Bordeaux Wine Vintage 2020 Is A Silky Delight
[This and another article published today complement each other.]
After sampling hundreds of wines and visiting multiple chateaux throughout Saint-Ãmilion, Pomerol, MÃ©doc, Graves, Bourg and Blaye in the Bordeaux region of southwest Franceâthe overall take on vintage 2020 isâin a word: stellar.
A mild, wet winter in 2019 and 2020 resulted in an early bud burst. The spring was a medley of bizarrely warm days in March and April (as well as periods of downpours), while the summer included two heat waves at the end of July and during early Augustâresulting in some heat stress and drought.
Left bank yields on Cabernet Sauvignon (according to Christian Seely of ChÃ¢teau Pichon-Baron) were relatively low due to the small size of berriesâbut provided intensity and purity with often refined tannins. According to Hubert de BoÃ¼ard of ChÃ¢teau Ãngelus, the dry season at the end of June did not lead to heat stress on much of the right bank due to the groundwater table having been well stocked from earlier precipitation. Merlot did exceptionally well.
Aromas of vintage 2020 red wines are often subdued, with those that are pronounced appearing more elegant than powerful.
In general, Bordeaux 2020 red wines have low-key but silky tannins, excellent (and in many cases, seamless) acidity/tannin/fruit integration, and generally vibrant acidity that shines a lighthouse beam on gorgeously rich, soft and often velvety fruit characteristics. The sleek and radiant acidity and its coziness with profound fruit aromas/flavors is a prominent aspect of the 2020 vintage. Whereas the overall quality of left bank reds is elevated and relatively consistent, the right bank is also, but includes a few almost outlier spikes in beautiful qualityâdue primarily (again) to precise, silky tannins, vibrant acidity and deeply satisfying fruit characteristics.
A few red wines include a lick of mildly bristling herbaceousnessâwhether in the form of eucalyptus, mint, sage or green grass characteristics. In general, this characteristic is innocuous to overall quality and the longer term character of vintage 2020 Bordeaux red wines.
Vintage 2020 is easy drinking now (which makes it comparableÂ 2016), yet will age well for decades.
When we recently met, StÃ©phanie de BoÃ¼ard-Rivoal, Executive Managing Director of ChÃ¢teau Ãngelus of Saint-Ãmilion, commented on the vintage.
â2020 is sublime, with the Cabernet Franc characterized by tension and freshness. The 2018 had more opulence, the 2019 was a classic Bordeaux vintage, and 2020 is somewhat in the middle.â
Many white 2020 Bordeaux wines sizzle with brilliant acidityâshowcasing honey and rich tropical fruits.
Some of the best quality wines (from my somewhat limited tastings) are described fully below. Other are described in another complementary article published today. For full descriptions, scores and a few recommended food pairings for these and dozens of other 2020 Bordeaux wines, click here to visit my VinoVoices website.
The wines listed below score a subjective 96, 97 or 98 points out of a 100-point scale. For 96 point wines, abbreviated descriptions are provided; full descriptions are on my VinoVoices website. Other excellent 94 and 95 point vintages are described in this additional Forbes article.
[A note about âscoringâ wines: I am not a winemaker. My âscoresâ for wine reviews are generally not low. I do not provide any scathing/negative reviews for any wine, but instead will exclude comments related to that wine from publication.]
ChÃ¢teau Beauregard. Pomerol. 2020. 97 to 98 points.
A 70/30 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc from 30-year-old vines. This wine ages 18 months in 45% new French oak from five different coopers, and a small portion ages in Italian fabricated terra cotta jars. Seductive young cherry aromas, as well as those of blueberries and moist earth. This is a wispy wonderâethereal, precise, silky and providing a creamy mid palate (as well as finish) that includes crisp and dark blackberries, blueberries, cherries as well as sultanas. Excellent, invisible integration of fine acidity, fruit and tannins.
ChÃ¢teau Ãngelus. Saint-Ãmilion Premier Grand Cru ClassÃ© âAâ. 2020. 97 to 98 points.
