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2020 Bordeaux Tasting Notes: The Left Bank Part I

By Michael Schuster |  June 16 2021

2020 Bordeaux Tasting Notes
Château Lafite. Photography by Shutterstock

This week, as the 2020 Bordeaux en primeur campaign hots up, The World of Fine Wine is publishing the in-depth analysis and detailed tasting notes of our longstanding Bordeaux critic, Michael Schuster, based on his extensive tastings at the châteaux this Spring.

One of the world’s most experienced and respected Bordeaux critics, Schuster has been covering en primeur for WFW for the better part of two decades, and has attended the Bordeaux en primeur tastings for 37 of the past 40 vintages. The 2020 Bordeaux en primeur campaign will be his last, as he concentrates on other projects both within the region and elsewhere. 

After yesterday’s introduction to the third fine vintage in a row in the region, today we turn to Schuster’s detailed 2020 Bordeaux tasting notes with the first part of his notes on the Left Bank taking in the wines of St-Estèphe, Pauillac, St-Julien, and Margaux.

Tomorrow, our Left Bank coverage continues with Schuster’s notes on the Haut-Médoc/Médoc/Moulis, Graves and Pessac-Léognan, and Sauternes and Barsac, before we conclude on Friday with the wines of the Right Bank.

 

ST-ESTÈPHE

2020 Le Boscq Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel

(55% CS, 38% M, 6% CF, 1% PV)

Rich black fruit, gravel, and new oak; generous, fresh to vital, firmly but finely tannic; rich and crisp, long and fine for the level, complex and satisfying; almost lemony fresh, but all nicely integrated, and with excellent length. A very classy, complete Le Boscq, one of the best yet? And one more example of just how successful St-Estèphe, with its often-high proportion of clay, has been in 2020. Another Dourthe wine likely to represent excellent value en primeur. 2027–37+.
91–93

 

2020 Château Calon-Ségur 3ème Cru

(78% CS, 12% M, 9% CF, 1% PV; 33hl/ha; 13.8% ABV; 20% new)

A very “refined” nose, subtly gravelly, almost smoky, and notably persistent; rich, full, concentrated wine, fresh in acidity, very firm in very fine tannins; freshly sweet-cored to taste, discreet, refined, long, complex, and graceful with great length of flavor, no sense at all of excess, with a lovely generosity of presence, fresh for its fairly large scale, particularly elegant and poised. Super-fine-textured in tannin and with great fragrant scent on its very long finish. A wonderfully complete Calon, of tremendous finesse, probably even finer than than its 2019. 2030–55+. 93–95

 

2020 Le Marquis de Calon-Ségur
(50% M, 49% CS, 1% PV; 33hl/ha; 14.6% ABV; 30% new)

“Cool” and fine, and gently mineral to smell, full (you sense the warmth gently), fresh in acidity, finely dry in tannin; a lovely “non-excessive” hot-year balance; restrained, flowing from its 50% Merlot, otherwise quite classic in profile, moderately complex, sweet and gently juicy, with a surprising finesse, and fine light length. Easy and satisfying. 2025–37+. 89–91

 

2020 Château Capbern Cru Bourgeois

(69% CS, 29% M, 1% CF, 1% PV; 35hl/ha; 14.1% ABV; 60% new)

A nose that is above all mineral; full, fresh to vital in acidity, fine in tannin, a lovely balance; sweet cassis-cored to taste, crisply defined by its Cabernet acidity, intense yet restrained, particularly refined, and fresh in the “hot-year” context, and with lovely length. Likely to be very good value. 2025–35+. 89–91

 

2020 Château Cos d’Estournel 2ème Cru

(62% CS, 38% M; 39hl/ha; 13.5% ABV; 55% new)

Subtle black fruit, and a lovely, insistent gravel impression, already a nose that really tempts one to linger; rich, medium-full, beautifully, imperceptibly defined by its acidity and with superfine, velvety tannin; here is a mouthcoating, sweetly ripe Cabernet core, but a ripeness absolutely without excess, and remaining so fresh; subtle, flattering, prolonged, quietly aristocratic, the very essence of grand vin, and with terrific persistence. Great Cos, providing the sort of sensory satisfaction and appeal you get in a rich, detailed, sustained mezzoforte chord from a prime orchestra. A most complete and refined claret of first-growth quality. There is such polish in all the Cos wines—a great tribute to the team, led by Dominique Arangoits. 2030–60+. 97–98

 

2020 Les Pagodes de Cos

(58% CS, 34% M, 4% CF, 4% PV; 13.28% ABV; 30% new)

Fresh, sweetly ripe Cabernet to smell, and mineral, too, “serious” immediately, just to smell! Rich medium-weight, fresh, with superfine tannins, a lovely balance; supple, fleshy, graceful, detailed wine, with remarkable complexity for Pagodes, and lovely length to finish. This is so complete and harmonious, you would never have identified it as a second wine 20 years ago … even ten. Glorious “second” claret. 2025–35+.
90–92

 

2020 Cos d’Estournel Blanc

(66% SB, 34% SM; 24hl/ha; 14% ABV; 8% new)

Pale lemon, already a hint of Semillon wax; rich, vital, concentrated, fairly structured dry white; flesh and finesse, a surprising aromatic volume and complexity at relatively moderate alcohol; a dry white Bordeaux of great class, considerable finesse, and with terrific length. As so often, this is the quality equivalent of a top premier cru white Burgundy. Striking, individual, great dry white wine. 2023–30+. 93–94

 

2020 Les Pagodes de Cos Blanc

(90% SB, 10% SM; 14.2% ABV; 8% new)

Ripe grapefruit and guava Sauvignon, plus gentle new-wood vanilla and cedar; full, fresh, a touch of enlivening CO2; rich and ripe and generous, but freshened by its underlying acidity; easy, but not simple, generous and ripe in flavor, mouthcoating and with a delicious richness of fruit without being tiring, juicy, some complexity and with excellent length. Fine Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc. Drink young. 90–92

 

2020 Château Lafon-Rochet 4ème Cru

(61% CS, 33% M, 3% CF, 3% PV; 13.5% ABV)

