RKS Wine: 2021 Was Not a Great Year for Bordeaux

A spring frost and mildew was not very kind to Bordeaux in 2021. Yields seem to be down as much as 30%. And the quality? Time will tell. Should you stock up now? There seems to be enough flow from previous harvests so stocking up would not seem necessary. Pick with care the 2021’s or bypass? Even in rotten years there are often shining examples that can emerge as adversity can sometimes be a boon for some producers creating a distinct wine.

We try a 2016 from Château Grand Colombier for a reasonable price of $17.95. On the nose it is playing the Bordeaux game of holding its fruit close to its chest. Aromas of black cherry, cassis, blueberry and a titch of coconut. On the palate there are moderate tannins and about as much fruit as a nun who took a wrong turn and ended up in a casino and is being asked to place bets at the at the roulette table. The wine seems a bit “thin” but will it open up with more age but with 5 years under its belt it remains tight. Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast gave this wine a 91 rating two years ago saying the “wine’s poise and balance between fresh acidity and structure promise further ageing”. I can’t see that has happened.

It is not a flawed wine but its tightness in my view is permanent. You can still enjoy if you like firm and disciplined wine. But it is best suited to food particularly beef. Now if you have any duck fat around and want to roast some potatoes and carrots in it this is your wine!

Drink now.

(Château Grand Colombier 2016 AC Montagne-Saint-Émillion, $17.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 21090, 750 mL, 13%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 87/100).

We move to a Château Cilorn 2018 which is 100% Merlot which to me means lushness and plushness sort of like Dean Martin singing at The Sands in Las Vegas. On the nose at least there is some decadent hints of richness that Merlot is so proficient at invoking. However, as its French it seems more restrained than most California Merlots. There is a seething mix of blackberry, cassis and black cherry controlled by that French reticence. On the palate it has moderate tannins. There is a certain smoothness but no creaminess. A good presence of blueberry, Nestle Quick chocolate powder and tiny just picked strawberries. Typical of Bordeaux treatment of Merlot. Think of it as a teenager in California at a Grateful Dead concert wanting to let loose but there is an obvious looking narc pacing about looking for a bust.

It may be that some ageing will let this prudish wine relax and strut itself. Only time will tell. Why not take a gamble and store away in a cool place and try it in 2024. Years ago Bordeaux reds were often “green” and built for ageing instead of immediate accessibility. Could this wine be carrying on that tradition?

(Château Cilorn 2018, AC Bordeaux Supérieur, Claymore, Lussac, France, $18.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 21092, 750 mL, 14%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 88/100).

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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