Over the last few vintages I’ve been really impressed by the Bordeaux Supérieux châteaux represented by the Grand Cercle. The 2020 vintage was not as harmonious as 2019, and there is greater variation in the wines tasted. Nevertheless, there was plenty of bright fruit and freshness on display but also generosity in the half dozen or so 2020 samples sent, and there is much to recommend in many of the wines tasted below. Château Sainte Barbe stood out once again for its quality, but I was also impressed with Château Sainte-Marie, Vielle Vignes, Château Penin, Les Cailloux and Château Prieuré-Marquet. Grand vin de Reignac and Bathus also looked good, if a little more evidently extracted, though I’d expect these to settle during élevage. The following notes were taken earlier in May from samples sent to the UK in late April.
Balthus, Bordeaux Supérieux, 2020
Deep and dark; bright at edge; healthy looking; oak influence on the nose; chocolate; fruit beneath; olives and some tapenade notes; spices; plenty here; bold entry on the palate; sweet fruit; little pushed at the edges but should come back into shape during élevage; plenty of matter here and a nice savoury aspect – just a bit chewy at present. Tasted May 2021. Drink 2023-2030. 87-88
Château Fleur Haut Gaussens, Bordeaux Supérieux, 2020
Deep and dark; purple edge; legs; red fruits; strawberry tones; nicely lifted and fruit forward; raspberry note; easy entry; stone fruits; little tartness here; was more lush in 2019, has depth; strawberry tones come through. Works. Like the aromatics here and this opens up quite well. The tartness moves away, revealing an attractive texture. Tasted May 2021. Drink 2024-2028. 85-87.
Château Penin, Les Cailloux, Bordeaux Supérieux, 2020
Deep; reddy purple at edge; deep; quite polished and professional; violet lift; pretty; black cherry and blackcurrant fruit; very good; mouthful on the palate; but there is softness to the tannins despite the evident extraction; this should settle well into a fruity and gutsy Bordeaux Supérieux. Stylish. Quite a mouthful at present but will settle well. Fruit good. This works well – nice and polished. Plenty of matter but extraction good and tannins supple. Tasted May 2021. Drink 2023-2030. 87-89+
Château Prieuré-Marquet, Bordeaux Supérieux, 2020
Deep and dark; brooding at first; quite tarry and reticent; deep evidently but a little closed to start with; lots of fruit on the entry; this has ambition and style; sweet ripe fruit; plenty of it; black cherry; stone fruits; bit of a mouthful; needs to settle but actually quite well done; good finish. Oak to resolve. Tasted May 2021. Drink 2024-3030. 87-89
Château Sainte Barbe, Bordeaux Supérieux, 2020
Deep and dark; saturated; purple at edge; full and velvety; promising; nicely layered black and briary fruits; polished; some liquorice and tar notes but really quite fine; very polished palate; nicely handled winemaking; this works well [was also impressive in 2019]. Really rather fine and accomplished. Bravo. Really good value Bordeaux with style, ambition but also restraint. Tasted May 2021. Drink 2022-2028. 88-90+
Château Sainte-Marie, Vielle Vignes, Bordeaux Supérieux, 2020
Deep and arterial; lively purple edge; legs; creamy and full on the nose; ripe Merlot but has nice depth; little chocolate and earth; joyful; plenty of fruit and oak; gutsy and delivers a lot of flesh and fruit; nice texture to the tannins; works; little oak on the sample to resolve; but expect this to blend away. Grip on the finish. Good. Nice length. Sappy finish. Tannins at end through extraction. Will settle. Tasted May 2021. Drink 2023-2028. 86-88+
Grand Vin de Reignac, Bordeaux Supérieux, 2020
Deep and dark; legs; stone fruit and juicy fruit notes; cherry; raspberry; opening up; shows sophistication; little schist; caressing palate; quite silky initially; little bite towards the end; has sap and chew; tiny bit puckering towards the finish; should settle. Currently a bit furry on the finish. Tasted May 2021. Drink 2023-2030. 86-87
Tags: 2020, Balthus, Bdx20, Bordeaux, Bordeaux Supérieux, Château Fleur Haut Gaussens, Château Penin, Château Prieuré-Marquet, Château Sainte Barbe, Château Sainte-Marie, Grand vin de Reignac, vin, wine