And the latest is...
Tuesday 27 June
All good things come to an end, even a Bordeaux en primeur campaign. Le Pin is the campaign's unofficial chequered flag, the final release of the campaign. It is out this afternoon - we will be in touch soon with previous purchasers.
Thu 22 June
Figeac was one of the winners in last year's St-Émilion reclassification, and now plays in the very top league: Premier Grand Cru Classé (A). It should probably have always been there, but never mind. Figeac is one of the oldest properties in Bordeaux, with roots in the second century and the Roman Figeacus family. The most venerable vines are over 100 years old. But they also have a space age new cellar which saw its first vintage in 2021, designed to make things even more precise. Like its neighbour Cheval Blanc, it is sited on the Pomerol borders, and the deep gravel soils mean there is a lot of Cabernet in the vineyards. That in turn leads to an aromatic imprint that sometimes evokes the left bank.
Wed 21 June
Today sees the release of the Clarence Dillon wines. Haut-Brion is serious architecture, La Mission Haut-Brion is cashmere and electricity. Vieux Chateau Certan is a wine of remarkable finesse; it is aromatically intense, silky and lifted, with a long, long finish. With vines aged between 20-80 years (as against the Pomerol average of 30) it lives up to the ‘old’ in its name; this historical estate has only seen 3 changes of ownership in 300 years.
Aymeric de Gironde has a perpetually shattered air about him, albeit one that is frequently broken by joyful outbursts of humour. He is delighted with 2022 Troplong-Mondot. ‘We got what we wanted, depth not power, energy not weight.’ He is full of pearls of wisdom about winemaking. ‘Never take your calculator to a blending session or you will make the wrong decisions – it has to be about making the best wine, not the most money’. The chalky minerality carries the wine from start to finish. The tannins are silky, not creamy. There is a serious energy to the wine, and interleaved among the notes of red cherry and rose petal there are unexpected notes of cumin and curry spice.
Tue 20 June
Mouton-Rothschild and Ducru-Beaucaillou start the day in style, with the exquisite Canon following after lunch. Situated on a choice bit of the St-Emilion plateau with a poor, thin, clay topsoil and fossil rich limestone motherlode, this challenging terroir is the birthplace of St-Emilion’s top performers: Canon is a classy, high-wire act. Nicolas Audebert has once again proven he is a hugely talented, remarkably thoughtful winemaker; he has led a transformation in quality here by careful vineyard work and ever more precise attention in the cellar.
Mon 19 June
Come out, come out, wherever you are! The morning starts in Pessac with Smith-Haut-Lafitte Rouge and Smith-Haut-Lafitte Blanc. Margaux is 'a First Growth that is dressed to kill' (Neal Martin) but with volume sharply down it is one we will have to allocate tightly. Pavillon Rouge 'sashays along in style'.
Fri 16 June
We're in the late stage of the campaign where all that is left are the biggest names. A 'spellbound' Neal Martin gives a potentially perfect score to L'Eglise-Clinet. William Kelley scores Montrose similarly, while Neal Martin thinks it may be the finest Saint-Estephe in 2022. Lafite is 'regal, statuesque' (Antonio Galloni).
Thu 15 June
Do you cry easily? Neal Martin says Haut-Bailly is 'the kind of wine that will bring people to tears'. Durfort-Vivens is unusually low-profile for a second-growth, which means it is also one of the best value. But the terroir is excellent, and quality has been soaring here – especially since 2009, when Gonzague Lurton began introducing biodynamics, after spotting the increased vibrancy of biodynamically managed vineyards.
Calon-Segur is out - we'll be in touch soon with previous purchasers. From the same team and with lovely St-Estephe character, Capbern is often considered a wine trade insider's secret. Pontet-Canet is pure, intense and focussed, and like Durfort, it demonstrates the vibrancy that biodynamics can bring to a vineyard.
Wed 14 June
From St-Julien this morning we have a powerful and refined Gruaud Larose. From Margaux we have d'Issan. And in Pomerol Feytit-Clinet has long been an Uncorked favourite. The work that owner Jeremy Chasseuil has done since he took over twenty years ago has been remarkable.
