I’ve just returned from a week of wonderful weather, old friends and one of my favorite spots on the planet….Bordeaux!

Of course, the main purpose of my trip was to taste the 2021 ‘En Primeur’ on both banks as well as Pessac-Leognan. Reports had been mixed to say the least about 2021 and I came away very pleasantly surprised. This is a very different kind of vintage than the trilogy of 2018-2020  

What is 2021 all about? Well that’s a tricky one…Just about everywhere I went I heard the same story. Frost and mildew presented challenges and a (proved to be incorrect) weather forecast of rain made some Chateau pick earlier than they wanted to. Amazingly many Chateau rolled the dice and ignored the weather person. Those who took risks and in many cases made very little wine fashioned some very beautiful throwback clarets.

Mother nature forced the hand of winemakers. Presented with much less Merlot than usual and lower alcohol levels… to make great wine required very gentle macerations and loads of hard work. I’m happy to say if you select carefully there are some great wines in 2021.

Many Chateau talked about this vintage as a “terroir” vintage. With less makeup and alcohol, I really found the classic differences between for example St. Estephe and St. Julien (where as in a vintage like 2018 this is more challenging). For many years now customers have been asking for lower alcohol Bordeaux. Well here is your chance!  The wines do not taste lean or green and I really did not detect underripe flavors. I think this is a testament to technology and great winemaking. Years ago I do not think a harvest like 2021 would have produced so many good wines.

Should you buy futures in 2021? Yes, I think you should but you need to choose carefully. I plan on offering only the “blue chip” wines and from what I’ve seen early on pricing will be below 2020 which of course is a good thing. With the tough harvest quantities are going to be very limited on many of the top rated wines. I do not think these wines will need as much time as the above mentioned trilogy and in the context of other vintages these are far better wines than say 2011 or 2017. Some comparisons I heard from Chateau folk were 1996, 2008 and 2014. And hey-we all like those vintages (although I personally think 2021 is a bit different than these).

The campaign has just started but we already have some excellent releases. My pick for wine of the vintage-Cheval Blanc is out at a reasonable price and the beautiful Leoville Las Cases (Cabernet lovers dream!) was released today.

Look for more updates here as I reveal my top picks (although a big hint my other wine of the vintage has a heart on the label!) and please do not hesitate to email me pbernstein@bassins.com with any questions.

Most selections will come in wood six packs except for First Growths and top end St. Emilion and Pomerol which will be in three packs. Large and small formats are available upon request. 

Phil Bernstein
MacArthur Beverages

UPDATE 05/23/2022

Two of the most exciting wines of the vintage released today. Angelus and Leoville Barton. Sadly I didn't have a chance to taste LB but I most certainly tasted Angelus and found it fascinating. With a very high percentage of Cab Franc (60%) it had a stunning nose and some of the finest "hidden" tannins I've ever tasted in a young Angelus. Superb wine

Update 05/31/22

Many big wines have been added to the list as well as the always best-selling Laroque. Palmer is very limited in quantity but superb this year and Pontet Canet has crafted a fascinating wine of pure fruit and exceptional balance-This will end up being a heck of a wine!

Update 06/01/22

My email box blew up this AM as there were quite a few releases. I loved the 2021 Branaire Ducru-it's a wine of prescision and finesse and the price is great as well. Lynch was excellent, pretty approachable for a young LB and you can't go wrong with the classic Grand Puy Lacoste. I like the pricing on this one as well!

Update 06/08/2022

The last few days have been very active. Lots of big names have released their 2021's and I expect some other big ones tomorrow. Here's some notes on what you should be paying attention to:

Lagrange - A great bargain. My time at this Chateau was eye opening-great winemaking and terroir here. My notes "very smooth with a beautiful texture. Very delicious today but this will be a sneaky long distance runner." 

Lafite - Not much to say here. Very classic as always. The comparisons to 1996 for this wine are pretty accurate.

Rauzan Segla - Another home run from the hottest estate in Margaux. This has now become a wine that is a "must buy" EP as it usually sells out and the price always seems to go up.

Canon - Same as above! My notes- "very serious…red fruits, great freshness."

Troplong Mondot - Can't really call this a sleeper as it's an exceptional terroir made by an exceptional team. But I expect in the next few years it will start to be priced along the lines of Figeac, etc. my notes "13.5 Abv-lowest since 1999, medium weight and not overdone. Shows the density of the clay terroir as well as the purity of the limestone."

La Gaffeliere - This is one of the wines of the vintage and was very tough to get this year. It will sell out for sure!

Phelan Segur - A ridiculous buy at this price. Veronique and her team are on fire! My notes "silky, well integrated tannins with a very nice mid-palate and very pretty fruit."

