France’s 50 best winemakers: Julie and Baptiste Guinaudeau of Château Lafleur

Winemakers at the iconic Pomerol estate: “It’s easier to make great wines with strong women and sensitive men”.

Our next interview in Le Figaro Vin’s series finds us in Bordeaux’s Right Bank, where we meet Julie and Baptiste Guinaudeau, who stand at #6 in the rankings, a couple who create the kind of wines you fall in love with.

Just like its illustrious Pomerol neighbours, Petrus and Vieux Château Certain, Château Lafleur likes to keep its cards close to its chest. Julie and Baptiste Guinaudeau, partners in life and in wine, are at the head of this micro-estate of 4.58 hectares. Dynamic, engaging, and sociable, they are pursuing the work of Baptiste’s parents – Sylvie and Jacques Guinaudeau – who, in 1985, decided to take over the tenancy of Château Lafleur from two cousins, Marie and Thérèse Robin. In 2001, the Guinaudeau family acquired the entire estate. Baptiste and Julie, then aged 20 and 18, decided to take a leap of faith and move in. Twenty years later, this seems to have paid off: Château Lafleur is a cult name among professionals and collectors. Since buying their flagship estate, the Guinaudeau family has slowly built a constellation of different sites across the region, where they produce several wines: Les Perrières, Château Grand Village, and Les Champs Libres. These wines, more accessible than Château Lafleur, also showcase the skill and sincerity so characteristic of Baptiste and Julie’s work.


Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Julie Guinaudeau. – At the end of the day, this doesn’t really change anything.

Baptiste Guinaudeau. – What are we the champions of? Of nothing. We are, first and foremost, farmers; our lives follow the rhythm of the seasons. We are fortunate to be in this position and to be doing the work we love. Above all, we are very lucky.

Is wine a team sport?

BG: Yes, without a doubt. Wine is truly a team sport, one that isn’t bound by time or borders. Even more so in Bordeaux, contrary to the somewhat dusty, fossilised, “members’ club” image people have of it. In the wine world, Bordeaux is an exception. Nowhere else involves so many people who do not hail from the region and as many women in leadership roles. In fact, Bordeaux might be the region with the freshest and most feminine approach.

It’s important to stress that wine doesn’t encompass a single profession: there are several. We can’t do everything alone. For this reason, it’s essential to know who to surround ourselves with. We have an international, multidisciplinary team. Thanks to the renown of Bordeaux, we attract people from all around the world that want to work with us. We’ve never needed to post job offers anywhere. There are 25 of us in the team, of which a little under a third had never made wine before working with us. A third come from abroad, another third from other parts of France (most of whom had nothing to do with wine before joining us), and a final third from a more “classic” background. We really appreciate this group of people, who always give it their all.

Who is your mentor?

BG: Here, that would be me. You always need a conductor, a team coach, who has an overview of the game, but I discuss things with Julie and my parents a lot. We are a couple, following in the footsteps of another couple, Sylvie and Jacques (Guinandeau, Baptiste’s parents and previous estate managers, ed.) in the story of Lafleur. They are the ones who built the foundations of what we are today.

We have a specific progression path at Lafleur, and it always begins in the vineyard, for a cycle of two to three years. Out of 25 people, there’s only one person who’s never pruned a vine plant: our accountant! Other than that, everyone starts out in the vineyard with us. This is the foundation, the “core curriculum”. During those first few years, you get to know the true character of the person you have before you. This evolves: the team members mature, they change, and we constantly strive to get the best out of them.

Have you been training for long?

BG: We both began our careers in wine very young. We started working together 22 years ago: 2001 was our first joint vintage. What sets us apart is that we make wines together, as a couple. We are both in love with each other and with the wines we make. We are living on-site, 100% immersed, and are lucky to own the estate. We are among the youngest, but we already have two decades of foolishness and success behind us. My parents brought us into the fold from the get-go. Throughout the 2000s, the four of us worked symbiotically. We are a family that has been making wine for many years, but we’re only the second generation of full-time winemakers.

JG: I worked on my parents’ organic farm in the Lot-et-Garonne. I met Baptiste in high school when I was 16 years old. I came to Bordeaux to learn oenology – there was something magical about winemaking for me. I had the opportunity to make my first wine at Lafleur in 2001, which confirmed to me that it was something wonderful. I grew up with a strong sense of taste instilled in me, through my parents, who grew tomatoes and other vegetables. For this reason, I had a very developed palate. Wine naturally followed in the footsteps of my upbringing.

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the team?

BG: Everything! We have a somewhat simplistic formula that states that great wine is the sum of three elements: a great soil (with a favourable climate); great genetics (when it comes to the variety); and a winemaker that calls the right shots at the right time.

To what do you owe your success?

BG: We owe it to discomfort, which is at the heart of our profession. As long as you feel discomfort, you’re not in any danger. It’s comfort that’s dangerous. Within prestigious, historic appellations, it’s being tempted to rest on your laurels. For us, discomfort came from having to buy Lafleur in 2001. When you buy land in Pomerol in the 21st century, it’s an investment, a gamble, one that needs to work out. The second discomfort came in the 2010s, when we had to change our distribution model because we weren’t reaching our consumers anymore. We looked for the best ambassadors, the best distributors, to share our vision with them. The latest thing that is stirring up discomfort is climate uncertainty, which we have always lived with, but which has turned a new corner today. What’s interesting is that we have never felt so much agency over it.

Are your daughters proud of you?

JG: They are, because they see how hard we work. There are few women in my profession and our daughters are proud to see me amongst other strong women in a male-dominated field.

BG: My daughters are proud of their mother. It’s easier to make great wines with strong women and sensitive men.

Who has been your biggest sponsor throughout your career?

BG: My parents.

Your favourite colour? 

