There is a ballooning through the mid palate, an expansion of blackberry and cassis, plenty of juice and tension, all carefully handled yet with a subtle generosity to the fruits. A ton of tannins here, no question about it, but they are fine, beautifully muscled, with a saline-edged kick. A bright, dense wine, distinct in its delivery of flavours with coffee bean smoking that deepens as it opens. A top Latour, with energy and persistency, both delicate and powerful. Hard to fault honestly. 83IPT. 32.5% of overall production, 3.8% press. Could go to 100 points after ageing.
This is powerful and blows away much of the competition with its depth and layers. This needs you to pull up a chair, take a beat, and let the flavours unroll. There is so much density to the blueberry, bilberry and smoked raspberry fruits that they start out knitted down, then as the oxygen opens them up the body of the wine widens and becomes fleshier and creamier, adding chocolate and mocha notes. The limestone scrape is there in spades through the finish, and this is a cleverly constructed wine. As ever Ausone is just a masterclass in how to take apart and then put back together a terroir. Great stuff. First year of official conversion to organic farming. 100% new oak, some in 30hl oak casks. Could go up after tasting in bottle, a potential 100 points.
This is pretty much as close to entirely Cabernet Sauvignon as Bordeaux gets (92%) and yet it has an incredibly fine, gentle richness to the tannins. They build up pretty quickly though, so that by the end of the palate you start to feel the closing in and tightening, deftly underscoring how well this will age. The kaleidoscope of flavours and aromatics that Lafite does so well is fully on display, nothing trying too hard, a velvet texture to the tannins where the cassis fruit, earth, crushed stone and graphite is held in from beginning to end. Impressive that even in dry vintages like 2020 with the real concerns over global warming, the top Bordeaux estates can still produce wines of this quality.
Spice, anis, rosemary, blackcurrant leaf, redcurrants, mint and peonies – the full array of aromatics are on display here, and there is an enveloping aspect to the fruit once you get to the body of the wine. The tannins are compact and powerful but they are wrapped in plump raspberry and blackberry brambled fruits. The wine feels full of life, with acidity that pulls the palate forward from the first moment, before austerity kicks in on the finish and closes things in, suggesting an extremely long life ahead. Hard to argue with this. 71% of overall production. The driest year at Cheval Blanc for 50 years (since 1959). Could go up after tasting in bottle, a potential 100 points. 98-100.
Supple damson fruits, I love the aromatics on this and the striking fruits. Silky in texture, balanced and elegant, there are big tannins that slowly but surely creep up on you through the palate. This is a sleek, poised, and confidently-constructed Angélus, with depth to the olive, chocolate, cassis body and a crushed mint leaf kiss on the finish. As often with this vintage it is not an exuberant hug, it is more about discreet power and gorgeous stealing-up of flavours and textures giving depth and subtle power. 3.62pH, aged in large sized oak cass and oak barrels. A yield of 37hl/ha.
The Cabernets dominate the blend on the aromatics, and you can really see they are moving the needle on the architecture and sculpting of this wine. A ton of concentration on the nose and upfront, but it is well balanced by damson and blackberry, and has a sense of energy, uplift and clear minerality. This shows the limestone terroir in a way that, with the best will in the world, the more concentrated style of Pavie just didn’t do. There is density and glamour, with layers of black chocolate, graphite and liquorice. It is pretty disarming overall, and will age extremely well. 3.61pH. A yield of 31hl/ha, average age of vine 49 years. 75% new oak.
Noémie Durantou has taken over from her late father Denis with this vintage, and has produced a L’Eglise Clinet that is dark ruby in colour, and needs time in the glass as it is built and muscular. You need a little patience for the cassis, bilberry and raspberry fruits to arrange, enjoy instead the silky, velvety texture that stops the tannins being too restrictive and allows the palate to slowly expand. Not as expressive as in some vintages, but still exudes quiet confidence. A yield of 42hl/ha. Harvest from September 8.
The sculpting of L’Evangile that began over the past few vintages continues, and the 2020 is a gorgeous wine. Pristine fruit, silky with a whoosh of menthol. It elevates over the palate, both dense and light, with blueberry and raspberry fruits, and pulses of bitter almond and honeysuckle on the finish that gives focus and spice. Juliette Couderc joined L’Evangile (from DBR Lafite’s Long Dai winery) in September 2020 so for the harvest of this wine, working alongside technical director Olivier Tregoat. 50% first wine, with no Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend this year because it was so over-concentrated that it made too much impact. Increased selective harvesting meant going through vineyard plots six times to bring in the grapes as they ripened. A yield of 32hl/ha. In the final year of organic conversion, so this next vintage 2021 will be certified.
