Close Menu

Bordeaux 2021 tasting notes: Pomerol

Whether because of the quality of its terroir or the capacity of its leading estates to respond rapidly in the vineyard, Pomerol seems to have negotiated the compound challenges of the vintage more successfully than anywhere else. It is not surprising, then, that it has produced some of the wines of the vintage, writes Colin Hay. 

The Chateau Petrus wine estate, owned by the Mouiex family, located in eastern Pomerol

First, a note on the ratings.

This year, for the first time, I have decided to provide an indicative rating for each wine alongside the published comment. All such comments and ratings are necessarily subjective (they cannot be anything else, when one thinks about it). I would urge you to look at the two together and, if anything, to privilege the comment over the rating. My aim is more to describe the wine in the context of the vintage, the appellation and recent vintages of the same and similar wines, rather than to judge the wine per se.

The ratings, of course, reflect my subjective relative preferences between wines. Your palate is likely differ from mine. I hope that my comments give you at least enough information to be able to recalibrate my ratings and, in so doing, to align them more closely to your palate. To give an example: if the idea of the ‘new classicism’ leaves you cold, you may well wish to discount the (typically high) ratings I have given to wines described in such terms.

2021 is, of course, a highly heterogenous vintage – and, consequently, my ratings span a considerable range (from the very high to the very low). I see little interest, either for the consumer or the producer, in publishing very low scores. Consequently, I have decided not to publish scores for wines that I have rated below 90 (here the range 89-91). Where no rating is published, the wine would have scored 88-90 or below.

Finally, élevage is likely to be very important in determining the quality in bottle of these wines (rather more so than in recent vintages). I am no soothsayer and cannot predict how that will turn out. All en primeur ratings should be treated with caution and taken with a certain pinch of salt. That is never more true than it is in this vintage.

Detailed tasting notes

  • Beauregard (Pomerol; 70% Merlot; 30% Cabernet Franc; tasted at the UGCB press tasting at the Cité du Vin). Rich plum and cherry with a touch of baking spices. Round, seductive, with pleasing floral notes – violets perhaps, peony too – and just a suggestion of the cedar to come with bottle age. Nicely done, with decent weight on the attack, even it is tapers relatively quickly. Good balance and freshness without any astringency. 90-92.
  • Blason de L’Evangile (Pomerol; 84% Merlot; 16% Cabernet Franc; 13.5% alchol; tasted at the property). Quite intense and aromatically expressive. Brambles, blueberry, a little black cherry and rose petals. This has fine-grained tannins and good amplitude, even it loses a little delineation in the mid-palate. Sapid and juicy, the acidity just a little marked on the grape-skin finish. This is better than a lot of first wines, due to the quality of the tannins and the gentleness of the extraction. A strong indication of the progression here over the last couple of vintages. 89-91.
  • Le Bon Pasteur (Pomerol; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; 13.5% alcohol; a final yield of just 19 hl/ha; tasted at the UGCB Press Tasting at the Cité du Vin). Smoky, spicy, rich but rendered tender by the acidity. This is more floral than it usually is, with a little peony and mimosa. The tannins, however, are quite substantial and their crumbliness shades towards dryness on the finish. That said, this is long and less marked by the oak than it used to be. 89-91.
  • Bonalgue (Pomerol; 95% Merlot; 5% Cabernet Franc – the first year these were incorporated into the grand vin; a final yield of 27 hl/ha; aging in oak, 40% of which is new; tasted at Clos du Clocher). Big, bold and nicely managed, with plenty of spice to accompany the baked dark stone fruit and to stop the ferrous minerality dominating. Good clarity and precision in the mid-palate. Long, fresh and sapid on the finish. Rather classic and something of a success in the vintage. 89-91.
  • Bourgneuf (Pomerol; 85% Merlot; 15% Cabernet Franc; tasted at JP Moueix in Libourne and then again from a sample sent to Paris). Aromatically intense with lots of lift, the ferrous minerality subtly expressed. On the nose, we find fruits of the forest, blueberry and a touch of black cherry skin, almond and a touch of graphite that builds with aeration. Lovely, soft  and refined tannins. This is both elegant and nicely compact with a small-diameter core. The tannins grip nicely, helping to build a beautiful ultra-sapid and quite saline finish. This is very impressive and almost seems to build in concentration across the palate. Very focussed with lovely chewy tannins on the pure bramble finish. 91-93.