Tue 13 June
It's going to be a busy day. Super-Second Lynch-Bages has turned out an impressively powerful 2022, with the structure to age for decades. This property has always enjoyed very fine terroir; over recent vintages, the Cazes family have been treating that terroir with a new respect. The formidably detailed investigation and mapping of the estate have given them a new understanding of it; 2020 saw the inauguration of a huge new cellar, with 80 gravity-fed tanks enabling a more precise, parcel-by-parcel approach to vinification. Combine all this with Bordeaux’s fabulous 2022 vintage, and the stage was always going to be set for a great wine.
The supple and seductive exterior of Leoville Poyferre conceals a wine of serious depth and structure; it is set to give immense pleasure for many years to come.
Mon 12 June
This morning we have Pichon Baron. It is one of the vintage’s monumental wines, concentrated and imposing, cool, elegant and powerful. Phelan-Segur is ‘a star in the appellation,’ according to Jane Anson, which would ‘make it into a new version of the 1855 classification if one ever came around’. Neal Martin calls it ‘quintessentially Saint-Estèphe’. Quality is soaring here, and that is reflected in the scores it has been achieving.
The combination of intensity and lift in Brane-Cantenac is astonishing. Henri Lurton thinks his 2022 is probably the best of the 30 vintages he has made, and tasting it, it is hard to doubt that is the case. The perfume, the balance and the sheer elegance are compelling.
2022 marks Olivier Bernard’s 40th vintage at Domaine de Chevalier, and he has happily marked it with some stunning wines. The rouge is a lovely, archetypal Pessac, with as much truffle, tobacco and white pepper as cherry and plum. It is intense, long and lifted, with a very long cellar life ahead - it beautifully expresses the energy and freshness that characterises the 2022 Bordeaux vintage.
Fri 9 June
Some very big names this morning. From St-Emilion, we have L'If. The maturing vineyards here mean L'If is showing more depth than ever. 'I think it's the best we've ever made,' says Jacques Thienpont. Rauzan-Segla is one of the estates setting the bar for quality in Margaux. Also from Margaux, we have a lovely Giscours.
Thu 8 June
A very busy morning starts with a monumental Pichon Lalande together with a complex, serious Pichon Comtesse Reserve. I was also deeply impressed with de Pez, vigorous and fresh, full of tension and dark fruit. Gloria 'has got to be the best value in St-Julien,' according to Jane Anson. It is released with its stablemate Saint-Pierre, 'reminiscent of Las-Cases' (Neal Martin), and from Margaux we have Malescot St-Exupery. Over on the right bank we have a Gazin of lovely, sappy depth, and from St-Emilion the muscular but also refined Pavie Macquin.
After lunch we have Margaux third growth Cantenac Brown. Quality has been soaring at this property over the last decade.
Wed 7 June
The biggest name this morning is high-scoring Carmes Haut-Brion. I never used to appreciate the whole-bunch approach to vinification here, but it has grown on me - I have probably been drinking too much Burgundy! We were extremely impressed by the 2022, and we will be in touch with previous purchasers when we have our full allocation. Also this morning, from Pauillac and the Mouton stable we have an elegant, refined Armailhac. Malartic-Lagraviere Rouge showed extremely well when we tasted in April, and is fairly priced. (Also worth noting that we still have some of the even-better priced 2020). It releases at the same time as its sibling Malartic-Lagraviere Blanc.
In the afternoon, we have a seriously impressive Haut-Bages Liberal. Claire Villars has done some remarkable work here, allowing the excellent terroir here (close to Latour and Pichon Baron) to shine through. And from Pomerol, we have Rouget, and from St-Emilion Fonroque.
Tue 6 June
This morning we have Lagrange. 2022 saw the earliest harvest ever here (as at many properties), as well as the smallest-ever berries and the highest-ever proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon. Matthieu Bordes only used 40% of the total crop in the grand vin, making for a powerful, concentrated wine with impressive aging potential. We also have Marquis de Terme. From St-Emilion, we have much loved La Gaffeliere. Clos la Gaffeliere used to be the second wine here, but is now a plot and a wine all its own, from the foothill by Larcis Ducasse and below Pavie. Also today, Pauillac fifth-growth Pedesclaux. As Jane Anson succinctly puts it, 'one of those 1855 estates that has been subject to the full makeover, inside and out'. Another success from Jacky Lorenzetti.
