Despite the challenges brought throughout the growing season of the 2021 vintage, Bordeaux’s dry whites shone in terms of quality. To guide those still considering their 2021 Bordeaux en primeur purchases, Wine Lister presents some of the best choices in Bordeaux whites from the vintage, at five different price points. (All prices are quoted in-bond per bottle when purchasing by the case).
Under £25 – Olivier Blanc
The 2021 vintage from Château Oliver’s white was described by Jancis Robinson as “Racy and lively” with a “good balance of interesting fruit and zest”. Ella Lister (for Le Figaro) gave Olivier 2021 a score of 92-93, praising its balance and describing it as an “ethereal and harmonious blend of Sauvignon and Sémillon”. Olivier 2021 can be purchased from Millésima for £22.70.
Under £40 – Malartic-Lagravière Blanc
Awarding 90-92 points, Antonio Galloni (Vinous) describes the latest vintage of Malartic-Lagravière as “Bright and sculpted”, with “plenty to offer”. Jancis Robinson deems it “Already attractive” and “Impressively persistent”. Malartic-Lagravière Blanc appears on Wine Lister’s list of value picks in Part II of our 2022 Bordeaux Study, indicating a strong quality-to-price ratio. Elsewhere in the study, Wine Lister found that Malartic-Lagravière is enjoying a robust short-term (six-month) price performance of just under 14% – placing it in the top 15 short-term price performances. Malartic-Lagravière 2021 can be bought from Justerini & Brooks for £39.42.
Under £75 – Domaine de Chevalier Blanc
The 2021 vintage from Domaine de Chevalier has received acclaim from the critics, with Neal Martin (Vinous) awarding its white 95-97 points and declaring it “one of the best Domaine de Chevalier whites that [he has] tasted in 20-plus years”. Jancis Robinson confers a score of 17+ and writes that it “should be a real long-distance runner”. Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 2021 can be bought from Farr Vintners for £72.17.
Under £110 – Cos d’Estournel Blanc
The only wine among the five selected here not to hail from Pessac-Léognan, Cos d’Estournel’s Blanc 2021 receives its joint-highest Wine Lister score in over 15 years. Indeed, Antonio awards it 93-95 points, above last year’s vintage (91-93), and writes that it is “one of the finest vintages I can remember tasting”. He praises its “sheer palate presence”, a sentiment Ella echoes as she describes Cos d’Estournel Blanc 2021 as “delectable, lingering in the mouth”. Cos d’Estournel Blanc 2021 can be purchased from Berry Bros. & Rudd for £105.
Under £650 – Haut-Brion Blanc
One of the most noteworthy releases of the 2021 Bordeaux en primeur campaign is the latest white from Haut-Brion. In such a challenging vintage, Haut-Brion Blanc 2021 seriously impresses as it sees the greatest increase in Quality from 2020 to 2021 – as explored in Part II of Wine Lister’s 2022 Bordeaux Study. The 2021 vintage also achieves the wine’s highest ever potential en primeur score from Vinous as Neal awards it 96-98 points. Haut-Brion Blanc 2021 can be purchased from Cru World Wine for £640.
Bordeaux en primeur 2021 had its share of surprises – and challenges – when it came to pricing. Wine Lister examines some of the best offerings from the 2021 vintage at five different price points, to inform those still considering their en primeur purchases this year. (All prices are quoted in-bond per bottle when purchasing by the case).
Under £15 – Mauvesin Barton
Owned by the Barton family – whose portfolio also includes Léoville Barton and Langoa Barton – the 2021 vintage from the Mauvesin Barton estate has been described as “well-balanced and surfeit with freshness” by Neal Martin (Vinous). To compensate for the extensive frosts of 2021, the vintage’s blend contains more Cabernet than usual. It is the first vintage to be made in Mauvesin Barton’s new winery, which is equipped with smaller vats for greater precision, and it shows. This offering from Moulis-en-Médoc can be purchased for £10.92 per bottle from Justerini & Brooks.
Under £50 – La Gaffelière
One of the star releases of the 2021 en primeur campaign, La Gaffelière is on a continuous upward trajectory. The 2021 vintage received the Saint-Émilion estate’s joint-highest ever Wine Lister score, and a score of 95-97 from Antonio Galloni (Vinous). This is a very strong showing from the estate, which features in Part II of Wine Lister’s 2022 Bordeaux Study as a quality outperformer – meaning that its 2021 vintage has outpaced its average quality. La Gaffelière 2021 can be purchased from Millésima for £48 per bottle.
