Industry opinion on the pricing of Bordeaux’s 2023 vintage

Viable release price distribution (as featured in Bordeaux Study Part I: Scalpel, please)

Wine Lister has published Part I of its annual Bordeaux study, titled Scalpel, please’. The report is informed by Wine Lister’s 80 million rows of data and reveals the results of our latest survey of 58 CEOs, MDs, and wine department heads from companies represent well over one-third of global fine wine revenues. Our latest blog explores some of the key findings from Part I, including trade recommendations for how the impending 2023 vintage should be priced in order to restore Bordeaux and the en primeur system to full health. We asked our survey respondents the following question:

On average, in order for the 2023 en primeur campaign to attract decent demand, what do you believe to be the maximum viable release price vs 2022?

When asked about the pricing of the upcoming en primeur campaign, the respondents called unilaterally for a price reduction on the 2022 vintage, while suggesting an average release price discount of -30%.

Americas and Asia (both smaller subsets of the survey) agree on lower median discounts, proposing -20% and -25%, respectively, while European trade members suggest an average -30%. La Place de Bordeaux and specialist merchants / retailers both suggest a median discount of -30%, top tier merchants / importers recommend a -23% discount, and auction houses call for an average -10% on the 2022.

Median by geography (as featured in Bordeaux – Part I, Scalpel, please)


Median by trade sector (as featured in Bordeaux – Part I, Scalpel, please)


Purchase the full study here (in French and English) to read more exclusive insights from the fine wine trade’s leading industry figures.

Bordeaux Study 2024 Part I: “Scalpel, please”

Study digest: key findings from from Bordeaux – Part I, “Scalpel, please”

With Bordeaux en primeur around the corner, Wine Lister has now published Part I of its 2024 Bordeaux Study: “Scalpel, please

The report is informed by our annual survey of 58 international leading trade figures alongside our 80 million rows of data, providing crucial information for those who are selling or buying Bordeaux en primeur over the coming months. Purchase the full report here for £150 (in French or in English) for exclusive insight on Bordeaux’s top-performing wines and market expectations for the 2023 release price. Our Pro subscribers can access their free copy here.

Please see our key findings below, or download the study digest in English: Study Digest ENG or in French: Study Digest FR.

France’s 50 best winemakers: Guillaume Pouthier of Château les Carmes Haut-Brion

Managing Director of the pioneering Pessac-Léognan estate: “Thinking you’ve made it spells the beginning of the end!”

Guillaume Pouthier, Managing Director of Château les Carmes Haut-Brion, has been awarded the title of France’s best winemaker by Le Figaro. The Pessac-Léognan estate, which today boasts a state-of-the-art winery designed by Philippe Starck, has experienced an unprecedented rise in popularity in recent years, its leaps and bounds in quality driven by the winemaker’s technical daring and spirit of innovation.

“I owe a lot to my mother,” the Toulouse-born winemaker tells Le Figaro. It was his mother who encouraged him to study agricultural engineering, when he had more or less given up on the idea of pursuing higher education. Today, after three decades of winemaking, he embodies one of the most meteoric success stories in the Bordeaux wine region, if not the whole French wine-making industry, over the past five years. Today, Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion is the fastest-selling en primeur wine, with prices that continue to rise on the secondary market, whereas so many others end up experiencing a decline. What lies behind such enthusiasm? The combination of a unique style – which manages to be both modern and authentic, and is appreciated by critics and consumers alike – with canny marketing management has made the château utterly irresistible. Rare are the winemakers who are able to tackle both fronts with so much panache, whilst remaining kind and humble. All these qualities justify the choice of Guillaume Pouthier at the head of Le Figaro Vin’s ranking of France’s 50 best winemakers.

Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Guillaume Pouthier: In wine, we never talk about “champions”. The word “champion” is appropriate in sport, where there’s a winner and a loser. Wines, on the other hand, will all reach their target consumers. We make wine in relation to a particular place. No one wine is any better than another; it’s just the purpose of each wine which ends up being different. The reason we make wine is linked to a form of expression. I don’t think I’m any better than the next winemaker and, what’s more, I’m very surprised to be so high in your ranking, especially when I see the exceptional people who have appeared in it. They are legends, whereas I am just a little troublemaker from Toulouse!

