-95 JS 94-95 AG 93-96]
€55.00

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WA 94-95... A medium-bodied, very polished Brane-Cantenac with firm yet fine and textured tannins. Deep and compact core of black fruit, herbs and spices. Pretty licorice and clove notes. Structured and long. 74% cabernet sauvignon, 22% merlot, 2% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot and 1% carmenere.

JS 94-95... A medium-bodied, very polished Brane-Cantenac with firm yet fine and textured tannins. Deep and compact core of black fruit, herbs and spices. Pretty licorice and clove notes. Structured and long. 74% cabernet sauvignon, 22% merlot, 2% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot and 1% carmenere.

AG 93-96... The 2021 Brane-Cantenac notably marries fruit intensity with energy and structure. There is an exotic richness to the 2021 that is impossible to miss. Kirsch, red plum, blood orange, cinnamon, new leather and spice all meld together. The 2021 is bold, sumptuous and alluring. There is certainly a lot to look forward to. The oak needs to fully integrate, but that is what élevage is for. Brane-Cantenac was impressive on both occasions I tasted it.

 

Lascombes 2021 [WA 89-91 JS 93-94 AG 92-94 JR 16]
€57.40

 

WA 89-91... The 2021 Lascombes is a successful effort in a rather more punchy, modern style, opening in the glass with aromas of berries and plums mingled with notions of sweet spices, loamy soil and creamy new oak. Medium to full-bodied, rich and youthfully firm, it's deep and extracted, with plenty of ripe, powdery tannin that asserts itself on the finish.

JS 93-94... A juicy young red with currant and blackberry aromas and flavors. Some crushed stone and spice, too. Medium-bodied with juicy tannins and a round-tannined finish. Attractive fruit character.

AG 92-94... The 2021 Lascombes is a dense, plush Margaux, but also not quite as pushed as in the past. That's a good thing. A burst of ink blue/purplish fruit, chocolate, leather, licorice and mocha are front and center. As always, Lascombes is a pretty flamboyant wine, but it is also very nicely done. There is plenty to admire. Tasted two times.

JR 16... Very dark purplish crimson right out to the rim. Quite a bruiser. Definitely not an obvious expression of Margaux’s delicacy but not too sweet and not too heavy compared with some other vintages from this property. Just a little aggressive in terms of the acid and tannin impact on the decidedly inky – rather than fruity – finish.

 

Rauzan Segla 2021 [WA 93-95 JS 94-95 AG 94-97 JR 17]
€70.00

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WA 93-95... Representing around 44% of the estate's production (more or less as usual), the 2021 Rauzan-Ségla unwinds in the glass with aromas of minty cassis, blackberries, loamy soil, dark chocolate and warm spices. Medium to full-bodied, deep and impressively concentrated, it's layered and seamless, with a sweet core of fruit, powdery tannins, lively acids and an impressively penetrating finish. The Rauzan team opted to ferment Merlot rather cooler than normal this year to moderate extraction. Tasted six times.

JS 94-95... A firm and linear wine with crushed stone and some citrusy acidity, Medium body, creamy tannins and a fresh finish. Lively at the end. Currant, blackberry and fresh tobacco in the aftertaste. 75% cabernet sauvignon.

AG 94-97... The 2021 Rauzan-Ségla is absolutely gorgeous. It offers up scents of graphite, savory herbs, licorice, chocolate and plum, all beautifully lifted by strong Cabernet Sauvignon inflections. Naturally, the 2021 doesn't have the mid-palate richness and overall intensity of recent years. Readers will find a tightly wound Margaux that balances classic structure with modern-day precision. I can't wait to see how it ages. Tasted four times.

JR 17... Pretty solid crimson. Much more complex nose than the Rauzan-Gassies. Sweet start and very polished tannins. A saline note adds interest. No sign of oak. The finish is impressively long and interesting without any dryness nor any excess of acidity. Very well judged and very Margaux though the opposite of concentrated or flashy. Complete and already relatively accessible.

 

Pavillon Blanc de Margaux 2021 [JS 99-100 JR 17.5]
€280.00

 

JS 99-100... This is a really serious white. Vibrant and tangy with fantastic energy. Plenty of lime zest, pineapple, crushed stone, cedar, anise and white lavender. Grapefruit, too. Medium body. So much tension at the end. Focused and precise and it just keeps on going. The pH is 3.04, yet it has intense ripeness. A masterpiece of sauvignon blanc. The chateau says it is the best Pavillon Blanc ever. 100% sauvignon blanc.

JR 17.5... Harmonious, elegant with poise and precision from start to finish. An ethereal quality to the citrus-led aroma and flavour. Drives from the word go so great persistence and length. Should age. One of the best Pavillon Blanc’s yet?

 

 

Haut Medoc

La Tour Carnet 2021 [WA 89-91 JS 91-92 AG 91-93 JR 16]
€25.88

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WA 89-91... The 2021 La Tour Carnet shows promise, exhibiting aromas of cherries and blackberries mingled with loamy soil and toasty new oak. Medium to full-bodied, velvety and generous, with lively acids and chalky grip, it's often among my favorites of the Magrez portfolio, and that's the case this year.

JS 91-92... A linear and typical Medoc here with blackcurrants and hints of spearmint on the nose and palate. Firm, polished and lightly velvety tannins.

AG 91-93... The 2021 La Tour Carnet is another gorgeous wine in this range from Bernard Magrez. Deeply pitched spice notes meld into a core of red plum/cherry fruit, followed by brighter, high-toned floral accents that add lift. La Tour Carnet has a track record of aging quite well. I suspect that will be the case here as well. La Tour Carnet remains one of the most under the radar wines in all of Bordeaux. Tasted four times.

JR 16... High-toned for the vintage but there’s a decent concentration of fruit and firm but ripe tannins. Well structured and persistent. Definitely some potential.

