Bordeaux En Primeur 2021: The Top-Scoring Wines of the Vintage


At this year’s Bordeaux en primeur 2021 tasting events, we visited the elite Château Haut-Brion, along with the equally impressive Château La Mission Haut-Brion. We were honored to be hosted by the chairman of the estates’ parent company, Prince Robert de Luxembourg himself (pictured above, left, with Vinfolio’s Zhehao Zhang, right)

At this year’s Bordeaux en primeur 2021 tasting events, we visited the elite Château Haut-Brion, along with the equally impressive Château La Mission Haut-Brion. We were honored to be hosted by the chairman of the estates’ parent company, Prince Robert de Luxembourg himself (pictured above, left, with Vinfolio’s Zhehao Zhang, right)

Now that Bordeaux en primeur 2021 tastings have wrapped, collectors and investors are eager to know how the vintage is faring. The good news is that many wines from renowned First Growth estates are showing great promise this year. The wines are refreshing, graceful and elegant — and the best have great potential for long-term aging.

That said, 2021 Bordeaux is one of the most diverse vintages in recent memory. Because the grapes ripened differently throughout the region, style varies from appellation to appellation and even from producer to producer. This is why it’s important to know which wines are the true standouts. Top-rated wines from producers like Château Haut-Brion and Château Margaux will likely sell out quickly when futures become available in June, so being “in the know” is the best way to prepare and secure your allocations.

In this guide, you’ll learn which wines were the stars of Bordeaux en primeur 2021, based on tasting notes written by Vinfolio’s experienced staff during our visit to the region’s top estates. You’ll also discover which wines other professional critics rank among the best of the vintage. With this knowledge at your fingertips, you’ll be ready to invest in the most sought-after 2021 futures and experience these elegant wines for yourself.

Is 2021 Bordeaux Worthwhile?

Now that the barrel tasting week of Bordeaux en primeur 2021 is over, it’s safe to say that this vintage has produced some standout wines despite a few setbacks during the growing season. While the quality of the wine varies more than it did for past successful vintages like 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, and 2020, the top estates were able to use all of their resources to craft superb wines. This is perhaps the main take-away from Bordeaux en primeur 2021: craftsmanship still matters. This was a true “farmer’s vintage,” as Wine Advocate so succinctly states.

However, one fact to remember about 2021 Bordeaux is that yields were generally lower than they have been for other recent vintages. According to Jancis Robinson, 2021 yields were 22.5 percent lower than the 10-year average due to spring frost and other unfavorable weather conditions. What this means for collectors and investors is that there may be fewer bottles available. So it’s more important than ever to secure your investments early.

Overall, collectors may find that these wines are best enjoyed relatively young. This is a good opportunity for collectors looking to buy wines they can drink while they wait for their more age-worthy vintages to mature. Still, there are some 2021 wines that are already showing greater aging potential, particularly wines from First Growth estates.

As for investors, it’s important to look at historical market performance for Bordeaux to decide if the 2021 vintage is worth your time. According to Liv-ex, Bordeaux’s First Growth estates have experienced a 13.7-percent increase in price performance since the start of this year, showing there may be a growing interest in top estates like Château Margaux on the market. Likewise, Sauternes had an increase of 14.1 percent in market performance over the past year, and Left Bank wines are up by 9.7 percent. Based on historical data, investors might consider looking into futures of 2021 wines from First Growth estates, sweet Sauternes labels, or wines from the Left Bank.

It’s still too soon to say whether the price of 2021 Bordeaux will be the same or higher than other recent vintages, and it will likely vary by label. However, supply chain issues may cause the price of 2021 Bordeaux to increase slightly. Still, the top wines of the vintage are expected to have an excellent price-to-quality ratio.

The Top-Rated Wines of the Bordeaux En Primeur 2021 Season

While the 2021 growing season in Bordeaux wasn’t without its challenges, many of the wines are nevertheless fresh, polished, and a delight to drink. When members of the Vinfolio staff visited Bordeaux in April, some of the wines we tasted were truly exceptional — particularly the reds of top First Growth estates, the dry whites, and sweet Sauternes. There’s plenty to be excited about following the Bordeaux en primeur 2021 season. The wines below are perfect representations of just how spectacular this vintage can be. Make no mistake: this is not a vintage to skip if you adore expertly crafted, aromatic wines.

