Extract: Illustrative analysis of en primeur release prices
Amongst other findings, Part II of Wine Lister’s annual Bordeaux Study, ‘Reaching for the stars’, examines how en primeur pricing over recent vintages compares with quality levels and secondary market prices, to consider what success in Bordeaux’s 2022 campaign might look like.
Extracted from the report, the chart below provides an illustrative analysis of the 2022 en primeur release prices, based on the 110 wines1 covered in the study. As the bulk of releases are yet to enter the market, this is an entirely theoretical projection which, if applied on a case-by-case basis, could nevertheless be a useful benchmark.
An extract from Part II of Wine Lister’s 2023 Bordeaux Study, providing an illustrative analysis of the 2022 en primeur release prices
Wine Lister’s Quality score aggregates recently-published scores from our five Bordeaux partner critics – Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin for Vinous.com, Bettane+Desseauve, JancisRobinson.com, and Ella Lister for Le Figaro – plus a small weighting for their average drinking window. By comparing the Quality score of the 2022 vintage (the highest ever recorded – 927) with the average of the most similar vintages (2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020), we obtain a quality-price ratio (QPR) of 6.66.
By dividing the Quality score of the 2022 vintage by this same QPR, we obtain a theoretical future market price of €160 for the 2022 vintage. To this price, we apply a discount of between 10% and 25%, corresponding to the minimum saving that consumers would expect to make versus buying the physical product two years later. This gives us an average release price of between €120 and €144 per bottle. By subtracting the average importers’ margin, we arrive at an average ex-négociant release price of €103 to €123 per bottle, i.e. -5% to +26% compared to the ex-négociant release price of 2021.
Out of the 48 releases covered by Wine Lister at the time of publishing, the average release price of the 2022 vintage is €71.3, compared to €62.6 in 2021, representing an increase of 14%.
1Some wines have been excluded due to a lack of regular en primeur releases or unreasonable prices.
Head to Wine Lister’s analysis page here to purchase the full study in English and French, while Pro Subscribers can access their copy for free here.
While the Bordeaux 2022 en primeur campaign is yet to kick off in full swing – with just a handful of key releases entering the market over the past three weeks – Wine Lister’s partner critics’ scores are now in (Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin from Vinous, Jancis Robinson, Bettane+Desseauve, and Le Figaro Vin) informing our overarching 100-point Wine Lister score. The WL score is the average score of our five partner critics, normalised to take into account each critic’s scale and scoring habits.
In our latest blog, we examine the wines that gain the top Wine Lister scores in 2022 – a vintage that, despite extreme weather conditions, is projected to be one of the best from this century (recap Ella Lister’s vintage report here).
The top 30 wines of the vintage are shown below, with all estates in this ranking boasting scores of 96 or above. Scores are shown to one decimal place to enable a detailed ranking within the top scorers.
The 30 wines with the highest WL scores, including their points increase versus 2021
Reflecting trade and press sentiment regarding the exceptional quality of the 2022s, wines across the board have generally seen their WL scores increase on last year, and in some cases, significantly. This year, 64 wines achieve WL scores of 95 and over, more than double the number in 2021 (29). While the estates that made up our top 30 last year had an average score of 95.2, this year’s top 30 average 96.8 points.
A glaring observation: only red wines have scored above 96 in 2022 – the vintage having been kinder to Merlots and Cabernets than to their white counterparts, which struggled to maintain acidity in the heat. Only six whites – predominantly sweet wines from Sauternes and Barsac – scored just outside the examined range, with WL scores of around 95. These include – in descending order – Climens, Suduiraut, Doisy-Daëne L’Extravagant de Doisy (last year’s top-scoring wine, with 97 points in 2021), Rayne-Vigneau, La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc (the only dry white), and Fargues.
Turning to reds, Cheval Blanc stands at the top of the podium (up 3 points on 2021), followed by Léoville Las Cases (up 3.4 points), Latour (up 2.9 points), Vieux Château Certan (up 2 points), Mouton-Rothschild (up 3.2 points), and Lafite Rothschild (up 2 points), which all boast rounded scores of 98. They are closely tailed by La Conseillante (up 2.1 points), Petrus (up 2.7 points), and Figeac (up 2.6 points), amongst others.
