Best for your budget: Bordeaux 2021 whites at five different price points

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: quality under the microscope

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.


Bordeaux Study Part II – Findings in partnership with Wine-Searcher

Wine-Searcher is the world’s largest wine and spirits search engine, handling 250 million searches from around the world each year. This year, as part of Wine Lister’s annual Bordeaux study (Part II), we include data from Wine-Searcher exploring compound annual growth (CAGR) by Bordeaux appellation, average offers on Wine-Searcher by appellation, vintage, and geography, and average monthly searches by appellation and search location.

“There have been some subtle (and not-so-subtle) changes over the past year”, observes Wine-Searcher’s Editor, Don Kavanagh. “While Bordeaux still dominates both search and offer numbers, interest appears to have fallen slightly in relative terms.”

Bordeaux’s offer count on Wine-Searcher

Though Bordeaux is still the major player on the world stage, with the highest total share of search activity of all major wine regions, its growth in rate of search is showing signs of being outpaced.

Searches for all wines over the past 12 months increased from 188 million to 205 million, slightly faster than searches for Bordeaux wines (up by 3 million to 39 million) during the same period.

Similarly, Bordeaux is not benefitting from the overall growth in offers on Wine-Searcher, which have risen from 6.8 million to 6.9 million over the last 12 months. Indeed, Bordeaux offers have shrunk slightly, from 791,000 to 786,000. Not all Bordeaux appellations were equally affected (see graph below).

Average offer count per wine by appellation and merchant location, January – April 2022

During the first four months of 2022, there was a 6.7% contraction in offers from Europe (excluding the UK), with an even steeper reduction in offers from the UK and Asia, at 11.5% and 12.1% respectively, when compared with the same period in 2021. The USA’s number of monthly searches, as explored above, map neatly onto its increase in monthly offers per appellation (6.3% once again).

Search count by Bordeaux appellation and geographical location on Wine-Searcher

Search activity varied by geographical location in the period from January to April 2022, in comparison with the same period in 2021. While searches for Bordeaux appellations from the UK, Asia, and Europe (excluding the UK) decreased, the USA saw a 6.3% increase in search activity.

Average search count per wine by appellation and user location in 2022 (January – April)

Bordeaux’s price growth by appellation on Wine-Searcher

There are causes for optimism; growth with respect to global average prices (measured as a compound annual growth rate, or CAGR) in the period 2017-2022 has continued. The leader of the pack among Bordeaux appellations in this regard is Pomerol, reaching 6.1%. Even the lowest CAGR, exhibited by Saint-Emilion and Margaux, is 4.3%.

The year 2020-2021 remains an exception; compound annual growth rates jumped by 10% across all the examined appellations in that year.

Compound annual growth by appellation, 2017 – 2022

The strength of the region’s compound annual growth rate is perhaps linked to the sharp decline in overall offer activity beginning in 2019, as compared with the longer-term average. While overall offer activity began to decrease, the proportion of offers between each appellation remained relatively stable in the period 2014-2020.

To view the full Wine-Searcher insert in Wine Lister’s annual Bordeaux study, and uncover more of Wine Lister’s analysis of the Bordeaux’s standing in 2022 – including quality scores, short-term price performance, and auction activity, as well as the topics discussed above – download the full report here.


Wine Lister 2022 Bordeaux Study Part II: walking the tightrope

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.


Bordeaux en primeur 2021: drawing to a close

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.

Campaign overview

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 RougePavillon 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.


Bordeaux en primeur 2021: flying in fast

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.


Bordeaux en primeur 2021: the pace picks up

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


Château d’Issan’s Royal Anniversary Banquet at Kensington Palace

A feast fit for a Queen

Emmanuel Cruse and the Château d’Issan team were this month (17th May 2022) joined by 70 leading figures from the UK’s fine wine trade for an evening of celebration at historic Royal landmark, Kensington Palace. Organised by WLPR, the event commemorated the 870th wedding anniversary of Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II of England on 18th May 1152, whose nuptials were celebrated with the wine of Château d’Issan.