Freshly cassis-sweet to smell, a hint of gravel; medium-full, fresh in acidity, very finely tannic; succulently rich yet restrained, a classic “drier” claret profile, but freshly sweet-cored, beautifully textured, long, and graceful, concentrated without being in any way thick, and with an absolutely lovely farewell, a perfect mirror of all the tastes before. Classy, complete, aristocratic wine. 2030–50+. 92–94

 

2020 Château Montrose 2ème Cru

(71% CS, 23% M, 5% CF, 1% PV; 40% harvest; 13.4% ABV)

Closed, tight, mineral, blackcurrant, subtle, and persistent; full, fresh, fairly (rather than notably) concentrated, typically fine in its tannin; richly ripe, elegant, contained wine, crisp, sweet, long, and linear, juicy and restrained at once, with excellent length. A lovely, accessible, complete classicism, a crisply blackcurrant beauty, which will most likely be a pleasure in the glass before its ’16, ’18, and ’19 vintages. 2028–45+. 92–94

 

2020 La Dame de Montrose
(49% M, 44% CS, 4% PV, 3% CF; 40% harvest; 13.6% ABV; 30% new)

Dense and Merlot-blueberry to smell; quite rich, quite full, fresh in acidity, fine in tannin; very ripe blackcurrant-cored, juicy, fleshy, of moderate complexity, and with good, light length. A very nice, complete Dame. Very much the same quality level as the Tronquoy, in a slightly different style. 2025–33+. 90–91

 

 

2020 Château Ormes de Pez Cru Bourgeois

(54% M, 38% CS, 5% CF, 4% PV; 13.17% ABV; 45% new)

Fine nose of blackberry fruit; medium-full, vibrant in acidity, very fine in tannin; brisk ripe red-fruit flavor; juicy and appetizing, long and remarkably graceful for a St-Estèphe, Merlot-supple and with lovely length. This will be deliciously drinkable, and without too long a wait. A most satisfying Ormes de Pez. 2025–40+. 89–91

 

 

2020 Château Phélan-Ségur Cru Bourgeois

(54% CS, 42% M, 2% CF, 2% PV; 60% harvest; 13.5% ABV; 55% new)

Deep purple; fresh, mineral nose; full and crisp, a particularly vital impression; long and refined, and elegant to taste, with slightly dry wood tannins for the moment, but with the year’s classical proportions and finesse, and with very nice aromatic length. A most attractive freshness alongside the ripe red fruit character. 2026–36+. 89–91


2020 Château
Tronquoy Lalande Cru Bourgeois

(52% CS, 42% M, 6% PV; 13.5% ABV)

Blackcurrant and marked mineral impressions on the nose; fairly full, fairly concentrated, fresh to crisp in acidity, very fine in tannin, a lovely balance; rich, elegant, blackcurrant Cabernet flavored wine, fine-grained, beautifully proportioned, long and close-textured for its status, with very good fruit-cored lenth. Classic claret! Classy at the level, and probably very good value. 2025–30+. 89–91

 

PAUILLAC

2020 Château d’Armailhac 5ème Cru

(59% CS, 30% M, 8% CF, 3% PV; 13.3% ABV; 50% new)

Closed, two thirds Cabernet, but just now it smells Merlot-floral/wild-rose herbal; full, crisply defined, finely tannic; compact, red-fruit ripe in flavor, long and close-grained to taste, taut, linear, upright, but full of flavor, intense without being showy, yet all there if tightly contained for the moment; discreet, elegant, refined, with superb ripe red-fruit length. Very classic, not “sweet” or obvious, all freshness, restraint, subtle minerality. Very fine d’Armailhac. 2028–45+. 92–93

 

2020 Clerc Milon 5ème Cru

(53% CS, 37% M, 8% CF, 2% PV; 13.3% ABV; 55% new)

Floral, perfumed, refined, subtly mineral nose; rich, restrained, concentrated medium-weight, with a very fresh acidity and superfine tannin—lovely balance; fine depth of sweet blackcurrant Cabernet flavor, long and close-grained—so sweet and so fresh at once—long, gently resonant, subtly gravelly in aroma, with great length across the palate and on the finish. Graceful, gently fleshy wine, linear all the time and restrained, but so complete. This will be very rewarding when mature! 2030–50+.
92–93+

 

2020 Château Duhart-Milon 4ème Cru

(72% CS, 28% M; 65% harvest)

Dense, mineral-etched, fine Cabernet Sauvignon nose; full but restrained in proportions, fresh in acidity, very fine in tannin, a lovely harmonious balance; freshly, sweetly ripe, long and fine-textured to taste, restrained in the Lafite mode, remarkably supple, full of ease and charm, but no lack of class, with a fine, almost stony, mineral background and superb length. A most complete, understated Duhart, with effortlesssly integrated acidity and beautiful tannins. So fine-textured that it will be accessible relatively early. A first-rate expression of the year. 2028–40+. 91–93+

 

2020 Moulin de Duhart

Merlot-ripe, lightly mineral; full, firm, fresh, finely tannic, a very nice classic balance; red-fruit ripe, clearly mineral-infused, long and elegant and even at the level, a fine, fresh, midweight claret of a gently complexity and good light length. Very nice second wine. Accessible almost immediately. Delicious, classic example. 2025–35+. 89–90

 

2020 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste 5ème Cru

(56% CS, 24% M; 31hl/ha; 75% new)

Black-red; a particularly refined and subtle “cassis-Cabernet” nose; medium-full, fresh to crisp in acidity, very fine in gently firm tannin; long, fresh, elegant, even, ripe red fruit in flavor, backed by subtle mineral impressions, long across the palate, refreshing, restrained, and with very fine tannin textures, of modest intensity and with excellent, subtly gravelly red-fruited length. Beautifully understated by comparison with many in this often somewhat “strong” vintage. A complete, restrained, classy Pauillac. 2026–40+. 92–94

 

2020 Château Haut-Bages Libéral 5ème Cru

(78% CS, 22% M; 25hl/ha; 13.6% ABV; 40% new)

