Following a French national holiday on Monday 6th June, this year’s Bordeaux en primeur releases have picked up momentum this week, with new entries from the likes of Lafite, Troplong-Mondot, Canon, and Rauzan-Ségla over the past two days.
The first of the Firsts was released on Tuesday 7th June, with Lafite 2021 entering the market at £484 per bottle – below every single back vintage on the market, and 19% and 27% below the current price of the 2020 and 2019 vintages respectively. The latest release is made from 96% Cabernet Sauvignon – the highest percentage since 2016 (and 1961 before that). Domaines Barons de Rothschild sibling, L’Evangile, also released on Tuesday at £185 per bottle (flat on the 2020 release price), having been met with positive feedback from several trade members during tasting week.
Troplong-Mondot 2021 released at £71 per bottle (1% down on the 2020 release price). Tasting at the property, Wine Lister was reminded by CEO, Aymeric de Gironde that 2021 was the first vintage of Troplong-Mondot made in the estate’s new 42-cuves-strong cellar, which de Gironde said “was perfect timing, as we no longer had to make any winemaking compromises”.
One of the Wine Lister team’s favourite wines from tasting week, Montrose 2021 entered the market on Wednesday 8th June at £113.40 per bottle, with the latest release marking the property’s first year of organic conversion. Technical Director, Vincent Decup, told us, “We have never done so much [in the vineyard]. To compensate for the rain, we have left more grass between the vines, trimmed higher, thinned the leaves on both sides”.
Canon 2021 was also released on Wednesday at £90 per bottle, offering a 32% and 22% discount on the current market prices of the 2020 and 2019 vintages respectively. Canon ranks in sixth place for top confidence ratings from key international trade members, (see more in Part I of Wine Lister’s Bordeaux Study 2022), as shown in the chart below.
Chanel sibling Rauzan-Ségla 2021 followed suit, entering the market at £60 per bottle (14% and 27% below the current 2020 and 2019 prices). Managing Director, Nicolas Audebert told Wine Lister that 2021 was “the most stressful and exhausting vintage ever” at Rauzan-Ségla, though he believes the 2021 is “as good as the last three vintages”. Following the highest amount of intra-parcel zoning ever done in the vineyard, the team were able to better identify the very best lots, and make a wine that Wine Lister’s CEO, Ella Lister describes as having “Noble flavours, an inimitable poise and texture, like a Chanel coat”.
Also released on Wednesday at £48 per bottle, La Gaffelière 2021 sits just below current market prices of the last three vintages, which have all seen price growth in the secondary market. The Wine Lister team found La Gaffelière 2021 to be dangerously drinkable, and at £48, it represents strong value for its quality within Saint-Emilion. Similarly featured in Wine Lister’s latest Bordeaux Study, La Gaffelière has increased its Wine Lister trade confidence rating hugely year-on-year, by almost 2 points out of 10.
Also released during this period: Fieuzal, Fieuzal Blanc, Kirwan, Dame de Montrose, Meyney, Grand-Puy-Ducasse, Phélan Ségur, Beauregard, Clerc-Milon, and d’Issan
While the campaign is starting to pick up speed, with many producers having released their wines just before the UK’s Queen’s Platinum Jubilee bank holidays, the pricing of en primeur is not living up to the market’s expectations. May ended with a short week that saw some key releases, including Château Pédesclaux, Château Marquis de Terme, Château d’Armailhac, Château Talbot and Château Suduiraut.
Château Marquis de Terme
Château Pédesclaux was the first wine to be released this week, going on sale on Monday 30th May, at £26.25 per bottle (all prices are quoted per bottle In Bond ex-VAT and duty), a lower price than the seven previous vintages available. Since its acquisition 13 years ago in 2009 by Jacky Lorenzetti, the quality of the wine has been steadily increasing (doubtless thanks to the investment made by its owner).
