2021 Pauillac Wine Buying Guide, Vintage Report, Ratings, Reviews

Winemakers

2021 Pauillac clearly turned out better than expected for vignerons and for me. The vintage had issues right from the start of the growing season. It was a wet, dreary year indeed as close to 700mm soaked 2021 Pauillac even before it began. The vintage kicked off with a cold, soaking wet January. February was an improvement with average temperatures of of 10 Celsius, 52 Fahrenheit.

March was dry, and cool with occasional warmer afternoons. Bud break for the Merlot began about March 21. The Cabernet’s followed about one week later. Things were looking up on the two freezing nights in April sparked fears of frost damage. While the vineyards on elevations, or those close to the water had little to fear, the vines planted further in-land were in danger.

May was not much better with its rain, and record setting cold temperatures. More rain in June soaked the appellation. Flowering took place during a rain-drenched June.

July continued the rainy season with more water, which had growers on edge as the month was at a deficit for sun and warmth. As you can surmise, growers all over the Left Bank were becoming anxious and concerned by the lack of potential for 2021 Bordeaux. August kicked off with more cold temperatures. But, fortunately for vignerons in the Medoc, by the end of August, temperatures and hopes rose for 2021 Pauillac. Depending on the vineyard, harvesting took place from the middle to late September, finishing by mid-October.

While the 2021 Pauillac growing season was one of the more challenging un recent years, at the end of the day, it is clear that while not consistent, there are some strong wines. That is not to say they compete with any of the riper, recent years, 2022, 2020, 2019, and 2018, but there are wines that deliver equal amounts of charm and promise.

2021 Pauillac wines are the quintessential example of classic modern. They are bright, with crisp, vibrant, red fruits offering lift, and floral aromatics as well. In 2021, you will see in the tasting notes below, most of the wines have much more Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend this year. The reason is that the Merlot had more trouble during the growing season. Because of the lack of Merlot, and issues with frost and mildew, yields were down at almost every estate.

2021 Pauillac wines are lower in alcohol than most of the vintages from the last decade, ranging from 12.5% ABV to not much over 13% ABV in most wine. Many producers chaptalized as they needed to increase their sugar levels by .5 to 1% for a portion of their harvest. To increase the density, several producers used the saignée technique of bleeding vats to increase the concentration in the wines as well as reverse osmosis.

2021 Pauillac focuses on purity, lift, and its energetic finish. Most of the wines are relatively forward, so wine lovers will not need to wait for decades to appreciate the wines, as many will drink just great with just a few years of aging. At their best, they will deliver classic Pauillac character for 2 decades or longer.

All of the following 2021 Pauillac wines were tasted in my home office in non-blind tasting conditions.

2021 Batailley – Pauillac – Flowers, spice, espresso, black currants, black cherries and smoke pop in the nose. The palate is soft, polished, fresh and approachable. The fruits are sweet, creamy and long, with a refreshing mint and chocolate note that finds its way into the back of the finish. There is a lot of charm as well as freshness here. The wine blends 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Drink from 2026-2050. 93 Pts

2021 Bellevue-Cardon – Pauillac – Flowers, tobacco leaf, espresso, red currants, orange rind and cherries open the perfume. The medium-bodied palate is zesty, bright, and chewy with a citrus, mocha and chalky, red berry finish. This is my first time with this small, new, Pauillac estate. It is going to be hard to find as the production is close to 350 case per year. Drink from 2026-2040. 90 Pts

2021 Clerc Milon – Pauillac – Wet earth, cigar box, flowers, spice, espresso and red with black currants define the aromatic profile. On the palate, the wine is refined, elegant, fresh, and energetic with a soft-textured, finish that blends its red fruits, minty-freshness and olive characteristics. The wine blends 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 1.5% Petit Verdot and 1.5% Carmenere. Drink from 2026-2045. 93 Pts

