Bordeaux-bashing is a thing in some quarters. Just the other night a French vigneron was telling me how many of the trendy, natural wine-focused restaurants in France now refuse to stock Bordeaux. I doubt Bordeaux worries very much about this; it will still be on the scene when the trendy wines of this moment are long forgotten. Modern best practice means much Bordeaux has never been better. One complaint that has been levelled against recent vintages is high alcohol levels. If that is how you feel, then 2021 is a vintage for you. With average alcohol levels around 12.5% (as opposed to the 14.5%+ more typical over the previous three vintages), the 2021s are gastronomic wines shot through with a delightful vein of freshness.
Yesterday’s release of Le Pin marked the end of the 2021 campaign, and a chance to recap some of the wines we think have been highlights of the campaign. Batailley is a solid, classic Pauillac built to last. Pichon Comtesse Reserve offers insight into the stony, mineral, smoky character of the grand vin, at a fraction of the price. Pauillac is also extremely well-represented by Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Lynch-Bages. In Margaux, Brane-Cantenac and Rauzan-Segla both excelled. From St-Julien, a lovely Leoville Barton was released at a discount on its 2020 release price.
Across the Gironde estuary in St-Emilion, Canon is a classy, high-wire act. And in Pomerol, from vineyards between Petrus and Le Pin, Vieux Chateau Certan contends for the title of wine of the vintage. And don’t forget whites; 2021 favoured them. Latour-Martillac is modestly priced and has a ‘knockout nose’ (Neal Martin); Neal goes on to note that Domaine de Chevalier Blanc is one of the best he has tasted in 20-plus years. /NT