Chateau Batailley 2021
The first major release kicking off the campaign came from one of the greatest value wines from the Pauillac appellation, Chateau Batailley 2021. An IG Wines perennial favourite and a true stalwart of Pauillac, they produce the most ethereal and classical styles of claret whilst whilst remaining incredibly well-priced year-on-year and affordable to all. 2021’s challenging conditions were very well-handled by the vineyard team and the resulting wine offers beautiful length, freshness and intensity.
William Kelley of The Wine Advocate hails the “layered and charming palate” Batailley 2021 offers, with textbook Pauillac notes of “cassis, plums, licorice, cigar wrapper, loamy soil and dark chocolate”. He awards a stellar 90-92 points, which outscores the 2020 release. At only £27.50 IB per bottle, Batailley 2021 offers tremendous value compared to neighbouring heavyweight Chateaux thus making it a must-buy of the campaign. The release price offers a 26% discount to the average trading price since 2005 making it a solid buy at the start of the campaign.
From the critics
“The 2021 Batailley shows promise, exhibiting aromas of cassis, plums, licorice, cigar wrapper, loamy soil and dark chocolate, followed by a medium to full-bodied, layered and charming palate built around ripe, powdery tannins. Supple and giving, it will offer a broad drinking window.”
90-92 points, William Kelley (Wine Advocate)
“The 2021 Batailley was picked September 30 to October 15 and matured in 55–60% new oak. It has a well-defined, focused bouquet, a quintessential Pauillac nose of black fruit infused with cedar and mint. The palate is medium-bodied with a touch of black pepper on the entry and delivers good depth and fine grip. This is a Batailley with commendable stuffing for the vintage and it fans out with gusto on the finish. It might not be the best Pauillac in 2021, yet I bet you won’t find better value for money, notwithstanding its underestimated propensity to age.” 92-94 points, Neal Martin (Vinous)
Chateau Duhart-Milon 2021
Also released this week was Chateau Duhart-Milon 2021 from the hallowed Lafite stable, the younger brother to the great Lafite Rothschild. Benefiting from the prestige of the world’s top winemaking teams, and vineyards located alongside two First Growths, Duhart-Milon offers exceptional value within Pauillac and it is no surprise that despite the challenges of the vintage, “a serious Duhart” (Galloni) has been produced.
The 2021 has received 90-92 points from Galloni and 91-93+ points from Kelley, who emphasises “all the progress this estate has been making over the last decade“. We couldn’t agree more: significant investment (including building a state-of-the-art cellar, from which 2021 is the second release) and internationally renowned expertise under the guidance of Lafite’s Eric Kohler have resulted in wines of the highest quality, at a highly approachable price point.
It is worth noting that Duhart-Milon is always a strong candidate for a positive re-score too due to its powerful tannins. For example, the 2005 was awarded 90-92 points from barrel, then a year later rewarded 94 points. At £56 IB per bottle one can get a truly great wine, noted by Jane Anson as “thoroughly enjoyable“, from a prodigious Estate. A taste of Lafite at a fraction of the price.
From the critics
“Incorporating fully 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2021 Duhart-Milon unwinds in the glass with aromas of sweet berries, cigar wrapper and pencil shavings. Medium to full-bodied, lively and persuasively concentrated, with beautifully refined tannins and a long, penetrating finish, it’s a classy, serious wine that reflects all the progress this estate has been making over the last decade.” 91-93+ Points, William Kelley (The Wine Advocate)
“Precise and finessed black fruits here right from the first moments, this is high Cabernet Sauvignon, lovely black savoury fruits that suit the slighly serious feel of Duhart. Expect precision, strict tannins, straight lines, plenty of freshness but without the rusticity that you could find in older Duharts. About 15% press wine after careful extraction and a short maceration. A little more old school Duhart than we have seen over the past few years, but thoroughly enjoyable. 1st year organic conversion, 30hl/h yields.” 93 Points, Jane Anson (Inside Bordeaux)
“The 2021 Duhart-Milon is a potent, brooding wine. Dark fruit, herbs, licorice and incense fill out the layers nicely. The oak still needs time to come together, but that is what élevage is for. The 2021 is a serious Duhart. Whether or not it will acquire a bit more charm remains an open question.” 90-92 Points, Antonio Galloni (Vinous)
Chateau Tour Saint Christophe 2021
The immensely popular Chateau Tour Saint Christophe from St. Emilion is one of the biggest bargains year-on-year from the Right Bank, and at only £23 per bottle IB offers superb value for money. Looking back over the past five vintages Tour Saint Christophe has shown it consistently outperforms its peers, at the same price bracket and more with its impressively high scores. The 2021 is no different: Jane Anson praises the Chateau’s success and highlights that they are “on a roll, with a series of great vintages”, meanwhile Antonio Galloni calls it “terrific” and Neal Martin terms it “stylish”. Tour Saint Christophe is at the top of our list for value Bordeaux in 2021.
