Despite the challenges brought throughout the growing season of the 2021 vintage, Bordeaux’s dry whites shone in terms of quality. To guide those still considering their 2021 Bordeaux en primeur purchases, Wine Lister presents some of the best choices in Bordeaux whites from the vintage, at five different price points. (All prices are quoted in-bond per bottle when purchasing by the case).
Under £25 – Olivier Blanc
The 2021 vintage from Château Oliver’s white was described by Jancis Robinson as “Racy and lively” with a “good balance of interesting fruit and zest”. Ella Lister (for Le Figaro) gave Olivier 2021 a score of 92-93, praising its balance and describing it as an “ethereal and harmonious blend of Sauvignon and Sémillon”. Olivier 2021 can be purchased from Millésima for £22.70.
Under £40 – Malartic-Lagravière Blanc
Awarding 90-92 points, Antonio Galloni (Vinous) describes the latest vintage of Malartic-Lagravière as “Bright and sculpted”, with “plenty to offer”. Jancis Robinson deems it “Already attractive” and “Impressively persistent”. Malartic-Lagravière Blanc appears on Wine Lister’s list of value picks in Part II of our 2022 Bordeaux Study, indicating a strong quality-to-price ratio. Elsewhere in the study, Wine Lister found that Malartic-Lagravière is enjoying a robust short-term (six-month) price performance of just under 14% – placing it in the top 15 short-term price performances. Malartic-Lagravière 2021 can be bought from Justerini & Brooks for £39.42.
Under £75 – Domaine de Chevalier Blanc
The 2021 vintage from Domaine de Chevalier has received acclaim from the critics, with Neal Martin (Vinous) awarding its white 95-97 points and declaring it “one of the best Domaine de Chevalier whites that [he has] tasted in 20-plus years”. Jancis Robinson confers a score of 17+ and writes that it “should be a real long-distance runner”. Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 2021 can be bought from Farr Vintners for £72.17.
Under £110 – Cos d’Estournel Blanc
The only wine among the five selected here not to hail from Pessac-Léognan, Cos d’Estournel’s Blanc 2021 receives its joint-highest Wine Lister score in over 15 years. Indeed, Antonio awards it 93-95 points, above last year’s vintage (91-93), and writes that it is “one of the finest vintages I can remember tasting”. He praises its “sheer palate presence”, a sentiment Ella echoes as she describes Cos d’Estournel Blanc 2021 as “delectable, lingering in the mouth”. Cos d’Estournel Blanc 2021 can be purchased from Berry Bros. & Rudd for £105.
Under £650 – Haut-Brion Blanc
One of the most noteworthy releases of the 2021 Bordeaux en primeur campaign is the latest white from Haut-Brion. In such a challenging vintage, Haut-Brion Blanc 2021 seriously impresses as it sees the greatest increase in Quality from 2020 to 2021 – as explored in Part II of Wine Lister’s 2022 Bordeaux Study. The 2021 vintage also achieves the wine’s highest ever potential en primeur score from Vinous as Neal awards it 96-98 points. Haut-Brion Blanc 2021 can be purchased from Cru World Wine for £640.
While we would normally be packing our bags in preparation for one of Wine Lister’s favourite weeks of the year, the postponement of this year’s Bordeaux en primeur tasting week comes as a blow for all. Until we can sample the eagerly-awaited 2019 vintage, we can comfort ourselves in self-isolation with the abundance of physical Bordeaux vintages still available for delivery.
In celebration of the brilliant wines that are helping keep Wine Lister’s glasses half-full during the pandemic, this week we focus on some of the best red Bordeaux Value Picks, so that you too can avoid compromising on your quarantine drinking preferences without breaking the bank.
Wine Lister’s Value Pick score is calculated based on the quality-to-price ratio of a wine and vintage, as informed by price data and reviews from our partner critics. See the image below for five of our top Bordeaux Value Picks over the past four vintages.
- Château Capbern
Capbern obtains an average Value Pick score of 35 across the last four deliverable Bordeaux vintages, and offers excellent value for money. This Saint-Estèphe château is the sister property of Calon-Ségur. Described by one of our partner critics, Jancis Robinson, as a ‘veritable steal’, the 2014 vintage ‘continues to look exceptionally good and still fully deserving of its score of 17 en primeur’. The 2016 vintage achieves Capbern’s highest WL Value Pick score (36.2) of the four vintages, and we highly recommend getting your hands on some, available by the dozen in-bond starting from £200, from UK merchants including Farr Vintners and FINE+RARE. Millésima USA and Millésima HK also deliver this brilliant wine.
- Château Grand Village
Achieving Value Pick status for three of the four vintages examined (2017, 2016, 2015), Grand Village exhibits a dependably high quality-to-price ratio. As the original Bordeaux home of the Guinaudeau family – the producers of Lafleur – Grand Village is the accessible answer to the same exceptionally high winemaking standards applied to its parent wine. Its classification as a Bordeaux Supérieur plays a part in its inherently reasonable price (c.£13 per bottle in-bond, when buying by the case). Grand Village’s 2017 vintage achieves the highest Value Pick score (38) of all five wines and four vintages here mentioned, and is available for delivery from the Guinaudeau family wines’ UK agent, Justerini & Brooks.
