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Bordeaux En Primeur 2020

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Daily News

The 2020 Vintage Report

"When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. But when I'm finished, if the solution is not beautiful I know it's wrong." Buckminster Fuller, architect, design scientist, practical philosopher

Following last year's hastily organised Bordeaux 2019 En Primeur campaign, which was nonetheless extremely successful (albeit frustratingly light on volumes released), we were both unsure and confident when it came to 2020: unsure whether we would be able to get to Bordeaux to taste, and yet confident that a 'remote' campaign complete with multiple tastings could lead to another successful year's activity – as long as the quality and price stacked up. As it has transpired, with the fences well and truly up in the UK, in order to protect and maximise the effectiveness of our COVID-19 vaccination program, and with cases in France and across Europe not yet under control and vaccinations rolling out more slowly, we have endured another 'domestic' EP build up.

As we learned last year, this has advantages and disadvantages. Despite the EP week being genuinely hard work, we all enjoy the week away not just for its regularity of great food and plenty of laughs but for that sense of buzz, of being in the centre of the fine wine world for that one week, and of really getting under the skin of a vintage. But while we miss seeing many of our old friends in the flesh, and the intensity and understanding which comes from tasting 250+ wines in four days, the remote option can allow one to be more circumspect and perhaps dive deeper; extended Zoom calls with winemakers may be less personally satisfying but afford you considerably more time to ask searching questions – and receiving full-size samples in perfect condition just a day or two after they have been bottled enables you to track the progress of the wine over a day or even two, or even more, giving greater insight into what the finished wines may resemble.

So without further ado here are the headlines:

  • 2020 is the third in a trilogy of very good to excellent vintages, the likes of which we have not seen in Bordeaux in the post-war era. Christian Seely (Pichon Baron) described it as 'almost embarrassing' to have three such fine years in a row. '88, '89 and '90 is the closest comparison we have been given.
  • 2020 is unquestionably a 'solar' vintage in that the region experienced a 50+ day drought from mid June to mid August and had days where the mercury touched 40 degrees centigrade; likewise September experienced a week of heatwave. However the wines are not exclusively defined by sunshine or heat. There is a freshness which was unexpected but very welcome and leans the wines toward a more classical style. Also the alcohols are pleasantly in the mid range, furthering the freshness and balance. Despite the inevitable recent comparisons of hot years: '2018 and 2015 are fuller, sunnier vintages. 2020 doesn't feel like that – they are wines of architecture, harmony and balance.' (JM Laporte, Talbot)
  • 2020 is less homogenous than 2019; while the weather conditions were changeable, they were often benevolent for Chateaux on the right kinds of terroir and with older vines and in fact delivered exactly what the vines needed at the right time. For those on less favourable soils, it was challenging. 'The top wines show real poise and precision' (Fiona Morrison MW, Domaines Jacques Thienpont)
  • Production volumes in general are slightly down on 2019, a result primarily of mildew pressures associated with the vintage's early flowering, and also scattered hail events. In addition the very small size of the berries, due to the drought period, automatically means a reduction in juice.
  • Overall most top estates are extremely happy with their 2020s and we can see why.
Read the full report

Why Buy En Primeur?

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Secure Allocations

Buying En Primeur is the best way to secure small production or highly sought-after wines which can be very hard to find (or which increase rapidly in value) further down the line

Perfect Provenance

Owning a wine from the very start of its life is extremely beneficial, whether you are planning to drink or sell the wine at a later date

Choose your Formats

Whether you have a penchant for lunchtime halves or love big bottles for parties and celebrations, buying En Primeur allows you to choose your preferred bottling size

A World Class Team

Having followed COVID-19 Government advice, we have temporarily closed our London office until further notice, we are however operating as normal. Click here to read more