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Bordeaux 2021: ‘Staggeringly impressive’ Ausone leads big names release

Thursday and Friday saw some of the big guns of Bordeaux release their 2021 releases, led by St Emilion’s “staggeringly impressive and opulent” Ausone “that seems to have transcended the difficulties of the vintage”, one critic said. 

Rooftops of Saint-Emilion, Aquitaine, France

Eight estates released the 2021 vintage on Thursday 9 June, including Brane-Cantenac, Léoville Poyferré, Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Chasse-Spleen, Beychevelle, Phélan-Ségur and Issan, with another tranche following on Friday, including  Pichon-Longueville Baron, Lafon Rochet, Giscours and Lascombes.

Ausone – which announced it was withdrawing from the St Emilion classification last August, making this vintage the last as  a Premier Grand Cru Classé ‘A’ – was one of the critic’s highlights. Although volumes offered are reportedly 40% down on last year, its quality does not disappoint. Colin Hay gave it a score of 96-98+ calling it the “best of the appellation”, while the Wine Advocate’s William Kelley agreed, rating it 97-100. Neal Martin called it “compelling”, albeit without the drive of the  2001, 2010, 2016 or 2019 vintages, meriting a more conservative 93-95 points, below Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW’s  95-97 score.

Also out on Thursday was Margaux’s Chateau d’Issan 2021, released at €42 per bottle ex-négociant, unchanged from 2020’s opening price. Colin Hay noted this as one of his truly great picks – along with Brane Cantenac, “one of the newly resurgent stars of the appellation” – which epitomised the new, leaner classicism of the 2021 vintage. However Galloni thought that while “quite attractive” it was “lacking both depth and nuance”.

Meanwhile Brane-Cantenac 2021, another “truly great” pick from Margaux, according to Colin Hay, was released at €47 per bottle ex-négociant, down 2.1% on 2020’s opening price (€48). He described it as a more conventional crowd pleaser than d’Isaan, a very fine, classic and authentic expression of its terroir and the appellation” giving it 93-95+ points.

Phélan-Ségur 2021 has been released at €30.60 per bottle ex-négociant, unchanged from 2020’s opening price. Released at £372 per 12×75, the wine was scored 92-94 points by Neal Martin and Colin Hay, both agreeing that it potentially offered good value in St Emilion, with the latter calling it “extremely impressive,” However, Liv-ex noted that the 2019 and 2020 vintages offered better value, given their higher scores. The 2019 for example had a 95-points from Martin, yet is available for a 15.1% discount on the 2021 release.

Also unchanged from the 2020 opening price was Léoville Poyferré 2021, released at €72 per bottle ex-négociant, Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2021, €132 per bottle ex-négociant, unchanged from 2020’s opening price (€57.60).

Chasse-Spleen 2021 was also released (€21.95 per bottle ex-négociant, up 9.7% from 2020’s opening price) as well as Beychevelle 2021 (at €58.80 per bottle ex-négociant, up 2.1% from 2020’s opening price of €57.60). In a recent poll by Liv-ex members, this was voted one of top ten wines to offer the most value, garnering 94-96 points from both Colin Hay and Neal Martin – and indeed the data suggests that this is potentially “the best value wine on the market today” as the estate tends to rise in value with age. It is being offered by the international trade for £706 per case of 12.

Canon 2021 has been released at €90 per bottle ex-négociant, down 6.3% on 2020’s opening price (€96).

Friday saw opening prices for Pichon-Longueville Baron 2021 (€110.40 per bottle ex-négociant), Lafon Rochet (€25.50 per bottle ex-négociant) down 1.9% on 2020’s opening price of €26, Giscours (€40.80 per bottle ex-négociant) and Lascombes (€49.20 per bottle ex-négociant), both of which were unchanged from 2020’s opening price.

Pauillac’s Pichon-Longueville Baron release of €110.40 per bottle ex-négociant, also saw it offered to the international trade at  £1,320 per case of 12. It scored 90-92 points from Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW (The Wine Independent),  93-95 points from Neal Martin, 94 from Jane Anson, 94-96+ from William Kelley (The Wine Advocate), 95-97 from Galloni, while our Bordeaux correspondent Colin Hay gave it 94-96, describing “plenty of depth, concentration and density. However, according to Liv-ex, the 2012, 2015 and 2020 vintages offer better value compared to the 2021 release.

Lafon Rochet (€25.50 per bottle ex-négociant) down 1.9% on 2020’s opening price of €26, The 2017 and 2014 vintages offer value among back vintages. This wine seemed to divide the critics, with Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW giving a score of 77-79 points, commenting on its “hollow”  middle and “hard herbal finish”, compared to William Kelley of Wine Advocate’s 89-91 points or Colin Hay’s 90-92, noting it lacked “a bit of interest and complexity”.

Finally,  Giscours and Lascombes were released, at €40.80 and (€49.20 per bottle ex-négociant respectively.

See here for db’s en primeur vintage report , with appellation-by-appellation reviews on MargauxSt JulienPessac-Leognan & Graves red and blancSt Estephe & Haut-MedocPauillacPomerolSt Emilion and Sauternes.

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