The biggest climbers in the top 30 this year were Léoville Las Cases, with a WL score increase of 3.4 since the 2021, followed by Trotanoy with 3.3, Mouton-Rothschild with 3.2, La Mission Haut-Brion and Beau-Séjour Bécot with 3.1 points. On average, these 30 estates saw an increase of 2.4 points compared to 2021.
Right Bank estates take up the majority of places in this year’s top-30 list (56% compared to 45% in 2021). This is mainly thanks to 10 Saint-Émilion properties and their limestone terroirs featuring in the top 30 – exactly one third – versus 24% last year, whereas Pomerol’s representation is similar year-on-year (23% versus 21%). Other appellations featuring ore strongly in the top 30 are Pauillac (17% up from 14%), and Margaux and Saint-Estèphe (both 7% up from 3%), while Pessac-Léognan and Saint-Julien have seen their listings reduce (10% versus 17%; 5% versus 7%, respectively).
Tasting for Le Figaro, Ella Lister and her colleague, Béatrice Delamotte, spent a fortnight in Bordeaux tasting 600 wines en primeur from the extraordinary 2022 vintage – extraordinary in terms of its textures, its accessibility, and its unexpected freshness in such a dry, hot year – that has produced wines with technically high levels of tannin which somehow just melt into the background. We tasted many of the wines together, and sometimes two or three times in order to be able to judge each sample as faithfully as possible.
After a difficult 2021 vintage, 2022 is without doubt a contender for the vintage of the century – so far –, showing signs at this early stage of outdoing the magnificent triptych 2018, 2019, and 2020, and will perhaps go down in history as the 1982 has done. After almost 20 years as Technical Director at Château Cos d’Estournel, Dominique Arangoïts expressed this in slightly different words, suggesting that 2022 “might be the wine of my life”.
And the most extraordinary thing is that nobody expected it. The vines were subjected to some of the driest conditions on record, as well as above-average temperatures. However, there were no extreme heatwaves (as in 2003), and night-time temperatures remained relatively cool, dropping on average to around 15°c. The vines grew accustomed to the hot, dry conditions early in the growing season, which meant they adapted their consumption and their canopy growth in order to cope with what little water they had, making do with reserves amassed during a rainy 2021, then a top-up in June, and then surviving 50 dry days until mid-August. Refuting any comparison with 2003, Nicolas Audebert, Managing Director of Châteaux Canon and Rauzan-Ségla, uses the analogy of an office worker being cooped up until August, and getting sunburnt going out into the bright sun for the first time, whereas 2022 was a more gradual acclimatisation for the vines.
Nicolas Audebert, Managing Director of Châteaux Canon, Rauzan-Ségla and Berliquet
One of the buzzwords of the vintage, cited over and over again in our conversations with owners, winemakers, and consultants in the region was ‘resilience’. “ The vines, the soils, and the people were resilient,” said Omri Ram, Cellar Master and Head of Research and Development at Château Lafleur. That the vines survived the prolonged drought with relative ease and produced such stunning results was a shock to everyone, with many vignerons telling us they were more stressed than vines. Mathieu Cuvelier, owner of Clos Fourtet, found the experience quite stressful, even though “there was little that needed doing – no green harvesting, no de-leafing, very light vinification”. Pierre-Olivier Clouet, Technical Director at Château Cheval Blanc concurs, recounting “the vineyard made the wine all by itself”.
By early August the pips were already brown, i.e. phenolically ripe, “We had never witnessed that before” explains Frédéric Faye, the Managing Director of Château Figeac. However, the extreme weather conditions did leave room for mistakes for those were not attentive enough to picking dates or not gentle enough with their extraction. So 2022 wasn’t a vintage of homogenous quality, but overall, it was a pleasure to taste, and much easier for professional tasters than 2021, where we battled with oak, firm tannins, and biting acidity to assess potential quality. This year, the majority of wines are already so expressive and caressing as to be almost ready to drink, while possessing all the necessary attributes to age well.
