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Bordeaux En Primeur Latest Releases

by Giles Cooper (Head of Marketing & PR)

A busy day of releases today.

First up: deep, rich, exotic, hedonistic perfume - it can only be Chateau Margaux. This unmistakable wine is released today at GBP 4320.

With a pretty serious 89% of incredibly textured Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, the 2017 Margaux is one of the wines of the vintage. Indeed Jeb Dunnuck puts it “in the top 2 to 3 wines of the vintage”and Antonio Galloni ranks it as “one of the highlights on the Left Bank”.

Unsurprisingly, this amazing wine was sold out virtually on release.

Their second wine Pavillon Rouge was released at GBP 1620. This is above the top of our spread but is one of those wines that always sees a steep increase in price once it becomes physical – so could still be a good buy. Their remarkable 100% Sauvignon Blanc Pavillon Blanc is also released at GBP 1776. This was one of the best whites of the year and is always made in tiny quantities.

Next up we have the ‘pair’ of Figeac and La Conseillante, both of which fall partly (or entirely) under the auspices of the Nicolas family.

One of the biggest stories in Bordeaux over the last decade has been the resurgence of the great Chateau Figeac. Their excellent 2017 has been released this morning at GBP 1475.

With ancient family ownership and a gifted winemaking team headed by one of Bordeaux’s real ‘nice guys’ Frederic Faye, Figeac has become one of our favourite properties in Bordeaux. With its vines located just over the road from Cheval Blanc in St Emilion, but with a foot as much in the Medoc thanks to its high proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon planted on gravelly soils, it is quite distinct from other properties. Likewise the wine itself is quite distinct from its peers and neighbours, blending the plushness, spice and minerality of excellent Merlot and Cabernet Franc with the structure and longevity of stunning Cabernet Sauvignon.

With a massive reduction in volume available (-65% on 2016), this will be considerably harder to find in coming years than many other recent vintages. We think this is a wine not to miss.

Alongside at the same price is La Conseillante. We have long been fans of this superb estate on the Pomerol plateau; there is always a sense of drive and energy to the wine that, when allied to the pure fruit ripeness and silkiness of texture, lifts it above many of its peers. It operates at a level close to L’Eglise Clinet and even the great VCC, and yet at a price considerably below. Indeed Antonio Galloni rates it the same as Petrus in 2017!

The work done in the vineyard in 2017, particularly that which was done to alleviate the frost, was considerable – but hugely successful. A mere 5 rows of Cabernet Franc were damaged and those which survived, thrived. The resulting wine was one of the purest, most expressive and elegant Conseillantes we have encountered and one of the best we have tasted from barrel.

Finally we have the ‘new’ Cru Classe ‘A’ wines of Pavie and Angelus at GBP 3360.

There is no questioning that these are ambitious prices, as their owners seek out pricing equality with the Left Bank First Growths. However both have also undergone dramatic change since the heady days of 2009 and 2010 – wines which currently carry much the same price tag as this new release, it has to be said – and we feel that this ‘new track’ is destined to be hugely successful. Both wines are hugely impressive in 2017 and show a new sense of class, elegance, restraint, purity, minerality… effectively they are making use of their terroir in a way that we feel has not been done before. Watch this space.

Perhaps the top St Julien this year, Ducru Beaucaillou, has been released at GBP 1488.

Bruno Borie has hardly hit a duff note in the last 10 years with Ducru Beaucaillou; since 2008 it carries an average Wine Advocate score of 95+. Even the challenging 2011-2012-2013 vintages all got at least 92 points – a sure sign that this is a winegrower at the very top of his game. The 2017 is a wine that bucked the trend of the vintage with its sheer density, concentration and weight. It has retained the sense of vim and freshness that typifies the vintage, along with that fine-laced mineral expression that comes from the cool summer, but it has more flesh than many.

This is reflected in the observations from the leading critics, with terminology unseen in other reviews: “powerful and dense”says James Suckling; “Sporting an incredible core of muscular mid-palate fruit” quoth Lisa Perrotti-Brown; “reminds me of the 2014, with perhaps a touch more oomph” is Jeb Dunnuck’s view. Decanter’s long-term Bordeaux resident Jane Anson rates it as “A serious contender for the top St Julien in 2017” and we can only agree. A stunning 2017.

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