A brilliant set of wines have been made in Fronsac in 2020. It completes a run of three wonderfully impressive vintages here 2018-2020. I wonder if perhaps this year pips the rest in terms of balance and harmony. The wines show exceptional freshness and zap, alongside ripeness and there seems to be even greater vibrancy here this year than in 2019. Of the wines I’ve tasted, no one has put a foot wrong in my book, so if you still see any of these offered, you’d not be disappointed. At the very top we have Château Dalem, Château de la Dauphine and Château La Vielle Cure, who have all produced terrific wines but excellent Fronsac has also been made at Château Fontenil and Château de la Rivière. Do search these any of these out.
If there is genuine excitement to be had in Bordeaux 2020, that is, excitement above the wines made in 2018 and 2019 here, then it probably lies in the wines of the right bank, and starts with the Côtes de Bordeaux appellations, especially those on limestone and clay limestone soils, such as Francs and Castillon. I was super impressed by the quality of some of the wines from the latter appellation especially [and also in Fronsac too – more on that appellation shortly]. Château Alcée, L’Aurage, Château Le Rey and Clos Puy Arnaud are simply knockout in Castillon in 2020. Château Ampélia and Château La Brande are also very impressive and close behind in quality. Château Puygueraud in Francs is very good and in the Côtes de Bourg, Roc de Cambes is a wonder.
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.
There are a number of properties in Bordeaux which offer striking value for the quality. St Emilion Grand Cru Classé Château Laroque is most definitely one of them. It has heritage and fabulous limestone terroir high up in St Emilion. It is also a substantial property with over 61 hectares planted. It has been well looked after by the Beaumartin family since the 1930s. So far, so good. But it has been the arrival of winemaker David Suire that has been the catalyst for this property to hit the big time, qualitatively speaking. Fortunately, the prices have still yet to catch up. While Château Laroque is perhaps no longer an insider’s secret, thanks to sensible pricing here this certainly remains a property to follow. The 2020 is another significant wine. Qualitatively it is up there with the impressive wines fashioned in 2019 and 2018. Laroque is an exciting 2020 indeed.