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Bordeaux 2020: our favourites

Bordeaux produced some stunning wines in 2020. While we haven’t yet tasted everything – notably Chx Mouton and Lafite Rothschild – here’s our pick of our 10 favourites so far, wines that have really shone in this remarkable vintage

2020 Calon Ségur, Saint-Estèphe

This has a lovely interplay of earthy, mineral notes with a touch of smokiness, fresh leather and concentrated berry fruit aromas, all beautifully compacted on a focused nose. The wine starts surprisingly supple with the soft, ripe yet detailed tannins slowly building on the palate. This wine takes you by surprise, becoming more and more focused on the palate. There is a lovely pristine quality to the fruit, an equilibrium and tension to the wine. Alongside the fruit are sweeter dark chocolate notes and green herbal tones providing a complex flavour spectrum on the mid-palate. It finishes with great energy, verve and vibrant acidity. The more clay-like Saint Estèphe minerality really comes through on the finish. Excellent.

2020 Ch. Pichon Comtesse, Pauillac

There are few wines in 2020 that have such a distinct Pauillac character than the Pichon Comtesse, bristling with pure pencil-lead graphite minerality, backed by earthy notes and toasted spices. There is a lovely suppleness to the wine – very juicy, fresh and ripe but with no hint of over-ripeness, and an underlying mouth-watering salinity. This is a complex palate with plenty going on – baked black fruit, redcurrant, liquorice and a greener, vinous element too. With over 72% Cabernet in the blend (65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Cabernet Franc), it is no surprise the wine has amazing focus, freshness and direction on the palate. The fruit remains crisp and fresh throughout, the cassis beautifully entwined with the graphite notes, all focusing right to the back of the palate. The balance and poise is exceptional, giving real energy to the fantail finish.

2020 Ch. Léoville Barton, Saint-Julien

This takes a while to emerge from the glass, but when it does it is boysenberry bright, shifting to pure dark blackcurrant, cedar and soft spice, with an almost orange zest freshness and a scented, floral lift. On the palate, this is beautiful – powerful and fine textured. There’s a vibrancy to the acidity, bringing precision and clarity to the fruit expression, while the powdery tannins have an almost parma violet feel to them. Fresh and lush, there’s a brightness to the blackcurrant and redcurrant fruit that carries to the long finish. Elegant, pure, with much more to come.

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View across the vines at Ch. Margaux

2020 Ch. Margaux, Margaux

While closed at first, the aromatics of the 2020 Ch. Margaux develop beautifully with air, releasing a complex array of peony, rose floral and menthol aromas with warmer toasted spice notes. There is a lovely concentration and density to the palate both in terms of fruit concentration and tannin detail. The pristine red and black fruit is so fresh and juicy but compacted by the tannins, focusing the wine right down the centre of the palate, providing extraordinary depth. High quality oak tones – cedar and spice – bite at the fruit, creating an amazing layering effect of spice, fruit and tannin. The handling of the oak is excellent. While very present, it keeps the wine focused and manages the sheer abundance of tannins on the mid-palate. This is a wine built to last.

2020 Ch. les Carmes Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

This starts a little reticent, a dark brooding nose that slowly opens to reveal a lovely balancing concoction of aromas across the fruit and floral spectrum. Fresh blackcurrant chimes with greener herbal notes giving lift to the nose and an overwhelming sense of freshness. The tannins are concentrated, detailed, fully resolved and – more than anything – they have an energy that excites the palate. The clarity of fruit is exceptional, it almost feels like you are crunching on fresh berries – it is pristine. This is beautifully balanced, awash with freshness, while the lovely Cabernet Franc herbal notes add florality and lift to the palate.

2020 Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan

This is plump, dark and a little brooding on the nose, with a mineral note and something a little animal. On the palate, it’s similarly dark-fruited but with savoury depths to complement the quite plush blackberry and black plum fruit. It’s fulsome and round – but with a saline freshness. There is real purity and concentration to the waves of dark, fresh fruit – ripe and plump blackberries and dark plum. The tannins are really ripe and beautifully melded, yet present, providing the necessary structure. This is delicious, and quite moreish with that salinity complementing the otherwise dark-fruited profile.

2020 Ch. Angélus, Saint-Emilion

Angélus has produced a profound wine in 2020, continuing a clear move that we’ve seen over the last four years or so – away from power and towards elegance. The team rightly says the 2020 has a “sublimity” to it. It also showcases the finer detail of the Right Bank wines this year – a beautiful, delicate, floral, peony scent, matched by wonderfully dark, smoky, toasted spice, fruitier baked berries and lighter, buttery, pastry notes. The wine has fantastic texture, with detailed but perfectly ripe tannins that ripple across the palate, coated in dense, concentrated forest fruit of fantastic purity. The Cabernet Franc brings mouth-watering freshness and a minerality too. The assemblage is 60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc with part of the Cabernet aged in 30hl foudre (the latter to reduce the Cabernet Franc’s exposure to oxygen).This is plush but beautifully elegant Angélus. A magical wine.

2020 Ch. Canon, Saint-Emilion

An abundance of fresh fruit aromas along with saline, mineral and dry spice notes fill the nose. The fruit is darker in character to its neighbouring Ch. Berliquet (tasted alongside), but still straddles the red and black fruit spectrum nicely. The fruit is fantastically fresh. There is a wonderful equilibrium to the wine – while the fruit is pristine, there is no shortage of concentration and mid-palate roundness. The tannins are unbelievably fine, bringing an effortless, structural detail and depth to the wine, firming up on the finish, indicating there’s plenty more to give. The finish is extraordinarily long. This is exceptional, even for Ch. Canon.

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Ch. Clinet in Pomerol

2020 Ch. Clinet, Pomerol

This is an immense and stunning wine. The nose is rich with milk chocolate and dried fruit – but also something fresh and crunchy about it. There’s an exoticism to the wine’s expressive perfume – almost shisha-like. On the palate, this is thick, full, round and intense – a weighty wine with a cocoa richness to it, but an incredible purity of dark berry and plummy fruit. There’s plenty of juicy acidity to offset the wine’s richness and mass of super-ripe tannins. Tight, dense and intense, this is a wine that needs time to fully unfurl.

2020 Enclos Tourmaline, Pomerol

The Enclos Tourmaline is opaque in colour with a brooding, compacted nose. It has lovely high-quality, toasted oak notes of dry spice interspersed with iron-esque mineral tones and subtle floral, violet aromas. Ripe, pristine plum and blueberry fruit dominate the palate. The tannins are very detailed and fine. The palate is dense, rich and layered, but not over the top, with lovely restraint and a distinct textural finesse. What’s more, there’s a vibrant acidic energy running straight down the middle of the palate, adding real excitement. The wine is backed by touch of firmness and good mineral underpinning. This is very well-balanced. Excellent.

Explore Bordeaux 2020

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