St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2021: Older Vintages
In the second instalment of this report I look beyond the 2018 vintage in St Emilion, which was the focus of part one, to look at other recent vintages. Although this includes a couple of representatives from the 2019 vintage, presumably bottled mere months before the cork was then pulled, and a representation from every vintage back to 2011, the tasting was dominated by the 2016 vintage. Given that this vintage has been lauded as one of the most classically styled and successful of recent years, it was perhaps not surprising that it was so omnipresent on the day.
The next vintage after 2016 most proprietors chose to pull from their cellars for this tasting was 2017. Thinking in purely commercial terms you might expect 2017 to have been the next choice after 2018, rather than 2016, but many châteaux struggled in this frosted vintage. Volumes were down (this was the smallest vintage in Bordeaux in recent years, although 2021 is predicted to smash this record by some margin), they thus don’t have so many bottles to sell, and of course there is also the issue of quality at some châteaux. Even so, there were five wines from 2017 here, followed by four wines from the 2014 vintage, and just a couple from 2015.
Two proprietors took the brave decision to send older bottles, from 2012 and 2011, both of which were challenging vintages, although 2012 was a little better on the right bank than on the left. And one proprietor sought to redefine the very meaning of brave in sending their 2013. All in all there were 36 wines tasted, one fewer than my 2018 report because Chateau Fonroque did not send a vintage to accompany their 2018.