This 60/40 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc is made from vines having an average age of 38 years, and ages for up to 22 monthsâmostly in fine grain French oak barriques, but also in large foudre for some of the Cabernet Franc. It has complex though soft aromas that include lavender, black pepper, florals and fruit. A rainbow of fruits mid palate, a lingering attractive internal tension, and a juicy finish with fresh acidity. This is classic Ãngelusâcalm, becalming, and gloriously precise. Pair with a range of foodsâincluding grilled steak with shiitakes, or duck breast topped by foie gras. As CEO StÃ©phanie de BoÃ¼ard-Rivoal commented, âSince 2016, Ãngelus has been refining the power/elegance ratio to evolve slightly toward elegance.â
ChÃ¢teau Petit-Village. Pomerol. 2020. 97+ points.
A 60/32/8 blend of Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon from 35-year-old vines. Parcel based vinification in small concrete vats. Aged 16 months in 50% new French oak, with a small amount aged in amphorae. The label and bottle alone are visual and tactile art. Howeverâthe wine aligns: Distinct, precise and redolent aromas of black fruit, brownies, moist earth, slight mint, treacle and licorice. A dark and beautifully structured, flavor-saturated and memorable wine with a complex red and black fruit mid palate and a hint of iced, sliced cherries on the finish. True pleasure in a pour.
ChÃ¢teau La Fleur de BoÃ¼ard. Le Plus de la Fleur de BoÃ¼ard. Lalande de Pomerol. 2020. 95 to 97 points.
This 100% Merlot includes light and bright aromas that include those of raspberries, cherries, country lane hedgerow, and a little peat. Almost wildâsauvageâbut luscious and approachable. Gorgeous red fruit and billowing acidity in the mouth within a firm tannic structure. A rich and creamy mid palate that includes cassis, fudge, and cherries. The finish is a light touch. Consider pairing with artichoke and a rosemary sauce, or pata negra ham with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or a dessert of strawberry tart.
ChÃ¢teau Tour Peyronneau. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru. Cabernet Franc. 2020. 95 to 97 points.
No sulfites in this right bank blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Light red fruit aromas with slight menthol and hint of cumin. A seductively silky blockbuster in the mouth, with creamy cherries and mangoes mid palate, black cherries and black pepper on the finish. Complete integration of tannins and acidity.
ChÃ¢teau de Pressac. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru ClassÃ©. 2020. 95 to 97 points.
A Merlot dominant blend that includes Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and CarmÃ©nÃ¨re. Well-structured aromas of dark and red fruit, as well as some spice and earth characteristicsâsuch as mushrooms. A joyous mouthfulâwell balanced, seductively silky tannins, as well as rich and well-integrated juicy acidity. Pair with a spicy sirloin with mushrooms, or magret de canard duck breast or a stir fry vegetable medley. A joy to enjoy.
ChÃ¢teau Mondou. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru. 2020. 95 to 97 points.
This approximately two-thirds Merlot and one-third Cabernet Franc blend includes commanding and ebullient but dense and rich aromas of rich ripe red cherries, plums, blueberries, figs and treacle. A chewy, silky mid palate of fudge, chocolate brownies, cherry parfait, mint and anise. Complex and confident with layered tannins that are well-integrated with acidity. A joy. Consider pairing with Szechuan spicy beef, enchiladas or a Basque tart dessert.
ChÃ¢teau Monlot. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru. 2020. 95 to 97 points.
This 75/25 Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend includes aromas of brownies, oranges, red plums, sage and cocoa. Fresh and vibrant acidity. In the mouth, an even keeled, calm wine that includes well balanced, suave tannins. Includes rich red fruit mid palate and a dark licorice finish with a hint of spearmint.
ChÃ¢teau Monlot. Heritage de Monlot. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru. 2020. 95 to 97 points.
From owner Zhao Wei comes this 85/15 Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend that includes succulent, fresh and energetic aromas off wild strawberries, plums, lavender and sage and a little bit of coffee cake. In the mouthâlight and silky tannins, persistent and consistent acidity, plums and brownies mid palate and a lingering dark licorice/spearmint finish that keeps on giving. Consider pairing with Szechuan beef, a pastry and meat pie or a dessert that includes caramel.
ChÃ¢teau Fleur Cardinale. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru ClassÃ©. 2020. 96 to 97 points.
