Head of Domaine Marquis d’Angerville, which has been in his family for 220 years: “A musician once said to me…d’Angerville wines are Bach”.
For the sixth interview in Le Figaro Vin’s series we make our first visit to Burgundy where Guillaume d’Angerville, #45, creates some of the region’s most elegant wines.
Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?
Guillaume d’Angerville: I don’t feel anything because I don’t see it that way. From my perspective, it’s my terroir that is the winemaking champion, not me. I am very fortunate to work with these terroirs and my job is to do my best to help them achieve their full potential.
Have you been training for long?
My background is rather unusual. My father strongly encouraged me to do something else with my life before taking on the estate and I followed his advice. I was a banker for many years. I still spent a lot of time on the estate, of course, and I rarely missed a harvest. My real training only started 20 years ago. 2022 was my 20th harvest.
Who is your mentor?
I have a number of mentors. I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with Aubert de Villaine (of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, ed.) over a period of almost 10 years, when we jointly ran the team applying for World Heritage site status from Unesco. We worked together closely and, without being aware of it, I learnt a great deal from him during that time – even though we never talked directly about our estates or how to make wine. We remain sufficiently close for me to call him from time to time when I have a question, or feel uncertain, or want to get a different perspective on things. I should also mention two other mentors, Dominique Lafon and Jean-Marc Roulot, who, by a strange coincidence, are both from Meursault. They were enormously helpful when I took over the estate. They are not so much mentors as interlocutors with whom I can have the kind of completely honest conversations that help me progress.
Is wine a team sport?
Yes of course, you might even say that our wines would be every bit as good if I wasn’t there. I am just a team leader. I try to instil a desire for excellence in my team, but it’s the team that does the work. Good wine starts in the vineyard, and our vines are tended by a team of winegrowers who are passionate about their craft. Everything else flows from that: the harvest, the vinification, the élevage. My role is to supervise, to make sure we attend to every last detail in order to achieve the best possible results.
What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?
Without a doubt, the terroir matters more than the winemaker. But without the winemaker the terroir cannot fully express itself. It’s a reciprocal relationship. A journalist once said to me, “Guillaume, your wines are not made they are born”. That made me realise that I am a bit like a midwife whose role is to help with my wines’ birth and ensure that they are born healthy, even that they are well brought up. When you have children, you appreciate that you have some influence, but you know that it’s limited. A child’s personality has to develop independently. You have to be there for your terroir, but also careful not to get in the way.
To whom or to what do you owe your success?
Above all, I owe my success to our very distant ancestors, to those Cistercian monks of Burgundy who understood the region and designed the template for Burgundian viticulture. We cannot overstate the fact that the Burgundy of today owes everything to those people who worked the land with quite extraordinary self-sacrifice and persistence. At a more personal level, I am indebted to my grandfather and my father, who have both played an exceptional part in our estate’s success. My grandfather was a major contributor to the fight against fraud in Burgundy, and to the move to estate-bottling. For 52 years my father was a servant to Burgundy wines. He left the estate in perfect condition with an impeccable reputation. When I came on the scene the level was so high that I had a long way to fall but, in all honesty, I couldn’t fail. I think I have moved the estate forward, through a combination of hard work, humility, and a passionate desire, shared with my team, to make the best possible wines. You have to have good people around you and that is one of my strengths: picking genuine talent and knowing how to delegate.
Was your father proud of you?
He never said so to me. Some kind souls have told me that he was, and I am soft enough to believe them.
Who is your biggest supporter?
I hope that my wife is. You could also say it’s a bottle of Clos des Ducs. My reputation, at some level, is indistinguishable from that of Clos des Ducs.
Your favourite colour?
The king of grape varieties?
You already know the answer, Pinot Noir.
Your favourite wine?
Clos des Ducs, inevitably.
Your favourite vintage?
I would pick out 1964 as the best vintage in living memory in Volnay. Were I to choose from the wines I have made myself, then it would be a very close call between 2010 and 2020, with 2020 just ahead, though it is still much too early to say. The jury is still out.
If your wine was a person, who would it be?
It is frequently said that a wine is like its maker. I like wines that are very elegant, very precise, very distinct, and very pure. A musician once said to me that Lafarge wines are Mozart and d’Angerville wines are Bach. That is high praise indeed. I wouldn’t dare say it myself, but I am delighted to hear it said.
What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wine?
With serenity, in a relatively small group, and ideally in my cellar.