Under £75 – Rauzan-Ségla
Nicolas Audebert, Managing Director at Rauzan-Ségla and Canon, told the Wine Lister team that 2021 was “the most stressful and exhausting vintage ever”. Strong praise from critics is a testament to the hard work carried out by the estate’s team – including the highest amount of intra-parcel zoning ever done in the vineyard, identifying the best lots. Antonio and Neal rated it 94-97 and 94-96 respectively, while James Lawther (for JancisRobinson.com) describes it as “Very well-judged and very Margaux”. Rauzan-Ségla 2021 can be bought from Farr Vintners for £60 per bottle.
Under £125 – Montrose
Montrose 2021 marks the first year of organic conversion at the estate. In such a challenging vintage, the Saint-Estèphe estate’s Technical Director, Vincent Decup, told Wine Lister, “We have never done so much [in the vineyard]”. It receives a score of 94-96 from Ella Lister (for Le Figaro Vin), who notes its “very long and increasingly delicate finish”. Montrose 2021 can be purchased from Berry Bros. & Rudd for £113.50 per bottle.
Under £400 – Cheval Blanc
Following last year’s en primeur success, Cheval Blanc is once again a standout release in 2021. The estate’s Technical Director, Pierre-Olivier Clouet, remarked to the Wine Lister team that “the 2021 vintage was like cooking at low temperature after six years of cooking on a high heat”, and “given the choice, every Cheval Blanc team member would choose a case of 2021 for their cellars over 2020”. Indeed, the 2021 vintage received even more resoundingly positive reviews from critics than last year. Antonio awards it his joint-top score in 2021 (96-98) and proclaims it “one of the wines of the vintage… Stunning”. The Saint-Émilion star is available from IG Wines for £395 per bottle.
Amongst other findings, Part II of Wine Lister’s annual Bordeaux Study, ‘Walking the tightrope’, explores the outperformers of the latest vintage – the top 15 wines whose Wine Lister Quality score (part of our Pro rating system) in 2021 most exceeded their wine-level average. The wine-level average is calculated based on a mean Quality score over the last five vintages, to reveal more recent trends. Seven of this year’s outperformers were also featured in the 2020 list, indicating that these wines continue to build long-term quality in 2021.
Quality score – outperformers in 2021 (as featured in Part II of our 2022 Bordeaux Study)
Four Margaux wines feature in the 2021 outperformers chart, with Durfort-Vivens this year taking the top spot from Ferrière. Receiving a score of 92-94 from Ella Lister (for Le Figaro Vin), she describes it as “Effervescent with energy and life […] with an impressive density, and a generous future ahead of it.”
New additions to the outperformers chart this year, Marquis d’Alesme and Marquis de Terme rank in 11thand 13th place respectively. As well as appearing in our list of Bordeaux 2021 Value Picks (wines with the best quality-to-price ratios), the latter earns the status as the Bordeaux red with the biggest increase in 2021 Quality score compared to the 2020 vintage (also explored in Part II). Antonio Galloni for Vinous awards Marquis de Terme 2021 its highest ever potential score from the critic platform, 93-95, calling it “inky, vibrant, and super-expressive”.
La Lagune returns to the 2021 chart in fourth place, down from third in last year’s study. James Lawther (JancisRobinson.com) calls the 2021 “pure and precise”. The estate has been certified organic since the 2016 vintage and is currently working towards biodynamic certification.
Pauillac also sees four wines on this year’s outperformers chart, with Grand-Puy-Ducasse, Haut-Bages Libéral, Haut-Batailley, and Pédesclaux showing strong improvements in Quality score in 2021. Awarding a score of 92-94, Antonio Galloni notes that Grand-Puy-Ducasse “has made important strides of late”, given the increased investment under the direction of Anne Le Naour, while Pédesclaux has also seen significant investments from proprietor Jacky Lorenzetti.
Saint-Emilion brings three wines to the 2021 outperformers chart, with Fombrauge entering the outperformers chart in 10th place, and La Dominique overtaking La Lagune to occupy the third spot. La Gaffelière has also increased its standing on the chart, having climbed six places from 11th place last year, and achieving its highest ever Wine Lister Quality score in 2021.