  • La Cabanne (Pomerol; 94% Merlot; 6% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 30 hl/ha; tasted at the UGCB Press Tasting at the Cité du Vin; in conversion to organic viticulture). Very distinctive and rather dominated by the ferrous minerality. Plum, baked plum and a little baking spice. Big and bold with bright fruit and wild if somewhat dusty herbal notes, but the tannins hint at dryness on the finish. 89-91.
  • Certan de May (Pomerol; 60% Merlot; 30% Cabernet Franc; 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; tasted at JP Moueix in Libourne and then again from a sample sent to Paris). Red and black cherries and a little blackberry, but less intense than Latour à Pomerol. Blueberries and a touch of cassis too – each varietal seems to bring something. Lovely texturally. Quite rich and saline, adding to the impression of viscosity in the mouth. A vintage that suits this wine. Refined, quite elegant with a pleasing evolution across the palate if maybe not quite as much definition and detail as the very top plateau Pomerols. But this provides a lovely ample mouthful; very juicy too. Certainly at the level of the 2020 and flattered by the 40% Cabernet. 92-94.
  • Clinet (Pomerol; 75% Merlot; 25% Cabernet Sauvignon; a final yield of 38 hl/ha; tasted at the UGCB Press Tasting at the Cité du Vin – sat next to Ronan Laborde – and, again, at Clos du Clocher with very similar notes). Very pure, almost crystalline, with the dark berry and stone fruit generously enrobed In cedar. Floral notes, too, fleur d’oranger, saffron and subtle but exotic spices. Very true to itself, very fine and sapid with lots of energy and ultra fine-grained tannins. There’s so much graphite that we could be in the nuclear reactor core. Distinct, very impressive and with a lovely tender, lithe and rippling juicy finish. 93-95.
  • Clos de la Vieille Eglise (Pomerol; 70% Merlot; 30% Cabernet Franc; from Jean-Louis and Benoit Trocard’s tiny, well placed, vineyard of 1.5 hectares; 13.5% alcohol; tasted in Paris). I liked this in 2020 and I like it again in 2021. It is impressively hedonistic in a vintage where that is rare. There’s an expressive bright natural sweetness to the nose that is very attractive and that lovely florality one looks for from top Pomerol – violets and lavender alongside the dark blueberry and blackberry fruit. Plump and pulpy, fleshy and, again, bright and energetic on the palate, the acidity is an entirely positive factor here bringing vivacity to a wine with an impressive density and concentration. This has a lovely focus, nice crumbly tannins and a long finish. 90-92.
  • Clos du Clocher (Pomerol; 70% Merlot; 30% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 37 hl/ha; pH 3.6; 13.5% alcohol; tasted at the property). It is no surprise that this is excellent, coming as it does from three prime parcels on the plateau, including Merlot planted at 37 metres on blue-clay and a bloc of Cabernet Franc next to Trotanoy. But it remains a wine that is less well known than it should be given its quality. Lovely, plump, rich and ripe blueberry and black cherry fruit with an impressive natural sweetness to it. Sumptuous on the palate, with a cool-vintage Cabernet Franc signature and the sensation of squeezing fresh dark berries between one’s teeth. A trace of graphite too and a brilliantly racy and energetic finish. The Cabernet Franc was harvested at 14% and it is the key to understanding this wine and its success in this vintage. 92-94.
  • La Conseillante (Pomerol; 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc; 13.3% alcohol; pH 3.6; a final yield of 39 hl/ha; 7% vinified in barrel; tasted at the property with Marielle Cazaux as the property celebrated its 150th vintage under the ownership of the Nicolas family). Very limpid, glossy and brilliant in the glass. A sublime nose that is archetypally La Conseillante – fresh, crushed and concentrated blueberry juice, black cherry purée, violets and irises, cedar and pencil-shavings. The wine takes a little time to open as the aromatics slowly build. Once they have, more of the minerality is revealed – white and cracked black pepper, a little salinity and crushed stone and slate, with a slight nuttiness from the ripe grape pips. Texturally quite compact, but not as broad or dense as, say, Lafleur or Evangile, this is intensely sapid and juicy, elegant and beautifully cool and composed. It exudes like many of the top wines of the vintage a certain calm tranquillity. The finish is beautiful and brings us full circle – back to the cedar, the graphite and the violets that tell us exactly where this comes from. A great success; and a very fitting way to mark a special anniversary. 94-96.
  • La Croix de Gay (Pomerol; 95% Merlot; 5% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 40 hl/ha; 13.3% alcohol; tasted at the UGCB Press Tasting at the Cité du Vin). A wine that is easily picked, with its distinctive and, as here, quite pronounced saline and iron minerality. This has impressively svelte tannins and a tender and juicy mid-palate. It is less rustic than it has sometime been in the past and there is good length here too, even if the fruit lacks a little detail and feels a little blitzed and blended. 89-91.
