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.
Wine Lister is excited to announce the addition of a new partner critic in time for the Bordeaux 2021 en primeur campaign. Scores from Le Figaro are now included in the 100-point Wine Lister aggregated score, alongside those of existing partner critics (Jancis Robinson, Bettane+Desseauve, Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin from Vinous, Jeannie Cho Lee, and Jasper Morris).
Since Wine Lister’s acquisition by Groupe Figaro in 2020, founder and CEO, Ella Lister, has been in charge of tasting for Le Figaro, including Bordeaux as well as other regions such as Burgundy and Champagne, with the support of a panel of expert tasters across these and other French regions*.
Having tasted 380 Bordeaux wines during en primeur, we examine below Ella’s top scores for the 2021 vintage.
41 wines achieve a score of 93-96 or above. While none receive a full 100-point rating, Les Carmes Haut-Brion comes the closest to perfect, with a potential score of 99.
The 36 reds are otherwise split evenly across both banks, with 17 left bank, and 19 right bank stars. Of first growths, Ella awards the highest scores to Haut-Brion and Latour (96-98), while Lafite receives 95-98, and Margaux and Mouton share a score of 95-97.
Super-seconds Ducru-Beaucaillou and Pichon Baron earn the highest scores of their classification (95-98), while Léoville Las Cases and Pichon Comtesse also fare well, matching Mouton’s score of 95-97.
Three dry whites – Haut-Brion Blanc, La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, and Margaux’s Pavillon Blanc appear in Ella’s top 41. Two sweet white gems – de Fargues and Suduiraut complete the set of top scorers.
Click here to view and search all Figaro scores on the Wine Lister website.
*including for de Fargues, rated by Figaro journalist Béatrice Delamotte, who also tasted a handful of the other wines in the table above alongside Ella Lister.
The first Bordeaux 2021 en primeur releases have started to trickle through over the past two weeks, with key entries from Batailley, Carruades de Lafite, Duhart-Milon, Pavie, Cheval Blanc, Léoville Las Cases, Angélus, and the Barton family wines.
Kicking things off on Monday 9th May, Batailley 2021 was released at £27.50 per bottle (flat on the 2020 and 2019 release prices), setting a positive pricing tone in a year where reduced quantities had prompted apprehension. Indeed, the estate’s Managing Director, Frédéric Castèja informed Wine Lister that Batailley saw no mildew in 2021, and yields are therefore at a “normal” 50 hl/ha.
Released on Thursday 12th May at £165 per bottle, Carruades de Lafite 2021 similarly presents a discount on the 2020 and 2019 release prices, while entering the market below current prices of all recent back-vintages. The wine has shown to be one of the best price performers post-release in Wine Lister’s latest Bordeaux Study, with the 2020 already witnessing a 39% price increase over the past year. Carruades’ younger cousin, Duhart-Milon 2021 was also released on Thursday at £56 per bottle.
Another encouraging price move countering the early fears of the trade, Pavie 2021 was released on Wednesday 18th May at £232 per bottle – offering a discount of 3%-13% on all physical vintages back to 2015. Cheval Blanc 2021 was released on Thursday 19th May at a slight premium on the past two years’ release prices, though still below average prices of all back-vintages on the market up until 2014. With a quality that matches recent top vintages (2019, 2018, 2016, 2015), while priced at an average 28% below them, the 2021 has already seen successes. Indeed, one top UK merchant reports having sold “even more than last year”.
Cheval Blanc’s Technical Director, Pierre–Olivier Clouet, taking the Wine Lister team through the 2021s
A similarly successful entry (in the words of another top UK merchant), Léoville Las Cases 2021 was released on Friday 20th May at £162.50 per bottle – a significant 18% down on the 2020 release price. As well as offering the greatest discount from last year’s opening price seen of key releases thus far in the campaign, the 2021 receives a score of 94-96 from both Vinous’ Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin.
Upping the pace this week (on Monday 23rd May), we saw further releases from Angélus and the Barton family. The 2021 is the first vintage of Léoville Barton and Langoa Barton vinified in the Barton family’s new winery, and the last before the passing of the estates’ legendary owner, Anthony Barton. The vintage also marks 200 years of the family’s ownership of Langoa Barton, which will be commemorated with a special-edition label on the 2021, and the release of a limited-edition, multi-vintage case.
Also released during this period: Carillon d’Angélus, La Lagune, Petit Cheval, Cantemerle, L’Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne, Potensac.
Wine Lister’s real-time, 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.
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.
New additions from this year’s offerings
With the Bordeaux 2020 en primeur campaign now concluded, Wine Lister’s latest MUST BUY update includes 13 new picks from the latest vintage, covering a range of different appellations and price points.
New 13 MUST BUY additions from Bordeaux 2020
What are the MUST BUYs from Bordeaux 2020?
