Wednesday Offer - 2/8/2023
2021 Bordeaux Revisit
There’s no better way to get perspective on a region or vintage than by traveling there and tasting. Over the last 23 years, I’ve been lucky to do this widely. Tasting with top winemakers and learning nuances, identifiers, and insights from their wines has been immensely educational. It’s helped me to be a better buyer, of course; but most importantly, these experiences can help you be a better collector. Last year’s trip to Bordeaux left a deep impression on me, totally changing my perception of the 2021 vintage, and it’s all been reaffirmed after tasting through the 2020s last week.
First off, I’m definitely not badmouthing the 2020 vintage. It’s clearly one of great promise, but really difficult to enjoy at this juncture, as they were built for the long haul. That’s the first of two major distinctions between 2020 and 2021: the ‘21s offer tremendous approachability and pleasure early, while also coming to their peaks much sooner than the ‘20s. The other is that the alcohol content is noticeably lower in the ‘21s, allowing for more complexity and aromatics. (For the armchair enologists: many volatile compounds are more soluble in alcohol than water, so bouquet can be more potent in lower alcohol wines—generally speaking.) In any case, it’s really not a fair comparison to pit 2021 versus 2020. Apples and oranges.
2021 in Bordeaux can best be described as a “throwback,” having much more in common with vintages of the 1980s than any other era in modern Bordelais winemaking. If—as I have—you’ve yearned for a vintage that shares its DNA with that golden age, then you’re in serious luck. The ‘21s are sophisticated wines that overcame a difficult year of multiple challenges, and the strongest survived. There was early talk of 2021 being a “bad” vintage, but this has turned out to be entirely off base. Did Mother Nature give winemakers and vignerons a serious run for their money? No question! But did they turn around and deliver wines that will be thoroughly enjoyable, and at relatively depressed prices? Also no question.
When we originally offered these en primeur last summer, they were available only as 6-packs, but we’ve broken them down to individual bottles this time. And rest easy, Bordeaux collectors: we’ll be back in a few months with news—and offers—from the 2022 vintage. But more on that later!
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