  • L’Eglise-Clinet (Pomerol; 85% Merlot; 15% Cabernet Franc; 14% alcohol with no chaptalisation; aging in oak barrels, 75% of which are new; tasted twice with Noëmie Durantou at the property). The second sample here was even more luminous and aromatically expressive and a shade darker in its fruit profile (showcasing the Cabernet a little more). Wild strawberry as well as the darker shaded fruit from the Cabernet Franc – blueberries, blackberry, a hint (but just that) of cassis, with lots of graphite, lots of violet florality and, of course, cedar. This has a lovely walnut shell element too from the clearly ripe pips. The texture is diaphanous with velvet tannins, the intense dark berry fruit gliding and dancing; but this is also impressively dense with plenty of layering, lots of detail and excellent presence and persistence in the mouth. A fine and detailed rather than imposing architecture, with balance and harmony. A superb continuation of the line and one of the stars of the right-bank. 95-97.
  • Enclos Tourmaline (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; pH 3.55; a final vineyard yield of 25.5 hl/ha; from a parcel of 1.2 hectares on blue clay and gravel, but only 0.5 hectares were selected for inclusion in 2021, so just 1700 bottles; vinified in barrel; from; Vignobles K and tasted at Bellefont-Belcier). Cool and very closed, at first, on the nose. Plum skins, damsons, sloes, dark berry fruit, sandalwood and acacia with perhaps a hint of almond skin. On the palate, this is nicely compact, sinuous and crystalline in texture. There is good grip and structure from the tannins that build impressively towards the long, juicy, rippling finish. Quite serious, very promising and likely to reward, as it will require, patience. 92-94.
  • Evangile (Pomerol; 69% Merlot; 30% Cabernet Franc; 1% Cabernet Sauvignon; 14% alcohol; a final yield of less than 20 hl/ha; organic certified for the first time; aging in a combination of new and one year oak barrels and amphora). A very difficult vintage to manage in the vineyard, with the vines sprayed 23 times to reduce the threat and damage of mildew. But the result in outstanding. Black cherry and blueberry, violets and the parfumier’s essence of violet, chocolate and graphite. On the palate, this is at the same time dense and compact but lithe and dynamic – with the fresh blueberry fruit seeming to radiate freshness. The acidity is nicely distributed across the palate. Texturally, this is tender and quite plump and yet soft, gentle and precise. The higher proportion of Cabernet Franc gives this added depth and a sense of profundity. I find this more savoury, more refined and more elegant in style than it used to and that is reinforced by the greater Cabernet presence in the final blend. A little closer to VCC than it used to be. 93-95.
  • Feytit Clinet (Pomerol; planted 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc – though the proportion of Cabernet Franc here certainly feels higher; tasted in Paris). Another success from Jeremy Chasseuil; I actually like this more than the 2020. A sumptuous Cabernet Franc plateau Pomerol nose of pure, plump and pulpy blueberries with dollops of graphite and a hint of cedar. There’s the very slightest hint of vanilla and sweet spices too, with nutmeg and a touch of clove, but all very subtle. And there is also a delicate violet, rose and lavender florality in the background. On the palate, this is bold, big and boisterous, with a bright and expansive purple fruit, good depth and concentration, if not the clarity and delineation of the plateau’s superstars, and a lovely chewy and juicy finish. There’s quite a mass of as yet unresolved tannins on the finish, but absolutely no suggestion of dryness. 91-93.
  • La Fleur de Gay (Pomerol; 95% Merlot; 5% Cabernet Franc; from 2 hectares in three blocks on the plateau, next to Lafleur and at Le Gay and Groupey; tasted from a sample sent to Paris). Rich and full, with a lovely quite compact core and a very pleasantly sweet ripe baked plum, fresh plum, damson and red cherry fruit, leather, white pepper and a just the faintest hint of graphite and white truffle. The fine-grained tannins build impressively across the palate and stretch the fruit out over the long, glacially tapering and rolling finish. There’s impressive intensity to this, but not quite the detail or pixilation in the mid-palate of the plateau’s superstars. But unmistakably a wine of terroir, class and quality, if not quite at the level of the last two vintages. 91-93.