BG: All the reds.

JG: Yellow, because it’s the colour of the beautiful light we’re often blessed with in Bordeaux, that casts its warm glow on the landscape.

Your favourite variety?

BG: Bouchet. That’s what we call Cabernet Franc on the Right Bank. This fine variety fathered the two main Bordeaux varieties: Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Born in the Basque Country, it was brought to Bordeaux by sailors, before ending up in the Loire Valley. It has everything going for it: grace, character, and a sense of balance that we love. As it’s relatively unknown, it always evolved in the shadows, and we identify with it. We live by the proverb “pour vivre heureux, vivons cachés” (“to live happily, live hidden”, ed.). Bouchet has been living on the Right Bank, in the shadow of Merlot.

Your favourite cuvée?

BG: The one we will discover next, whether that’s at home or somewhere else. I live in the future more so than in the past. At the moment, I really like the wines of Elian Da Ros – a winemaker from the same village that Julie grew up in, in the Côtes du Marmandais (in the Lot-et-Garonne, ed.). He is listed in Michelin-starred restaurants all over the world, but he marches to the beat of his own drum. His flagship wine is called Le Clos Baquet.

JG: The wines that have moved me the most have been German Rieslings. We’re very fond of the Prüm family, for example. If we had to pick one of our own cuvées, it would be Les Champs Libres. I love the idea that we can create something completely new with a Bordeaux variety (but with Liger-Sauternes genetics – Les Champs Libres is a Sauvignon Blanc from the Bordeaux Blanc appellation, but with a more Burgundian style. The first vintage was released in 2013, ed.).

Your favourite vintage?

BG: Always the next one to come!

If your wine was a person, who would it be?

BG: It would be Lafleur.

What’s the best way to enjoy it?

BG: Very simply and spontaneously.

JG: In a relaxed state.

With whom?

BG: With novice drinkers.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing your estate? 

BG: We’re dangerous enough as it is! We don’t need to and neither does the wine. Great wines are pure wines, they don’t need any help to express themselves. We’re sometimes lucky enough to be able to go far back, and taste wines that are a century old. Even in that crude state, they are wonderful.

JG: We’ve tasted some incredible bottles. When we think about it technically, the conditions in which the wine was made, you realise the finest vintages were always the toughest, those where you managed, despite everything, to make a great wine.

For what price would you be prepared to sell your estate?

BG: It’s priceless. You would have to buy us alongside the estate, good luck with that!

Who is your most formidable opponent in Pomerol?

BG: We don’t have opponents. It might be because there’s less of a competitive spirit in Pomerol. You don’t have the weight of history, of rankings et cetera, unlike in other Bordeaux appellations, because our appellation is relatively young. We are tiny and we need each other. Together, we feel stronger. If we had an opponent, it would be the climate, but things aren’t black and white, because the climate can also help us. Just like a sailor fears the sea while depending on it, we fear and depend on the climate.

What is your greatest achievement?

JG: That Jacques and Sylvie placed their trust in me. They allowed me to express myself, to be a part of the family and hold the reigns, alongside Baptiste, of the production, in the vineyard and in the cellar. Others also saw my potential, such as Claude Berrouet (previously winemaker at Petrus, ed.), who taught us a lot. He educated our palates.

What has been your most innovative strategy in the vineyard and in the cellar?

To work and be in love! More seriously, we don’t innovate, because you must be wary of innovations in viticulture. Above all, you need to avoid being suddenly behind. You need to think long-term and take things slowly, but you also need to be able to act in the moment. We tinker, but we don’t innovate.

What’s your most original tactic?

BG: We harvest grapes that we’ve pruned. When we’re in the vineyard, we think about the wines we’ve enjoyed the previous day and discuss their various qualities. In the cellar, we always consider how we birthed the vintage, we think about the vines a lot. We spend a lot of time at the tasting table. We are against parcel-driven vinification. It can be very risky in tiny estates like Lafleur: micro-vinifying in the absence of mass. What makes the difference between a great wine and a good wine is the quality of the tannins, their length on the palate and the minutes that follow. The quality of tannins is linked to a delicate maceration. We prefer talking about “infusion” and “diffusion” rather than “extraction”. You need a minimum of mass for that, so these choices happen very early on. You can’t separate all the vines by age, by variety, by soil. 80% of the grape blend is made during the harvest.

JG: Wine is made in the vineyard. Once it passes the doors of the cellar, the die has already been cast. At Lafleur, it’s the sum of all the little details each step of the way, in the vineyard and in the cellar, that determine the end result.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

BG and JG: Our daughters!

France’s 50 best winemakers: Château Cheval Blanc’s Pierre-Olivier Clouet

France’s 13th best winemaker: “I love drinking fine wines with people who know nothing about them”.

The mere mention of the name of this Grand Cru Classé is enough to send wine-lovers into a frenzy, and even those who have never had the chance to taste it agree that this is a Château destined to go down in history.

For the 38th interview in Le Figaro Vin’s series, we return to the border between Pomerol and Saint-Émilion, and Château Cheval Blanc, which is owned by the LVMH group and the Frère family. In July 2023, Pierre Lurton was appointed President of the Management Board, while Pierre-Olivier Clouet was promoted to Managing Director – arguably one of the most globally envied positions in the Bordelais appellations. Clouet, who describes himself as “incorrigibly hyperactive”, joined the estate as an apprentice but rose through the ranks with the elegance of a cat, gradually gaining the trust of Pierre, his mentor and great friend, who conferred on him the role of technical director at the age of 28. As well as his charm and extraordinary capacity for work, the fact that he did not come from a wine background was a considerable advantage for the young Norman, who very early on dared to “say out loud what others were thinking”. He is a free and rebellious spirit wrapped up in the demeanour of a gentleman farmer and bears a humility that allows him to assert his ideas with great ease.