More Merlot than in 2019, but as you find repeatedly in 2020, the Cabernet Sauvigon plays an oversized role in the flavour profile. This has a ton of impact and intensity, coffee and black chocolate with angular tannins that will benefit from softening over ageing. Plenty of Pauillac signature here, with liqourice root and tobacco leaf. A slate texture gives definition to the end of play. 3% Petit Verdot completes the blend.
The tannins clamp in on the opening beats of the wine and then spend the rest of the palate gently relaxing to let the juice out from the tight black fruits. The frame is both tactile and fresh, a brilliant La Fleur Petrus full of character and spice, bedded down but with a sense of energy and uplift. Black chocolate shavings shot through with eucalyptus, sage, rosemary, spices and cigar box – all of which really extend through the finish. Harvest September 10 to 20. A yield of around 42hl/ha. Deep gravels over clay.
You need to take a little time to let the concentrated flavours seep out, this is a long hauler. The tannins build slowly but surely through the palate, sombre and serious right now, particularly for an estate that is known for its exuberance. The opulence is there if you give it time, and as the tannins elongate and relax, richer notes of bilberry fruits, toasted cedar, salted chocolate, turmeric and black pepper spice arrives. Harvest September 10 to 24. A 3.9pH is the highest since 2003, but any threat of low acidity is balanced by high tannins, and relatively low alcohol. A yield of 39hl/ha (43hl/ha in 2019).
Softer and silkier than many Pauillacs in the vintage, this is a clear success. Hugely silky and seductive, with grip, power and finesse. One of the best of the appellation, with finessed tobacco, heather and plump blueberry and cassis fruit, expertly managing the low 30hl/ha yield. 60% new oak. Tasted twice.
Intense, concentrated, rippling with power while still delivering finesse. A muscular Pichon Baron, layered with liquorice and chocolate shavings. Unmistakably Pauillac, and hugely Cabernet dominant, with savoury spice notes of grilled cumin and the same muscular, saline-backed tannins that you find in Les Griffons, just here with more definition and depth. 70% new oak for 18 months, 48% of overall production. Harvest September 14 to 30. Yields on the old vines here just above 30hl/ha.
This is excellent, broad-shouldered with ample depth to the brambled fruits, liquorice, cigar box spice, with a gorgeously saline finish. Chalky, grippy tannins keep tugging you back into the body of the wine. The tannic grip is helped by a linen rather than silk texture that stops things being overly smooth and instead adds depth and interest to the powerfully knitted body, as do white flowers on the aromatics as it opens. Good stuff. 100% new oak for 24 months. A yield of 49hl/ha. Thunevin has sold a 50% stake in Valandraud to the Lefevre family at Sansonnet (also the new owners of Villemaurine, so a busy year for them).
This is intense, structured and concentrated yet with an abundance of violet and peony notes that curl up through the tannins, combining halfway through the palate with blueberry, raspberry, tobacco, gunsmoke and sculpted, precise pulses of chalk minerality. There is just so much to talk about with this wine, but the overall impression is of dozens of carefully crafted elements that steal up on you. It’s hard not to be convinced by its success – and as ever with Canon you are in no doubt as to how well it will age. Gorgeous. 50% new barrels. 3.53pH. Harvest 4 September to 23 September. 50% new oak. A yield of 40hl/ha. Could go up after tasting in bottle, a potential 100 points. 98-100.
The lowest amount of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend on recent record but the signature of Lynch Bages is very much in play here – tons of liquorice, grippy and charismatic cassis and blueberry fruit with a velvety texture layered with blackcurrant pastilles and rich dark chocolate. This is easily one of the best Pauillacs that I have tasted in the vintage, totally gorgeous. The 22hl/ha yield meant I was worried that it would be too concentrated, but it pulls it off, although you’ve got to assume that they will need to be careful over ageing. Lower alcohol than both 2018 and 2019, a more classical balance in fact. 4% Cabernet Franc completes the blend. 3.73pH, 75% new oak, 18 months in barrel.
Here the focus is on taut, tight and knitted-down fruit. Keeps its integrity and purity through the palate, so think blueberry and blackcurrant, concentrated but with juice and precision. The underlying flavours are spice box, cigar, gunsmoke, with a texture of slate and crushed stone, showcasing both power and minerality. Overall the feel is architectural – pointed, austere, closed down but extremely precise and impressive. Harvest September 17 to 20, yields around 42hl/ha.