Have you been training for long?

I made my first vintage in 1994, so I’ve been doing it for 30 years. There’s still a lot left for me to do. It’s a real marathon – or even an ultra-endurance run. But I’d better lose some weight if I want to do one of those!

Who is your mentor?

I have several. My personal coaches are the people around me – my family – who put into perspective the pressure that I do, at times, feel. Professionally, one always has several mentors. In 1998, when I was only 25 years old, Jean-Marie Chadronnier took a big gamble in handing Château La Garde over to me, a young gun with no experience, and, for that, I am very, very grateful to him. Since then, there have been many people who have inspired me, for the purity of the wines that they produce, which move me beyond words. I am in awe of the wines made at Gonon (Domaine Pierre Gonon in Saint-Joseph, ed.), and of those made by Pierre-Olivier Clouet at Cheval Blanc, and by Baptiste and Julie Guinaudeau at Château Lafleur.

Would you say that wine is a team sport?

The two are synonymous. You can’t make wine without a team behind you, as, when you’re making wine, you’re never 100% right. Each vintage is made up of lots of different decisions, or paths, that you take as you go along. Each one is different, so each year we have to seek out new paths, in order to get to the same destination and make a great wine.

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

It’s 100% about place. The winemaker is but a passing presence. Wine was made before they arrived and will continue to be made once they have gone. The winemaker is merely giving a voice, through the various vintages that they work on, to the place. They are the linchpin – the go-between that links the place to the wine that is produced from it. To say otherwise would be to give too much importance to the winemaker’s actions. Of course, we take decisions, and we make choices – but, ultimately, making great wines in less than great locations is something I don’t believe to be possible.

To what or to whom do you owe your success?

I owe it firstly to my parents, who made it possible for me to pursue higher education when it seemed like I wasn’t cut out for it. It was my mother who encouraged me to apply for Purpan (an agricultural engineering school in Toulouse, ed.); I was amazed to be accepted. It was there that I learnt to use a team sport mentality in my work – and it was that very mentality that I wanted to be trained to use. My studies there really helped me in thinking about the questions “What is higher education for?” and “What purpose does the concept of a team serve?”. On our own, we can go far but, together, we can go really far.

Is your family proud of you?

My daughters are 15 and 21. I’m not sure they truly understand what it means to be a winemaker. I think they love their father for who he is, and what he stands for in their eyes, without any thought of professional success. As for my parents, we’re quite reserved in my family, we don’t really show our emotions, we’ve never had this need to say out loud that we’re proud of each other. In our family, pride is out of place.

Who has been your biggest sponsor throughout your career?

I have several. The first is the owner of the estate, Patrice Pichet, who, each vintage, lets me try to make an exceptional wine with my team. Beyond that, our best supporters are all the wine enthusiasts out there who, year after year, are willing to invest a bit of money to buy these fine bottles. I hope they get their moment of pleasure from them.

Your favourite colour?

Blue. It’s a colour that you can find in lots of different places and one that I like to see in the distance – the sea, the sky, the horizon. What is wonderful with wine is that you must never give yourself any limits, never think you’ve got it all covered, you have to keep saying to yourself all the time that you are just at the beginning of your journey.

Your favourite grape variety?

Cabernet Franc, as it’s an unpredictable variety, which is very difficult to tame and to grow to perfect ripeness.

Your favourite wine?

One of my most treasured tasting memories remains a Jean-Louis Chave wine. I think it was during his father’s time – a Cuvée Cathelin 1991. It was a legendary Syrah, as it had everything that you could ever look for in a wine: perfect balance, a lot of complexity, with that kind of characterful elegance that Hermitage wines possess. Above all, it was a wine that made a very great impression on me.

What’s your favourite vintage?

