Lifestyle

Vintage 2021 Part 1 – Bordeaux Left Bank

During a visit to the village of Jonzac this spring, a young Bordeaux woman explained to me how to detect overall quality of the past wine vintage.

‘You never know until November, December and January. Then, look to see whether vine growers begin painting their homes.’

Lavishing funds on home renovations, she implied, signals confidence in the quality of the latest vintage, and expected future wine sales.

During this past winter and current spring, few winemakers appear to have slapped coats of emulsion on residences. At least, not yet.

In comparison to the opulence, firmness, structure and complexity shared by Bordeaux vintages from 2018 through 2020, the year 2021 proved challenging.

Weather conditions were at least quixotic; at best mercurial. Frost on April 6th, 7th and 8th of 2021 decimated various vineyards, while a rainy winter and wet spring propagated mildew throughout ample soggy Bordeaux vineyards. There was additional more dark news: some vine growers—separated only by valleys—told divergent tales of affliction. Amélie Osmond of Clos du Notaire in the town Bourg, for example, recalled how their vines were spared from rampant frost and festering mildew; yet half their crop was decimated by a single violent rainstorm.

Colin Hay—writer for U.K. publication The Drinks Business—wrote that severe frost and mildew resulted in some diluted wines with greenness and a lack of mid-palate complexity, and that 2021 was a vintage favoring Cabernets over Merlot. Both Stephanie du Boüard and her father Hubert du Boüard of Château Angélus in Saint-Émilion described the 2021 vintage as both delicate and complicated.

After sampling a few hundred 2021 Bordeaux wines (and several from Burgundy), my conclusion is that this heterogeneous vintage includes salient peaks of excellence—shining acidity, silky tannins and wild red fruit—interspersed by patches of less attractive fare: often thin wines and vegetal tinge.

The 2021 vintage favored light and delicate wines rather than bottles flush with full bodies and power. It therefore tilted favorably toward Burgundian Premier and Grand Crus rather than Bordeaux. This truth reflects cosmic humor; according to the Wine Enthusiast magazine—30 to 50% of Burgundy’s 2021 yield was wiped out by a frost that lasted days longer than the cold snap within Bordeaux. In other words—quality blazed in a vintage of scarcity. Beautiful wines, though little of it.

(This low quantity/notable quality condition lead to a simple and obvious recommendation: investing in the lilting and frequently stellar best of Burgundy 2021 could be very wise.)

Back to Bordeaux.

Pierre Courdurie, of Croix de Labrie, explained while we swirled glasses in his Saint-Émilion cellar that 2021 is a winemaker’s vintage rather than nature’s vintage. In other words, for 2021 Bordeaux—quality is more dependent on the experienced interventions and decisions of winemakers than only on the natural bounty of terroir.

Such challenges can be beneficial. Variance and heterogeneity provides lessons for industrious winemakers. Rather than enjoying the frequent recent luxury of declaring vintages as overall blockbusters raging with elegance, they are forced to recalibrate techniques in order to coax nature-battered grapes into producing deliciously attractive juice.

For the 2021 wines that do shine, vintage 2021 will likely produce—after years, and even decades—subtle slivers of beauty: deft tannins, ebullient acidity and pockets of richly delicate fruit flavors.

This three-part article on vintage 2021 includes tasting notes, scores and recommended food pairings for over 200 wines.

This first part includes wines from the ‘left bank’ of Bordeaux—the portion west of Europe’s largest estuary—the Gironde.

The second part covers more Merlot and Cabernet Franc dominant wines located on the ‘right bank’ of Bordeaux—east of that same water body.

The third part covers wines from the ‘Entre Deux Mers’ region—a huge land triangle located below the confluence of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers that merge to create the Gironde Estuary. This part also includes wines from broad appellations covering all of Bordeaux (such as Bordeaux Supérieur), as well as non-appellation wines. Also included are a few wines from different regions of France, and—in a single case—from another country (South Africa).