Balanced, sleek and poised, plenty of character, a real push and pull, it expands and contracts, the oak is well masked and there is a sense of energy. This is an enjoyable wine, easy to recommend, but I think this may be the first vintage where I have thought that its sibling Pavie is a clear step up. 80% new oak, 3.53pH, from up on the limestone plateau. A yield of 17hl/ha.
A return to form in my eyes for Calon Ségur after the atypical 2018, rippling with elegance, balance and savoury blue fruits of Cabernet, with rose and peony flowers. Concentrated, chiselled and juicy, this has clear personality and equals the great, classically balanced vintages of Calon like 2016. A yield of 33hl/ha, 3.85pH, 100% new oak. Vincent Millet is now overall director as well as technical director, since the departure of Laurent Dufau in 2020.
Plush damson and blueberry on the nose, there is juice and a tightrope walking concentration of fruits. An excellent Clos Fourtet, with a juicy edge where the magic of limestone in dry summers is very much showing through. A yield of 40 hl/ha. 14 to 18 months ageing in underground limestone cellars. 2021 sees 20 years of the Cuvelier family at Clos Fourtet and this is an excellent wine to showcase what a brilliant job they have done here. Score could go higher after barrel ageing.
Clear violet edging to the colour, vibrant and enticing. This is elegant and full of personality, with high floral aromatics, a ton of dark fruits, and a blueberry dominance that gives a classic Carmes Haut Brion feel. Slightly austere, slightly bitter, both in the best possible expression of those terms, where it is mouthwatering and moreish. A juicy salinity ensures this is a wine that doesn’t overpower, its flavours are revealed slowly and carefully, tugging backwards, with a texture that heads towards linen rather than silk – meaning that you don’t glide through, you carefully step through well-placed tannins and fruits. There is clear delicacy here, and with 55% whole bunch fermentation – the highest level that they have done to date. 3.62pH (they harvested this at almost 1% ABV higher), fermented with their own natural yeasts. Highest percentage of the two Cabernets on recent record (before 2010 Carmes was regularly at 50% Merlot). Strong candidate for the score moving upwards when in bottle.
Highly successful Pontet, one of the few Pauillacs that, for me, overperforms on its 2019. Inky purple with ruby reflections in colour. Lots of firm but upright tannins, a good dollop of graphite, pencil lead and cassis bud, there is depth through the mid palate shot through with wild blackberry, hawthorn, sage, rosemary and wild mint. It has personality, and is a little old school in the best possible way. Recommended. They have avoided the over-concentrated feel of some Pauillacs in the vintage, while remaining true to the appellation. 4% Petit Verdot completes the blend, 50% new oak 35% amphoras, 15% one-year barrels. First full vintage for Mathieu Bessonnet who replaced the previous long-term director Jean-Michel Comme in 2020. 100% first wine, as it has been for the past four years. 45% will be aged in new oak barrels, 15% one year, 40% in amphoras. The mildew pressure was stressful in the early part of the year, but they had learnt from 2018, and brought in the manpower to get around the whole vineyard in a (very long) day, so their yields ended up being close to normal.
Inky in colour, this is utterly gorgeous, so much purity and definition on the nose. Things start out intense, with crushing tannins, then it steps up and back, with a delicate but juicy slate and crushed rock minerality flooding in. Great physicality, with a push and pull that goes from power to lightness of touch. I assume it will gain a little more weight over ageing, but this is exceptionally well controlled. Crushed blackcurrant and blackberry fruits, with chalky tannins and savoury Cabernet florals. 60% new oak. 3.53pH. The new cellar will be used for vinification from the 2021 vintage, with this vintage aged in the new barrel cellars. No malolactic fermentation in barrel since the 2019 vintage. Just 2mm of rain in July and 30mm in August but the deep clay-limestones at Troplong kept their freshness, and there were no blockages in ripening. Thomas Duclos consultant.
Deep cherry damson red in colour, clear depth. Touches of kicking spice right from the start, I like the surprise of the battle between richness and bitterness. It feels like a heavy blanket of fruit which is burrowing down but then kicks off to let the air in alongside velvet stroking tannins, very Pomerol with coffee and chocolate. Feels confident and powerful, good stuff, if broad shouldered. A yield of 38 hl/ha. Will see at least 16 months in barrel. Tasted twice, also at Pomeol Seduction; and this is a big, seductive wine.