From new winemaking facilities at this Grand Cru ClassÃ© chÃ¢teau comes this 75% Merlot dominant blend that also includes Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich and sublime aromas of hedgerow wild fruitâblackberries and raspberriesâas well as layers of earth. In the mouth this is a layer cake of juicy surprises, including acidity with flavors of clementines, a dark mocha/aniseed matrix mid palate and a finish with a hint of cherries and mint. Rich, juicy acidity and firm though unobtrusive tannins. Once opened, this wine will not last long. A fun though seriously crafted wineâpair with lamb and mint sauce, even oysters with tabasco, or a dessert of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
Muse du Val. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru. 2020. 95 to 97 points.
A 50/50 Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend with a rich and diverse range of aromas that includes brownies, red currants, apple cider, wild raspberries and a hint of molasses. In the mouth silky tannins and a creamy, juicy river of citric fruit-tinged acidityâoranges and kiwisâin a matrix of sliced fresh cherries and treacle. This is a layer cake, a real joy that offers complexity, diversity, surprise and constant change in the mouth. Consider pairing with medium to well done sirloin steak, a quinoa and vegetable bowl or a dessert with chunks of bitter chocolate.
ChÃ¢teau Ripeau. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru ClassÃ©. 2020. 97 points.
From the GrÃ©goire family comes this 65/30/5 blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon that ages in 100% new French oak barrels. Juicy and light aromas that include raspberries, cherries, vanilla, slight menthol and even a little apricot. A bountiful wine with generous acidity and firm, low-key tannins that will have you demand a second glass. Cocoa, spices and shiitake mushrooms on the persistent finish. A layered, complex, delightful vintage. Bravo. Pair with filet mignon or hard cheeses.
Couvent des Jacobins. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru ClassÃ©. 2020. 96 to 97 points.
An 85/10/5 blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot from the first organic vintage from this chÃ¢teau. Includes low-key aromas of silky dark fruit and black cherries. Deep, dark and complex in the mouth with bracing acidity that highlight dark fruit. Textured and rich mid palate with suave tannins and slight raspberries on the finish.
ChÃ¢teaux Croix de Labrie. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru. 2020. 97+ points.
From Axelle and Pierre CourduriÃ© comes this 92/5/3 Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon Blend. A dizzying flurry of energetic rich red fruit aromasâa complex melee of wild strawberries, sliced black cherries, morels, chocolate wafers and even peppermint candy cane. Excellent integration between fruit, acidity and layered tannins provides a deeply scrumptious mid palate of profound fruit and a rich, enduring finish with a lick of anise. This is a vibrant, succulent, three-layer cake of elegant complexity. Spectacular. Consider pairing with a filet mignon, or a vegetable and black pepper broth.
ChÃ¢teau Saint-Hilaire. Cru Bourgeois SupÃ©rieur. MÃ©doc. 2020. 95 to 97 points.
This Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blend with Merlot includes gorgeously rich and complex aromas of red cherries, figs and plums. Complex and well-structured with vibrant tannins integrated well with acidity. A mid palate that includes plums and cherries and raspberries, with silky black cherries on the finish. Consider pairing with roast duck or cannelloni.
ChÃ¢teau Larose Perganson. Cru Bourgeois SupÃ©rieur. Haut-MÃ©doc. 2020. 97 points.
This Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blend with Merlot includes hearty, deep aromas of dark plums, cooked figs, minestrone, sultanas and mocha. Complex and beautifully beguiling. In the mouthâa voluptuous, creamy, silky mouth feel and shining acidity that highlights plum, stroganoff and cranberries mid palate. A hearty tannic and acidic finish. Pair with French dip with jus, clear beef broth or a salad with cauliflower, broccoli and cheddar.
ChÃ¢teau Montrose. Grand Cru ClassÃ©. Saint-EstÃ¨phe. 2020. 95 to 97 points.
A 71/23/5/1 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The mystical aromas here alone are worth 99 to 100 points: a silky and quiet first nose followed by a complex medley of black cherries, violets, blueberries, balsamic, cola and perhaps even truffles. In the mouthâintegrated, supple, delicate, fine and precise tannins, non-exuberant acidity (radiant but restrained) that includes a hint of citrics. A well-integrated and supple mid palate that includes flavors of treacle and wild strawberries and a little sage on the finish. Beautifully balanced. Pair with relatively delicate fareâconsider ostrich steaks or a butterscotch dessert.
