Bordeaux Bulletin #3: A Clean Pair of Heels

June 29, 2020

Bordeaux Bulletin #3: A Clean Pair of Heels

Blink and you’d have missed it but that was Bordeaux 2019, folks. That vapour trail you see disintegrating in the clear blue sky? As ephemeral as an allocation of Mouton 2019.

Before we get into the volumes released, let’s be clear – we were impressed. We liked the pace of it, which, aside from a couple of very frantic days, ticked along nicely, keeping customers interested and focused. We liked the prices, mostly. There was much talk of “30% below last year” as a sort of benchmark but really it came down to whether the 2019 release prices stacked up against comparable vintages in the market. And many of them did.

So chapeau to those who got their pricing right. (It’s easy, see!) We mentioned several successes in our previous bulletin (here), to which can now be added the likes of Canon, Rauzan-Segla and Les Carmes Haut-Brion. As an aside, we do think that we and other en primeur players have a right (even a responsibility) to set out our stall around the annual Bordeaux campaign. Surely those who put their money where their mouths are may also use those mouths!

The majority of the campaign took place without scores from many of the major critics. Fortunately, we were able to taste around 150 wines, several more than once. Thanks to a covert visit to Bordeaux in early June, samples efficiently couriered to the UK by various producers and a delivery of some 100 samples from the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, we could mostly sell wines with an opinion attached, which we feel is crucial.

Once the critics’ notes were in, their enthusiasm (15 potential 100-pointers) reaffirmed the general buzz. There was necessarily much more online activity this year (see our YouTube channel, for example), with social media playing a key role in bringing the vintage alive for customers. From a merchant’s perspective, the speedy analysis of Wine Lister in particular proved very useful.

The fly in the ointment, as mentioned, was the quantities released. These were so tiny in places that customers rightly became frustrated. One thing that Bordeaux cannot afford at the moment is to frustrate the end consumer. Perceived scarcity is one thing but simply-impossible-to-get-your-hands-on is rather boring, especially when production levels, especially in the Medoc, are generally plentiful.

Below are some selections, most well under £400 per dozen, that we consider to be great value, in many cases we work directly with the producer. These are both available (at the time of writing) and recommended! It must be remembered that whatever the views on the market and pricing Bordeaux, especially at this level, have never made better wines.


BORDEAUX 2019 – DON’T MISS LIST

POMEROL

CHÂTEAU LA GRAVE Â POMEROL 2019
Opaque ruby. Delectable nose of summer pudding and cream, fresh, sweetly plump. The palate is even more profound, beautifully extracted, with well cloaked tannins that make the sensual power deep without being coarse, and with a full chocolatey finish. This is quite simply delectable.
Corney & Barrow Score 18
Recommended drinking from 2025 – 2030

£395 | Case of 12 bottles, in bond UK
£405
| Case of 6 magnums, in bond UK
£180 | Case of 1 double magnum, in bond UK


CHÂTEAU BOURGNEUF 2019
I cannot think of a greater contrast to Château La Grave than brooding Bourgneuf, situated on the slope of the Pomerol plateau and very close to Trotanoy itself, with whom it shares some of that gravel– clay soil. Opaque ruby colour. The nose is inky-dark, bitter cherries and a dash of sweet spice. The palate is sweet on the entry then firmly built, its concentrated forest fruits currently framed by powerful oak tannins. A forceful, ambitious Bourgneuf.
Corney & Barrow Score 16 – 16.5
Recommended drinking from 2026 – 2034

£410 | Case of 12 bottles, in bond UK
£420 | Case of 6 magnums, in bond UK


CHÂTEAU ROUGET 2019
Full dense colour. Rich dark cherry scented nose, lovely plush fruits to the fore. The palate is both energetic and fleshy. The structure is excellent, full but without “edges”, nicely resolved tannins. This is not a shy number, but why should it be. Very good wine.
Corney & Barrow Score 17 – 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2025 – 2033

£360 | Case of 12 bottles, in bond UK
£180 | Case of 6 bottles, in bond UK
£370 | Case of 6 magnums, in bond UK