I have two: 2016 and 2022. They are both vintages where we made certain choices – making choices always implies some form of sacrifice.  At a certain moment, you have to accept that to improve, you have to make wines that are a little less extracted, less in-your-face, which will allow you, somehow, to make wines that are much more expressive. Today, those two vintages are the translation of a particular place, they are the image that I visualise when I think of Les Carmes, they represent the choices that we have made as a team, and which have allowed us to make the wine that I had always hoped to make.

If your wine were a person, who would it be?

One person, and one person only: the place it comes from.

What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wine?

Sharing a bottle amongst friends – not necessarily with connoisseurs, but with people who appreciate our winemaking philosophy and where the wine comes from.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing yourself, or your wine?

I enhance my wine every day, with the passion that my whole team puts into their work. That shared passion that runs throughout the team – from the winemaker through to the estate owner – is the best enhancer that exists. In life, you need to be both willing and able to do things. We are lucky enough, with our owners, that we are able to do whatever we want to do – which is fairly rare!

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of having encouraged my team to work together, as one, and to take pride in each other’s work, in the project that we have accomplished together and in the recognition that we, and the château, receive from our peers.

Who is your most formidable opponent in Bordeaux?

Mother Nature. With global warming, things are getting very difficult, very stressful, because there are so many different elements and events which can spoil a harvest. It really worries me, as I think this phenomenon will be considerably magnified in vintages to come. Behind each vineyard, there are people, and decades and decades of work which could be erased in a few minutes. You might escape the clutches of disaster for a year, two years, perhaps even three, but I’m not sure you can escape them eternally, between frost, hailstorms, diseases, heatwaves, etc. We do everything we can to prepare for these events, but I’m not sure that we will always manage to recover. We’re putting up a fight, but we have no guarantee that we’ll succeed: even with all the means in the world, it’s Mother Nature who decides.

What’s your most innovative tactic in the vineyard?

No great red wines are made without some moisture restriction, so optimising water management between plots is what makes us tick. This year, it was a real challenge. When it comes to our cultivation techniques, we work the soil, at different moments of the day, and we use different kinds of cover crops. We use green manures of varying compositions, according to the quality of the soil and its porosity. We have certain indicators and, using these indicators, we always try to optimise the moisture restriction without going all the way to hydric stress, because we know very well that it’s when we are stressed that we end up making mistakes.

And in the cellar?

At a time when everyone was against the idea of varietal extraction, we dared to use whole-bunch fermentation – as it used to be done in days of old – and submerged cap techniques.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

The person who succeeds me will have to be someone innovative, passionate and, above all, who is not afraid of mixing things up. Nothing is worse than inertia. I’m not in favour of change for change’s sake, but I am in favour of constantly reassessing things. Bordeaux is a powerhouse, the likes of which exist in very few places around the world. The Place de Bordeaux, if we’re talking about distribution or sales, is the same. However, you mustn’t start thinking you’ve made it, whatever you do – because that spells the beginning of the end!

Part II of Wine Lister’s 2023 Bordeaux Study: what the future holds

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, Bettane+Desseauve,, 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.

Critics’ consensus on the top 30 Bordeaux wines of 2022

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 RobinsonBettane+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-VigneauLa 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).

Bordeaux 2022 – part I

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.

Château Lafleur

The Vintage

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 Wine

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.

Now published: Part I of Wine Lister’s 2023 Bordeaux Study

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.

France’s 50 best winemakers: Château L’Évangile’s Olivier Trégoat

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?

Château Lafleur.

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.


Bordeaux en primeur 2021: drawing to a close

The finish line for the 2021 campaign is in sight, with only a few key releases pending. We reflect on how it compares with previous campaigns and highlight the more promising releases of the last few days.

A challenging vintage in 2021 generated what may be characterised as a fraught en primeur campaign. While prices for many releases were slightly higher than perhaps warranted by quality, there are some real gems to be found for those willing to take a closer look. With only a small handful of key releases left to come (Vieux Château Certan, Petrus, Le Pin, and Trotanoy), we take a look at how 2021 compares with previous en primeur campaigns.