Tumeric and cumin spices alongside concentrated cassis and bilberry fruits, this has a powerful structure where the tannins layer up through the palate. There is no question that this is intense, and a reflection of the low yields of the vintage, but Rauzan Segla manages what it always does, which is to take the foot off the pedal at exactly the right moment, and allow the juice to come rushing in. The push and pull of muscular tannins and deft supple acidity gives an extra layer of success. Should be ready to drink a little earlier than the biggest years such as 2016 or 2019, but this will still age for decades. 1% Cabernet Franc completes the blend. Harvest began September 8, a yield of 30hl/ha. 60% new oak. Tasted twice.
An excellent white with precision, flesh and confidence, sure to age well. A ton of white pear and some soft pepper spice keeps up the pace and lift from beginning to end, and the intensity continues to build after the wine has left the palate – a sure sign of something special happening. A yield of 43hl/ha. Tasted twice. Unusual for me to score the red and white Chevalier at the same level, but both are extremely successful in this vintage.
Powerful in colour, this has the glass staining red and purple colours that Pape Clement does so well. Touches of liqourice and cocoa beans, this is well handled and gives power with one hand but takes it away with the other as the austerity and fresh mint leaf comes to the fore. Impressive, a really enjoyable, classically wrought but still full of concentration Pape Clement. Savoury, there is nothing too exuberant in the fruits but it exudes deft confidence.
Packed full of black chocolate shavings, liquorice, cocoa bean, concentrated cassis and bilberry fruits. Good quality, will bed down and age extremely well, with depth and character but also classicism. As with many in this corner of the Médoc peninsula in this vintage, the austerity to the tannins is very much to the fore right now. May be upscored when in bottle.
Smoke, grilled almond on the nose, even a touch of rubber from an edge of reduction. This has depth to Black chocolate and bilberry fruit, it is well balanced and seductive. Enjoyable, it’s pretty broad shouldered but it sits well within the successful run of vintages at Beychevelle. A yield of 47hl/ha. 18 months ageing. 55% first wine.
Elegant yet driven with gentle power, nothing going overboard or trying too hard. This takes a beat, then it comes strongly – evident spice and flesh, full of raspberry, blueberry, blackcurrant pastille, fennel, hawthorn and liquorice. The tannins build up through the palate and press in on the final moments. Virginie Salette winemaker since 2017. A yield of 32hl/ha. Vinify at around 22-23°C, so an extremely low and slow extraction. Harvest was from September 14 to 29. A big shouldered St-Julien but with a wide nuance of flavours.
Powerful, a little austere, tight black fruits that will benefit from adding flesh over ageing, as the tannins are a little angular right now. The freshly crushed mint leaf finish is beautiful, and this is is ripped with powerful nuanced fruit, tobacco and earthy flavours, followed by waves of violet flowers. Good quality, not as exuberant as some years of Clerc Milon. First year of Caroline Artaud to oversee the entire vintage, as Jean-Philippe Danjoy has headed over to Mouton. 2% Petit Verdot completes the blend. 50% new oak. There is also 0.6% of Carmanère in the blend.
I love this, an extremely classic Gazin which has depth and pep, and a jaunty feel to the black fruits. The freshness keeps the core of this wine firm from beginning to end, as do the chewy tannins. This is not an exuberant vintage but at this particular estate it suits the personality because it is always fairly old school and classic. For the first time there is no Cabernet Franc in the blend, just Cabernet Sauvignon. A yield of 35hl/ha. No added sulphur during fermentation. Tasted twice, there are plenty of tannins here but it is highly successful.
Great consistency over the past few years at this property but this is really stepping things up a level. With poise and depth of flavour, we are digging down through the layers. Extremely elegant, a wine that is precise and pared back and totally delicious. You can almost feel the points of minerality poking into your tongue, but then they melt into a softer more luxurious whole, with blackberry, cassis and black chocolate. Great stuff. Tasted several times, and every time it shows itself to be something out of the ordinary. A brilliant wine that I thoroughly recommend getting hold of. 50% new oak. A yield of 38.5hl/ha. Owned by Famille Gratiot-Attmane, but with the Nicolas Thienpont team overseeing winemaking.
Restrained and a little sombre at first, but carefully constructed, with a rippling muscular texture, full of firm tannins with bright acidities underneath. Like the precision and the slightly austere cool blue fruits, pencil lead and liquorice root. Elegant, precise, feels very Pauillac in its density combined with fine tannins that have life and lift on the finish. Harvest September 9 to 29. First vintage in the new cellar.