Tuesday 31st was marked by a number of releases, including several Sauternes. Château Suduiraut was released at £59.40, a historically high price, justified by the vanishingly small quantities produced (yields of just 1 hl/hectare), linked to the extreme weather conditions. Christian Seely, general manager, describes the 2021 as “tragically beautiful”. Indeed, Suduiraut 2021 is the highest rated vintage by critics since 2009, and the second best of its appellation by Wine Lister score, all vintages combined (coming just after Yquem).
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey was released shortly after Château Suduiraut, with a release price of £58.44. The 2021 is also one of the most expensive vintages ever produced by the estate, along with the 2019 and 2018, justified by the tiny volume of only 1,200 bottles. The wines will feature special labels designed by Lalique.
Also released on Tuesday 31st, Château Marquis de Terme came onto the market at £29.40, 8% below the current price of the 2020. The 2021 received a positive review from Ella Lister tasting for Le Figaro, who noted “a level of sophistication, which shows that the gradual progress of this wine over the last few years is thanks to fundamental changes whose positive effect can be seen even in a more difficult vintage.” This was followed by the release of Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry, at £37.00, below the current market prices of the previous three vintages.
Tuesday also saw the release of Château d’Armailhac at £32.60, similarly priced to the 2020 and 7% below the 2019, which is available in bottle. This vintage, described as a “terroir vintage”, clearly showed itself in the 2021 Château d’Armailhac, where Cabernets are king (with perhaps a new level of grace compared to previous vintages).
Château Talbot came onto the market on Wednesday 1 June at £39.35, slightly below the release prices for the previous 2020 and 2019 vintages. It was closely followed by Château Larrivet Haut-Brion rouge, released at £23.59, and whose 2021 marks a turn towards the future style of the wines, containing no Merlot in its final blend (resulting in a 20% reduction in volume). “It was just better without,” confided Bruno Lemoine, general manager, as warmer temperatures continue to force earlier ripening dates for the variety.
Despite the bank holiday in the UK, a key market for Bordeaux, Thursday saw the release of several wines at very similar prices to last year, despite the drop in quality, namely Châteaux Gazin, Prieuré-Lichine, Canon-la-Gaffelière and Lagrange.
Also released this week: Châteaux Malartic-Lagravière Rouge et Blanc, Siran, Péby Faugères, Marquis d’Alesme, Branaire-Ducru, Lynch-Bages, Grand-Mayne, du Tertre, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, La Mondotte and Carbonnieux Rouge et Blanc.
As the Bordeaux en primeur campaign continues, Wine Lister examines the best-quality wines from a challenging vintage (read our vintage report here).
Wine Lister’s partner critics’ scores are now all in, and with one new addition for the 2021 en primeur campaign: Le Figaro’s scores have been added to those of Wine Lister’s existing critics (Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin from Vinous, Jancis Robinson, Bettane+Desseauve, and Jeannie Cho-Lee) to create the overarching Wine Lister 100-point score. The top 29 wines of the vintage are shown below.
From a year acknowledged as the most complicated vintage since 2013, 29 wines achieve WL scores of 95 and over, compared to 43 last year. Wine Lister’s 100-point score combines normalised scores from Wine Lister’s partner critics. For the first time this year, the score also includes ratings from Wine Lister’s parent affiliate, Le Figaro Vin.
Bordeaux 2021 – Wine Lister scores of 95 and above
In 2021, the top- scoring wine is L’Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne from the Sauternes appellation with a score of 97 points – one point up on its score in 2020 . Two other sweet wines make the top cut – Suduiraut and Rieussec – in a year that has produced beautiful Sauternes and Barsac wines, if very little of them. Indeed, wines from sweet appellations in 2021 show quality overall that is unsurpassed since the 2015 vintage.
These are joined by two dry whites – Haut-Brion Blanc and La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, earning 96 and 95 points respectively. Haut-Brion’s red counterpart and Lafite take an equal lead over fellow first growths, Latour, Margaux, and Mouton in 2021.
