En Primeur Bordeaux 2020

St Estephe - The wines with tasting notes


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[Add to waiting list] Calon Segur St Estephe £469 6x75cl Sold Out 92-94 95-96 95-97 98 88-90 95-97
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The 2020 Calon Ségur is deep, dark and massively concentrated. Huge, brawny tannins give the Grand Vin a brooding, rustic feel. Quite frankly, it is hard to see the 2020 being in balance. There is too much of everything - too much ripeness, too much tannin and too much heaviness. Perhaps this sample was not perfect. We will see.

Score: 88 - 90 Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com Maturity: 2035 - 2050

Tobacco and tea aromas with currants and wet earth. Full-bodied and chewy with blackcurrant flavor. Tannins build on the finish with lots of structure and intensity. Quite muscular.

Score: 95 - 96 James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

The 2020 Calon-Ségur is a blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. It is aging in 100% new French oak barrels for an anticipated 18 to 20 months. The alcohol is 13.8%. Displaying a deep purple-black color, it straight away springs up with bright scents of freshly picked black raspberries, kirsch and blackberries, needing considerable swirling to reveal a vast array of nuances—rose oil, cardamom, iron ore, graphite, lavender and aniseed. The medium-bodied palate has a solid structure of firm, ripe, grainy tannins and plenty of freshness supporting the tightly wound red and black fruit layers, accented by lots of mineral and floral sparks, finishing with impressive length and depth. Beautiful, beautiful wine!

Score: 95 - 97 Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate, RobertParker.com Maturity: 2026 - 2060

A return to form in my eyes for Calon Ségur after the atypical 2018, rippling with elegance, balance and savoury blue fruits of Cabernet, with rose and peony flowers. Concentrated, chiselled and juicy, this has clear personality and equals the great, classically balanced vintages of Calon like 2016. A yield of 33hl/ha, 3.85pH, 100% new oak. Vincent Millet is now overall director as well as technical director, since the departure of Laurent Dufau in 2020. Drinking Window 2029 - 2048

Score: 98 Jane Anson, Decanter.com

The 2020 Calon Ségur was picked from 24-30 September at 33hl/ha and after a 3-day cold soak at 10°C it underwent a 18-21 cuvaison. Matured entirely in new oak, it is backward on the nose, well defined, but broody and requires coaxing from the glass. It eventually reveals blackberry, cedar, wild mint and pressed iris petal aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with firm tannins, a little angular on the entry, good acidity. The second half, though, feels just a little brutish at the moment, granular and grippy on the saline, briny finish. I appreciate the way in which the DNA of this estate comes through, though the 2019 showed far more finesse and panache. It may end up at the top of my banded score if it can pull together more clarity and complexity.

Score: 92 - 94 Neal Martin, Vinous.com Maturity: 2027 - 2040

The flagship 2020 Château Calon Ségur is also brilliant and certainly brings up the intensity, depth, and richness, although it’s nowhere near the exotic, almost over-the-top style of the 2018. Gorgeous crème de cassis, tobacco, roasted coffee beans, lead pencil, and sappy herbs all define this beauty, which is full-bodied, beautifully balanced, and has incredible purity of fruit. It might have some up-front appeal as well, yet smart money will hide bottles for at least 7-8 years.

Score: 95 - 97 Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com

78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. Cask sample. Classically structured and Cabernet-driven without the opulence of 2018 or the finesse of 2019. Pure and precise on the nose with cassis notes prevalent. Crunchy fruit on the palate with powdery tannins that build and drive to a dry finish. Verticality as in 2019. Perhaps a little chew but clean and saline on the finish. (JL)

Score: 18 Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com

[Add to shopping basket] Capbern St Estephe £97 6x75cl 88-90 92-93 89-91 - 87-89 94-96
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The 2020 Capbern is a potent, virile Saint-Estèphe. Huge, muscular tannins give the 2020 its imposing personality. Black cherry, gravel, smoke, espresso, cured meats and dark spice all open with a bit of coaxing. In 2020, Capbern is a brute.

Score: 87 - 89 Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com Maturity: 2025 - 2040

This is really solid and powerful with lots of tannins and blue fruit. Spicy. Full and chewy. A little coarse now, but will improve with barrel aging.

Score: 92 - 93 James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

The 2020 Capbern is composed of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, weighing in with 14.1% alcohol. It is due to be aged for around 18 months in French oak barrels, 60% new. Deep purple-black in color, the 2020 Capbern sings of black cherries, mulberries and redcurrant jelly, with hints of candied violets, wild sage and fertile loam. The medium-bodied palate has impressive verve and freshness, featuring soft, well-managed tannins, red and black berry layers and a mineral-tinged finish.

