By Rick Riozza

Last year at this time, we wrote on the bordelaise singing the Bordeaux blues because their wines just aren’t given the respect they once held.

Once upon a time, Bordeaux was a fairly serious topic. Major wine producing history kept it well respected and all business-like—sometimes, even wine-snobbery crept in (imagine that). But things are a little more balanced, now that our wine community continues to enjoy a younger crowd.

And, once upon a time, every wine drinker in town had a strong opinion on Bordeaux wine. You either loved it! or, you decided not to get into it—being happy with your California or Burgundy wine. Again, a broader base of wine enthusiasts, continue to erode the need to be locked into this group or that.


The new wave of vino lovers simply see Bordeaux as yet another area of interest to taste and enjoy. They certainly wince and are amazed that so much high-end Bordeaux can sell for 500 bucks a bottle or more, but they’re not afraid of trying a much lesser priced Bordeaux.

This time of year, a new vintage Bordeaux—usually three years after harvest and placed in an oak barrel—is tasted and the news of its puissance—power, is declared around the world.

On great vintages, the first shot of purchasing from a new vintage, are “futures—known as “en primeur” wines; they sell like hotcakes or French crêpes —if you will, capable of multiplying the investment dollar. An example would be the 2000 Bordeaux futures market—after 9 months, some wines had already increased by 3 to 5 times in value!

On the other hand—with a “bad” vintage report, no knowledgeable investor would dip their dollar into the wine must.

Enter now: the 2021 Bordeaux vintage. Wine Spectator recently wrote: “The 2021 Bordeaux—A Blast from the Past. The toughest vintage this century evokes comparison to the lackluster wines of the 1970s.” Oh-no! Singing the Bordeaux blues again!

Wine Enthusiast also writes: “The 2021 vintage is not likely to feature among the greats of all time. It breaks the spell of the trilogy of 2018, 2019 and 2020. It is lighter and fresher than those three vintages and will probably mature more quickly.”

The 2021 vintage was “an obstacle course with nature,” says Hervé Diez, head of production at Chateaux Kiran in Margaux. “Frost in April then mildew in late July and early August were the main culprits. As a whole, bad weather cut Bordeaux’s crop by a third. It was truly a vineyard vintage.”

“That said, it is certainly not a vintage to avoid. It did receive a bad press before a single glass was raised to anybody’s lips, just from reports of the difficult weather, even before fermentation had finished.”

But even a good blues song has a major chord bridge or chorus that can change the mood to a bit positive—if just for a bit.

WE writes: If all this makes 2021 sound like a bad Bordeaux vintage, that’s not the case. Conditions that even as recently as 2013 led to a poor vintage can now be overcome thanks to the quantum leap in technical know-how, particularly in the vineyard. Vignerons were constantly vigilant with the understanding of what to do and when to do it.

The result is a small vintage of extremely enjoyable red and white wines at the top end. At its red heart, it is a Cabernet vintage. That means look for wines with Cabernet Sauvignon on the Left Bank in the Médoc and in Pessac-Léognan, and of wines of the Right Bank with a good percentage of Cabernet Franc in Saint-Emilion.

The 2021 is lower in alcohol than recent vintages (13-13.5% compared with 14.5% or even 15% in 2018), higher in the fresh fruits and lighter on the tannins. Whites and sweet wines in Pessac-Léognan and Sauternes are magnificent despite seriously lower volumes.

And now, some Bordeaux to consider.

You long-time Bordeaux enthusiasts will delight to see the Chateaux Lynch Bages Pauillac selling at only $120. It grabbed a score of 94. WS writes: Offers a mix of almost caressing black cherry and blanc current paste flavors, with warm cast iron, sweet tobacco and chestnut notes, showing just a nip of the vintage’s austerity. Rock solid and offers a lively savory edge that adds cut and energy.”

Another great label for the region is the Chateau Clinet from Pomerol rated 91 points at only $90. “A frankly toasty style, with bittersweet cocoa notes draped over a core of black cherry and plum fruit. Reveals tobacco, licorice, roasted cedar and a tug of warm earth through the finish.”

At only $40 for a world-class Bordeaux, is one of my favorite blasts from the past, Chateaux de Sales Pomerol 90 point.“Offers showy raspberry and blood orange coulis flavors laced with savory note and carried by lively acidity. Reveals cedar and sanguine hints on the finish.”

As for a white Bordeaux at an incredible price of only $14 with a score of 88 points, one can’t sing the blues too loud! Chateau Dauzac White D. “Lemon peel and pith notes give this a nervy edge, with light quince accent adding to its pleasant persona. Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion.”

So again, there are some great deals out there for very good wine; it’s just not the great wine Bordeaux is famous for. And I guess that’s why they call it the blues. Cheers!