Les Carmes Haut-Brion continues its upward trajectory in 2021, receiving a score of 17++ by James Lawther (the highest score given by the JancisRobinson.com team since the 2015 vintage), and gaining Ella Lister’s top score for the vintage (96-99 points). Larrivet Haut-Brion enters the outperformers chart in ninth place, with the estate deciding not to include any Merlot in their 2021 blend – a first in Bordeaux.
Also appearing on our list of Value Picks for the 2021 vintage, Les Ormes de Pez rounds off the list of outperformers, having received a score of 91-93 from Neal Martin (Vinous), who calls it “A stylish Saint-Estèphe”.
For the full list of Wine Lister’s top 20 Value Picks for Bordeaux, as well as further analyses of the region’s performance on Quality, search data, auction activity, and short-term price performance, download Part II of Wine Lister’s 2022 Bordeaux study here.
Following the conclusion of this year’s Bordeaux en primeur campaign, Wine Lister has published Part II of its annual in-depth Bordeaux Study. The study provides invaluable insights into search activity, Quality scores, short-term price performance, and auction volumes, as well as revealing the best-performing wines in 2021.
Please see some of our key findings below:
You can download the study digest here. The full report can be purchased in French and in English on our Analysis page, while Pro subscribers can access their free copy here. See our previous posts to catch up on some of the key releases from the 2021 en primeur campaign.
The finish line for the 2021 campaign is in sight, with only a few key releases pending. We reflect on how it compares with previous campaigns and highlight the more promising releases of the last few days.
A challenging vintage in 2021 generated what may be characterised as a fraught en primeur campaign. While prices for many releases were slightly higher than perhaps warranted by quality, there are some real gems to be found for those willing to take a closer look. With only a small handful of key releases left to come (Vieux Château Certan, Petrus, Le Pin, and Trotanoy), we take a look at how 2021 compares with previous en primeur campaigns.
Of the 110 en primeur releases to date that Wine Lister has followed in 2021, 2020, and 2019, the average 2021 release price of £97.99 is virtually flat on 2020 (£97.71) and up 17% on 2019 (£83.98). 29 wines released at prices that were up on 2020, 52 flat or all but flat ignoring the minor effect of exchange rate discrepancies and 29 down on 2020.
The biggest increases are justifiably for sweet and dry whites (+51% for Lafaurie-Peyraguey, +41% for Suduiraut, and +33% for Pavillon Blanc).
Meanwhile, the 29 wines that have released below 2020 prices have all been reds, with the largest decreases being Montrose, La Mission Haut-Brion, and l’Eglise Clinet, at -12%, -11%, and -11% respectively.
This week’s releases – Tuesday 14th June
Some of the standout releases from the past few days are outlined below.
Margaux was one of the first to be released on Tuesday 14th June at £425 – down just 2% on the 2020 price and up 19% on the 2019. Ella praised its “majestic nose”, while Antonio Galloni describes it as a “powerful, surprisingly brooding wine”. Ranked joint-fourth by trade experts in terms of highest confidence, this First Growth has likely reinforced this trust with the 2021 vintage. Given the post-release price rises for both 2020 and 2019, it is an attractive prospect.
Behind the scenes at Château Margaux with Alexis Leven-Mentzelopoulos (Deputy General Manager, Strategy and Development), Alexandra Petit-Mentzelopoulos (Deputy General Manager, Communication and Image) and Philippe Bascaules (Managing Director) (l-r)
L’Église Clinet was released at £208.37, with a score of 94-96 from both Neal Martin and Antonio Galloni. Considering its impressive quality, as well as the fact that its price is below the market prices for both the 2020 and the 2019, this year’s release could prove popular.
Wednesday 15th June
One of Wednesday morning’s star releases was Les Carmes Haut-Brion at £79. While this is higher than both the 2020 and the 2019 opening prices, it follows the golden en primeur rule, offering a 31% and 35% discount on current 2020 and 2019 market prices, respectively. With its faultless track record for price performance post-release, this proved one of the most obvious buys of the campaign.