“When I think about it, it was surreal”, he recalls with a burst of laughter. “At first, the suit seemed much too big for me”. The future proved him wrong, and it was alongside a close-knit team that he succeeded, one by one, in meeting the challenges posed to an estate that had to demonstrate its modernity without ever denying its roots. Creating a white wine from scratch, opting for agroforestry, finding plots of land at the foot of the Andes – all of these challenges have been overcome thanks to “the stability that Pierre has been able to give me for many years, which has allowed me to see each of our developments through in the long-term”.

Le Figaro Vin – How does it feel to be crowned a wine-making champion?

As always, I wonder why I was chosen! It’s something I’m very proud of, and I’m delighted that people come looking for me. 15 years ago, I was a nobody, and I never had a career plan. I feel both very grateful and infinitely small.

Have you been training for long?

Not really, no. Some winemakers made my eyes light up when I was a student, I wanted to “be just like them”, as children say. It’s an environment that allows you to come into contact with so many different disciplines – there’s the agricultural side, the technological side, the emotional side – and you meet people you’d never think you’d meet.

Who is your mentor?

First and foremost, it would have to be Pierre, who gave me a chance at a time when nobody could see what I could bring to the table. He’s always been kind, letting me off the hook as I’ve developed and gained confidence in myself. He supported me, and even though we have different personalities, I owe it all to him.

Is wine a team sport?

Yes, without question. Especially in our maisons, because on a small estate, there is a stronger representation of the winemaker. Here, we have a lot of input from everyone, from all those who have inspired us from near and far, and in particular from the people who have accompanied us through all the transformations we have undertaken. Cheval Blanc is too much for just one person.

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

What makes a great wine is the terroir, but what ensures that it doesn’t fail is the winemaker. In our vision of a cru, rather than a brand, our task is to convey the taste of the region. Vintage is also of absolute importance.

To what do you owe your success?

Sincerity. I’m not a schemer, I have an ability to get people on board, to unite teams. And I’m hyperactive, so that obviously plays a part too.

Is your family proud of you?

Yes, and I think it’s wonderful that my family isn’t from the wine scene. It takes me out of my microcosm and brings me down to earth. You have to go out into the real world, where you can enjoy simple wines. My parents still marvel at the bottles I open for them from time to time, and that’s fantastic. When I think about it, I love drinking great wines with people who know nothing about them.

Your favourite colour?

Red, even though white wines, which I’m drinking more and more, have a great deal of precision. I think you can read more about the terroir in red wines, particularly through the tannins, which reflect the way in which the vines have been able to draw on what the land has provided.

Your favourite wine variety?

Cabernet Franc, because it is the father of all Bordeaux grape varieties. It has spawned much more popular offspring that itself, notably Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but it has the advantage of being versatile and offering enormous diversity.

Your favourite wine?

I’m a big fan of Mas Jullien (in the Terrasses du Larzac appellation, ed.), which is a wine of tremendous precision, and in particular the Autour de Jonquières cuvée.

Your favourite vintage?

2018, which is a truly spectacular Cheval Blanc.

If your wine was a person, who would it be?

Chopin, for its universality, emotion, timelessness and classicism. His first concert took place in Paris in 1832, the year the estate was founded in its current guise.

What’s the best way to enjoy it?

With nice people. It’s such a complex wine. A great wine shouldn’t be tasted for what it is, but because it can provoke great conversations.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing yourself, or your wine?

No, never. That’s one of the most important things: we don’t allow ourselves to modify our grapes. Expressing a terroir does not mean upsetting its natural balance. You learn as you get older that you must do as little as possible.

Who is your strongest competition?

The weather, and that’s just for starters. It’s an increasingly tough opponent, and if we win today, it’s doubtful that we’ll win again tomorrow.

Which competition do you dread the most?

Bottling. It’s the last moment we actually see our wines. From that point on, they no longer belong to us. After that, I have no more expertise than a collector. I know how to assess our wines as they are made.

What is your greatest trophy?

Getting the message across that there was a whole other debate going on in the wine world than just about the differences between organic and biodynamic winegrowing. You must understand the life of your soil, the need to get rid of monoculture and bring back diversity. This is the future of winegrowing, but also of humanity. I’m proud to have played my part, rising above the petty arguments that drag the debate down. The battle isn’t over yet, but we’ve made a step in the right direction.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

I don’t know at this stage, perhaps a future former trainee. I’d like it to be a woman because that would be a first. Although we’re not a family estate, our owners have a very family-orientated vision of the vineyard, and the notion of succession through the generations is essential.

France’s 50 best winemakers: Château La Conseillante’s Marielle Cazaux

Managing Director and winemaker of Château La Conseillante in Pomerol: “A great wine can’t exist without a great terroir.”

The 36th interview in Le Figaro Vin’s series takes us to Pomerol, where Marielle Cazaux, #15, has been at the helm of Château La Conseillante since 2015. Mixing the farmer’s wisdom of her upbringing with cutting-edge technical knowledge, Cazaux has brought a breath of fresh air to the prestigious Pomerol domaine. Under her reign, La Conseillante’s recent vintages have grown in quality and precision, becoming ever more refined while remaining faithful to their identity.

Le Figaro Vin: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Marielle Cazaux: I wasn’t expecting to be in the rankings whatsoever! I was totally blown away. I heard the news when I was mid-harvest amongst the vines and all I could say was “Oh my God!”. However, I don’t see my work as something done solo, it’s very much a group endeavour with my team. If La Conseillante is where it is today, it’s thanks, in large part, to the team I have around me of people who are passionate about their work, who believe in my ideas and bring their own to the table.

Have you been training for a long time?