Concentrated and intense, with juicy liquorice and blackberry flavours dominant on the attack. This is an excellent wine showing beautiful tension with slate and crushed stone texture. Chocolate shavings, bitter and intense, give a kick on the finish. Even better after 24 hours of opening, which is an extremely good sign for an En Primeur sample. A yield of 32.5hl/ha. 50% new oak.
Chocolate shavings and smoked coffee bean on the nose, it’s a vintage where you can’t get away from the tannins, but here they have sinew and juice, like the best translation of the tannins in the year. This has real purity of fruit (very low SO2 addition at Palmer), together with the gourmet touch that you want in Alter Ego. 45% of overall production. 3.73pH. Survived mildew better than in 2018 because of experience in dealing with the conditions. August 15 to 29 for the harvest. A yield of 31hl/ha.
Enjoyable, powerful, concentrated, not the most generous of GPLs but they have captured the essence of Pauillac, and it’s hard to resist. Sappy juicy finish, full of cassis, mint leaf and pencil lead along the way with a clear tightness to the tannic frame. A yield of 31hl/ha. 75% new oak for barrel ageing.
A château that is used to finding charm and exuberance whatever the vintage, and it has avoided overly concentrated flavours. There is plenty of charm to the cassis and damson fruit but they are a little heavy through the mid palate which emphasises the grilled coffee and chocolate and adds bitter touches to the end of palate. Serious. A yield of 40hl/ha.
Violet-edged, lovely vibrant colour. A low-yield wine that has kept an impressively fresh core, with expressive fruits and a vibrant grip through the centre of the wine. Powerful, tight tannins and the concentration becomes clearer in the glass, a ton of bilberry, sage and rosemary aromatics, with a generous helping of graphite and crushed stone. All of these wines are going to need very careful ageing – although the reasonable alcohols should help. A yield of 31hl/ha. 18 months ageing in a mix of new oak barrels and amphoras. 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Carmenère completes the blend. Tasted twice.
An run of successful vintages at La Gaffeliere, and this again proves why it is an estate to watch, striking an expert balance between power and finesse. Offers a ton of cassis, blackberry, black cherry and damson fruits, licorice root and crushed stone, just gorgeously juicy and stretches out across the palate. Austere tannins at this point, plenty of limestone character, a little tight on the finish but with a velvet texture and promises to age with grace. A yield of 42hl/ha.
Concentrated ruby red colour, a little subdued on the nose, built with structure and power, concentrated and should age well. Classical, powerful, not exuberant, an impressive Chevalier that has tannins and fruit and freshness, nothing shouting too loud. As it opens, you see a peony floral edge that is very attractive. Easily among the best in Pessac. A yield of 38hl/ha.
This is a sinewy, powerful and forward-moving wine with a sense of momentum. Moreish, with the elegance and plump damson fruits that Issan delivers so well, but more muscular than some years with the impact of both Petit Verdot and Malbec that are in the blend for the first time in this vintage. These add layers of spice and the overall architecture is clear. Peony and violet notes add a kick upwards on the finish, this has a delicacy even though it is intense. Less Cabernet in the blend in 2020 than in 2019, as is often the case in the Médoc due to low yields. This new blend in Issan will be seen going forward after the addition of plots from the purchase of Château Pontac-Lynch.
Full of pleasure, silky and richly textured, easy to sink into but carefully measured at the same time, addings its layers of orange peel, bloody orange and white pepper spice and truffle slowly but surely as it inches through your palate. Tiny floral notes accompany the saline minerality on the finish. Almost no botrytis in September, and then when the weather deteriorated at the end of September things became really a bit worrying. But they were able to hold on til October 19 (after stopping at the end of September, I imagine needing nerves of steel). Yields after four final trips, 19 October to 2 November to November 6 were the final two. Yields of around 8hl/h, 3000 cases of Suduiraut. 137g/l of residual sugar. A great example of what botrytis does – the ph is at 4, so the freshness comes from the bitterness of botrytis not high acidities.
Inky plum colour, clear coffee grounds on the attack but this is also full of Pomerol richness, bitter chocolate shavings and damson plum fruit. You are definitely in a concentrated, knitted-down style here with plenty of muscle that delivers appellation signature. Tasted twice. Harvest September 14 to 25.