These tasting notes are subjective and although my overall ‘scorings’ may appear relatively high—the truth is that Bordeaux consistently produces ample true beauties: wines that are overall of elevated quality with respect to worldwide production. To better understand (or more appropriately—to better appreciate) the complexity and nuances of vintage 2021—it’s best to purchase a few bottles when they are released. Or else visit Bordeaux. Better still—do both.

Santé.

PAUILLAC

L’Harmonie de Fonbadet. Pauillac. Grand Vin de Bordeaux. 2021. 92+ points.

A 66/34 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that ages up to 12 months in oak and concrete. Aromas of cassis, cocoa, red cherries, cranberries and smoke, as well as some mint and eucalyptus. In the mouth—silky acidity, bright red fruit that includes light cherries; light and soft tannins, eucalyptus and edgy acidity on the finish.

Château Fonbadet. Pauillac. 2021. 92 – 93 points.

An 80/20 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that ages for up to 18 months in new French oak. Balanced and light aromas of blackberries, acorns, licorice, cocoa and blackberries. Notably smooth. In the mouth this suave wine with dark flavors includes silky tannins, bright acidity and a midpalate of cocoa, blackberry and strawberry flavors, with a buzzing acidic finish. Consider pairing with goulash.

Domaine Peyronie. Château Pauillac. 2021. 94 points.

90/10 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot. Vinified in barrels. Aromas of cocoa, black cherries, wet forest, hazelnuts and smoke. A supple and easy drinking wine with firm tannins and an acidic edge. In the mouth red fruit, blueberries and salty black licorice midpalate, with a lush and gorgeously light finish. Consider pairing with shish kebab.

Château La Fleur Peyrabon. Pauillac. 2021. 89 points.

Aromas of chalk and herbs. Slightly thin tannins and acidity. Midpalate includes licorice and cranberries.

Château Grand-Puy Ducasse. Pauillac. 2021. 92 points.

Aromas of clay, fresh cut wood and marmalade. An unusual but alluring initial set of aromas. A statured wine designed to match with beef. Midpalate of figs, prunes, red plums and a finish with a hit of red plumbs. Ferociously well integrated fruit and acidity, and evident but non-obtrusive tannins. Pair with a creamy pasta such as tagliatelle with truffles or a raisin cake.

Prélude a Grand-Puy Ducasse. Pauillac. 2021. 91+ points.

Light, fresh, uplifting aromas of roses, raspberries, wild strawberries, some cedar and black pepper. A well-integrated and clean wine, though lilting toward excess acidity—which is characteristic of vintage 2021. A medley of red fruit and mandarin slices midpalate, and a finish that includes some teak and cumin. Pair with a salad that includes chunks of blackened beef and sesame, or with a textured vegetarian dish such as bulghur with soy.

PESSAC-LÉOGNAN / GRAVES

Château Haut-Bergey. Pessac-Léognan. Cuvée Paul. 2021. 91 – 92 points.

Bright aromas from this biodynamic wine include lemons, bramble, strawberries and red plums. In the mouth—pepper, mocha and licorice on the finish. Rich, round and deep dark fruit flavors.

Château de Chantegrive. Graves. 2021. 91 points.

From the Lévéque family. Dark fruit aromas, some shortbread and acorns. Flavors of raspberries, cherries, some toffee on the midpalate.

Château Méjean. Graves. 2021. 93 points.

Aromas of red licorice, tangerines, Moroccan tajine, prunes and red plums. Complex and layered with similarities to an orange wine. Herbaceous and orange notes midpalate and slight menthol on the finish. Unique and uplifting.

Château Les Clauzots. Graves. 2021. 90 – 91 points.

This 70/25/5 blend of Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon/Sauvignon Gris includes brisk aromas of salt and pepper as well as those of lime, cashews. Crisp midpalate of tropical fruit and green apple flavors with some fresh bread on the finish. Layered, delightful, easy drinking and well balanced. Pair with a meringue dessert or with scallops.

Château de Chantegrive. Caroline. Graves. 2021. 93 points.

