Soon after the end of the harvest, and thanks to the data collected from satellites and weather stations, Saturnalia  processes every year more than 4 billion pixels of the whole planted area of Bordeaux. After putting our proprietary algorithms to work we are then able to extract our Vintage Score,  which tells you in advance how the vintage went for the most renowned AOCs of the region.

If you want to know more about our Vintage Score, visit the dedicated section. But for now we’re eager to present you our view on Bordeaux 2021, coming directly from satellites. 


Bordeaux 2021: a rather challenging and heterogenous vintage

The collected data suggests that the vintage has been characterized by a warm spring during April and May. The sudden decrease of temperature and rain led to a higher risk of frosts during the delicate period of budburst. Summer has been indeed colder compared to previous years, and the overall amount of rainfall is second only to 2020 if we consider the interval from 2013 to today.

All in all, upon an initial analysis, the 2021 vintage seems challenging and heterogeneous, with sometimes-great differences across the AOCs.

The long time series, supplied by the weather station of Mérignac, allowed us to trace an interesting trend: the continuously decreasing rate of days without rain in September. If we focus on 2021, this rate is similar to 2017 and 2013. 

The analysis of the Growing Degree Days discloses a very peculiar vintage 

Let’s now take into consideration an essential parameter, the Growing Degree Days (GDD), namely the amount of heat during the season, which allows us to assess the growth and the development of the vines. We compared the Growing Degree Days (GDD) for 2020 and 2021 and noticed that the value for 2021 was lower across all the AOCs. 

Sum of GDD across the considered appellations for vintage 2021
Sum of GDD across the considered appellations for vintage 2021

If we take once again the GDD value into consideration, but across a longer period of time (2013-2021) and basing it on the classical Bordeaux dichotomy Right Bank / Left Bank, we can notice in the chart that 2021 is a very peculiar vintage: the Right Bank, which is normally warmer, in 2021 shows a lower GDD value compared to the Left Bank. 

GDD Comparison - left vs right bank across 2013-2021 vintages
Comparison of total GDD for Left and Right Bank across vintages

The GDD parameters that we have shown so far can be understood even better if we present them together with the seasons and the growth phases of vines. 

The following chart indicates that vintage 2021, during the key phases of growing season, shows a GDD sum which at first was in line with the previous vintages in spring, and then decreases throughout summer and harvest.

Comparison of GDD in key periods of the growing season

Saint-Estèphe: a mood for 2021? 

Let’s focus briefly on this most renowned AOC in the middle of Médoc. How was vintage 2021 for Saint-Estèphe? We have already mentioned precipitation in the previous general analysis. Let’s now take a look at another essential parameter for the phenological ripening of grapes: the temperature variation compared with vintages up to 2013.

Comparison of diurnal variation across vintages for Saint-Estèphe AOC
Comparison of diurnal variation across vintages for Saint-Estèphe AOC.

It’s very clear that, during summer, temperature variation was low, with a slight increase between the second half of August and October. 

We show here as a preview one of our proprietary indexes, the Saturnalia Evolution Index (SEI), on a sample surface area of the AOC. We remind you that our Saturnalia Evolution Index summarises the chlorophyll level and the water stress within vines. The SEI curve for 2021 shows clearly a very different pattern between June and mid-August, which is caused by the increase in precipitation – and therefore water supply within the vine – in comparison with the other considered vintages (2016-2021).

Saturnalia Evolution Index extracted from a sample in Saint-Estèphe AOC

Get an abstract of our Harvest Report for Bordeaux 2021 for free

The overall conclusions that we can draw from our first analysis suggest that this was a challenging vintage whose weather pattern has demanded and will continue to require much effort and work from wineries technicians and oenologists in order to get the most from 2021.

We still have much more exclusive data to show you that we derived from our own indexes and other objective sources. To access some insights on Bordeaux 2021 and read our whole analysis for Saint-Estèphe, just request the abstract of our Bordeaux 2021 harvest report in the form below. 

Retrieve your Bordeaux 2021 abstract


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Bordeaux 2021 at a “satellite glance”