Wine Lister’s MUST BUY algorithm takes into account a wine’s quality and value within its vintage and appellation to produce initial recommendations. These results are then filtered through an intelligence-based, human overlay, which identifies MUST BUY wines based on our tasting of Bordeaux 2020, and observation of the reception of each release in the market.
Right Bank insights
Highlighting the success of the Right Bank in 2020, Saint-Emilion houses five of our 13 Bordeaux 2020 MUST BUYs. Amongst the selection is one of Wine Lister partner critic, Antonio Galloni’s (Vinous) “wines of the year”, Pavie 2020, which he scores 97-99, noting “All the elements are well balanced.” The first key release out of the gate this year, Cheval Blanc also gains MUST BUY status. With a score of 96-98 from Neal Martin (Vinous), who calls it “finely proportioned and multi-layered” with a “mineral-driven finish”, the 2020 can be purchased en primeur from Petersham Cellars for £388 per bottle (in-bond).
Beauséjour Héritiers Duffau Lagarrosse, Laroque, and Canon also join the Saint-Emilion entries – the latter gaining praise from Wine Lister CEO, Ella Lister, who describes it as “Full-to-bursting with salivating fruit, just ‘à point’, with impeccable balance”. Canon 2020 can be bought en primeur from £96 per bottle (in-bond) from Honest Grapes.
The Right Bank is represented further by prized Pomerol property, La Conseillante, which retains MUST BUY status for the second vintage in a row. Released at £156 per bottle (in-bond), the 2020 receives a score of 96-98 from Neal Martin, who calls it a “deeply impressive and quite profound La Conseillante”, and is available to purchase en primeur from Goedhuis & Co.
Left Bank investments
Over on the Left Bank, the latest Margaux MUST BUYs comprise 2020s from Brane-Cantenac, d’Issan, and Durfort-Vivens – all of which are available on the market for £50 per bottle (in-bond) or less. d’Issan performs notably well, taking new shape with the introduction of Petit Verdot and Malbec in the latest blend, hailing from new plots purchased by the estate in March 2020. It earns a score of 93-95 from Antonio Galloni, who notes that “Issan is shaping up to be a jewel of a wine.” Appearing in the rankings for most-improved Wine Lister Quality score for a third consecutive year (see our recent blog here), Durfort-Vivens also achieves MUST BUY status in 2020. The estate has seen impressive post-en primeur price performance in recent years, and shows future promise in its upward quality trajectory. Durfort-Vivens’s latest release can be bought en primeur from Justerini & Brooks at £44 per bottle (in-bond).
Pauillac’s Haut-Bages Libéral 2020 receives some of the highest scores ever achieved by the property, including a score of 17 from James Lawther for JancisRobinson.com, who calls it “pure and precise” with “silky and refined” tannins. In neighbouring Saint-Estèphe, Lafon-Rochet also features in the latest MUST BUY haul, with a vintage that marks the inaugural merging of two of the most revered minds in Bordeaux (see our recent blog here). Jean-Claude Berrouet and Eric Boissenot’s joint efforts in 2020 were praised by critics, with Jancis Robinson calling it “a very successful 2020.” Released from £27 per bottle (in-bond), Lafon-Rochet 2020 also gains Value Pick status, and can be purchased at Jeroboams.
Pessac-Léognan provides two MUST BUYs in 2020, with Malartic-Lagravière receiving a score of 93-95 from Antonio Galloni, who describes it as having “An extra kick of energy and vibrancy that is quite attractive”. Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2020 earns 95-97+ from the critic, and can be acquired from Jeroboams for £79 per bottle (in-bond).
Explore all Wine Lister MUST BUYs here, or discover more Bordeaux 2020s here.
As we approach the end of this busy Bordeaux en primeur campaign, yesterday (Wednesday 23rd June) saw the release of the Clarence Dillon family wines, Saint-Éstephe superstar, Montrose, and promising Pessac-Léognan pick, Haut-Bailly.
A family affair: Wine Lister CEO, Ella Lister tasted the Clarence Dillon family wines in Bordeaux
Haut-Brion released its red and white grands vins at £433 and £600 per bottle respectively, with both wines receiving strong praise from critics in 2020. The former gains 97-99 points from Wine Lister’s partner critic Antonio Galloni (Vinous), who notes “The 2020 Haut-Brion is shaping up to be one of the wines of the year. […] Wow.” Wine Lister CEO, Ella Lister was also impressed, describing “Focussed purple fruits, with a fresh lift of aloe vera, pepper, and fading peonies” on the nose, with “Classical flavours of cassis and violet, [and] a beautiful, beamish balance” on the palate.
Ella also provides a positive perspective on the latest release of Haut Brion Blanc, describing an “almost Burgundian minerality” on the nose, a “golden” palate. It gains the joint-highest WL score of all dry Bordeaux whites in 2020, tying for first place with its cousin, La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc.
