2020 Bordeaux - In bottle tasting 9th November 2022
by Juliette Martin
Last week the great and the good of the UK fine wine trade congregated in Lindley Hall, Westminster for the annual tasting of the latest Bordeaux vintage to be bottled - this year the turn of 2020.
Overall impression was of an above average vintage, but without the consistency of 2019. The best wines were very very good but there were some uninspiring wines too. We’ll focus on the positives as at this stage it would be unfair to write off some of the less impressive/obvious wines where factors such as bottle shock are quite possibly at fault.
Pauillac offered the most consistency, Pichon Lalande laid down an early marker for wine of the day helped in part by its soft approachable style and purity of fruit but backed up by impressive structure and acidity. Neighbouring Pichon Baron is unmistakably more powerful but this year as with 2019 has retained elegance and precision, a good sign for the future.
On to St Julien and a clearer demonstration of the variability on show, the best (Léoville Barton and Léoville Poyferre) shone bright with searing acidity, bold fruits and tannic structure. For others, this is the section in my notes where the words “flat”, “thin” and “fine if not exactly exciting” start appearing.
Léoville Poyferre was shown off in their special bottle celebrating 100 vintages, clearly inspired by Mouton’s Gold on Black sheep from 2000 but detailing a map of the estate. I think it’s effective, looks great and I’m pleased to report the wine being put into it is fitting for such an anniversary. Bravo.
Margaux followed suit from St Julien in seeming a bit disjointed, Brane Cantenac and Rauzun Segla offering typical Margaux opulence and Lascombes and Château du Tertre showing potential once the oak becomes more integrated.
Pessac was more consistent, Smith Haut Lafite can’t miss these days and there were good showings from Haut Bailly and Pape Clement. There wasn’t much from St Estephe on display, but what was offered showed promise. Phélan Ségur stood out but good efforts from Lafon-Rochet and Château du Pez showed typicité of the region.
I didn’t get round the right bank as much as I would have liked but Canon was sensational and fully deserving of the excitement surrounding it. Clinet also showed huge potential receiving a “wow” in my notes and praise for power, elegance and intensity. I felt sorry for the wine (that shall not be named) that I tasted immediately afterwards.
Altogether, 2020 is evidently an excellent vintage with some superb wines but perhaps not the overall consistency or excitement as 2019 or 2016. That being said, I'd be very interested to re-taste some of my lower scorers in a year or two as I’m sure that on the day some of them underperformed or got lost amongst the more “showy” wines.
Luke MacWilliam - firstname.lastname@example.org