Finding outstanding wines during En Primeur Bordeaux 2021 is not easy. “But there are,” says British critic Jane Anson. The Grand Grus from Bordeaux that Anson has tasted so far, she says, are marked by a heterogeneity that reflects a difficult vintage.
FRANCE (Bordeaux) – “At the beginning of my tastings for the En Primeur, I was not exactly optimistic about outstanding wines from the 2021 vintage. But so far, some wines of very high quality could be found”, Jane Anson, the renowned British wine critic, who lives in Bordeaux and runs a reference website about Bordeaux wines from there, says.
Jane Anson, who has tasted some 600 to 800 wines over three weeks every year since the 2003 vintage, admits that an En Primeur tasting is “never easy,” and this year “even less so.” The 2021 vintage was difficult in the vineyard. Between frost, trickle, mildew and rain, it had it all. “In the tastings, many wines show heterogeneity, even if the most beautiful terroirs do well overall due to intensive care, pronounced know-how and quick action,” Anson explains.
“In the more classic 2021 vintage, characterized by less alcohol and more freshness, the management of tannins and acidity was the key to success,” analyzes Anson, who, in preparation for her primeur tastings, every year asks the Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin (ISVV) for the overall technical view, so as not to rely solely on the stories as usually written by the châteaux.
Horizontally good in parts, vertically not outstanding
“Every château habitually touts a successfully completed vintage,” Anson jokes, noting that “vineyard and cellar techniques were very important in a vintage like 2021, where there were many obstacles.” From defoliation strategy to chaptalization choices to extraction methods, Jane Anson leaves no topic out of her tastings, delving into analysis of each vintage as she asks question after question. “What you have to take into account in the tastings and accompanying assessments are decisions made by the châteaux regarding their individual challenges in terms of their philosophy, environmental certification and also handling of the grape varieties in light of the weather conditions of a vintage,” the Anson emphasizes.
In a first analysis, Jane Anson highlights the qualities of some vintages with storage potential, but places the 2021 vintage in the line of a classic Bordeaux year: “Fabulous wines can be found in a horizontal tasting of 2021, but in a vertical tasting, the current vintage would not come close to the 2016 vintage. So you have to be aware that best wines in 2021 are not a great success when considered in the totality of a château’s vintages.”
Don’t look for what’s not there
Many buyers of primeur wines wait for Jane Anson’s analyses. She knows this and evaluates very meticulously and carefully. “It can be stated that there are very good wines in 2021, but you can’t buy them blind like a 2016,” says the critic. The question of price remains crucial, she says: “The last few years have been more complicated when it comes to getting a return. Moreover, consumers are questioning the system of primeur wines, and yet they constitute a special moment in the world of wine. Even if 2021 doesn’t represent a great sunny vintage, it contains undeniable qualitative potential,” Anson sums up, summing up the impressions of her tastings so far: “You have to take what’s there and not look for what’s not.”