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.
Posts Tagged ‘Côtes de Franc’
First stop last Saturday was to Château Pavie Macquin in St Emilion. The winegrowing judgement here of Nicolas Thienpont, Cyrille Thienpont and David Suire is second to none. There aren’t any state secrets. Here gentle extraction of wonderfully ripe fruit, the result of meticulous work in the vineyards from beautiful terroir, always yields some of Bordeaux’s most appealing wine. In 2018 Château Pavie Macquin, Château Larcis Ducasse and Château Beauséjour [HdL] are exceptional. Larcis has typically satin-y, caressing fruit, and fabulous length. Pavie-Macquin has great depth with remarkable power under the hood while Château Beauséjour displays some of the most exceptionally pure, beautiful fruit I’ve come across. All are stunning. The real steals I imagine, will be the Thienpont’s own wines from the Côtes de Francs – Château Puygueraud and Château La Prade are lovely.
For all the talk of a Left Bank vintage, the Right Bank, specifically the Côtes de Bordeaux comprising Blaye, Bourg, Cadillac, Francs and Castillon has produced a number of impressive wines in 2014. Francs and Castillon stood out for me at the Grand Cercle tasting late last month but there are successes elsewhere. There is plenty of flesh and sophistication in the best Côtes de Bordeaux and they should prove good value. In Castillon Château Alcée and Château d’Aiguilhe [especially] and Château Veyry are very good. In Francs Château de Franc, ‘Les Cerisiers’, Château La Prade and Château Puygueraud stand out. In the Côtes de Bourg Château Fougas Maldoror has produced a very good wine.
Bordeaux’s primeurs week ended for me, as it began, in St Emilion. While perhaps 2014 will be seen as a vintage for the Cabernets and therefore the Left Bank, there is in fact a lot to like about the texture and freshness of the best wines from Pomerol and St Emilion. Cyrille Thienpont who works with his father at many Right Bank properties [including Berliquet, Larcis-Ducasse and Pavie-Macquin], said it was as much the terroir that mattered [well drained, clay-limestone] as the variety [Merlot/Cabernet] in St Emilion. These thoughts were echoed in Pomerol by his cousin Alexandre Thienpont at Vieux Château Certan [the 2014 VCC is an intellectual beauty by the way]. What pleased him was the marriage of the Merlot and the Cabernet on his property. The vintage, he believes, allowed the elements to combine well, and that the strength of the wine [and perhaps the vintage?] was in the combination rather than in any of the particular elements here on the Right Bank.