2021 Bordeaux In Bottle Report, 750 Wines Tasted and Rated


With 2021 Bordeaux, it is important to remember that wine is about character, and style, not points. One size isn’t supposed to fit everybody equally. For readers of The Wine Cellar Insider, based on my barrel tasting scores, and from perusing notes from pervious vintages, 2021 is not my favorite style of wine. But, as you will see, now that the wines are in bottle, there are success stories from 2021 that merit your attention, and a few wines that truly overcame the difficulties of the vintage from both banks that I quite enjoyed.

2021 Left Bank Bordeaux Wines by Appellation

2021 Pauillac2021 Saint Estephe2021 St. Julien2021 Margaux2021 Pessac Leognan, Graves, Red and White2021 Haut Medoc2021 Medoc2021 Listrac and Moulis2021 White Bordeaux Wines, Dry and Sweet

2021 Right Bank Bordeaux Wines by Appellation

2021 St. Emilion Pt 1 Wines A-F2021 St. Emilion Pt 2 Wines G-M2021 St. Emilion Pt 3 Wines N-Z2021 Pomerol2021 Lalande de Pomerol2021 Cotes de Bordeaux2021 St. Emilion Satellite Appellation2021 Fronsac2021 Bordeaux AOC and 2021 Bordeaux Superieur

2021 Bordeaux, Character and Style of the Wines

Having tasted over 750 Bordeaux from 2021 so far, price aside, wines always depends on the character, and the style of wines you like.

Numerous people will find 2021 Bordeaux wines to enjoy. As a matter of style and character, if you are seeking early-drinking, charming wines that for the most part, can be enjoyed in their youth, without a lot cellaring, or if you are one of those wine drinkers believing the demise of classic Bordeaux is due to high alcohol, Robert Parker, consultants, and climate change, 2021 Bordeaux is perfect for you.

2021 Bordeaux wines are lower in alcohol, with higher acidities. You will find more red than black fruits, with plenty of pepper, herbs, and savory, minty accents. 2021 Bordeaux wines are a softer, earlier-drinking version of old-school, classic-styled Bordeaux with vivid freshness, as well as easy-going charm. Those who think of wines in terms of food wines will also be happy with the vintage.

2021 Bordeaux Wine, Understanding the Wines and the Vintage

The keys to 2021 Bordeaux following the challenges during the growing season besot with two episodes of frost, mildew attacks, cooler temperatures, less cumulative hours of sunshine and a late harvest was addressed with a growers ability to select in the vineyards, and in the cellars.

It was important to allow the vintage to express itself. So, a light touch, shorter extractions at cooler temperatures, less new oak, and the sense not to force the wines, allowing the vintage to be the vintage when possible was the key to making the best 2021 Bordeaux wines an estate could do.

2021 Bordeaux is not a vintage favoring Cabernet Sauvignon over Merlot. It is not a year where the Right Bank, or the Left Bank excelled. The vintage is more complicated to get a handle on, one way over the other. 2021 Bordeaux is a year where terroir mattered, along with the ability, and financial wherewithal to meet the vintages challenges head on. As you can see from my notes and scores, chateaux without those abilities had almost unsurmountable difficulties to overcome.

2021 Bordeaux is not a high-scoring vintage. There is no investment opportunity here. This is a drinker’s vintage with almost every wine being drinkable on release or within a few years.

Prices will drop in 2021 Bordeaux for a while, but this style of vintage is exactly what restaurants need, as the wines are early-drinking, and they do not require hours of decanting. There are not a lot of those years, so prices will not drop forever. Look at the positive comments on years like 1988, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2011 and 2014 today,

2021 Bordeaux is not a generous vintage. Yields were down for almost every estate. And, for my palate, the vintage is not at the level of the previous, more, opulent, concentrated vintages, But, it does have some high points.

While 2021 is better for dry white Bordeaux, and sweet wines from Sauternes than red wines, there are producers that managed to make good red Bordeaux wines. The best wines came from estates with the courage, and ability to select only the best grapes, relegating much of their fruit to second wines, or even being declassified. All of that is a costly endeavor. Perforce, for vignerons without the financial ability to make draconian selections, 2021 proved to be a much more, difficult proposition.

Perhaps the biggest issue with 2021 Bordeaux in today’s market is pricing. That is if you prefer ripe, more opulent, generous vintages as there are too many other choices at the same price, or less available to purchase. On the other hand, for tasters preferring lower levels of alcohol with more freshness, what difference does it make when the styles of more exalted years are not in your wheel house? You were not going to buy those wines anyway.

Most 2021 Bordeaux wines are not going to earn high scores on my site. But, wine is not just a score. Wines are about character, and style, not just points.

Even the best 2021 Bordeaux will probably get lost over time. Not only because the vintage had the misfortune of following numerous, better years; 2020, 2019, 2018, 2016, and 2015. But, it preceded 2022, and it looks like 2023 as well.

That being said, 2021 Bordeaux, due to its early drinking character is perfect for restaurants, bistros, and cafes. With time, it will find its place in the market. Like I said earlier, one size isn’t supposed to fit everybody equally, and all vintages are not for every palate. And, who knows? With time, some 2021 Bordeaux wines could develop in the right direction. As someone that belongs to a blind tasting group, I am often surprised how well wines from previously maligned vintages developed over the years.

For an in depth look at the 2021 Bordeaux growing season, climate and harvest

All of the 750 Bordeaux from the 2021 vintage were tasted in my home office between December 2023, and February 2024. It is important to say that these tastings could not have been possible without the help of all the chateaux, trade groups, consultants, negociants, publicists, and organizations that so generously helped provide samples. Of equal, if not more importance is the help of my team, which organizes, and assists with the wine tastings: Lauren McPhate, Roxanna Moix, Natalie Leggett, and Annette Solomon. Thank you so much! I could never do these tastings without all of you.

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