I have been in training since my very first internships as an agricultural engineering student, so since 2001. The first internship I carried out where I was really immersed in the world of wine was at Ridge Vineyards in Sonoma County. Afterwards, I went on to do an internship at Suduiraut in the Sauternes. When I started working in 2004, just after I graduated, I was taken on as Technical Director at Château Lezongars, in the Côtes de Bordeaux appellation. The property was 38 hectares, so actually quite big, but there were only four of us working there. I looked after the winery on my own, and the tractors too – if any of my workers were ill or on holiday, I had to look after the vines, treat any diseases, do the pruning, etc. It was a huge learning curve! I can still see myself in a tractor up at the top of a steep slope, between two rows of vines, saying to myself: “Come on, girl, you can do it!” It’s by training that you make your way up from the lowest divisions to the Premier League. With Château de Malleprat, I started playing in the professional divisions, and then Château Petit-Village (also in Pomerol, ed.) was my move into the Premier League. Now, with La Conseillante, I’m in the Champions’ League!

Who is your mentor?

My best mentor is my partner. It’s thanks to him that I ended up at La Conseillante as, when I was initially headhunted, I didn’t dare go to the interview as it was for Managing Director and not Technical Director. I’m a winemaker – I couldn’t see myself doing the sales and marketing part of the job. My husband, who’s a former rugby player, said to me, “In rugby, if you get up to the first division and it doesn’t work out, you can always go back down to the second division.”

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

In my view, a great wine can’t exist without a great terroir, so the terroir is more important. That said, you can’t make a great wine without a great team. In order for all the stars to be aligned, you need a great terroir, a good captain, who surrounds themselves with an excellent team, and supportive owners – for us, it’s the Nicolas family (owners of La Conseillante, ed.) – who believe in the team’s ambitions and give them the means to do things well.

To whom do you owe your success?

I think I owe my success to the wonderful childhood I had in the Landes. If, today, I’m blessed with a good nose and a taste for the finer things in life, it’s because I had a mother who was a fabulous cook and a father with an exceptional nose, who gave me a taste for wine. They both taught me to pay attention to everything I smelt and ate. You can’t be a great winemaker if you don’t pay attention to smells and to tastes, and if you don’t have a clear idea of what you like when you make wine. You need to have been lucky enough to have tasted lots of wines and to know what you like and what you don’t like.

Are your parents proud of you?

Yes, they are proud. However, I think my parents would be happy regardless of what I do, as long as I have a roof over my head and I’m content! They’re very down-to-earth, pragmatic people.

Who is your best sponsor?

Let me show you the label on my jacket. Can you see the little logo? I have a boss who adores clothes and who makes us all sorts of sweatshirts, polos, jackets, etc., all of which are lovely. My best sponsor is definitely my boss!

What is your favourite colour?

You can see my favourite colour right behind me – the blue of a cloudless sky, which gives you a feeling both of the vastness of the world and of deep contentment.

Your favourite grape variety?

It would be impossible for me to choose anything other than Merlot, even if I adore the majestic Syrahs of the Côte-Rôtie. A great Merlot produced on our Pomerol terroirs is just magic. It’s good young, then it’s good at 10 years old, at 15 years old, because it starts to take on truffle aromas. In the right environment, it is a magical grape variety, and its aromatic expressions are so wonderfully diverse.

Your favourite vintage?

Today, I’m going to choose a vintage that I didn’t make myself. I’ve only been at the estate for eight years and you have to wait at least 10 to 12 years for a Conseillante to be truly great. My favourite vintage is 2005. It’s a very emotive wine, with its many flavours, its complexity, its smoothness, its length, its finesse. It is, quite simply, a magnificent wine.

If your wine was a person, who would it look like?

I would say Miles Davis. In his music, there’s always the most wonderful smoothness and precision. His pieces are also utterly enchanting, exhilarating, and very long. I hope that the wines that we produce at La Conseillante today have that same balance, length, smoothness, and perfection, because it is perfection that we are constantly seeking.

What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wines?

If you only have one bottle – a 10- or 12-year-old Conseillante, for example – it’s best to taste it with just one other person so that you can both really get the most out of it. My husband and I have already tried tasting a bottle with six of us there. It is somewhat frustrating, as you can’t make out all the different aromas in all their depth with just one glass. Many people ask me for food pairings with La Conseillante and I would say that you need something simple, so that the dish doesn’t hide the wine’s aromas. You can start the bottle before the meal as an apéritif, with a little bit of pata negra ham, and then take the bottle with you to the table to accompany a very simple dish.

With whom?

With someone you love, whether it’s your partner, your parents, or your best friend. The best bottles are always those that are shared with the people that you love.

Have you ever thought about chemically enhancing yourself, or your wines?

No… in fact, yes, I have a magic potion, just like Asterix, that I drink every morning during the harvest to stay on top form. I’ll give you the recipe – it’s fantastic! You need to put some water, fresh grated ginger, grated turmeric, the juice of half a lemon and a bit of pepper into a bottle and keep it in the fridge to infuse overnight; in the morning, you filter it. For wine, however, there’s no need to enhance it chemically. Quite the opposite, in fact, the movement over the last few years has been towards “less is more”, so no chemical inputs, less use of wood. We use indigenous lactic bacteria at La Conseillante: I take my bacteria from a particular parcel and I use them to make a fermentation starter for the following year. We don’t use any sulphur in our winemaking process, or only the barest minimum.

Who is your most feared opponent?

I have two opponents. Well, journalists aren’t really opponents but, for me, they cause a lot of anxiety with the scores that they publish for each vintage. It is a real source of stress for me, rather like for a designer who’s presenting his new collection on the runway. Something that is even more unpredictable and over a much longer period of time is the weather, which is my number one worry. From 1st April to 15th October, I have to live with the weather and its constraints. It’s not an opponent as such, as I can’t fight against it, but it is a form of adversity.

