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En Primeur
Bordeaux 2020

Vintage Report Bordeaux 2020

The Roaring ‘20s

Numerologists probably decided 2020 was destined for greatness many years ago. Every vintage ending with a zero is marked by success in the same way that seven spells disaster. Whilst 2020 is indeed the culmination of an unmatched trilogy, it was certainly not straightforward for vignerons and winemakers.

If 2019 was the Covid campaign, 2020 is the Covid vintage, produced during various stages of lockdown. As the first wave struck Europe, Bordeaux experienced yet another humid spring, which brought with it the ever-present danger of mildew and oidium. Like 2016 and 2018, everyone from First Growth to Bordeaux Superieur had to be extremely vigilant and work tirelessly to combat this threat. Though few would have thought it at the time, the water reserves stored up during winter and spring were to be critical to the success of the vintage.

Latest News

01 July 2021 Bordeaux 2020: The Final Round Up

The 2020 Bordeaux en primeur campaign is drawing to a close. It represents the completion of an unparalleled trilogy from Bordeaux, and much like its immediate predecessor, this vintage is a wonderful paradox. Whilst meteorological conditions might point towards a big, blockbuster style, the reality is something much more ethereal and attractive. Wines seem to possess the wonderful aromatics one would expect from a ripe vintage, with the freshness and precision one might anticipate from cooler, wetter conditions. Whilst probably not quite as consistent overall as 2019, when châteaux got it right, their 2020s are simply spellbinding.

24 June 2021 Bordeaux 2020: Ducru Beaucaillou and Leoville Poyferre

It has certainly been a year for marking anniversaries. There have already been numerous commemorative bottles from 2020, and we have another two today bringing out the bling to mark special occasions! Bruno was not going to miss the opportunity to produce something special to observe the 300th vintage for Ducru Beaucaillou. “Chiselled” seemed to be the buzz word used by critics, and it cropped up in our notes too. This is a very serious, cerebral Ducru, which will appeal to classicists as much as those who admire the luxuriant, seductive style of recent years. It’s a real nod back to the past, if not quite as far back as 1720… We love the cool, dark Cabernet style; the wonderful, gentle perfume and graceful lines. What a fine way to mark the triple century.

24 June 2021 Bordeaux 2020: Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion

Aren’t they always? The Clarence Dillon range consistently flirts with perfection. These magical vineyards in the suburbs of Bordeaux produce outstanding wines year after year. And by all accounts, the 2020 range is particularly special. It’s no secret that Pessac Leognan is one of the star communes in 2020; these are certain to be the crème de la crème.

23 June 2021 Bordeaux 2020: Château Montrose

St Estèphe would appear to be a standout commune in 2020. The northern Medoc outpost has produced a clutch of sensational wines. Sadly we haven’t had a chance to taste Montrose – they are one of the properties that would rather not send samples - and yet, on paper, this looks like one of the most compelling offers of the campaign to date. The Montrose team has been at the very top of their game in recent years. Under the assured leadership of Hervé Berland this majestic St Estèphe second growth regularly vies for our left bank wine of the vintage. Outside of the first growths, only Pichon Lalande threatens the top spot more regularly.

22 June 2021 Bordeaux 2020: Château Palmer and Château Leoville Las Cases

Sadly, we were unable to assess Palmer 2020, their policy is to only taste at the chateau. If current form is anything to go by, this will be one of the most seductive and profound wines available from the 2020 vintage. Up and down the Medoc, we have heard how exhilarating the Merlots were. Palmer is unquestionably one of the best exponents of this variety, it’s almost a nod towards Pomerol in this enclave of Margaux. The critics who were able to taste in situ are all extremely enamoured, describing a wine of great class, power and potential. Fans of this great chateau can be assured that this is another luxuriant and unique expression of this exceptional terroir.

18 June 2021 Bordeaux 2020: Canon, L’Eglise Clinet, Belair Monange, La Fleur Petrus, Troplong Mondot and Valandraud

Many would say this was the right side of the river to be on in 2020. Merlots have clearly excelled on the limestone and clay terroirs of St Emilion and Pomerol. Today, we are pleased to offer some of the finest exponents of this variety: L’Eglise Clinet, Troplong Mondot, Valandraud, Canon, Belair Monange and La Fleur Petrus.