A 60/40 blend of Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon from the Levéque family. Fresh and dry aromas of slight menthol, even red cherries, honey, lime and nutmeg. Deliciously creamy midpalate with grapefruit and fresh bread flavors and a finish with a slight lime and salinity kick. Balanced, semi rounded. Pair with ceviche or pasta with pesto.

Château De Portets. Graves. 2021. 92+ points.

A 60/30/10 blend of Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc/Muscadelle from 25-year-old vines. Soft and sweet aromas of marshmallows, grapefruit, lime and boysenberries. A generous, well-balanced wine that includes satisfying rich fruit flavors and sleek acidity. Some lychee and mangos on the finish. Pair with Dover sole or a lemon souffle. Lovely, crisp and distinguished.

SAINT-ESTÈPHE

Prieur de Meyney. Saint-Estèphe. 2021. 92 – 93 points.

Generous and juicy aromas of fresh red fruit, including black berries and black cherries, some brownies and mandarin slices. Complex and delightful aromas. A supple, well balanced and giving mouthful of bright red fruit flavors, supported by clean acidity. Bourbon chocolate biscuits midpalate, some hummus and earth on the finish.

Château Meyney. Saint-Estèphe. 2021. 93 points.

Fresh aromas of red fruit as well as some beef and tarragon. Clean and coherent delivery of red fruit midpalate and slight menthol on the finish. Well integrated acidity and firm though low-key suave tannins. Pair with charcuterie and cheeses, or with chop suey.

Château Haut-Beauséjour. Saint-Estèphe. 2021. 92 – 93 points.

Generous, round, profuse, lush, plush aromas of red fruit and a lick of menthol. Black cherries, black berries and raspberries midpalate and slight caramel and heightened acidity on the finish.

The Corsair of Laffitte-Carcasset. Saint-Estèphe. 2021. 92+ points.

This 13% alcohol Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend includes plush, delicate, rich aromas of cherries and chocolate and lilacs—perfumed and layered on the nose. Delicate attack and soft midpalate of mocha and black cherries, and a lovely, earth finish with red fruit. Beautifully balanced acidity, fruit and tannins—which is exceptional for 2021. Pair with a German chocolate cake dessert or with shish kebab that includes chicken and juicy vegetables. Saint-Estephe appears to have done well in 2021.

Château des Termes. Saint-Estèphe. Cru Bourgeois Supérieur. 2021. 91 points.

Rich, dark, robust and semi-spicey aromas that include bluebells, black pepper, cardamon, anise, sesame seeds and cherries. Midpalate of red fruit, though slightly acidic. Undoubtedly this will evolve into a layered and complex wine over years. Pair with truffle risotto or even a spicy swordfish.

Château Laffitte Carcasset. Saint-Estèphe. Cru Bourgeois Supérieur. 2021. 90 – 91 points.

A Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc blend. Slightly meaty aromas of black cherries, violets, beef bourguignon and cherry tart. A short attack, a satisfying midpalate of plush red fruit and a slightly acidic finish.

Château Tour de Pez. Saint-Estephe. Cru Bourgeois. 2021. 91 points.

Distinctively plush aromas of violets, clover, blueberries, cumin and sage. Short attack, midpalate of red and black fruits and some mocha, and a somewhat lean and slightly acidic finish. Pair with a hummus dish or with butternut squash ravioli.

Château Meyney. Saint-Estèphe. 2021. 93+ points.

Fresh red fruit aromas as well as some beef and tarragon. Clean and coherent delivery of red fruit midpalate and slight menthol on the finish. Well integrated clean acidity and firm though low-key suave tannins. Pair with charcuterie and cheeses, or with an Asian dish such as chop suey.

Château Graves de Pez. Saint-Estèphe. 2021. 91 points.

A Cabernet Sauvignon blend with Merlot and Petit Verdot at 13.5% alcohol. Rich rounded aromas of boysenberries and cherries; taste includes luscious red fruit midpalate and a slightly peppermint finish. Bright acidity.

Château Petit Bocq. Saint-Estèphe. 2021. 91+ points.

Aromas of rum, raisins, cherries and wet earth. A well-structured wine with bright acidity.

