Bordeaux 2021

I tasted in San Francisco, and my general takeaway was that the wines were quite variable, with quite a few wines lacking in density and midpalate - Haut Bailly and Lagrange were among the disappointments. A few also showed harsh overextracted bitter notes, perhaps from an attempt to get squeeze more flavor on the fruit side. Several of the less exalted wines fell into this camp, but also Leoville Poyferre.

There were some excellent wines, and I classify them along two lines - 1) the more classic, old school claret style wines, with good structure and slightly burlier mouthfeel like Leoville Barton, Gruaud, Lynch Bages and (surprisingly) Pavie Macquin; and 2) the more suave, new school wines that seem to lean into the lightness of the vintage to produce really elegant wines that have an ineffable grace and charm (DdC, Canon, Rauzan Segla, Carmes HB). Canon was my clear favorite - bought 3 bottles during EP and would have no qualms buying more at the price. Everything else I’d look for a 15-30%+ discount to get me interested.


I went to UGC in SF as well (actually tasted with Vince for some of it), and I’ll add my thoughts.

As context, take what I say with a shaker full of salt. Bordeaux is not really my thing (I began my wine journey with Loire Cab Franc), and I went more out of curiosity and wanting to learn more about an important wine region rather than a zealous enthusiasm for the wines.

I basically agree with a lot of what Vince, Sam, Juergen, Panos and others have said about Leoville Barton being the standout wine in the room. Lots of complexity and depth on the palate, yet restrained with good structure. I really liked this.

Gruaud Larose was probably second for me among the St Julians, although I liked it less than the Barton – it lacked the pop and intensity of the Barton, but I liked is restraint and “classicism.” Langoa Barton was also enjoyable, but a simpler wine.

Leoville Poyferre was velvety and fruitier than the Bartons or the Gruaud, but I didn’t find it too offensive or over-the-top; (I actually think the vintage’s restrained nature helped this wine’s balance, based on the reputation of the estate). Similarly, the Beychevelle also felt surprisingly lush and rich for a '21, – I liked it ok, but it seemed a little simple and one note (like the Poyferre). I had Lagrange, but, for the life of me, I can’t remember anything about it (which is probably saying something).

Moving on to the right bank, I really liked Canon. It felt like a quieter version of the '20 I had last month: it retained the elegance and delicacy on the palate, and had a similarly spicy finish, but lacked the '20s intensity and length. Still really good. Canon-le-Gaffeliere and Grand Mayne were fine, but not particularly memorable.

Clinet really stood out to me among the Pomerols – delicate, relatively weightless on the palate, and while perhaps a bit sleek, it still felt classical. I liked this a lot. Le Gay and Pavie Macquin both seemed rather amped up and velvety in comparison – good wines, but not my cuppa.

Among the Graves (sorry, Pessac-Leognans), I liked the Carmes Haut Brion quite a bit. Graceful, charming, delicate, and elegant. This producer deserves its hype. I disagree with Vince on Haut Bailly – I thought this was very enjoyable and balanced, with hints of earthiness and pleasing green notes to balance the fruit. Yum.

Tbh, I don’t quite understand the enthusiasm for Rauzan Segla or DDC. I found them both to be rather lush, velvety, fruity wines with not a lot of interesting mineral or really any non-fruit flavors. They aren’t bad, but I would lump them together with Poyferre, Beychevelle, and Canon-le-Gaffeliere as kind of on the correct, acceptable, un-spoofed, but boring side of the modern, Bordeaux spectrum.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to most of Margaux, Pauillac, or St. Estephe. I was chit-chatting too much. The Cantenac-Brown was fine and I remember liking Cantemerle.

I thought the '21s were, as a rule, fine, but probably nothing to get super-excited about. If they were 30% cheaper, I would consider getting Canon, Carmes, Haut Bailly, and Clinet. I might actually pick up some Leoville-Barton and Cantemerle. Though I’m probably most excited about '21 Baudry.


William Kelley’s reviews just landed.


Having read his summary, and his and Yohan Castaing’s notes, it sounds like we’re entering an era where you’ll find fewer left bank/right bank dichotomy vintages, or “wines close to the river did better than those inland” or “clay soils > schist” or whatever. More like the successful wines will come from makers who knew how to lean into whatever weather the vintage gave them.