Update 06/13/2022

Another big Monday of releases (and this past Friday was busy as well).

Here's the highlights:

Pichon Comtesse: Easily one of the wines of the vintage. Production down 70% so once it's gone that's it!

Mouton: this will be an outstading Mouton for sure. My notes "many layers, great texture with superb freshness and a very long finish. Unique spicy notes as well"

Larcis Ducasse: I always am a big fan of this Chateau. Elegant wines from one of the best Terroirs in all of St. Emilion. Very limited supply in 2021. my notes "86% Merlot 14% Cab Franc-dark fruited with impeccable balance. Quite delicious even today" 

Update 06/16/22

The campaign is winding down with tomorrow being most likely the last day. Almost all the wines are released (with the exception of Figeac, VCC and a few others) and there's quite a few exciting wines on the list for sure. Here's my highlights:

Clinet - I really enjoyed tasting the 2021 Clinet. With a high percentage of Cabernet it's a pretty unique wine with all that Pomerol style. My notes:  13% Abv. "Very soft and well-integrated tannins. Super aromatics"

Smith Haut Lafitte BLANC - A true "wow" wine. One of the wines of the vintage for sure (2021 was very kind to Bordeaux Blancs) My notes: "Palette coating, loads of texture good acidity and mineral notes. A real show stopper"

Larcis Ducasse - I always am a big fan of this Chateau. Elegant wines from one of the best Terroirs in all of St. Emilion. Very limited supply in 2021. my notes "86% Merlot 14% Cab Franc-dark fruited with impeccable balance. Quite delicious even today"

Calon Segur - Easily one of the wines of the vintage. Absolutely stunning… a big bravo to the whole team at Calon! My notes: "a very sensuous wine with super-pure fruit and loads of freshness. Approachable yet so super complex at the same time"

Carmes Haut Brion - Along with the Calon above, this is another "must buy" in 2021. Carmes has been nothing short of great recently and this may be one of the few 2021's that eclipses 2020 and 2019.  My notes "almost Burgundian in style, such finesse and precision. Unique as always"

La Mission Haut Brion BLANC - My choice for best overall 2021 that I tasted. Expensive yes, but I'd put this up against any grand Cru white burg (and have you seen the prices on those lately?) my notes: "spicy with incredible freshness and a Meyer lemon undertone. Perfectly integrated oak. Knocks you off your feet"

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2021 Chateau Angelus - St. Emilion (Bordeaux Future ETA 2024)

750ml | SKU 90976 | 42 Available
94-96+ WA

A brilliant wine that signposts this estate's evolution under Stephanie de Bouard-Rivoal, the 2021 Angelus is a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot, with fully half of the old-vine Cabernet Franc maturing in foudres rather than 225-liter barriques....


2021 Chateau Ausone - St. Emilion (Bordeaux Future ETA 2024)

750ml | SKU 91250 | 29 Available
97-100 WA

A blend of 65% Cabernet Franc and 35% Merlot, the 2021 Ausone is a strong candidate for the title of wine of the vintage. Wafting from the glass with aromas of wild blueberries and raspberries mingled with rose petals, violets, exotic spices, vine smoke a...


2021 Chateau Beau Sejour Duffau - St. Emilion (Bordeaux Future ETA 2024)

750ml | SKU 91397 | 20 Available
93+95+ JD

A blend of 73% Merlot and 27% Cabernet Franc, the 2021 Château Beauséjour (Duffau-Lagarrosse) is slightly shifted toward Cabernet Franc, and you have to go back quite some time to find a blend with this much Cabernet. It saw a softer maceration than usual...


2021 Chateau Beausejour Becot - St. Emilion (Bordeaux Future ETA 2024)

750ml | SKU 91373 | 65 Available
95-97 VM

The 2021 Beau-Séjour-Bécot is one of the most elegant wines I have ever tasted here. Pliant and deep, with striking depth, the 2021 is outrageously beautiful. All the elements come together so effortlessly. Dark fruit, mocha, spice, licorice and incense a...


2021 Chateau Bellefont Belcier St. Emilion (Bordeaux Future ETA 2024)

750ml | SKU 90877 | 18 Available
92-94 WA

Spared by the April frosts, the 2021 Bellefont Belcier has turned out brilliantly, exhibiting aromas of sweet berries and cherries mingled with hints of orange zest and violets, framed by a deft touch of oak. Medium to full-bodied, fleshy and seamless, it...


2021 Chateau Berliquet St. Emilion (Bordeaux Future ETA 2024)

750ml | SKU 90982 | 29 Available
92-93 WA

The 2021 Berliquet shows considerable promise, exhibiting aromas of cherries, wild berries, raw cocoa and rose petals, followed by a medium to full-bodied, lively and charming palate that's framed by powdery tannins and tangy acids. Concluding with a long...