ChÃ¢teau Lalaudey. Cru Bourgeois SupÃ©rieur. Moulis-en-MÃ©doc. 2020. 97 points.
A Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blend with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Jumping, energetic and uplifting aromas showcase citric acidity and attractive herbaceousness. Gorgeous mouthful with excellent tannic structure includes flavors of pomegranate and black cherries.
OTHER QUALITY WINES TO CONSIDER
The wines listed below would all score up to 96 points on a subjective, 100-point scale. For tasting notes, blends and suggested wine pairings for these vintage 2020 wines, visit my VinoVoices site. Additional wines are listed in this complementary Forbes article.
ChÃ¢teau Bernateau. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru. Merlot. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Bernateau. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Villemaurine. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru ClassÃ©. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau La Commanderie. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru ClassÃ©. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Adaugusta. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Tour de Pressac. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Laroze. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru ClassÃ©. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Petit Val. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru. 2020.
Couvent des Jacobins. Calicem. 2020. 94 to 96 points.
From winemaker Denis PomarÃ¨de and enologist Thomas Duclos comes this 100% Merlot is made from 60-year-old Merlot vines that ages in 500 liter oak casks. The expressive aromas need a few minutes to come marching out of the glass and include raspberries, cherries, morels ad salinity. Flavors include black cherries, raspberries and blueberries mid palate. Vibrant acidity and good structureâa quiet but elegant wine that still needs to age for two years to be more approachable. Pair with sirloin grilled over embers of burnt vines.
ChÃ¢teau Bellevue. Saint-Ãmilion Grand Cru ClassÃ©. 2020.
Carillon dâAngelus. Saint-Ãmilion. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Gouprie. Pomerol.
ChÃ¢teau La Fleur de BoÃ¼ard. Lalande-de-Pomerol. 2020.
Dame de BoÃ¼ard. Montagne Saint-Ãmilion. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Hyot. Castillon-CÃ´tes de Bordeaux. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Gaby CuvÃ©e. Canon-Fronsac. 2020. 94 to 96 points.
This 50/50 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc includes aromas of dark plums, figs, black pepper and cumin. Exceptionally luscious and silky tannins in the mouth as well as astoundingly deep flavors of dark fruits that include red and black cherries. Mid palate includes flavors of both fruit and crust from a dark blackberry crumble. Pair with barbecued beef or a vegetable platter with sweet potatoes and beans.
ChÃ¢teau Lamothe-Bergeron. Cru Bourgeois SupÃ©rieur. Haut-MÃ©doc. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Arnauld. Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. Haut-MÃ©doc. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Beaumont. Cru Bourgeois SupÃ©rieur. Haut-MÃ©doc. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Doyac. Cru Bourgeois SupÃ©rieur. Haut-MÃ©doc. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Les VimiÃ©res. Haut-MÃ©doc. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau SÃ©gur. Haut-MÃ©doc. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Soudars. Haut-MÃ©doc. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Verdignan. Haut-MÃ©doc. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Victoria. Cru Bourgeois. Haut-MÃ©doc. 2020.
Clos la BohÃ¨me. Cru Bourgeois SupÃ©rieur. Haut-MÃ©doc. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Bel Air Gloria. Cru Bourgeois SupÃ©rieur. Haut-MÃ©doc. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Haut-BeausÃ©jour. Saint-EstÃ¨phe. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau de CÃ´me. Cru Bourgeois SupÃ©rieur. Saint-EstÃ©phe. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Grand-Puy Ducasse. Grand Cru ClassÃ©. Pauillac. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Julia. Pauillac. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Teynac. Saint-Julien. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau DâArsac. Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. Margaux. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau La Tour de Bessan. Margaux. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Moutte Blanc. Cru Artisan. Margaux. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau de Chantegrive. âCaroline.â Graves. 2020.
Clos Castelot-Bussac. Graves de Vayres. 2020.
ENTRE-DEUX-MERS, BORDEAUX SUPÃRIEUR AND OTHERS
ChÃ¢teau Laurence. Grand Vin de Bordeaux. 2020.
Hubert de BoÃ¼ard. Chardonnay. IGP Atlantique. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau Boutillot. Bordeaux. 2020.
ChÃ¢teau du Cros. Loupiac. 2020.