There is no doubt that the de Boüards really know what they are doing across their portfolio of family owned properties on Bordeaux’s Right Bank. Château Angélus, managed by Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal backed up with the winemaking savoir-faire of father Hubert de Boüard de Laforest, has never made better wine. This last decade has been an extraordinary one for the property. Fabulous wines have been made here in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019. Their 2020 looks to set be impressive too. It has freshness, power and remarkable balance. Stephanie compares it to a blend of the 2018 and 2019 vintages. Elsewhere in St Emilion, the de Boüard’s Grand Cru Classé, Château Bellevue, which makes super plush wine every vintage it seems, has succeeded yet again. Château Daugay also impresses this year. The de Boüards are also making remarkable wines in Lalande de Pomerol at Château La Fleur de Boüard, including the exceptional Le Plus Fleur de Boüard. I’ve been writing about this property for almost a decade and 2020 looks like another promising vintage here. Over in Montagne St Emilion, Coralie de Boüard continues to make exciting wine at Château Clos de Boüard. Again, this looks like a wine to consider in 2020. It was impressive in 2019 too.
There are a number of properties in the Vignobles K portfolio, the group established by businessman Peter Kwok. Amongst the châteaux in St Emilion are Château Bellefont-Belcier, which occupies a super position just down the road from Château Pavie and Château Larcis-Ducasse, along with Château Tour St Christophe and Château Haut-Brisson. In Pomerol there are two properties, the tiny one hectare Enclos Tourmaline and the three hectare La Patache, and in neighbouring Lalande de Pomerol, there is Enclos de Viaud. In Castillon, the impressive Château Le Rey produces two styles from different parcels of vines, the unoaked Les Argileuses from the vines on clay and Les Rocheuses from the limestone soils. This is the first time I have tasted this Castillon and I was knocked out by the quality. In fact, across the board, this line up is impressive in 2020. It is undoubtedly led by Château Bellefont-Belcier which is the jewel in the crown, but all the wines displayed plenty of purity and fresh fruit qualities. There is an evident gentleness to the winemaking, and a plushness to the wines in the stable, notwithstanding differences in terroir and approach.
François Mitjavile has been making some of the most remarkable St Emilion across the past three decades from his tiny 5.7 hectare vineyard at Château Tertre Rôteboeuf. He has also blazed a trail in the Côtes de Bourg with Roc de Cambes. The 2020 vintage was the earliest that François had encountered at Tertre Rôteboeuf, starting 21st September, and then approximately ten days later at Roc de Cambes. The wines have a wonderful texture and freshness and are both super impressive. I’m also including here notes on L’Aurage, the Castillon property run by Louis and Caroline Mitjavile. This is a huge success in this vintage too, alongside many wines I’ve tasted from Castillon in 2020. L’Aurage is a wonderfully layered and seductive wine.
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.