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Liv-ex 2021 Bordeaux En Primeur survey results

  • Château Margaux is the wine of the vintage.
  • Château Langoa Barton tops the value for money category.
  • Merchants expect ex-négociant release prices to be on average 2.7% lower than last year, but 20.7% higher than 2019.
  • Over half of merchants predict demand will be significantly (over 20%) lower than last year.
  • Neal Martin remains the most influential Bordeaux En Primeur critic.
  • Heterogeneity, freshness, and low alcohol come up as key characteristics of the vintage.

After a two-year pause of En Primeur tastings, the international trade returned to Bordeaux for the 2021 vintage.

Liv-ex surveyed its global merchant membership to find out how they assess the new vintage, their top value wines, and price predictions for this year’s releases. Below are the En Primeur survey results in full.

Favourite wines of the vintage

Liv-ex members were asked to list in order of their preference their top five wines of Bordeaux 2021 irrespective of their price. Wines ranked number one by respondents were awarded 10 points, second were given five points, third three, fourth two and fifth one.

Overall, Château Margaux received the highest score, with Château Lafite Rothschild coming in close second.

Top value wines

The merchants’ favourite value wines, expected to be released at under £600 per case can be seen in the table above. Overall, Château Langoa Barton topped the value for money category. In previous years, Branaire Ducru and Grand Puy Lacoste have led the rankings.

In total, 125 different wines were mentioned in answer to this question.

Most disappointing wines

The mixed picture that emerged from the trade’s answers to this question reflected the general view that 2021 is a heterogenous vintage.

The trade listed 43 different wines that did not quite meet their expectations. While answers were varied, wines from the Left Bank featured more heavily in the list. There were wines that featured both in this list and in some merchants’ responses to the first question (‘Favourite wines of the vintage’).

Average vintage score

On average, Liv-ex members awarded the 2021 vintage 92.5 points (out of 100). This places it above 2014 (92 points) and a touch below 2017 (92.6).

Comparison to previous vintages

The majority of respondents (25%) said the vintage did not compare to any of the previous vintages they had tasted. At 21%, the closest vintage comparison was with the 2014.

The 2017 vintage also came up in 19% of the answers.

One respondent said that 2021 was ‘streets ahead of 2011/2012/2013/2014/2017 at this stage’.

Ranking recent vintages for First Growth quality

Liv-ex members were asked to rank the quality of the last five vintages considering only the First Growths.

The 2021 came in fourth place, after what has been described as ‘trilogy of great years’ 2019, 2018 and 2020. Although 2021 ranked just below 2017 for overall vintage quality, it outperformed it when it came to the First Growths alone.

Expected level of demand

Over 71% of merchants expect to see less demand for Bordeaux En Primeur compared to last year. More than half anticipate that demand by volume will be at least 20% lower. However, due to the challenges of the season, there will be less wine released onto the market.

Most influential Bordeaux critics

Liv-ex members were also asked to list in order of preference the critics that will have greater influence on their and, by extension, their clients’ buying decisions.

Neal Martin (Vinous) topped the rankings as the most trusted Bordeaux En Primeur critic. The second spot was taken by William Kelley who wrote his first Bordeaux En Primeur report for the Wine Advocate this year.

Previous Wine Advocate Bordeaux-reviewer and Editor-in-Chief Lisa Perrotti Brown MW ranked forth with her new venture The Wine Independent. Her critical assessment of the vintage is expected next week.

Another newly independent critic, Jane Anson (previously at Decanter), took the fifth spot. Her top-scoring Bordeaux 2021 wines can be found here.

Release prices

*Click to enlarge

The most pertinent question each year is about the pricing of the new releases. Merchants gave estimates of the ex-négociant prices for the basket of wines listed above, which we keep the same each year.

Their predictions showed that, on average, merchants expect (not want) 2021 release prices to be 2.7% lower than for the 2020 vintage, but up 20.7% on the 2019.

Key vintage characteristics

Freshness and low alcohol repeatedly came up in members’ descriptions of the vintage. Many complimented its acidity, suggesting that 2021 has good ageing potential. ‘Very elegant’ and ‘no blockbuster style,’ said one respondent.

The wines were generally described as ‘better than anticipated’ with some ‘nice surprises’.

Most merchants pointed to the heterogeneity of the vintage, with one noting that there were ‘some disappointing appellations and some over-achievers’. The whites were described as an ‘overall success’.

Our Bordeaux En Primeur 2021 page contains everything you need to know about this year’s campaign. You can also sign up for our daily En Primeur email alerts using the form below.   

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.