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June 18, 2022updated 02 Nov 2022 11:52am

Bordeaux 2021 tasting notes: Sauternes and Barsac

By Simon Field MW

Simon Field MW’s tasting notes from the Bordeaux 2021 en primeur tastings concludes with the wines of Sauternes and Barsac.

Clos Haut-Peyraguey 1er Cru

(60% SM, 40% SB)

SF | An attractive, softly honied aromatic, exoticism reined in for the time being, the firm structure promising a lot more; composed and elegant, zesty and rich, with hints of frangipane and walnut at the back of the palate; all in all, a successful example. 91-93

Château Coutet 1er Cru

(75% SM, 23% SB, 2% MUS)

SF | Philippe Baly is stoical about the very small volumes in 2021; not profitable, for sure, he laughs, but a very good Barsac. Maître de chai Laurier Girardot concurs. The soil is cooler in Barsac than in Sauternes, even if the clay/limestone foundations did not spare the vines from the ravages of frost. The 2021 has a classy, pineapple, botrytis nose, honeysuckle and quince, too; there are hints of nectarine skin and yellow plum as well; its 138g/l of sugar is beautifully integrated. Coutet restraint and Coutet exuberance: a basket of delicious contradiction. Benchmark Barsac! If only there were a little more.92-94

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Château Doisy-Daëne 2ème Cru

(86% SM, 14% SB)

SF | Relatively pale, with a slight green tint, reticent at first, with youth most definitely on its side. A touch closed, maybe too cold… but not for long. Spring flowers and the waxy, contrarian voices of botrytis take hold: very promising. The palate builds with similar rigor, vanillin puppy fat soon ceding to noble rot’s more complicated legacy; sweet and savory, harmonious only because of the disciplined grip of the firm line of acidity. 2021 parsed to perfection, and steadfast to the very end. Less is more. 93-95

Château de Fargues

(80% SM, 20% SB)

SF | Attention to detail is but one of the watchwords of the Lur-Saluces family; in 2021, equilibrium is another; the sugar is down a little, at 130g/l, and the alcohol also down a notch, to 13.5%. The yields are also, alas, down yet further from 2020, struggling to a tragic 3hl/ha. The only thing that is up, or at least constant, is the quality of the wine; sublime in every sense, honeyed, floral, citric, harmonious, and wonderfully refreshing—the secret of the greatest sweet wines! 95-97

Château Raymond-Lafon

(80% SM, 20% SB)

SF | Abutting d’Yquem in many different senses, historically and geographically at least, Château Raymond Lafon today could not be more different in terms of its aesthetic, gloriously ramshackle, and its ownership, the Meslier family still resolutely in charge. Stylistically, however, there are similarities, although I have yet to taste the hitherto unblended 2021 d’Yquem (the 2019 was served during my visit and was resplendent). The Raymond-Lafon bears testament to both the cruelty and the generosity of nature; the frost stole 75% of the crop; indeed, it may be argued that the botrytis itself starts off by “eating into the structure of the grape,” only thereafter beginning its more positive transformation. The Raymond-Lafon 2021 has a deep golden robe and a wonderfully rich aromatic, botrytis to the fore, then exotic fruits, and finally, on the palate, the rigorous pull of redeeming acidity; there is a very real, almost exciting, dance of the seven veils of flavor to beguile us here. Jean-Pierre Meslier has every reason to be proud! 135g/l RS. 92-94

Château de Rayne Vigneau 1er Cru

(73% SM, 23% SB)

SF | Rayne Vigneau’s vines climb from 51m (167ft), to the dizzy height of 72m (236ft); key, as it turned out, to the impact of frost in 2021, with the higher plots left untouched. The Château was therefore able to yield at 6.5hl/ha, incredibly one of the highest in the appellation! For long-term Technical Director Vincent Labergère, the three keys to his wine are acidity, bitterness, and salinity; these all required to enhance the sucrosity and to give that vital physiological prompt to take another sip. Vincent describes this phenomenon, somewhat disingenuously maybe, as “the Coca-Cola effect”… Whatever that may mean, the 2021 is a delight; pineapple, quince, tobacco, and a hint of nectarine. Delicate yet persuasive, lingering long on the palate and long in the memory. 94-96

Château Suduiraut 1er Cru

(100% SM)

SF | Three tries for only 30 barrels, with most of the fruit coming from the second trie; a good deal of effort for something in the region of 6,000 bottles. Well worth it, however: A rich Spanish gold, then aromatics that marry honey, gingerbread, pineapple, and quince, even a touch of lanolin. The 138g/l of sugar lend richness without in any way compromising freshness; there are hints of beeswax and caramel, too. Wonderfully satisfying and rewarding. 95-97

Château La Tour Blanche 1er Cru

(70% SM, 22% MUS, 8% SB)

SF | Miguel Aguirre describes 2021 as “la folie”; such was the intensity of labor and the paucity of reward. Even by the standards of 2021 Sauternes, 1hl/ha is jaw-droppingly low. This equates to 133 bottles per hectare. The wine itself is excellent; a pronounced, dried-fruit botrytis nose, a whisper of exoticism on the palate, backed up by tobacco, quince, and bergamot. Hints of orange blossom and lavender add to the signature of personality, quite possibly courtesy of the unusually high proportion of Muscadelle. 92-94

Bordeaux 2021 coverage

Bordeaux 2021 En Primeur Review: Neo-Classic

Bordeaux 2021 Tasting Notes: The Left Bank Part I

Bordeaux 2021 Tasting Notes: The Left Bank Part II

Bordeaux 2021 Tasting Notes: The Right Bank

Bordeaux 2021 En Primeur: Romance and Reality

Bordeaux 2021 Field Notes: Château Figeac

Bordeaux 2021 Field Notes: Vieux Château Certan

Bordeaux 2021 Field Notes: Château Pavie

Bordeaux 2021 Field Notes: Le Dôme

Bordeaux 2021 Field Notes: Domaine de Chevalier

Bordeaux 2021 Field Notes: Sauternes and Barsac

Bordeaux 2021 Field Notes: Pichon Lalande

Bordeaux 2021 Field Notes: Enquiring Minds

Bordeaux 2021 Field Notes: The Whites Have It

Bordeaux 2021 Field Notes: In the Cold Light of Day

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