Bordeaux En Primeur 2019 - Week 1 Update

By Gavin Smith

May 27th, 2020

This week saw the first major releases from the 2019 Bordeaux En Primeur campaign. The first being one of our favourite little Pomerol estates Chateau Belle Brise, whose 2019 vintage was one of the first wines we tasted and got us salivating over the vintage. There is both freshness and full tannin resolution in this wine whilst retaining its signature elegance.

The surprise release of Chateau Pontet Canet on Thursday, prior to any official critic scores, was a bold move by owner Alfred Tesseron, but in our interview with Justine Tesseron last month, it was clear they really believed in the exceptional quality of their 2019. A wine that best represented the amalgamation of all the work they have done in converting to organic biodynamic principles since 2004. Whilst the organic principles might not directly affect the flavour (still up for discussion), organic farming demands a lot more attention to detail in the vineyard, which certainly does improve the quality of the fruit and for Pontet Canet it has not been without sacrifice, with the estate losing 2/3s of its crop to mildew in 2018. The most pleasant surprise was the release price, a third off the price of the 2018, which could set the precedent for an incredibly exciting campaign ahead.

FINE+RARE have been fortunate to taste plenty of 2019 samples this week. The two major highlights being a one-to-one tasting with Hubert de Bouard and his daughter Stephanie de Bouard, the owners and winemaking team at Chateau Angelus and with Bruno Borie of Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou. We also got to taste the selection of wines from “Vignobles K” owned by Peter Kwok, whose Chateau Tour St Christophe, Chateau Bellefont Belcier in St Emilion and Enclos Tourmaline in Pomerol are some of the most exciting revitalised properties in Bordeaux, offering fantastic quality for the price. In 2019 the wines continue in similar vein to previous vintages creating opulent wines, whilst retaining incredible freshness. The Bellefont Belcier is a real step up in quality in 2019 and the density, detail and composure of the Enclos Touramaline is exceptional. Look out for these wines due to be released in the next few weeks as they always sell out during en primeur.

Virtual tasting with Hubert de Bouard & Stephanie de Bouard from Chateau Angelus

Chateau Angelus 2019

All three wines (Chateau Angelus, Carillon d’Angelus and No3 d’Angelus) were exceptional and saw a heightened level of precision, fruit detail and finesse to the wine, something they have been working on at the property over the last few years, installing inverted/ suspended vats that create more exposure to the skins without needing as much extraction. Hubert said, whilst it is easy to extract tannins, extracting the best tannins is the challenge, believing this new funnel shaped vats being key to bringing a heightened level of elegance and finesse to their wines. Hubert also noted how they have started to treat the Cabernet Franc in the blend differently, using 30hl foudre to mature the wine. Hubert states that oxygen is the enemy to the Cabernet Franc grape and with the larger foudre, it reduces the oxygen exposure by three times compared to smaller oak barriques. There is a real finesse and elegance to the 2019 Chateau Angelus and a notable shift in the ratio between elegance over power, producing a strikingly fine wine with a lovely tension, fresh purity of fruit, satiny tannins and mouthwatering freshness. To compare with Chateau Angelus 2018 (which Hubert describes as a “exotic” vintage) the wine has an alcohol of 14.7%abv and a pH of 3.8, the 2019 in comparison is 14.5%abv and with a 3.65pH, producing a fresher more vertical styled Angelus. Hubert describes it as more classic and compares the vintage with the much underrated Right Bank wines of 2001.

Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou 2019

The second major tasting was with Bruno Borie, tasting Chateau Ducru Beacaillou. Already touted as one of the wines of the vintage from James Suckling, it is an incredible wine with an exceptional finish. The wine is opulent, rich and dense, but the tannins are fantastically supple, fully resolved and everything - fragrance, fruit, earthy tones, spice all just fan out so beautifully on the finish. For Bruno Borie the wine is like a ballerina - " a wine with incredibly refined movement, with an athletic body and grace". I kind of know what he means, the wine has energy and power but pulls back enough to retain tension and elegance. For Bruno it is the richest wine he has ever produced and with the concentration of tannins, allied with the overall balance of the wine, is set for a very long future ahead. The finish of the wine is certainly special.

Virtual tasting with Bruno Borie of Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou

The Critics

James Suckling this week released his favourite wines of the vintage so far with Chateau Margaux (99-100pts), Chateau Lafite (99-100pts) and Chateau Mouton Rothschild (99-100pts) topping the bill with similar praise for Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou (99-100pts), describing it as – “A very powerful Ducru with intense tannins and backbone”.

Whilst he still has many of the top wines still to taste, he has described the vintage as: “outstanding and at the same quality as the extraordinary 2018, but the young wines show more classic, even traditional style with fine tannins and bright and vibrant acidity. Alcohols are slightly less in the blend than most 2018s.”

Releases so far

If you missed out on the releases earlier this week, follow the links below for full information regarding each release and how to secure your allocation.

Chateau Belle Brise 2019, Pomerol

Chateau Pontet Canet 2019, 5eme Cru Classe, Pauillac

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