Dense but vivid and bursting with life, even to smell; full, vigorous, finely and firmly tannic; rich, elegant, sapid, vital red-and-black-fruit tasty wine, long and gently mouthcoating Pauillac, with a lovely fruit presence, gently gravelly aromas, a nice sense of matter, and lovely resonance to finish. A quite classy, very complete HBL. The best ever? Except perhaps 2018… says Claire Lurton. 2028–40+. 91–93

 

2020 Château Haut-Batailley 5ème Cru

(62% CS, 38% M; 13.6% ABV; 60% new)

Persistent, plummy blackcurrant and subtle mineral; lovely elegant balance, fresh to lively, very fine-grained tannin; red- and black-fruit ripe, suave, elegant, long and fine and juicy to taste, racy, complex, and of considerable finesse, and with lovely fruit persistence. A different order of wine from the interpretation by Grand-Puy-Lacoste; succulent, graceful, and complete. 2028–50+. 91–93

 

2020 Haut-Batailley Verso

(60% M, 40% CS; no new wood)

Blackberry plummy to smell; plump, fleshy, supple, fresh, a very nice easy balance; freshly sweet, nicely defined, ripe red-fruit in flavor, a lightly mouthfilling quality, ample, modestly complex, a very attractive second wine, with good light, gently gravelly length, which will drink very early. 2023–35+. 89–90

 

2020 Château Lafite 1er Cru

(92% CS, 7% M, 1% PV; 45% harvest; 12.8% ABV)

Dense, mineral, gently oaky to smell, as always so subtle, fine, demanding of attention; fresh, concentrated, superfine in tannin texture, a gloriously harmonious balance; sweet, succulent, aromatically complex and refined, gently fleshy yet so fresh tasting, very long across the palate, softly mouthcoating, so full of delicate perfume, and intense yet so subtle cassis fruit, and with a terrific farewell of fruit and mineral aromas. A seductively complete and classic beauty, a discreet power, an effortlessly serene and polished performance, a top Lafite. Remarkable at under 13% ABV! 2036–60+. 97–99

 

2020 Carruades de Lafite

(52% CS, 42% M, 3% CF, 3% PV)

Black-fruit ripe and dense to smell, very mineral, too; concentrated and vital, finely firm in tannin, tauter structured than Duhart-Milon; both sweet and crisply ripe in flavor, close-knit, long to taste, dense, linear, long, and complex to taste, a second wine of real class and poise with, here too, beautifully integrated tannins and acidity; an almost fleshy impression and with lovely, gentle, fragrant length. A particularly successful Carruades. Very fine, very “Lafite.” 2030–50+. 92–94

 

2020 Château Latour 1er Cru

(97% CS, 3% M; 32% harvest, 13.3% ABV)

Dense and full of subtle, freshly ripe black fruit, persistent and gently gravelly in aroma, a typical youthful Latour nose; rich, elegant, fresh, firmly but very finely tannic, a grand, vital-seeming set of proportions; deep, crisply ripe, gravel-backed in aromas, long and resonant across the palate, beautifully defined, very tenacious, very understated and non-flambuoyant; mouthcoating, ample, but beautifully contained by its freshness, and with great, resonant length. Understated in a way, but none the worse for that, a wine of great scope and a great deal to say. A splendid, non-showy beauty, absolutely complete, compact, packed with matter, effortlessly grand and aromatic, but in an almost reticent manner for the moment. 2035–65+. 95–97+

 

2020 Les Forts de Latour

(70% CS, 26% M, 4% PV; 44% harvest, 13.1% ABV)

A rich combination of ripe red fruit and minerals to smell—very promising; lovely balance of a good depth of flavor, a relatively lively acidity, and very fine-textured, satiny tannin; deep and juicy freshly ripe dark-fruit in flavor, marked by gravelly aromas, compact, fleshy textured, long in the mouth, with plenty of matter and density for the cru; sappy and sapid, with excellent fruit and aroma length. A composed, complete, elegant, classically propoprtioned Forts. Lovely. 2028–48+. 92–93

 

2020 Pauillac de Latour

(53% M, 43% CS, 4% PV; 23% harvest, 13.2% ABV)

Freshly red fruit-ripe nose, quite Merlot-plummy; medium-full, fairly concentrated, vivid in acidity, very fine, discreet in tannin; a very nice depth of flavor, tasty, lightly minerally, good length of flavor, if with limited aromatic volume, and excellent light length. Plenty of matter for the wine. 2025–35+. 90–91

 

2020 Château Lynch-Bages 5ème Cru

(60% CS, 31% M, 5% PV, 4% CF; 65% harvest, 13.4% ABV; 75% new)

Immediately a very seductive nose of blackcurrant Cabernet, cedar, gravel;

full, fresh yet supple, refined in tannin, a beautiful, harmonious, classy balance; deep, sweet, flattering, cassis-cored flavor, long and gently mouthcoating, mineral-infused, vitally defined, close-grained, complex, gently Pauillac sinewy, and with lovely sweet length. Classy, classically proportioned Lynch-Bages. 2030–50+. 92–94

 

2020 Blanc de Lynch-Bages

(70% SB, 20% SM, 10% MUS; 12.9% ABV; 50% new; bottled)

Clear, discreet Sauvignon Blanc, aromatic nose, greengage and grapefruitfresh; full and lively; dry, very ripe, freshly defined, gently racy, nice length of flavor and excellent length. Classy, graceful, succulent dry white. To drink young. 91

2020 Château Mouton Rothschild 1er Cru

(84% CS, 13% M, 2% CF, 1% PV; 13.1% ABV)

A slightly burned / cedary / high-toast cask character to smell here, too (the Mouton “fumée,” from the soil, not the barrels), dense and persistent and fine; rich, elegant, medium-full proportions and presence, so freshly defined by its acidity, and with such fine-textured tannins; an undemostrative but most aristocratic presence; deep, taut, blackcurrant-sweet, long and juicy, so tenacious and subtle to taste, and with fabulously close-grained tannins, subtly mouthcoating and very prolonged to finish.
A wonderfully complete and absolutely lovely wine, which will be an intense yet effortless drinking joy at a mere 13% ABV. A very special combination, in the current climate, of moderate alcohol, intensity of flavor, and absolute class. A sort of splendid classicism. Wait a good ten years plus, and then probably think generations rather than decades? 2034–70+. 97–98