 

 

St. Emilion

Cheval Blanc 2021 [WA 95-97 JS 97-98 AG 96-98 JR 17++]
€465.00

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WA 95-97… A terrific achievement, the 2021 Cheval Blanc is a blend of 52% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Unfurling in the glass with aromas of raspberries and cherries mingled with notions of cigar wrapper, vine smoke, rose petals and violets, it's full-bodied, layered and concentrated, with an elegantly muscular chassis of ripe, powdery tannin and lively animating acids. Long and penetrating, this is a serious, rather structured young Cheval Blanc that will require and reward patience.

JS 97-98… This is so finely textured with very precise, tight tannins. Medium to full body. Lots of layers here with black and blue fruit, stones, tar, dark cocoa and spices. Dried herbs. Long and persistent. Stays focused all the way. So precise. 52% cabernet franc, 43% merlot and 5% cabernet sauvignon.

AG 96-98… The 2021 Cheval Blanc is one of the wines of the vintage. Vertical and aristocratic in bearing, Cheval is just stunning. Time in the glass brings out compelling inner sweetness and perfume to play off a core of rich dark fruit, gravel, spice, menthol and dried flowers. I also tasted the final three blending components, none of which hints at the magnificence of the Grand Vin. Stunning.

JR 17++… Deep crimson hue. Fragrant and floral with a hint of mint, the same returning on the palate. Focused and precise, the fruit juicy and the plentiful tannins finely grained. Low-key but elegant and refined. Should fill out more in bottle.

 

Quintus 2021 [WA 92-94 JS 94-95 AG 92-94]
€85.00

 

WA 92-94... The 2021 Quintus shows considerable promise, displaying more concentration and character than the 2017, combined with appreciably lower alcohol than intervening vintages. Unwinding in the glass with aromas of dark berries, plums, loamy soil, raw cocoa and a deft framing of new oak, it's medium to full-bodied, velvety and layered, with good concentration and a seamless, complete profile. It's a blend of around 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc from the limestone slopes.

JS 94-95... Extremely focused and refined, with firm tannins that run the length of the wine. Medium-bodied with lovely length and juiciness. Blackberry and earth with mushroom and bark. Hints of orange peel, too. 68.2% merlot, 31.3% cabernet franc and 0.5% malbec.

AG 92-94... The 2021 Quintus is the most elegant wine I have ever tasted here, by a wide measure. Nearly half of this fruit is from the former Grand Pontet property, and that fruit seems to bring a measure of aromatic intensity and freshness these wines have lacked in some vintages. All the elements are so well balanced. Bright saline notes linger on the finish. This is impressive for the year.

 

Ausone 2021 [WA 97-100 JS 96-97 AG 93-95 JR 17.5]
€595.00

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WA 97-100... A blend of 65% Cabernet Franc and 35% Merlot, the 2021 Ausone is a strong candidate for the title of wine of the vintage. Wafting from the glass with aromas of wild blueberries and raspberries mingled with rose petals, violets, exotic spices, vine smoke and blood orange, it's full-bodied, seamless and sensual, with a satiny attack that segues into a deep, layered mid-palate of breathtaking precision and intensity without weight. Built around bright acids and ultra-refined tannins and concluding with a resonant, perfumed finish, this profound young Ausone represents the essence of this great limestone terroir. I am not in the habit of drinking six-month-old Bordeaux cask samples, but this is one wine that would have sorely tempted me to make an exception to that rule if my appointment at the estate hadn't been one of the first of the day!

JS 96-97... Full-bodied, but so elegant and fresh, with a silky, elegant tannin texture. Very deep and expansive. Lots going on already with plenty of perfume. Blueberries, cloves, lavender and some wild-berry notes. Dark cocoa, too. Some espresso character at the end. Wonderful interplay of spices and fruit. Long. It keeps going.

AG 93-95... The 2021 Ausone could turn out to be one of the wines of the vintage on the Right Bank. It shows terrific balance, with just enough mid-palate sweetness and texture to fill out the layers. To be sure the 2021 is an understated Ausone, but all the elements are so nicely balanced. Red/purplish berry fruit, pomegranate, spice and mocha are pushed forward. The blend is 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot, with the Merlot more in evidence today while the Franc is felt mostly in the wine's finish. Rose petal, cinnamon and blood orange add an exotic flourish.

JR 17.5... Deep crimson hue. Fragrant and floral on both nose and palate. More aromatic than usual at this stage. Density and freshness through the mid palate, the fruit juicy, the tannins plentiful but very fine. Plenty of elegance and charm but there is power as well.

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Angelus 2021 [WA 94-96+ AG 94-96 JR 17+]
€308.00

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WA 94-96+...A brilliant wine that signposts this estate's evolution under Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal, the 2021 Angélus is a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot, with fully half of the old-vine Cabernet Franc maturing in foudres rather than 225-liter barriques. The result is a wine of unprecedented purity and finesse, unwinding in the glass with compelling aromas of plums, raspberries, rose petals, vine smoke, blood orange and warm spices, followed by a medium to full-bodied, deep and layered palate with a rich and fleshy core that entirely conceals its structuring chassis of ultra-refined tannins. Bright and sapid, it's striking for its integration and elegance at this early stage, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it upstage a number of more touted vintages once it's in bottle.

AG 94-96...For the first time ever, Angélus is 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot in 2021. There's terrific density and power, especially within the context of the year. Black cherry, chocolate, spice, menthol and lavender all build nicely in the glass. The 2021 has quite a bit of richness, and its 14% alcohol, a bit lower than the recent norm, works quite well in this vintage. All it needs is a bit of time to help soften some of the raw contours that are present today.

JR 17+...Dark, bright hue. Discreet floral aromas. Big tannic frame with a chunk of polished tannins. Long and digeste but very embryonic, the oak still apparent. Hopefully the fruit will continue to match the structure.

