Bordeaux 2021 Primeurs: St Julien

Continuing my travels through the various famous appellations of the Médoc, tasting the 2021 vintage, after Pauillac I came to St Julien. Here I called in on a number of the top châteaux gathered around the little hamlets of Beychevelle and St Julien itself, including Château Ducru-Beaucaillou of course, where I tasted with proprietor Bruno Borie and his advisor Tracey Dobbin MW, as well as all three Léoville estates. Well, with my pedantic hat on (which as regular readers might know I wear quite a lot), I tasted at two of them; ongoing works to renovate and upgrade the facilities at Château Léoville-Barton meant I tasted these wines at Château Mauvesin Barton, in the company of Lilian Barton-Sartorius.

Bordeaux 2021

So I made more visits in St Julien than I have in years gone past, something of a theme in this vintage. The other theme that continues here is heterogeneity, St Julien giving us some very good wines that transcend the nature of the vintage, but also a number of wines which communicate more plainly the difficult nature of the vintage.

“This was a vintage more challenging for the Merlots than the Cabernets”, Bruno Borie stated. Frost wasn’t much of a problem here, at least not in the top parcels which all hug the Gironde. “It was rain and the mildew pressure in June and July that was challenging”, he continued. “We needed to work hard, leaf plucking, cleaning, selecting, all for a small production. And then the harvest – we picked at the end of September, we needed to bring in the Merlot because there was botrytis in the vineyard”.

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