 

2020 Petit Mouton

(72% CS, 24% M, 4% CF; 36% harvest, 13.1% ABV; 50% new)

Fresh, slightly smoky (the Mouton ‘“fumée”) red-fruit nose; rich, medium-full wine with a lovely concentration, fresh in acidity, very fine in tannin, a clear, aristocratic presence, albeit restrained; deep, sweet and minerally, tight and compact, long, gently fleshy, and graceful to taste, but with the Cabernet aromatic complexity clear, and a textural grain here of a different order from the two fifth growths; rich, close-knit, gratifying wine, with great length of flavor, before a fine, mineral and spicy persistence. Not Mouton’s volume, of course, but the class is there. A beautiful,
top-notch, second wine. 2030–50+. 93–94+

 

2020 Aile d’Argent

(66% SB, 34% SM; 13% ABV; 45% new)

Pale lemon; briskly ripe Sauvignon to smell, persistent and subtly mineral; rich, full, fresh, concentrated; dry but juicily ripe, racy and mouthcoating, its fullness very nicely contained and lengthened by its lively acidity; pure, mineral, complete, with a most rewarding complexity underlying the fruit and plushness. Wonderful Aile! Bottled under Diam since 2017. 2025–40+. 93–94

 

2020 Château Pédesclaux 5ème Cru

(56% CS, 34% M, 5% CF, 5% PV; 55% harvest; 13.07% ABV)

Noticeably blackberry fruity nose, with a touch of new wood; fullish, very fresh, firmly but quite finely tannic; like many on the Left Bank this year, the ripe red fruit here is marked by its lively and appetizing acidity; moderately complex, but refined, quite aromatic, subtly mouthcoating, and with very nice length. Complete and stylish. 2026–40+. 89–91

 

2020 Château Pibran Cru Bourgeois

(55% M, 45% CS; 35hl/ha; 13.9% ABV; 50% new)

Dense and minerally to smell; rich, compact, and vital and with a very nice tannin quality; good depth of flavor, of dark ripe fruit, particularly fresh, very marked in gravel aromas, and long and satisfying. Excellent Pibran. 2026–36+. 89–91

 

2020 Château Pichon Baron 2ème Cru

(76% CS, 24% M; 48% harvest; 13.7% ABV; 70% new)

Very gravelly behind the freshly ripe black fruit on the nose; full, vigorous, finely tannic, an ample but vital constitution; dense and deep and ripe in flavor, the dark, ripe fruit brightened by its acidity, long and even and tenacious within the currently slightly grippy tannin; an effortless, even, classic, fine Pauillac with great fruit and aroma length. Upright, ample, finely muscular Pauillac, a wine of class, scope, and effortless power. Will certainly need time to loosen up and yield and meld. 2034–54+. 94–96

 

2020 Les Griffons de Pichon Baron

(50% M, 42% CS, 8% PV; 25% harvest; 14.2% ABV; 50% new)

Plumply fresh ripe fruit to smell; rich and vital, gently tannic; deep, long, and elegant and even in a fine, fleshy, flowing Merlot-dominated way; at this stage, quite oaky, if very much as a condiment, good length to taste, a real sense of density and matter, a nice complexity and excellent persistence. Should be accessible fairly early and be a very satisfying Pauillac. First-rate second wine, and another one likely to be good value. 2026–40+. 92–93

 

2020 Château Pichon Lalande 2ème Cru

(77% CS, 17% M, 6% CF; 60% harvest; 13.6% ABV; 60% new)

Inky black-red; a dense, core of raw blackcurrant at the heart of the dense “gravelly” aromas; full of subtle, complex promise; immediately rich and generous and taut and contained, a concentrated, effortless blend of superfine dry tannins, close-knit flesh, and freshly carrying acidity; deep and very “Pauillac,” mouthcoating without any sense of excess, great tenacity and complexity of flavor and with splendid, aromatic, gravelly length. An imposing baritone performance (appropriately enough, as a baritone was Nicolas Glumineau’s initial career). Magnificent wine. First-growth quality. 2032–50+. 94–96


2020 Réserve de la Comtesse

(47% M, 43% CS, 10% PV; 40% harvest; 30hl/ha)

Closed to smell, but tight and very mineral; rich, vital, finely tannic, a very fine second-wine constitution, in a slighty more austere register for RC; tasting sweet and juicy, very Cabernet Sauvignon despite the dominance of Merlot, but the flesh of the Merlot also clear; both flesh and complexity here, very long and close-grained to taste, dark and vital, and with lovely fragrant persistence. Some way from the aromatic volume of Pichon itself, but so elegant, so complete. A superb-quality second wine, with almost a “grand vin” character. So supple that it is likely to be drinkable fairly early, but will keep for decades. 2026–40+. 92–93

 

2020 Château Pontet-Canet 5ème Cru

(60% CS, 32% M, 4% CF, 4% PV; 13–13.5% ABV; 50% new, one third in cement “amphorae”)

Dense, crisply ripe black fruit and mineral infusion; rich and ample, fresh and very fine in firm tannin, an impression of a particularly complete PC; deep, plush yet contained, generous and fleshy yet fresh, with a lovely defining and enriching tannin texture and presence; dark black-fruit ripe and red-fruit fresh Cabernet flavor, long and close-grained, very mineral, complex, compact, complete. A most successful Pontet-Canet, maybe the best yet? 2030–50+. 93–94

ST-JULIEN

2020 Château Beychevelle 4ème Cru

(51% CS, 45% M, 4% PV; 55% harvest; 47hl/ha; 13.4% ABV)

Smells Merlot-plummy and subtly gravelly; full, fresh in acidity, very fine in tannin, a most delicious and particular balance; density and flesh, with a delicious freshness to taste, so easy at only 13.4% ABV; very finely tannic, long, juicy, characteristically fleshy from its 45% Merlot, remarkably harmonious and very satisfying; succulence, sap, complexity, and great length. Like the 2018 (especially), another magnificent Beychevelle, of slightly more classic proportions and style than either 2018 or 2019. In any case, a wonderful trio! The last trio of vintages, of both the Beychevelle and the Amiral, are a great achievement, in which Philippe Blanc can take very legitimate pride. 2030–50+. 93–94