 

Le Carillon de l'Angelus 2021 [WA 90-92+ JR 16+]
€91.00

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WA 90-92+...Now benefiting from its own dedicated winery, the 2021 Le Carillon d'Angélus is no longer a "second wine" per se, but rather draws on some 25 hectares of dedicated vineyards, emphasizing Merlot from the cool terroirs of Saint-Christophe-des-Bardes, complemented by holdings in the gravelly Figeac sector and on clay soils near Angélus itself—with anything that doesn't make the cut relegated to the No. 3 d'Angélus. Exhibiting aromas of raspberries, plums, warm spices and nicely integrated new oak, it's medium to full-bodied, supple and polished, with lively acids, refined tannins and a long, penetrating finish.

JR 16+...Pure and fleshy with a tension running through the wine. Going through its prise de bois so rather hard and dry on the finish. Awkward but fresh and long. Should improve with élevage.

 

Pavie 2021 [JS 95-96 AG 95-97]
€273.00

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JS 95-96…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.

AG 95-97… 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.

 

Pavie Decesse 2021 [JS 92-93 AG 91-94]
€97.00

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JS 92-93… A tight and focused red with blackberry, black-olive and white-pepper character. It’s medium-to full-bodied with a racy structure and fine yet slightly chewy tannins. Energetic.

AG 91-94… The 2021 Bellevue Mondotte is sensual, creamy and enveloping. There is a real sense of breath and textural volume here, a reflection of the clay in these soils. Dark red cherry, plum, mocha, spice, new leather and menthol lend resonance to this super-expressive Saint-Émilion from the Perse family. In 2021, Bellevue Mondotte is 100% Merlot, with no Cabernet Franc. Flowering was uneventful and yields were 26 hectoliters per hectare, all two hectares of it.

 

Aromes De Pavie 2021 [JS 91-92 AG 91-93]
€70.00

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JS 91-92… Firm, broad tannins here, with a plush and creamy texture. Full body. Ripe and deep core of dark-blue and black fruit with oyster-shell and iodine character, too. Attractive fruit. 50% merlot and 50% cabernet franc.

AG 91-93… The 2021 Arômes de Pavie is gorgeous, and also quite harmonious for a young barrel sample. A burst of floral aromatics makes a strong opening impression. Crushed rose petal, red berry fruit, mint, blood orange and spice all race across the palate. The Arômes is everything a second wine should be. It's such a classy wine.

 

Monbousquet 2021 [JS 91-92 AG 90-92]
€41.00

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JS 91-92… A good amount of blackberry and black olive with a medium body, firm tannins and a fresh finish. Balanced and rather delicate.

AG 90-92… The 2021 Monbousquet offers lovely fruit density in the mid-weight, slightly nervy style of the year. There's terrific energy and vibrancy running through the 2021. Rose petal, lavender, spice and mint perk up the finish. The 2021 is delicate, nuanced and super-classy.

 

Bellevue Mondotte 2021 [JS 95-96 AG 93-95]
€105.00

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JS 95-96… An intense, full-bodied red with lots of fruit and dark chocolate. Round and juicy tannins. Flavorful finish. Very rich. Salt and minerals. Pure merlot.

AG 93-95… The 2021 Bellevue Mondotte is sensual, creamy and enveloping. There is a real sense of breath and textural volume here, a reflection of the clay in these soils. Dark red cherry, plum, mocha, spice, new leather and menthol lend resonance to this super-expressive Saint-Émilion from the Perse family. In 2021, Bellevue Mondotte is 100% Merlot, with no Cabernet Franc. Flowering was uneventful and yields were 26 hectoliters per hectare, all two hectares of it.

 

Figeac 2021 [WA 94-97 JS 94-95 NM 95-97 JR 17++]
€189.00

 

WA 94-97... One of the highlights of the vintage on the Right Bank, the 2021 Figeac is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Cabernet Franc and 29% Merlot, and the fruit of a harvest that lasted a full month, from September 21 to October 19, with each parcel picked at optimal maturity. Offering up aromas of blackberries, cassis, rose petals, violets, cigar wrapper and sweet soil tones, it's medium to full-bodied, supple and seamless, its velvety attack segueing into a deep, layered core of beautifully vibrant fruit, concluding with a long, saline finish. The first vintage vinified in Figeac's new winery, it's a resounding success for administrator Frédéric Faye and his team.

JS 94-95... A red with lots of dark-fruit, graphite and tar aromas and flavors. It’s medium-bodied and very integrated with firm, polished tannins and a long finish. Racy and compact. Silky texture.

NM 95-97... The 2021 Figeac was picked from September 21 until October 19 and matured, as usual, in 100% new oak. It has a very pure, elegant bouquet, the Cabernet Sauvignon imparting subtle pencil lead notes, blackberry and briar, almost understated at first but gaining vigor with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins, a fine bead of acidity and just the right amount of sapidity. There is unerring symmetry about this Figeac, which is extremely focused yet unconcerned about showing off. There is lovely piquancy on the finish. Unequivocally one the finest Right Bank wines in 2021. Frédéric Faye continues to guide Figeac to the pinnacle of the appellation. (13.0% alcohol)

JR 17++... Berry fruit with just a hint of oak. Sappy with plenty of freshness and drive. Velvety attack then a firm tannic structure all the way through. Just a hint of grainy tannin on the finish. Long. Typically Figeac in style.

 

Troplong Mondot 2021 [WA 93-96 JS 95-96 AG 95-97 JR 17]
€84.00

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WA 93-96... The 2021 Troplong Mondot shows considerable promise, exhibiting aromas of plums and wild berries mingled with notions of sweet spices, rose petals, vine smoke and raw cocoa, followed by a medium to full-bodied, seamless palate endowed with impressive intensity and texture. Built around beautifully refined, powdery tannins and lively acids, it concludes with a long, mouthwateringly saline finish. Macerations here were long but gentle, including a long cold soak before fermentation, and the blend, after much deliberation, is 85% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc. Tasted four times.

JS 95-96... Lovely density here with a solid center-palate of fruit and fine tannins. Medium body. Underlying salinity and oyster-shell character in the finish. Well defined. Grows at the end.