2021 Chateau Beychevelle - St. Julien (Bordeaux Future ETA 2024)

750ml | SKU 91264 | 72 Available
92-94 VM

The 2021 Beychevelle is rich and sumptuous, but not quite as pushed in that direction as some recent vintages have been. Then again, that sort of opulence was simply not possible in 2021. Even so, the 2021 flows with dark blue/purplish fruit, incense, esp...


2021 Chateau Branaire Ducru - St. Julien (Bordeaux Future ETA 2024)

750ml | SKU 91165 | 88 Available
93-95 VM

The 2021 Branaire-Ducru is sleek, elegant and nuanced. There is more Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in the blend than in the 2018-2020 period, when the Merlots were especially successful. As a result, the aromatics are absolutely alluring, but the ...


2021 Chateau Brane Cantenac - Margaux (Bordeaux Future ETA 2024)

750ml | SKU 91269 | 60 Available
93-96 VM

The 2021 Brane-Cantenac notably marries fruit intensity with energy and structure. There is an exotic richness to the 2021 that is impossible to miss. Kirsch, red plum, blood orange, cinnamon, new leather and spice all meld together. The 2021 is bold, sum...


2021 Chateau Calon Segur - St. Estephe (Bordeaux Future ETA 2024)

750ml | SKU 91391 | 101 Available
95-97 VM

The 2021 Calon Ségur was cropped at 36hL/ha and aged entirely in new oak for a planned 20 months. This year, the gap between the Grand Vin and the Marquis is blatantly obvious, to the extent that they are practically different wines, which is how Vincent ...


2021 Chateau Canon - St. Emilion (Bordeaux Future ETA 2024)

750ml | SKU 91254 | 120 Available
95-97 VM

Dramatic, rich and imposing, the 2021 Canon is shaping up to be one of the wines of the vintage. Sculpted red purplish fruit, rose petal, lavender, sage and crushed rocks all race out of the glass. A heady, vertical wine, Canon is endowed with tremendous ...


2021 Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere - St. Emilion (Bordeaux Future ETA 2024)

750ml | SKU 91185 | 81 Available
94-96 VM

The 2021 Canon La Gaffelière is striking. Aromatic and expressive, with no hard edges, the 2021 impresses with its balance and overall harmony. All the elements are so nicely integrated. Crushed red berry fruit, white flowers, mint, rose petal and orange ...


2021 Chateau Carmes Haut Brion - Pessac (Bordeaux Future ETA 2024)

750ml | SKU 91392 | 120 Available
96-98 VM

Technical Director Olivier Pouthier crafted one of the wines of the vintage at Les Carmes Haut-Brion. The 2021 possesses mind-blowing intensity and stunning persistence. Bright red-fleshed fruit, blood orange, mint, dried flowers and exotic spice caress t...


2021 Chateau Carruades Lafite - Pauillac (Bordeaux FUTURE ETA 2024)

750ml | SKU 90823 | 12 Available
91-93 VM

The 2021 Carruades de Lafite is a dark, brooding wine. Dense and plush, with quite a bit of tannin presence, Carruades is quite distinctive in 2021. Blue/purplish fruit and floral notes show tremendous primary intensity. Bright acids on the finish add an ...


2021 Chateau Cheval Blanc - St. Emilion (Bordeaux Future ETA 2024)

750ml | SKU 90918 | 33 Available
95-97 WA

A terrific achievement, the 2021 Cheval Blanc is a blend of 52% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Unfurling in the glass with aromas of raspberries and cherries mingled with notions of cigar wrapper, vine smoke, rose petals and violets...


2021 Chateau Clerc Milon - Pauillac (Bordeaux Future ETA Spring 2024)

750ml | SKU 91255 | 25 Available

The 2021 Clerc Milon is gorgeous. Beams of tannin lend energy and direction to an alluring Clerc Milon that marries fruit density with a classic sense of structure that is quite appealing


2021 Chateau Clinet - Pomerol (Bordeaux Future ETA 2024)

750ml | SKU 91390 | 50 Available
93-95 WA

At 75% Merlot and fully 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2021 Clinet contains the highest proportion of Cabernet in the blend (excepting the 2003) since at least the 1980s. Ronan Laborde harvested late, picking into mid-October, to craft a medium to full-bodie...


2021 Chateau Clos du Clocher - Pomerol Bordeaux (Future ETA 2024)

750ml | SKU 91486 | 18 Available
90-93 VM

The 2021 Clos du Clocher has quite a ripe, black plum and licorice bouquet, hints of menthol emerging with time. The palate is medium-bodied with grippy tannins on the entry, and quite dense on the finish, which will need to soften by bottling time. But t...