2021 Pauillac, the Vintage Report.
2021 Pauillac got off to an auspicious start with one of the rainest vintages in history. Almost 700mm drenched the appellation between October and February. It was not only rainy but also cold as well, especially in January. By the time February rolled around, things began looking better as temperatures began rising in February, reaching a seasonably warm average of 10 Celsius, 52 Fahrenheit.
March was dry and cool with occasional warmer afternoons with bud break occurring for the Merlot around March 21, followed by the Cabernets about one week later. April brought fears of frost, especially to the vineyards located inland, away from the warmth of the Gironde Estuary. May was one of the coldest Mays in history bringing more rain to the appellation along with conditions for the development of downy mildew. Flowering took place during a rain-drenched June.
July wasn’t much better delivering more rain, another outbreak of downy mildew, and very little sunshine or warmth. By this time, growers all over the Left Bank were becoming anxious and concerned by the lack of potential for 2021 Bordeaux. August started the month by continuing the trend of cold temperatures. But, fortunately for vignerons in the Medoc, things began improving by the end of August as temperatures started rising.
Depending on the vineyard, harvesting took place from the middle to late September, finishing by mid-October. For an extensive, detailed look at the weather that shaped the entire vintage in both, the Left Bank and the Right Bank: For a more detailed report on the weather that shaped the vintage: 2021 Bordeaux Growing Season and Harvest Report
2021 Paullac … The Wines
2021 Pauillac clearly has produced some very good wines. That is not to say they compete with any of the previous 3 years, 2020, 2019, 2018, or 2016 and 2015. They don’t. But more importantly, 2021 Pauillac wines are also different in style.
The 2021 Pauillac wines are the quintessential example of classic modern. They are sleek, fresh, and bright. The red fruits are crisp with vibrancy, they express clean red fruits while offering lift, and floral aromatics as well. In 2021, as you will see in the comments below, most of the wines have much more Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend this year as the Merlot had more trouble during the growing season. Because of the lack of Merlot, and issues with frost and mildew, yields were down at almost every estate.
2021 Pauillac wines are lower in alcohol than most of the vintages from the last decade, ranging from 12.5% ABV to not much over 13% ABV in most wine. Many vineyards used chaptalization to increase the sugar levels by .5 to 1% for a portion of their harvest. To increase the density, several producers used the saignée technique of bleeding vats to increase the concentration in the wines as well as reverse osmosis.
2021 Pauillac are not opulent wines. Instead, they focus on their purity, lift, and energetic finish. Most of the wines are relatively forward, so wine lovers will not need to wait for decades to appreciate the wines, as many will drink just great with a decade and often less of aging. For an overview of the entire Bordeaux region in 2021, please read 2021 Bordeaux Complete Guide to the Vintage
All of the following 2021 Pauillac wines were tasted in Bordeaux in April, in non-blind conditions.
2021 dArmailhac – Dark ruby in color, the wine is floral in nature, with black raspberries, cherries, and spice on the nose. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, soft, approachable, and focused on its freshness, sweetness, and easy-going charm. The wine blends 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, 13% ABV. The wine represents 50% of the harvest. Drink from 2024-2044. 90-92 Pts
2021 Batailley – Medium-bodied, soft, elegant, fresh, and chalky with nuances of chalk, tobacco leaf, forest floor, and red with black currants. The wine is soft and creamy with a nice sweetness on the elegantly-styled palate, there is a lot of charm as well as freshness here. The wine blends 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. It is interesting to note that Batailley was the first major wine released from the 2021 vintage, and it was priced the same as the 2020 vintage. Time will tell if this was a good strategy or not. Drink from 2026-2049. 92-94 Pts
2021 Batailley Lions de Batailley – Fresh, forward, peppery red fruits with a soft edge and a medium-bodied creamy character which is perfect for early drinking, ready-to-go charming pleasure. Drink from 2023-2029. 86-88 Pts
2021 Clerc Milon – You already find tobacco leaf, espresso, black plum, cigar box, and currants on the nose. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, fresh, elegant, and polished. There is a fabulous sense of purity, gentleness in the tannins, and a slight, savory edge in the finish that accompanies all those ripe berries. This is so good now, It is going to be quite easy to enjoy in its youth. The wine blends 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 1.5% Petit Verdot and 1.5% Carmenere, 13% ABV. Drink from 2024-2045. 92-94 Pts