AG 95-97... The 2021 Troplong Mondot is shockingly raw and untamed, but in the very best sense of those terms. A wine of energy and pure power, the 2021 is going to need a number of years to be at its best, but it is certainly very impressive in the early going. The 2021 clocks in at 13.5%, which has not been seen here since the 1990s. The 2021 is not an easy wine to taste at this stage, as it is not fully formed. I won't be surprised if the 2021 turns out even better than this note suggests. It is a dazzling wine by any measure, and a far cry from the wines of decade ago, when the malolactic fermentations were often not finished when en primeur samples were presented! Superb.

JR 17... Deep colour. Floral notes with an attractive density of fruit. Finely structured, velvety tannins providing the framework. Minty freshness as well, the finish chalky. Balanced with all the components in place.

 

Canon 2021 [WA 94-96 JS 96-97 AG 95-97 JR 17]
€105.00

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WA 94-96... A brilliant wine in the making, the 2021 Canon offers up aromas of cherries, wild berries, licorice, sweet soil tones, raw cocoa, Indian spices and rose petals. Medium to full-bodied, layered and multidimensional, it's immensely refined and seamless, with a lively spine of acidity, ripe tannins and a long, penetrating, intensely saline finish. This beautifully balanced Canon is one of the classiest, most complete wines of the Right Bank in this vintage. Tasted four times.

JS 96-97... A wine full of finesse and class with fantastic length and polish. Medium to full body with ultra-fine tannins that run endlessly down the length of the wine. Blackberry, graphite and spice. Agile and weightless.

AG 95-97... Dramatic, rich and imposing, the 2021 Canon is shaping up to be one of the wines of the vintage. Sculpted red purplish fruit, rose petal, lavender, sage and crushed rocks all race out of the glass. A heady, vertical wine, Canon is endowed with tremendous concentration and class. The aromatics alone are beguiling, but it is the wine's balance that impresses most. Tasted three times. This is such an elegant and regal wine.

JR 17... Reserved at present. Floral notes as the wine opens. Texturally very elegant, the tannins extremely polished and fine. Compact, concise. Less wow this year but clean and refreshing and enough fruit for ageing.

 

Clos Fourtet 2021 [WA 93-95 AG 94-96 JR 16.5]
€91.00

 

WA 93-95... A bend of 90% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc, the 2021 Clos Fourtet offers up inviting aromas of wild berries and plums mingled with hints of black truffle, violets, potpourri and dark chocolate. Medium to full-bodied, supple and enveloping, it's lively and layered, with beautifully refined tannins, bright acids and a long, sapid finish. Harvest lasted until October 15, which shows in unusual depth and plenitude for the vintage. Tasted three times.

AG 94-96... The 2021 Clos Fourtet is very clearly one of the wines of the vintage on the Right Bank. Towering in its stature, the 2021 is a regal wine endowed with tremendous energy and vibrancy. This classically austere Saint-Émilion oozes class from the very first taste. Blue/purplish fruit, spice, lavender and menthol are some of the aromas and flavors that build into the resonant, deeply pitched finish. What a wine.

JR 16.5... Quite a bit of charm aromatically. Floral notes – iris and dried rose. Fleshy but polished, the tannins very fine. Freshness and grip on the finish so some persistence. Elegance over power.

 

 

Pomerol

L'Evangile 2021 [WA 93-95 JS 96-97 NM 94-96 JR 17]
€216.00

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WA 93-95... A blend of 69% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2021 L'Evangile offers up aromas of plums, cherries and wild berries mingled with notions of rose petals, violets, licorice and tobacco leaf. Medium to full-bodied, ample and velvety, with fine concentration and rich, powdery structuring tannins that assert themselves on the finish, this estate's rather low average vine age meant Evangile didn't suffer much from coulure this year, and the rainy growing season also spared young Cabernet Franc from hydric stress—explaining its historically high percentage in the 2021 blend.

JS 96-97... A pure, creamy and well-structured yet very fine Evangile. Long and caressing. Very fine tannins. Lots of fresh dark fruit and savory, mineral character. Understated and classy. 69% merlot, 30% cabernet franc and 1% cabernet sauvignon.

NM 94-96... The 2021 L'Évangile was picked September 21 to October 4, and matured in 50% new oak and 15% in clay amphora. It registers 14.0% alcohol and a pH of 3.65. This is very different and, unsurprisingly, far superior on the nose of black cherries, black truffle, crushed stone and a touch of orange peel; very focused and very Pomerol. The palate is medium-bodied, cohesive and elegant with supple tannins and fine acidity, yet there is real depth and a sense of nascent energy toward the finish. The young Cabernet Franc on gravel soils from the Chantecaille lieu-dit absolutely defines this 2021. A great success for this reenergized estate.

JR 17... The move towards more elegance and finesse confirmed. Floral violet notes. Crunchy fruit and tannins that provide length and persistence. Lovely texture with freshness as well. Harmonious.

 

Gazin 2021 [WA 91-93+ JS 92-93 NM 90-92 ]
€64.40

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WA 91-93+... The 2021 Gazin is a fine effort, unfurling in the glass with aromas of sweet red berries, cherries, plums, incense and raw cocoa. Medium to full-bodied, layered and concentrated, it's rather rich and elegantly muscular in the context of the vintage, with a deep core of fruit, powdery tannins and bright acids. Mildew pressure combined with wet conditions that made it impossible to enter the vineyard with tractors delivered low yields of only 18 hectoliters per hectare, and the grand vin is entirely Merlot this year.

JS 92-93... Firm, grainy tannins accompany the core of black fruit and bark. Medium-bodied. Stone character. Mineral, with tangy acidity.

NM 90-92... The 2021 Gazin has a harmonious, defined bouquet of red and black fruit laced with black truffle and well-integrated oak. The palate is medium-bodied with slightly tough tannins on the entry. A much more linear Gazin compared to recent vintages, leading to a sapid finish. It pulls up a bit short now, but it should fill out during élevage.