2021 Clerc Milon Pastourelle de Clerc Milon – Pauillac – Flowers, cherries, spice and a dash of cinnamon ger the perfume going. The palate is elegant, soft, fresh, and refined with sweetness to the plums and cherries that are made even better by the hint of chocolate that sneaks in at the end of the finish. Forward, fresh, sweet ,and elegant, this is already disarmingly easy to taste. Drink from 2024-2034. 90 Pts

2021 Croizet-Bages – Pauillac – Tobacco, cedar, forest leaves, peppery herbs and bright, red currants with a crisp and crunchy edge define this medium-bodied, forward wine. The finish focuses on its core of bright, energetic, fresh, red currants. Drink from 2025-2042. 90 Pts

2021 DArmailhac – Pauillac – Black currants, espresso, flowers, chocolate, and cigar wrapper nuances pop in the nose. The palate carries on with the theme in the nose with its layers of soft, elegant, black and red currants, mint and cocoa. There is a touch of chalky dust that lingers in the fresh, finish. The wine blends 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Drink from 2025-2045. 92 Pts

2021 Fonbadet – Pauillac – Espresso, cherries, blackberries, tobacco and peppery spice aromas crowd into the perfume. On the palate, the wine is soft, polished, fresh, and lively, with a citrus edge to the backend of the currant, mint, and cocoa, tinted finish. The wine blends 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Merlot. Drink from 2027-2041. 91 Pts

2021 Fonbadet L’Harmonie de Fonbadet – Pauillac – Flowers, tobacco, red fruits and a hint of spice create the core of this forward, medium-bodied, savory-edged, red berry wine. With soft tannins and a bit of polish to the texture, you can enjoy this with pleasure on release. Drink from 2024-2032. 88 Pts

2021 Grand Puy Ducasse – Pauillac – Smoke, espresso, cocoa, licorice, menthol and black currant aromatics open the wine. On the palate, the fruits are lively, chewy and fresh. There is sweetness, roundness, structure and a refreshing mint not that adds to the fruit-oriented, chewy finish. This is quite strong for the vintage. Drink from 2026-2045. 92 Pts

2021 Grand Puy Ducasse Prelude – Pauillac – Earthy, forest floor, tobacco, and dark red berries shoot out of the perfume. The medium-bodied palate is soft, round and forward, with an easy-going, early-drinking character. Drink from 2024-2032. 87 Pts

2021 Grand Puy Lacoste – Pauillac – Blackberries, cigar wrapper, roses, cocoa, currants and cedar create the aromatics. The palate is even better with its layers of rip, sweet, creamy, fresh, bright red fruits. There is solid lift and energy here with a chewy bite of cassis in the backend that lingers. This is a super wine that exceeds the vintage. The wine blends 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot. Drink from 2026 – 2050. 94 Pts

2021 Haut Batailley – Pauillac – Tobacco, leafy herbs, espresso, licorice, smoke, chocolate and black cherries form the perfume. The palate is medium-bodied, chewy, fresh and savory, with a touch of herbs and olives that accompany the red plums in the mid-palate and in the finish. The wine blends 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. Drink from 2026-2045. 92 Pts

2021 Haut Batailley Verso – Pauillac – Medium-bodied, floral, fresh, and fruity with forward approach, this early-drinking Pauillac is ready-to-goo, so you can enjoy all of its upfront red fruits with ease on release. Drink from 2024-2031. 89 Pts

2021 Les Sadons – Pauillac – Tobacco leaf, red cherries and currants with a savory edge create the character of this medium-bodied, forward, early-drinking, crisp, sweet, bright, red currant filled wine. This will drink well shortly after release. Drink from 2025-2035. 89 Pts

2021 Lynch Bages – Pauillac – Smoke, cedar, cigar box, cassis, spearmint, and spice nuances set the perfume where it needs to be. The palate, with its layers of vibrant, sweet, fresh, energetic, chewy fruits leaves a lasting impression. There is concentration, depth of flavor, chewiness, and length here that would make this a serious wine in a top vintage. But, with 2021, this is a tremendous success that exceeds the vintage. The wine blends 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. The yields were low at 34 hectoliters per hectare. Drink from 2027-2050. 94 Pts

