2021 St. Julien Wine Guide, Vintage Report, Tasting Notes, Buying Guide


2021 Saint Julien wines proved to be much better,, and more interesting than I originally expected, especially when you consider what the vines, and the growers needed to contend with during the growing season.

The 2021 St. Julien vintage did not begin life easily. And it got worse from there with excessive rain, frosts, mildew, uneven flowering, and a lack of sunshine. So, as you can see, 2021 Saint Julien is a true winemaker’s vintage.

The problems with the 2021 St. Julien growing season began April 7 and 8 when a fierce cold snap delivered freezing temperatures, which always have the potential for devastating results for growers. Next, it was the coldest Mays in history. Adding to all of that good news was the arrival of conditions conducive for downy mildew. The brisk, but uneven flowering took place during a very wet June.

Damp conditions in July had vignerons facing a second outbreak of downy mildew. As you can imagine, growers all over the Left Bank were concerned about the possibility of a disastrous 2021 Bordeaux vintage.

Bacchus must love Bordeaux because the end of August delivered an Indian Summer just in time to save the 2021 vintage in Saint Julien. Harvesting began to take place from the middle of September for the young vine Merlot to late September for the remainder of the Merlot, finishing by mid-October for the Cabernets and the Petit Verdot all over most of the Medoc.

The yields were as low and so were the alcohol levels for many growers. Yields were down 20-30% in some cases. Alcohol levels ranged from 12.5% to 13% ABV for most wines. Most of the blends are completely dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, several chateaux recorded the highest percentage of Cabernet in their wines in the history of the estate!

Vignerons used chaptalization to increase the sugar levels by .5 to 1% for a portion of their harvest. To increase density, several producers used the saignée technique of bleeding vats to increase the concentration in the wines as well as reverse osmosis.

Reading stats about 2021 Saint Julien wines is one thing. Tasting 2021 St. Julien wines is what matters. 2021 Saint Julien wines are not going to compete with the recent run of concentrated, opulent vintages. However, there are several fine wines that are perfect for lovers of classically-styled Bordeaux, focusing on aromatics, red fruits, freshness, crispness, and with lower levels of alcohol coupled with early-drinking charm.

All of the following 2021 Saint Julien wines were tasted in my home office in non-blind conditions.

2021 Beychevelle – St. Julien – Flowers, tobacco, spice, currants and black raspberries define the aromatic profile. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, almost light on its feet with sweet black currants, peppery cherries, chewy blackberries, dark chocolate and a touch of refreshing spearmint that adds to the vibrant character. The wine blends 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Drink from 2025-2050. 94 Pts

2021 Beychevelle Amiral de Beychevelle – St. Julien – Medium-bodied, forward, fresh and already quite charming. Opening with scents of licorice, herbs, pepper and red berries, the wine is soft, savory and ready to go. Drink from 2024-2031. 90 Pts

2021 Branaire Ducru – St. Julien – Fresh, vibrant, elegant, and almost discreet, the wine is classic in style, in a good way. The nose, with its display of flowers, tobacco, cherries, kirsch and hints of cocoa shines with little effort. The medium-bodied palate, with its profile of sweet, ripe, red cherries, comes along with gentle accents of leafy herbs, cocoa, espresso and soft-textured, plums. The wine drink well young, yet age and develop for 2 decades. The wine blends 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 6.5% Cabernet Franc, and 5.5% Petit Verdot. Drink from 2025-2050. 94 Pts

2021 Ducru Beaucaillou – St. Julien – Classy, and classic, elegant, and refined, I love the purity in the red fruits here in nose, and on the palate. Produced from the highest percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the history of the estate, with just a bit of effort you find its aromatic wealth displaying cherries, blackberries, tobacco leaf, flowers, mint, espresso. and spices. The palate is vibrant, regal, slightly firm, crisp, and energetic. The finish delivers its red berries with their spicy edge, and delicate sprig of mint easily. The wine blends 98% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Merlot. Drink from 2027-2060. 97 Pts

2021 Ducru Beaucaillou La Croix Ducru-Beaucaillou – St. Julien – Showing much better in the bottle, than it did in the barrel, now, you find flowers, currants, cigar wrapper, cedar and mint in the perfume. The palate is equal to the nose with its freshness, elegance, and racy edge to the salty, savory, tobacco-edged, red fruits and mint. The wine is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot. Drink from 2024-2038. 92 Pts

2021 Ducru Beaucaillou Le Petit Ducru – St. Julien – Medium-bodied with a core of tobacco, citrus, currants, flowers, and red plums. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, forward, and light on its feet with a crisp, chewy, red plum, and red currant, dusty finish. Drink from 2024-2034. 90 Pts

2021 Finegrave – St. Julien – Spice, espresso, incense, flowers and red fruits form the nucleus of this forward, soft-textured, medium-bodied, crisp, salty, savory, currant filled wine. Drink from 2024-2030. 87 Pts