Château Lilian-Ladouys. Saint-Estèphe. 2021. 93 points.

Distinguished aromas of florals, black cherries and German chocolate cake. A rich and supple wine with elegant tannins.

Château Tronquoy-Lalande. Saint-Estèphe. 2021. 92 points.

Rich aromas of black cherries and mint. Good structure to a complex wine that includes subtle flavors of black fruit as well as licorice and black pepper. Bright acidity, though not a hefty wine.

Château de Pez. Saint-Estèphe. 2021. 91 points.

Aromas of nectarines and black cherries. A beautifully balanced and supple wine with light red fruit flavors and light acidity on the finish.

Château Ségur de Cabanac. Saint-Estèphe. 2021. 93 points.

Bright, bounteous and gorgeous aromas of roses and cherries, reminiscent of a right bank Saint-Émilion. Balanced and hearty in the mouth, with a beefy midpalate and cherries on the finish.

Château de Côme. Saint-Estèphe. Cru Bourgeois Supérieur. 2021. 94 points.

Aromas of wet earth, morels, wet leaves, red cherries and raspberries. Beautiful integration in the mouth with rich ripe red fruit and juicy acidity. Easy drinking.

Château Coutelin Merville. Saint-Estèphe. Cru Bourgeois. 2021. 92 – 93 points.

Elegant and light aromas of raspberries, black cherries and black berries. In the mouth slightly vegetal with flavors of black cherries and black pepper midpalate and cherries on the finish. Good structure and supple acidity.

Château Clauzet. Saint-Estèphe. 2021. 92 points.

Poised, delicate, rich aromas of black cherries and raspberries. Overall a light, graceful, and elegant wine though slightly thin as per many 2021 wines.

Château Domeyne. Saint-Estèphe. 2021. 93 points.

Rich aromas of oak, earth, persimmons and cocoa. A light, graceful and balanced wine with a mid-palate of mint and red cherries. Sound tannins and sleek acidity.

Château Haut Coteau. Saint-Estèphe. 2021. 93 points.

Sleek, supple aromas of red cherries; slightly herbaceous. Flavors of red cherries and pineapple from the acidity—almost tropical. Layered, complex and crunchy. Red fruit and menthol on the finish.

LISTRAC MÉDOC

Château Clarke. Baron Edmond de Rothschild. Listrac Médoc. 2021. 93+ points.

Robust and rich, crunchy aromas of a chocolate bar and raspberries. Creamy but hefty midpalate and black cherries on the finish. Good integration between bright acidity and supple tannins.

Château Fourcas Hosten. Listrac-Médoc. 2021. 91 points.

Aromas of red fruit, wet earth and some leather. A rich and light wine, though somewhat thin, with morels on a long finish.

Château Fourcas Dupré. Listrac-Médoc. 2021. 93 points.

Aromas of raspberries, some mint and slight florals. Rich red cherries and an oaky and creamy midpalate with supple tannins. Lush finish. Overall a black cherry explosion.

Château Martinho. Listrac-Médoc. 2021. 90+ points.

Somewhat weak aromas of red cherries and lychee fruit. A delicate wine, though quite acidic, with red fruit midpalate and menthol on the finish.

MOULIS-EN-MÉDOC

Château Branas Grand Poujeaux. Moulis-en-Médoc. 2021. 92 – 93 points.

Supple and luscious aromas, seductive and folded, that include strawberry cheesecake, M&M candies, prune juice, young raspberries and hazelnuts. A layered treat to the nose. Attack with red cherries, followed by blackberries and chocolate brownies midpalate, and morels and fig newtons on the finish. Brimming with buoyant acidity over integration with seductive tannins, but attractively so.

Château Brillette. Moulis-en-Médoc. 2021. 91 points.

Rich aromas of light red fruit and elegant tannins. In the mouth this appears more of a Burgundian Pinot Noir than a classic Bordeaux. Slightly herbaceous on a finish that includes flavors of chocolate tart and red cherries.

