Wine Lister’s partner critic platform, JancisRobinson.com has now released the majority of its scores for the 2020 vintage, helping to paint a better picture of some of the top en primeur picks.
Explore all Bordeaux 2020 scores here, or read more below.
With a shared score of 19 from James Lawther for JancisRobinson.com, First Growths Margaux and Lafite lead the pack alongside Pomerol’s beloved Lafleur. Lawther describes Margaux 2020 as “aromatically complex with floral, mineral and dark-fruit notes”, and notes that Lafite 2020 is “rich, but with a massive charge of fine-grained tannin and lingering freshness” on the palate.
Fellow First Growths Haut-Brion and Mouton follow shortly after with a score of 18.5, shared with Lafleur’s neighbouring property, Petrus, and Saint-Estèphe staple, Cos d’Estournel.
Pomerol represents eight out of the 39 wines earning 17.5 and over from the JancisRobinson.com critics, recalling sentiments that earlier-ripening Merlots fared best in the latest vintage. Joining Lafleur and Petrus, Vieux Château Certan, Le Pin, Trotanoy, l’Eglise Clinet, Certan de May, and La Fleur-Pétrus earn a score of 17.5 for their 2020s.
Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc is the only dry white Bordeaux to gain a score of 17.5 and above from JancisRobinson.com critics so far. Robinson tasted the wine herself, and observes that it is “already gorgeous” with “some richness on palate entry” that “gives way to really fantastic vibrancy on the palate”.
Also featured in the list of Bordeaux 2020s earning 17.5 and over from Wine Lister partner critic platform, JancisRobinson.com are: Calon Ségur, Pichon Baron, Palmer, Léoville Barton, Pavie, Angélus, Pichon Comtesse, Léoville Las Cases, Montrose, Ausone, La Mission Haut-Brion Rouge, Trotanoy, Duhart-Milon, Figeac, Durfort-Vivens, Clerc-Milon, Carruades de Lafite, Le Petit Mouton, Rauzan-Ségla, Canon, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Léoville Poyferré, Meyney, Belair-Monange, Gruaud-Larose, and d’Issan.
Explore the top Bordeaux 2020 scores from Bettane+Desseauve, Neal Martin and Antonio Galloni (Vinous), and Jeannie Cho Lee.
2020 is an unprecedented vintage both in terms of the pandemic context and its juxtaposition of tannic power and exquisite freshness. On both banks of Bordeaux, the wines are characterised by an early growing season that underwent a series of extremes: a warmer winter than usual, a rainier spring, and a record dry summer, without so much as a drop of rain from mid-June to mid-August, then finally exceedingly hot during the harvest (one should spare a thought for the masked pickers). In spite of such difficulties, Veronique Sanders of Château Haut-Bailly notes that “the easy vintages in Bordeaux used to be the best ones, but in recent years that’s not the case”.
Left: Baptise Guinaudeau of Lafleur and Grand Village / Right: Véronique Sanders of Haut-Bailly and Le Pape
Henri Lurton, owner of Château Brane-Cantenac in Margaux, referred to 2020 as a “quite unique” vintage, both “hot and classic” at the same time. This observation is echoed by Baptiste Guinaudeau, co-owner of Château Lafleur in Pomerol, who recognises in 2016, 2018, and now 2020, a new type of growing season that didn’t exist before, uniting a big, sunny vintage like 2009 with a more classical vintage like 2008. 2020 is “multiple vintages in a single wine”, according to Lafleur’s cellar master, Omri Ram.
While several wines in 2020 in have record tannic density, you wouldn’t know it without the technical analyses. When you taste the wines, this power hidden by a delicate, diaphanous veil. Acidity remains decently high, and alcohol relatively low, allowing the wines to maintain the classicism that we recognise and love in Bordeaux.
In a year where the Bordelais couldn’t go on their usual marketing trips to the US, China and beyond, they were closer to the vines and to nature. This often meant whole teams dedicated to the vine-growing and winemaking instead of sales and marketing. This often meant whole teams dedicated to the vine-growing and winemaking instead of sales and marketing. “Un vin d’équipe”, says Marielle Cazaux, technical director of La Conseillante, referring to the unprecedented “team effort”, as the office staff worked in the vineyards, helping the vines through extreme rain, then drought, then heat.
Completing a trilogy of excellent vintages, after 2018 et 2019, 2020 is nonetheless more heterogeneous, where the top terroirs were best able to cope with the extreme climatic conditions. Each appellation boasts some exceptional wines, be it Pauillac, Pessac-Léognan or Pomerol. And these wines have a floral freshness, often of peonies or iris (the latter a scent deriving from merlot when it undergoes hydric stress).
Finally, the whites deserve a special mention in 2020. A vintage for lovers of richer, creamier whites, we found the best almost Burgundian, without the varietal grassiness of Sauvignon Blanc.