Hmm. I bought some Calon-Segur based on pretty great barrel tasting notes for the vintage, but looks like WK downgraded his rating from the previous range of 95-96 to 93 after a disappointing bottle. I’ll be interested to see if others have the same downgrade after releasing bottle notes.

I know I’m a broken record at this point in this thread but I give it one more go. Now that the 2021s are about to be tasted by consumers it will be quite obvious that a lot of the careful optimism, to be kind, that surrounded this vintage when being sold and pushed is not showing up when the corks are pulled. They will be able to judge for themselves rather than take anyones word for it and the proof is in the glass.

21 stands out like a very fractured thumb in comparison to 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22 and most likely also the coming 23. It is the vintage which will nearly always take last place in upcoming vertical tastings of these. Some wines are quite lovely and all but pleasure is not at the same level.

Yes, there are a handfull, and I mean a handfull, of wines which I would be happy cellaring but when then also price is factored in I just can’t justify it.

Bordeaux is at the moment the best value in the world, but 21 is not the reason.

Greetings from Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarosse below:


Do you guys think prices for 2021s will go down over time since it’s considered a weaker vintage relative to surrounding vintages? I’m thinking of getting some Montrose and Canon, but not sure when to pull the trigger.

Maybe, but probably not by that much. I think more likely is if they are unpopular less will be brought in and they may be more difficult to find than better vintages, stabilizing prices.

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You should pull the trigger in 10 years when you want to start drinking it. :slight_smile:

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I am not a psychic, but I do expect prices for the 2021 vintage to go down. I just can’t imagine the vintage selling through at current pricing, particularly In the context of so many other very good vintages still remaining on store shelves.


Prices are already going down in Europe. I was offered Pichon Lalande at around 20% off its opening price.

Not enough to be tempting. As the critics seem to feel this is the least attractive vintage since 2013, I expect prices to go down further, but whether you will see the bargain prices in the US will be dependent on whether someone like Costco bites. Otherwise, they will go supermarkets etc and disappear.

As with 2013, I suspect a lot of 2021 will be pushed to the Asian markets where there’s a large segment of consumers who are status conscious and know enough to recognize the classified growths but don’t follow vintages as closely.

It’ll probably plummet. Especially on bid-accept platforms like BBX and Cru, where it doesnt have to be “market” price to trade. People on wineEP discord are talking about getting some wines at 50% their notional market price.


I respectfully disagree here. I was sick and could not attend the UGC where I would have had a large sample size, but I have happily tasted about 2 dozen and what I tasted in barrel is certainly echoed in the bottle. I’m not sure if that was the point of your comment, but certainly an observation that the wines have been quite consistent to bottle.

I think he meant that consumers who normally do not taste from barrel will be disappointed when pulling the corks. And that may be especially when people compare the wines to vintages like 09, 10, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20.

2021 is not a disaster in the better examples. It would have been called a decent vintage in the old days. But now with global warming and ripe to very ripe vintages as a normal this year is pretty dissimilar. It is something like 1994, 1997, 2007 etc.

I agree with Mark and others that the main problem is the price. If one pays a lot of money the expectation is high. That is logic. But the experience will not meet those expectations. So disappointments will be most likely the rule I guess.

I’m not sure how other retailers are marketing the vintage, but we marketed based on what I tasted- a classic, low alcohol vintage that reminds me more of something from the 80s style.

That’s what they will get when they open the wines. So I’m not sure how disappointed folks can be if people were being transparent? If you read past that and thought you were getting some of the 2020 style, that’s your own fault.

I’m still not getting this “price” thing either. I don’t find the wines pricey at all. There is a bunch of second labels from Second Growths from $30-$50 USD, and they are better (IMO) than what William rated them this week.

Having tasted over 700 Bordeaux from 2021 so far, price aside, it depends on the style of wines you like.