What are you proudest of?

First of all, I’m proud of having built the team that I have now at La Conseillante. Between the moment I arrived and today, it has changed considerably: some members have retired; others have changed paths. Today, however, I have managed to bring together an incredibly close-knit group of people that I like to call my “dream team”. Everyone is willing to work and not a single person complains. When we get a good rating for a wine, everyone rejoices. We eat meals together; we are a real team with a solid core, and I am very proud of that. It’s also thanks to the Nicolas family that I have been able to build this team up. Working for them is another great source of pride.

What has been your most innovative strategy in the vineyard and in the winery?

If I give it to you, I’ll be betraying my deepest secrets… No, I’m just joking. I’ll give you something that I started using this year, which is really at the forefront of innovation, something quite mind-blowing, which comes from the world of neuroscience. We use electrodes, planted into the vine, to measure electric flows. We have a form of artificial intelligence that transforms the data into information that tells us if the plant is being attacked by mildew or if it is in hydric stress; it can even tell us if the grapes are mature. We tested the tool to see if, when the plant was telling us that it was in hydric stress, the results correlated with those of our traditional tools. We were astonished to find that it was completely accurate. It can also measure the berry sugar accumulation just by using these electric flows. Once again, the results recorded were completely accurate compared to the other tests that we carried out. All this means that the plant is using its own form of communication. Here at La Conseillante, we always thought that was the case! We speak to our vines, saying “good morning” to them at the start of the day and “goodbye” at night. In any case, this is the most innovative tactic that I have been able to test this year. In the winery, on the other hand, I think you have to stay very basic and return to traditional methods.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

I’m thinking of people who head up less prestigious domaines, who would so deserve this honour. I have lots of friends who make exceptional wines in the Côtes de Bordeaux, Côtes de Blaye, and Médoc appellations, who don’t get any media attention. So, go out there, go and do a ranking of France’s top 50 winemakers excluding Grands Crus and big domaines! Thinking back, when I was heading up lesser-known châteaux, like Lezongars and Malleprat, we made superb wines. I put in just as much energy and passion to my work then as I do now at La Conseillante. I’m thinking of all those winemakers who do a remarkable job, including my friends the Lavauds at Domaine Les Carmels or the Julliots at Domaines SKJ in Listrac.

France’s 50 best winemakers: Château L’Évangile’s Olivier Trégoat

The technical director revolutionising Pomerol’s Château L’Évangile: “If my wine was a person, it would be Catherine Deneuve”.

Wine Lister’s parent company, Le Figaro Vin, has launched its inaugural series of the 50 best winemakers in France in 2023. Interviews with each winemaker making the top 50 will be published throughout the course of the year – in French on the Le Figaro Vin website, and in English on Wine Lister’s blog. The first in the series, #50, is Olivier Trégoat – Technical Director of Pomerol’s Château L’Évangile. Here he shares the highlights of his viticultural journey so far.  In just a few years, Olivier Trégoat has managed to realise the full potential of l’Évangile, getting the most out of the appellation’s natural generosity, while reinstating a remarkable freshness in the wine.

Le Figaro: How does it feel to be crowned a winemaking champion?

Olivier Trégoat: I am very happy, but give most of the credit to the team, as it is, above all, a real collective effort. Alone, I would be good for nothing.

Have you been training for long?

Yes, I’ve been training since 1997. Everything I’ve done in my previous winemaking roles contributes to what I have achieved at L’Évangile. I got my start in Saint-Émilion, which catalysed my interest in soil studies – while my previous job as an independent consultant for large Bordeaux estates (including Château Cheval Blanc) was invaluable.

Who is your mentor?

At the start of my winemaking journey, it was Kiss Van Leeuwen, a viticulture professor at Bordeaux Sciences Agro and the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences (ISVV). Today, my mentors are my neighbours in Pomerol – whose proximity prevents me from making mistakes and provides me with constant inspiration.

What is the key to making a good wine? The terroir or the winemaker?

The terroir. For me, climate and soil make up 80% of the wine.

To what do you owe your success?

To my education, my curiosity, and the tools at my disposal – a triptych of soil, vine, and wine.

Is your family proud of you?

Yes, I’m sure they are.

Who are your best supporters?

Paradoxically, some of my competitors, but also my former clients from when I was an independent consultant.

Red or white wine? 

The older I get, the more white wine I drink!

The king of grape varieties?

Cabernet Franc. At Château L’Évangile, it’s a grape variety that we will continue to plant and conduct research into – particularly because of its freshness. And also because I love the wines of the Loire Valley!

Your favourite wine?

Château L’Évangile 2006. It is a harmonious vintage that offers the delicate touch of l’Évangile’s hallmark tannins, alongside a more fleshy characteristic – but without excess, and still retaining a beautiful freshness.

Your favourite vintage?

2011 – something slightly different. It was not well understood around the time of its release, and it came after 2009 and 2010, which were widely-recognised as exceptional vintages. It’s just starting to open up today.

If your wine was a person, who would it be?

Catherine Deneuve. A great, timeless actress who knew how to challenge herself in different roles.

What are the best circumstances in which to taste your wine?

Drink it with people you love.

Have you ever thought about chemically-enhancing yourself, or your wine? 

No, never. Nature is generous in Pomerol; I always say that I have my foot on the brake rather than the gas.

Who is your strongest competition in Pomerol?

Château Lafleur.

Which competitions do you dread the most?

Frosty periods in early April.

What was your greatest win?

I had beginners’ luck. My entire career in wine so far has been a bit like a race in which I have ended up on the podium against all odds!

What has been your most innovative strategy?

While we do things in a very simple manner in the winery, in the vineyard, we make very rigorous intra-parcel selections on different soils. I sometimes say that we harvest in a Sauternes style. We love to split hairs during this critically decisive period. It’s a real challenge to be a winemaker in Pomerol today.