With friends, of course. The main thing is to taste with people who love wine, who do not overinterpret, who simply want to enjoy the wine and decide whether or not they like it. And I find, increasingly, that I prefer plain language, free from superfluous description, and a relaxed tasting, free from endless comparisons of one wine to another.
Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing yourself, or your wine?
Personally never, still less for my wine. It is a topic that crops up regularly these days, in conversations about global warming and its potential impact on Burgundy and on wine. I always say – somewhat guiltily – that global warming has some upsides for us, in particular that we now get to harvest fully ripened grapes which don’t need adulterating with sugar. Since I took over the reins, 20 years ago, I have never chaptalized my wines. The question came up in 2021 because the grapes had a much lower sugar content than usual. I chose not to add sugar and the alcohol level of my Volnay Premiers Crus is going to be in the region of 12.5% – the lowest in the last 20 years. The minute that we start to tamper with the grape juice that is destined to be wine, we upset a natural balance that we can never then recreate. It is better to stick with the natural balance.
For what price would you be prepared to sell your estate?
I cannot answer that question. You have to appreciate that the estate has been in my family for 220 years. I am the sixth generation. Since selling is not in the frame, you could say the estate is priceless.
Who is your strongest competition in Burgundy?
I can’t think of any. What is deeply intriguing about this region is that we are not competitors in the usual sense. Each winemaker has his unique terrain, makes distinctive wines, and has his own following. Every winemaker in Burgundy could sell his crop several times over. By the same token, in Volnay there are some very good winemakers and we are all friends. My real adversaries are the people who make my job much more difficult, all the bureaucrats who tie our hands with endless red tape. In all honesty, it’s bureaucracy that is the enemy.
What are you most proud of?
Do you know the quote from Winston Churchill? “My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.”
What has been your most innovative strategy in the vineyard and in the cellar?
In the vineyard, I don’t know if I can claim that being biodynamic is an innovation, but it is the development that has truly changed my viticulture and my wine, and which now underpins the estate. As for the cellar, I cannot claim to have made any hugely innovative changes. I have often been asked: “What has your former profession as a banker brought to the table?” In banking every detail counts, and when you have to follow a process you approach it systematically, one step at a time, looking for incremental improvements. I have tried to replicate that approach in both the winery and the cellar, aiming for marginal gains: this year for example, we have invested in a state-of-the-art wine pump. We are talking minor details in themselves but, when you add them all up, they make all the difference.
Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?
We have a huge number of talented young winegrowers which makes me extremely optimistic for Burgundy’s future. Many of them have travelled elsewhere, tried out other ways of working, and have then come back full of promising ideas. Plenty of names spring to mind – and not necessarily only those who sell their wines at €1,400 a bottle. As for my successor at the domaine, that question is already percolating. I hope that by the end of the year, or next year at least, I will be in a position to announce who will take over.
As the year draws to a close, Wine Lister has published its 2022 Wine Leagues – the third of our annual reports celebrating the top-performing wines and producers within several categories over the past year. The Leagues reveal exciting developments in the world of fine wine, shining a light on consumer trends and estates on the rise, informed by an in-depth trade survey with key industry figures.
Please see some of our key findings below, or click here to download the full study.
The Place de Bordeaux’s 2022 September campaign has seen its third week of releases, with a number of key entries including the likes of Pym Rae 2018, Dalla Valle Maya 2019, and Château Palmer 2012.
The Armagh vineyard in autumn
Following a UK bank holiday on Monday to mark the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, Tuesday 20th September morning saw several releases in quick succession, starting with Pym Rae 2018, which entered the market at a recommended retail price of £270 per bottle. Tasting at the CVBG Beyond Bordeaux London event earlier this month, Wine Lister’s Founder and CEO, Ella Lister found this vintage to be a real step-up from the Tesserons’ Californian outpost, awarding the 2018 96 points and noting “exceptional balance, the texture of taffeta, and an addictive softness”.
Another standout release, Telmo Rodríguez’s Yjar saw its second ever vintage – 2018 – released through the Place at £95 per bottle (in-bond). Tom Parker (tasting for jancisrobinson.com) awards a score of 17, while Ella scored 96 points, comparing its balance to that of “a ballet dancer, toned and delicate”, noting that it is “the perfect wine for today’s palate”. The 2018 vintage saw a production volume of just 6,000 bottles – a reduction of 1,000 bottles compared with the 2017.