Pomerol up-and-comer, Clinet arrived on the scene at £66.50. Achieving positive scores from Wine Lister’s partner critics, the latest release looks interesting, with quality around the same level as its 2018, and price below current market prices for the 2020 and 2019.
Achieving outstanding quality in this difficult vintage, Ducru-Beaucaillou 2021 was released at £159. The latest release matches existing market pricing of the 2020, and sits at a small premium (6%) to the already-bottled 2019. This should work on the basis of Ducru-Beaucaillou’s “super-second” status.
Thursday 16th June
One of Thursday’s first releases was Haut-Brion, priced at £425, down 3% on the 2020 and up 49% on the 2019 release. Wine Lister partner critic, Neal Martin (for Vinous) described it as having a “more extravagant, charming bouquet compared directly with La Mission at the moment”. La Mission Haut-Brion was also released, at £225, representing a moderate discount on both the 2020 and the 2019 release prices.
Haut-Brion Blanc was released at £610. The release has strong credentials, as the top-scoring dry Bordeaux white in 2021 by WL score (96). This is a release which is sure to attract attention in a vintage hailed for the quality of its white wines.
Friday 17th June
Friday saw La Conseillante released at £157 – flat on the 2020 release price, and 30% up on the 2019. It scores impressively in 2021 – indeed, Ella notes, “this is a Conseillante that has perhaps finally found its 21st century identity since Cazaux started making the wine”. Given the property’s bright future, and an opening price undercutting the now dwindling stock of the 2019 vintage by 31%, this is likely worth backing.
Figeac also released its Grand Vin, at £163 – up on its 2020 and 2019 release prices by 4% and 35% respectively, though comfortably below current market prices of the 2019, 2018, 2016, and 2015. Praised for its highly quality, and of course with positive speculation surrounding its Saint-Émilion classification status, Figeac will likely see good interest.
Tasting Figeac with Frédéric Faye, Managing Director at Château Figeac, before Figeac’s new cellar celebration dinner
Also released this week were Saint-Pierre, Gloria, Clos Fourtet, Pavillon Rouge, Pavillon Blanc, Haut-Bailly, Durfort-Vivens, Beau-Séjour Bécot, Pape Clément, Pape Clément Blanc, Valandraud, Petit Village, La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, Quintus, Domaine de Chevalier, Calon Ségur, La Fleur Pétrus, Certan de May, Belair-Monange, and Pavie-Macquin.
By virtue of being linked to vintages at the mercy of the cyclicality of nature, it appears that this year’s campaign represents a downcycle, according to feedback thus far from Wine Lister’s trade network.
For further details on the vintage, pricing, and popularity of Bordeaux in the context of the 2021 vintage, Part II of Wine Lister’s Bordeaux Study is now available to download here.
It increasingly looks as though the campaign will be more or less drawing to a close this week, with a further flurry of Bordeaux 2021s released en primeur at the end of last week and into Monday, including key entries from the likes of Beychevelle, Pichon Baron, Cos d’Estournel, and Mouton.
Released on Thursday 9th June at £58.90 per bottle, Beychevelle 2021 entered the market 16% below stocks of the 2020 (which has risen in price by around 15% since last year), and otherwise substantially below all other back vintages. With a consistent track record of post-release price performance and critic speculation of the 2021’s promising potential, this may well be one worth backing en primeur.
Trotte Vieille 2021 – an oft-forgotten Saint-Émilion Classé “B” to get behind – also released on Thursday at £53 per bottle (just below the current market price of 2020 and 6% above the now scarce 2019, and otherwise comfortably below recent back vintages of comparable quality). Following suit, Brane-Cantenac 2021 entered the market at £47 (6% below the 2020 vintage and below the prior five back vintages in the market).
Pichon Comtesse 2021 released on Thursday at £134 (just below last year’s release price and 30% below the current market value of the record-quality 2019). The vintage marks the estate’s first year of organic conversion, with Nicolas Glumineau informing the Wine Lister team that 2021 was ” the worst in France for 74 years in terms of climate”, but excellent for Cabernet. Volume is down 70% in 2021, with the vintage comprising 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc – the highest proportion since the 2013 vintage (100% Cabernet Sauvignon). These drastically reduced volumes mean that anyone looking to add Pichon Comtesse 2021 to their cellar likely needs to buy it now.