 

La Conseillante 2021 [WA 95-96 JS 94-95 AG 95-97]
€182.00

 

WA 95-96... A superb effort that transcends the challenges of the vintage, the 2021 La Conseillante offers up a beautifully perfumed nose of wild berries, raspberry coulis, violets, exotic spices and vine smoke. Medium to full-bodied, supple and enveloping, it's a sensual, seamless wine that's deep and layered, structured around supple tannins and lively acids. Perfumed and penetrating, the 2021 isn't the most powerful wine this estate has produced, but it brilliantly exemplifies the rare structural elegance and almost Burgundian aromatic range that so often set this great estate apart from the rest of the Pomerol appellation. It's a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc.

JS 94-95... Lovely, balanced and linear with seamless, fine tannins that are soft and creamy. Medium-bodied. Very attractive berry, light walnut and violet character. Long finish.

AG 95-97... The 2021 is a super-classic La Conseillante the likes of which has not been made here in a very long time. A Pomerol of vibrancy and tension, the 2021 bristles with energy from start to finish. All the elements are so well-balanced. Aromatic and delineated, with terrific drive, the 2021 is so impressive in the early going. Dried herbs, licorice, mocha, cassis and blackberry open beautifully. The 70% new oak is already nicely integrated. To be sure, the 2021 is nervy and taut, as most wines are in this vintage. But it's all there.

 

L'Eglise Clinet 2021 [WA 93-96 JS 97-98 AG 94-96 JR 17.5]
€245.00

 

WA 93-96... A deep, serious wine, the 2021 L'Eglise Clinet unwinds in the glass with notions of wild berries and plums mingled with dark chocolate, sweet loamy soil, warm spices, violets and black truffle. Full-bodied, concentrated and muscular, it's rich and layered, with a concentrated core of fruit, lively acids and plenty of ripe, powdery tannin that nods to its origins in a sector of Pomerol capable of producing some of the appellation's most structured, long-lived wines. It's a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc.

JS 97-98... Medium-bodied with very fine-textured tannins. Delicious sweet and salty and mineral character. Blackberries, violets, cloves and dark olives. Peaches, too. All focused, fresh and in balance. Long, seamless finish. 85% merlot and 15% cabernet franc.

AG 94-96... The 2021 L'Eglise-Clinet is a spherical, sensual Pomerol of uncommon depth and intensity. Racy and voluptuous, with terrific depth, the 2021 is striking. Crème de cassis, chocolate, new leather, spice, menthol and licorice all build as the 2021 opens in the glass. The combination of power and finesse is remarkable. I especially admire the energy and focus in the 2021. This is the first vintage that includes a parcel of Cabernet Franc that was previously used for the Petite Eglise.

JR 17.5... Busy and complex with dark fruit, camphor and spice notes. Juicy fruit and a real concentration of velvety tannin. Honed and long with plenty of freshness. Well constructed from beginning to end.

 

Clinet 2021 [WA 93-95 JS 93-94 AG 92-94 JR 16.5+]
€77.00

 

WA 93-95... At 75% Merlot and fully 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2021 Clinet contains the highest proportion of Cabernet in the blend (excepting the 2003) since at least the 1980s. Ronan Laborde harvested late, picking into mid-October, to craft a medium to full-bodied, deep and impressively seamless wine evocative of dark berries, baking chocolate, violets and spices. Concentrated and nicely integrated, it is one of the vintage's notable successes.

JS 93-94... Firm, lightly chewy yet creamy tannins. Savory bark and herb notes. Cloves and licorice, too. Medium body with a polished, lengthy and firm finish. Compact.

AG 92-94... The 2021 Clinet is gorgeous. Soaring Cabernet Sauvignon aromatics lend presence to a deep, beautifully layered Pomerol that gets better and better with time in the glass. I especially admire the vibrancy here. At 25%, the Cabernet Sauvignon is high for Clinet, but it's an approach that works quite well in 2021. This is a fine vintage for Clinet.

JR 16.5+... Crimson-purple hue. Dark and spicy on the nose and palate. Round and gourmand but fresh as well. Firm tannic frame, the tannins present but ripe adding power and length on the finish. There’s potential here.

 

La Fleur-Petrus 2021 [WA 91-94 JS 95-96 AG 93-95 JR 17+]
€184.80

 

WA 91-94... The 2021 La Fleur-Pétrus is performing nicely, exhibiting aromas of plums, cherries, sweet soil tones, loamy soil and licorice, followed by a medium to full-bodied, ample and seamless palate that's lively and charming. Classically proportioned and nicely balanced, if it takes on additional depth with élevage, I'd expect it to land at the upper end of my bracketed score.

JS 95-96... Very polished with fine tannins that finish intensely. It’s a medium-to full-bodied red with focus. Blackberry and blackcurrant flavors. Hints of tobacco and nutmeg, too.

AG 93-95... The 2021 La Fleur-Pétrus is a regal, elegant wine. Rich and sumptuous, yet classically medium in body, the 2021 is impeccably balanced from start to finish. A rush of red/purplish fruit, rose petal, mint, blood orange and cinnamon build into the exquisite, layered finish. The 2021 reinforces my view that La Fleur-Pétrus is the wine to focus on in the Moueix range. Hosanna and, especially Trotanoy, are more famous, to be sure, but in 2021 those wines are heavily shaped by the growing conditions of the year, while La Fleur-Pétrus is simply La Fleur-Pétrus. Classic Pomerol as far as I am concerned.

JR 17+... The winner in the J-P Moueix stable this year, in my book. Elegant but restrained with just that bit more density on the mid palate than the other wines. Fine texture and tannins with drive on the finish. Elegance and balance combined.

 

Trotanoy 2021 [WA 93-95 JS 96-97 NM 94-96 JR 16.5]
€207.20

 

WA 93-95... The most muscular, structured wine in the Mouiex portfolio is the 2021 Trotanoy, a medium to full-bodied, ample and layered Pomerol evocative of cherries, licorice, loamy soil, black truffles and spices. Impressively concentrated and tightly wound, it will reward bottle age.

JS 96-97... A very fine-tannined red with ultra-fine, polished and velvety tannins that run the length of the wine. Medium-bodied. Very classy.