Who would be your ideal successor on the podium?

On the podium, Château Lafleur. They are very sharp and precise in what they do, with consistently good ideas. And for my successor at the estate, I don’t know yet…

A few words about the estate:

The property was founded in the mid-18th century under the name “Fazilleau”. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Léglise family, who played a significant role in expanding the vineyard, sold it to a lawyer named Isambert, who renamed it L’Évangile. He expanded the estate to around 13ha – not far off its current size.

Since 1990, Château L’Évangile has been under the helm of Baron Éric de Rothschild, who also owns Château Lafite in Pauillac (among others in the appellation), as well as Château Rieussec in Sauternes. His daughter, Saskia, a former New York Times correspondent writing from the Ivory Coast, and the author of a novel, joined her father in Bordeaux in 2017. The estate has benefitted from significant investments, as well as the technical expertise of the Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) teams for over 30 years. Juliette Couderc was appointed Chief Operating Officer in 2020, having previously managed the vineyards of Chinese estate, Long Dai, which also belongs to the group. She works alongside Olivier Trégoat.


Bordeaux en primeur 2021: flying in fast

It increasingly looks as though the campaign will be more or less drawing to a close this week, with a further flurry of Bordeaux 2021s released en primeur at the end of last week and into Monday, including key entries from the likes of Beychevelle, Pichon Baron, Cos d’Estournel, and Mouton.

Released on Thursday 9th June at £58.90 per bottle, Beychevelle 2021 entered the market 16% below stocks of the 2020 (which has risen in price by around 15% since last year), and otherwise substantially below all other back vintages. With a consistent track record of post-release price performance and critic speculation of the 2021’s promising potential, this may well be one worth backing en primeur.

Trotte Vieille 2021 – an oft-forgotten Saint-Émilion Classé “B” to get behind – also released on Thursday at £53 per bottle (just below the current market price of 2020 and 6% above the now scarce 2019, and otherwise comfortably below recent back vintages of comparable quality). Following suit, Brane-Cantenac 2021 entered the market at £47 (6% below the 2020 vintage and below the prior five back vintages in the market).

Pichon Comtesse 2021 released on Thursday at £134 (just below last year’s release price and 30% below the current market value of the record-quality 2019). The vintage marks the estate’s first year of organic conversion, with Nicolas Glumineau informing the Wine Lister team that 2021 was ” the worst in France for 74 years in terms of climate”, but excellent for Cabernet. Volume is down 70% in 2021, with the vintage comprising 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc – the highest proportion since the 2013 vintage (100% Cabernet Sauvignon). These drastically reduced volumes mean that anyone looking to add Pichon Comtesse 2021 to their cellar likely needs to buy it now.

Friday 10th June saw releases from the likes of Giscours, Pichon Baron, and Lafon-Rochet – the latter marking the last ever vintage tended by the estate’s third-generation owner, Basile Tesseron, and the first blended by its new Managing Director, Christophe Congé (of Lafite fame). Released at £25 per bottle, Lafon-Rochet 2021 enters the market below the price of all available back vintages.

Releases came in thick and fast on Monday 13th June, with first growth Mouton entering at £425 per bottle (11% and 15% below the current availability of the 2020 and 2019 vintages respectively). Its little sibling, Le Petit Mouton 2021 was released at £170 per bottle – it appears in eighth place amongst the wines that have seen the highest relative increase between ex-négociant release prices and current market prices across vintages 2016-2020 (see below – extract from Part I of Wine Lister’s 2022 Bordeaux Study).

Cos d’Estournel also entered the market on Monday at £143 per bottle (5% below current market availability of the 2020, and around 8% above the 2019), followed shortly by Cos d’Estournel Blanc at £105 per bottle. According to Wine Lister’s Quality score (892), the 2021 vintage is the best Cos d’Estournel Blanc ever produced, with Wine Lister CEO, Ella Lister calling it “delectable, lingering in the mouth”. Le Gay and La Violette owner, Henri Parent released his 2021s on Monday at £69.50 and £240 per bottle respectively. The latter achieves a higher Quality score in 2021 than in 2020 or 2018, while scarce availability of recent vintages on the UK market may also drive interest in the latest release.

Also released during this period: Chasse-Spleen, Réserve de la Comtesse, Léoville Poyferré, Ausone, Lascombes, Ferrière, Giscours, Pagodes de Cos, Aile d’Argent, Rouget, Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Gruaud-Larose, Larcis-Ducasse, Smith Haut Lafitte.

Bordeaux en primeur 2021: new entries from across appellations

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.

Hiding in plain sight: Bordeaux 2020 sibling wines

Keeping it in the family with the best value second wine picks

Further informing your Bordeaux 2020 purchases, we look at the top 20 second wines of the vintage by Wine Lister’s value score. The score is calculated based on the quality to price ratio of a wine and vintage, while still allowing room for higher-priced wines to feature.

The top 20 leading sibling wines by Wine Lister value score

 Which second wines provide the greatest value?

Often lurking in the shadows of their Grand Vin counterpart, sibling wines offer a high quality, more accessible alternative to Bordeaux’s long-ageing elite. While some are the product of grapes remaining from the Grand Vin, other producers prefer to give a sibling wine its own dedicated plots, often of slightly younger vines. In either case, these wines made at the hands of some of the world’s greatest winemakers should be considered seriously. Below we look at our top picks of sibling wines for value, based on the latest offerings from the Bordeaux 2020 en primeur campaign.