Friday 10th June saw releases from the likes of Giscours, Pichon Baron, and Lafon-Rochet – the latter marking the last ever vintage tended by the estate’s third-generation owner, Basile Tesseron, and the first blended by its new Managing Director, Christophe Congé (of Lafite fame). Released at £25 per bottle, Lafon-Rochet 2021 enters the market below the price of all available back vintages.
Releases came in thick and fast on Monday 13th June, with first growth Mouton entering at £425 per bottle (11% and 15% below the current availability of the 2020 and 2019 vintages respectively). Its little sibling, Le Petit Mouton 2021 was released at £170 per bottle – it appears in eighth place amongst the wines that have seen the highest relative increase between ex-négociant release prices and current market prices across vintages 2016-2020 (see below – extract from Part I of Wine Lister’s 2022 Bordeaux Study).
Cos d’Estournel also entered the market on Monday at £143 per bottle (5% below current market availability of the 2020, and around 8% above the 2019), followed shortly by Cos d’Estournel Blanc at £105 per bottle. According to Wine Lister’s Quality score (892), the 2021 vintage is the best Cos d’Estournel Blanc ever produced, with Wine Lister CEO, Ella Lister calling it “delectable, lingering in the mouth”. Le Gay and La Violette owner, Henri Parent released his 2021s on Monday at £69.50 and £240 per bottle respectively. The latter achieves a higher Quality score in 2021 than in 2020 or 2018, while scarce availability of recent vintages on the UK market may also drive interest in the latest release.
Also released during this period: Chasse-Spleen, Réserve de la Comtesse, Léoville Poyferré, Ausone, Lascombes, Ferrière, Giscours, Pagodes de Cos, Aile d’Argent, Rouget, Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Gruaud-Larose, Larcis-Ducasse, Smith Haut Lafitte.
Following a French national holiday on Monday 6th June, this year’s Bordeaux en primeur releases have picked up momentum this week, with new entries from the likes of Lafite, Troplong-Mondot, Canon, and Rauzan-Ségla over the past two days.
The first of the Firsts was released on Tuesday 7th June, with Lafite 2021 entering the market at £484 per bottle – below every single back vintage on the market, and 19% and 27% below the current price of the 2020 and 2019 vintages respectively. The latest release is made from 96% Cabernet Sauvignon – the highest percentage since 2016 (and 1961 before that). Domaines Barons de Rothschild sibling, L’Evangile, also released on Tuesday at £185 per bottle (flat on the 2020 release price), having been met with positive feedback from several trade members during tasting week.
Troplong-Mondot 2021 released at £71 per bottle (1% down on the 2020 release price). Tasting at the property, Wine Lister was reminded by CEO, Aymeric de Gironde that 2021 was the first vintage of Troplong-Mondot made in the estate’s new 42-cuves-strong cellar, which de Gironde said “was perfect timing, as we no longer had to make any winemaking compromises”.
One of the Wine Lister team’s favourite wines from tasting week, Montrose 2021 entered the market on Wednesday 8th June at £113.40 per bottle, with the latest release marking the property’s first year of organic conversion. Technical Director, Vincent Decup, told us, “We have never done so much [in the vineyard]. To compensate for the rain, we have left more grass between the vines, trimmed higher, thinned the leaves on both sides”.
Canon 2021 was also released on Wednesday at £90 per bottle, offering a 32% and 22% discount on the current market prices of the 2020 and 2019 vintages respectively. Canon ranks in sixth place for top confidence ratings from key international trade members, (see more in Part I of Wine Lister’s Bordeaux Study 2022), as shown in the chart below.
Chanel sibling Rauzan-Ségla 2021 followed suit, entering the market at £60 per bottle (14% and 27% below the current 2020 and 2019 prices). Managing Director, Nicolas Audebert told Wine Lister that 2021 was “the most stressful and exhausting vintage ever” at Rauzan-Ségla, though he believes the 2021 is “as good as the last three vintages”. Following the highest amount of intra-parcel zoning ever done in the vineyard, the team were able to better identify the very best lots, and make a wine that Wine Lister’s CEO, Ella Lister describes as having “Noble flavours, an inimitable poise and texture, like a Chanel coat”.