 

2020 Amiral de Beychevelle

(54% CS, 41% M, 5% CF; 40% harvest)

Ripe, almost citrussy fruit to smell; medium-full, fresh to lively in acidity, lightly dry in tannin; sweet-cored from the Merlot, easy, juicy, accessible, ripe, and fresh, with some complexity and very good length of aftertaste; exceptional Amiral, particularly fine-textured for the second wine, a lovely, refined St-Julien with remarkable persistence. Pretty gorgeous, and a wine that will be accessible early. 2025–35+.
90–91

 

2020 Château Branaire-Ducru 4ème Cru

(58% CS, 32% M, 7% PV, 3% CF; 40hl/ha)

Pleasing nose, softly, freshly rich, subtly gravelly; very nicely balanced, medium-full, fresh to lively in acidity, very fine in tannin, a touch of the slightly “crisper” 2020 St-Julien style; but lovely red- and black-fruit flavor, mineral-infused, a gentle flesh at the core, a very restrained mid-weight style, with a beautiful texture, gravel-marked, and with excellent length. Beautiful wine, fine St-Julien. 2030–50. 91–93

 

2020 Ducru-Beaucaillou 2ème Cru

(81% CS, 19% M; 33% harvest; 13.5% ABV; 100% new)

A fine Cabernet nose with a discreet new-oak vanilla, refined and very gently mineral; medium-full, very fresh in acidity, and with Ducru’s trade-mark super-fine texture, but this year’s fairly firm tannins; a rich, elegant wine with, clear to perceive, the extra sinew and masculinity that Bruno has said he is looking for in recent vintages, noticeable as a little more extract, making the wine that little bit firmer, and which will make it longer to mellow as well; typically long and effortless and graceful across the palate, and with a lovely, gentle, mineral-fragrant finish. Succulent, juicy, complex, and classy, but also aristocratic, upright, and a touch severe in bearing. It will be very rewarding in the long term. A sort of refined version of 2010 here, less muscle, more polish, lower alcohol, and, as so often, rubbing shoulders with the first growths. 2035–60+. 94–95

 

2020 La Croix de Beaucaillou

(53% CS, 44% M, 3% PV; 33% harvest; 13.7% ABV; 60% new)

The second wine of Ducru-Beaucaillou. Lightly blackcurrant Cabernet, plus a Merlot-herbal, wild-rose aroma, very gently gravelly; medium-full, fresh, finely tannic, long and elegant and even, its rich, ripe red fruit enveloped in a close-grained tannin, sweet-cored, lightly mineral in aromas, a marked “fresh” impression giving it just a hint of austerity, and with a fine fruit persistence. Very Ducru, very St-Julien in its overall elegance and poise. 2027–40+. 90–92

 

2020 Château Gloria Cru Bourgeois

(50% CS, 35% M, 4% CF, 1% PV; 34hl/ha; 13.3% ABV; 40% new)

Lightly gravelly nose, with nice ripe blackcurrant fruit; rich, fresh, medium-full, and lightly tannic wine; fleshy, juicy, easy, freshly defined and immediate, fairly silky textured, accessible soon, and in a relatively opulent style for the year. Nice length, most attractive. 2026–40+. 89–91

 

2020 Château Gruaud Larose 2ème Cru

(79% CS, 17% M, 4% CF; 35% harvest; 13.18% ABV; 95% new)

Dense, fine, minerally, poised, a very refined “gravel” aroma there, and subtly cedary; rich middleweight, fresh to crisp in acidity, very fine in dry tannin; close-grained, long across the palate, aromatically complex, but fundamentally crisp red-fruit in flavor, lean and linear, the underlying class is clear, but this year in an overall fairly dry, austere mold, clearly marked by the 95% new oak. The proportion of new wood here has gone from 40% in 2014, to 95% in (I gather) 2019 and this year. That’s quite some trajectory, and certainly against the trend. Fine wine, yes, but, on the basis of this sample, in a bit of a straitjacket, and certainly pretty long-term. Others have “tasted” it more positively, and Gruaud’s class has been increasingly evident over the past few years … so I’ll hang fire on this one. NS

 

2020 Sarget de Gruaud Larose

(48% M, 45% CS, 4% PV, 3% CF; 65% harvest, 13.44% ABV; 15% new)

Red-fruit nose and subtle gravel; medium-full, crisp in acidity, moderate in tannin, a fairly firm wine, especially for a second label; red-fruit ripe, slightly austere, moderate complexity, moderate length. Not an easy second wine, on the austere side. It will doubtless mellow, but it will need several years. 2027–35+. 87–88

 

2020 Château Lagrange 3ème Cru

(74% CS, 24% M, 2% PV; 13.5% ABV)

Mineral-backed, ripe black-fruit Cabernet Sauvignon; full, vital in acidity, very fine if firm in tannin; long and juicy, opulent and vivid at once, all framed by a firm, close-grained tannin, lovely length to taste, and mouthcoating fragrant length.A finely honed combination of density, flesh, and firmness, classic in the best sense. Fairly long-term. 2030–50+. 92–94

 

2020 Fiefs de Lagrange

(47% CS, 44% M, 9% PV; 13.4% ABV)

Medium-full, lively in acidity, gentle in tannin; light, flowing, ripe red-fruit wine, easy, juicy, gently fleshy, relatively supple, modest in scope, crisply refreshing, with an attractive roundness, and nice light length. 2025–35. 88–90

 

2020 Château Langoa Barton 3ème Cru

(54% CS, 38% M, 8% CF; 34hl/ha; 13.5% ABV; 60% new)

Light redcurrant and gravel nose; beautifully balanced, with a nice concentration, fresh in acidity, firm in very fine-grained tannins; dense, dry, red-fruit ripe flavor, even and elegant, with excellent length. Taut but not austere, beautifully cut, aromatic, complex, and very good indeed. Complete, restrained, but classy wine.
A ripe red-fruit and gravel classic. 2028–40+. 90–92