The Best Red Wines of the Left Bank

Left Bank First Growths stood out to Vinfolio’s staff during en primeur week in 2022. The skill of these storied producers resulted in rich, well-structured wines.

  • Château Margaux: The wines were high in quality across the range of labels, but (perhaps not surprisingly) the estate’s Grand Vin was one of the stars of en primeur week. With notable elegance and nuance, this wine has the potential to rank at the very top of the vintage. Collectors and investors may even see a renewed interest in Margaux on the market following this outstanding release, so it’s worth looking into expanding your Margaux collection now.
  • Château Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion: These wines are equally compelling this year. The red wines are incredibly rich, which is notable considering so many wines of 2021 are known for being lighter-bodied and more delicate than usual. Like Margaux, these wines are of the highest quality across the board, but most especially the Grand Vin. What makes Château Haut-Brion wines unique for Bordeaux en primeur 2021 is that yields were on par with years prior for the estate. As one of the few estates to cope well with the challenging weather conditions, Château Haut-Brion showed why masterful technique matters. The alcohol level for this wine is also near the same levels as it was in previous years. So, if you’re looking for a wine of similar quality to recent vintages you already own, consider the wines of these estates.
  • Château Mouton Rothschild: A well-structured wine, though time will tell if the vintage will be as age-worthy as ones in the recent past. This may be a great wine to drink young, with deep notes of violet, tobacco, and mint that are already coming through beautifully in the blend. The estate was also able to achieve 13.1 percent alcohol, which is in line with recent vintages. It’s especially noteworthy in 2021, considering some estates had much lower alcohol levels than usual. This will be an interesting wine to watch evolve.
  • Château Lafite-Rothschild: Rich and layered with a great sense of balance. This is certainly among the highest-rated wines of the vintage. One notable characteristic of the 2021 vintage is that its blend contains one of the highest Cabernet percentages in the estate’s history — 96-percent Cabernet Sauvignon. This fact alone makes this an enticing wine for Bordeaux collectors, but it’s also expected to be among the longest-lived wines of the vintage. It’s well-structured, which is evident even at this early stage, and that should lead to decades of beautiful aging.

Because the 2021 vintage is so diverse in terms of style across the region, there’s something for every type of collector and investor. Outside of the four First Growths that release en primeur wines (Château Latour does not), one other Left-Bank red wine stood out during Vinfolio’s visit to Bordeaux for en primeur 2021:

  • Château Léoville-Las Cases: A very concentrated, impressive, and serious wine. This has the potential to rank among the best from the estate in recent years, so if you’re a fan of the Château, you should look forward to the 2021 futures.

Vinfolio’s Picks

The following wines are ones collectors and investors should have in their sights when futures go on sale this year:

More Top-Rated Wines

Here are some of the standout wines other critics rated most highly during en primeur 2021:

Critic/Publication Top-Rated Wines 
Wine Advocate Château Margaux, Château Haut-Brion, Château Lafite-Rothschild
Neal Martin of Vinous Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Margaux, Château Léoville-Las Cases

The Best Red Wines of the Right Bank

One notable fact about the wines of the Right Bank is that there’s more Cabernet Franc in the blend than usual in 2021. This imparts greater aromatics to the wine, which means this may be the best year to invest if you prefer this style. Here are a few of the Right Bank red wines that stood out during Bordeaux en primeur 2021:

  • Château Cheval Blanc: The Grand Vin is made primarily from Cabernet Franc, and the result is an aromatic and concentrated wine with immense aging potential. This ranks in the top wines of the Right Bank this year, and is a contender for the best wine of the vintage (alongside Margaux and Haut-Brion).
  • Château Angélus: Both the first and second wines from this estate are high in quality this year, with excellent structure and finely grained tannins. Typically this blend is made primarily from Merlot, but because the 2021 blend has a higher percentage of Cabernet Franc, it’s a great opportunity for collectors to buy a one-of-a-kind vintage.
  • Château Lafleur: Across the board, all of the estate’s offerings were high in quality this year, but most especially the Grand Vin. The estate took great care in selecting only the ripest grapes for the blend and meticulously crafting the wine, and this effort shows in the final blend. It ranks among the very best of the vintage.
  • Château Pétrus: This is one of the most floral vintages in recent history for the estate, and it has excellent structure.