Score: 89 - 91 Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate, RobertParker.com Maturity: 2023 - 2035

The 2020 Capbern has a delineated, earthy nose with predominantly black fruit and light estuarine scents, although it needs a little more intensity. The palate is medium-bodied with a tannic, slightly austere opening, saline and lightly spiced with a pleasant bitter edge towards the finish. Maybe a little short? It should fill out during its élevage so let’s see if it just gains persistence then.

Score: 88 - 90 Neal Martin, Vinous.com Maturity: 2025 - 2033

Readers looking for an off-the-charts value should snatch up the 2020 Château Capbern, which emerges from the same team as Calon Ségur. Offering a vivid bouquet of cassis, leafy tobacco, violets, damp earth, and chocolate, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, perfectly ripe fruit (not overripe, not underripe), ultra-fine, integrated tannins, and the mix of freshness and richness that’s part of all great wines. It’s a hidden gem in Saint-Estèphe.

Score: 94 - 96 Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com

[Add to shopping basket] Cos d'Estournel St Estephe £900 6x75cl 95-97 97-98 96-98 97 94-96 95-97
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The 2020 is a gorgeous wine from a very unusual year in which the Merlot is a bit more prominent in the blend than usual because of dehydration in the Cabernet. Even so, the 2020 is a wine of mid-weight finesse more than opulence. All the elements are impeccably balanced throughout.

Score: 94 - 96 Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com Maturity: 030 - 2050

This is a very refined, polished Cos with superb finesse and length. Medium-to full-bodied, very fine and persistent. Really long with beautiful tannins. Rich, but fresh and linear. Yet, the alcohol is around 13.5%. 62% cabernet and 38% merlot.

Score: 97 - 98 James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

The 2020 Cos d'Estournel is composed of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Merlot. The harvest took place September 10–24 with a yield of 39 hectoliters per hectare. The alcohol weighs in at 13.46% with a pH of 3.9 and an IPT (total phenolic index) of 80. It is being aged in French oak barrels, 55% new. Deep purple-black in color, it pops with explosive scents of ripe red and black currants, black cherry preserves and black raspberries, followed by sparks of violets, wild sage, pencil lead and clove oil, with emerging hints of iron ore and damp soil. The medium-bodied palate has amazing elegance and grace contrasted by jaw-dropping energy, featuring a firm frame of finely grained tannins and just enough freshness, finishing with a whole firework display of mineral nuances. I love the way this Cos d'Estournel shimmies and shines—a unique vintage signature expressed so beautifully at this estate!

Score: 96 - 98 Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate, RobertParker.com Maturity: 2028 - 2060

You need to take a little time to let the concentrated flavours seep out, this is a long hauler. The tannins build slowly but surely through the palate, sombre and serious right now, particularly for an estate that is known for its exuberance. The opulence is there if you give it time, and as the tannins elongate and relax, richer notes of bilberry fruits, toasted cedar, salted chocolate, turmeric and black pepper spice arrives. Harvest September 10 to 24. A 3.9pH is the highest since 2003, but any threat of low acidity is balanced by high tannins, and relatively low alcohol. A yield of 39hl/ha (43hl/ha in 2019).

Score: 97 Jane Anson, Decanter.com Maturity: 2027 - 2044

The 2020 Cos d’Estournel is a very different proposition to the Les Pagodes, more so than in other years. Much more intense on the nose of intense black fruit, it is beautifully defined, with enticing scents of blackberry, Dorset plum and topnotes of blueberry and briar. After 30 minutes in the glass, it develops more Saint-Estèphe-like traits: freshly tilled soil, cigar box and touches of warm gravel. There is an openness to these inviting aromatics. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins (so different from the "iron girders" of yore). There is freshness and a sense of light in this Cos d’Estournel, though the backbone remains in situ on the cedar and mint finish (a nod to neighboring Pauillac, perhaps), then a lingering marine/seaweed note on the aftertaste. This is a finely crafted, very succinct Cos d’Estournel that may well be hiding something up its sleeve for after bottling, and I suspect it will gain more spine during its barrel aging.