2021 Finegrave Evoke Cuvee Speciale – St. Julien – One of the few 100% Cabernet Sauvignons produced in Bordeaux is medium-bodied, bright, light, crisp, fresh and vibrant. The soft, easy-going palate,and finish delivers its salty, red fruits with ease. The small production wine is only bottled in magnum. Drink from 2025-2030. 88 Pts

2021 Gloria – St. Julien – Quite spicy, floral and energetic, the wine is medium-bodied, open, fresh, bright and vibrant, with a finish that alternates from sweet to tart, with a spearmint note that shows up in the finish. The wine blends 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 14% Petit Verdot and 6% Cabernet Franc. You can enjoy this on release and over the next 15-20 years with ease. Drink from 2024-2038. 90 Pts

2021 Gruaud Larose – St. Julien – Classically styled, firm, bright, crisp and almost racy, the bright, red currants, blackberries and cherries shoe up discreetly with their savory, peppery edge intact. The finish is crunchy, chewy, and firm, with a chalky accent to the backend of the minty, leafy finish. The wine blends 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc. Drink from 2027-2055. 93 Pts

2021 La Bridane – St. Julien – Smoky currants, tobacco leaves, and herbs come through the nose and palate of this medium-bodied, forward, early-drinking wine. You can enjoy on release and for almost a decade after that. Drink from 2024-2031. 88 Pts

2021 La-Fleur-Lauga – St. Julien – Medium-bodied, soft, supple, currant-filled wine with accents of cigar wrapper, and cherries that add complexities. Drink from 2024-2032. 88 Pts

2021 Lagrange – St. Julien – The nose, with its tobacco, herbs, flowers, red currants, cedar and spice pops with little effort. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, crisp, chewy and loaded with savory-tinted red fruits with ample, sweetness to the soft, supple, cherries in the finish. The wine is a blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. It is interesting to note that this is the highest percentage of Cabernet used in the blend in the history of the estate. Drink from 2025-2045. 92 Pts

2021 Langoa Barton – St. Julien – Bright, crisp, red berries accompanied by cedar, mint and tobacco notes that show all over the place is what you find here. Medium-bodied, fresh, and forward, this is probably the earliest drinking Langoa I recall tasting. The bottle is adorned by a one-time-only special label that commemorates the families 200 years of ownership, which is an amazing and beautiful accomplishment that deserves recognition in todays, ever-changing world. Congratulations to the Barton family. The wine blends 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc. Drink from 2025-2048. 91 Pts

2021 Leoville Barton – St. Julien – Fresh, vibrant and energetic, there is a crispness to the red fruits that perfectly balances classy and classic. You also find ample notes of cigar wrapper, cedar, flowers and savory-edged, red currants in the nose and on the lifted, medium/full-bodied, crisp palate. The wine blends 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc. Drink from 2027-2060. 93 Pts

2021 Leoville Poyferre – St. Julien – Licorice, tobacco leaf, chocolate, espresso, black cherries and smoked peppery notes create the perfume. On the palate, the wine is soft, polished, fresh, elegant and fruity with sweetness to the red fruits and a creamy-texture to the finish. The wine blends 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. Drink from 2026-2055. 94 Pts

2021 Moulin-Riche – St. Julien – Flowers, tobacco leaf, cherries and spice create the intriguing aromatics. On the palate the wine is vibrant, soft and fresh with elegant, ripe cherries and currants with a nice snap on the palate to the fruits. You can enjoy this with pleasure on release and for at least a decade after that. The wine blends 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot and 19% Petit Verdot. Drink from 2024-2035. 91 Pts

2021 Saint-Pierre – St. Julien – Medium-bodied, fresh, vibrant, forward and minty, you also find nuances of coffee beans and flowers that accompany the bright, crisp, red fruits. The wine finished with energetic, red cherries with a savory, herbal touch in the endnote. The wine blends 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot. Drink from 2025-2045. 92 Pts

2021 Talbot – St. Julien – Forward, fresh, crisp, and packed with juicy, bright red fruits, mint, herbs, cedar and tobacco leaves, the wine is medium-bodied, savory, soft, leafy and vibrant, with a nice pop to the red berries in the mid-palate that stick around through to the end of the finish. The wine is produced blends 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. Drink from 2024-2042. 91 Pts

2021 Teynac – St. Julien – Earthy red currants, herbs, and cigar wrappers form the core of this vibrant, crisp, fresh, light, spicy, early-drinking wine. This will be simply delicious on release. Drink from 2024-2035. 87 Pts

For an overview of the 2021 Bordeaux vintage with links to all of our appellation reports 2021 Bordeaux In Bottle Report for the Best 750 Wines of the vintage We are continuing our reports on all of the best wines tasted in bottle from the 2021 Bordeaux vintage. We have just about reached the end of our 2021 Bordeaux coverage. In fact, we have only one more report to publish, which is an in-depth look at the best 2021 Pauillac Wines with an in-depth vintage report. From there, it is back to Bordeaux to discover, taste and report on the 2023 vintage! You can expect our usual full report on the wines and the vintage before the end of May. That is the important thing to remember about wine, there is always another vintage.

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