GBP £

En Primeur 2021 Releases: June 13th

Giles Cooper, Bordeaux Index Buyer

13 June 2022

The headline for today is the release of Mouton Rothschild 2021 at GBP 5100 per 12. This is fractionally down on the 2020 release price and 12% below where this vintage now sits in the market.

A more subtle and tensile Mouton than we have seen in the past 3 vintages, where the conditions have produced wines of bombast and drama, the 2021 is a return to the more classical style which has traditionally been associated with this estate. ‘Not trying too hard’ would be the best way to sum it up; an absolute focus on precision of tannin structure, integration of acidity, and purity of Cabernet Sauvignon expression are the watchwords here. The critics are enthused about the direction taken by new winemaker Jean-Emmanual Danjoy:

“The 2021 Mouton Rothschild is a terrific wine in the making” William Kelley

“a classic Pauillac with intensity and depth through the palate. Plenty of grip and length, with rich layers” Jane Anson

Understated and introverted at the moment but still harmonious and classy. I love it.” Georgina Hindle, Decanter

The strength of the brand Mouton has rocketed in recent years; indeed there can be few more consistent, high-ranking estates in Bordeaux over the past decade. After a relatively lacklustre 1990s, and a couple of high points in the 2000s, it was the 2009 and 2010 pairing that really kicked off the renaissance and since then they have never looked back. Mouton have continually achieved excellence in ‘ordinary’ vintages and sheer brilliance in the very good to excellent ones. Indeed the hype around their last dozen releases has created market momentum that has put pressure on supply of back vintages.

The 2021 Cos d’Estournel has been released this morning at GBP 1716 per 12 – 5% down on the 2020 price. Described as “Easily one of the wines of the vintage” by Jane Anson, it delivers fabulous Cabernet characteristics in a sleek, low-alcohol (sub-13%) style. Alongside is the estate’s renowned second wine Les Pagodes de Cos at GBP 372 per 12. As with the Grand Vin Antonio Galloni is a big fan, calling it a “gorgeous second wine” with “beams of supporting tannin” and “plenty of Merlot-driven richness”.

The immensely impressive Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge 2021 has been released this morning at GBP 1091 per 12. This is 5% below the 2020 release and 13% below where the 2020 sits in the market today.

Tasting at this address has become a highlight of the En Primeur trip. Fewer producers give you more insight into the challenges of producing a quality vintage, and the team at SHL can rarely have worked harder or smarter to maintain their quality in 2021. Indeed in future years when tasting a line up of their last 10-15 vintages blind you would be very likely to pick this 2021 as the product of a warmer, more homogenous vintage. We loved the wine, giving it one of our higher scores, and particularly admired its finesse of tannin and almost invisible, ‘architectural’ structure.

The Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2021 has also been released – there is a price increase here, but with both red and white suffering a 45% reduction in production volume, and pretty staggering quality, it may not be surprising. The price here is GBP 1262 per 12.

Then as the week starts as it is likely to go on (i.e. busy) we have Larcis Ducasse at GBP 658 per 12. Over the past half decade we have become great admirers of this estate which always had the terroir to deliver exceptional wines but which had rather fallen under the familiar St Emilion spell of over extraction – which in turn led to rather a reduction in potential life span. This has all changed with purity, expression of site, freshness and precision being the aim and in this vintage these are all delivered in a very impressive package.

The immensely impressive Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge 2021 has been released this morning at GBP 1091 per 12. This is 5% below the 2020 release and 13% below where the 2020 sits in the market today.

Tasting at this address has become a highlight of the En Primeur trip. Fewer producers give you more insight into the challenges of producing a quality vintage, and the team at SHL can rarely have worked harder or smarter to maintain their quality in 2021. Indeed in future years when tasting a line up of their last 10-15 vintages blind you would be very likely to pick this 2021 as the product of a warmer, more homogenous vintage. We loved the wine, giving it one of our higher scores, and particularly admired its finesse of tannin and almost invisible, ‘architectural’ structure.

The limited production Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2021 was also released at GBP 1262 per 12. This was mighty impressive and will be one of the leading whites in a year which excelled.

A wine which burst onto the BI scene in the 2015 vintage when we sold virtually the entire UK allocation of this tiny, 1500-2000-case property, Le Gay has continued to make strides in quality. The 2021 vintage has been released today at GBP 834 per 12, 7% down on the 2020 release price.

Neal Martin has been an admirer of Le Gay for some years, and certainly recognises the quality of the 2021, even if it is less hedonistic or exuberant than the past three vintages: he notes the “fine delineation… composed finish” on this “well-executed Le Gay”.

The estate’s stable mate La Violette has also been released at GBP 2880 per 12. Nestled between Chateaux Le Pin and Trotanoy, this small patch of clay, limestone and gravel soil is planted to 50+ year old Merlot vines and produces a wine of Burgundian-styled elegance: indeed Robert Parker once said of La Violette “In many ways it is a more flowery version of La Conseillante, which comes from the gravelly soils on the St.-Emilion border.”

The 2021 is much more of an expression of terroir rather than the opulent power which sometimes characterises the estate: Neal Martin admires its purity and notes there is “plenty of substance on the finish that should ensure this Pomerol will age well in bottle.”

Gruaud Larose have released their 2021 at GBP 744 per 12. In the view of The Wine Advocate’s William Kelley, Gruaud has produced a 2021 that looks set to rival or surpass even recent and more propitious vintages such as 2018” – indeed with 94-95+pts, Dr Kelley also rates the 2021 Gruaud Larose at the same level as vintage luminaries such as Pichon Lalande, Cos d’Estournel and Lynch Bages and within a whisker of the likes of Petrus (93-96) and La Mission Haut Brion (94-96)!