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BORDEAUX 2020:  IT’S A WRAP

July 1, 2021

BORDEAUX 2020: IT’S A WRAP

Well, that was Bordeaux 2020. How was it for you?

As we said in our initial report (see here), the 2020s are joyous, expressive wines. There is a particular sweetness and intensity of fruit, which shines especially brightly in the right bank Merlot.

Overall, this is Bordeaux’s third seriously good vintage in a row. We have, as usual, set out our favourites below – and there are some gems here.

As for the campaign, our expectations were sky-high after last year’s upbeat 2019 en primeur season, brimming with good buys. A combination of a more lacklustre pace and some ambitious pricing meant, after a promising start, the 2020 releases ultimately had more in common with the 2018s.

However, that does not detract from the fact that there are some excellent value wines at under £400 per dozen. Below are some that we consider to be especially good value, including from some producers with whom we work directly.

Look for recommendations by commune:

Pomerol & Satellites
St-Émilion & Satellites
St-Estèphe
St-Julien
Pauillac
Margaux
Pessac-Léognan
Médoc

Or check out our last chance to buy.

THE DRINKERS
our sub-£400 a dozen picks

 

Pomerol & Satellites

Château de Bel-Air, Château Rouget and Château Plince.

CHÂTEAU DE BEL-AIR 2020
£97.50 per case of 6 bottles in bond
£205 per case of 6 magnums in bond

Unusually there is a small but significant (8%) proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon in this otherwise classic Merlot-dominant property with a rather lovely gravel on clay, iron rich subsoiled vineyard. Firm ruby colour. The nose has a sweet briary, leafy perfume, very pure. The palate is silken fresh, nicely balanced with seductive plump fruit, gentle structure and really nice length. Joyful wine.

Recommended drinking: 2022 – 2026
C&B Score: 17.5+

CHÂTEAU PLINCE 2020
£147.50 per case of 6 bottles in bond
£295 per case of 12 bottles in bond
£305 per case of 6 magnums in bond

A fatter proportion of Merlot (84%), finesses even its normally flamboyant character in 2020. Opaque ruby colour, with a creamy, black fruit perfume and a touch of clay and graphite. The palate is structured but well cloaked in full, spicy generous flavours, dense and sweet. A crowd pleaser and all the better for it.

Recommended drinking: 2023 – 2027
C&B Score: 17+

CHÂTEAU ROUGET 2020
£387 per case of 12 bottles in bond
£397 per case of 6 magnums in bond

80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. Aromas of dried herbs, fleshy raspberry, violets and peonies, highly detailed and appealing. The palate opens with a dash of savoury spice, which offsets the dense, ripe blackberry and blueberry fruit behind. Firm tannins demand patience. A confident, harmonious Rouget.

Recommended drinking: 2025 – 2040
C&B Score: 18

 

St-Émilion & Satellites

Château Barrail du Blanc and L’Aurage.

CHÂTEAU BARRAIL DU BLANC 2020
£189 per case of 12 bottles in bond
£199 per case of 6 bottles in bond
£105 per case of 1 double magnum in bond

I’m trying to come to grips with why the tiny “Barry White” is so good in 2020… Perhaps it’s the small amount of clay in the predominantly gravelly, sandy soil that allowed a degree of moisture retention in the dry, dry hot heart of this growing season. This wine is a joy, from its surprising opaque ruby colour to a delectably dark, juicy, almost inky profound nose. The dark fruit is translated on the palate into a rich, fresh burst of flavours, sweetly structured, nicely balanced and with really good length. One of the best Barrail du Blancs.

Recommended drinking: 2023 – 2027
C&B Score: 17+

L’AURAGE 2020
£285 per case of 12 bottles in bond
£305 per case of 6 magnums in bond
£115 per case of 1 double magnum in bond

95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, mirroring the vineyard plantings. Profound ruby colour. A intricately red-berried nose of wild strawberry and tomato leaf, backed up by prune, damson and cedar. Detailed and beguiling, with impressive poise. The palate is cool-fruited and focused on the attack, the ripe raspberry fruit refreshed by juicy acidity on the mid-palate, which then fleshes out, opening onto a darker, blueberry and blackberry-fruited core. A true Mitjavile degraded fruit profile, with supple, rounded tannins and excellent tension throughout.

Recommended drinking: 2023 – 2032
C&B Score: 17.5- 18

 

St-Estèphe

Château Capbern and Château Ormes de Pez.

CHÂTEAU CAPBERN 2020
£197 per case of 12 bottles in bond
£207 per case of 6 magnums in bond

69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Beguiling aromas of dark berries, undergrowth and black pepper, rich and cosseting. With time in the glass, a lusher, red fruited side emerges. The palate is powerful and grippy, no holds barred here. Blackberry and cassis, with an inky-dark core of St Estephe muscularity. Needs patience but impressive.

Recommended drinking: 2026 – 2036
C&B Score: 17.5+

CHÂTEAU LES ORMES DE PEZ 2020
£225 per case of 12 bottles in bond
£235 per case of 6 magnums in bond

38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 54% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot. Darkly perfumed, cedary aromas lead into a svelte fore-palate of raspberry which finds its texture on the mid-palate, fine grippy tannins then exerting themselves and proving that we are, after all, in St Estephe here. Good wine.

Recommended drinking: 2024 – 2034
C&B Score: 17

 

St-Julien

Château Gloria

CHÂTEAU GLORIA 2020
£317 per case of 12 bottles in bond
£327 per case of 6 magnums in bond

50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 11% Petit Verdot. Bright raspberry and menthol aromas. The palate is dense and firmly red-fruited, lifted by very fresh acidity. Firm grippy tannins. A traditional St Julien which should come together well.