“The wonderful thing this year is that every grape variety did rather well,” exclaimed Christian Seely, Managing Director of AXA Millésimes, parent company of Château Pichon Baron, explaining that while above all it’s a great Cabernet year, “the Merlots are as beautiful as they’ve ever been”. Many wines in 2022 featured a higher proportion of Merlot than usual, as the Cabernet berries were small and yielded less juice. In fact, 2022 sparked lots of positivity around Merlot, with Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal, co-owner of Château Angélus, commenting that the vintage shows “Merlot can exist long into the future”, contrary to recent concerns about its capacity to stand up to a warmer, drier climate.
Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal, co-owner and CEO of Château Angélus
The red wines – the unquestionable winners in 2022 – are dense and concentrated, yet fresh, fruity, floral, and sappy. Above all, the best wines display a range of magical textures from silk and cashmere to duckling feathers, and a common and delightful thread through many of the wines is a vegetal florality reminiscent of the sap of fresh cut flowers. The least successful wines present harsh tannins. The best ones, on the other hand, are so fresh and tender that you would never know they came from such a dry, hot vintage, nor guess the resulting high IPTs and low pHs.
The dry whites, however, found it harder to contend with the vintage, and the low acidity levels can be more apparent than in the red. There are, nonetheless, a handful of successful whites worth looking out for, which possess the best and subtlest exotic notes, a finesse and softness that counteract the richness of the vintage. The sweet wines are very good, if not incredible, rich with delicious botrytis flavours and very high residual sugar levels.
The 2022 vintage is not one with an obviously overperforming appellation or subregion. Left and Right Bank made astonishing wines, and we have been inspired by our tastings to bestow an unprecedented number of potential 100-point scores to the wines. You can discover all eight possibly “perfect” wines, and hundreds more, on the Wine Lister and Figaro Vin websites now.
Key findings from this year’s first regional report
In anticipation of this year’s en primeur releases, Wine Lister has published Part 1 of its annual in-depth Bordeaux Study. In collaboration with Wine-Searcher, our market overview examines the region’s price performance and comparative popularity progression, and examines the wines that have seen the greatest increase in Wine Lister Quality, Brand, and Economic scores over the last year. Drawing upon valuable insight from 48 leading trade survey respondents, the study also identifies which properties have benefited from a rise in trade confidence over the past year, and explores the key benefits of the en primeur system.
Please see our key findings below, or download the study digest in English: Bordeaux Study Digest Part 1 – 2023 ENG or in French: Bordeaux Study Digest – 2023 FR.
The technical director revolutionising Pomerol’s Château L’Évangile: “If my wine was a person, it would be Catherine Deneuve”.
Wine Lister’s parent company, Le Figaro Vin, has launched its inaugural series of the 50 best winemakers in France in 2023. Interviews with each winemaker making the top 50 will be published throughout the course of the year – in French on the Le Figaro Vin website, and in English on Wine Lister’s blog. The first in the series, #50, is Olivier Trégoat – Technical Director of Pomerol’s Château L’Évangile. Here he shares the highlights of his viticultural journey so far. In just a few years, Olivier Trégoat has managed to realise the full potential of l’Évangile, getting the most out of the appellation’s natural generosity, while reinstating a remarkable freshness in the wine.
Le Figaro: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?
Olivier Trégoat: I am very happy, but give most of the credit to the team, as it is, above all, a real collective effort. Alone, I would be good for nothing.
Have you been training for long?
Yes, I’ve been training since 1997. Everything I’ve done in my previous winemaking roles contributes to what I have achieved at L’Évangile. I got my start in Saint-Émilion, which catalysed my interest in soil studies – while my previous job as an independent consultant for large Bordeaux estates (including Château Cheval Blanc) was invaluable.
Who is your mentor?
At the start of my winemaking journey, it was Kiss Van Leeuwen, a viticulture professor at Bordeaux Sciences Agro and the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences (ISVV). Today, my mentors are my neighbours in Pomerol – whose proximity prevents me from making mistakes and provides me with constant inspiration.
What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?
The terroir. For me, climate and soil make up 80% of the wine.
To what do you owe your success?
To my education, my curiosity, and the tools at my disposal – a triptych of soil, vine, and wine.
Is your family proud of you?