We’ve been watching this over-performing estate with interest ever since it was bought by Peter Kwok in 2012. It has been heavily invested in since then; restoration of the vineyards has taken place with unique dry stone terraces being installed and a brand new winemaking team taken from Pommerol’s La Violette and Le Guy. These changes have stratospherically transformed the output here – and every release seems to be better than the last. The total output at the Chateau is tiny, with a mere 4000 cases being made per annum. This is a property to get to know for a number of reasons, but namely as it may well become one of the Right Bank’s stars. Tour Saint Christophe neighbours the significantly more expensive estates of Troplong Mondot, Valandraud and Tertre Rotebouef, all of whom release their wines nearly three times plus the price of Tour Saint Christophe.
From the critics
“The 2021 Tour Saint Christophe has turned out very well, delivering aromas of cherries and sweet berries mingled with hints of loamy soil and sweet new oak. Medium to full-bodied, pure and lively, it’s elegantly muscular, with powdery tannins and a penetrating finish.” 90-92 Points, William Kelley (The Wine Advocate)
“The 2021 Tour Saint Christophe is terrific. Naturally, the 2021 doesn’t have the breadth of previous vintages. Instead, there is a sense of energy running through the 2021 that is compelling. Dark fruit, leather, gravel, incense and mocha all meld together nicely. Once again, Tour Saint Christophe is a star in the appellation for its quality and value. Tasted two times.” 91-93 Points, Antonio Galloni (Vinous)
“The 2021 Tour Saint Christophe is perfumed and high-toned on the nose, featuring blueberry and raspberry fruit mixed with violet and iris flower. The palate is well balanced with sappy black fruit, gentle grip, impressive balance and a correct, quite linear finish. Stylish and with good aging potential. It should end up at the top of my banded score.” 90-92 Points, Neal Martin (Vinous)
Chateau Cantemerle 2021
Also released, the Haut-Medoc favourite Chateau Cantemerle at £108 IB per 6x75cl case. The wines from Cantemerle already have an immense following and the 2021 offering is a must-buy for those seeking top value from the Medoc.
With routes dating back to the 12th century, Cantemerle is one of the oldest Bordeaux estates and makes for a very shrewd buy from the Haut-Medoc this year. William Kelley awards a solid 90-91 points, proclaiming it is a “very strong effort in a challenging year” and that it “is sure to number among the sleepers of the vintage”. Stylistically, this is a pretty classical expression of Cantemerle, with cassis, tobacco and excellent length — as Neal Martin points out this very much an “early-drinking claret”.
Cantemerle is on a clear upward trajectory, with a brand new cellar and winery currently under construction. Whilst the 2021 price remains incredibly keen, level with the previous two vintage releases, it is strongly recommended to stock up on this 5th growth stalwart.
From the critics
“The 2021 Cantemerle is a very strong effort in a challenging year, offering up aromas of blackcurrants and plums mingled with hints of spice box, black truffle and loamy soil. Medium to full-bodied, fleshy and charming, it’s supple and succulent, with a generous core of fruit and a saline finish. It’s sure to number among the sleepers of the vintage.” 90-91 Points, William Kelley (The Wine Advocate)
“The 2021 Cantemerle has a pleasant, cedar-inspired bouquet, the light black fruit gaining intensity with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannins and quite structured, revealing classic tobacco notes toward a finish of decent length. This will do fine as an early-drinking claret.” 88-90 Points, Neal Martin (Vinous)