2021 Clerc Milon Pastourelle de Clerc Milon – Flowers, Asian spices, and red fruits come through easily on the nose and palate. Forward, fresh, sweet, and elegant, this is already disarmingly easy to taste. Enjoy this in its youth for all its sweetness in the fruits, soft, elegant textures, and blast of mint in the endnote. Drink from 2023-2033. 89-91 Pts
2021 Croizet-Bages – Medium-bodied, soft, fresh, vibrant, and forward, with a core of red currants, tobacco, cedar, and peppery spices, the wine is going to be easy to enjoy on release for its fresh crisp red fruit character. Drink from 2023-2037. 88-90 Pts
2021 Duhart-Milon – Flowers, black cherries, earth, and a hint of coffee bean for the nose. On the medium-bodied palate, the wine is soft, fresh, gentle, and elegant, with a focus on the purity in the fruit, and the refinement in the tannins in the mid-palate and in the finish. The wine is a blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon and 19% Merlot. This is the second vintage produced in the new cellars which helped a lot this year, due to the ability to vinify on a parcel by parcel basis. Drink from 2024-2042. 91-93 Pts
2021 Duhart-Milon Moulin de Duhart – Leafy herbs, tobacco leaf, and red currants are found in the nose as well as on the soft, medium-bodied, palate. The finish is on the savory, herbal, olive, and leafy side. Forward, and already easy to enjoy, you can drink this on release. Drink from 2023-2029. 87-89 Pts
2021 Fonbadet – Currants and espresso, with tobacco leaf, spice, and leafy herbs open the perfume. The wine is soft, round, sweet forward, and filled with ripe, red fruits with a touch of oak adding roundness to the finish. The wine blends 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Merlot. Drink from 2024-2039. 89-91 Pts
2021 Grand Puy Ducasse – Medium-bodied, bright, crisp, crunchy red currants, cranberry, and peppery spices open the wine. On the palate the fruits are lively, chewy, and fresh, giving this medium-bodied wine a classic-edged, character and style. Drink from 2025-2045. 90-92 Pts
2021 Grand Puy Ducasse Prelude – Forward, medium-bodied, crisp, crunchy savory, and bright, with a cranberry and red currant character, this will be best early in life, while waiting for the Grand Vin to develop. Drink from 2023-2030. 86-88 Pts
2021 Grand Puy Lacoste – Spiced cassis, cedar, tobacco wrapper, and leafy herbs create the nose. On the palate, the wine is bright, chewy, crisp, and fresh, with a solid blast of peppery currants in the endnote. The wine is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, 13% ABV. The harvest took place September 24-October 8. Drink from 2026 – 2050. 92-94 Pts
2021 Grand Puy Lacoste Lacoste Borie – Bright red currants and leafy herbs with a touch of thyme are found on the nose. The palate is bright, crisp, and peppery, with a savory edge to the chewy, red fruits in the finish. Drink from 2023-2033. 88-90 Pts
2021 Haut Bages Liberal – Flowers and tobacco leaf accompany the bright red fruits on the nose and palate. Medium-bodied, with softness as well as sweetness in the fresh red currants on the palate, and a touch of refreshing spearmint in the finish. The wine will be easy to enjoy just about on release. The wine was produced from a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. This represents the highest percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend in the history of the estate, 13.2% ABV. Drink from 2024-2039. 90-92 Pts
2021 Haut Batailley – Deep ruby in color, the wine shows its cedar, tobacco leaf, mocha, and black currants easily. Fresh and spicy, medium-bodied and energetic, give this just a year or two and it is going to be fun to drink. The wine was made by blending 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot, 13% ABV. Drink from 2024-2045. 91-93 Pts
2021 Haut Batailley Verso – With a cherry, menthol, and cedar-oriented nose, the wine is medium-bodied, earthy, savory, and bright, with olive and crisp red berry profile in the finish. Drink from 2023-2030. 86-88 Pts
2021 Haut-Bages Monpelou – Bright, savory, crisp, and crunchy, there is a nice sweetness to the dark, chewy red fruits on the palate along with a touch of oak, spice, and tobacco leaf as well to provide complexity. The wine blends 71% Cabernet Sauvignon with 29% Merlot. Drink from 2024-2039. 89-91 Pts
2021 Lafite Rothschild – Flowers, blackberries, charcoal, cigar box, black currants, spice, cedar, graphite, and tobacco come through on the nose with a bit of coaxing. On the palate, the wine offers a pure expression of red fruits, black cherries, spice, and a touch of orange rind, along with boysenberry, licorice, and red plums on the backend. This is an elegant, regal, classic style of Lafite Rothschild that will age and evolve quite well. The wine is complete from start to finish and was produced by blending 96% Cabernet Sauvignon. 3% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot. 12.6% ABV, 3.9 pH. Drink from 2032-2060. 96-98 Pts