2021 Lynch Bages Echo de Lynch Bages – Pauillac – Earthy red fruits, cedar, spice and tobacco leaf nuances already express themselves in the nose and on the palate of this forward, charming, medium-bodied, fruit-filled wine. Classic and firm, this is perfect to enjoy with a nice, juicy steak in a bistro or cafe. Drink from 2024-2034. 89 Pts

2021 Lynch-Moussas – Pauillac – Blackberries, smoke, tobacco, herbs and creme de cassis are already on display on the nose. Medium-bodied, fresh, soft and polished, with a sweet edge to the juicy currants on the mid-palate and in the spicy, espresso and cocoa-tinted, red berry finish. This is showing better from the bottle than it did from the barrel. The wine blends 72% Cabernet Sauvignon with 28% Merlot. Drink from 2026-2045. 92 Pts

2021 Pedesclaux – Pauillac – Vibrant, fresh, lifted, almost high-pitched red fruits, along with flowers, mint leaf, tobacco, cedar and spice nuances pop in the perfume, and carry through from the mid-palate all the way through to the elegant, lifted, salty-edged fruits in the finish. The wine is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Drink from 2025-2045. 92 Pts

2021 Pedesclaux Fleur de Pedesclaux – Pauillac – Medium-bodied, bright, fresh, forward and with a distinctive floral and mint edge that adds to the vibrant, red berries in the nose and on the palate. Drink from 2024-2034. 89 Pts

2021 Pibran – Pauillac – The nose pops with spicy, red currants, tobacco leaf, flowers, blackberries and lead pencil. The wine is medium-bodied, crisp, fresh, bright and with a nice sweetness to the red fruits. There is lift, and energy to the bright red fruits that linger in the finish. Drink from 2026-2040. 90 Pts

2021 Pichon Baron – Pauillac – One of the wines of the vintage owes its character to having used the highest percentage of Cabernet in the history of the estate in the blend at 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, followed with 12% Merlot. Concentrated, rich, deep, fresh, and complex, the wine is packed with racy, energetic currants, cherries, plums, peppery spices and lift. There is concentration, and purity to the fruits that linger and expand. This is even better in the bottle than it was in the barrel, which is always the mark of a great wine. This is a perfect example of what a top, classically styled Pauillac should taste like. This is the finial vintage produced by the incredibly talented, long-time technical director, Jean-Rene Matignon. With a few more years of age, this could score even higher. Drink from 2028-2060. 96 Pts

2021 Pichon Baron Les Griffons de Pichon Baron – Pauillac – Flowers, spice box, smoke, tobacco leaf and red berries already cut through in the nose, and on the palate. Soft, spicy, fresh and crisp, there is a crunch to the sweet, ripe, red fruits, which are made even better by their, peppery-edge. The finish really lingers with its spicy, vibrant presence. The wine blends 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot and 11% Petit Verdot. Drink from 2025-2040. 92 Pts

2021 Pichon Baron Les Tourelles de Longueville – Pauillac – Black cherries, licorice, flowers, and tobacco leaf are found in the nose and on the medium-bodied, lifted, fresh, bright, red berry palate. This charming Pauillac is ready to go on release, so you can dig into all the sweet, fresh, juicy, spicy currants as soon as the wine hits the store. Drink from 2024-2036. 90 Pts

2021 Plantey – Pauillac – Bright red currants, cedar, savory, green herbs and mint notes are all over the place in this medium-bodied, bright, red berry filled wine. The finish is a bit drying, with a strong green, olive note. While it is a perfectly easy-wine to drink, it is not going to get better. Drink from 2024-20blackberries, pepper and cedar fill out the nose and palate of this easy-drinking, little-known Pauillac. Drink from 2024-2034. 87 Pts

That’s a wrap. 750 of the best 2021 Bordeaux wines tasted, rated and reviewed! It is amazing to think that I am only 3 weeks away from returning to Bordeaux to taste the 2023 vintage with a full report on the best wines coming out in May! I have heard nice things about the vintage, but reading ain’t tasting. See you soon.

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