  • La Fleur-Pétrus (Pomerol; 95% Merlot; 4% Cabernet Franc; 1% Petit Verdot; tasted at JP Moueix in Libourne and then again, two weeks later, from a sample sent to Paris). A wonderful signature of crushed raspberries and blueberries, plums and damsons too and, at the same time, lots of graphite and a very complex and singular floral component – lilacs, peonies and wisteria (and a little less violet than the other Moueix Pomerols). This is also a shade lighter in the hue of the fruit than Hosanna, but with the same sumptuous attack and glossy mid-palate. Dense and compact for the vintage, with lots of saline and ferrous minerality interwoven with the fruit and the acidity. There is a fantastic sense of forward momentum on the palate and a pleasing structural evolution in the mouth. But much of the interest and detail comes from the rippling, rolling sinuous presentation of the fruit on the palate. This shimmers. It is not as dark-fruited as either Hosanna or Trotanoy and is a little brighter and more lifted perhaps too. Very long and quite aerial on the finish, with great minerality and impressive concentration. This is, for me, Moueix Pomerol of the vintage, though Hosanna runs it very close (this has just a little more complexity and a little more structure). 94-96+.
  • La Fugue de Nénin (Pomerol; 92% Merlot; 8% Cabernet Franc; 13% alcohol; pH 3.5; a final yield of 37 hl/ha; IPT 60; aging in oak barrels, 15% of which are new; around 60,000 bottles produced; tasted the property with Florent Genty). This is not a second wine, but a second label coming from separate parcels on a clay-sand terroir. It is also the product of a strict selection. That certainly helps here. This is pure and precise with a nice directness and fluidity on the palate. The fruit is ripe and pure and the tannins are finely textured. Highly accessible with a crunchy blackberry and bramble fruit, this will drink well as soon as its in bottle.
  • Le Gay (Pomerol; 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; 35 hl/ha; 13.5% alcohol; tasted at the property). Smoky and meaty on the boisterous nose – with wild game and charcuterie notes accompanying the blackcurrants and brambles, with just a suggestion of cedar. This is, as ever, quite ferrous in its minerality but with a gentle touch of oak spice, reinforcing the graphite and cedar elements. A broad-shouldered big canvas wine for the vintage and something of a vin de garde. 91-93.
  • Gazin (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; a final yield of just 18 hl/ha with the clay so sticky that tractors were unable to penetrate part of the vineyard; tasted at the UGCB press tasting and then at the property with similar notes). Very closed at first, if a little less so at the property. Rather more difficult to pick as Gazin than it often is. Soft and gentle on the attack, this rather more red-fruited than usual, with a slightly lactic note too (though that dissipates with aeration in the glass). This is very refined with fine-grained tannins but it remains a little timid and shy. The mid-palate I also find to lack a little detail and delineation though there is a nice sapidity to it. A little disappointing on this showing – one senses perhaps the challenges of the vintage; I’ll be keen to re-taste. 90-92.
  • La Grave Trigant de Boisset (Pomerol; 96% Merlot; 4% Cabernet Franc; tasted at JP Moueix in Libourne and then again from a sample sent to Paris). Floral. Cedary. More compact than most and nicely lipid and sinuous – structurally and texturally quite fluid, but in comparison with the other Moueix Pomerols this lacks a bit of complexity. A little smoke, even a hint of bonfire, wild herbs and that pure but slightly blitzed dark and red berry fruit. Reasonably long but there is little grip and gather from the tannins to shape the finish. Very pleasant and nicely done, but just a little shapeless. 89-91.
  • Hosanna (Pomerol; 75% Merlot; 25% Cabernet Franc; tasted at JP Moueix in Libourne and then again from a fuller and more ample sample sent to Paris two weeks later). Composed, cool, elegant and just a little restrained in a delightfully refined way. Lovely violets and cedar intermingle beautifully – bringing gorgeous and striking aromatics. Patchouli and rose petals build in the glass. We are in the parfumier’s workshop! The higher proportion of Cabernet Franc brings so much to this in this vintage above all. Super-svelte and quite dynamic on the attack and mid-palate, but so subtle too; very viscous and saline. Not as massive as it often is and this maybe lacks a little sustenance in comparison with the last three vintages, but it is very classy, very precise and highly refined – more so than ever. A study in elegance and not at all the slight brashness of earlier years. There is some very classy wine-making on display here. Even in the highly impressive JP Moueix line-up this stands out. 93-95+.