Mon 5 June
This morning gets off to a grand start, with Ausone quickly followed by Palmer. We didn't have the pleasure of tasting at Palmer this year, as it was fully booked whenever we were in the area, but all the reports are of a great wine. Alter Ego de Palmer is one of those second wines that has a following in its own right.
After lunch, we have Haut-Medoc third growth La Lagune.
Fri 2 June
It's looking like a busy end to the week. This morning we have the wines from the dapper Count Stephan von Neipperg: Canon-la-Gaffeliere, La Mondotte, Clos de l'Oratoire and the excellent-value Castillon d'Aiguilhe. From Pomerol, we have Nenin. On the left bank, from Pauillac we have Haut-Batailley which, like more than a few wines this abnormal vintage, seems like it may be the best the chateau has ever made.
Looks like that is all for this week. Things may get very busy next week with some significant releases. Stay tuned!
Thu 1 June
From Pauillac and the Mouton stable, this morning we have Clerc Milon. St-Julien is busy, with both Talbot and the Cuvelier family wines Le Crock and Moulin Riche. Over in St-Emilion, we have Jean-Antoine Nony's lovely, great value Grand Mayne. Jean-Antoine feared that hot, dry 2020 would result in unbalanced wine, but when he got the juice into the vat he was astonished to discover that it was 'crazy good'. 'It was something I can't explain,' he says - but it was a story we heard time and again when we visited Bordeaux in April. It's also worth noting that we have good stock of Jean-Antoine's excellent 2019.
One of my biggest personal discoveries in 2022 Bordeaux was La Pointe. Sweet, succulent, silky and elegant, I loved this. It is hard to imagine finding better value in Pomerol.
Wed 31 May
This morning, we have the Durantou wines: Saintayme (St-Emilion), Les Cruzelles (Lalande-de-Pomerol) and its second wine La Chenade, and Montlandrie (Castillon). After lunch, we have Carbonnieux Blanc and Carbonnieux Rouge, swiftly followed by Branaire-Ducru. Things have changed a lot in recent vintages at Branaire. Yields have been dramatically cut back, gravity-fed winemaking has been introduced in the winery and, most recently, they have doubled the number of vats in their cellar, allowing a more plot-by-plot approach to vinification. The result is a considerably finer wine. Director Jean-Dominique Videau doesn't like to talk in superlatives, but he will admit that 2022 is 'probably' their best-ever vintage.
Tue 30 May
This morning we have a standout Grand-Puy-Lacoste which is set to age magnificently, along with the excellent value second wine Lacoste Borie. Emmeline Borie notes this was the earliest harvest they have ever had. 'The year was very stressful. We thought we were not going to have enough water. But in the end we did, and at just the right moments. The harvest was beautiful.' Also out, Sociando-Mallet.
Wed 24 May
This morning we have Potensac, from the Delon family (who are also behind Leoville-Las Cases and Nenin).
Tue 23 May
This morning we have Pauillac fifth growth Grand-Puy Ducasse, from the same stable as Meyney. And from Pessac and the Kressman family, we have Latour-Martillac Rouge and Latour-Martillac Blanc. The red is a quintessential, gravel-and-red-fruit Pessac; and from a vintage in which the whites didn't have it as easy as the reds, the white has freshness and energy.
Mon 22 May
We're expecting a relatively low-key week with few significant releases, but this morning we have Ormes de Pez, from the Cazes family, who are also behind Lynch-Bages (yet to release).
Thu 18 May - a break in service
France is on holiday today for Ascension Day, so Bordeaux is closed for business. Next week many chateau owners will be in Singapore for VinExpo, so we expect a lull in releases till Tuesday 30.