ST. ÉMILION & SATELLITES

CHÂTEAU BARRAIL DU BLANC 2019
Another bullseye from the beloved “Barry White”, a tiny 7 hectare (17 acres) vineyard situated in Saint-Sulpice de Faleyrens, but in the gravel and clay rather than pure sand part which gives this wine a subtle density. Opaque ruby in colour, a delectable nose of bright red fruits, super plump and ripe. The palate is sweet and juicy, supple and chunky with a higher Merlot (89%) content perhaps giving this a fatter, more approachable style. Very good indeed. By popular demand, we are reinstating our “Barrel of Barry” offer of 25 cases (a barrel equivalent) at the below price. The perfect way to avoid running out of this go-to drinker!
Corney & Barrow Score 17+
Recommended drinking from 2022 – 2026

£189 | Case of 12 bottles, in bond UK
£199 | Case of 6 magnums, in bond UK
£199 | Case of 24 halves, in bond UK
£105 | Case of 1 double magnum, in bond UK


L’AURAGE 2019 (Castillon)
L’Aurage is a blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, mirroring the holdings. A glass-staining ruby-purple colour. The nose is wonderfully aromatic – violets and a lick of cedary new oak, with bright lifted red cherry. The palate takes no prisoners, densely packed raspberry coulis and redcurrant on the attack, with firm tannins shaping the palate. A refreshing crunch to the fruit sets off the natural density nicely. Fruit-driven and beautifully poised – a definite touch of the X-factor this year. 100% new oak.
Corney & Barrow Score 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2022 – 2032

£285 | Case of 12 bottles, in bond UK
£305 | Case of 6 magnums, in bond UK
£330 | Case of 3 double magnums, in bond UK


ROC DE CAMBES 2019 (Bourg)
Roc de Cambes is also 80% Merlot, the remaining 20% being Cabernet Sauvignon rather than Franc. Explosively pretty on the nose – raspberry, kirsch and Parma violets – this has all of the ‘degraded’ fruit character which François so assiduously seeks and which in 2019 he attributes to the rains in September. The merest hint of coffeed oak spice, which will certainly integrate. The palate is so fresh, the impressive fruit density dancing across the mid-palate, the natural salinity and chalky minerality adding a wonderful lightness of touch. 100% new oak.
Corney & Barrow Score 18.5
Recommended drinking from 2024 – 2038

£260 | Case of 6 bottles, in bond UK
£270 | Case of 3 magnums, in bond UK

£205 | Case of 1 double magnum, in bond UK
£430 | Case of 1 imperial, in bond UK


ST. ESTÈPHE

CHÂTEAU LAFON-ROCHET 2019
Ingratiating cedar and blackcurrant on the attack, growing in weight on the mid-palate, which is sweet-fruited and succulent. A firm, ripely dark-fruited Lafon-Rochet which impresses. Highly recommended as a traditional Saint-Estephe with a touch of the x-factor.
Corney & Barrow Score 17.5+
Recommended drinking from 2023 – 2033

£340 | Case of 12 bottles, in bond UK


CHÂTEAU PHÉLAN SÉGUR 2019
56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. Dark berried, very Cabernet-driven, with forceful grippy tannins and fresh mint. An imposing Phelan-Segur, with a gratifying sweetness of fruit, impressively harmonious. 55% new oak. Picked 24th September to 10th October.
Corney & Barrow Score 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2023 – 2038

£373 | Case of 12 bottles, in bond UK
Magnums available on request


ST. JULIEN

CHÂTEAU TALBOT 2019
69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. A lovely graphite, cigar box nose. The palate is inkily dark-fruited and cassis-driven. Fabulous classical stuff, an over performer this year. 60% new oak. An estate which is going places under the new direction of Jean-Michel Laporte.
Corney & Barrow Score 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2024 – 2040