  • Lafleur (Pomerol; 52% Bouchet; 48% Cabernet Franc; tasted at the property). A wine that seems to transcend the vintage – as much due to the sheer care and dedication in the vineyard as the unique and exceptional character of the terroir itself, with each vine lovingly tended and vigilantly observed for the first sign of mildew on a single leaf. The greater genetic diversity of the vineyard also helps – as the vines react more differently to the same conditions than they would if they were less genetically diverse; in effect, they tend not to suffer at the same time which means vigilance is better rewarded. This feels, each time, more like an annual pilgrimage. A remarkable and unique wine in the context of any vintage and utterly transcendent in this one. More viscous, darker, deeper and somehow more profound than any other wine of the vintage, with a glorious cool plunge-pool austerity. The nose is already sublime and profoundly expressive (even if this is just a hint at some of its potential). It is intensely floral with violets, red and pink rose petals, but in a wonderfully concentrated yet seemingly entirely natural way. Crushed stones and fresh rain on a baked clay path and then all that cedar and graphite liberally enrobing the plump crunchy, fleshy, blueberries and mulberries, sloes and brambles. This is, as ever, texturally brilliant, with an incredibly compact and dense yet finely delineated and pixilated mid-palate. The rich, ripe berry fruit rolls, forming little ripples, rivulets and sometimes waves as the fresher, brighter, cassis notes seem to break through the frame set by the ultra-fine-grained tannins, refreshing the palate with acidity as they do so. Truly remarkable and for me, the wine of the vintage. 97-99.
  • Lafleur-Gazin (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; tasted at JP Moueix in Libourne and then again from a sample sent to Paris). Straight away one picks up a touch of cedar, more than graphite. This has a bright, finger-staining, briary fruit. Brambles, blackberries, with a little raspberry and cassis and with a stalky leafy redcurrant note too. This shows what can be achieved with 100% Merlot. Not massive, but very nicely judged, Lafleur-Gazin is tense, lithe, fresh, elegant and refined with plenty of Pomerol typicity. Nice and chewy on the finish, but just a little slender. But aromatically very expressive. 90-92.
  • Lagrange à Pomerol (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; tasted at JP Moueix in Libourne and then again from a sample sent to Paris). I have a big soft spot for this typically under-appreciated Pomerol; but the 100% Merlot feels like a bit of a limiting factor in this vintage, at least here. Fresh and pure but the fruit feels a little blitzed and blended on the nose. Better on the palate, but still a little monotone and lacking complexity, the fruit stretched over too expansive a frame. As a consequence this is a little shapeless and a touch dry on the finish.
  • Latour à Pomerol (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; tasted at JP Moueix in Libourne and then again from a sample sent to Paris). Open and aromatically expressive, with intense notes of black cherry and nice pencil-shaving elements. Two weeks later this is more expressive still and floral – with lovely Pomerol violets and dried lavender. Opulent and sumptuous on the attack for the vintage, with a lovely translucence, the soft ripe fruit rolling around the mouth in the space allowed by the quite open-texture. Crumbly tannins on the sapid grape-skin finish suggest a good future. One of the better 100% Merlot wines of the vintage, though not at the level of the 2018, 2019 or 2020. 92-94.
  • Maillet (Pomerol; tasted in Paris from a sample sent by the property). Notably darker in hue and extract than most, this is almost opaque at the centre, which is rare in this vintage. Pure, floral and rather seductive on the nose in an archetypally Pomerol way – with a hint of graphite alongside the sour cherry and blueberry fruit. The palate, however, is a little more sombre and austere – indeed, this is very pure and precisely focussed. It has a pronounced and well-defined spine, nice crumbly tannins that, though substantial, do not overpower the fruit. There’s an impressive density and concentration on the mid-palate too. Overall, this is promising, though it will need a little patience. 90-92.
  • Manoir de Gay (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; a final yield of 35 hl/ha; 13,5% alcohol; tasted at the property). Fresh and lifted, with a pure blackberry fruit and a touch of graphite. This has quite a bold structure on the attack and is round on the attack; but the tannins lack polish and this is a little tart on the finish, even a touch dry.
  • Mazeyres (Pomerol; around 25% Cabernet Franc with a little Petit Verdot too; tasted in Paris from a sample sent by the property; certified organic and biodynamic). This is excellent and deserves to be better known. Quite rich, succulent and full, with fresh, pure cassis and blueberry fruit and fresh picked wild thyme. One of those wines which you taste and immediately ask whether the property is farmed biodynamically – needless to say, it is! It reminds me a little of Fonplégade in St Emilion – pure, bright, dynamic in the mid-palate and somehow more vivid and vibrant than most. Highly recommended and likely to prove excellent value. 90-92+.
  • Monregard La Croix (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; a final yield of 20 hl/ha; tasted at Clos du Clocher). From a sandy terroir on the edge of the Pomerol plateau. Nice and plush, with a plump dark berry and stone fruit, slightly oxidative, but with good concentration. It is perhaps a little one-dimensional, but the saline-ferrous minerality brings additional interest. Just a little dry on the finish; but this has a pleasingly open-grained texture.