Also equalling the impressive score of 96 is super-second, Ducru-Beaucaillou, and left bank darlings, Cheval Blanc and Lafleur (both already released – see our latest release blog for details).
Of the 19 reds earning a score of 95, 11 (or 58%) hail from Saint-Emilion and Pomerol collectively. This is perhaps surprising, given that the vintage is reported as having been more difficult for Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon. With fewer top-scoring wines than last year, the 2021 vintage is all about terroir and resources, with first growths and renowned right bank stars dominating the list.
However, even top scores are lower than in 2020. In 2020, the highest scoring wine was Chateau Margaux with a Wine Lister score of 98, 10 wines scored 97 points and 14 wines scored 96 points (compared to just one 97-pointer in 2021, six 96-point wines and 22 95-point wines).
That’s an average top 29 score of 96.3 in 2020 compared with 95.3 in 2021. That the difference is only one point in the context of such a difficult vintage is surely a reflection of excellent wine making across the region.
Most of the ranking movements are therefore relative, reflecting the fact that scoring 96-97 points in the 2020 vintage was more widespread that in 2021. For example, Suduiraut gains 31 places in 2021 despite also achieving a 96-point rating in 2020. Similarly, Troplong-Mondot and Le Pin are also risers despite their scores remaining unchanged compared to 2020.
One particular success among this is La Gaffelière, which ranks 15th in 2021 with a score of 95, a three point increase on its 2020 score of 92.
While this year’s en primeur releases are yet to kick into full gear, the past week has seen key entries from the likes of Berliquet, Pontet-Canet, Palmer, Haut-Batailley, Lafleur, and more. Reporting on a shorter week of releases than usual due to the French bank holiday on Thursday 26th May, we examine the latest 2021s to market.
Released on Tuesday 24th May at £38.15 per bottle, Berliquet achieves its highest-ever combined score from Wine Lister partner critics, Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin (Vinous), who both award 91-93 points. While up on the last two years’ release prices, one top UK merchant has informed us that this is understandable at this stage in Berliquet’s progression, especially considering the comparable rise in quality and pricing from its Chanel siblings, Rauzan-Ségla and Canon.
This was followed shortly by Pontet-Canet 2021, which is so far being offered at around £74.17 per bottle. While slightly up on last year’s release price, it still poses as a good-value pick relative to its appellation, especially considering its status as the sixth-highest scoring Pauillac according to WL score (see here).
Also entering the market on Tuesday, Palmer’s 2021 vintage is another stand-out offering from the estate, reminding the Wine Lister team of a Palmer from the 1990s, but with more energy and ripeness. At £237 per bottle, the 2021 opens 1% below the 2020 release price, while volume released is down 30% this year. This, alongside strong critics’ scores and a propitious renovation programme currently underway, should no doubt encourage the success of the latest release.
This week saw releases from Palmer – tasted by the Wine Lister team in the cellar
Released on Wednesday 25th May, Haut-Batailley 2021 is so far being offered at around £39 per bottle (slightly down on the 2020 release price). As with the other Cazes properties, mildew pressure has impacted the yields in 2021, and volume produced is down 10% compared to the 2020. Its sibling in Saint-Estèphe, Les Ormes de Pez 2021 followed suit, and is so far being offered at around £18 per bottle – also fractionally down on last year’s release.
Finishing the week with a bang, Lafleur 2021 was released on Friday 27th May through its UK agent, Justerini & Brooks at £542.33 per bottle. While entering the market 3% and 12% up on the 2020 and 2019 release prices respectively, there is no remaining availability of last year’s release on the market, and the 2019 has more than doubled in price since its release. As the second-best Quality performer of red Bordeaux in 2021 (after Cheval Blanc), and with a history of consistent and impressive price performance post-release, this will be one of the best buys of the campaign for those lucky enough to get their hands on it.