Reception in the Sunken Garden: Entering the garden (left), Virginie and Emmanuel Cruse (middle), guests enjoying  2014 Bollinger La Grande Année (right)

This was the third and largest of Château d’Issan’s series of banquets to celebrate the union, following an event at the Houses of Parliament in 2018 and Westminster Abbey in 2015. Emmanuel, his wife, Virginie, and Château d’Issan’s Commercial Director, Augustin Lacaille were delighted to return to London to host friends and associates in a market close to their hearts.

The reception took place in Kensington Palace’s newly-redesigned Sunken Garden (unveiled to the public for the first time in July 2021), where guests were served the 2014 vintage of Bollinger La Grande Année – a champagne to which Queen Elizabeth awarded a Royal Warrant in 1955. Following the call to dinner, guests joined a short private tour of the Palace’s State Apartments, with bespoke tour booklets leading them through its majestic halls. The banquet took place in the King’s Gallery, with Emmanuel situated below a wind-dial, which, hailing from 1694, still shows the direction of the wind to this day. Adorned on the face of the dial is Great Britain, enlarged to match up to its trusty neighbour, France.

The Royal Banquet: The King’s Gallery table set (left), Emmanuel’s speech (middle), guests seated (right)

 What is the connection between Eleanor of Aquitaine and Château d’Issan?

In his introductory speech, Emmanuel shared with his esteemed guests the role of Château d’Issan, formerly Lamothe-Cantenac, in consummating the marriage between Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II – the former being an avid lover of Bordeaux wines. Bordeaux specialist, Jane Anson shared further historical insight into Eleanor of Aquitaine, explaining that “her contribution to England extended beyond her lifetime”, and “she continued to support the wine of Bordeaux” throughout her reign. 

The wines: all formats displayed (left), Château d’Issan 2015 (middle), Château d’Issan 2006 in jeroboam (right)

A bespoke menu booklet at each place setting documented Château d’Issan’s rich history, while the white flowers and green foliage adorning the centre of the table took inspiration from the flora and fauna found at the estate – as well as traditional wedding flowers.

Honing in on their union, themes of Bordeaux and Great Britain were integrated into the dinner menu: to start, guests were served Château d’Issan 2015 with a pigeon and bacon ballotine, foie gras ganache, and pear. Jeroboams of Château d’Issan 2010 were served alongside a baked cannon of lamb, confit shoulder, and potato crown. Château d’Issan 2006 was also served in jeroboam format alongside a Franco-British cheese course, comprising Comté, Mimolette, and Stilton. Finally, imperials of Château d’Issan 1995 were poured with a dessert of dark chocolate mousse, coconut sorbet, peanut, and lime.

For further information on WLPR’s tastings and events, please contact the team here.


Bordeaux en primeur 2021: the first few from this year’s campaign

The first Bordeaux 2021 en primeur releases have started to trickle through over the past two weeks, with key entries from BatailleyCarruades de LafiteDuhart-MilonPavieCheval Blanc, Léoville Las Cases, Angélus, and the Barton family wines.

Kicking things off on Monday 9th May, Batailley 2021 was released at £27.50 per bottle (flat on the 2020 and 2019 release prices), setting a positive pricing tone in a year where reduced quantities had prompted apprehension. Indeed, the estate’s Managing Director, Frédéric Castèja informed Wine Lister that Batailley saw no mildew in 2021, and yields are therefore at a “normal” 50 hl/ha.

Released on Thursday 12th May at £165 per bottle, Carruades de Lafite 2021 similarly presents a discount on the 2020 and 2019 release prices, while entering the market below current prices of all recent back-vintages. The wine has shown to be one of the best price performers post-release in Wine Lister’s latest Bordeaux Study, with the 2020 already witnessing a 39% price increase over the past year. Carruades’ younger cousin, Duhart-Milon 2021 was also released on Thursday at £56 per bottle.