  • Montviel (Pomerol; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 30 hl/ha; 13.5% alcohol; tasted at Chateau Le Gay). Tender and fleshy, with plenty of plum and plum skin on the nose. Big-boned at first but the chewy, crumbly tannins strap this quickly back to the spine. Quite an ambitious level of extraction, the style retained even in this more challenging vintage. Needs time and currently lacks a little harmony.
  • Moulinet-Lasserre (Pomerol; 75% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; 4.5% Malbec; 0.5% Cabernet Sauvignon; tasted at JP Moueix’s offices in Libourne). One of Moueix’s lesser-known Pomerols. The iron-rich minerality is reinforced on the nose by the acidity, masking a little the baked plums and plum skin fruit. There’s a pleasing cedar element though the wood is more obvious than with the other Moueix wines – bringing sweet spices and vanilla. Bright and quite punchy on the attack though with the acidity tends to dominate thereafter. This starts quite broad but fades and shuts down pretty quickly.
  • Nénin (Pomerol; 64% Merlot; 36% Cabernet Franc; 13.3% alcohol; pH 3.53; IPT 55; no chaptalisation; a final yield of 37 hl/ha; aging in a combination of oak barrels (35% of which are new), foudre and amphora; around 30k bottles). This is very impressive and continues the pronounced upward trajectory of recent vintages. There’s a lovely natural ripe sweetness to the black cherry fruit and plenty of cool vintage Cabernet Franc character. The structure is quite tight and linear and the frame is generously enrobed by the dense Cabernet-inflected black cherry and blueberry fruit. Here too there is a little trace of blood orange and graphite too (even a hint of truffle). One appreciates the quality of the terroir. 92-94.
  • La Patache (Pomerol; 85% Merlot; 15% Cabernet Franc; 13% alcohol; a final yield of 24 hl/ha; aging in oak barrels, 30% of which are new; tasted at Bellefont-Belcier). A wonderful deep purple in the class with a radiant lilac rim. Quite ferrous at first, but pleasing herbal elements emerge alongside the pure and bright sweet-scented blackberry fruit. The acidity is well-incorporated giving this a very well-integrated freshness from the attack to the sapid and juicy finish. This has a nice fluidity to the mid-palate but feels just a little dilute and stretched.
  • Les Pensées (Pomerol; 59% Merlot; 41% Bouchet; tasted at Chateau Lafleur). Utterly beautiful in the glass. Limpid, viscous and lithe. On the nose, this is deep and rich, with a ripe naturally sweet and complex fruit profile – of blackberry, bramble, damson and raspberry. There is, as ever, loads of cedar and graphite and wild thyme. The palate is intense and concentrated, compact yet sinuous. There is, again, a nice gentle natural sweetness and the floral elements – violets and hibiscus – are very prominent, with fragrant gently crushed rose petals too. Soft, enticing, immersive and very complete. The sapidity and juiciness of the crunchy fruit forms itself into a glorious and quite explosive fresh wave right at the end and this finishes at the very top and the very bottom of the palate. Cool, tranquil and blissful. 94-96.
  • Petit Village
  • (Pomerol; 65% Merlot; 26% Cabernet Franc; 9% Cabernet Sauvignon; pH 3.7; alcohol 13.5%; aging in a combination of oak, 50% of which is new, and amphora; a final yield of just 25 hl/ha; from an excellently situated vineyard of 10.5 hectares on the Pomerol plateau at 38m of elevation on deep gravel and clay – le triangle d’or). A lovely alluring nose of pure violets and plump black cherry and blueberry with plenty of Cabernet character (the 26% Cabernet Franc and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon is the key to the success of this wine). There’s a touch of deep dark chocolate and oodles of cedar and graphite. But most of all this is intensely floral. The 2021 is very much the continuation of the new tradition established with the 2020. Soft and gentle and very pure, but dense and quite boldly structured too. Yet there is great finesse here despite the puissance (not at all easy to achieve in this vintage and a tribute to the quality of the terroir and the wine-making). Gentle aeration in the mouth yields more cassis and blueberry from the Cabernet components. It also serves to unleash waves of fresh juicy sapidity and, at the same time, to reduce the physical impression of the fine and grainy tannins. The effect is to generated little interesting ripples and rivulets. This is excellent. 93-95.
  • La Petite Eglise (Pomerol; 90% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc; 14% alcohol; 7000 bottles; aging in oak barrels, 60% of which are new; tasted with Noëmie Durantou at the property). This has a lovely cool-vintage Pomerol nose with intense cassis and blueberry notes. Here the Merlot feels like it becomes a vehicle to express the Cabernet Franc – a little like the chorus in the opera. It brings balance and harmony but doesn’t steel the limelight. Bravo! This is sinuous and finely-textured, with lots of mid-palate interest and detail. It is likely to prove excellent value, as ever. 92-94.