Yes, I’m sure they are.
Who are your best supporters?
Paradoxically, some of my competitors, but also my former clients from when I was an independent consultant.
Red or white wine?
The older I get, the more white wine I drink!
The king of grape varieties?
Cabernet Franc. At Château L’Évangile, it’s a grape variety that we will continue to plant and conduct research into – particularly because of its freshness. And also because I love the wines of the Loire Valley!
Your favourite wine?
Château L’Évangile 2006. It is a harmonious vintage that offers the delicate touch of l’Évangile’s hallmark tannins, alongside a more fleshy characteristic – but without excess, and still retaining a beautiful freshness.
Your favourite vintage?
2011 – something slightly different. It was not well understood around the time of its release, and it came after 2009 and 2010, which were widely-recognised as exceptional vintages. It’s just starting to open up today.
If your wine was a person, who would it be?
Catherine Deneuve. A great, timeless actress who knew how to challenge herself in different roles.
What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wine?
Drink it with people you love.
Have you ever thought about chemically-enhancing yourself, or your wine?
No, never. Nature is generous in Pomerol; I always say that I have my foot on the brake rather than the gas.
Who is your strongest competition in Pomerol?
Which competitions do you dread the most?
Frosty periods in early April.
What was your greatest win?
I had beginners’ luck. My entire career in wine so far has been a bit like a race in which I have ended up on the podium against all odds!
What has been your most innovative strategy?
While we do things in a very simple manner in the winery, in the vineyard, we make very rigorous intra-parcel selections on different soils. I sometimes say that we harvest in a Sauternes style. We love to split hairs during this critically decisive period. It’s a real challenge to be a winemaker in Pomerol today.
Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?
On the podium, Château Lafleur. They are very sharp and precise in what they do, with consistently good ideas. And for my successor at the estate, I don’t know yet…
A few words about the estate:
The property was founded in the mid-18th century under the name “Fazilleau”. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Léglise family, who played a significant role in expanding the vineyard, sold it to a lawyer named Isambert, who renamed it L’Évangile. He expanded the estate to around 13ha – not far off its current size.
Since 1990, Château L’Évangile has been under the helm of Baron Éric de Rothschild, who also owns Château Lafite in Pauillac (among others in the appellation), as well as Château Rieussec in Sauternes. His daughter, Saskia, a former New York Times correspondent writing from the Ivory Coast, and the author of a novel, joined her father in Bordeaux in 2017. The estate has benefitted from significant investments, as well as the technical expertise of the Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) teams for over 30 years. Juliette Couderc was appointed Chief Operating Officer in 2020, having previously managed the vineyards of Chinese estate, Long Dai, which also belongs to the group. She works alongside Olivier Trégoat.
The finish line for the 2021 campaign is in sight, with only a few key releases pending. We reflect on how it compares with previous campaigns and highlight the more promising releases of the last few days.
A challenging vintage in 2021 generated what may be characterised as a fraught en primeur campaign. While prices for many releases were slightly higher than perhaps warranted by quality, there are some real gems to be found for those willing to take a closer look. With only a small handful of key releases left to come (Vieux Château Certan, Petrus, Le Pin, and Trotanoy), we take a look at how 2021 compares with previous en primeur campaigns.
Of the 110 en primeur releases to date that Wine Lister has followed in 2021, 2020, and 2019, the average 2021 release price of £97.99 is virtually flat on 2020 (£97.71) and up 17% on 2019 (£83.98). 29 wines released at prices that were up on 2020, 52 flat or all but flat ignoring the minor effect of exchange rate discrepancies and 29 down on 2020.
The biggest increases are justifiably for sweet and dry whites (+51% for Lafaurie-Peyraguey, +41% for Suduiraut, and +33% for Pavillon Blanc).
Meanwhile, the 29 wines that have released below 2020 prices have all been reds, with the largest decreases being Montrose, La Mission Haut-Brion, and l’Eglise Clinet, at -12%, -11%, and -11% respectively.
This week’s releases – Tuesday 14th June
Some of the standout releases from the past few days are outlined below.