Another encouraging price move countering the early fears of the trade, Pavie 2021 was released on Wednesday 18th May at £232 per bottle – offering a discount of 3%-13% on all physical vintages back to 2015. Cheval Blanc 2021 was released on Thursday 19th May at a slight premium on the past two years’ release prices, though still below average prices of all back-vintages on the market up until 2014. With a quality that matches recent top vintages (2019, 2018, 2016, 2015), while priced at an average 28% below them, the 2021 has already seen successes. Indeed, one top UK merchant reports having sold “even more than last year”.

Cheval Blanc’s Technical Director, PierreOlivier Clouet, taking the Wine Lister team through the 2021s

A similarly successful entry (in the words of another top UK merchant), Léoville Las Cases 2021 was released on Friday 20th May at £162.50 per bottle – a significant 18% down on the 2020 release price. As well as offering the greatest discount from last year’s opening price seen of key releases thus far in the campaign, the 2021 receives a score of 94-96 from both Vinous’ Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin.

Upping the pace this week (on Monday 23rd May), we saw further releases from Angélus and the Barton family. The 2021 is the first vintage of Léoville Barton and Langoa Barton vinified in the Barton family’s new winery, and the last before the passing of the estates’ legendary owner, Anthony Barton. The vintage also marks 200 years of the family’s  ownership of Langoa Barton, which will be commemorated with a special-edition label on the 2021, and the release of a limited-edition, multi-vintage case.

Also released during this period: Carillon d’AngélusLa LagunePetit Cheval, CantemerleL’Extravagant de Doisy-DaënePotensac.

Wine Lister’s real-time, wine-by-wine analysis of this year’s campaign is available in email newsletter form through a Pro+ subscription. For more information on this, please contact us.


Bordeaux en primeur 2021: our view on the campaign

Wine Lister’s COO, Chloe Ashton shares her thoughts on this year’s en primeur campaign so far.

The latest Bordeaux en primeur campaign is already underway, with Batailley 2021 opening the stage at the beginning of last week, and Domaines Baron de Rothschild’s Carruades and Duhart-Milon following suit. Cantemerle’s release on Friday 13th rounded out the week, and thus far starting prices have been a relatively pleasant surprise.

What does the trade expect from this year’s campaign?

In Part I of Wine Lister’s annual Bordeaux study, we asked key members of the global fine wine trade about their expectations ahead of the 2021 campaign. Of 47 respondents, half expected prices to be somewhat more expensive, or significantly more expensive than 2020 vintage releases, after rumblings on La Place of strong trading over the past few months.

Bordeaux study (p.10): Founding members survey – 2021 release price expectations

After the first physical en primeur week in Bordeaux since the 2018 vintage (our view of the vintage can be found here), the trade will at least have had the chance to work their way through a vintage so complex that tasting was surely a necessity. With such a heterogenous vintage, pricing strategies should logically also be extremely varied, making the potential successes of 2021 sales difficult to predict. Nonetheless, here’s what we know:

  • Wine Lister’s annual Bordeaux study reveals that confidence in Bordeaux us up. Respondents increased ratings on last year for three quarters of the wines included in our study – after so many trade members have been reminded of the joys of tasting in situ, both these elements could contribute to campaign positivity and momentum, with merchants backing those properties they historically believe in, and/or were indeed impressed by during en primeur tastings
  • 2021 appears to be a vintage that speaks from the soil, so imparting knowledge of the best terroirs to customers should help to create demand for the best-performing wines in general
  • Outside of focusing only on the very best, 2021 may be a vintage for pleasant surprises – the fresher, lower-alcohol, and more classical style of wines certainly garner appeal from traditional palates, so any merchant or collector seeking this style of drinking experience in the near to mid future could do well in seeking out some of the better-value wines hailing from this complicated campaign

Wine Lister’s wine-by-wine analysis of this year’s campaign is available in email newsletter form through a Pro+ subscription. For more information on this, please contact us.