NM 94-96... The 2021 Trotanoy was picked September 27 to October 4. This has one of the most marine-influenced aromatic profiles among the Pomerol wines tasted, very well defined and even uncompromising in some ways, revealing touches of iris flower and sea cave. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins. A typical Trotanoy structure: maybe aloof in some ways, yet compelling at the same time. Sappy on the persistent finish. This should turn into a very cerebral Pomerol that will appeal to those who adore this estate. Not for the first time, this is JP Moueix's star this year.

JR 16.5... Not the most powerful or dense Trotanoy but neat and concise. More open than usual at this stage with red-berry and blood-orange notes. Juicy and almost accessible, the tannins so fine they are practically invisible. But there is an undertow of structure that provides grip and persistence.

 

 

Pessac Leognan

Domaine de Chevalier Rouge 2021 [WA 93-95 JS 95-96 AG 94-96 JR 17]
€54.60

 

WA 93-95... The 2021 Domaine de Chevalier is full of promise, bursting with aromas of dark berries and plums mingled with loamy soil, bay leaf, licorice, potpourri and spices. Medium to full-bodied, seamless and complete, its velvety attack segues into a lively, layered core, concluding with a long, nicely defined finish. Olivier Bernard doesn't think that this will surpass his 2018, but I tend to disagree. The 2021 is a blend of fully 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

JS 95-96... A medium-bodied DC with a pretty core of ripe fruit that shows licorice, blackberry and some currant character. Spice box, too. Very long, with fine tannins and plenty of energy. 80% cabernet sauvignon, 10% merlot, 5% petit verdot and 5% cabernet franc.

AG 94-96... The 2021 Domaine de Chevalier was terrific both times I tasted it. Potent and driving, the 2021 dazzles with Cabernet Sauvignon intensity in its aromas, flavors and overall structure. Graphite, spice, menthol, spice, rose petals, mocha and flowers run through a core of red/purplish fruit. The Blanc gets most of the attention at Domaine de Chevalier, but these days I find the red more complete and more interesting.

JR 17... Deep purplish crimson. Savoury nose with something more complex than just fruit. Good density and depth though still a little oak evidence (hardly surprisingly). Tingly finish. Polished tannins. Really quite fine and not lacking anything. Bone dry and on the refreshing side but it really doesn’t taste like a wine from a less-than-successful vintage. Good weight and balance in the mouth. Refreshing but not austere.

 

Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 2021 [WA 94-96 JS 98-99 AG 95-97 JR 17+]
€84.00

 

WA 94-96... The 2021 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc is shaping up brilliantly, bursting with aromas of citrus oil, gooseberries, crisp stone fruit, white flowers and pastry cream. Medium to full-bodied, satiny and layered, it's a concentrated, textural wine that displays terrific cut and tension, allying racy acidity with chalky, structuring dry extract.

JS 98-99... This is always an impressive white, with a lengthy, layered and compact palate. Lots of dried lemon, clove, fennel, green-apple and cedar. Flint and toast, too. Medium to full body. INcredible long. 70% sauvignon blanc and 30% semillon.

AG 95-97... The 2021 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc dazzles from start to finish. Bright, sculpted and sizzling with saline-infused vibrancy, the Blanc offers a beguiling mix of citrus, floral and mineral notes, delivering tremendous flavor intensity with no excess weight at all. There is a feeling of airiness and precision here that is simply mind-blowing. Readers will find a Blanc of tremendous pedigree that evokes the great vintages at this property. There was some variation in samples, but barrel samples are especially finicky at this stage, especially whites. This is a tremendous showing.

JR 17+... Restrained, as it always is, on the nose. Though on the palate there’s a certain blossomy opulence. And impressive persistence. Based on how this wine tastes and the track record of the château, this should be a real long-distance runner… Minerals and citrus and a light lanolin character with great undertow and interest. But still pretty youthful and unformed.

,

Haut Brion 2021 [WA 96-98 JS 97-98 AG 96-98 JR 18]
€490.00

 

WA 96-98... A candidate for the title of wine of the vintage, the 2021 Haut-Brion unwinds in the glass with aromas of rich red and black fruit mingled with notions of cigar wrapper, licorice, black truffles, loamy soil and burning embers. Full-bodied, deep and concentrated, it's elegant and multidimensional, with superb depth at the core, lively acids and ultra-refined tannins. Combining the classical proportions of the vintages of two decades ago with the viticultural and winemaking of today, it's a timeless classic in the making, but it's difficult to find an obvious analogy with an older vintage. When pressed, Jean-Philippe Delmas suggests a superior version of the 2014 vintage, and to me, a more concentrated, serious version of the 2012 vintage also comes to mind. What is clear, however, is that this is one of the real high points of 2021. The blend is 50% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Cabernet Franc, and it attained 13.8% alcohol—a percentage point or so lower than in 2020 or 2019.

JS 97-98... A very structured young Haut-Brion with blackberry, blackcurrant, black-olive and mushroom character. Medium to full-bodied with a driving balance of firm and ripe tannins and gorgeous fruit. 50.3% merlot, 38% cabernet sauvignon and 11.7% cabernet franc.

AG 96-98... Technical Director Olivier Pouthier crafted one of the wines of the vintage at Les Carmes Haut-Brion. The 2021 possesses mind-blowing intensity and stunning persistence. Bright red-fleshed fruit, blood orange, mint, dried flowers and exotic spice caress the senses as the 2021 shows off its sheer allure. I don't think I have ever tasted a young Carmes with this level of precision. The blend is 40% Cabernet Franc, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot, aged in 70% new oak, 20% new foudres and 10% in amphora. As always, Les Carmes sees some whole cluster, 45% in 2021, an unusual technique in Bordeaux, but one that works so well here. The 2021 is a magical wine. That's all there is to it.

JR 18... Bright crimson-purple. Fragrant berry-fruit notes as the wine opens. Smooth and refined on attack, the mid palate full and generous swathing powerful but integrated tannins. Impressive length and drive. Quite a powerhouse for such a complicated year. Huge potential.