La Mission Haut-Brion’s red and white entered the market yesterday at £252 and £480 per bottle, respectively. Gaining an impressive score of 97-99 from Neal Martin (down from the potential 100-point score of 98-100 in 2019), La Mission Haut-Brion 2020 is described by the critic as “An enthralling wine in the making from Jean-Philippe Delmas and his team”. Ella is also impressed with the latest release, noting “brooding, poised aromas of pomegranate and fig” on the nose, with a “layered and expressive” palate. Falling under the current market price of the 2018 and 2019 (whose price has increased around 63% since its release), while sporting similar average critics scores to the 2015 and 2016 vintage, this could be an attractive buy.
Outside of the Clarence Dillon clan, Montrose entered the market at £128.35 per bottle, having been well received by the few critics who tasted in Bordeaux this year (the estate was among those that did not send samples abroad). Wine Lister’s partner critics, Bettane+Desseauve award 98 points on their new scale of 100 points, while James Lawther for JancisRobinson.com gives 18+ points. Tasting in Bordeaux, Ella notes that “The fruit this year is ethereal. Luminous, racy, and as with the second wine, with an incredibly gentle touch” on the nose, whilst the palate “has that Montrose silkiness in spades”. Gaining the highest WL score of Saint-Estèphe 2020s (96), this may well see demand from fans of the estate and its appellation.
Haut-Bailly also released yesterday at £96 per bottle, having gained positive scores of 95-97 from both Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin. Hosting a virtual tasting of the estate’s 2020s for our London office, owner Véronique Sanders told us that the château confronted extreme climatic conditions last year, akin to the past three vintages, which have all produced top quality wines. Indeed, tasting at the estate, Ella found Haut Bailly’s Grand Vin to be “poised, savoury, and relaxed” on the nose, with “a lovely weight, and trademark ribbon mouthfeel”.
As we find ourselves in the peak of this year’s en primeur activity, Tuesday morning (22nd June) saw a wave of releases from the Médoc and beyond, including wines from First Growth Margaux, its popular neighbour Palmer, and fellow biodynamic trailblazer, Smith Haut Lafitte.
Moments at Margaux: the First Growth released its 2020 on Tuesday (22nd June) at £433 per bottle
Smith Haut Lafitte kicked off the release rush, entering the market at £96 per bottle. The 2020 receives top scores across the board, with Wine Lister’s partner critics, Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin (Vinous) each giving 95-97 points, and the latter deeming it “an outstanding effort”. Tasting with co-owner, Florence Cathiard at the property, Wine Lister CEO, Ella Lister, describes “playful black fruit, dark chocolate, and black liquorice” on the nose, and a “fine-boned but monstrous tannic structure” on the palate.
Joining its red offering (at the same price), Smith Haut-Lafitte’s white also receives strong scores from critics, including 17.5 points from Jancis Robinson, who calls it “a real triumph”. Ella observes that the 2020 vintage is a perfect example of why Smith Haut-Lafitte is so famous for its blanc sec, finding “a subtle, flirtatious nose of white pepper, lime and pure white fruit”, and a “rich, creamy texture” on the palate. Both Smith Haut Lafitte 2020 rouge and blanc have special edition labels designed to celebrate the 30th vintage under Florence and Daniel Cathiard, as well as 655 years of the property.
Moving over to the Médoc, Margaux 2020 released yesterday at £433 per bottle, having been widely considered as the wine of the vintage. According to scores from Wine Lister’s partner critic panel, the First Growth does indeed top the 2020s, gaining the highest WL score of the vintage. Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin both award Margaux 97-99 points, with the former calling it “very clearly one of the wines of the vintage in 2020″. Tasting at the property in Bordeaux, Ella describes an “intensely rich, concentrated” nose, and a palate that is “off-the-charts potent in terms of fruit and acidity”. Wine collectors will likely be desperate to get their hands on this.
Margaux’s second wine, Pavillon Rouge, and dry white, Pavillon Blanc were also released, at £138 and £180 per bottle, respectively. Ella praises both wines in 2020, describing an “all-round beautiful balance and intensity of fruit” in the red, and admiring the “really rich, mouthcoating texture” of the white – “almost a Chardonnay-esque opulence”.
Popular en primeur pick, Palmer also entered the market at £240 per bottle. Speaking to Wine Lister in October, Managing Director, Thomas Duroux explained that while “négociants would have liked a vintage with high volume and lower prices, the 2020 will be small”, yet nonetheless “rich and exuberant”. Palmer 2020 receives strong scores from the few critics who have tasted it (having maintained its policy of not sending samples). James Lawther for JancisRobinson.com awards it 18+ points, while Ella comments on the wine’s “exquisite texture”, hailing it “like brushed Indian silk”.