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Bordeaux 2020: Château Pavie Macquin and Château Larcis Ducasse

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

The Nicolas Thienpont range looks excellent in 2020. The jewels in the line up here are Château Pavie Macquin and Château Larcis Ducasse, two super impressive St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé. Stylistically these are always chalk and cheese. The former is usually super powerful and bold, the latter is as pure and beautiful as St Emilion gets. The emphasis of Nicolas Thienpont and his son Cyrille, along with winemaking colleague David Suire, is always on the purity of expression of the terroir and not on turbocharged hijinks in the cellar. It is a shame that this team are no longer involved with making Château Beauséjour [HDL], but that’s another story. In the Côtes de Francs, the well-known Château Puygueraud looks very good and their Castillon, Château Alcée, is knockout [as are a number of wines in this appellation in 2020].

As elsewhere in St Emilion, the early part of the 2020 season at Château Larcis Ducasse and Château Pavie Macquin was wet and there was some mildew pressure in the very early part of the growing season. Dry and sunny conditions kicked in towards the end of June and continued into early August. This period was extremely dry indeed. There was 25mm of rainfall at the end of August, which proved useful to aid phenolic ripening, just sufficient for the clay and limestone terroirs of these two contrasting properties, although estates on sandier soils would have found these dry vintage conditions trickier. This is one of the reasons for the rather more heterogenous nature of 2020 over 2019 and 2018. September was generally cooler and there was some rain around harvest time. The results are splendid at both properties.

Château Pavie Macquin has great depth of fruit and length, as well as wonderful power and purity. Château Larcis Ducasse shows the most beautifully ripe fruit, but which still retains freshness and bounce. It is terrific. There is a creamy quality to the fruit in both wines, yet a freshness too – one of the fascinating characteristics of the best wines in 2020. Across the last three vintages both Larcis Ducasse and Pavie Macquin have been super impressive. Prices are up here at both in 2020, but not excessively so – unlike other properties in 2020. Worth checking out the price analysis that Liv-Ex has done here.

Still for those of you who can’t quite afford cases around the £350-400 mark [per six], you really should search out the Thienpont’s own properties. Château Puygueraud in the Côtes de Francs is very impressive. It has lots of lovely briary and brambly fruit and textured tannins in 2020. Over the Castillon, Château Alcée is knockout. It is the most impressive wine from this property that I have yet tasted. This is lush Castillon, hedonistic almost, with oceans of brilliantly pure fruit on the palate and a wonderful twist of freshness on the end. Do search it out.

The white at Château Charmes Godard, also in the Côtes de Francs, looks appetizing in 2020, although for me the excitement lies with reds in 2020.

The following wines were tasted in late April from full bottle samples sent to London. I hope you find the notes useful.

Château Puygueraud, Francs Côtes de Bordeaux

Dark at centre; vibrant purple at edge; healthy looking; briary and brambly fruit; black cherry; sweet and ripe; very polished and attractive; nice and positive entry; lovely fruit; plenty of black fruit, some chocolate; very sensuous and nicely handled; like this a lot; balance; textured tannins; positive finish. Has vigour and freshness too. Good stuff. Will offer good value and great intro to the talents of Nicolas and Cyrille Thienpont. [88% Merlot, 12% Cab Franc, 14.5% alc]. Drink 2023-2032 90-91+

Château Charmes Godard, Francs Côtes de Bordeaux

Washed silver/green; apples; candy; saline note; fresh; appetizing; zesty; apples; fresh acidity; nicely appetizing again; goes through to a tangy, saline finish. Nice white in a tricky vintage for whites, this retains freshness. Drink 2021-2025. 89-91+

Château Alcée, Castillon, Cotes de Bordeaux

Deep and dark; colour tight to rim; dense and saturated looking; lush and ripe; polished; lovely plummy, ripe fruit; like this; layered and attractive; quite lush and almost hedonistic; good entry has lots of style; inky but has a mineral edge; schist; very Castillon; lots of extract but this has texture and a nice twist of freshness on the finish; Nicely punctuated. Very fine Castillon indeed. Up there with the very best. [92% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2024-2035. 91-93

Château Larcis Ducasse, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, Group ‘B’

Deep and dark; earthy purple at edge; deep and sensuous; lovely purity; wonderful plum tones here as ever; violet notes; looks like another cracking vintage for Larcis; elements of tar and menthol also emerge; lovely entry; enveloping sweet fruit; briary, brambly and plummy qualities; plenty of extract and matter on the back; lots here; deceptively powerful; with ripe and textured tannin; long finish. This is wonderfully plush and opened up further showing more fruitcake spices; caressing finish. Super strong Larcis this – up there with 2018 and 2019. [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 14.5% alc]. Drink 2025-2045. 96-98+

Château Pavie Macquin, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, Group ‘B’

Very deep; opaque at centre; colour very tight to rim; vibrant meniscus; concentrated black fruits but has a glossy aspect to it this year; wonderfully deep; strong and layered; black cherry, blackcurrant and plum tones; lovely depth; beautifully ripe fruit; has plenty of depth; texture and chew; inky and powerful; this needs time. A little chewy at present on the very end but this will settle. Opened up later – revealing considerable depth and oodles of fruit. Great stuff! [80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 14.5% alc]. Drink 2028-2050. 96-97+

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