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Haut-Brion 2021 released: latest en primeur reaction

Château Haut-Brion has released its 2021 vintage in a big week for the Bordeaux en primeur campaign, with Les Carmes Haut-Brion described by one analyst group as a wine not to miss.

Haut-Brion 2021 released en primeur

Château Haut-Brion 2021 was released en primeur at the same price as fellow First Growths Mouton Rothschild and Margaux €420 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, down 2.8% on last year’s release, according to Liv-ex, a global marketplace for the trade.

With an offer price of £5,100 (12x75cl in bond), data from both Liv-ex and analyst group Wine Lister suggested the new release was broadly in-line or slightly under current market prices for several recent vintages.

Château Haut-Brion 2021 was rated 97 points by Decanter’s Georgie Hindle, again emphasising how barrel samples have indicated that several of top-tier estates made a success out of an altogether tricky Bordeaux vintage.

‘One of the absolute stand out wines in 2021 with an electric appeal almost unrivalled in the vintage,’ Hindle wrote. 

Matthew O’Connell, CEO of LiveTrade at UK-based merchant Bordeaux Index, said there has been demand for Haut-Brion 2021 from collectors this morning (16 June), but the price context of other vintages on the market has perhaps held the wine back from appealing to a wider audience at this stage.

Haut-Brion Blanc 2021 was also released today, and Bordeaux’s dry white wines have received particular praise in this vintage. Liv-ex quoted an ex-Bordeaux release price of €600 per bottle, equal to the 2020-vintage debut, and offer price of £7,320 (12x75cl in bond).

Based on its high ratings, Liv-ex said the wine was among the best value Haut-Brion Blanc vintages on the market. Decanter’s Hindle scored the wine 97 points

Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2021: ‘Don’t hesitate’

Getting hold of Les Carmes Haut-Brion isn’t the easiest, and UK merchant Goedhuis & Co was offering the 2021 vintage for £474 (6x75cl in bond) on allocation only.

But, ‘if you can get some, don’t hesitate for a single second’, said analyst group Wine Lister in a note on the Pessac-Léognan estate’s en primeur release.

‘This is the most obvious buy of the campaign,’ it added, highlighting strong quality scores for the 2021 vintage and the estate’s track record of price rises following release.

Les Carmes Haut-Brion actually raised its release price versus last year, up by around 3% to €80.4 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, said Liv-ex.

That translated to an offer price of £948 (12x75cl in bond), but Liv-ex data showed this was significantly cheaper than current prices for 2018, 2019 and 2020  a trio of good vintages.

‘The new release is one of the best value wines on the market today, though the 2012 and 2017 vintages also offer value,’ Liv-ex said.

Hindle gave Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2021 96 points, ranking it in the upper echelon of red wines in this tricky Bordeaux vintage.

‘A stand-out wine extremely classy and memorable,’ Hindle wrote. She praised its aromatic complexity, elegance and lift, but also noted, ‘This has a lot of life for the vintage, one of the more full, round wines with chewy, fleshy tannins.’ 

There have been a series of other releases in recent days. Domaine de Chevalier was another big name out this morning alongside the Haut-Brion stable of wines.

Domaine de Chevalier 2021 was rated 94 points by Hindle and was released at €46.8 ex-Bordeaux, unchanged versus 2020, said Liv-ex. The wine was offered at £564 (12x75cl in bond). 

‘Buyers might note remaining availability of the slightly higher-scoring 2020 for the same price,’ Wine Lister said.

On the Right Bank, Château Clinet has been among the releases in the last 48 hours. As a brand ‘on the up’, this was expected to see demand from existing fans of the estate, Lister said.

Clinet 2021 was released at €66 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, level with last year’s release, and it was offered at £792 (12x75cl in bond), said Liv-ex. Its data showed the wine was cheaper than current prices on the 2020 and 2019 vintages.    

Clinett 2021 was rated 95 points by Hindle, who tasted it four times and praised it as ‘round, supple, generous and vibrant on the palate’. 

Snapshot views of the campaign

It’s too early to judge fully, with releases still emerging, but there has been talk of a relatively subdued campaign among a number of merchants in recent weeks.

Some top-tier wines have found buyers, but several releases appeared to have struggled.

This week, Bordeaux Index’s O’Connell also reported buyer interest in First Growths Mouton and Margaux, for example.

Prior to the recent flurry of releases, Georgina Crawley, of UK merchant Goedhuis & Co, told Decanter on Monday (13 June) that it was tough for 2021 following the strong vintages of 2018, 2019 and 2020.

‘We have had a trio of very very strong [vintage] releases and therefore, from a Goedhuis perspective, we’re trying to be incredibly selective this year on the wines we really did think performed, and offer the customer value.’

Thomas Parker MW, buyer at Farr Vintners, reiterated the importance of en primeur wines being cheaper than physically available vintages on the market, particularly if those vintages have higher scores.

‘Most of our customers don’t really see the point in buying the wines en primeur without this incentive,’ he said late last week.

Shaun Bishop, CEO of US merchant JJ Buckley, said on 13 June that en primeur interest had so far been around a third of that seen for the 2019 and 2020 campaigns.

‘Some big brands in the $25-$75 (per bottle) price category are seeing little to no interest at all. However, some individual wines in higher price categories have sold well, like Lafleur, Cheval Blanc, Lafite Rothschild, Lynch-Bages, and Pontet Canet.’

‘It’s not a disaster by any means,’ said Will Hargrove, head of fine wine at Corney & Barrow, when commenting on the campaign. Yet he said collectors considering adding 2021 to their cellars could be weighing up whether it’s better to wait until the wines are in-bottle. ‘I think people are going to like drinking these wines, it’s just a matter of when they buy them.’ 

Bordeaux 2021 en primeur: See our full verdict on the vintage

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