Château Dutruch Grand Poujeaux. Moulin-en-Médoc. 2021. 91 – 93 points.

Supple aromas of elegant and light red fruit. Somewhat thin in the mouth, with flavors of acorns and raspberries, with Oreo chocolate cookies on the finish.

Château Malmaison. Moulin-en-Médoc. 2021. 91 points.

Aromas of red and black cherries and in the mouth a mid-palate of menthol and chocolate tart. Sound tannins and clear acidity.

Château Anthonic. Moulin-en-Médoc. 2021. 90+ points.

Robust aromas include those of red fruit; slightly herbaceous. Flavors of bon bons and cumin, as well as light raspberries.

Château Mauvesin Barton. Moulin-en-Médoc. 2021. 92 points.

Aromas of black fruit, raspberries and some herbaceous notes. Flavors include a hearty flush of sleek red cherries, minestrone and tarragon. Bright and light acidity. Hearty flush of sleek cherries, minestrone and some tarragon midpalate.

Château Lalaudey. Moulin-en-Médoc. Cru Bourgeois Supérieur. 2021. 91 points.

Rich red cherries and mint crisp aromas. A beefy midpalate, with oranges and cherries on the finish. Lambent acidity and low-key tannins.

MARGAUX

Château Bellevue de Tayac. Margaux. 2021. 91+ points.

Aromas of fruit and bourbon chocolate biscuits, though slightly herbaceous. Mildly disjointed in its youth though with a rich red fruit midpalate. Pair with a hearty meat dish.

Château Moutte Blanc. Margaux. 2021. 91 points.

Aromas of red fruit with a lick of tar, violet and primroses. In the mouth, a red fruit medley midpalate with some gooseberry acidity on the finish. Somewhat herbaceous, as with many wines from 2021.

Château d’Arsac. Margaux. 2021. 94 points.

Scrumptious and rich aromas of chocolate cake, red and black cherries, pecans and menthol. Juicy red fruit midpalate, citrus steak on the finish as well as morels. A red to pair with dessert.

Château La Tour de Bessan. Margaux. 2021. 90 points.

Red fruit, chalk and wet fern aromas. Flavors of dorp licorice and cranberries midpalate. Somewhat acidic finish and slightly vegetal.

Gallen de Château Meyre. Margaux. 2021. 92 points.

Aromas of florals—tulips and violets—as well as those of butternut squash, black cherries and black berries. A texturally crunchy midpalate, with silky tannins and supple acidity and slight menthol on the finish. A succulent wine to pair with dessert.

Château Larruau. Margaux. 2021. 92 points.

Aromas of black cherries and citric fruit. Rich, robust flavors of red fruit, with some Bourbon chocolate biscuits on the finish.

Château Siran. Margaux. 2021. 94 points.

Soft, layered, elegant aromas that include florals, ripe strawberries and slight cumin. A mild attack followed by a beautiful and hearty midpalate of cherries, some dorp licorice and menthol on the finish. A full cheeked beauty that is satisfying and well-integrated between succulent acidity and lean but structured tannins. Pair with roasted duck breast or a beef and cous-cous pilaf. Layered, lush, well structured.

Château Deyrem Valentin. Margaux. Cru Bourgeois Supérieur. 2021. 93+ points.

Energetic and brisk, layered aromas of sage, mint crisp, black cherries, black licorice and a ribbon of oranges from the acidity. Rich and rounded midpalate of red fruit, some mocha and beef jerky. Light on the attack, midpalate and finish—which includes some mandarins and white pears from the sleek acidity, as well as cumin and mocha in the enduring finish. Well integrated, layered, balanced and approachably easy drinking.

SAINT JULIEN

Château Moulin de La Rose. Saint-Julien. 2021. 90 points.

Aromas include those of chalk, green peppers, charcoal and morels. A thin midpalate that includes flavors of dark toast and raspberries.

Château La Fleur Lauga. Saint-Julien. 2021. 90 points.

Aromas of astringent red fruit, persimmons and red-hot candies. Thin midpalate, but with bright and shining acidity; flavors of raspberries on the finish.