Numerous people on this board will love the wines. They are lower in alcohol, with more red than black fruits, pepper, herbs, and brighter acidities. Folks thinking Parker, Rolland, and global warming ruined Bordeaux, should have unrestrained enthusiasm over the wines. as they are a return to a softer version of classic-styled Bordeaux. Those who think of wines in terms of food wines will also be happy with the vintage. In wine, as in life, one size does not fit all.

There are also a few, very nice wines with elegance, lushness, and enough fruit to make them interesting. This is not a high-scoring vintage. There is no investment opportunity here. This is a drinker’s vintage with almost every wine being drinkable on release or within a few years.

Prices will drop for a while, but this style of vintage is exactly what restaurants need, as the wines are early-drinking, and they do not require hours of decanting. There are not a lot of those years, so prices will not drop forever. Look at the positive comments on years like 2002, 2007, and 2011 today,

I have one or two more tasting sessions to go before wrapping everything up. The best are saved for last. A full, detailed report will be out in early March.


Well you know, we disagree is all. I started tasting en prim with 2005 and the 2021 vintage is by far the one which has radically moved down in quality from barrel to bottle for my taste. In fact, it is the only one not showing consistent.

The wines are simply on the very large majority not in the league of the 7 vintages surrounding it. I’ve tasted 300+ wines over the last couple of months and I liked 10 or so of them. Nothing close to 95 points for me. LCHB at the top and I would go to a 94.

I believe that 2021 will join the club of 2013 on a global sense in the future when we look back. And I think that consumers will see this very clearly when they try the wines.

Yes there are some moderate successes but there will always be better deals delivering more pleasure. I think that is extremely obvious and I would much rather go for a $50 of any of the vintages mentioned than $30 from 2021. You know, just for being able to enjoy myself rather than being stingy on $20. For just a bit more money you can get Brane Cantenac 2019 and there is not ONE single wine better in 2021 than that. Just sayin… it’s the bargain of a lifetime. 21 has no such thing.

I believe people will be disappointed because of scores being to temptingly high and down grading will be common place. Simple as that.

Again, this is all me so you do not have to take my advice. But, I think consumers will see what I am seeing in time.

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I love these chats with you though. Great context poured out from you, and can better answer from my side on the vintage to your points, and add even more context on my style preferences.

By no means do I think that 2021 is a “great vintage”. I would rate it ahead of 2013 and 2017 though, and I think there is a much broader consumer base for it than either vintage because of the things that Jeff and I have said about the context of the vintage.

For me though, I can see why people like vintages like 15, 18 and 20, but these are not years for me. Too juicy, and not enough terroir transparency for me. I love 16, and have a soft spot for 19 as well (the wines are charming, but I don’t see them being long lived). For further context, I have really not liked much of what I’ve had in 2005 and 2009. I’m a little all over the place with 2010 (some wines have really high alcohols), but I’ve liked way more as I reflect back. That should probably help you understand my frame of mind on 2021.

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I am pretty sure I will like some of the wines. I will not love them. I did taste a couple, and agree with you that it’s a useful, traditional vintage, but once you plug in price, there is absolutely no incentive to go after them.

In a normal situation, where everybody has limited resources, the choices for lovers of Bordeaux is to either overpay for 2021s, or, find the stragglers from 2020 and 2019, or, if your taste runs to that style, there is always 2014 with seven more years of bottle age.

The Bordelais got this wrong; the decision making to keep the possibility of 2022 pricing high by not discounting the 2021s was cynical, and as it turned out has completely screwed up the market.

Let me count the ways.

  1. Interest rates have doubled; keeping inventory is not a good idea.

  2. 2022 was apparently a fine vintage that did not sell.

  3. The Bordelais did not account that consumers have bought heavily cellars were full and there was no real need to buy another high priced vintage. This has only added to the inventory pressure.

  4. The pricing for 2021 came across as being contemptuous of its traditional markets.

  5. Negociants are caught in the middle of this. And they too have full cellars, and were forced to buy 2021 at these inflated prices to keep allocations.

Bordeaux sells a lot of wine, and pricing decisions have serious repercussions. I suspect we will see some lowering of pricing, and 2023 will be more sensibly priced, but unless it can be sold as another vintage of the century, there will be another poor en primeur campaign.

As I said, Bordeaux has a lot of wine.