2021 Lafite Rothschild Carruades de Lafite – Tobacco leaf, wet forest floor, leafy herbs, cedar and red currants create the perfume. On the palate, the wine exudes freshness, elegance, crisp, bright, sweet, energetic fruits and a finish with a touch of spice in the zesty endnote. This wine was made from a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot , 5% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. Drink from 2025-2042. 91-93 Pts
2021 Latour – Tobacco leaf, cedar, spice box, roses, and red currants are what you initially notice. On the palate, the fruits are clean, pure, fresh, bright, and energetic. There is a softness to the tannins, with vibrancy in the fruits that carry from the mid-palate, through to the lengthy, bullet of creme de cassis in the finish. For Chateau Latour, this will be able to be enjoyed relatively early in life. The wine was made from a blend of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Merlot, 13.1% ABV. The harvest took place September 28, October 8. The Grand Vin was produced from 39.2% of the harvest. Drink from 2028-2060. 96-98 Pts
2021 Latour Pauillac de Latour – Fresh, bright, crisp, sweet, and tart, the wine is lively, vibrant, and loaded with crunchy black raspberries and red currants from start to finish. The wine is a blend of 60.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 11.1 Petit Verdot, 12.9% ABV. Drink from 2024-2037. 89-91 Pts
2021 Les Forts de Latour – Savory red fruits, tobacco leaf, cedar, herbs, flowers, and a touch of spice create the nose. Medium-bodied, with a nice, crisp blast of red currants on the mid-palate that carries all the way through to the sweet, cassis imbued finish. The wine is a blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32.6 Merlot and 6.4% Petit Verdot. Drink from 2026-2039. 91-93 Pts
2021 Les Sadons – Coffee bean, red and black currants with savory herbs form the character of this medium-bodied, forward, early-drinking, crisp wine. The wine blends 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. Drink from 2023-2032. 85-87 Pts
2021 Lynch Bages – Deep and dark in color, the wine is packed with crème de cassis, tobacco leaf, currants, cigar box, and forest floor. On the palate, the wine is fresh, bright, chewy, and crisp, with firm tannins. Classic in style, with an energetic, bright, savory-tinted finish, give it some time in the cellar before opening a bottle. The wine blends 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc, 13.14% ABV. The yields were low at 34 hectoliters per hectare. Drink from 2027-2050. 92-94 Pts
2021 Lynch Bages Echo de Lynch Bages – Medium-bodied, juicy, sweet, and fresh, the wine is forward, round, soft, and fruity, making it perfect for early drinking pleasure. Drink from 2023-2031. 87-89 Pts
2021 Lynch Bages Blanc de Lynch Bages – A straight shot of lemons, white peach and lime, vanilla, and green apple form the core of this crisp, vibrant, bright, lemon-dominated wine. Drink from 2023-2032. 93-93 Pts
2021 Lynch-Moussas – Cigar box, herbs, tobacco leaf, cedar, and red currants are already on display on the nose. Medium-bodied, fresh, soft, and polished, with a sweet edge to the juicy currants on the mid-palate and in the spicy, espresso-tinted, red berry finish. Give it a few years in the cellar before pulling a cork. The wine blends 72% Cabernet Sauvignon with 28% Merlot. 14% ABV. Drink from 2026-2045. 91-93 Pts
2021 Mouton Rothschild – Deep garnet with purple accents around the rim. Asian spice, cedar, tobacco leaf, cocoa, licorice, flowers, and blackberries, with black cherry and light notes of espresso show up with ease on the nose. The wine is full-bodied, with incredible polish, plushness, and supple textures, yet it remains classic in style and character. Balanced on the corners of freshness, length, character, and complexity. This is not a Mouton Rothschild that is about concentration, flamboyance, and power. Instead, it is focused on its purity, energy, and refined, silky tannins. It is also not a vintage that will demand decades to develop into maturity. It should be gorgeous to drink with perhaps a decade of age and will evolve for at least 2-3 decades after that with ease. The wine blends 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc, 13.1% ABV. The harvest took place on September 25, finishing October 6. Drink from 2030-2060. 95-97 Pts
2021 Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild – Cigar box, tobacco leaf, smoke, cedar, wet earth, and dark red fruits come through in the nose. On the palate, the wine offers supple, polished, fresh, sweet, dark red berries. The fruit in the end is equally vibrant and sweet. The wine blends 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19.5% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and a dollop of Petit Verdot to spice things up. 13% ABV. Drink from 2024-2045. 92-94 Pts
2021 Mouton Rothschild Aile D’Argent Blanc – Notes of white peach, ginger, flowers and lemon curd are all over the place. The wine is sweet, fresh and filled with even more of those ripe, sweet, white peaches and pomelo in the zesty finish. You can enjoy this on release. The wine was made from a blend of 45% Sauvignon Blanc, 36% Semillon and 19% Sauvignon Gris. Drink from 2023-2030. 94-94