Campaign overview

Of the 110 en primeur releases to date that Wine Lister has followed in 2021, 2020, and 2019, the average 2021 release price of £97.99 is virtually flat on 2020 (£97.71) and up 17% on 2019 (£83.98). 29 wines released at prices that were up on 2020, 52 flat or all but flat ignoring the minor effect of exchange rate discrepancies and 29 down on 2020.

The biggest increases are justifiably for sweet and dry whites (+51% for Lafaurie-Peyraguey, +41% for Suduiraut, and +33% for Pavillon Blanc).

Meanwhile, the 29 wines that have released below 2020 prices have all been reds, with the largest decreases being Montrose, La Mission Haut-Brion, and l’Eglise Clinet, at -12%, -11%, and -11% respectively.

This week’s releases – Tuesday 14th June

Some of the standout releases from the past few days are outlined below.

Margaux was one of the first to be released on Tuesday 14th June at £425 – down just 2% on the 2020 price and up 19% on the 2019. Ella praised its “majestic nose”, while Antonio Galloni describes it as a “powerful, surprisingly brooding wine”.  Ranked joint-fourth by trade experts in terms of highest confidence, this First Growth has likely reinforced this trust with the 2021 vintage. Given the post-release price rises for both 2020 and 2019, it is an attractive prospect.

Behind the scenes at Château Margaux with Alexis Leven-Mentzelopoulos (Deputy General Manager, Strategy and Development), Alexandra Petit-Mentzelopoulos (Deputy General Manager, Communication and Image) and Philippe Bascaules (Managing Director) (l-r)

L’Église Clinet was released at £208.37, with a score of 94-96 from both Neal Martin and Antonio Galloni. Considering its impressive quality, as well as the fact that its price is below the market prices for both the 2020 and the 2019, this year’s release could prove popular.

Wednesday 15th June

One of Wednesday morning’s star releases was Les Carmes Haut-Brion at £79. While this is higher than both the 2020 and the 2019 opening prices, it follows the golden en primeur rule, offering a 31% and 35% discount on current 2020 and 2019 market prices, respectively. With its faultless track record for price performance post-release, this proved one of the most obvious buys of the campaign.

Pomerol up-and-comer, Clinet arrived on the scene at £66.50. Achieving positive scores from Wine Lister’s partner critics, the latest release looks interesting, with quality around the same level as its 2018, and  price below current market prices for the 2020 and 2019.

Achieving outstanding quality in this difficult vintage, Ducru-Beaucaillou 2021 was released at £159. The latest release matches existing market pricing of the 2020, and sits at a small premium (6%) to the already-bottled 2019. This should work on the basis of Ducru-Beaucaillou’s “super-second” status.

Thursday 16th June

One of Thursday’s first releases was Haut-Brion, priced at £425, down 3% on the 2020 and up 49% on the 2019 release. Wine Lister partner critic, Neal Martin (for Vinous) described it as having a “more extravagant, charming bouquet compared directly with La Mission at the moment”. La Mission Haut-Brion was also released, at £225, representing a moderate discount on both the 2020 and the 2019 release prices.

Haut-Brion Blanc was released at £610. The release has strong credentials, as the top-scoring dry Bordeaux white in 2021 by WL score (96). This is a release which is sure to attract attention in a vintage hailed for the quality of its white wines.

Friday 17th June

Friday saw La Conseillante released at £157 – flat on the 2020 release price, and 30% up on the 2019. It scores impressively in 2021 – indeed, Ella notes, “this is a Conseillante that has perhaps finally found its 21st century identity since Cazaux started making the wine”. Given the property’s bright future, and an opening price undercutting the now dwindling stock of the 2019 vintage by 31%, this is likely worth backing.

Figeac also released its Grand Vin, at £163 – up on its 2020 and 2019 release prices by 4% and 35% respectively, though comfortably below current market prices of the 2019, 2018, 2016, and 2015. Praised for its highly quality, and of course with positive speculation surrounding its Saint-Émilion classification status, Figeac will likely see good interest.