  • Petrus (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; 13.3% alcohol – up from the natural 13% with a little chaptalisation; a final yield of 33 hl/ha; pH 3.55; tasted at the property with Olivier Berrouet). Lovely limpid lilac and purple in the glass from an evidently gentle extraction. Perhaps the most accessible and immediately beautiful Petrus I have tasted en primeur. This is a wine that shows great respect for the vintage. The fruit was picked on the ripeness of the tannins, Olivier Berrouet explains. It is gloriously sumptuous and limpid texturally. Violet and wisteria notes slowly build in the glass enrobing, as they do so, the intense dark purple fruit – brambles, crushed and lightly seasoned with cracked black pepper. There is plenty of cedar and graphite too, but it stays in the background having a serene almost ghostlike presence. The extremely gentle extraction is reflected in the layering, detail and pixilation (often difficult to pick up in Petrus at this stage given its natural power). The texture is sublime with the velour and velvet of fuller, richer vintages here replaced by sheets of silk billowing in the breeze. This is incredibly elegant and never before have I tasted a Petrus so beautiful so young. We have a veritable mille feuilles of silk and satin. And, of course, there is amazing freshness here that is finely interwoven into the very structure and core of the wine (each feuille in the mille feuilles as it were). The finish is ethereal and seemingly eternal, slowly tapering towards a distant vanishing point. 96-98.
  • Le Pin (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; a final yield of 35 hl/ha; pH 3.6; 13.4% alcohol; aging in oak barrels, 65% of which are new; tasted at the property). This shows just how profound top plateau Pomerol can be in this vintage. More than perhaps any other wine of the appellation it has the cool summer identity of the vintage. Pure, bright and crunchy blackcurrants and brambles are accompanied by a delightful wild herbal note and a little touch of blood orange. This is discrete and dignified, and a little austere too, the silk and cashmere tannins intermingling with the lovely natural juiciness to build a tightly focussed compact structure which the fruit covers generously. There’s a lovely cool graphite and stony minerality too. Aeration brings a little cedar into the mouth. Fresh, brilliant and with a pleasingly sweet finish, the tannins lingering at the top of the cheeks – almost forming a smile. Tender, ethereal and with a lovely poise and tension. 95-97+.
  • Plince (Pomerol; 82% Merlot; 18% Cabernet Franc; tasted at JP Moueix in Libourne). Traditional, slightly rustic with a very evident iron-rich minerality, crushed dark berry fruit and a little cassis leafiness; a little hint of lavender too. Fluid and quite open-textured, but a little thin and this just shades towards dryness on the finish. One has the sensation that things were not easy here.
  • La Pointe (Pomerol; 82% Merlot; 18% Cabernet Franc; a final yield of 30 hl/ha; tasted at the UGCB Press Tasting at the Cité du Vin). The nose is very attractive with fresh raspberries and assorted autumnal fruits – brambles and blackberries and a little black cherry too. There’s a little hint of thyme and some fresh spring floral notes too, and a sprinkling of nutmeg. A nicely textured and well-balanced wine with plenty of energy. It finishes just a little short and lacks a bit of mid-palate density, but the challenges of the vintage have been well-negociated. 89-91.
  • Porte-Chic (Pomerol; 70% Merlot; 25% Cabernet Franc; 5% Cabernet Sauvignon; around 12000 bottles were produced; 13,5% alcohol). This comes from a tiny vineyard of around 2 hectares on what used to be the horse racing track very close to the village of Pomerol itself; it was acquired in 2010 and is produced by Benoit & Jean-Louis Trocard – better known for Clos Dubreuil (in St Emilion) and Clos de la Vieille Eglise (in Pomerol). I was looking forward to tasting this (having followed the impressive evolution here since 2018). I am not disappointed. A property to watch. Lighter in extract and hue it seems than Clos de la Vieille Eglise, this has a lovely, extremely open and expressive, violet, heather and lavender-scented nose that shouts Pomerol. The tannins are luxuriant, with the fine granularity bringing pixilation and definition to the elegant and stylish mid-palate. There’s a certain austerity to this, very characteristic of the vintage, which brings nice tension to a wine that is usually just a little more immediately seductive and enticing. I rather like that. Tense, taut and quite intellectual. 92-94.