Left Bank legacies

All major Bordeaux appellations across both banks are well-represented amongst the top 20 value picks, with Margaux property, d’Issan achieving the greatest value score for the 2020 vintage. First produced in 1985, Blason d’Issan bears a greater proportion of Merlot than its Grand Vin sibling (57% compared to 39%), but as noted by its maker, Emmanuel Cruse, is still very much a “baby d’Issan”, sporting the château’s perennial style. The second wine of 2020’s wine of the vintage (according to Wine Lister partner critics), Margaux, has been a permanent feature of the estate since the 17th century; christened Pavillon Rogue in 1908, it is 2020’s only top 20 second wine from a First Growth property. Margaux comrade, Giscours, is also represented, by its Sirène de Giscours, which enjoys the same winemaking attention and ageing as the Grand Vin, but with grapes sourced from younger vines. Finally, Margaux majesty, Palmer is featured with Alter Ego. Its 2020 release was well sought-after, particularly after no second wine was produced in 2018.

Read more Bordeaux 2020 insights: Bordeaux en primeur – wines to watch for price potential post-release

Pessac-Léognan royalty, Haut-Brion’s Clarence de Haut-Brion ranks among the top 20 sibling wines for value. It is joined by L’Espirit de Chevalier – the red counterpart of Domaine de Chevalier’s sibling series – and Haut-Bailly’s Haut-Bailly II. The latter was renamed (from La Parde de Haut-Bailly) in 2019 to symbolise the second generation of owners, the Wilmers family. Finally, Chapelle de La Mission Haut Brion comes from the same vineyard as the Grand Vin, grown and harvested in the same way, with the introduction of grapes from the older parcels of La Tour Haut-Brion since the 2006 vintage.

Saint-Julien has three properties represented by their second wines, including Croix de Beaucaillou, which ranks in second place. This sibling wine is produced using grapes hailing from its own distinct vineyard, lying to the west of the château. Completing the top five rankings is Fiefs de Lagrange, which bears familiarity to its Grand Vin sibling, but is more suited for earlier drinking. Finally, Léoville Las Cases’ le Petit Lion celebrates its 13th vintage with the release of the 2020, produced from a blend of replanted vines that are now between 15 and 18 years of age.

In neighbouring Saint-Estèphe, Le Marquis de Calon Ségur and Pagodes de Cos occupy 10th and 11th place respectively, with the former taking very different form from their first wine as an alternative interpretation of the Calon terroir. The latter is produced from a separate, dedicated plot of 40-year-old vines.

Completing the Left Bank selection are four Pauillac value picks, of which two hail from the same property. Pichon Baron is the only property to see its two additional wines feature – Les Griffons de Pichon Baron and Tourelles de Longueville. Lynch-Bages’ Echo joins them within the top 10 picks by value score. Finally, Pichon Comtesse’s Réserve de la Comtesse – first sold in 1973 – is a top feature for en primeur 2020. This well-established sibling wine represents between 20% to 50% of Pichon Comtesse’s total production.

Right Bank relatives

One the Right Bank, and particularly in Pomerol, sibling wines have been slower to catch on, simply due to lower production levels per property. Two Saint Emilion Classés A properties nonetheless stand out for sibling value picks– Pavie and Angélus – featuring Arômes de Pavie and Carillon d’Angélus, respectively. The latter is increasingly becoming a “cousin” rather than a sibling, since the property has recently invested heavily in new plots for Carillon alone. Amongst this top pick hoard is Pomerol estate, Pensées de Lafleur, which takes 13th place amongst the top value picks with a limited-production of 500 cases.

To inform your Bordeaux 2020 en primeur purchases, we recommend reading: Bordeaux 2020 en primeur MUST BUYS, and The best for your buck: Bordeaux 2020 at five price points

Bordeaux 2020 en primeur MUST BUYS

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.

For more en primeur insights, read: Bordeaux 2020 en primeur – the best by appellation

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, 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.

The best for your buck: Bordeaux 2020 at five different price points

Bordeaux en primeur 2020 saw mixed pricing decisions throughout the campaign. To help those still looking to purchase en primeur this year, we examine some of the best offerings from the latest vintage at five different price points. (All prices are quoted in-bond per bottle when purchasing by the case).

Click here to view all Bordeaux 2020 releases, or read more below.

Under £20 – Laroque

Attesting to the estate’s sustained step-up in quality since its 2018 vintage, Laroque receives strong critical praise in 2020. Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin (Vinous) both award 93-95, with the latter calling it, “Possibly the best Laroque that winemaker Suire has overseen to date.” Having worked at fellow Saint-Émilion estates, Bellevue, Beauséjour Héritiers Duffau Lagarrosse, and Larcis Ducasse over the past 15 years, winemaker David Suire joined Laroque in 2015. He has since invested in making significant quality improvements, changing the winemaking process of the Grand Vin to now consist solely of free-run juice and no press wine. The third Laroque release in a row to achieve Value Pick status, the 2020 vintage can be bought from Justerini & Brooks for £18.92 per bottle (in-bond).

Under £50 – Cantenac Brown

The recent acquisition of Margaux Third Growth, Cantenac Brown, by agro-engineer, Tristan Le Lous, brought about a buzz of excitement for his first full vintage at the estate. Under its new ownership, the estate has expanded its vineyards by 9.5ha to incorporate high-quality vines from neighbouring estates, La Galiane and Charmant on the iconic Margaux plateau. Efforts to improve their blend, through the introduction of 70% of the grapes harvested on these new parcels, are reflected in top scores for the 2020 vintage, which receives its highest ever score from Antonio Galloni (94-97). Tasted by Wine Lister CEO, Ella Lister, she calls it, “A very successful Cantenac Brown.” Cantenac Brown 2020 can be purchased en primeur from Goedhuis for £34.33 per bottle (in-bond).