Château Teynac. Saint-Julien. 2021. 91 points.

Aromas or roses, red cherries, violets and cranberries. Flavors include mocha and raspberries midpalate and a delicious finish of Bourbon chocolate biscuits and mint. Somewhat thin tannic structure.

MÉDOC

Château Carmenère. Médoc. 2021. 92 points

Aromas of mint brittle, maple syrup and boysenberries. Flavors of black and red cherries in a fulfilling, layered midpalate, with menthol on the finish. Well integrated acidity and tannins in this easy drinking wine.

Château Saint-Hilaire. Médoc. 2021. Cru Bourgeois Supérieur. 89 points.

Aromas of chalk, nuts and black licorice. Red fruits midpalate, oranges and black pepper on the finish. Somewhat disjointed between fruits and tannins, but may evolve with better eventual integration.

Château Lartigue. Médoc. 2021. 90 points.

Rich aromas of cherries and mocha, raisins and anise. Bright acidic midpalate of oranges and raspberries. Slightly thin, though embracingly delicate.

Château Les Ormes Sorbet. Médoc. 2021. 90 points.

Aromas of orange rind and red cherries. Flavors include bright orange citrus acidity, cranberries and red cherries midpalate. Short mocha finish. Tannins sleek though weak.

Château Taffard de Blaignan. Médoc. 2021. 90 points.

Merlot dominated with Cabernet Sauvignon—13.5% alcohol. Somewhat weak aromas of nuts and mica. Midpalate of cheddar and minestrone and morels on the finish. Thin acidity not yet well integrated with tannins.

Château Sigognac. Médoc. 2021. 90 points.

Aromas of mint brittle, cherries, tobacco and wet ferns. Midpalate of mocha, black licorice and cherries, with tarragon and chocolate on the finish. Underwhelming integration as yet between acidity and thin tannins.

Château Potensac. Delon. Médoc. 2021. 90 – 91 points.

Aromas of red cherries and cocoa in this wine with bright acidity. Midpalate of a crunchy chocolate bar and creamy tannins.

Château Livran. Médoc. 2021. 91 points.

Aromas of chalk and a green country lane. Midpalate of morels, raspberries, cranberries, though the acidity is thin and the tannins remain undefined.

Château Castera. Médoc. 2021. Cru Bourgeois Supérieur. 89 – 90 points.

An acidic wine with a mid-palate of red cherries and Marie biscuits on the finish.

Château Campillot. Médoc. 2021. 91 points.

Aromas of roses, raspberries, tarragon and chalk. Sleek acidity coats a mid-palate of fresh raspberries and even peaches.

HAUT-MÉDOC

Château Peyredon Lagravette. Haut-Médoc. Cru Bourgeois. 2021. 92+ points.

From Lauren and Stéphane Dupuch, this 70% Cabernet Sauvignon Cru Bourgeois includes aromas of treacle, honey and maple syrup and a sliver of spice. Think country lane blackberries. Structured tannins. Rounded with good acidity, slight herbs and mandarins midpalate, and with mocha and mandarins on the finish.

Château La Lagune. Haut-Médoc. 2021. 95+ points.

This left-bank blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot from Caroline Frey has rich, delicate, perfumed and round aromas that include black cherries, blueberries and raspberries. A well-balanced and light medley of red and black fruit, suave tannins and buoyant acidity. Creamy and dreamy. Harmonious flavors of red cherries, mocha and macarons midpalate and a sliver of After Eight mints on the finish. Difficult to stop drinking.

Château Charmail. Haut-Médoc. Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. 2021. 93 points.

Generous light and wild strawberry and country lane aromas. Ripe red plums on the midpalate, and slight mocha and cherries on the finish. Well integrated soft though vibrant acidity with sleek tannins. Easy drinking and approachable. Pair with a cheese and bacon souffle or a vegetarian lasagna.

Château Arnauld. Haut-Médoc. Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. 2021. 93 points.