The Armagh Shiraz 2018 was also released on Tuesday at £165 per bottle (in-bond), with Ella awarding 95 points and describing the latest offering from Jim Barry as “rich and opulent” – a vintage “worthy of the 50 years since the first Shiraz was planted at the domaine in 1968”.
Wednesday 21st September saw the release of Le Petit Cheval Blanc 2020, which entered the market at £100 per bottle (in-bond). It was shortly followed by Giovanni Rosso Barolo Ceretta 2018, released at £51 per bottle (in-bond). Walter Speller (for jancisrobinson.com) awards the latter a score of 17++, describing it as “simply gorgeous” and praising its “beautifully sculpted chewy tannins”.
Next up on Wednesday, Dalla Valle Maya 2019 was released at £464 per bottle (in-bond), marking the first vintage produced since the estate committed fully to biodynamic practices. Another first – Château Haut-Batailley introduced its 2016 vintage to the market at £36.67 per bottle (in-bond). A transitional year, the Cazes family acquired the estate shortly before the 2016 primeurs and oversaw blending, while vinification had been carried out by the previous owners (the Borie family) – provoking the decision to withhold its release. The 2016 bottle features a transitional label – neither the previous label under the Borie family, nor the new label under the Cazes family, debuted in 2017. Neal Martin (for Vinous) awards the 2016 94 points, calling it “an outstanding Haut-Batailley”.
Château Palmer released ex-château stock of its 2012 vintage on Thursday 22nd September, the third vintage to be released from the estate’s “Ten years on” series. Since 2010, approximately half of each year’s production has been reserved in the cellars, while the remaining half is sold en primeur. The 2012 vintage was released at £257 per bottle (in-bond), having achieved scores of 17 from Jancis Robinson (for jancisrobinson.com) and 94 from Antonio Galloni (for Vinous).
Also released this week were Cobos 2019 and Clos des Goisses 2013.
Likely to be released next week are Kracher Tba N°5 Grande Cuvee 2019c, Château d’Avize 2012, Morlet Cœur de Vallée 2019, Allegrini Fieramonte 2015, La Poja 2017, and Biserno 2017.
With this year’s September campaign now in full swing, we examine some of the key releases from the second week, including offerings from Château Latour, Bibi Graetz, and Catena Zapata.
The Wine Lister team got the chance to taste a number of wines scheduled for release during this year’s CVBG ‘Beyond Bordeaux’ tasting in London on 8th September 2022
One of the most anticipated releases from this year’s campaign, ex-château stock of Château Latour’s iconic 2010 vintage was released on Tuesday 13th September. Release prices varied, with listings for the latest tranche started from around £1,045 per bottle (in-bond). Tasting twice from magnum in February 2020, Vinous’ Neal Martin awards it a perfect score of 100 points, declaring that the wine “can be summed up in two words: ‘The king’”, while the 2020 earns the wine’s joint-highest WL score (98) alongside the 2005.
Tuesday also saw two releases from Bibi Graetz; Colore 2020, offered by some retailers at £173, was a Wine Lister favourite at the CVBG tasting. Wine Lister’s CEO Ella Lister described it as a “calming, zen wine, with all the confidence, wisdom, and stillness befitting a wine from such ancient vines”, referring to its “neverending finish” and scoring it 98 points. Testamatta 2020 was also released, garnering a score of 95 points from Ella and fetching a price of £68 from retailers.
Released the same day, Joseph Phelps Insignia 2019, has so far seen merchant offers of around £182.50 per bottle (in-bond). Ella scored the wine 97 points and found that it has “the usual power of Insignia, but with a newfound subtlety and sophistication and fine tannins”. This could be down to the record-high proportion (25%) of fruit from Rutherford in 2019 – while the vintage also marks the first to include fruit from the new Joseph Phelps vineyard, El Venadito, located in the Oak Knoll District.
Adrianna Catena pouring her namesake wine for the Wine Lister team at the CVBG ‘Beyond Bordeaux’ tasting in London
Thursday morning saw two entries from the Catena Zapata stable – the 2019 vintages of Nicolás Catena Zapata and the Adrianna Vineyard Mundus Bacillus Terra. Nicolás Catena Zapata entered the market with a recommended UK retail price of £61 per bottle, having achieved a score of 96 points from Joaquin Hidalgo (Vinous). Adrianna Vineyard was released with a UK recommended retail price of £161 per bottle. Tasting in London, Ella awarded it 98 points, praising its “hedonistic bouquet”.