Wed 17 May
This morning saw the release of a fantastic Batailley, muscular and elegant. 'It wasn't really so difficult,' says Frederic Casteja. 'In 2022 great terroirs made great wine.' For this vintage, Batailley has adopted a smart (if sombre) black variation of their classic label, with a dedication in memory of Queen Elizabeth II. Also from the Castéja family, we have Lynch-Moussas and their Pomerol property Domaine de l'Eglise. From St-Emilion, we have Barde-Haut, and back in Margaux we have Ferriere.
Tue 16 May
This morning's first release is Berliquet. Like its neighbour Canon (and, across the water, Rauzan-Segla) it is owned by the Wertheimer brothers of Chanel. Winemaker Nicolas Audebert freely admits that when they bought it in 2017, the original intention had been to roll it into Canon. However, he quickly realised that it had an identity all its own, with quite distinct vineyards, and began a comprehensive programme of vineyard and cellar restructuring. This is a property on a steep upwards trajectory.
From Pauillac we have both Duhart-Milon and Carruades de Lafite. From St-Emilion, we have the perennially popular, excellent value Laroque. Jane Anson has given it a dizzy 97 points this year and it is looking like an especially good proposition. Also from St-Emilion, we have Puyblanquet, the sister property to La Gaffeliere. The Malet-Roquefort family are extremely proud to have brought this property back to the family fold after it was sold 60 years ago, and have been lavishing attention here - and it shows in the wine. Also from St-Emilion, Monbousquet.
Mon 15 May
The (first?) big release this morning is the silky, intense Beychevelle. Like most St-Julien properties, it showed extremely well when we tasted. We also have the Bernard Magrez properties, including Fombrauge. Also this morning, we have an excellent Chasse-Spleen. Jane Anson notes that this is only one of two Moulis properties that would have a fair chance of being recognised if the 1855 classification were being carried out today.
Fri 12 May
This morning we have Ben Sichel's ever-keenly priced Angludet. Recent vintages have seen a transition to biodynamics in the vineyard, and the adoption of a proportion of amphorae in the cellar. The result has been a step-change in quality here, and the 2022 is extremely good. We also have two great value propositions from St-Estephe, Jacky Lorenzetti's Lilian Ladouys - a wine which is realy showing the benefit of the money that has been spent here over recent years- as well as Montrose's neighbour Meyney. From Castillon, we also have Clos Puy Arnaud.
This afternoon we have Peter Kwok's St-Emilion Tour St-Christophe. In winecellarinsider.com, Jeff Leve posits this 'could be the best value wine in all of Bordeaux today!'
Thu 11 May
This morning sees the first really significant left-bank releases of the campaign courtesy of the Barton family. Leoville Barton is monumental, Langoa is cool, classy and elegant. The Bartons are also making a real success of their Moulis property, Mauvesin Barton.
Wed 10 May
The morning gets off to a brisk start with Coutet in Barsac, and La Tour Blanche in Sauternes. In St-Emilion, from the Vauthier family, we have La Clotte, Moulin St-Georges and Fonbel. From Margaux we have Deyrem Valentin, and from just outside Margaux we have what Pierre-Alexandre Gazaille calls, 'probably the finest Cantemerle we have ever made'.
After lunch, we are back in Margaux for Siran, while from Pessac we have Fieuzal.
Tue 9 May
The Bordelais respectfully refrained from releases during our Coronation bank holiday yesterday, but this morning has gotten off to a flying start in St-Emilion with Angelus and Cheval Blanc. Cheval Blanc looks to be fully allocated to last year's buyers but we do have some availability on Angelus.
Fri 5 May
Hot on the heels of primeurs week, the first releases have started appearing. Today sees the release of Tronquoy, owned by the Bouygues family and made by the same team as their other chateau, Montrose. Formerly called Tronquoy-Lalande, it’s the first time the wine has been released en primeur in the last 10 years.
The week’s other notable releases were Senejac on Wednesday and yesterday’s Nicolas Thienpont wines – including an excellent value Puygueraud – and Doisy-Daene. It’s worth noting that we have physical stock of 2018 and 2019 Puygueraud, and 2019 Senejac.