You don’t need us to tell you that the First Growths made good wine in 2020 – but there’s plenty of brilliant value to be found beyond the grandest names. Here we’ve picked 10 of the more modest wines from our tastings so far that are firmly on our wish-list
There is lovely restraint to Tour Saint-Christophe this year, only furthering this wine’s already huge appeal, considering the overall quality and moderate price point. High-quality oak provides a lovely toasted, peppery spice aroma on the nose that interplays beautifully with lifted, lavender tones. There is a lovely finesse to the blackcurrant and plum fruit on the palate. It is concentrated, juicy and succulent, but not at all over-ripe. The fruit has a pristine character matching the detailed tannins, making for a moreish finish. With impressive length and fantastic balance, this is a top-value buy – and has never been better. The blend is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.
Quality at this estate continues to rise and David Suire has crafted a superb 2020. Despite being a blend of 99% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc, this wine has real freshness and an herbaceous edge to it. The nose is scented and enticing with aromas of Darjeeling tea, ripe plummy fruit and a fresher more redcurrant note. It’s a tight little wine at present, with a compacted palate full of promise and fine-grained tannins. There’s a lovely iron-like earthiness and long, saline finish.
The overriding quality of 2020 Berliquet is its clarity and purity of fruit. Strawberry, redcurrant and blackberry fruit fills the palate, while a lifted florality on the nose is allied to darker, spice notes adds aromatic complexity. The tannins are fully resolved – silky, dense and well coated with the concentrated fruit and no drying elements. The wine is medium-bodied with excellent balancing acidity and while it doesn’t have the depth of neighbouring Ch. Canon, it does have a similarly elegant profile and freshness.
Ch. Berliquet in Saint-Emilion
Clos du Clocher is a very expressive Pomerol in 2020, with crushed dried flowers and fresher violet aromas dominating the nose. It is already quite open on the palate with soft, juicy tannins. It is ripe, made in an opulent style, with black plum and classis fruit on the palate, as the violet tones continue to linger above. The fruit is pristine and the wine has an impressively long finish. It will no doubt be a top-value buy for the appellation and one to enjoy quite early.
This is a swarthy Lafon-Rochet, full of dark bramble and blackcurrant fruit, with aromas of almost curried spice, cloves and violets. The palate has a gorgeously silken mouth-feel, seeming plush even at this youthful stage. There’s a real weight of fruit with a wave of freshness and the firm, present tannins – beautifully ripe and integrated. There’s a compact core to the wine – packed full of bramble fruit and salinity. There’s a pepper and floral freshness to balance a slightly chocolatey density to the finish. The blend is 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot.
Domaines Barons de Rothschild has made significant investment in a new winery for Ch. Duhart-Milon and, if the 2020 is anything to go by, it was worth the expense. The uplifting fragrant yet classic nose of vanilla, menthol, cassis and graphite minerality screams Pauillac. There is a lovely finesse to the tannins – detailed, very fine and matched by a lovely juiciness on the mid-palate. It is so much plusher than normal, but very Lafite-like in its restraint. There is mouth-watering acidity too. This is excellent, medium-bodied classic Bordeaux with a long finish. This really is a step up for the estate, with a new level of elegance to the palate.
One of the most pleasant surprises in the Pauillac tasting was Ch. d’Armailhac, which seems to completely overdeliver in 2020. The colour is intense and the palate is beautifully ripe, while also remaining mouth-wateringly fresh. There is a lovely precision to the Cabernet fruit that makes it stand out. It is a very succulent and moreish wine. The tannins are very fine – firming up nicely on the finish and adding structure. You feel d’Armailhac made the most of the vintage, achieving full phenolic ripeness, while managing to retain freshness and a medium body. Impressive.
There’s a lovely crunch to the nose of 2020 Batailley – with aromas of redcurrant, raspberry, vibrant fresh blackcurrant, but it’s also really floral, with rose, violet, a white pepper spice, a little cocoa, and a savoury, barnyard touch behind. On the palate is soft and beautifully textured – like reams of silk, but then the wine firms up as layers of chalky tannins build up to give the wine structure. There’s a slight warmth of alcohol, but a wave of tart, almost green-apple acidity that keeps the wine feeling really fresh. Even now this feels surprisingly approachable, fresh and moreish, with a core of dark and savoury fruit. Once the scent of florals and red fruit fade, the finish is long, earthy and iron-edged.
Amongst the gardens at Ch. Langoa Barton, Saint-Julien
Ch. Langoa Barton is impressive in 2020. It has a lovely perfumed, floral nose with distinct violet tones. The ripe cassis fruit and milk chocolate flavours bring a lovely richness to the wine, but it is not at all overblown. The fruit is pristine, the tannins are serious yet refined and matched by a lovely natural juiciness. This is very well-balanced Saint-Julien from a vintage that seems to suit the Langoa terroir.
This is particularly attractive – a bright almost scarlet purple in the glass. The nose is opulent with rich, dark red cherry and plump plum fruit complemented by a floral lift and toasty undertones. On the palate, the fruit is bright and crunchy, with good density. Vibrant and silk-textured, the tannins are fine textured. A charming, quite exotic Margaux. The blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, aged in 40% new oak.
Explore Bordeaux 2020