Under £100 – Clinet

Pomerol’s rising star, Clinet once again provides good value within its appellation in 2020. With traces of the vineyard dating back to 1595, one of Pomerol’s oldest estates is managed under the watchful eyes of a small team, co-headed by President of the UGCB, Ronan Laborde. Receiving a score of 94-96 from Neal Martin, he notes, “This is a Pomerol that really wants to make an impression.” Ella found the 2020 vintage to be, “Seamless and languorous. A triumph.” Clinet 2020 is available en primeur at IG Wines for £66.50 per bottle (in-bond).

Under £200 – Figeac

Completing a trilogy of top-scoring vintages, Figeac 2020 highlights the estate’s skilled adaptation to the extreme climate conditions it faced in the year. The team recently reflected on the challenges brought about by “mild winter temperatures, summer heat-waves, and unusually variable rainfall” in 2020, which nonetheless produced one of Ella’s favourite wines from the vintage. Tasting in Bordeaux, she notes a “Trademark Figeac texture. The harmony is mind-blowing.” This Saint-Émilion star can be purchased en primeur from Farr Vinters for £156 per bottle (in-bond).

Over £300 – Margaux

Margaux is one of Wine Lister’s top picks at the premium end of the en primeur spectrum. The highest-scoring wine of the vintage, Margaux is the only 2020 to receive a WL score of 98 (an average combining all Wine Lister’s partner critics on a 100-point scale). According to the Margaux team, the success of the vintage is down to the amalgamation of “homogenous flowering, summer conditions that favoured small berries, and excellent harvesting conditions.” Indeed, the 2020 receives a score of 19 from James Lawther for, who describes it as the “Perfect pitch”, while Ella was “Wowed”, stating “This will age into eternity, and yet the texture is already soft now.” For those looking to find this First Growth, Margaux 2020 can be reserved for £433 per bottle (in-bond) via Petersham Nurseries.

Bordeaux 2020 en primeur – the best by appellation

As the Bordeaux en primeur campaign draws to a close, Wine Lister has published its latest Wine Leagues on the new vintage – exploring which Bordeaux 2020s rank best for WL score in each major appellation (as separated by decimals).

For the third year running, First Growths Mouton and Lafite dominate the Pauillac leader board with a joint WL score of 97. Super-seconds Pichon Comtesse and Pichon Baron follow suit with scores of 96 and 95, while Haut-Bages Libéral has climbed to joint-eighth place in 2020 (from ranking 18th in 2019). As explored in Part II of Wine Lister’s Bordeaux study, the estate is one of the top-15 wines to have seen its quality improve the most in 2020, compared to its average Quality score (explore key findings from the study here).

The Margaux appellation possesses the top-scoring wine of the vintage, Margaux 2020. Wine Lister CEO, Ella Lister, tasted the vintage and is confident that “This will age into eternity. And yet the texture is already so soft now.” For the second year in a row, Palmer secures the next-best place with a WL score of 96, while Rauzan-Ségla climbs eight places this year, into the third spot.

The top five Saint-Julien 2020s are in line with that of last year’s league, with Léoville Las Cases and Ducru-Beaucaillou sharing the top WL score of 96. Neighbours Léoville Poyferré and Léoville Barton follow suit with 95, while Gruaud-Larose once again achieves fifth place. Also appearing on the list of top 15 wines whose perceived quality in 2020 most exceeded their average, (Part II of Wine Lister’s Bordeaux Study) Talbot climbs four places since last year’s league, securing a WL score of 94 for the first time since its 1986 vintage.

Wine Lister Buzz Brand, Montrose, has another successful vintage in 2020, overtaking last year’s leader, Cos d’Estournel, to achieve the top place in the Saint-Estèphe league. Tasting in Bordeaux, Ella describes Montrose as having “silkiness in spades” and “beautifully integrated” wood on the palate. Lafon-Rochet climbs four spots to third place in 2020, having gained its highest WL score since 2016 (94). Entering the market last month (Thursday 20th May), the estate also features alongside Haut-Bages Libéral and Talbot as one of Wine Lister’s Quality score outperformers for the vintage.

Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion perform notably well, once again achieving joint-first place in the league of top Pessac-Léognan 2020 reds. As in 2019, Smith Haut Lafitte and Haut-Bailly share third place, alongside the en primeur darling, Les Carmes Haut-Brion, whose WL score increases by one mark this year to 95. Second wines Les Hauts de Smith and Le Clarence de Haut-Brion enter the league with WL scores of 93, with the former gaining with its highest ever WL score in 2020.

Despite both scoring slightly down from 95 in 2019, Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion attain joint-first place for their whites as well as reds in 2020, achieving scores of 94 in the league of top Bordeaux whites by WL score. Tasting Haut-Brion Blanc, Ella notes it “Flexes its flinty muscles on the nose, with an almost Burgundian minerality accompanying its unmistakable Pessac green and yellow-fruit character.”

Pavie rises through the ranks from fourth place last year to lead Saint-Emilion’s league for the 2020 vintage, alongside Angélus, Ausone, Figeac, and Canon, whose scores of 96 are separated by fractional differences. Having been awarded 97-99 by Wine Lister partner critic, Antonio Galloni (Vinous), he describes it as, “Very clearly one of the wines of the year.” Clos Fourtet has climbed significantly this year, now standing in sixth position (up from the 17th spot in 2019).

As the only appellation to achieve a significantly higher average Quality score in 2020 than in 2019 (as explored in Part II of our Bordeaux Study), Pomerol takes the top spot for Quality score across all appellations in the latest vintage. Lafleur, Trotanoy, and Petrus share the leading WL score in its 2020 league (97), beating their score of 96 last year. Lafleur 2020 receives notable praise from the few critics who tasted in Bordeaux – Ella describes its mouthfeel simply as “out of this world”.

Click here to view all Wine Leagues. Pro users have access to a more extensive set of Leagues and can log in to access here.