Also released during this period: Sociando-Mallet, Laroque, Alter Ego, Clos du Marquis, and Nénin.
Wine Lister’s COO, Chloe Ashton shares her thoughts on this year’s en primeur campaign so far.
The latest Bordeaux en primeur campaign is already underway, with Batailley 2021 opening the stage at the beginning of last week, and Domaines Baron de Rothschild’s Carruades and Duhart-Milon following suit. Cantemerle’s release on Friday 13th rounded out the week, and thus far starting prices have been a relatively pleasant surprise.
What does the trade expect from this year’s campaign?
In Part I of Wine Lister’s annual Bordeaux study, we asked key members of the global fine wine trade about their expectations ahead of the 2021 campaign. Of 47 respondents, half expected prices to be somewhat more expensive, or significantly more expensive than 2020 vintage releases, after rumblings on La Place of strong trading over the past few months.
Bordeaux study (p.10): Founding members survey – 2021 release price expectations
After the first physical en primeur week in Bordeaux since the 2018 vintage (our view of the vintage can be found here), the trade will at least have had the chance to work their way through a vintage so complex that tasting was surely a necessity. With such a heterogenous vintage, pricing strategies should logically also be extremely varied, making the potential successes of 2021 sales difficult to predict. Nonetheless, here’s what we know:
- Wine Lister’s annual Bordeaux study reveals that confidence in Bordeaux us up. Respondents increased ratings on last year for three quarters of the wines included in our study – after so many trade members have been reminded of the joys of tasting in situ, both these elements could contribute to campaign positivity and momentum, with merchants backing those properties they historically believe in, and/or were indeed impressed by during en primeur tastings
- 2021 appears to be a vintage that speaks from the soil, so imparting knowledge of the best terroirs to customers should help to create demand for the best-performing wines in general
- Outside of focusing only on the very best, 2021 may be a vintage for pleasant surprises – the fresher, lower-alcohol, and more classical style of wines certainly garner appeal from traditional palates, so any merchant or collector seeking this style of drinking experience in the near to mid future could do well in seeking out some of the better-value wines hailing from this complicated campaign
Wine Lister’s wine-by-wine analysis of this year’s campaign is available in email newsletter form through a Pro+ subscription. For more information on this, please contact us.
In anticipation of this year’s en primeur releases, Wine Lister has published Part 1 of its annual in-depth Bordeaux Study. In collaboration with the world’s most visited wine website, Wine-Searcher, our market overview examines the region’s price performance and comparative popularity progression. Drawing upon valuable insight from 47 leading trade survey respondents, the study also identifies which properties have benefited from a rise in trade confidence over the past year, and explores recommendations for châteaux and merchants to see a successful 2021 en primeur campaign.
Please see our key findings below:
You can download the study digest here: Wine Lister 2022 Bordeaux Study – Digest. The full report can be purchased on our Analysis page, while Pro subscribers can access their free copy here. For further information on the data source, please see the Wine-Searcher website here.
A tour of the town with our Pessac-Léognan friends
The Larrivet Haut-Brion team joined Wine Lister to catch up with industry friends and meet some new faces in London’s fine wine scene after two years of restricted travel. Alongside a wine and cheese consumer tasting and a trade lunch, a series of individual merchant meetings provided the chance for the team to reunite with a market close to their hearts.
Larrivet Haut-Brion in London: (from left) Brand Ambassador Clara Bouineau, Technical Director François Godichon, Managing Director Bruno Lemoine
What are the latest developments at Larrivet Haut-Brion?
The viticultural evolution at Larrivet Haut-Brion kick-started with the arrival of their Managing Director, Bruno Lemoine in 2007. Fascinated by the mosaic soil structure unique to the property (with top-soils composed in patterns of graves, colluviums, or sand and clay-limestone), Bruno conducted extensive terroir analysis which informed a detailed replanting programme, allowing the team to better match grape varieties to soil types for optimum quality. Among other changes, this led to an increased proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc vines planted across the vineyard sites.