Margaux was one of the first to be released on Tuesday 14th June at £425 – down just 2% on the 2020 price and up 19% on the 2019. Ella praised its “majestic nose”, while Antonio Galloni describes it as a “powerful, surprisingly brooding wine”. Ranked joint-fourth by trade experts in terms of highest confidence, this First Growth has likely reinforced this trust with the 2021 vintage. Given the post-release price rises for both 2020 and 2019, it is an attractive prospect.
Behind the scenes at Château Margaux with Alexis Leven-Mentzelopoulos (Deputy General Manager, Strategy and Development), Alexandra Petit-Mentzelopoulos (Deputy General Manager, Communication and Image) and Philippe Bascaules (Managing Director) (l-r)
L’Église Clinet was released at £208.37, with a score of 94-96 from both Neal Martin and Antonio Galloni. Considering its impressive quality, as well as the fact that its price is below the market prices for both the 2020 and the 2019, this year’s release could prove popular.
Wednesday 15th June
One of Wednesday morning’s star releases was Les Carmes Haut-Brion at £79. While this is higher than both the 2020 and the 2019 opening prices, it follows the golden en primeur rule, offering a 31% and 35% discount on current 2020 and 2019 market prices, respectively. With its faultless track record for price performance post-release, this proved one of the most obvious buys of the campaign.
Pomerol up-and-comer, Clinet arrived on the scene at £66.50. Achieving positive scores from Wine Lister’s partner critics, the latest release looks interesting, with quality around the same level as its 2018, and price below current market prices for the 2020 and 2019.
Achieving outstanding quality in this difficult vintage, Ducru-Beaucaillou 2021 was released at £159. The latest release matches existing market pricing of the 2020, and sits at a small premium (6%) to the already-bottled 2019. This should work on the basis of Ducru-Beaucaillou’s “super-second” status.
Thursday 16th June
One of Thursday’s first releases was Haut-Brion, priced at £425, down 3% on the 2020 and up 49% on the 2019 release. Wine Lister partner critic, Neal Martin (for Vinous) described it as having a “more extravagant, charming bouquet compared directly with La Mission at the moment”. La Mission Haut-Brion was also released, at £225, representing a moderate discount on both the 2020 and the 2019 release prices.
Haut-Brion Blanc was released at £610. The release has strong credentials, as the top-scoring dry Bordeaux white in 2021 by WL score (96). This is a release which is sure to attract attention in a vintage hailed for the quality of its white wines.
Friday 17th June
Friday saw La Conseillante released at £157 – flat on the 2020 release price, and 30% up on the 2019. It scores impressively in 2021 – indeed, Ella notes, “this is a Conseillante that has perhaps finally found its 21st century identity since Cazaux started making the wine”. Given the property’s bright future, and an opening price undercutting the now dwindling stock of the 2019 vintage by 31%, this is likely worth backing.
Figeac also released its Grand Vin, at £163 – up on its 2020 and 2019 release prices by 4% and 35% respectively, though comfortably below current market prices of the 2019, 2018, 2016, and 2015. Praised for its highly quality, and of course with positive speculation surrounding its Saint-Émilion classification status, Figeac will likely see good interest.
Tasting Figeac with Frédéric Faye, Managing Director at Château Figeac, before Figeac’s new cellar celebration dinner
Also released this week were Saint-Pierre, Gloria, Clos Fourtet, Pavillon Rouge, Pavillon Blanc, Haut-Bailly, Durfort-Vivens, Beau-Séjour Bécot, Pape Clément, Pape Clément Blanc, Valandraud, Petit Village, La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, Quintus, Domaine de Chevalier, Calon Ségur, La Fleur Pétrus, Certan de May, Belair-Monange, and Pavie-Macquin.
By virtue of being linked to vintages at the mercy of the cyclicality of nature, it appears that this year’s campaign represents a downcycle, according to feedback thus far from Wine Lister’s trade network.
For further details on the vintage, pricing, and popularity of Bordeaux in the context of the 2021 vintage, Part II of Wine Lister’s Bordeaux Study is now available to download here.
It increasingly looks as though the campaign will be more or less drawing to a close this week, with a further flurry of Bordeaux 2021s released en primeur at the end of last week and into Monday, including key entries from the likes of Beychevelle, Pichon Baron, Cos d’Estournel, and Mouton.
