2019 Bordeaux – don’t miss the boat!

2019 Bordeaux – don’t miss the boat!

Wednesday 17th November 2021
by Tom Jenkins

Wednesday saw the welcome return of the UGC (Union des Grands Crus) to London. As ever, Lindley Hall provided the well-ventilated venue to showcase the spectacular 2019s.

Released during the pessimistic outlook of lockdown and economic abyss, Bordeaux provided a rare ray of sunshine in a gloomy climate. Most of the UK trade lobbied to postpone the annual en primeur campaign. We were one of the few dissenting voices. Ultimately, the Bordelais decided to revise the commonly held premise that, “You can’t send barrel samples,” and, rather than tasting in the architectural cathedrals of Aquitaine, we gathered around my garden table. From our first encounters, we knew that 2019 was remarkable. Quality and consistency across the board, even from Chateaux we’d normally circumvent.

Uncertainty provides opportunity. Merchants and Chateaux really didn’t know if there would be demand, so another unthinkable occurred: Chateaux priced to sell! And sell they did. 2019 was our biggest en primeur campaign since the heady days of the 2010s.

Those who had the foresight to stock up should be delighted. In our opinion, 2019 is the best vintage in a remarkable trilogy. During our recent trip to Bordeaux, winemakers affirmed this again and again. Few vintages have been such a pleasure to taste. There’s a plushness and sweetness to the fruit, without excess. The wines exude balance and class – with a seam of freshness that renders them refreshing and poised. Not dissimilar to the 2016s with a sweeter, more generous core.

So what should I buy? Well, the answer is not straightforward. The market is not awash with 2019s, such was their popularity on release, and those who have retained some stocks are sitting tight. If you can find wines like Pichon Comtesse and Canon, buy them, or re-buy them – you won’t be disappointed. The Pichon is worthy of a special mention. We tasted 2018, 2019 and 2020 with Nicolas Glumineau recently; the brilliant 2018s and 2020s were overshadowed by the sheer class and refinement of the 2019. Other standouts included: Rauzan Segla, Brane Cantenac, Leoville Barton, Langoa Barton, Leoville Poyferre, Lynch Bages, Pichon Longueville, Smith Haut Lafitte and Domaine de Chevalier – all well worth hunting down.

But it’s not all about the usual suspects. 2019, like 2016, is an impressive vintage from top to bottom. There’s great value to be had from some of the less venerated names. Cantemerle, Berliquet, Gloria, Picque Caillou, Beaumont and Phelan Segur were all wonderful, probably amongst the best wines ever made at these chateaux, and, most importantly, many are still available at opening prices. Be sure not to miss the boat!