Further changes were implemented in 2015 with the arrival of Technical Director, François Godichon, who integrated several new production methods informed by his Burgundian roots. His parcel-led approach was reinforced in 2018 with the construction of a new cellar with space and facilities for a more precise vinification of individual micro-plots.
The final piece in Larrivet Haut-Brion’s winemaking puzzle, Cellar Master, Charlotte Mignon joined the team in 2020 and drives continuous experimentations with different ageing vessels, including combinations of concrete eggs, terracotta amphorae, and both new and old oak barrels. With Charlotte unavailable to join the visit (having just welcomed her second child), the London trio was completed by the property’s Brand Ambassador, Clara Bouineau, who joined the team in January 2022.
Wine and cheese tasting: Bruno and François tell guests about their wine (left), wine and cheese at Must & Lees (middle), Bruno pouring wine for guests (right)
A marriage of Bordeaux wine with British cheese
The first stop on Larrivet Haut-Brion’s London tour was specialist wine shop Must & Lees, where the team was joined by some of North London’s Bordeaux enthusiasts for a wine and cheese evening on Wednesday 23rd February. Celebrating the estate’s commitment to the UK market, Wine Lister and Larrivet Haut-Brion devised a tasting format that showcased their red and white wines alongside a selection of 100% British cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy. While providing the opportunity for the team to build relationships with its consumers, the evening showcased the suitability of Larrivet Haut-Brion wines with some of the UK’s favourite fromages, including the likes of St Jude and Colston Bassett Stilton.
Wine and cheese pairing: Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2017 with Sinodun Hill, Les Demoiselles Blanc 2019 with St Jude, Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2014 with Baron Bigod, Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2007 with Durrus, Les Demoiselles Rouge 2019 with Ogleshield, Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge 2017 with Colston Bassett Stilton
Frederick’s trade lunch: François opening a 2015 magnum (left), magnums on display with bespoke booklet (middle), Bruno presenting a magnum (right)
A taste for technical developments
Having already met with some of London’s key fine wine merchants, on Thursday 24th February, Wine Lister invited a handful of its fine wine trade and press friends for lunch at Frederick’s to discover some of Larrivet Haut-Brion’s best recent vintages in magnum.
With positive feedback across the board, Larrivet Haut-Brion’s whites showed freshness and complexity, thanks to the blending of Sauvignon Blanc with Sémillon from old vines grown on limestone soils. Alongside an impressive showing of some iconic recent vintages of reds (including 2005, 2010, 2015), the 2017 Rouge provided a promising picture of the future of Larrivet Haut-Brion 2021, with a low proportion of Merlot offset by a higher percentage of Cabernet Franc mirroring the projected blend of this year’s release – which may contain no Merlot at all.
To round off the lunch, the Larrivet Haut-Brion team poured some of their favourite wines from outside the property – an exercise that they believe is crucial to learn and gain inspiration from others. Amongst their “beyond Bordeaux” selection were Pierre Gerbais’ Prestige Extra Brut, Mas Jullien 2018, and Domaine Moingeon Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Sur Gamay 2018 – each giving guests a glimpse into the team’s personal preferences.
Wines tasted: Les Demoiselles Rouge 2019, Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge 2019, Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge 2018, Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge 2017, Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge 2016, Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge 2015, Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge 2010, Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge 2005, Les Demoiselles Blanc 2020, Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2020, Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2019, Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2018, Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2011
For further information on WLPR’s tastings and events, please contact the team here.
Rounding off this year’s en primeur campaign, Wine Lister’s partner critic platform, JancisRobinson.com has now published its top Burgundy 2020 scores, with further insight into the latest vintage from Jancis Robinson, alongside Matthew Hayes, and fellow Masters of Wine, Andy Howard and Julia Harding.
Explore all Burgundy 2020 scores here, or read more below.
