Place de Bordeaux September 2022 – week three flies by

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.


Week two: the 2022 Place de Bordeaux September campaign continues

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.


The Place de Bordeaux September 2022 campaign begins

The Place de Bordeaux has welcomed dozens of new wines through its distribution system this year, with new releases expected from Champagnes Barons de Rothschild, Biserno, and Parusso, alongside old favourites such as Caiarossa, Catena Zapata, and Penfolds, among others. As the campaign kicks off, we take a closer look at the first week of entries.

Dawn at Seña vineyard. The Wine Lister team tasted Seña 2020 with the Viñedo Chadwick and Seña team via Zoom last month

Inaugurating this year’s campaign on Thursday 1st September was an offering from Seña, whose 2020 vintage was released at £85.83 per bottle (in-bond). Tasting with Wine Lister on Zoom, the Seña-Chadwick team explained that although 2020 was an unusually warm year in Chile, a wide diurnal range in the vineyards (thanks to its 230 – 460m altitude) made for a long ripening season, allowing the grapes to develop intensity of flavour whilst retaining freshness. The Wine Lister team describes the latest release as opulent, with a complex nose of black fruit, plum and spice; on the palate, its berry intensity is complemented by notes of cigar box and grilled meat.

Quintessa 2019 followed swiftly, and has so far been offered in the UK for £180 per bottle (in-bond). Antonio Galloni (Vinous) awards Quintessa 2019 94 points, calling it “one of the best wines I have tasted here in some time”. Another offering from Rutherford in the Napa Valley, Inglenook Rubicon 2019 was released on Friday 2nd September at £143 per bottle (in-bond).

Released on Monday 5th September, Opus One 2019 entered the market at £252 per bottle (in-bond), with the latest vintage so far receiving acclaim from critics including Antonio Galloni (Vinous), who awards 97 points and writes that “it has all the classicism that is such an Opus One signature” and praises its “sublime finish”. Opus One is one of the top 15 best fine wine brands in the world, according to Wine Lister’s Brand score (as part of our Pro scoring system, see more here) – with high quality in 2020 further cementing this reputation.

Tuesday 6th September saw the latest release from Masseto, whose 2019 vintage (released at £440 per bottle in-bond) was the first to be made entirely in the estate’s new dedicated state-of-the-art winery, as well as the first with 10% Cabernet Franc added to an historically 100% Merlot composition. These changes appear to have yielded positive results, with Vinous’ Antonio Galloni describing Masseto 2020 as “fabulous”, adding that it is “Silky, gracious, and super-refined”.

Vin de Constance 2019 was released on Tuesday 6th September

Following suit on Tuesday 6th September, Vin de Constance 2019 entered the market at £45 per 500ml bottle (in-bond). Achieving its highest Wine Lister score since the 2012 vintage (96), the 2019 is awarded 97 points from Vinous’ Neal Martin, who calls it a “superb Vin de Constance […] a step closer to what you might confusingly call a non-sweet dessert wine” – high praise indeed.

Wednesday 7th September saw the release of the 25th vintage of Almaviva – a warm and dry year, the 2020 harvest arrived almost three weeks earlier than usual. Almaviva 2020 entered the market at £120 per bottle (in-bond).

On Thursday 8th September, Château d’Yquem released the last remaining half bottles of the 2016 vintage ex-château at £165 per bottle (in-bond). The vintage achieved a Wine Lister score of 96, with Neal Martin (Vinous) tasting in February this year, awarding 95 points and noting it “has gained a bit more complexity in recent years”. Solaia 2019 was released on the same morning, with a likely UK onward selling price of £218 per bottle. Antonio Galloni (Vinous) sings its praises, giving 97 points and describing it as “the sort of wine I would like to spend a whole evening with”.

Viñedo Chadwick 2020 was also released on Thursday morning, so far being offered in the UK at around £232 per bottle (in-bond). This particular vintage is made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon (Petit-Verdot is usually included in the blend). Tasting with the Seña-Chadwick team on Zoom, Wine Lister describes it as a complex and opulent offering, exhibiting great energy, freshness, and intensity.

Friday 9th September saw the release of L’Aventure Estate Cuvée 2020 at a recommended UK onward selling price of £83 per bottle (in-bond). Wine Lister CEO Ella Lister (tasting on behalf of Le Figaro Vin) awards the 2020 95 points, describing it as “Pure and upfront on the nose, with dark fruit, slate, and cinnamon”. It should be noted that the next release of l’Aventure Estate Cuvée will be in September 2024, as the property is skipping a year in order to age the 2021 longer.

Also released this week were Cloudburst Chardonnay 2020, Cloudburst Cabernet Sauvignon 2019Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin 2020Opus One Overture 2019, Massetino 2020, Rieussec 2020, and R de Rieussec 2021. Upcoming releases over the next week are likely to include Penfolds Bin 169 2019, Cheval des Andes 2019, Bibi Graetz Colore 2020 & Testamatta 2020, Latour 2010, Petrolo Galatrona 2020, Catena Zapata Nicolas 2019, and Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour 2019.


On the money: Bordeaux 2021 reds at five different price points

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.


Solidarity with Ukraine: Wine Lister and Le Figaro Vin band together

In light of the relentless atrocities taking place in Ukraine, the Wine Lister team joined forces with its parent company, Le Figaro, on May 6th for a fundraising initiative for those impacted by the war.

As we enter the sixth month of conflict, the war in Ukraine remains particularly personal for the Wine Lister team, with our lead developer, Sasha, currently based in Western Ukraine having left his home in Kyiv. Sasha is part of the estimated 7.13 million people (approximately one-third of Ukraine’s population) who have been displaced in Ukraine, while a further 6.98 million people have fled to neighbouring countries.

In a bid to support those forced to reach safety and get access to medical care, we have come together to raise funds for Sasha’s chosen charity, Ukraine Charity. This London-based organisation was established with the goal of supporting various charitable causes in Ukraine, turning its attention this year to providing humanitarian aid across the country, including the provision of life-saving emergency medical equipment to those affected.

We have embarked on the challenge of collectively covering the distance between Wine Lister’s London office and the Ukrainian border (1,882km) by Friday 15th July, with the hope of raising £10,000 for Ukraine Charity. This distance represents the journey that thousands of Ukrainian refugees have been forced to make to reach safety in the United Kingdom, and one that Sasha could previously make with ease to join us in London.

The team’s incredible effort to cover the distance from Wine Lister’s London office to the city of Lviv, close to the Ukrainian border

Across both Wine Lister and Le Figaro Vin, 12 team members have been running, cycling, swimming, walking, and even sailing at every available opportunity since starting the challenge in May, logging our routes on Strava and tracking our miles on our JustGiving page. Despite a slow start coinciding with the Bordeaux en primeur campaign, we picked up the pace in June and redoubled our efforts for this extremely worthy cause.

We are now proud to have achieved our target distance ahead of our deadline.

We have so far raised £2,107 of our fundraising goal of £10,000. With just two weeks until we donate the final amount, we would be incredibly grateful for any further donations to support the life-changing services and vital aid provided by Ukraine Charity.

Click here to donate and to find out more about the fundraising initiative.


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


Bordeaux en primeur 2021: the Left Bank takes centre stage

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.


Bordeaux en primeur 2021 – top wines by Wine Lister score

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.


Ella Lister’s Le Figaro scores are integrated into the Wine Lister 100-point aggregated score

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.


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.

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