The morning of Friday 16th September marked a new entry to the Place this year – Belles Sœurs Cuvée Pinot Noir 2019 entered the market at £82 per bottle (in-bond). While Beaux Frères and Belles Soeurs 2019 were initially intended to be released together during last year’s campaign, reduced yields as a result of fires instigated the decision to release Beaux Frères 2019 last year and Belles Soeurs 2019 this year. Both cuvées will be released in tandem next year.
The 2013 vintage of Lindaflor La Violeta was also released on Friday 16th September, at £72.50 per bottle (in-bond) – having already been released in the form of a special-edition case alongside the 2011 vintage of its Bordeaux brother, La Violette, in March this year (at £325). Friday’s release marks the first solo introduction of the Parent family’s Mendoza estate through La Place, giving buyers the chance to acquire it in its own right. Tasting in Bordeaux, Ella awarded 93 points and found a nose that is “deep, meaty, with notes of paprika… sparkling, singing, seductive” and a palate of “exquisite freshness […] with a fine but firm structure”.
Also released this week were Penfolds Bin 169 2019, Petrolo Galatrona 2020, Cheval des Andes 2019, Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, Siepi 2020, Orma 2020, Caiarossa 2019, and Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour 2019.
Next week’s releases are likely to include Petit Cheval Blanc 2020, Haut Batailley 2016, Cobos 2019, Giovanni Rosso Barolo Cerretta 2018, Pym Rae 2018, Clos des Goisses, and Palmer 2012.
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.
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 this year’s en primeur releases are yet to kick into full gear, the past week has seen key entries from the likes of Berliquet, Pontet-Canet, Palmer, Haut-Batailley, Lafleur, and more. Reporting on a shorter week of releases than usual due to the French bank holiday on Thursday 26th May, we examine the latest 2021s to market.
Released on Tuesday 24th May at £38.15 per bottle, Berliquet achieves its highest-ever combined score from Wine Lister partner critics, Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin (Vinous), who both award 91-93 points. While up on the last two years’ release prices, one top UK merchant has informed us that this is understandable at this stage in Berliquet’s progression, especially considering the comparable rise in quality and pricing from its Chanel siblings, Rauzan-Ségla and Canon.
This was followed shortly by Pontet-Canet 2021, which is so far being offered at around £74.17 per bottle. While slightly up on last year’s release price, it still poses as a good-value pick relative to its appellation, especially considering its status as the sixth-highest scoring Pauillac according to WL score (see here).
Also entering the market on Tuesday, Palmer’s 2021 vintage is another stand-out offering from the estate, reminding the Wine Lister team of a Palmer from the 1990s, but with more energy and ripeness. At £237 per bottle, the 2021 opens 1% below the 2020 release price, while volume released is down 30% this year. This, alongside strong critics’ scores and a propitious renovation programme currently underway, should no doubt encourage the success of the latest release.
This week saw releases from Palmer – tasted by the Wine Lister team in the cellar
Released on Wednesday 25th May, Haut-Batailley 2021 is so far being offered at around £39 per bottle (slightly down on the 2020 release price). As with the other Cazes properties, mildew pressure has impacted the yields in 2021, and volume produced is down 10% compared to the 2020. Its sibling in Saint-Estèphe, Les Ormes de Pez 2021 followed suit, and is so far being offered at around £18 per bottle – also fractionally down on last year’s release.
Finishing the week with a bang, Lafleur 2021 was released on Friday 27th May through its UK agent, Justerini & Brooks at £542.33 per bottle. While entering the market 3% and 12% up on the 2020 and 2019 release prices respectively, there is no remaining availability of last year’s release on the market, and the 2019 has more than doubled in price since its release. As the second-best Quality performer of red Bordeaux in 2021 (after Cheval Blanc), and with a history of consistent and impressive price performance post-release, this will be one of the best buys of the campaign for those lucky enough to get their hands on it.
Also released during this period: Sociando-Mallet, Laroque, Alter Ego, Clos du Marquis, and Nénin.
The first Bordeaux 2021 en primeur releases have started to trickle through over the past two weeks, with key entries from Batailley, Carruades de Lafite, Duhart-Milon, Pavie, Cheval 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, Pierre–Olivier 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’Angélus, La Lagune, Petit Cheval, Cantemerle, L’Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne, Potensac.
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.
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.