17 June 2021 Bordeaux 2020: Pontet Canet

“This is a singular, fascinating expression of the vintage and highly recommended!” – Lisa Perrotti-Brown

17 June 2021 The best Pape bar none

It’s fair to say that we haven’t always championed Bernard Magrez’s Pape Clement. In fact, we often approach it with a little trepidation. However, when our sample arrived in the UK (it was the first 2020 we tasted), we were blown away. We thought this must be the vintage of the century. Whilst still concentrated and grand scale, there was such freshness and precision, a real elegance and purity, framed by the most noble tannins. This has nothing to do with the old, rather ponderous wines of yesteryear – this is brimming with vitality, detail and charm. We were absolutely smitten. For us, it was quite easily the best wine we’ve ever tasted from Pape Clement and points to a welcome change in philosophy for the future. The critics were just as enamoured. Neal Martin describes it as “an outstanding wine”.

16 June 2021 Bordeaux 2020: Lynch Bages

We’ve waited a while, and just like London buses, another grand name from Pauillac comes along! Hot on the heels of Pichon Comtesse, the Cazes family has released their flagship wine, the first vintage to be produced in their state-of-the-art winery. The team has pulled out all the stops to ensure the debut vintage is one to remember. Produced from miniscule yields of 22hl/ha, this is concentrated and serious as one would expect, however, there is an intensity and freshness to the dark cassis core that is so engaging and impressive. All that power is wonderfully harnessed, giving the impression of weightlessness. The tannins are equally striking. Described by Neal Martin as “reminiscent of Latour toward the finish”, it is certainly a remarkable wine with a distinguished future ahead.

16 June 2021 Bordeaux 2020: Pichon Comtesse

We’re beginning to sound like a broken record when it comes to Nicolas Glumineau and Pichon Comtesse. Every year, this partnership seems to excel, and 2020 is no different. This stands head and shoulders above the other greats from the Medoc. It is without question a wine of First Growths stature, a dazzling example of finesse, complexity and sumptuous texture. Nicolas suggests his 2020 masterpiece has “a delicate, almost syrup-like, silky structure”. It is certainly one of the most texturally seductive and nuanced wines we’ve ever tasted.

15 June 2021 Bordeaux 2020: Brane Cantenac, Ausone and Les Carmes Haut Brion

“An absolutely fantastic Brane-Cantenac… A must-buy” – Neal Martin

11 June 2021 Bordeaux 2020: The Wines of Domaines Baron de Rothschild

This is another spellbinding range of Domaines Baron de Rothschild wines. Under the stewardship of Jean-Guillaume Prats and Eric Kohler the bar has been raised yet again. There’s such classical elegance to these wines. Whilst Lafite is undoubtedly profound and concentrated, it also displays a haunting, ethereal quality and a masterful tannic profile laced with complex nuance. As Neal Martin asserts, this is a wine of “unerring balance and harmony”, likely to “soar after 10 years in the cellar”. Please note, Lafite will be subject to our allocation process.

08 June 2021 Bordeaux 2020: Grand Puy Lacoste

“The 2020 is a total stunner. It simply dazzles from start to finish.” – Antonio Galloni

04 June 2021 Bordeaux 2020: Beychevelle, Malartic Lagravière and Clos du Marquis

With all the excitement of Lafleur and the other Guinaudeau wines on Wednesday, we were rather remiss and omitted to send out our offer on the wonderful Beychevelle 2020. We have been extremely enthusiastic about the wines in recent vintages and 2020 ranks amongst their best. Beychevelle always incorporates a substantial element of Merlot, so successful in 2020, and it is this varietal that provides a plushness and velveteen texture, which makes this so alluring. It’s a beautifully constructed wine, full of verve and detail, wrapped in a modern, quite plush veneer of tannins.

03 June 2021 Bordeaux 2020: Domaine de Chevalier

Pessac Léognan is one of the stand-out communes in 2020. Notable successes from Smith Haut Lafitte, Haut Bailly, Pape Clément and Domaine de Chevalier have caught the eye of critics and the J&B team. The intensity, precision and tension in these wines is extremely impressive. For those with deep enough pockets, we would suggest buying them all, but if we had to choose just one for our cellar, it would be Olivier Bernard’s fantastic Domaine de Chevalier. We felt this was on a par with the top ‘Super Seconds’, yet at £283/6 it is likely to be considerably more economical. There’s such a cool freshness to the silky fruit, all wrapped in gloriously refined tannins that resonate, coating the palate with lots of fine detail. So much vim and vigour is harnessed within its immensely stylish and composed frame. Chapeau to Olivier and his team on another magical rendition.

