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En PrimeurBordeaux 2021 Vintage Report

We are delighted to report that the complex and challenging 2021 vintage yielded many brilliant, compelling wines. Some count amongst the most striking, touching expressions we have tasted from Bordeaux in recent years. If you favour the elegant vintages of the 1990s, you are in for a real treat.
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Our Master Sommelier Nicolas Clerc and the Armit team have been busy assessing the 2021 vintage in Bordeaux. You will no doubt be familiar with the challenges of the year – frost, hail and mildew, to name a few – but we are delighted to report that this tricky vintage yielded many brilliant, compelling wines.

“Twenty twenty-one is a vintage of precision and involvement – involvement of vignerons supporting their vines in order to produce a precise and focused style of wine. The best are a reflection of the year but also of a philosophy where nothing can force the winemaker to compromise their goal, which is exceptional quality.”
Nicolas Clerc MS, Armit Wines

The Redsof 2021

The reds are a welcome return to the style of the 1990s, a decade defined by freshness, moderate alcohol and finesse. As William Kelley of the Wine Advocate reflects in his insightful vintage report, “anyone who enjoys the great benchmark Bordeaux wines of the 1980s and 1990s should seriously reflect on what the 2021s may have to offer”. We invite you to set aside your preconceptions of this tricky vintage and discover these wonderful wines for yourself.
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The whites of 2021

Available in tiny volumes, the vintage yielded superb dry whites, thanks to the cool summer and extended ripening period. Indeed, Kelley calls them “the finest set of dry whites since 2017”. Many come with our strongest recommendation – if you are able to secure them. Meanwhile, the sweet wines were extraordinary, but unprecedented levels of sorting in both the vineyards and winery meant that yields were even smaller. At some estates, total yields were as little as 4 hl per ha (the average is between 10 and 20 hl per ha).

Growing SeasonThe challenges of Spring and Summer

It was a warm and rainy winter and the vintage began early. Following budbreak, frost hit Pessac-Léognan and the Left Bank in early April, and then again in early May. Late May and early June brought rain, and temperatures remained relatively cool for the season. Facilitated by the damp weather, mildew spread throughout the vines in June and July, most severely impacting organic and biodynamic estates and greatly reducing yields.
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Growing SeasonLate Summer

August and September brought warmer, drier conditions, but it was neither dry nor sunny enough for the vines to experience hydric stress, as is typical in solar vintages such as 2018, 2019 and 2020. Vegetative growth and fruit maturity thus developed at the same time, further delaying the ripening of the fruit. Thankfully, cool night-time temperatures helped the fruit retain good levels of acidity. This freshness is a defining feature of the vintage.

Spotlight onChâteau Lafleur

As always, there are some exceptions. At Château Lafleur in Pomerol, July provided stable ripening conditions. Vegetative growth actually stopped, enabling the vines to focus their energy on fruit maturation. August was warm and dry enough for  the vines to undergo hydric stress, and the estate achieved the perfect balance of phenolic ripeness and sugar. The resulting wines are amongst the highlights of the vintage.

“Twenty twenty-one has a multi-vintage profile; it is difficult to summarise. It was key to remain agile, and to anticipate the next step.”  
Omri Ram, Château Lafleur
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A Rewarding VintageFor those who risked waiting

Rain was forecast for the 3rd week of September in Pessac-Léognan and the Left Bank. Some estates picked early as a precaution. However, the rain was less heavy than anticipated and those who waited until early October were rewarded. The estates that risked picking late were rewarded with full phenolic ripeness, beautifully balanced sugar and brilliant acidity.

The VintageElegance, precision and freshness

For Nicolas, 2021 is a vintage of precision, involvement, teamwork and solidarity. The best wines are not only a reflection of the year, but also of a philosophy where nothing can force the winemaker to compromise their goal, which is exceptional quality. The vintage is defined by the vignerons who know their terroir, and responded with speed and agility to the ever-changing conditions. As permitted in Bordeaux, some estates were forced to chaptalize, but where possible, estates worked with the vintage, and the wines reflect their terroir, and the elegant profile of a cool year.
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It's About to StartCreate your wishlist

Thanks to our historic connections in Bordeaux, Armit Wines is here to guide you.
You can read our complete vintage report via the link below. As volumes are low this year, we encourage you to register interest at your earliest opportunity via our wishlist.