Also released on Wednesday at £48 per bottle, La Gaffelière 2021 sits just below current market prices of the last three vintages, which have all seen price growth in the secondary market. The Wine Lister team found La Gaffelière 2021 to be dangerously drinkable, and at £48, it represents strong value for its quality within Saint-Emilion. Similarly featured in Wine Lister’s latest Bordeaux Study, La Gaffelière has increased its Wine Lister trade confidence rating hugely year-on-year, by almost 2 points out of 10.
Also released during this period: Fieuzal, Fieuzal Blanc, Kirwan, Dame de Montrose, Meyney, Grand-Puy-Ducasse, Phélan Ségur, Beauregard, Clerc-Milon, and d’Issan
While the campaign is starting to pick up speed, with many producers having released their wines just before the UK’s Queen’s Platinum Jubilee bank holidays, the pricing of en primeur is not living up to the market’s expectations. May ended with a short week that saw some key releases, including Château Pédesclaux, Château Marquis de Terme, Château d’Armailhac, Château Talbot and Château Suduiraut.
Château Marquis de Terme
Château Pédesclaux was the first wine to be released this week, going on sale on Monday 30th May, at £26.25 per bottle (all prices are quoted per bottle In Bond ex-VAT and duty), a lower price than the seven previous vintages available. Since its acquisition 13 years ago in 2009 by Jacky Lorenzetti, the quality of the wine has been steadily increasing (doubtless thanks to the investment made by its owner).
Tuesday 31st was marked by a number of releases, including several Sauternes. Château Suduiraut was released at £59.40, a historically high price, justified by the vanishingly small quantities produced (yields of just 1 hl/hectare), linked to the extreme weather conditions. Christian Seely, general manager, describes the 2021 as “tragically beautiful”. Indeed, Suduiraut 2021 is the highest rated vintage by critics since 2009, and the second best of its appellation by Wine Lister score, all vintages combined (coming just after Yquem).
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey was released shortly after Château Suduiraut, with a release price of £58.44. The 2021 is also one of the most expensive vintages ever produced by the estate, along with the 2019 and 2018, justified by the tiny volume of only 1,200 bottles. The wines will feature special labels designed by Lalique.
Also released on Tuesday 31st, Château Marquis de Terme came onto the market at £29.40, 8% below the current price of the 2020. The 2021 received a positive review from Ella Lister tasting for Le Figaro, who noted “a level of sophistication, which shows that the gradual progress of this wine over the last few years is thanks to fundamental changes whose positive effect can be seen even in a more difficult vintage.” This was followed by the release of Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry, at £37.00, below the current market prices of the previous three vintages.
Tuesday also saw the release of Château d’Armailhac at £32.60, similarly priced to the 2020 and 7% below the 2019, which is available in bottle. This vintage, described as a “terroir vintage”, clearly showed itself in the 2021 Château d’Armailhac, where Cabernets are king (with perhaps a new level of grace compared to previous vintages).
Château Talbot came onto the market on Wednesday 1 June at £39.35, slightly below the release prices for the previous 2020 and 2019 vintages. It was closely followed by Château Larrivet Haut-Brion rouge, released at £23.59, and whose 2021 marks a turn towards the future style of the wines, containing no Merlot in its final blend (resulting in a 20% reduction in volume). “It was just better without,” confided Bruno Lemoine, general manager, as warmer temperatures continue to force earlier ripening dates for the variety.
Despite the bank holiday in the UK, a key market for Bordeaux, Thursday saw the release of several wines at very similar prices to last year, despite the drop in quality, namely Châteaux Gazin, Prieuré-Lichine, Canon-la-Gaffelière and Lagrange.
Also released this week: Châteaux Malartic-Lagravière Rouge et Blanc, Siran, Péby Faugères, Marquis d’Alesme, Branaire-Ducru, Lynch-Bages, Grand-Mayne, du Tertre, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, La Mondotte and Carbonnieux Rouge et Blanc.
As the Bordeaux en primeur campaign continues, Wine Lister examines the best-quality wines from a challenging vintage (read our vintage report here).
Wine Lister’s partner critics’ scores are now all in, and with one new addition for the 2021 en primeur campaign: Le Figaro’s scores have been added to those of Wine Lister’s existing critics (Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin from Vinous, Jancis Robinson, Bettane+Desseauve, and Jeannie Cho-Lee) to create the overarching Wine Lister 100-point score. The top 29 wines of the vintage are shown below.
