After having tasted more than 300 wines since early June, Aymeric de Clouet, member of the U’Wine Selection Committee publishes his first notes about Bordeaux 2019 vintage. Here comes all you need to know about En-Primeur including his favorites ones and his general opinions!
Bordeaux, the come back!
After a complicated harvest and a chaotic period which prevented En-Primeur campaign to take place in April as usual, different vineyards and wine professionals were finally able to open the doors of their wineries with strict health precautions although the masks come off once we passed through the door as it is not practical for the wine tasting. Same as every year, 2019 is the best vintage that we have ever seen…So, if we consider 2018 as a difficult year for the health of vineyards, 2019 was a very nice year in this aspect (but of course not for the human beings), as vineyards returns to the practice of biodynamism: 50 hl/ha, like a conventional vineyard. In fact, I think that in the contrary to the common remarks made by other wine commentators, the return of a higher yield is necessary especially to offset the effects of global warming. This is not what I’m going to discuss here though.
Coming back to the article topic, let’s summarize 2019 vintage in one sentence: the quality was determined by the choice of the harvest day which is before or after the rain. Before the rain, the wines are heavier in body and more alcoholic, but after the rain, the wines bring back the freshness and become a great vintage. We have some very good wines in a large price range that are more reasonable than usual like the excellent Pontet-Canet. The same applies to all the other chateaux located in both banks and even if Saint-Emilion suffered, we still have excellent wines like in Pomerol. The Grave were unlucky as the white grape varieties cannot support this climate, and the red grape varieties are just good enough but nothing more, except one. Saint-Estèphe, with its particular terroir and Pauillac did well overall. Saint-Julien provides us some remarkable wines even in less high-end domains and Margaux shows strong heterogeneity. Is there an exceptional wine? Not in what I tasted nowadays. However, there are a lot of great and excellent wines. There is always one for everyone with -35% price drop. Congratulations Bordeaux. I will disagree with anyone who comes next to tell me Bordeaux is expansive.
What should be kept in mind about 2019? The answer is one lesson and some wines. For the lesson, the quality of the new tasting format within the professionals is really better and the tasting should be better organized. The date this year is better for the tasting quality too. For wines, there are many to remember and I give here only my favorites regardless of the price.
Saint-Estephe: Many successes. Cos d’Estournel shows a nice return and Montrose shows a great stability. Calon Ségur is especially nice. My own recommendation goes to three Châteaux with reasonable prices: Lafon-Rochet, Capbern, Phelan-Segur.
- Pauillac: Excellence remains there in general, but we will distinguish particularly l’Écurie Mouton (can we really write that?) with an extraordinary Clerc-Milon, Mouton-Rothschild which holds its rank, and Armaillahac in constant progress, where Pontet-Canet is finally affordable. One of the greatest wines of the year: Pichon-Baron.
- Saint-Julien: Real surprises this year with confirmations. Always the most consistent region by its concentrated terroir, Saint-Julien offers a nice range of wine nuggets. This year, I spot as often Lagrange (but how can they do this?), Beychevelle (for the first time in 27 year), Léoville-Las-Cases, Leoville-Barton (and Langoa) and of course Branaire-Ducru.
- Margaux: I would choose Malescot-Saint-Exupery and Siran that have the inside track, and we get here the confirmation of Brane-Cantenac’s progress, but I want to greet the nice realization of Dufort-Vivens which is still making progress. I must admit the great elegance of this wine even if it is not always the case. The biodynamism, I say yes, but only when it is with a good winemaker and that’s a requirement that too many winemakers forget. Regarding amphoraes, without being convinced that the interest to vinify in a container the Romans had given up in favor of the Gallic barrel, I’d say it did not impact the harvest at least.
Graves: one name to keep in mind: Olivier! The performance for its red is incredible, and we have the impression that all the right choices have been done as the wine is almost perfect, probably the best of its history. Nevertheless, let’s take a wider look: the white grapes have suffered a lot but Mission-Haut-Brion stands out thanks to a high proportion of Semillon and of course Domaine de Chevalier is always good. Generally, we tasted the perfect pineapple flavours which is probably nice with a fruit salad, but not in my glass! Who will say all the harm that Sauvignon does at Bordeaux? One more time, I devote myself. For the red wines, some good wines include Clarence de Haut-Brion, which is rare, but is less enthusiastic than 2018 generally.
- Saint-Émilion: Land of contrasts as we find the best: Cheval Blanc, Canon, Clos-Fourtet, Troplong Mondot, Quinault-L’Enclos, Grand-Corbin-Despagne, Villemaurine, but also the worst. And often. Hard wines, too much extracted, unbalanced where we have the impression to lick paper…I don’t know who advised them, but it has to be stoped! I want to greet the great mastery of Cabernet Franc by the Château (Jean) Faure.
- Pomerol: apart from Beauregard, Feytit-Clinet, Nénin, Rouget, I have neither much emotions nor big disappointments as it is a serious year without shine. Less variation than in Saint Emilion. I have been told that La Conseillante is very successful, what I gladly believe, as I did not tasted it.
I almost forgot to mention satellite regions, but we also tasted a very good Clos de Boüard (superior as La Fleur de Boüard) as well as Fourcas-Dupré, Branas-Grand-Poujeaux, Mauvesin-Barton…2019 offers both cheap prices with quality.
It is therefore a year to put in one’s cellar but be careful with the selection as it is key for the vintage of big contrast!
Discover the opinion of our selection committee in a short video!