Always a lovely wine from the d’Arfeuille family, and this is so juicy, full of sleek and sexy damson fruits with a wash of freshly crushed mint leaf. Juicy blackcurrant pastille and touches of lemongrass, this is all about the limestone as the estate is located right on the plateau where the soil cover is low, but it combines austerity with generosity. Harvest September 20 and 21 for the Merlot, then 29 for the Cabernet Franc. Tasted several times. New cellar since 2019.
This is an excellent Giscours, extremely precise, well drawn and seductive. There is both concentration and spice, and a vivid sappy feel to the raspberry and bilberry fruits, all drawn out through the palate as the slate texture kicks in. Plenty of things to keep track on here, not least that this is now the only estate in Margaux owned by the Albada family, as they have sold du Tertre. The focus is now entirely on Giscours, and I would expect to see a concerted effort to raise the visibility of the property. Changes include Thomas Duclos as consultant since 2019, and vineyard choices such as intra-plot harvesting, meaning going in waves through the plots picking individual vines when they are at full ripeness. Plus, Jerome Poisson is the new technical director (a French Canadian, who worked in Napa, Italy, Chile, Cognac and Alsace), replacing Lorenzo Pasquini. 50% new oak for ageing. A yield of 35hl/ha.
Clear salinity and the fennel aniseed touch that I get in Verso de Haut-Batailley also. Gorgeous texture here, this has real balance and a sense of careful walking through the palate, a juice and a tension, with a saline kick. An enjoyably sleek wine, not as powerful as the Lynch Bages, and not intended to be either. Some chocolate notes as it opens, but this has an elegance to it that almost makes it more of a St-Julien, certainly not the powerhouse Pauillac that you get in Lynch Bages. Harvest from September 14 to 29. 3.85ph, 60% new oak, for 14 months. The Cazes family has almost doubled the size of the vineyard since taking over, up to 39ha.
This is a great Talbot, a real success for the château. Subtle and deft touches throughout, from the smoked turmeric notes that lace the black fruits to the finessed aromatics that accompany the body of the wine. Balance and freshness, and a saline edge to the finish that is extremely moreish. Three years with Jean-Michel Laporte as director and he is doing great work.
Enjoyable black fruit aromatics on the nose, they do a good job here of soft pedalling the extraction on the attack, although by the mid palate we are in bitter chocolate and liquorice territory. Again, concentration and intensity is an overriding signature of the vintage. 3% Petit Verdot completes the blend. A yield of 31hl/ha.
This is excellent, really the most gorgeous balance of power, with dark blueberry juicy fruits and lots of liquorice. Excellent balance and a seductive overall frame. Great stuff – the tannins are pretty fierce though, needs time, will reward ageing.
Fragrant blossom aromatics give way to more concentrated waxy lemon and juicy lemongrass attack. Barrel fermented, with careful extraction. The warm summer comes through in traces of cumin spice and white pepper, and in the concentration of the flavours through the mid palate, but this is measured and deft, and extremely easy to recommend. Second year with Eric Boissenot as consultant, 65% new oak, 31hlh yield.
Silky with touches of caramel, chocolate, blueberry, raspberries and boysenberries – all those autumnal fruits that have texture and acidity to them, with the signature gloss of Cantenac Brown. Clear peony, violet notes also. A linen texture that slows the passage of the wine through the mouth. Retasted at UGC and this is again good quality, the austerity on the tannins is marked right now, but there is plenty of life ahead here. New owner Tristan le Lous as of 2019, and this wine also includes the new 9.5ha vines of vines from Château Charmant and la Galiane (bought in July 2020). The fermentation was conducted at temperatures 4-5 °C lower than average to preserve fruit. 60% new oak. Harvest 10 to 30 September.
Bright ruby colour with violet reflections. As with many second wines in Pauillac in 2020, you should expect fairly high tannins, although they are fine in construction and softly-expressed when things open up. Cocoa bean and coffee smoke on the finish. This is seductive but underplayed.
A little austere on the opening beats. Carving out its place more clearly alongside its two Pauillac siblings, this has some excellent sappy dark fruits, plenty of tannins and power but also elegance and confidence. This Armailac is gorgeous, lovely mid palate depth, and plenty of juicy blueberry and bilberry fruit, with lift through the finish. 3% Petit Verdot completes the blend. 50% new oak. Harvest September 7 to 29. The new cellar with be finished for the 2021 harvest, but this one was made in the temporary cellar. I really like this, has a floral edge, juice and freshness and sense of elegance; a good two minutes after you have stopped tasting a wave of subtle smoke comes in – the after wash of fine gravel terroir. 50% new oak, harvest from September 7 to 29 across the three estates.
