Bordeaux 2020 – could it be three in a row? Heads down at the tasting bench and, lucky as we were to be sent the thick end of around 150 samples to taste at Wyle Cop last April (in addition to Zoom calls with producers), we got a very fair impression of the vintage tasting in Shrewsbury.
The Big Picture: It is very good. It is not as ‘homogenous’ as either 2018 or 2019 but there are some outstanding wines to be found. As has become much more noticeable in recent vintages, much of our critical comment comes on judging balance: tannin is more deftly handled these days so it is a question of how the fruit, the acidity, the concentration and the structure all hang together. Producers are making a much better fist of things than twenty years ago but, as in all comparative line-ups, there are wines that stand out, and those that hang back. It was a warm, challenging year for the growers and winemakers had to have a deft hand in avoiding over-extraction.
The Sub-regions: In general we found the Right Bank Saint-Emilions and particularly Pomerols have a more generous character, the fruit a little sweeter – clay soils perhaps giving the best results. Pessac-Léognan and Graves turned out some excellent results putting them higher on the chart than we perhaps expected. The Médoc was more uneven, but wines that we, and by extension you, have followed in recent times were invariably showing well. Saint-Estèphe was very good, Paulliac and Saint-Julien dependable or better, Margaux (such a diverse commune anyway) rather more variable. Some of the lesser properties and communes shone, some maybe were just ‘ok’. Very few were disappointing but at Tanners we are confident we can steer you in the best direction!
Pricing: While yields were fine on the Right Bank, the Left Bank had an overall lower production which has affected price and availability, particularly looking forward. The catastrophic frosts in 2021 have to be taken into account too. Ultimately, we feel the early releases were very reasonable and it was only in the last few weeks of June that price inflation struck. Please ring us if you want to discuss the value we perceive in these wines.
Regarding the dry white and sweet wines, both of which we thought generally delicious, you will find short offers of both. Stylistically there is more variation so we have narrowed the choice down to the best and most characteristic wines of their ‘type’ across a range of prices.
In summary, 2020 has produced a range of very good to excellent wines, many of which are priced similarly to 2019 and which will reinforce your cellar for drinking short to mid-term drinking and longer if you wish. We certainly heartily recommend the wines we have chosen for you.