Jumping fresh aromas of red fruit—red plums and strawberries, slight coffee and Frys chocolate bars. Soft and delicate midpalate of raspberries and strawberries, though slightly acidic on finish. Firm but low-key tannins. Overall rich and satisfying with a lingering finish. Pair with roasted rabbit or lamb chops and mango chutney.

Château Lamothe-Bergeron. Haut-Médoc. Cru Bourgeois Supérieur. 2021. 93 – 94 points.

Rich and succulent, opulent aromas of cherries, cranberries, some teak and black pepper. Crisp, linear profile that moves from an attack of red fruit, a juicy and acidic cherry midpalate to a rich and delightful finish with morels and butterscotch. Redolent acidity fully integrated with soft tannins. Pair with charcuterie, steak, or a vegetarian tajine.

Château Larose Perganson. Haut-Médoc. Cru Bourgeois Supérieur. 2021. 93 points.

Layered, crisp and lean aromas of candy cane, strawberries, crème brulé and black cherries. Crisp though somewhat thin midpalate of juicy red fruit. Clean acidity on the finish with flavors of slight licorice and cherries. Pair with charcuterie and cheese or a peach melba dessert. Approachable, light and well-integrated tannins.

Château Magnol. Haut-Médoc. Cru Bourgeois. 2021. 92 points.

This 46/39/12/3 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot from Barton & Guestier includes lively, fruity and approachable aromas of sesame, toast, black cherries, strawberries, mint crisp and sage. A juicy, fruity, well integrated midpalate with some flavors of cola and mocha on the finish. Acidity well integrated with supple tannins and varied fruit flavors. Pair with wiener schnitzel or a dark stew.

Château Verdignan. Haut-Médoc. 2021. 90 points.

A blend primarily of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with a small amount of Cabernet Franc from 45-year-old vines. Aromas of chalk and wet ferns and a mid-palate of red fruit and blueberries.

Château Coufran. Haut-Médoc. 2021. 90 points.

This 85/15 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon includes aromas of black peppers and cumin and a mid-palate bulging with red fruit flavors.

Château Bel Orme Tronquoy de Lalande. Haut-Médoc. 2021. 92+ points.

A 65/35 blend of Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon with velvety aromas of rich red and black cherries as well as chocolate. The midpalate is complex and layered and includes flavors of red licorice and nuts.

L’ Orme de Rauzan Gassies. Haut-Médoc. 2021. 91 points.

A 65/35 blend of Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon with rich aromas of red and black cherries and mocha, with a mid-palate dominated by red fruit. Somewhat thin acidic/tannic harmony as of yet, but will integrate over time.

Château Soudars. Haut-Médoc. 2021. 91 points.

Aromas of red and black cherries as well as dark chocolate and some black pepper. Midpalate of dark chocolate, tarragon and black pepper. Layered tannins and fruit flavors.

Château Doyac. Haut-Médoc. 2021. 90+ points.

Aromas of black cherries and chocolate and a rich midpalate of black and red fruit. Tense tannins and tight acidity.

Château Lamothe Cissac. Haut-Médoc. 2021. 90+ points.

Aromas of black and red cherries in this wine with a mid-palate showing supple tannins and bright acidity.

Château Larrivaux. Haut-Médoc. 2021. 90+ points.

From Bérangère Tesseron comes a Merlot dominant blend that also includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Aromas of peat chips and vegetation and a midpalate of maple syrup and blueberries. Better fruit tannin integration is still to come.

Château Victoria. Haut-Médoc. Cru Bourgeois. 2021. 91 points.

This Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend includes aromas of blueberries and chocolate chips. In the mouth flavors include red and black cherries midpalate and mocha on the finish. Thin tannins, though elegant.

Château Peyrabon. Haut-Médoc. Cru Bourgeois Supérieur. 2021. 90 points.

Cabernet Sauvignon dominant, with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot from 30-year-old vines. Aromas of light red fruit and the same in the mouth, though the tannins are somewhat thin.

Château Fontesteau. Haut-Médoc. Cru Bourgeoise Supérieur. 2021. 89 points.

A Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot blend with aromas of raspberries, mint brittle, peat chips and wet ferns. Complex and different. Midpalate of roasted almonds and blueberries.

Château Corconnac. Haut-Médoc. Cru Bourgeoise. 2021. 91 points.

A 60/40 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend that will age in French oak for 12 months and has aromas of blueberries, minestrone and wet ferns. The body includes chirpy and perky acidity and strong flavors of blue fruit.

Château Lanessan. Haut-Médoc. 2021. 91 points.

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot that has aromas of blueberries, raspberries and violets. Butterscotch midpalate, cranberries and black pepper on the finish. Quiet tannins in a wine with bright acidity.

Château Bel Air Gloria. Haut-Médoc. Cru Bourgeoise Supérieur. 2021. 94 points.

From Domains Henri Martin comes this 75/23/2 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc with aromas of raspberries, black cherries and some chocolate chips. A layered and creamy midpalate of several fruits with slim tannins, and black pepper on the finish.

Domaine de La Garenne. Haut-Médoc. 2021. 90+ points.

A 60/40 blend of Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon with aromas of chalk, peat chips, blueberries and violets. Beef Bourguignon midpalate, and cranberries on the finish. Juicy acidity and stout tannins.

Château Colombe Peyland. Haut-Médoc. 2021. 92 points.

This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot comes from vines up to 35 years old and ages 15 months in oak. Aromas of blue and red fruit and a beautiful midpalate of minestrone and blueberries. Complex, intriguing, shining acidity and slight herbaceousness wrapped around taut acidity.

Château de Lauga. Cru Artisan. Haut-Médoc. 2021. 92 points.

From the Brun family comes this 55/40/4/1 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Petit Verdot/Carménère with aromas of black cherries and minestrone in a wine with opulent acidity and a creamy midpalate that includes blueberries and beef jerky. Stout, distinct tannins with creaminess in the acidity.

Château du Retout. Haut-Médoc. Cru Bourgeoise Supérieur. 2021. 93 points.

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Merlot with aromas of blueberries and a creamy, acidic midpalate of beef tartare meets beef Bourguignon with a black pepper finish.

Château Beaumont. Haut-Médoc. Cru Bourgeoise Supérieur. 2021. 93 points.

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Petit Verdot with aromas of blueberries and beef bourguignon. A creamy delight of a midpalate with blue fruit and red cherries on the finish.

Château Meyre. Haut-Médoc. Cru Bourgeoise Supérieur. 2021. 89 – 90 points.

A blend of 44/40/11/5 Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot/Cabernet Franc with aromas of beef bourguignon and blueberries. A midpalate with cola, and yet a somewhat quiet finish. Acidity a bit thin.

Château de Villegeorge. Haut-Médoc. 2021. 91 points.

Typically a 70/20/10 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Petit Verdot from 25-year-old vines, with aromas of blueberries and florals—lilacs and violets. A crunchy chocolate and raspberry midpalate with bright acidity and soft tannins.

Château Citran. Haut-Médoc. 2021. 93 points.

Typically a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Crisp aromas of nuts and mint brittle as well as oxtail soup and blueberries. Rich and layered and integrated. Blue fruit midpalate and a hint of herbaceous notes on the finish.

Château Moutte Blanc. Marguerite. Haut-Médoc. Cru Artisan. 2021. 92 points.

Aromas of chalk, peat and blue berries. Adroit acidity and a tinge of green in a midpalate with flavors of blueberries and red cherries.

Le Clos La Bohème. Haut-Médoc. Cru Bourgeoise. 2021. 93 points.

From Christine Nadalié, this includes aromas of chalk, blueberries, raspberries in a wine with bright acidity and low-key tannins and flavors of blueberries, beef bourguignon, saltwater taffy and butterscotch midpalate.

Château Sénéjac. Haut-Médoc. 2021. 93+ points.

A Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blend that also includes Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot that ages 15 months in oak. Aromas of toffee, peat, violets and caramel. A simmering blue angel of folded flavors, with a hit of blueberries and barnyard funk. Distinct and edgy.

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