2020 Château Léoville Barton
2ème Cru

(85% CS, 15% M; 34hl/ha; 13.6% ABV; 60% new)

Inky purple; dense, closed, raw blackcurrant and subtle gravel; concentrated, medium- to full-bodied, muscular wine, firm in acidity and firmly tannic, a clear long-term prospect, but without the sinews of 2010, for example; crisply ripe blackcurrant in flavor, long to taste across the palate, with a notable tenacity rather than sheer size. Elegance, complexity, finesse, and length. A sort of 1996 with more matter? This will probably need a decade and a half to really mellow and “bouquet.” 2030–50+. 93–94

 

2020 Château Léoville-Las-Cases 2ème Cru

(81% CS, 11% CF, 8% M; 13.7% ABV; 80% new)

Dense to smell, clearly gravelly, freshly black-fruit ripe; fairly full, but in no way heavy, fairly concentrated, but not strongly so, with a fresh defining acidity and a very fine-grained tannin, a lovely dense “midweight” impression, not a particularly “big” wine (not 1986, not 2010), just a beautiful, complete balance; moderately deep, freshly sweet, long across the palate, graceful, refined, complex, aromatic, satisfying, and with great length to finish. Gorgeous wine. Everything there at a slightly lower dynamic. Superb. And likely accessible relatively early for Las Cases, so fine are the tannins. 2030–50+. 94–96

 

2020 Le Petit Lion

(50% CS, 44% M, 6% CF; 13.6% ABV; 30% new)

Gentle, restrained, cedary and floral from the Merlot; beautifully balanced medium-full wine, fresh in acidity, very fine in tannin, long and graceful, sweet-cored yet fresh, gently complex, all restraint and class and elegance, with a lovely roundness and a fresh finish that is classically Médoc “dry” and gravelly; clearly a bit more scope and definition to this than to the Clos du Marquis. Splendid Petit Lion, particularly seductive this year because of its high Merlot content, one of the classiest ever. Beautiful, relatively affordable Bordeaux. 2028–40+. 92–93

 

2020 Clos du Marquis

(61% CS, 33% M, 6% CF; 13.5% ABV; 40% new)

Lovely nose, subtle, fragrant, gently oaky, very seductive; medium-full, moderate in concentration, fresh to vital in acidity (much more marked in the Las-Cases group of wines, which have a higher proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon), but in no way austere; dry, lightly gravelly, with a nice length of flavor, just a touch of classic Bordeaux austerity, a bit like the Petite Marquise, quite delicate but in no way weak, with an attractive complexity and very good length. A fine “mid-weight vintage” character. 2028–40+. 90–92

 

2020 La Petite Marquise

(42% M, 37% CS, 21% CF; 13% ABV; 10% new)

Fragrant, floral, ripe red fruit Merlot-dominated nose; a moderately concentrated midweight wine, elegant and fresh, very fine in tannin, just a hint of Merlot “fluidity” here, but this is in no way weak; an easy, flowing wine, of moderate complexity, some aromatic class from the 21% Cabernet Franc, Merlot-supple, gently juicy, and with nice fruit-fragrant persistence. Gracious and most attractive at the level. 2025–35+. 89–90

 

2020 Château Léoville Poyferré 2ème Cru

(64% CS, 31% M, 3% CF, 2% PV; 13.7% ABV; 80% new)

Inky; closed to smell, blackcurrant-tight; rich, elegantly “packed” wine, with a perfectly poised, freshly defining acidity and a superfine, velvety tannin, an overall effortlessly harmonious balance; ripe rather than “sweet, ” long, graceful, rich, but not heavy, taut, close-grained, freshly ripe blackcurrant and mineral in flavor, very long across the palate, with a wonderful finish of subtle ripe fruit fragrance and fine gravel aromas. Most complete, a real beauty. 2030–50+. 94–95

 

2020 Château St-Pierre 4ème Cru

(79% CS, 15% M, 6% CF; 33hl/ha; 13.3% ABV; 50% new)

Fresh, lightly mineral, blackberry-ripe nose, persistent and gently minerally; rich, supple yet fresh, superfine in tannin; juicy, generous, ample, and fleshy, all nicely carried by its underlying defining acidity, long and subtle and gracious to taste, with a very nice length of flavor, and a fine persistence of aftertaste. Delicously fleshy, and flattering in the year and the St-Julien context. This and the Gloria make a lovely pair. 2028–45+. 90–92

 

2020 Château Talbot 4ème Cru

(76% CS, 21% M, 3% PV; 13.3% ABV; 60% new)

Dense, fresh black-fruit and gravel impressions to smell; medium-full, fresh to crisp in acidity, very fine in firm tannin, classic, elegant, St-Julien balance; crisply ripe flavor, gently fleshy-cored, defined by a brisk acidity, and with just a touch of austerity, but fine, close-grained, quite complex, and with good length. Very good rather than grande année quality and character, just not the “ease” of, for example, the 2018 or 2019 here. Will certainly need time—a decade at least, I would say. 2030–45+. 90–91

 

MARGAUX

 

2020 Château d’Angludet

(46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot; 13.5% ABV; 30% new, 30% in “amphorae”)

Lovely blackberry-ripe nose, florally fragrant and Petit Verdot-spicy; full and fresh and finely tannic, a very elegant balance; gently packed with juicily sweet fruit, a delicious impression of fruit mass and “matter,” long, close-grained, and mineral; a great sense of completeness and with fine fruit persistence. After much experimentation, Ben Sichel is now putting 30% of the wine into Italian clay “amphorae” for aging: gentle oxidation without the aromas or textures of wood—and it seems to have made for a particular richness and purity of fruit in the 2020. A really beautiful Angludet, right up with its 2019, in a slightly more classical style. 91–92+. 2026–40+.