  • Rouget (Pomerol; 80% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; 13.5% alcohol; a final yield of 15 hl/ha; tasted at the UGCB Press Tasting at the Cité du Vin). This is a great terroir, next to Le Gay, but it is also rather prone to both frost and mildew and that is reflected in the tragically low final yield here. This is quite a big canvas wine in the context of the vintage. There’s a lovely deep, dark rich blackberry fruit on the nose that builds with air, revealing as it does so notes of liquorice, baking spices and a little wood-smoke; and, very much in the spirit of the vintage, this is impressively floral. There is a gentleness to the tannins on the finish that is also very attractive. Easy, accessible and with good length. There may not be much of it, but it’s rather good! 91-93.
  • De Sales (Pomerol; 82% Merlot; 16% Cabernet Sauvignon; 2% Cabernet Franc; aging in oak barrels, just 17% of which are new; tasted from a samples sent to Paris). A lovely, classically Pomerol nose of violets and rose petals around ripe plum, damson and mulberry fruit; a hint of truffle and cedar too. There’s a gentle natural sweetness to this, very soft tannins and an attractive, open-textured mid palate. The acidity gathers and builds a little towards the finish, almost hinting at dryness (but no more). Finely balanced, nicely constructed and very refreshing on the finish. Another success from de Sales in the context of a more difficult vintage. 90-92+.
  • Séraphine (Pomerol; 95% Merlot; 5% Cabernet Franc; 13.5% alcohol; a final vineyard yield of around 25 hl/ha, before the strict selection; tasted at the property). Pretty on the nose and open both aromatically and on the palate. We find a dark berry fruit of brambles and blackberries, with a little black cherry too and a hint of blueberry, a little graphite, some pencil shavings and roasted coffee beans. The ripe fruit brings with it a pleasing natural sweetness to the palate and this is deep, dark, very pure and supple, with a soft and plump fruit, the tight and finely-contoured frame very well covered. There’s a nice saline minerality and that signature juiciness of the vintage on the finish without any punchy or destabilising acidity. 92-94.
  • Trotanoy (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; tasted at JP Moueix in Libourne and then again from a sample sent to Paris). Peppery on the nose, pure, lithe and intense. This is nicely compact and dense for a wine that is 100% Merlot, but this is certainly not the best recent vintage of this iconic wine. The floral signature of Trotanoy takes a little time to reveal itself – those violets slowly appearing with aeration but they remain a little muted. Re-tasted two weeks later they have blossomed and bloomed a little more and they are now beautifully enrobed in cedar. There is a nice lift and brightness to this, with crystalline precision in the mid-palate. Undoubtedly a great plateau Pomerol from a grand terroir and my heart still misses a beat for it; but it’s not quite the glory one hopes for and so often experiences. I look forward to re-tasting from bottle. At present I prefer both Hosanna and La Fleur-Pétrus. 92-94.
  •  Vieux Chateau Certan (Pomerol; 77% Merlot; 20% Cabernet Franc; 3% Cabernet Sauvignon; pH 3.62; tasted at the property with Alexandre and Guillaume Thienpont). Beautiful in the glass and utterly glorious on the nose. Fresh, aromatic, radiant and beguiling – and with a gorgeous old vine, cool summer Cabernet signature that I simply adore. The cassis and blueberry fruit is delicately wrapped in cedar and we have violet, wisteria, iris, cyclamen and rose petals in abundance. The slightly greater acidity on the palate, turns the fruit profile a shade lighter and one picks up plump, fleshy raspberry notes alongside the cassis and blueberry. There is great intensity here but also great subtlety. The structure is measured and compact and it seems to provide a stage on which the fruit floats, glides and glistens. Perhaps the most beautiful and refined wine of the vintage and, in a way, more expressive of it even than the other top plateau Pomerols (though Petrus and Le Pin come closest in that respect). The tannic grain is so fine as to be practically imperceptible and this has a lovely tenderness on the long and rolling finish. 95-97+.
  • La Violette (Pomerol; 100% Merlot; a final yield of 20 hl/ha; 14% alcohol; tasted at the property). Blueberry purée, red cherry and raspberry notes finely interwoven with an enticing violet florality and cracked walnuts. Svelte and soft with a lovely ripe sweetness to the fruit. There is good volume and sufficient fruit density to carry the oak well. Powerful but subtly so with a kind of disguised puissance that is very Pomerol and very La Violette too! Long and slowly tapering on the finish, with a lovely fresh plume right at the end. 92-94.

Read more:

See here for db’s en primeur vintage report , with appellation-by-appellation reviews on MargauxSt JulienPessac-Leognan & GravesSt Estephe & Haut-Medoc, Pauillac, Pomerol, St Emilion and Sauternes.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No