The snappiest snapshot of the 2020 en primeur campaign
by Juliette Martin
Cheval Blanc, came out early and flew out the door
Relative value analysis winners (based on JancisRobinson.com scores)
Beau Séjour Becot
Latour Martillac Blanc
Please see our full analyses of the vintage's releases and identification of great buys (some from 2020 and many more from comparative back vintages) on the Jancis Robinson forum here.
Top buys for an immediate return:
Carmes Haut Brion
Possible St Emilion reclassification bets (due 2022 in order of likelihood):
Belair Monange #3
Top First Growth of the vintage:
Wines to watch:
Finally getting noticed with commensurate scores. 2016 was a watershed vintage of great harmony and precision, and the first major Bordeaux property to qualify for both biodynamic certifications. 2018 was an epic qualitative success, even though it was a disaster commercially due to rampant mildew that swept the vineyard in June - the biodynamic treatment regime unable to keep up with the excessively humid conditions. Only 583 equivalent full cases were made and the quality compares to 1945 and 1961. 2020 is another success with modestly reduced yields. The attack in particular is gorgeous, dripping with juicy black cherry fruit, but 2018 is the one to seek out.
For those who missed the Figeac boat before it left the harbour, La Gaffeliere is still at anchor in terms of price, and with every prospect of setting sail with a bit of time. Great terroir next to Ausone, seriously elegant, with layer upon layer of complexity to seduce the connoisseur.
Best commune bets in 2020?
Themes of 2020
Black bottles with gold engraving. What Chateau Margaux started off, in 2015 as a fitting tribute and wonderful enduring memorial to the late Paul Pontallier, became ubiquitous in 2020 in honour of all sorts of anniversaries. The black bottle salesperson was probably not referencing their list of ‘wins' in 2020 with their prospects, for fear of undermining the hoped-for premium packaging premium.
Modest increases at the beginning of the campaign over the very well priced 2019s (as is so often the case) ended with a frenzy of price increases for the late releases of between 25%-c40%. Sellers will have had to bank on Giffen’s Paradox to sell through at the top end of price hikes.
2020 vs 2019
There were still values to be had in 2019 at the start of this campaign. Better priced 2019s that were down on their 2018 release prices and which hadn’t budged since last year’s release price got snapped up as this year's campaign played out. There are still plenty to pick from. Overall 2019 is likely a more consistent vintage than 2020, and perhaps rather more balanced in the Medoc notwithstanding plenty of low alcohols in 2020 (partly due to rain which most affected the top half of the Medoc notably St Estephe, Pauillac, a bit less in St Julien, and quite a bit less in the heart of Margaux). Left bank wines’ stats offered up a paradoxical combination of moderate alcohols and very elevated pH values (denoting low acidity in spite of tasters' visceral sense of freshness). The Right Bank got spared the later downpours and so are richer; many with the higher trademark alcohols of a hot vintage (notably the 100% Merlots) but with pH values closer to norms.
Value, track and trade fine wine
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