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Bordeaux 2019 In Bottle: Overview

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux


A tasting of wines from 2019 put on by the UGCB last November reinforced my impression of the fine quality of this vintage. I majored on the left bank, having covered the right bank more comprehensively during primeurs tastings back in 2020. Looking over my notes, the wines have certainly retreated into their shells since bottling. Many were quite backward and reticent, especially in Pauillac and St Julien. During primeurs, I felt like 2019 was a mythical blend of 2010 and 2009. They had the intensity of the former with the fruit and texture of the latter, with overall finer tannin and less extraction than back then. Right now I’m wondering if 2019 isn’t closer to a modern 2005, that is to say pretty serious, structured and long-term but with sweeter tannin texture than ‘05. Still, this is a generalisation and that comparison is not true in all cases by any means. Not all Pauillacs and St Juliens were backward for example and there were some especially lush wines in Margaux and the Haut-Médoc for instance. So it’s a complex picture. If you’ve tucked into 2019 [like me] there is certainly nothing to worry about, except that you might have to wait a little longer for the wines to open up than we first imagined. I’ll obviously follow up with more detailed posts by appellation, but in the meantime what were the overall highlights?

For me the Margaux appellation showed very well. While there is a greater seriousness to the vintage than was first evident, a number of properties, notably Château Angludet, Château Brane Cantenac, Château Lascombes and Château Monbrison were all extremely appealing, generally all showing layers of lush fruit and balancing freshness. Lovely bright wines. On the more sinewy, intellectually appealing side, excellent wines have been made by Château Rauzan Ségla, Château Kirwan and Château Giscours.

In the Haut-Médoc, which stretches beneath Margaux in the south to above St Estèphe in the north, there were also a number of very good wines. Tops here for me are great efforts from Château La Lagune, Château Belgrave, Château de Camensac, Château La Tour Carnet and Château Cantemerle. In Moulis, Château Chasse-Spleen is fresh and elegant and Château Maucaillou has produced a splendidly attractive wine. That said Château Poujeaux leads the pack here, with an intense full wine that feels determinedly long-haul.

In St Julien, the late Anthony Barton’s Château Léoville Barton & Château Langoa Barton both look impressive but are quite backward at this stage. Brooding with potential, but they will need a decade to hit their prime. Château Lagrange, Château Branaire Ducru and even Château Beychevelle, all feel very tightly wound and in need of bottle age. There is plenty of layered fruit here, don’t get me wrong, but this isn’t akin to 2009, 2016 or 2018 vintage here, where they are already appealing. These wines need five years bottle age I reckon before you try and pull a cork. Perhaps an impressive Château St Pierre will need less time. It has wonderful depth and structure, and by its own standards it was relatively backward, but this will provide joy earlier than these others I reckon. Château Léoville Poyferré was knockout. It has fabulous levels of concentration and extract, but forget about tucking into this anytime soon. Still I predict it will be alive and well in 2050, I hope I am [indeed I hope we all are].

Not surprisingly, the wines from Pauillac felt even more backward in the main. That’s not to say great wines haven’t been produced here. They have, but they all need significant time in bottle from what we can see now. Château Batailley was very impressive, as was sibling Château Lynch Moussas – probably the best ever wine from this property. Château Lynch Bages and Château Pichon Baron are also supremely successful, but these will need a decade to show themselves. Château Grand Puy Lacoste is a beauty and is already quite delicious. That said it has the balance to last and reminded me just what a brilliant wine ‘GPL’ is, year in, year out. Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is a masterpiece. It goes down as probably my wine of the vintage amongst those I have tasted. It is just as impressive from bottle as it was from barrel. Simply stunning Bordeaux.

Over the next few weeks, I will post detailed notes on these properties and others in 2019. After that do look out for notes I will be posting on 2016 Bordeaux, following a comprehensive tasting with the MW Institute at the end of last November. Again, these have lost a little of their early sheen, but the tasting reconfirmed that this vintage is the best of the last decade, though the top ‘19s will give the top ‘16s a run for their money.

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