£422 | Case of 12 bottles, in bond UK


CHÂTEAU GLORIA 2019
55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. What a pleasant surprise is Gloria 2019. Crunchy raspberry fruit on the nose, with a denser plummy mid-palate and a finish of herbs and sweet spices. 45% new oak.
Corney & Barrow Score 16.5
Recommended drinking from 2023 – 2035

£300 | Case of 12 bottles, in bond UK


PAUILLAC

CHÂTEAU D’ARMAILHAC 2019
62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Fleshy, medium bodied and red berried, this has a delightful drinkability. Not for the long haul but lots of early to mid-term drinking pleasure here.
Corney & Barrow Score 16.5
Recommended drinking from 2022 – 2028

£186 | Case of 6 bottles, in bond UK
Magnums available on request


CHÂTEAU GRAND-PUY DUCASSE 2019
Assertive ripe cassis and raspberry fruit, ground coffee and a minty edge. A glossy yet muscular Pauillac, demanding a little patience and showcasing excellent raw ingredients.
Corney & Barrow Score 17+
Recommended drinking from 2023 – 2035

£138 | Case of 6 bottles, in bond UK
Magnums available on request


MARGAUX

CHÂTEAU ANGLUDET 2019
43% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petit Verdot. Silky, lifted red cherry fruit, firm fruit-coated tannins and excellent density, with undergrowth and bramble. Punches above its weight. Ageing in 30% new oak and 50% amphorae.
Corney & Barrow Score 17
Recommended drinking from 2022 – 2030

£138 | Case of 6 bottles, in bond UK


PESSAC-LÉOGNAN

CHÂTEAU PICQUE-CAILLOU CAILLOU ROUGE 2019
65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot. A welcoming nose of inky blackcurrant and dark chocolate, with well integrated cedary oak aromas. The palate is succulent and eminently drinkable, expressive forest fruits balancing well with the ripe tannins which have been kept in check expertly, exerting the merest grip on the finish. A compelling wine, which will drink early and should prove good value. 40% new oak. 70% of the total red wine crop. The Merlot was picked between 18th and 27th September; the rest between 2nd and 10th October.
Corney & Barrow Score 17
Recommended drinking from 2022 – 2030

£165 | Case of 12 bottles, in bond UK


CHÂTEAU PICQUE-CAILLOU BLANC 2019
90% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Semillon. A creamy, exotically fruited nose of ripe white peach, guava and vanilla pod. The palate is similarly ripe, with viscous stone fruit and pineapple flavours lending a sense of fruit sweetness. 30% new oak, which is very well integrated. Finishes crunchy and precise. A refreshing 12.5% abv. Bottled just before tasting, in May 2020. A convincing early drinker. The Sauvignon was picked in three lots, on 29th August, then 5th and 11th September. Semillon picked on 9th September.
Corney & Barrow Score 16.5
Recommended drinking from 2021 – 2023

£82.50 | Case of 12 bottles, in bond UK


HAUT-MÉDOC

CHÂTEAU LA LAGUNE 2019
From Caroline Frey, whose family also own Paul Jaboulet Aîné in the Rhône. Blackberries and coffee on the nose, leading into a cassis-led palate of both substance and succulence. An Haut-Médoc on a mission. Vineyard plantings 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. No 2018 was made due to mildew, making this a welcome return in 2019.
Corney & Barrow Score 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2023 – 2035

£300 | Case of 12 bottles, in bond UK


CHÂTEAU LAMARQUE 2019
53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot and 5% Petit-Verdot. Dark liquorice and sweet blackcurrant, with notes of cassis, sweet spices and leather. The palate exults in powerful tannins and rich dark forest fruit. Highly characterful and on-song in 2019. Bravo Pierre-Gilles, Marie-Hélène and team!
Corney & Barrow Score 17
Recommended drinking from 2023 – 2035

£149 | Case of 12 bottles, in bond UK
£159 | Case of 6 magnums, in bond UK


Click here for the Bordeaux 2019 Hub

Click here for the Releases Page

Click here for the Producer Videos


Article By Guy Seddon – Fine Wine Buyer at Corney & Barrow

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