 

Le Clarence de Haut-Brion 2021 [WA 91-93 JS 94-95 AG 90-92 JR 16+]
€125.00

 

WA 91-93... One of the finest second wines in this vintage is the 2021 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion, a medium to full-bodied, deep and layered wine evocative of dark berries, plums, pipe tobacco and burning embers. Built around powdery tannins and lively acids, it's an elegant, seamless cuvée that does bear more than a passing resemblance to the grand vin.

JS 94-95... Lots of iodine and oyster-shell aromas, together with blackberry and black cherry, following through to a medium to full body. Polished yet slightly chewy tannins and a fresh finish. Grilled orange. 70.4% merlot, 18.2% cabernet sauvignon and 11.4% cabernet franc.

AG 90-92... The 2021 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion is deep, fleshy and super-expressive. Like all of the wines in this vintage here, the Clarence is on the lighter side, but that is not a bad thing. Primary dark fruit, leather, spice and tobacco fill out the layers nicely.

JR 16+... Fragrant red-fruit notes. Broad and smooth on attack with finely integrated tannins. Palate a bit more subdued but fresh with firmness on the finish. Room for development.

 

Haut Brion Blanc 2021 [WA 94-96+ JS 98-99 AG 96-98 JR 17.5]
€700.00

 

WA 94-96... The 2021 Haut-Brion Blanc also shows considerable promise, offering up aromas of pink grapefruit, nectarine and crisp orchard fruits mingled with notions of freshly baked bread, pastry cream and beeswax. Full-bodied, fleshy and enveloping, it's satiny and seamless, with a broader-shoulders, more muscular profile than La Mission's white but similarly vibrant acids. At this early stage, this would appear to be one of the two or three finest Haut-Brion whites of the last 20 years.

JS 98-99... A complex, thought-provoking white. Vibrant and exciting with green herbs, stones and hints of aniseed and wet sea weed. Sea salt, too. It’s full-bodied and tight on the palate and rather shy. But then it takes off at the end and accelerates. Phenolic, with fine tannins. Iron. Oyster shell. 57% semillon and 43% sauvignon.

AG 96-98... A wine of tremendous stature and breed, the 2021 Haut-Brion Blanc possesses tremendous vertical energy allied to a feeling of structure that could easily be confused with that of a red wine. Lemon confit, marzipan, dried flowers and mint develop as the 2021 shows off its creaminess and breadth. The 2021 is an absolutely stunning wine by any measure.

JR 17.5... More opulent and aromatic than La Mission with a smoky, citrus-grapefruit edge. Aromatically more Sauvignon-led despite the dominance of Sémillon in the blend. Full and plush on the palate but still fresh and very, very long.

 

Pape Clement Rouge 2021 [WA 91-94 JS 95-96 AG 92-94]
€71.40

 

WA 91-94... The 2021 Pape Clément exhibits notions of sweet berries and cherries mingled with rich aromas of espresso roast, black truffles, toasty new oak and loamy soil. Medium to full-bodied, deep and quite extracted in style, it's a rich, fleshy wine that gained in integration and harmony over the the three weeks I spent in Bordeaux. Tasted three times.

JS 95-96... Pape made a very finely crafted and elegant wine this vintage, with plenty of berry, spice and earth character. Hazelnuts, too. Medium-bodied, savory and lightly spicy on the finish. Creamy tannins. Really fine, with lovely length.

AG 92-94... The 2021 Pape Clément is a tightly wound, reticent wine. A core of bright red-toned fruit lies behind a wall of tannin and acids that is pretty impenetrable at this stage. I imagine the 2021 will come around at some point, but it is pretty austere in the early going. Tasted four times.

 

Pape Clement Blanc 2021 [WA 93-94 JS 96-97 AG 92-95 JR 17]
€112.00

 

WA 93-94... The 2021 Pape Clément Blanc shows the tension and cut that this vintage could bring to dry white Bordeaux. Exhibiting aromas of gooseberries, nectarine, confit citrus and pastry cream, it's medium to full-bodied, fleshy but incisive, with a textural attack and a bright, saline finish. It's a blend of 72% Sauvignon Blanc, only 22% Sémillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris and 1% Muscadelle.

JS 96-97... Serious and refined with dried lemon, pineapple, green apple, almond, gun flint and some aniseed. Bright and tight. Medium to full body. Fresh and alluring. Wait and see.

AG 92-95... The 2021 Pape Clément Blanc offers lovely creaminess and richness, but in the more restrained, mid-weight style that has characterized these wines of late. Ripe pear, tangerine oil, passionfruit, mint and jasmine open with a bit of time in the glass. The 2021 is promising. Tasted three times.

JR 17... Bottle not so ridiculously heavy as the red. Grapefruit-peel sensation on the nose. Mouth-filling, fully ripe fruit. Long. Very much more of a success than the 2021 red from this estate. Sleek and lively. With an appetisingly dry finish.

 

Smith Haut Lafitte 2021 [WA 93-95 JS 96-97 AG 95-97 JR 16.5+]
€106.40

 

WA 93-95... A brilliant wine, the 2021 Smith Haut Lafitte offers up aromas of blackberries, violets, coniferous forest floor and dark chocolate. Medium to full-bodied, velvety and seamless, it's deep and impressively multidimensional, with good concentration, beautifully refined tannins and notable purity of fruit, concluding with a long, penetrating finish. The fruit of a severe selection, this blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot is testament to the Cathiard family's unwavering commitment to quality.

JS 96-97... Lots of clove, black-licorice and cigar-box character. Already perfumed. Medium body with fine, chalky and precise tannins. Lead-pencil shavings. Well framed and structured with a fresh, lengthy and spicy finish. Extremely long and intense. 63% cabernet sauvignon, 33% merlot, 3% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot. From organically grown grapes.

AG 95-97... The 2021 Smith Haut Lafitte is fabulous. Rich and explosive in the glass, the 2021 possesses tremendous intensity, much of that the result of low yields of just 20-22 hectoliters per hectare, about half of what is typical here. The tannins are a bit firm today, but there appears to be more than enough fruit behind all of that structure. Vivid aromatics further suggest all the 2021 needs is time. I can't wait to see how it ages.