- Château Fontenil
A second Value Pick from an ‘outlying’ Bordeaux appellation, Fontenil’s 8.5-ha vineyard is located at the highest elevation on the plateau of Fronsac. As renowned flying winemaker, Michel Rolland’s ‘passion project’, he purchased the site with his wife, Dany, in 1986 with the intention of inhabiting the house that was situated on its land. Taking on the responsibility of attending to the vines that came with it, and creating an entirely new estate, Fontenil is now a boutique wine of excellent quality at an average cost of c.£20 per bottle in-bond. Given its small production volume, Fontenil is not as easy to find as our other four Value Picks, however, in the UK, Laithwaites is the place to buy (as soon as they reopen their website for orders – they are currently experiencing an overload of demand due to lockdown buying).
- Château Meyney
Located in the east of Saint-Estèphe, the plots of this Cru Bourgeois are situated next to Montrose. Long considered a wine trade darling for its impressive value, Meyney continues to achieve high WL scores. Its 2015 vintage received particular praise from our partner critics, with Neal Martin describing it as ‘blowing everyone’s expectations, including his own‘. With prices starting at £25 per bottle in-bond, you can order this wine through Goedhuis in the UK, where a case of 6 bottles stands at £200, including VAT. If you are in the USA, you can place your order with Millésima.
- Château Marsau
Like Meyney, Marsau’s 2014 and 2015 vintages are Wine Lister Value Picks. The 2016 is too, and though the wine seems to get better every year, the latter may need a touch more time in bottle before drinking. Marsau is run by Anne-Laurence and Mathieu Chadronnier (Managing Director of the Bordeaux négociant, CVBG). The Marsau vineyards feature 85% Merlot planted on predominantly clay soils, resulting in a classically right-bank wine with soft, round fruit and great balance. The 2014 vintage represents particularly good value – priced at £20 for the bottle in-bond, with a high Value Pick score of 35. The UK-based merchant BI Wines is delivering this vintage, whilst those on the other side of the pond can place their order with JJ Buckley Fine Wines.
You can identify good value in further back vintages of any of the above-mentioned wines by using the Vintage Value Identifier on each wine page. See the example for Meyney below or by clicking through to its wine page here.
With Burgundy 2018 en primeur in full swing, soaring prices for some of Burgundy’s best can add to the January blues. While Burgundy prices tend to rise more quickly after release than any other region (making the en primeur buying system therefore extremely worthwhile), other regions provide better sources of good value wines for drinking, rather than cellaring for future consumption. To wave goodbye to any remaining blues as January come to a close, Wine Lister therefore looks this week at Value Picks from across fine wine regions.
Wine Lister’s Value Pick algorithm simply flags wines with the best quality-to-price ratios of all the wines in our database. A coefficient is applied to allow exceptional quality to be recognised, even for higher-priced wines.
The chart below shows the top nine regions for red Value Picks, and their average price per region.
Italy takes the lead for number of best-value wines overall, with 227 Value Picks from across three regions – Tuscany, Piedmont, and Campania. Indeed, the top 10 Value Picks by WL score all hail from Tuscany, with wines such as Fontodi’s Chianti Classico Vigna del Sorbo Riserva, Isole e Olena’s Collezione Privata Syrah, and Castello dei Rampolla’s Sammarco making the cut.
Piedmont does not go wanting for Value Picks, with a wide range of suggestions, from Domenico Clerico’s Barolo Ciabot Mentin to Vietti’s Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco.
France also does well for Value Picks, with 210 reds entries between Bordeaux and the Rhône. The former region has the lowest average price of all Value Pick regions shown above (£17.47 per bottle in-bond – when buying a full case), and includes Crus Classés from across appellations such as Malartic-Lagravière Rouge and Grand Mayne, as well as some second wines of Grands Crus châteaux (e.g. Pichon Comtesse’s Réserve de la Comtesse, and La Dame de Montrose).
The Rhône is home to 93 Value Picks from both north and south, and provides a list particularly strong in back vintages. Entries include Ferraton’s Hermitage Les Dionnières 2004, and Clusel Roch’s Côte Rôtie 2009.
The new world is well-represented by Value Picks from Australia across the McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley. California also makes an appearance, although perhaps expectedly, its 10 Value Picks earn the highest average price of any region shown in the chart above.
Search through all red Value Picks here.
Burgundy is, quite noticeably, missing from the top red Value Picks chart. It achieves just four in total: 2002 Joseph Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin, 2003 Confuron-Cotetidot Echezeaux, 2017 Bertrand Ambroise Nuits-Saint-Georges, and 2007 Bouchard Volnay Clos des Chênes. However, Burgundy is much more present for whites – watch this space for white Value Picks later in the week.