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Bordeaux 2021: ‘staggering’ Lafleur and ‘sublime’ Suduiraut among latest releases

As the pace of this year’s en primeur campaign speeds up, another tranche of estates have released their 2021 vintages en primeur, including two of this vintage’s most highly praised wines, Suduiraut in Sauternes and Pomerol’s Lafleur. 

Pomerol vineyard, Bordeaux

The Sauternes estate released its 2021 yesterday at €60 per bottle ex-négociant, up 42.9% from 2020’s opening price (€42). This “utterly sublime” wine was described by our Bordeaux correspondent Colin Hay as one of “the best en primeur sample from the estate that I have ever tasted”, scoring 96-98 points. Similar accolades came from Neal Martin (93-95 points) who noted a  “fine if inevitable elusive Sauternes”, “breathtaking” by Antonio Galloni of Vinous (95-97 points), Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, who awarded it 95-97 points and James Suckling (98-99 points). However only 6,000 bottles have been produced from a vineyard of 80 hectares – a vineyard yield of only 0.9 hl/ha – so it’s unsurprising that its rarity has pushed up the price to make it the most expensive Suduiraut on the market.

Lafleur 2021, which our own Colin Hay awarded 97-99 points, describing it as “a wine of staggering beauty that seems to have transcended the vintage”,  was also released, being offered by the UK trade at £6,508 per 12×75, up 3% on 2020. This was another wine much appreciated by the critics, with Neal Martin scoring it 96-98 points, Antonio Galloni (Vinous) 95-97 points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW (The Wine Independent) 95-97 and calling it a ‘jaw-dropping achievement’. However, this increase pales next to the market price for the 2020 vintage that has risen 96% since last summer, making Lafleur 2021 potentially one of the best value vintages on the market, Liv-ex said.

Other wines from the same estate were also released, including the 2020 vintages of ‘Les Pensées’ (£1,444 per 12×75) and ‘Les Perrieres’ (£584 per 12×75), Grand Village Rouge (£158 per 12×75), Les Champs Libres (£612 per 12×75) and Grand Village Blanc (£180 per 12×75).

So far, so good, but what is less immediately clear is why the release of Clos du Marquis 2021 in St Julien last week, which scored only 92-94 points, has risen 12.9% on last year’s opening price? This was released last week at €42 per bottle ex-négociant (compared to €37.20 last year) or £504 per 12×75 offered by the international trade. Data from Liv-ex shows there are a lot of previous vintages that are currently selling for less , including the similarly scored 2014 and 2018 vintages, which are less expensive than the new release – the 2014 is over £100 cheaper – while the 2016, 2019 and 2020 vintages have stronger scores but are selling for less.

However, there is a possibility that this is a canny strategic move during a low production vintage  to re-position Clos du Marquis marginally closer to the price of its sister estate, Leoville Las Cases (Clos du Marquis was originally released in 1902 as the second wine of Leoville Las Cases, although it has not been considered as such for many years). If this is indeed the case, it’s possible that we will have to wait until next year, and hopefully a better vintage, to see a reduced opening price, which will boost Clos du Marquis’s position. Château Branaire-Ducru

Unchanged from last year

Otherwise, as predicted, the remainder hovered unchanged from last year’s opening price, with the exception of Malescot St. Exupéry 2021 which was released last week (25 May) at €37.20 per bottle ex-négociant, down 3.1% from 2020 (€38.40).

This morning saw the release of  Lynch Bages 2021, at €90 per bottle ex-négociant, unchanged from 2020’s opening price – which Liv-ex said made it one of the best value wines on the market today. It is being offered by the international trade for £1,020 per 12×75, comparable to the 2020 and 2018, but less expensive than the better scoring 2019 – but around 9.8% or the extremely good 2016.

St Julien’s Château Branaire-Ducru 2021 (€31.20 per bottle ex-négociant), which Liv-ex said offered fair value, compared to previous back vintages. Scores hovered around the early 90s, with Colin Hay scoring it 92-94 points – although he said it was likely to end up towards the top of his range after élevage – Neal Martin 91-93 points, Antonio Galloni 93-95 points,  Jane Anson 92-points and Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW’s 91-93 points.

Also released today was Château Talbot 2021 (€39.60 per bottle ex-négociant), a “quite serious even slightly austere” wine which Colin Hay described as “very impressive”  and continuing on “its steep upward trajectory”, awarding it 92-94 points. Antonio Galloni (Vinous) gave 91-93 points and called “impeccable”, a fraction more than Neal Martin (90-92) and William Kelley (91-92+), and well above the 86-88+ from influential critic, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW. However, Liv-ex pointed out that the 2019 offered better value and the 2014 was only 5% more, but could offer several years in bottle.  The estate also released its 2021 Connetable de Talbot at €16.80 per bottle ex-négociant, or £200 per case and the 2021 Caillou Blanc at €25.20 per bottle ex-négociant, or £300 per 12×75.

Monday saw the release of Mouton de Rothschild’s estate Armailhac 2021 (€32.40 per bottle ex-négociant) and Malartic Lagravière 2021 (€28.80 per bottle ex-négociant), following on from Haut Batailley 2021 (€39.60 per bottle ex-négociant), Ormes de Pez 2021 (€18.60 per bottle ex-négociant), and Haut-Bages Libéral 2021 (€26.40 per bottle ex-négociant) at the end of last week.

Read more:

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

Challenging Bordeaux 2021 conditions showcase leaps in viticulture 

Demand for en primeur expected to be 20% lower this year 

What will the pricing of this year’s en primeur campaign be like?

En primeur 2021: Attractive pricing is the proven way to stimulate demand

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