There is body here, and edges to the tannins where you can touch the austerity of limestone, which is normally hidden in Monbousquet. But there is still a slightly bitter finish and such density that it remains a little hard to navigate. Should be softened up and ready to open in four or five years – but I suggest looking at Clos Lunelles in the Perse stable. 50% new oak. A yield of 30hl/ha, 3.75pH.
Maintains both a spiced kick and creamy texture through the palate, giving form and character. Silky texture, with cinnamon and saffron-laden blackberry fruits. This is precise and confident with sweet and tender tannins, the power is almost hidden at this point but it is there. 38% of overall production. 4% Petit Verdot completes the blend.
Blueberry, blackberry, damson and hawthorn, this has juice and tannins with an elegance and really excellent St-Julien character; A lovely Branaire, well placed. Unfussy, this is still not overly exuberant but it has a real sense of sappiness, lift and sinew. 3% Cabernet Franc completes the blend.
The austerity to the tannins works in its favour in giving a juicy grip to the concentrated blackcurrant and bilberry fruits without strangling them. Excellent stuff, finishing up with liquorice and smoked coffee bean. This is an estate that just has powered to better and better wines over the past few years. Yields were 10% below the average of the past five years but still at 40hl/ha. Harvest September 16 through to October 1, finishing around 10 days earlier than the past two years. Consultants Michel Rolland and Julien Viaud. First vintage with Petit Verdot included in the main wine (2%), from vines planted in 2013. Tasted twice.
So much purity and definition, this is a beautiful wine with clarity of flavour. Touches of grilled almond and rosemary, mocha, smoke and coffee bean, there is so much freshness, with juice rushing in between the muscles and a mint leaf finish. 3.78pH, 60% new oak. Yields were 25-30hl/ha. In a year where second wines in the Médoc have sometimes suffered from over-concentration, La Croix de Beaucaillou is a standout success.
Not quite as generous as Léoville Barton, replaced with classicism and subdued tannins, as we see the impact of a slightly cooler terroir. Juicy finish, black fruits, plenty of life and lift through the palate. Enjoyable, but closed in with clove spice that is very clear on the finish. Tasted twice. A yield of 34hl/ha. Harvest September 14 to 28.
Concentration and intensity to the cassis and bilberry fruits. Well expressed, carefully extracted and there is good balance and crushed mint freshness on the finish. Really starts to show subtle floral edging with time in the glass, and the silky texture and a finessed fresh core that holds interest from beginning to end. Another successful year at this estate. Tasted twice, and this is one of the successes of the appellation. A yield of 26hl/ha (24hl/ha Cabernets, 28l/ha Merlots) compared to 46hl/ha last year. 65% new oak, harvest from 9 to 24 September. Second year with Eric Boissenot as consultant.
Always a big wine; this is a site that encourages big tannins and once you embrace that quality, you willingly submit to the knitted-down cassis and bilberry fruits. Touches of bitter coffee as it opens, this is powerful but enjoyable, does a good job of pulling up at the last minute and offering crushed stone and juice. A yield of 41hl/ha, 50% new oak for ageing.
A more sculpted feel to 2020 here than at many estates in Margaux, with touches of tobacco leaf and white pepper accompanying the raspberry and wild strawberry fruits right from the first moments. There is a vivacity to the tannins, which remain muscular and a little sombre on the finish, once they have built up through the palate. Good stuff. Château du Tertre announced new owners as of January 2021, with the Helfrich family of Grands Chais de France taking over from previous owners Albada Jelgersma family on a leasing and management basis. 6% Petit Verdot completes the blend. A yield of 25hl/ha. 40% new oak.
Takes its time to unroll then shows sweetness to the black cherry and brambled blackberries fruits, followed by cigar, pencil lead and crushed stone. This is signature Batailley in that it has that essence-of-Pauillac feel. A delicious wine, such a great great drinking claret, really one to look out for in this vintage; already looking forward to drinking this in 10 years time. 2% Petit Verdot completes the blend. 60% new oak. A yield of 42hl/ha.
This comes in strong with both grip and attitude. Some austerity that shows through in the abundant tannic frame, but there is a juiciness that runs through the palate, a sense that it is light on its feet. Liquorice, black chocolate and a spiced tomato leaf adds layers, but things close down on the finish. This is certified organic and in biodynamic conversion. A yield of 30hl/ha.
