2019 Bordeaux: A Long, Strange Trip

“’You must really like your wine,’ the FedEx delivery person said as he dropped off yet another stack of boxes shipped from Bordeaux. The global lockdown that began in March ended any hopes of en primeur tastings in the spring. After weeks of indecision, the Bordelais finally moved ahead with a summer en primeur campaign, setting in motion a flurry of shipments across the ocean and a series of equally fast releases. Do the 2019s live up to the early hype? Is 2019 Truly A Great Vintage? It’s the million-dollar question, I know. There is no doubt 2019 is an outstanding vintage, clearly an important vintage. What stands out most about the finest 2019s is their exceptional balance. Ripeness is high, but not exaggeratedly so. Tannins are also elevated, but there is virtually no sensation of tannin in so many wines, an example of where analysis based on perception can vary significantly from what is written on a lab report. The 2019s are also, in many cases, remarkably fresh, which is hard to believe given the intense heat and drought of the summer. I tasted phenomenal wines in every appellation, although there are some places that appear to have done exceptionally well, such as the north of Pauillac and into Saint-Estèphe on the Left Bank. In tasting, the 2019s combine the textural creaminess of the 2009s with the vibrancy of the 2010s and the slightly linear construction of the 2014s. With a few exceptions, these are not huge, bombastic wines. Although the 2019s share some attributes with 2009 and 2010, they are much more finessed wines built on persistence and length more than opulence. This is partly the vintage speaking, but also a question of style. Just ten years ago, we were still living in the era of hyper-extracted wines. Today’s mindset is totally different. That is obvious now and it will become even clearer as time passes. In my view, a truly great vintage has to have something more than just high quality and consistency across the board. And that is the visceral thrill factor. Of course, that is hard to quantify, but it exists. One of the questions I get often from readers is: What is the difference between a 98, 99 or 100-point wine? Well, for starters, I think there are differences between those ratings. All wines are not 99-100. The value of a scoring system should be precisely to define those gradations. Of course, one of the challenges in evaluating 2019 as a vintage is that a number of top châteaux did not submit samples. Perhaps those wines will cause me to change my opinion. They will certainly make an accurate comparison with other recent vintages both possible and meaningful. But for me, today, 2019 is a superb vintage that falls just short of being truly epic. I think of some of the truly monumental young Bordeaux I have tasted in recent years, wines like the 2015 Canon, 2016 Pichon-Comtesse, 2016 Vieux Château Certan and others. And I ask: Are there any wines in 2019 that made me feel the same way? The answer at this moment is No. I have to qualify that because there is no real way to know if and how transportation altered wines, even just a bit. That is simply the way it is at this stage.” --Antonio Galloni, 2019 Bordeaux: A Long, Strange Trip, June 2020 To read Antonio’s full report and read about the 2019 growing season check out the full article on Vinous now. Below is a selection of notes from the report.

Château Haut-Brion

Pessac-Léognan Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend 2019

Delectable Wine
9.7

The 2019 Haut-Brion Blanc is a regal white of uncommon complexity and nuance. Textured and resonant in feel, the 2019 saturates the palate with a host of citrus and mineral-drenched flavors. White pepper, chalk, mint and lifted floral overtones all develop in the glass, but it is the wine's textural resonance that stands out most. A thrilling white, the 2019 simply has it all. In a word: magnificent. (Antonio Galloni, Vinous, June 2020)
— 15 days ago

Château La Mission Haut-Brion

Pessac-Léognan White Bordeaux Blend 2019

Delectable Wine
9.6

The 2019 La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, 70% Sémillon and 30% Sauvignon Blanc is a total stunner. Freshly cut flowers, mint, apple, citrus and sage are all finely cut in a chiseled, crystalline white of magnificent beauty. The Blanc is so deep and fully flavored, yet remains taut and light on its feet. It is a truly remarkable wine by any measure. (Antonio Galloni, Vinous, June 2020)
— 15 days ago

Château Haut-Brion

La Clarté de Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend 2019

Delectable Wine
9.2

The 2019 La Clarté de Haut-Brion is exquisite. It is a wine of unreal harmony that balances the richness of the year with the energy that comes from picking the Sémillon earlier than in the past. Orchard fruit, mint, white flowers, green apple and lemon peel give La Clarté its briskness and breezy tension. The Sauvignon Blanc is quite expressive today. The 2019 was bottled on April 28, 2020. It clearly needs time to come together. (Antonio Galloni, Vinous, June 2020)
— 15 days ago

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