Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

2021 a challenging year for Bordeaux winegrowers

Published:  28 April, 2022

The 2021 vintage once again put Bordeaux winegrowers to the test. But their technical choices, changes in practice, improvements and perseverance were rewarded with beneficial late-season weather conditions.

After the particularly early vintages preceding it, the 2021 harvest started at the end of August, nearly 15 days later than last year, with the grape varieties intended for crémants and rosés.

Budburst came early, due to very sunny weather in March, only for severe frosts to compromise the entire Bordeaux wine region in early April. Hence, the 2021 harvest totalled 3.77 million hectolitres, 14% lower than in 2020 (and 20% below the ten-year average). As a result, the volumes varied widely from one property to another.

However, grapes for the dry white wines were picked over the first 15 days of September in an ideal dry climate, combining sunshine and warm days without excessive heat and cool nights. Favoured by the cool summer, the quality of the 2021 white vintage promises to be exceptional, with very good aromatic potential and good acidity.

The red wine harvest started much later than in recent years, from the end of September, and still under very favourable conditions. Picking of Merlot, the earliest grape variety, started in the third week of September and continued into early October. With an exceptionally fine October, the sunniest since 1991, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc could reach full ripeness under perfect conditions. The main Bordeaux red varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon) are geneally said to be fruit-forward, highly coloured, fresh and aromatic, with good depth.

For the sweet whites, the situation was always going to be complex, but here again, the late season has proved beneficial. All the climatic conditions were in place to promote the growth of Botrytis. At the time of picking, the grapes were perfectly ripe, with a very good level of acidity and good concentration. However, the spring frosts strongly impacted the areas producing sweet whites, resulting in a 57% drop in volume in 2021 compared with 2020.

2021 production by numbers

  • 3.77 million hectolitres, the equivalent of 503 million bottles
  • -14% vs 2020 harvest
  • -20% vs 10-year average for Bordeaux