Vinfolio’s Picks

These wines are likely to be extremely popular when Bordeaux en primeur 2021 futures go on sale:

More Top-Rated Wines

Other critics rated these wines among the best they sampled during en primeur week:

The Best White Bordeaux of 2021

While there are plenty of red wines that stood out during Bordeaux en primeur 2021, the dry white wines have been some of the most impressive of the vintage. The cooler weather allowed the grapes to develop refreshing acidity and stunning aromatics. Here are a few of the best wines we sampled during en primeur week:

  • Château Haut-Brion and Château La Mission Haut-Brion: The Blancs may be the top of the vintage for dry whites. They have a notable minerality and refreshing acidity, yet this is balanced out by wonderfully ripe fruit. If you’re looking to start or expand a collection of white Bordeaux, then the 2021 vintages from these two estates should be at the top of your shopping list.
  • Château Lafleur: While the red wine may get the most attention this year, the estate’s white wine deserves praise as well. It’s a spectacular effort that could even be worth aging long-term.

Vinfolio’s Picks

When it comes to investing in white Bordeaux from the 2021 vintage, it’s difficult to go wrong with wines from the Right Bank. Nearly every Right Bank producer had great success with their Blancs. These, coupled with the whites of Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion, are likely to be talked about for years to come. These are some of our top picks for wine futures:

  • Château Haut-Brion
  • Château La Mission Haut-Brion
  • Château Smith Haut Lafitte
  • Château Lafleur
  • Château Pape Clément

More Top-Rated Wines

These were some of the highest rated white wines from other critics visiting Bordeaux for en primeur week:

Critic/Publication Top-Rated Wines 
Wine Advocate Château Margaux (Pavillon Blanc), Domaine de Chevalier, Château Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion, Château Pape Clément
James Suckling Château Lafleur, Domaine de Chevalier
Neal Martin of Vinous Château Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion

The Best Sweet Wines of 2021

This was also a great year for sweet wines, and some may even prove to be the greatest wines of the past century for some estates. Because of the outstanding quality and extremely low yields, these vintages will likely be highly sought-after. However, only a few estates were showcasing their 2021 vintages during en primeur week in April. Some estates, like Château d’Yquem, offered tastings of the 2019 vintage instead (an equally impressive year that should be on collectors’ radars when it comes time to invest in futures). We will likely see the release of more 2021 sweet wines from Sauternes in the coming years, so keep a close watch in the meantime.

At the Bordeaux en primeur 2021 barrel tasting, we got our first glimpse of which wines are the potential stars of this vintage

How to Invest in 2021 Bordeaux

Whether you’re a collector or a serious investor, the best way to secure 2021 Bordeaux is to purchase futures as soon as they become available. This will be especially important for the 2021 vintage due to a combination of low yields and supply chain challenges. Wines are likely to be in high demand but more limited in availability.

The first step to investing in the best wines of 2021 is to visit Vinfolio’s en primeur shop. However, as new wines are being released and added daily, it can be hard to keep up. Sign up for our en primeur 2021 mailing list to be the very first to know when a new release is available for purchase, including the most sought-after wines from First Growth estates. The majority of these futures will be available on the Vinfolio futures marketplace in June. This is also an excellent opportunity to invest in other vintages, like 2019 and 2020, since you can still find these wines at en primeur prices. Following the release of the 2021 vintage, these past vintages may become more in demand on the market, so it’s important to secure your wine as soon as possible.

The 2021 Bordeaux vintage is already shaping up to be a fascinating one for collectors and investors alike, and you could be one of the first to own the most sought-after wines of the year.

For the 2021 Bordeaux en primeur season, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.