 

2020 Château Boyd-Cantenac 3ème Cru

(71% CS, 18% M, 8% PV, 3% CF; 13% ABV)

Raspberry and blackcurrant nose, subtly mineral; nicely concentrated middleweight, fresh in acidity, finely dry in tannin; really quite fine to taste, long and even and gently mineral, graceful and yet also generously fruity wine, with lovely fruit and aroma length. Stature and poise, no great grandeur or finesse, but complete and very satisfying Margaux. More linear than the Pouget from the same stable, longer and tauter, the different combination of grapes giving a very different profile. 2028–48+. 90–92

 

2020 Château Brane-Cantenac 2ème Cru

(70% CS, 26% M, 2% CF, 1% CARM, 1% PV; 35% harvest, 13.7% ABV)

Dense, lightly “dry” blackcurrant Cabernet, markedly and very finely mineral; rich, full, concentrated but absolutely without excess, lightly oaky in aroma and texture, deep and subtly juicy, darkly ripe Cabernet fruit, long and close-grained to taste, very mineral, with a feel of effortlessly contained richness and wonderful black fruit and mineral persistence. And for all the ripe fruit, a delicious freshness, too. Classically proportioned, complete and beautiful. 2028–60+. 93–94

 

2020 Baron de Brane

(58% M, 34% CS, 6% CF, 2% PV; 14.2% ABV)

A lovely nose here already, ripe blackberry, lightly mineral; medium-full, fresh to vital, very light in tannin, a very nice balance; crisply ripe in flavor, refreshing, juicy, a modest complexity, and very nice length. A delicious lesser Margaux, with both a seductive depth and texture. Very good second wine, likely to be accessible relatively early, but to keep and mature well, too. 2025–38. 89–90

 

2020 Château Cantenac Brown 3ème Cru

(67% CS, 33% M; 51% harvest; 13.6% ABV; 60% new)

Fine nose, gravelly behind the ripe, fresh black fruit, but subtle and classy, too; full, fresh, finely tannic, a very nice harmony, just a touch of new-oak dryness; gently “packed,” firm-fleshed, long, and close-grained, freshly, deliciously sweet, a subtle complexity, and lovely length of both the fruit and gentle mineral aromas on the finish. A slightly more solid Margaux style, but this is really very good. 2028–50+. 91–93

 

2020 Château Ferrière 3ème Cru

(68% CS, 27% M, 3% PV, 2% CF; 26hl/ha; 13.6% ABV; 40% new)

Lovely minerally, gravelly nose, with dense soft blackcurrant fruit, and a gently oakiness, very nice indeed; rich, vivid in acidity, finely, firmly tannic; a gently sinewy Margaux constitution, deep, sapid, vital wine, vigorous, red and black-fruit ripe, subtly mineral in aromas, spicy, complex, and with terrific length. Like the La Gurgue, not exactly polished, that’s not the aim, but not without a certain elegance, and brimming with “character.” I love the “sappy” quality here. Great proof, if it were needed, of the success of Claire Lurton’s biodynamic practise. 2028–44+. 91–93

 

2020 Château Giscours 3ème Cru

(56% CS, 44% M; two thirds harvest; 36hl/ha; 50% new)

Dense, sweetly red-fruit ripe nose, subtly wild-rose herbal; rich, concentrated without any excess, moderate in superfine tannin, and with a perfectly integrated tannin and acidity; delicately sweet-cored, with a lovely aromatic scope, complexity and length, a superb combination of fruit, aromas, and silky texture, very long across the palate, with a finesse not seen here before, and with lovely delicate, fragrant length. A wine that very clearly signals a new era for Giscours, working with OenoTeam’s Thomas Duclos, and picking in tries, as in Sauternes, parcel by parcel, according to vine age, the maturity of individual vines, and so on. It certainly shows! A most beautiful Giscours, dense yet light on its feet, transparent and so fine in texture. Very Margaux—which, for all its virtues, was not something one often said about Giscours in the past. This is in a different league, and in a very different style, from the famous ’70s Giscours: 1970 and 1975. Really a revelation of the terroir! Alexander Van Beek’s smile was as wide as his wife Véronique’s in her new winery at Haut-Bailly! 2028–50+. 92–94

 

2020 Sirène de Giscours

(70% CS, 15% CF, 10% M, 5% PV; 30% new)

Fresh, red-fruit ripe and vital to smell, and subtly wild-rose herbal; an elegant midweight, fresh, fine in tannin, long, sweet-cored, easy, graceful, subtly mineral, and very Margaux-fragrant; a lovely lesser Margaux. 2026–36+. 89–90

 

2020 Château La Gurgue Cru Bourgeois

(45% CS, 35% M, 20% PV; 14hl/ha; 13.6% ABV; 20% new)

Dense, herbally floral over the blackcurrant; full, vigorous, finely, if a touch drily tannic; mineral and vital wine to taste, compact, briskly ripe, not particularly polished, but with plenty of character, both a firm and characterful texture, the 20%Petit Verdot seeming to give this a particularly sapid and very individual quality, and there is fine aromatic length, too. As I say, vigor and sap and character! Lovely in its way. A most individual and attractive La Gurge. 2024–34+. 89–90

 

2020 Château d’Issan 3ème Cru

(55% CS, 39% M, 3% CF, 2% PV, 1% MAL; 13.3% ABV; 50% new)

A most seductive nose promised here, finely gravelly, gentle in blackcurrant fruit; rich, dense, fresh, particularly fine in tannin; freshly sweet, long, subtle, complex, a gravel-infused gentle blackberry succulence to taste, within a very beautiful tannin texture, and superb length to finish. Very Margaux-discreet, a most complete and beautiful Issan. The proportion of exceptional-quality Merlot is clearly important here, and the newly acquired neighboring plot of old vines, a little Malbec included, has certainly offered an extra depth and complexity. Wonderful wine. 2030–55+.
93–94

 

2020 Blason d’Issan

(57% M, 40% CS, 3% PV; 13.5% ABV; 35% new)

A delicate nose, fragrant, minerally; medium-full, fresh, lightly tannic, a very pleasing lighter balance; juicy, flowing, succulent, with a nice density and depth of fruit, subtly gravelly, transparent, sweet, silky textured, and Margaux-delicate. An excellent second wine, which will be delicious early and should age well, too. Delicious.
2025–35+. 89–90

 

2020 Château Kirwan 3ème Cru

(51% CS, 28% M, 14% CF, 7% PV; 14% ABV; 50% new)