From a year acknowledged as the most complicated vintage since 2013, 29 wines achieve WL scores of 95 and over, compared to 43 last year. Wine Lister’s 100-point score combines normalised scores from Wine Lister’s partner critics. For the first time this year, the score also includes ratings from Wine Lister’s parent affiliate, Le Figaro Vin.
Bordeaux 2021 – Wine Lister scores of 95 and above
In 2021, the top- scoring wine is L’Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne from the Sauternes appellation with a score of 97 points – one point up on its score in 2020 . Two other sweet wines make the top cut – Suduiraut and Rieussec – in a year that has produced beautiful Sauternes and Barsac wines, if very little of them. Indeed, wines from sweet appellations in 2021 show quality overall that is unsurpassed since the 2015 vintage.
These are joined by two dry whites – Haut-Brion Blanc and La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, earning 96 and 95 points respectively. Haut-Brion’s red counterpart and Lafite take an equal lead over fellow first growths, Latour, Margaux, and Mouton in 2021.
Also equalling the impressive score of 96 is super-second, Ducru-Beaucaillou, and left bank darlings, Cheval Blanc and Lafleur (both already released – see our latest release blog for details).
Of the 19 reds earning a score of 95, 11 (or 58%) hail from Saint-Emilion and Pomerol collectively. This is perhaps surprising, given that the vintage is reported as having been more difficult for Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon. With fewer top-scoring wines than last year, the 2021 vintage is all about terroir and resources, with first growths and renowned right bank stars dominating the list.
However, even top scores are lower than in 2020. In 2020, the highest scoring wine was Chateau Margaux with a Wine Lister score of 98, 10 wines scored 97 points and 14 wines scored 96 points (compared to just one 97-pointer in 2021, six 96-point wines and 22 95-point wines).
That’s an average top 29 score of 96.3 in 2020 compared with 95.3 in 2021. That the difference is only one point in the context of such a difficult vintage is surely a reflection of excellent wine making across the region.
Most of the ranking movements are therefore relative, reflecting the fact that scoring 96-97 points in the 2020 vintage was more widespread that in 2021. For example, Suduiraut gains 31 places in 2021 despite also achieving a 96-point rating in 2020. Similarly, Troplong-Mondot and Le Pin are also risers despite their scores remaining unchanged compared to 2020.
One particular success among this is La Gaffelière, which ranks 15th in 2021 with a score of 95, a three point increase on its 2020 score of 92.
Wine Lister is excited to announce the addition of a new partner critic in time for the Bordeaux 2021 en primeur campaign. Scores from Le Figaro are now included in the 100-point Wine Lister aggregated score, alongside those of existing partner critics (Jancis Robinson, Bettane+Desseauve, Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin from Vinous, Jeannie Cho Lee, and Jasper Morris).
Since Wine Lister’s acquisition by Groupe Figaro in 2020, founder and CEO, Ella Lister, has been in charge of tasting for Le Figaro, including Bordeaux as well as other regions such as Burgundy and Champagne, with the support of a panel of expert tasters across these and other French regions*.
Having tasted 380 Bordeaux wines during en primeur, we examine below Ella’s top scores for the 2021 vintage.
41 wines achieve a score of 93-96 or above. While none receive a full 100-point rating, Les Carmes Haut-Brion comes the closest to perfect, with a potential score of 99.
The 36 reds are otherwise split evenly across both banks, with 17 left bank, and 19 right bank stars. Of first growths, Ella awards the highest scores to Haut-Brion and Latour (96-98), while Lafite receives 95-98, and Margaux and Mouton share a score of 95-97.
Super-seconds Ducru-Beaucaillou and Pichon Baron earn the highest scores of their classification (95-98), while Léoville Las Cases and Pichon Comtesse also fare well, matching Mouton’s score of 95-97.
Three dry whites – Haut-Brion Blanc, La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, and Margaux’s Pavillon Blanc appear in Ella’s top 41. Two sweet white gems – de Fargues and Suduiraut complete the set of top scorers.
Click here to view and search all Figaro scores on the Wine Lister website.
*including for de Fargues, rated by Figaro journalist Béatrice Delamotte, who also tasted a handful of the other wines in the table above alongside Ella Lister.