Recommended drinking: 2024 – 2034
C&B Score: 17

 

Pauillac

Château Grand-Puy Ducasse

CHÂTEAU GRAND-PUY DUCASSE 2020
£150 per case of 6 bottles in bond
£156 per case of 3 magnums in bond
45% Merlot, 55% Cabernet Sauvignon. Generous oak spice aromas, with darkly berried fruit. The palate is blackberry fruited with fresh acidity. With time in bottle, this should resolve well and make for an earlier drinking, traditional Pauillac.

Recommended drinking: 2025 – 2035
C&B Score: 17+

 

Margaux

Château Kirwan

CHÂTEAU KIRWAN 2020
£360 per case of 12 bottles in bond
£370 per case of 6 magnums in bond

51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petit Verdot. Lovely nose of pretty raspberry and rose petal perfume, with some blueberry and liquorice. The palate is juicy and finds an impressive weight on the mid-palate, whilst retaining its red-fruited suppleness. Very good, a pick.

Recommended drinking: 2026 – 2046
C&B Score: 18

 

Pessac-Léognan

Château Picque Caillou

CHÂTEAU PICQUE CAILLOU BLANC 2020
£85 per case of  6 bottles in bond

90% Sauvignon and 10% Semillon. White peach and grapefruit aromas, with a grassy herbaceousness. The palate is juicy and cool-fruited on the attack, opening on the mid-palate to reveal nectarine, pear and flashes of pineapple. A good early drinker.

Recommended drinking: 2022 – 2024
C&B Score: 16.5

CHÂTEAU PICQUE CAILLOU 2020
£175 per case of 12 bottles in bond
£185 per case of 6 magnums in bond

60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot. Deeply, darkly berried aromas of bitter cherry, liquorice and cranberry. The palate is cool and focused on the entry, with an impressive depth and richness of blackberry and redcurrant fruit. Fine tannins and ferrous minerality make for a taut finish.

Recommended drinking: 2024 – 2031
C&B Score: 17.5+

 

Médoc


CHÂTEAU DE LAMARQUE 2020
£149 per case of 12 bottles in bond
£159 per case of 6 magnums in bond
£159 per case of 24 half bottles in bond
£85 per case of 1 double magnum in bond

45% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot. A brightly fruited, tightly knit nose of bitter cherry and cassis. Blackberry and forest fruits on the firm palate, framed by assertive, grippy tannins. An attractive and resolutely traditional left bank claret, at the darker fruited end of the spectrum.

Recommended drinking: 2025 – 2035+
C&B Score: 17+

 

CHÂTEAU CHASSE-SPLEEN 2020
£175 per case of 12 bottles in bond
£185 per case of 6 magnums in bond

49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42%Merlot, 6.5% Petit Verdot, 2.5% Cabernet Franc. A gripping nose of intense dark berries, with just-so cedary oak spice and some undergrowth to keep things real. The palate is savoury and focused, a notch above medium bodied, with firm characterful tannins. Excellent, over-performer.

Recommended drinking: 2025 – 2040
C&B Score: 17.5+

CHÂTEAU LA LAGUNE 2020
£324 per case of 12 bottles in bond
£334 per case of 6 magnums in bond

65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot. Owned by Caroline Frey. Dark berried and silky-fine, woven with insinuating raspberry fruited aromas. Ferrous minerality and chalky tannins. Medium bodied and approachable, yet with good ageing potential.

Recommended drinking: 2025 – 2038
C&B Score: 17-17.5

CHÂTEAU CANTEMERLE 2020
£220 per case of 12 bottles in bond
£230 per case of 6 magnums in bond

58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot. Raspberry fruited aromas, with a nice perfumed lift. The palate is supple and juicy, with rather polite, polished tannins. Should be a great early drinker.

Recommended drinking: 2024 – 2034
C&B Score: 17

Last chance to buy…

Going, going, gone. The busy final leg of the campaign means that you may have missed some big names. We have 1 or 2 cases left of these wines, so snap them up now before they’re gone…

La Réserve de la Comtesse £402 per 12 bts
Château Troplong Mondot £438 per 3 mags
Château Clos L’Eglise £325 per 6 bts
Château Rauzan-Gassies £230 per 3 mags
Domaine de Chevalier Rouge £289 per 3 mags
Château Phélan Ségur £368 per 12 bts & £190 per 3 mags
Château Lynch-Bages £530 per 6 bts & £536 per 3 mags
Château La Conseillante £935 per 6 bts
Château Gazin £343 per 3 mags
Château Branaire-Ducru £193 per 3 mags
Château L’Église-Clinet £705 per 6 bts
Château Pichon Baron £664 per 6 bts
Château Lagrange St-Julien £425 per 12 bts
Château Canon la Gaffelière £327 per 6 bts
Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux £414 per 3 bts
Château Léoville Las Cases £1194 per 3 mags
Château Léoville Barton £365 per 6 bts
Château Palmer £1446 per 3 mags
Château Duhart-Milon £342 per 6 bts
Alter Ego de Palmer £303 per 6 bts
Château Talbot £479 per 12 bts
Château Langoa Barton £179 per 6 bts
Château Pontet-Canet £451 per 3 mags
Château Pape Clément Blanc £535 per 6 bts
Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc £576 per 6 bts

All wines offered subject to confirmation by invoice. E&OE.
Please note these prices are in relation to the Bordeaux 2020 vintage En Primeur campaign in June 2021. 

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