Tasting Figeac with Frédéric Faye, Managing Director at Château Figeac, before Figeac’s new cellar celebration dinner

Also released this week were Saint-Pierre, Gloria, Clos Fourtet, Pavillon RougePavillon Blanc, Haut-Bailly, Durfort-Vivens, Beau-Séjour Bécot, Pape Clément, Pape Clément Blanc, Valandraud, Petit Village, La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, Quintus, Domaine de Chevalier, Calon Ségur, La Fleur Pétrus, Certan de May, Belair-Monange, and Pavie-Macquin.

By virtue of being linked to vintages at the mercy of the cyclicality of nature, it appears that this year’s campaign represents a downcycle, according to feedback thus far from Wine Lister’s trade network.

For further details on the vintage, pricing, and popularity of Bordeaux in the context of the 2021 vintage, Part II of Wine Lister’s Bordeaux Study is now available to download here.

Bordeaux en primeur 2021: flying in fast

It increasingly looks as though the campaign will be more or less drawing to a close this week, with a further flurry of Bordeaux 2021s released en primeur at the end of last week and into Monday, including key entries from the likes of Beychevelle, Pichon Baron, Cos d’Estournel, and Mouton.

Released on Thursday 9th June at £58.90 per bottle, Beychevelle 2021 entered the market 16% below stocks of the 2020 (which has risen in price by around 15% since last year), and otherwise substantially below all other back vintages. With a consistent track record of post-release price performance and critic speculation of the 2021’s promising potential, this may well be one worth backing en primeur.

Trotte Vieille 2021 – an oft-forgotten Saint-Émilion Classé “B” to get behind – also released on Thursday at £53 per bottle (just below the current market price of 2020 and 6% above the now scarce 2019, and otherwise comfortably below recent back vintages of comparable quality). Following suit, Brane-Cantenac 2021 entered the market at £47 (6% below the 2020 vintage and below the prior five back vintages in the market).

Pichon Comtesse 2021 released on Thursday at £134 (just below last year’s release price and 30% below the current market value of the record-quality 2019). The vintage marks the estate’s first year of organic conversion, with Nicolas Glumineau informing the Wine Lister team that 2021 was ” the worst in France for 74 years in terms of climate”, but excellent for Cabernet. Volume is down 70% in 2021, with the vintage comprising 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc – the highest proportion since the 2013 vintage (100% Cabernet Sauvignon). These drastically reduced volumes mean that anyone looking to add Pichon Comtesse 2021 to their cellar likely needs to buy it now.

Friday 10th June saw releases from the likes of Giscours, Pichon Baron, and Lafon-Rochet – the latter marking the last ever vintage tended by the estate’s third-generation owner, Basile Tesseron, and the first blended by its new Managing Director, Christophe Congé (of Lafite fame). Released at £25 per bottle, Lafon-Rochet 2021 enters the market below the price of all available back vintages.

Releases came in thick and fast on Monday 13th June, with first growth Mouton entering at £425 per bottle (11% and 15% below the current availability of the 2020 and 2019 vintages respectively). Its little sibling, Le Petit Mouton 2021 was released at £170 per bottle – it appears in eighth place amongst the wines that have seen the highest relative increase between ex-négociant release prices and current market prices across vintages 2016-2020 (see below – extract from Part I of Wine Lister’s 2022 Bordeaux Study).

Cos d’Estournel also entered the market on Monday at £143 per bottle (5% below current market availability of the 2020, and around 8% above the 2019), followed shortly by Cos d’Estournel Blanc at £105 per bottle. According to Wine Lister’s Quality score (892), the 2021 vintage is the best Cos d’Estournel Blanc ever produced, with Wine Lister CEO, Ella Lister calling it “delectable, lingering in the mouth”. Le Gay and La Violette owner, Henri Parent released his 2021s on Monday at £69.50 and £240 per bottle respectively. The latter achieves a higher Quality score in 2021 than in 2020 or 2018, while scarce availability of recent vintages on the UK market may also drive interest in the latest release.

Also released during this period: Chasse-Spleen, Réserve de la Comtesse, Léoville Poyferré, Ausone, Lascombes, Ferrière, Giscours, Pagodes de Cos, Aile d’Argent, Rouget, Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Gruaud-Larose, Larcis-Ducasse, Smith Haut Lafitte.