I love the clear depth to the blueberry and blackberry fruit on the nose here, a sense of elegance and glamour. Silky yet with a kick, this is enjoyable with a saltine cracker twist on the finish – an excellent St-Julien, but a little disappointing for this particular estate when considered next to recent vintages. Tasted twice.
A ton of blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, chewy and concentrated, cassis fruit pastilles give a sweet but well textured feel, and a shot of acidity picks everything up on the finish. A yield of 44hl/ha. They have limestone and clay soils here, atypical for Pauillac but they help in such a dry summer. Ageing takes place in 40% new oak, 40% one-year-oak and 20% in amphoras (jarre de limoges + concrete eggs). 3.59pH, because of the limestone.
Bright, yellow gold colour, with citrus, apricot, pineapple and a ton of mango fruits on the palate. Silky texture with spikes of lime juice bringing pep and definition. Saffron and white pepper add even more lift through the finish, this is excellent, easy to recommend.
Attractive, well-paced fruits, plenty of clarity to the flavours, together with a feeling of linearity to the tannins. Austerity through the mid-palate constrains the brambled cassis fruit, but things build back up again and this is a measured, successful wine that will age well. 3% Petit Verdot completes the blend. First year with Eric Boissenot accompanying Jean Claude Berrouet as consultants.
Managing tannins is one of the lines that needed walking in 2020, and the warmer soils of Quinault compared to Cheval needed particular care. You find some traces of the solar nature of the summer on the nose, with eucalyptus, black pepper and rosemary spice, but there is freshness on the palate, well balanced and with density to the blackberry and black cherry fruits, finishing up with again the eucalyptus that is found in the aromatics, and a generous kick of spice. This is tightly structured, it is expertly handled but I would suggest looking to the 2019. Harvest September 3 to 23. 10 days over 30°C during that time.
Some grilled smoke edges to the aromatics on the first nose. This is extremely tight in its tannins, pretty austere and you need to take a beat to allow this to settle. Cassis and blueberry fruit notes help bring some juice among the tight muscular structure. The oak is a little evident overall, but this is carefully made with promise. Harvest September 15 to October 1.
Rich and powerful, this is a seductive Barsac that has a great balance of acidity and sweetness, nothing too over the top, full of lime zest and mandarin, with tongue-licking slate on the finish. Great stuff, extremely well balanced. A yield of 16hl/ha. 10 months in barrel for ageing followed by nine months in stainless steel.
Attractive spicy nose, plenty of Médoc character; Layers of tannins, there is punch and personality here, and within the vintage it definitely has plenty to offer. Not as much depth as in certain vintages for sure, but this has depth, needs time to soften in the glass. Well made, well balanced, good potential for ageing. Touches of violet on the finish although acidities pretty high. A yield of 42hl/ha.
Clean and precisely-spliced black fruits, austerity in the tannins and a mocha, grilled coffee bean edging through the finish. Good quality, well balanced, intense to the point of slightly bitter on the final moments.
Blueberry, raspberry and cassis, there is concentration but also juice. Merlot-dominant (following a restructuring of the vineyard to better align grapes with terroir) with bite and freshness. A lovely smoky edge here, this is another successful vintage for Ormes de Pez. 4% Petit Verdot completes the blend. 3.69pH. 45% new oak. A yield of 42hl/ha, the yields were not as low here as at Lynch Bages because more clay in the soils, and because the Merlot was less impacted by the drought than the Cabernet Sauvignon.
This has the tight tannins of the vintage with an edge of bitter dark chocolate, but it is a success all the same; damson, confident, succulent, elegant, classic. Philippe Dambrine retires as director of the estate as of this vintage, replaced by Laure Canu from Château Angélus. A yield of 45hl/ha. 40% new oak, 6% Petit Verdot completes the blend.
Beautifully bright cherry colour. Slightly rustic tannins on the attack, with a bright cheerful feel as it unrolls through the palate, and sappy redcurrant and raspberry fruits. Same owner as Château Laroque, good early-to-medium-term drinking.
Careful extraction sees a clear tannic frame to give balance and form to the wine without getting in the way of enjoyment, meaning this is a bottle that can easily be opened within the next few years. Silky texture, and the power builds through the palate, as concentrated brambled fruits begin to emerge. A slight bitterness overtakes the final push of the wine, this is spicy, intense and enjoyable. A yield of 40hl/ha. Tasted three times. Cru Bourgeois Supérieur.