Amongst the 36 Burgundy 2020s that earn 18 and over, five wines receive 18.5 points and two receive a score of 19 – a slight reduction from the number of top scorers in last year’s campaign, with Jancis awarding 18.5 points to 18 Burgundy 2019s and a score of 19 to four wines.
Whites continue to steal the show across this year’s releases, with four receiving a score of 18.5 and above – compared to just one featured within the same parameters last year. Sharing a near-perfect score of 19 are Montrachets from Comtes Lafon and Leflaive – Matthew Haynes describes the former as “honed, dense, and focused”, and the latter as having a “beautiful balance and drive.”
Two producers dominate JancisRobinson.com’s top Côte de Nuits red scores; Armand Rousseau is featured five times in the list, for its Chambertin Clos de Bèze, Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint Jacques, Chambertin, Clos de la Roche, and Ruchottes-Chambertin Clos des Ruchottes, and Jean Grivot earns four places, with Richebourg, Echezeaux, Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots, and Vosne-Romanée Aux Reginots all achieving 18 points.
Despite the hot and dry summer causing difficulty to some of the Côte de Beaune reds, four wines from Volnay shine through; Michel Lafarge’s Volnay Les Caillerets and Clos du Château des Ducs, and Joseph Voillot’s Volnay Champans and Les Caillerets.
Discover more Burgundy 2020 scores from Wine Lister’s partner critic, Neal Martin here, an regional specialist, Jasper Morris here.
Insight from Burgundy’s regional specialist
Wine Lister’s partner critic and leading Burgundy expert, Jasper Morris MW completed the release of his Burgundy 2020 scores last week. Below we take a closer look at his top ratings per appellation subset.
How did Burgundy’s appellations perform in 2020?
Jasper Morris’ Burgundy 2020 report outlines the challenges brought about by such a hot and dry summer, with soaring temperatures throughout August leading to a deficit of juice, particularly in Pinot Noir. The inability of certain rootstock to deal with the hot dry conditions led to the threat of dieback disease (a fungal disease that attacks the trunk, appearing more frequently in stressed vines), with Jasper noting he has “never seen as many vines being ripped out as [he] did in autumn 2020”. Indeed, both factors resulted in relatively low yields for reds, with a number of producers in the Côte de Nuits having “made more wine in the frost-damaged 2021 vintage than they did in 2020.”
Nonetheless, Jasper reported that the hydric stress “concentrated everything, including acidity”, identifying wines with “profound intensity beyond anything [he] saw in 2018 and 2019.” He describes a “universally successful vintage for the white wines”, and a “wider range of styles and successes in the reds”.
Côte de Nuits
With almost all of his top scores given as ranges, much of Jasper’s tasting this year took place whilst wines were still in barrel, as many producers were “tempted to increase the length of élevage for their wines, especially the reds, given the exceptional concentration of the fruit”. This contrasts with the majority of singular scores awarded to the in-bottle samples he rated at the same time last year, and while 2019 did not see any potential 100-point wines, the Côte de Nuits 2020s have five.
The selection includes Duroché’s Chambertin Clos de Bèze and Armand Rousseau’s Chambertin, with the former released as a limited edition cuvée to mark 100 years since the Duroché family planted vines on the site. Also potentially perfect are Guyon’s Echezeaux and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s La Tâche, with Jasper suggesting the former “could be THE wine of the vintage.” Completing the line-up is Perrot-Minot’s Richemone Vieilles Vignes, a Premier Cru with a vibrancy that Jasper considers “almost unsurpassed anywhere in the Côte”.
Within Morey-Saint-Denis and its surrounding Grands Crus, Clos de Tart’s namesake cuvée shares the top score for a second year in a row, earning 96 – 98 points, having been complimented for its “spectacular depth”. Clos de Lambrays – nurtured by Clos de Tart’s previous winemaker, Jacques Devauges, since 2019 – matches the rating.
