Bordeaux 2021 Primeurs: St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé

In the first of my three St Emilion reports – this appellation carved up according to a ‘never bite off more than you can chew’ philosophy – I take a look at the grands vins, second wines and other associated cuvées of the premier grand cru classé estates of St Emilion.

This is always an easy report to write. The vast majority of these wines were tasted, or retasted, at the property. And the proprietors, technical directors and managers you meet along the way can be mined for valuable information on the vintage. Some of them can be quite outspoken, giving candid opinions on the vintage and the wines it has produced.

Bordeaux 2021

Perhaps the most forthright was Pierre-Olivier Clouet, who materialised next to me as I stood waiting to taste at Château Cheval Blanc, as he dashed from one tasting appointment to the next, in what was obviously a hectic day for both of us. Said with a grin, his first words summed up the vintage very well; “In the end, you will see the only word we can use to describe this vintage is classical, because of the freshness and the purity of aromas, not just the build of the palate, although that is important. It has tannin and acidity – the acidity is a big part of the palate, but even more significant is the style of the tannins, which are not silky, round, sweet or voluminous. This year they are more dense, more powerful, showing rigidity rather than volume”.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Maybe next year I will just ask Pierre-Olivier to write my reports, and I shall take a three-week holiday in the Loire Valley instead.

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