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First impressions of Bordeaux 2021 from Jean-Marc Quarin

Although the en primeur tasting of the Bordeaux 2021 vintage is just drawing to a close, the first impressions from French critic Jean-Marc Quarin have been released. 

In his brief overview of the vintage, Quarin said it was a, ‘very heterogenous vintage but with some pleasant surprises’. 

Among his observations of the wines were the aromatics and relative lack of tannins in many wines – in relation to recent vintages – and low alcohols. Combined with good acidity, ‘the most successful 2021s are highly pleasurable,’ he said. 

Nonetheless, he also added that the difficult conditions during the growing season ‘did not favour the lesser red crus’, and in general a lack of ripeness, mid-palate or finish were among the problems besetting the more disappointing wines. 

Overall, he called 2021, ‘an average vintage from which emerge a few good, very good or even excellent exceptions’. He estimated that the number of wines he considered exceptional, to be 50% less than in the 2020 and 2019 vintages. 

The top-scoring wines 

From his initial list of 393 wines, 64 have a score of 94-points or more and only five have his top score of 97. 

A selection of these scores can be seen in the table below. The heterogeneity of the vintage can be glimpsed in his scores, with a relatively even split in Left and Right Bank representation. 

Of the 64 rated 94-points or more, 29 are from the Right Bank (Saint-Emilion grand cru and Pomerol), three from Sauternes and Barsac and the remaining 32 from the top appellations of the Left Bank. 

That said, he admitted that the Left Bank had perhaps delivered the strongest wines overall. Among his top scores were some high ratings for the vintage’s white wines as well.  

The Haut-Brion Blanc was rated 97-points and he thought it ‘one of its great vintages’. The white wines of Valandraud, Smith Haut Lafitte, Domaine de Chevalier and La Mission Haut-Brion were also among the top-rated. 

Here is the link to the Liv-ex En Primeur Report for Bordeaux 2021, which was published last week and is currently available to members only. 

Liv-ex analysis is drawn from the world’s most comprehensive database of fine wine prices. The data reflects the real time activity of Liv-ex’s 560+ merchant members from across the globe. Together they represent the largest pool of liquidity in the world – currently £100m of bids and offers across 16,000 wines. Independent data, direct from the market.