Dense, discreet, blackcurrant plus a subtle minerality; fairly full, but contained and elegant in form, fresh in acidity, very fine in tannin; freshly ripe red fruit in flavor, long, close-grained, and graceful, linear, refined, very persistent and discreetly fragrant to finish. The much softer winemaking here recently has produced impressive results. This is a great success, very Margaux, very beautiful. 2027–37+. 92–94

2020 Château Lascombes 2ème Cru

(55% CS, 40% M, 5% PV; 40hl/ha; 13.5% ABV; 60% new)

Dense, faintly herbal, black-fruit ripe; rich and full and firmly tannic, still a touch sturdy, though so much finer than it used to be; freshly sweet, plenty of matter, quite complex, a mass of fruit there within its firm frame, and with good, light, fragrant length. Fine wine, and there will be many to whom it will give a great deal of pleasure, though it seems, in the context of much of Bordeaux’s current emphasis on finesse of textures, perhaps a touch old-fashioned, solid. A question of taste … and trend? It will need a decade and some, at least. 2032–50+. 91–93

 

2020 Château Malescot St Exupéry 3ème Cru

(49% M, 44%, 4% CF, 3% PV; 31hl/ha; 13.5% ABV; 70% new)

Blackberry-sweet to smell; full, fresh, and finely, if firmly tannic; deep and sweet in ripe black fruit, full, round, long to taste, ample and satisfying, a gentle subtlety of taste, mouthcoating, sapid, and with lovely fruit length; a most seductive abundance of ripe Merlot flesh, well-contained and defined by its Cabernet tannin frame. This will make a delicious bottle in its fruit-rich, fulsome style. At 49% there is a particularly high proportion of Merlot this year (it is usually more like one third), but Jean-Luc simply said, “The Cabernets were very small and lacking juice, and the Merlots so very good, so, why not include them all?” Why not indeed, and the result speaks for itself. You’ll be able to drink this relatively early, but it will keep and age well. 2028–50+. 91–93

 

2020 Château Margaux 1er Cru

(89% CS, 8% M, 2% PV, 1% CF; 36% harvest; 13.5% ABV; 100% new)

Black-purple; crisp red- and black-fruit nose, with a subtle, persistent gravel aroma; rich, concentrated, vital, and very finely tannic wine; a wine with an emphasis on defininition and freshness, but with no lack of ripeness and concentration of fruit; deep and gently sweetly ripe, long and even to taste, red and black fruit like the nose, prolonged, with a beautifully delicate core of flavor, a mouthcoating fragrance all the while and gorgeous scented length. Density and delicacy. A sort of cross between 1996 and 2010. 2035–60+. 95–97

 

2020 Pavillon Rouge

(75% CS, 18% M, 5% PV, 2% CF; 36hl/ha; 13.5% ABV; 50% new)

Dark, rich, and vivid to smell, dense red and black fruit and gravel, long and floral, too; full, concentrated, and vital in acidity, finely firm in surrounding tannin; pure, intense, vivid, red and black fruit in flavor, long and tasty, concentrated without any sense of thickness, a purity partly conveyed by the acidity making the juices run! A very nice depth of dark fruit behind the acidity, and fine, gently fragrant length. Complete, elegant, stylish. 2028–50. 93–94

 

2020 Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux

(100% SB; 13.2% ABV)

Pale lemon; fresh, fragrant, peach, nectarine, and citrus-vivid to smell; a concentrated, elegant, vital, wonderfully harmonious constitution; bone-dry, crisply ripe in flavor, long, racy, fragrant, and fresh, a beautifully proportioned, intensely aromatic midweight of enormous class and definition, great length of flavor, and great, fragrant, mouthcoating length. A notable performance to celebrate the centennial of Pavillon Blanc, first produced in 1920. 2025–55. 95–97

2020 Château Palmer 3ème Cru

(48% CS, 48% M, 4% PV; 55% harvest; 14.1% ABV; 65% new)

Closed, tight, dense to smell, blackcurranty, warm, almost northern Rhône smoky and Côte-Rôtie-like! A rich, generous, ample wine, with a suggestion of Rubens to its profile, yet contained and fresh, too, and very fine in tannin. Notably large-scale Palmer. Ripe, generous, juicy, mouthfilling, powerful, and spicy, with great length of flavor, something almost licoricy in its taste, long and warm and vital … and Rhône-like, and with great resonant length, too. A most individual, grand, and immediately seductive expression of the vineyard. 2030–50+. 95–97

 

2020 Alter Ego

(50% CS, 46% M, 4% PV; 45% harvest; 13.7% ABV; 25% new)

A density to smell that is typical of many wines in the year, very Merlot blackberry, and very mineral, too; full and fresh and finely tannic; an immediately showy, ample, fruit-bomb style: generously ripe, amply juicy, fleshy, mouthfilling, spicy, but with fine length to taste, plus the necessary defining freshness, and excellent persistence.
A particulary succulent, satisfying Margaux. 2026–40. 91–93


2020
Château Pouget 4ème Cru

(51% CS, 41% M, 4% PV, 4% CF; 13% ABV)

Dense and ripely, sweetly, cassisily fruity; full, concentrated, with a lively acidity and moderate but quite firm tannin; a crisply ripe profile, plenty of matter without being heavy, with a very nice solidly fruity presence in the mouth, an appetizing acidity, very consistent across the palate, initially Merlot fleshy (the 41% of Merlot is clear), then Cabernet-complex, and with good length to finish. Very attractive, round, solid, fruity Margaux. 2026–40+. 89–90

 

2020 Château Rauzan-Ségla 2ème Cru

(60% CS, 36% M, 3% PV, 1% CF; 30hl/ha; 13.5% ABV; 60% new)

Quite dense, blackberry, blackcurrant, and gravel, very persistent; rich midweight, with a most attractive fleshy yet fresh feel and a superfine, almost imperceptible tannin, a very fine balance; a lovely impression of richness without force, sweetly ripe, long, refined, subtle, succulent, satiny, so even, so effortless, and finishing with a wonderful freshness. A new, particularly plush, silky texture, a real beauty in the vintage. A gem, which will become a great RS with age. 2030–50+. 92–94

 

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