Wine Words & Video Tape

Wine, Words and Videotape

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Bordeaux 2020: First Thoughts

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux


For a second year running trips to Bordeaux have been complex. Once again, the châteaux have been sending barrel samples. Of course, there are concerns about the air freighted wines being in top notch condition when they arrive. It’s a compromise. For me, better to taste and exercise your judgement, than not taste anything at all. So there are caveats to reviewing Bordeaux these days, but given this, what does 2020 look like? The heat and drought of the summer, combined with varying quantities of rain at the end of the growing season, have resulted in a generally impressive vintage. Overall it is a good partner to 2018 and 2019, and marks a trio of fine vintages. On the basis of the few hundred wines I’ve tasted it’s the least consistent of the three. In general, it doesn’t have the coquettishness of 2018, nor the excitement and magnificent texture of the 2019s. It does have plenty of substance, the fruit is generally supple, the tannins creamy, and alcohols that are a tad lower than the last couple of years. But 2020 seems a more heterogenous vintage than the two before it, so it is not as straightforward to understand as those seemed. There is a hollowness to some and a lack of aromatics in others. Prices are slowly being released. You’d certainly not want to be paying more than you did for your 2019s. Ideally, given the economic uncertainty, and the volume of fine Bordeaux available in bottle, savvy châteaux should be selling this at a decent discount to make sense of an en primeur purchase.

I’m still tasting 2020. Much of my focus so far has been on the right bank – St Emilion, Pomerol, Lalande de Pomerol, Fronsac, Bourg, Blaye, Francs and Castillon. There are lots of successes. Fronsac, Castillon and St Emilion have so far stood out, with those properties on clay soils in Pomerol also doing very well. The stand outs in St Emilion so far have been Château Angélus, Château Tertre Rôtebeouf, Château Pavie Macquin and Château Larcis Ducasse. Impressive wine has been made again at Château Bellefont-Belcier, Château Bellevue, Château Laroque, Château La Marzelle, Château de Pressac, Château Laroze and Château Rol Valentin. I will write in much more detail about all of the wines I have tasted from St Emilion as there are many more successes.

I’ve been particularly struck [again] by the quality of the wines from Fronsac. 2020 looks to be an excellent vintage there.  Château Fontenil, Château Dalem, Château de la Dauphine, Château La Vieille Cure and Château de la Rivière have excelled. Castillon too also looks strong with impressive wines from Clos Puy Arnaud, L’Aurage and Château Alcée.

I’ve more tastings to do in Pomerol, but Château Feytit Clinet made a very good impression and Enclos Tourmaline, Château La Patache, Château La Commanderie, Château Mazeyres and Château Taillefer look good. In Lalande de Pomerol, Château Lafleur de Boüard, Le Plus de La Fleur de Boüard, Château Grand Ormeau, La Sergue, Enclos de Viaud and Château Tournefeuille all stood out.

This blog post stands as something of a snapshot. I’ve still much more tasting to do, and this year I’ve been working my way more slowly through properties and have more samples to request. Of course, I’ll be back with more detailed notes soon on all these wines mentioned above by appellation, whilst I get to grips with additional tastings from the right bank as well as the left bank too, from in the Haut-Médoc and Pessac-Léognan.

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