Released on Thursday 9th June at £58.90 per bottle, Beychevelle 2021 entered the market 16% below stocks of the 2020 (which has risen in price by around 15% since last year), and otherwise substantially below all other back vintages. With a consistent track record of post-release price performance and critic speculation of the 2021’s promising potential, this may well be one worth backing en primeur.
Trotte Vieille 2021 – an oft-forgotten Saint-Émilion Classé “B” to get behind – also released on Thursday at £53 per bottle (just below the current market price of 2020 and 6% above the now scarce 2019, and otherwise comfortably below recent back vintages of comparable quality). Following suit, Brane-Cantenac 2021 entered the market at £47 (6% below the 2020 vintage and below the prior five back vintages in the market).
Pichon Comtesse 2021 released on Thursday at £134 (just below last year’s release price and 30% below the current market value of the record-quality 2019). The vintage marks the estate’s first year of organic conversion, with Nicolas Glumineau informing the Wine Lister team that 2021 was ” the worst in France for 74 years in terms of climate”, but excellent for Cabernet. Volume is down 70% in 2021, with the vintage comprising 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc – the highest proportion since the 2013 vintage (100% Cabernet Sauvignon). These drastically reduced volumes mean that anyone looking to add Pichon Comtesse 2021 to their cellar likely needs to buy it now.
Friday 10th June saw releases from the likes of Giscours, Pichon Baron, and Lafon-Rochet – the latter marking the last ever vintage tended by the estate’s third-generation owner, Basile Tesseron, and the first blended by its new Managing Director, Christophe Congé (of Lafite fame). Released at £25 per bottle, Lafon-Rochet 2021 enters the market below the price of all available back vintages.
Releases came in thick and fast on Monday 13th June, with first growth Mouton entering at £425 per bottle (11% and 15% below the current availability of the 2020 and 2019 vintages respectively). Its little sibling, Le Petit Mouton 2021 was released at £170 per bottle – it appears in eighth place amongst the wines that have seen the highest relative increase between ex-négociant release prices and current market prices across vintages 2016-2020 (see below – extract from Part I of Wine Lister’s 2022 Bordeaux Study).
Cos d’Estournel also entered the market on Monday at £143 per bottle (5% below current market availability of the 2020, and around 8% above the 2019), followed shortly by Cos d’Estournel Blanc at £105 per bottle. According to Wine Lister’s Quality score (892), the 2021 vintage is the best Cos d’Estournel Blanc ever produced, with Wine Lister CEO, Ella Lister calling it “delectable, lingering in the mouth”. Le Gay and La Violette owner, Henri Parent released his 2021s on Monday at £69.50 and £240 per bottle respectively. The latter achieves a higher Quality score in 2021 than in 2020 or 2018, while scarce availability of recent vintages on the UK market may also drive interest in the latest release.
Also released during this period: Chasse-Spleen, Réserve de la Comtesse, Léoville Poyferré, Ausone, Lascombes, Ferrière, Giscours, Pagodes de Cos, Aile d’Argent, Rouget, Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Gruaud-Larose, Larcis-Ducasse, Smith Haut Lafitte.
Following a French national holiday on Monday 6th June, this year’s Bordeaux en primeur releases have picked up momentum this week, with new entries from the likes of Lafite, Troplong-Mondot, Canon, and Rauzan-Ségla over the past two days.
The first of the Firsts was released on Tuesday 7th June, with Lafite 2021 entering the market at £484 per bottle – below every single back vintage on the market, and 19% and 27% below the current price of the 2020 and 2019 vintages respectively. The latest release is made from 96% Cabernet Sauvignon – the highest percentage since 2016 (and 1961 before that). Domaines Barons de Rothschild sibling, L’Evangile, also released on Tuesday at £185 per bottle (flat on the 2020 release price), having been met with positive feedback from several trade members during tasting week.
Troplong-Mondot 2021 released at £71 per bottle (1% down on the 2020 release price). Tasting at the property, Wine Lister was reminded by CEO, Aymeric de Gironde that 2021 was the first vintage of Troplong-Mondot made in the estate’s new 42-cuves-strong cellar, which de Gironde said “was perfect timing, as we no longer had to make any winemaking compromises”.