01 June 2021 Bordeaux 2020: The Guinaudeau wines: Lafleur, Les Pensées, Les Perrières, Les Champs Libres and Grand Villages

“All the delicacy and refinement of Lafleur in an also incredibly juicily seductive parcel. An utterly great red wine” – Michael Schuster

27 May 2021 Bordeaux 2020: Great value from some of the biggest names in Bordeaux….

We are delighted to release a selection of 2020s all made by Bordeaux royalty, priced for the most astute of collectors…

21 May 2021 Bordeaux 2020: Château Batailley and Château Branaire-Ducru

Last year 2019 Batailley was one of our biggest selling wines. It’s not difficult to see why this appeals to so many. This Castéja owned Pauillac offers tremendous value for money. Astute investment has elevated the quality of the wine without losing sight of its roots. It still bears the classical traits of a traditional Pauillac, but with greater selection and more precise winemaking, has come greater detail and more refined tannins. The 2020 displays this progress to perfection. Brimming with pure, intense hedgerow fruit, it feels compact, taut and quite serious, wrapped in gripping yet well-rounded tannins. At £169 per 6, this will undoubtedly be one of the best value buys of the vintage.

19 May 2021 Tertre Roteboeuf et al

The inimitable Monsieur Mitjavile has released his spellbinding range of 2020s. His three 2020s couldn’t be more different, although they are all bear the unique characteristics and qualities we associate with Francois’ wines. Domaine de Cambes is sheer exuberance: flowers, strawberries, hedonistic and joyful. Roc de Cambes is a brooding beast: dark fruited, mineral, muscle-bound yet silken. And Tertre is just simply glorious with Le Pin/Richebourgesque aromatics, then this infinity pool of velveteen fruit – it’s simply spectacular.

19 May 2021 Bordeaux 2020: Chateau Angelus and Chateau Pavie

Since Stéphanie de Bouard took control at Angelus, we’ve seen a subtle shift in winemaking, resulting in a string of excellent wines. It’s not that Hubert was doing anything wrong, after all, he’s one of the most celebrated winemakers in the world, it’s just his daughter has fine-tuned things, bringing a new level of precision and detail. Angelus possesses a natural power that needs to be controlled. The 2020 is a classic case of less is more; less dense and massive, but more vibrant, more elegant, more ethereal. The new style of Angelus is elevated and refined, fully deserving of its position amongst the Premier Grand Cru Classe ‘A’s of St Emillion. 2020 is amongst their finest wines to date marrying the natural luxuriant, intense fruit with a detail and finesse to the tannic structure – it is a staggeringly beautiful example.

18 May 2021 Bordeaux 2020: The Barton Trinity

Few wines command such reverence and loyalty amongst their followers. Generations of collectors have flocked to Leoville Barton for their go-to quintessential claret. In recent years, under the stewardship of Lilian and her son Damien, the wines have acquired a more refined and cerebral style. The vineyards in the heart of St Julien produce powerful, muscular wines, and with recent technical developments, Leoville Barton now offers complexity, concentration and grand-scale, luxuriant tannins. It’s the perfect expression of classicism combined with modern polished winemaking. Jancis Robinson was “bowled over” as were we. We loved the intensity and purity of fruit, coupled with the regal tannins – this is a proper vin de garde.

11 May 2021 Bordeaux 2020: Château Cheval Blanc

We were on a zoom call with Pierre-Olivier yesterday afternoon and there was no hint that Cheval Blanc would release this morning… We have been caught well and truly off guard. However, following on from the hugely successful 2019, the team at Cheval Blanc has once again released at a price customers will not want to miss. Alas, we have not been able to taste the wine ourselves, but based on current form and the broad grin on Pierre-Olivier’s face, I think it’s safe to assume that this will be one of the wines of the vintage.

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Bordeaux 2020 at Justerini & Brooks