2021 Pauillac – A parcel selection, the wine offers ample, chewy, spicy, ripe, sweet, black currants, cocoa, espresso, and wet earth. There is a nice freshness and roundness to the sweet, ripe, dark red fruits in the finish. Produced from a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. Drink from 2025-2043. 90-92 Pts
2021 Pedesclaux – Ripe, fresh, medium-bodied and already quite easy to taste, the wine is floral, with dark, red pit fruits and tobacco leaf to start things off on the nose. Medium-bodied, soft and polished, with flesh and freshness in the red fruits on the palate, give this just a year or two and it should be quite a treat to taste. The wine is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. 13% ABV. Drink from 2024-2045. 91-93 Pts
2021 Pedesclaux Fleur de Pedesclaux – Fruity, juicy, forward, and fresh, the wine is already quite easy to enjoy due to its sweet currants and touch of cocoa on the soft, fruity backend. Drink from 2023-2030. 86-88 Pts
2021 Pibran – From a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon and 37% Merlot, the wine offers a floral and leafy herbed character due to the large percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. The wine is medium-bodied, crisp, fresh, bright, and vibrant, with a strong vibrant, peppery bite to the berries on the palate. There is lift, and crunchy red fruits in the finish. Drink from 2026-2040. 89-91 Pts
2021 Pichon Baron – Produced using the highest percentage of Cabernet in the history of the estate, the wine blends 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Merlot. Here you find, espresso, cigar box, cedar, soy=, lead pencil, and red with black currants on the nose. On the palate, the wine is fresh, bright, vibrant, spicy, and racy. The tannins are soft, and the fruit carries a peppery edge, finishing with layers of sweet, chewy red fruits. This is a perfect example of what a good, classically styled Pauillac should taste like. This is also the final vintage produced by the incredibly talented, long-time technical director, Jean-Rene Matignon. Drink from 2028-2055. 93-95 Pts
2021 Pichon Baron Les Griffons de Pichon Baron – With a floral and pepper accented start, the wine moves to its core of black and red currants. Medium-bodied, soft, fresh, and polished, the wine is bright, spicy, crisp, chewy, and loaded with peppery red berries. The wine was created from a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, and 11% Petit Verdot. It is interesting to note the large percentage of Petit Verdot in the blend. Drink from 2025-2040. 89-91 Pts
2021 Pichon Baron Les Tourelles de Longueville – Wet earth, cedar, tobacco leaf, cedar, and red currants are found in the nose and on the medium-bodied, round, chalky, forward, sweet, fresh, red berry-filled palate. The wine is a blend of 66% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Cabernet Franc. Drink from 2024-2036. 89-91 Pts
2021 Pichon Lalande – With a nice depth of color for the vintage, you find flowers, blackberries, black cherries, tobacco wrapper, cigar box, and spice in the nose. There is a sweetness to the fruit, combined with salinity, soft tannins, and freshness on the palate, finishing with a strong touch of salt that accompanies the peppery, chewy red fruits in the endnote. This is a modern-classically styled vintage for Pichon Lalande. The wine blends 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 2% Merlot. 12.9% ABV. pH 3.75. This is the second-highest percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the history of the estate. The harvest took place from September 22 ending October 5. Yields were incredibly low at only 15 hectoliters per hectare, almost 70% below a normal harvest. Drink from 2025-2055. 94-96 Pts
2021 Pichon Lalande Comtesse Réserve – Medium-bodied, with a nice polish to the spicy, olive-tinged, red fruits. The wine should be easy to drink on release, yet age for almost a decade as well. This was made by blending 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, and 8% Petit Verdot. Drink from 2023-2033. 89-91 Pts
2021 Pontet Canet – The wine opens with flowers, tobacco leaves, currants, herbs, and a touch of spice. Medium/full-bodied, elegant, refined, fresh, and vibrant, there is a gorgeous sense of purity to the red fruits along with vivid freshness and a touch of spice in the endnote. The wine is aging in a combination of 50% new, French oak barrels, and 35% Amphora. The wine is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc. Drink from 2028-2055. 94-96 Pts
2021 Tour Sieujean – Forward in style, you instantly find cherry griotte, tobacco, and cedar on the nose and palate. Medium-bodied, round, soft, and fresh, with a crisp, bright edge to its red fruits, drink this on the young side to capture all of its sweet red fruits. The wine blends 85% Cabernet Sauvignon with 15% Merlot. Drink from 2024-2033. 87-89 Pts