One of the Wine Lister team’s favourite wines from tasting week, Montrose 2021 entered the market on Wednesday 8th June at £113.40 per bottle, with the latest release marking the property’s first year of organic conversion. Technical Director, Vincent Decup, told us, “We have never done so much [in the vineyard]. To compensate for the rain, we have left more grass between the vines, trimmed higher, thinned the leaves on both sides”.
Canon 2021 was also released on Wednesday at £90 per bottle, offering a 32% and 22% discount on the current market prices of the 2020 and 2019 vintages respectively. Canon ranks in sixth place for top confidence ratings from key international trade members, (see more in Part I of Wine Lister’s Bordeaux Study 2022), as shown in the chart below.
Chanel sibling Rauzan-Ségla 2021 followed suit, entering the market at £60 per bottle (14% and 27% below the current 2020 and 2019 prices). Managing Director, Nicolas Audebert told Wine Lister that 2021 was “the most stressful and exhausting vintage ever” at Rauzan-Ségla, though he believes the 2021 is “as good as the last three vintages”. Following the highest amount of intra-parcel zoning ever done in the vineyard, the team were able to better identify the very best lots, and make a wine that Wine Lister’s CEO, Ella Lister describes as having “Noble flavours, an inimitable poise and texture, like a Chanel coat”.
Also released on Wednesday at £48 per bottle, La Gaffelière 2021 sits just below current market prices of the last three vintages, which have all seen price growth in the secondary market. The Wine Lister team found La Gaffelière 2021 to be dangerously drinkable, and at £48, it represents strong value for its quality within Saint-Emilion. Similarly featured in Wine Lister’s latest Bordeaux Study, La Gaffelière has increased its Wine Lister trade confidence rating hugely year-on-year, by almost 2 points out of 10.
Also released during this period: Fieuzal, Fieuzal Blanc, Kirwan, Dame de Montrose, Meyney, Grand-Puy-Ducasse, Phélan Ségur, Beauregard, Clerc-Milon, and d’Issan
While the campaign is starting to pick up speed, with many producers having released their wines just before the UK’s Queen’s Platinum Jubilee bank holidays, the pricing of en primeur is not living up to the market’s expectations. May ended with a short week that saw some key releases, including Château Pédesclaux, Château Marquis de Terme, Château d’Armailhac, Château Talbot and Château Suduiraut.
Château Marquis de Terme
Château Pédesclaux was the first wine to be released this week, going on sale on Monday 30th May, at £26.25 per bottle (all prices are quoted per bottle In Bond ex-VAT and duty), a lower price than the seven previous vintages available. Since its acquisition 13 years ago in 2009 by Jacky Lorenzetti, the quality of the wine has been steadily increasing (doubtless thanks to the investment made by its owner).
Tuesday 31st was marked by a number of releases, including several Sauternes. Château Suduiraut was released at £59.40, a historically high price, justified by the vanishingly small quantities produced (yields of just 1 hl/hectare), linked to the extreme weather conditions. Christian Seely, general manager, describes the 2021 as “tragically beautiful”. Indeed, Suduiraut 2021 is the highest rated vintage by critics since 2009, and the second best of its appellation by Wine Lister score, all vintages combined (coming just after Yquem).
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey was released shortly after Château Suduiraut, with a release price of £58.44. The 2021 is also one of the most expensive vintages ever produced by the estate, along with the 2019 and 2018, justified by the tiny volume of only 1,200 bottles. The wines will feature special labels designed by Lalique.
Also released on Tuesday 31st, Château Marquis de Terme came onto the market at £29.40, 8% below the current price of the 2020. The 2021 received a positive review from Ella Lister tasting for Le Figaro, who noted “a level of sophistication, which shows that the gradual progress of this wine over the last few years is thanks to fundamental changes whose positive effect can be seen even in a more difficult vintage.” This was followed by the release of Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry, at £37.00, below the current market prices of the previous three vintages.