JR 16.5+... Dark crimson. Some ripe red fruit on the nose. Polished tannins and there is energy here. This sample seems to have a more convincing core than yesterday’s sample tasted at the château. Good level of interest and detail here. Even if the level of acidity is higher than usual and the tannins obviously took some taming. Sweeter than some.

 

Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2021 [WA 94-96 JS 98-99 AG 96-98 JR 17++]
€123.20

 

WA 91-93... At this early stage, the 2021 Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc appears set to number among the best white wines this estate has produced to date. Wafting from the glass with aromas of crisp orchard fruit, nectarine, grapefruit, pastry cream and smoke, it's medium to full-bodied, fleshy and layered, with a concentrated core of fruit, racy acids and a taut, chiseled profile, concluding with a saline finish. Balancing texture and tension to compelling effect, this beautifully integrated, characterful white is going to be thrilling to revisit in bottle.

JS 98-99... This has so much depth and power, with complex notes of flint, oyster shell, white pepper, dried mango, lemon, papaya, apricot stone and chalk. Medium-to full-bodied. Bright, yet creamy. It’s so long and concentrated. Wait and see. 90% sauvignon blanc, 5% semillon, 5% sauvignon gris. From organically grown grapes.

AG 96-98... The 2021 Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc is one of the great white wines of the vintage. Soaring in its aromatic intensity and sheer volume, the 2021 saturates every corner of the palate with its unctuousness and richness. Even with all of that volume, the 2021 remains bright and sculpted. Crushed rocks, lemon confit, orchard fruit, white pepper and mint build into the memorable finish. The 2021 is positively stunning, that's pretty much all there is to it.

JR 17++... Reductive and a little green on the nose – less opulent than more-mature vintages on the nose but then it’s very broad and mouth-filling with some lanolin notes. Quite complex, combining many different elements. Still unformed.

 

Haut Bailly 2021 [WA 94-95+ JS 95-96 AG 94-96 JR 16.5+]
€112.00

 

WA 94-95+... A classic in the making, the 2021 Haut-Bailly wafts from the glass with aromas of dark berries and wild plums mingled with sweet spices, loamy soil, raw cocoa and violets. Medium to full-bodied, seamless and concentrated, with bright acids, ultra-refined tannins and a long, penetrating finish, it's a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, only 22% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. With yields of a mere 19 hectoliters per hectare, it's impressively intensely flavored despite its quintessentially elegant, classically proportioned profile. In many respects, it may represent the Cabernet-driven modern-day alter ego of the superb Merlot-dominant 1998 Haut-Bailly.

JS 95-96... Lots of graphite and crushed-stone character with redcurrants and pine needles. Medium body with silky and layered tannins. Pretty balance and elegance. 65% cabernet sauvignon, 22% merlot, 10% petit verdot and 3% cabernet franc.

AG 94-96... The 2021 Haut-Bailly is a dark, rather somber wine. The aromatics alone are captivating, but there are strong savory inflections from the high percentage of Petit Verdot in this year's blend. This deceptively mid-weight Haut-Bailly has plenty to offer. Spice, leather, tobacco and incense linger. The final blend also includes 10% press wine.

JR 16.5+... Elegant and flowing with mineral, dark fruit and smoky notes. Plenty of freshness, the fruit juicy and gourmand. Grainy tannins and a saline finish. Less grand scale than recent years but harmony and balance prevail.

 

La Mission Haut Brion 2021 [WA 94-96 JS 94-95 AG 92-94 JR 17.5]
€260.00

 

WA 94-96... Unwinding in the glass with aromas of dark berries and plums mingled with loamy soil, sweet spices, cigar box and licorice, the 2021 La Mission Haut-Brion is full-bodied, lively and seamless, with a deep, concentrated core of fruit framed by bright acids and supple, powdery tannins. This charming, sensual rendition of La Mission is a blend of 48% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Cabernet Franc, attaining 13.4% alcohol.

JS 94-95... Lots of sea-salt, iodine and purple-fruit aromas and flavors to this. Turns to bark and forest floor. Powerful. Full-bodied and muscular. 47.9% merlot, 45.8% cabernet sauvignon and 6.3% cabernet franc.

AG 92-94... The 2021 La Mission Haut-Brion offers lovely aromatic presence and fine balance, albeit in the smaller-scaled style of the year. Dried herbs, mint, sweet red cherry, incense and blood orange all run through the 2021. This is a decidedly understated edition of La Mission. It will be interesting to see if elevage adds body.

JR 17.5... A mix of refined power and elegance. Deep crimson hue. Fragrant dark fruit and cassis notes as the wine opens. Texturally very fine with plentiful tannins that are coated and smooth. Lovely freshness accompanied by persistence and drive. Great balance. Plenty of potential.

 

La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion 2021 [WA 90-92 JS 93-94 AG 89-91 JR 16+]
€65.00

 

WA 90-92... Aromas of dark berries, rich spices, loamy soil and new oak introduce the 2021 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion, a medium to full-bodied, fleshy and charming wine with an enveloping core of fruit, lively acids and powdery tannins that gently assert themselves on the finish. While it can't match the polish and elegant of La Clarence de Haut-Brion this year, it's a fine second wine.

JS 93-94... Nicely firm and structured with a tight core of blackberry, stone and bark with some graphite. Grainy, firm tannins. Fresh and focused finish. 51.3% merlot, 45.2% cabernet sauvignon and 3.5% cabernet franc.

Ag 89-91... The 2021 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion is quite elegant and delicate in this vintage. Floral accents perk up a core of bright, red-fleshed fruit. the 2021 is nicely delineated, I just wish there was a bit more depth. Ultimately the 2021 feels a bit light.

JR 16+... Lively, juicy and at this stage a little more open than Le Clarence. Acidity evident but not obtrusive. Delicate fruit weight but plenty of energy and drive, the tannins fine and integrated. Balanced. Could improve further if it fills out in the bottle.