Interestingly, some of our most impressive tastings were with petit châteaux whomwe might have expected to succumb to the conditions; but who, in fact, shone. Most estates are well equipped with tools to avoid frost-damaged and unevenly ripened bunches. Châteaux are using high-end technology when it comes to sorting the harvest: computer-controlled sorting tables and densimetric tanks allow the wine-makers to select only the healthiest and ripest berries. Compared to 30 years ago, much more fruit goes to the Second and Third wines. This boosts the overall quality of the Grand Vin, made exclusively from the creamof the crop. OUR VISIT Our tastings combined twenty or so individual Château visits – always useful to hear their unique experiences of the vintage to build up a picture of the vintage as a whole. We also converged on three or four centralised tastings, which lend themselves to direct comparisons between neighbouring châteaux – very helpful in judging their respective qualities indeed. The dynamic duo Oli and Charlie went back to Bordeaux for a second week for a further round of tastings. Suffice to say, we have a pretty good feel for the vintage! THE COMMUNES We were pleasantly surprised to find the Right Bank performed very strongly this year. Some of our favourite wines came from Pomerol and St. Émilion where the earlier-ripening Merlot was juicy and very fine. The

Cabernet Franc, harvested at the start of October, did incrediblywell and representedamuchhigher percentage in the blends than usual – which we loved. Pessac-Léognan and Graves was probably the best overall performing commune. The few extra degrees given by proximity to the city helped to avoid frost. It was helped again by a good quality Merlot crop which brings flesh and elegance to their wines. We will be recommending many of these estates. On the Left Bank we found more diversity in the wines. Here the Cabernet Sauvignon was picked from 1 – 14 October, one of the later harvests in the past 15 years, completing before the Autumn rains. This warm, dry window provided much neededfinal ripeness. The incredible 60days from veraison to harvest, rather than the usual 40, has brought complexity to this classical vintage. THEWINES Stylistically, there are some clearly defined characteristics we particularly enjoyed. Firstly, the alcohol levels are all hovering around 13% ABV and, like the brilliant 2020 Burgundies, there is a fresh definition in many of the wines, providing an uplifting energy and element of precision. I have loved tasting the 18/19/20 trioof richer, bigger and more sumptuous vintages, but a little nod to the past, more ‘classic’ style of vintage is pretty refreshing and shows us that global warming doesn’t necessarily mean big fruit bombs ad infinitum. Interestingly, at Château Margaux, Thomas told us that the IPT (Total Polyphenol Levels) which measure the quality of tannins in a wine were as high in 2021 as they were in the excellent 2010s. Whilst at some venues we DID taste some over extracted tannins (we won’t name and shame,




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