Côte de Beaune – reds
Jasper reports that the most challenging conditions were felt where grapes typically ripen first, including the southern villages of Volnay and Corton. Despite this, several reds including Michel Lafarge’s Volnays Clos des Chênes and Clos du Château des Ducs, and Chandon de Briailles’ Corton Clos du Roi fare well, the latter described as having the “most sensual nose of all”, with notes of “alpine raspberries”.
Côte de Beaune – whites
Jasper awards 71 white Burgundy 2020s a score of 94 – 96 and above, compared with last year’s 29 wines scoring 95 and above. He stresses the success of the 2020 vintage across the whites, with Chardonnay grapes retaining more juice than Pinot Noir, and benefitting from a longer ripening time. Montrachet and associated white Grands Crus saw two wines with a potential 99 points – Marc Colin’s Montrachet and Louis Jadot’s Bâtard-Montrachet.
Bouchard Père et Fils’ Corton-Charlemagne achieves a score of 95 – 98, and is praised for expressing “a really impressive wealth of fruit”. Earning the only potential 100-point score for whites in 2020, Arnaud Ente’s Meursault La Sève du Clos was particularly memorable, with Jasper affirming that he has “never seen this consistently great wine as expressive before”.
Explore Jasper Morris’ full Burgundy 2020 report here. For more Burgundy 2020 commentary from our partner critics, recap Neal Martin’s ratings here, and stay tuned for the last lot of scores from Jancis Robinson.com.
The first of Wine Lister’s partner critics to release scores for the latest Burgundy vintage, Neal Martin’s assessment (for Vinous) provides initial insight into some of the top en primeur picks in 2020.
What do we know about Burgundy’s 2020 vintage so far?
2020 will be remembered as a year that saw some of the earliest harvest dates ever recorded in Burgundy, with several of the region’s producers picking as early as 12th August. Though following the pattern of recent vintages marked by warm and dry growing seasons, the threat of drought was partly alleviated by significant rainfall during the winter months through to spring, which ensured water reserves were replenished ahead of the heat. Some Pinot Noir producers nonetheless saw a drop in yields, particularly on sites with poorer soils, and thus restricted water retention ability.
Dry conditions during ripening minimised the threat of disease and mildew, which was valuable for the healthy growth of red and white grapes. Despite the earlier harvest, the grapes saw excellent ripening and phenolic development, while high levels of evaporation concentrated sugars, flavours, and acidity.
Compared to the 19 wines that Neal Martin awarded 96-98 and above last year, there are an impressive 40 wines within the same parameter for the 2020 vintage. While there were no wines that earned a potential perfect score in 2019, Georges Roumier’s Musigny and Armand Rousseau’s Chambertin Clos-de-Bèze receive 99-100 and 98-100 points respectively in 2020. Neal Martin notes that the top-scoring reds of the vintage all share an excellent acidity, which “lends the 2020s a sense of brightness”.
Also faring notably well, Comte Liger-Belair’s La Romanée, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s La Tâche, Georges Roumier’s Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses, Hudelot-Noëllat’s Richebourg, Louis Jadot’s Musigny, and Tawse’s Mazoyères Chambertin earn scores of 97-99.
Whites worth trying
Four whites hailing from Montrachet appear on the list, with offerings from Comtes Lafon, Domaine d’Eugénie, Etienne Sauzet, and Marc Colin each earning a score of 96-98. Neal Martin describes mineral notes across each, having written that this was one of the great attributes of the top whites in the vintage – especially across those grown on more “calcareous soils” akin to that which Montrachet boasts. Following the trend of white burgundy producers using less new oak, Marc Colin uses only old oak barrels for the first time in this vintage, while Comtes Lafon matured Montrachet in one-third new oak instead of 100%.
Discover Neal Martin’s full list of Burgundy 2020 scores here. Watch this space for further Burgundy 2020 score updates from Wine Lister’s partner critics, JancisRobinson.com, and specialist Burgundy critic, Jasper Morris MW.