Tuesday also saw the release of Château d’Armailhac at £32.60, similarly priced to the 2020 and 7% below the 2019, which is available in bottle. This vintage, described as a “terroir vintage”, clearly showed itself in the 2021 Château d’Armailhac, where Cabernets are king (with perhaps a new level of grace compared to previous vintages).
Château Talbot came onto the market on Wednesday 1 June at £39.35, slightly below the release prices for the previous 2020 and 2019 vintages. It was closely followed by Château Larrivet Haut-Brion rouge, released at £23.59, and whose 2021 marks a turn towards the future style of the wines, containing no Merlot in its final blend (resulting in a 20% reduction in volume). “It was just better without,” confided Bruno Lemoine, general manager, as warmer temperatures continue to force earlier ripening dates for the variety.
Despite the bank holiday in the UK, a key market for Bordeaux, Thursday saw the release of several wines at very similar prices to last year, despite the drop in quality, namely Châteaux Gazin, Prieuré-Lichine, Canon-la-Gaffelière and Lagrange.
Also released this week: Châteaux Malartic-Lagravière Rouge et Blanc, Siran, Péby Faugères, Marquis d’Alesme, Branaire-Ducru, Lynch-Bages, Grand-Mayne, du Tertre, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, La Mondotte and Carbonnieux Rouge et Blanc.
As the Bordeaux en primeur campaign continues, Wine Lister examines the best-quality wines from a challenging vintage (read our vintage report here).
Wine Lister’s partner critics’ scores are now all in, and with one new addition for the 2021 en primeur campaign: Le Figaro’s scores have been added to those of Wine Lister’s existing critics (Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin from Vinous, Jancis Robinson, Bettane+Desseauve, and Jeannie Cho-Lee) to create the overarching Wine Lister 100-point score. The top 29 wines of the vintage are shown below.
From a year acknowledged as the most complicated vintage since 2013, 29 wines achieve WL scores of 95 and over, compared to 43 last year. Wine Lister’s 100-point score combines normalised scores from Wine Lister’s partner critics. For the first time this year, the score also includes ratings from Wine Lister’s parent affiliate, Le Figaro Vin.
Bordeaux 2021 – Wine Lister scores of 95 and above
In 2021, the top- scoring wine is L’Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne from the Sauternes appellation with a score of 97 points – one point up on its score in 2020 . Two other sweet wines make the top cut – Suduiraut and Rieussec – in a year that has produced beautiful Sauternes and Barsac wines, if very little of them. Indeed, wines from sweet appellations in 2021 show quality overall that is unsurpassed since the 2015 vintage.
These are joined by two dry whites – Haut-Brion Blanc and La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, earning 96 and 95 points respectively. Haut-Brion’s red counterpart and Lafite take an equal lead over fellow first growths, Latour, Margaux, and Mouton in 2021.
Also equalling the impressive score of 96 is super-second, Ducru-Beaucaillou, and left bank darlings, Cheval Blanc and Lafleur (both already released – see our latest release blog for details).
Of the 19 reds earning a score of 95, 11 (or 58%) hail from Saint-Emilion and Pomerol collectively. This is perhaps surprising, given that the vintage is reported as having been more difficult for Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon. With fewer top-scoring wines than last year, the 2021 vintage is all about terroir and resources, with first growths and renowned right bank stars dominating the list.
However, even top scores are lower than in 2020. In 2020, the highest scoring wine was Chateau Margaux with a Wine Lister score of 98, 10 wines scored 97 points and 14 wines scored 96 points (compared to just one 97-pointer in 2021, six 96-point wines and 22 95-point wines).
That’s an average top 29 score of 96.3 in 2020 compared with 95.3 in 2021. That the difference is only one point in the context of such a difficult vintage is surely a reflection of excellent wine making across the region.
Most of the ranking movements are therefore relative, reflecting the fact that scoring 96-97 points in the 2020 vintage was more widespread that in 2021. For example, Suduiraut gains 31 places in 2021 despite also achieving a 96-point rating in 2020. Similarly, Troplong-Mondot and Le Pin are also risers despite their scores remaining unchanged compared to 2020.
One particular success among this is La Gaffelière, which ranks 15th in 2021 with a score of 95, a three point increase on its 2020 score of 92.