Score: 95 - 97 Neal Martin, Vinous.com Maturity: 2025 - 2060

The Grand Vin 2020 Château Cos D'Estournel is based on 62% Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Merlot that was brought up in 55% new French oak. An inky-hued, concentrated, yet flawlessly balanced wine, it has gorgeous cassis and dark currant fruits, medium to full-bodied richness, ripe, building tannins, and just a wonderful sense of purity and elegance backed up by ample concentration. It stays tight, focused, and seamless, and is a brilliant example of the vintage. The 2020 hit 13.4% natural alcohol with a pH of 3.9 and an IPT of 80.

Score: 95 - 97 Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com

62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot. Cask sample. Purple-black colour to the rim. Deep and dense (like an endless pool) but aromatically restrained. Some cassis with aeration. Big and bold with marked tension and supercharged but finely hewn tannins. Enough fruit to provide unctuosity. Fresh, dry and saline through to the finish. Powerful but sculpted. Very long ageing. (JL)

Score: 18.5 Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com

[Add to shopping basket] Dame de Montrose (2nd wine of Montrose) St Estephe £174 6x75cl - - - 92 - -
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A ton of dark fruits on offer in the form of cassis, bilberry, blackcurrant, brambles of blackberry and raspberry, a ton of spice and sinew. Bitter almond and chocolate notes come in on the finish and add to the feel of a signature Dame de Montrose. Not the exoticism of 2018, this is more of a return to classicism, closer to the 2019 or 2016. 4% Petit Verdot completes the blend. A yield of around 29hl/ha.

Score: 92 Jane Anson, Decanter.com Maturity: 2025 - 2040

49% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc. Cask sample. Lithe and fruit-driven with dark-fruit, mint and herbal notes. Tannins finely etched. Nothing forced. Natural feel and flavour. Clean, dry finish. (JL)

Score: 16.5 Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com

[Add to shopping basket] Lafon Rochet St Estephe £162 6x75cl 92-94 93-94 - 93 93-95 93-95
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The 2020 Lafon-Rochet is fabulous. The aromatics along are dazzling. Gracious and yet effusive, with tons of nuance, the 2020 dazzles from start to finish. Inky dark fruit, new leather, spice, lavender and menthol fill the room with soaring intensity. Silky, elegant and so pure, Lafon-Rochet is shaping up to be one of the real under the radar gems of 2020. It's a terrific effort from Basile Tesseron. Don't miss it.

Score: 93 - 95 Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com Maturity: 2030-2050

Blackberry and spice with firm, chewy tannins that show polish and focus. It’s medium-to full-bodied with excellent energy. Blackberry and blackcurrant character on the finish with a touch of cedar and spice.

Score: 93 - 94 James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

Attractive, well-paced fruits, plenty of clarity to the flavours, together with a feeling of linearity to the tannins. Austerity through the mid-palate constrains the brambled cassis fruit, but things build back up again and this is a measured, successful wine that will age well. 3% Petit Verdot completes the blend. First year with Eric Boissenot accompanying Jean-Claude Berrouet as consultants.

Score: 93 Jane Anson, Decanter.com Maturity: 2027 - 2042

The 2020 Lafon-Rochet was picked September 15–20 and marks the first collaboration between consultants Jean-Claude Berrouet and Eric Boissenot, who both worked on the blending. It has a really lovely bouquet of blackberry, briar and faint estuarine scents, hints of crushed iris flower emerging with time. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannins and modest depth, and quite fleshy; lip-smacking salinity urges you to take another sip. Intriguingly, it comes across a tad Pomerol-like on the finish, completing a top-notch Lafon-Rochet that may well end up at the top of my banded score.

Score: 92 - 94 Neal Martin, Vinous.com Maturity: 2024 - 2044

I loved the 2020 Château Lafon-Rochet, a rich, powerful, concentrated Saint-Estèphe that stays beautifully balanced and elegant. Lots of pure cassis and darker currant fruits as well as tobacco, chocolate, and damp herb notes define the nose, and it's medium to full-bodied, with plenty of mid-palate depth, building tannins, and a great finish. It's going to take 7-8 years to hit the early stages of maturity, but it's a brilliant wine. The blend is 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, with an alcohol of 13.5 and a pH of 3.68. Tasted twice.

Score: 93 - 95 Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com

Full bottle an admirably light 1,290 g. Cask sample taken 6 April. 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot. Deep lustrous purplish crimson. Interesting vitality to the nose, almost as though biodynamic techniques were employed here. Lovely balance of ripeness and vitality. This is a very successful 2020. It may be dismissed by some because the tannins are not obvious but it's a delightful drink – already! Very distinctive. Perhaps not for seriously long-term cellaring but well done Basile Tesseron for producing something so appetising and groundbreaking. The finish is impressively persistent.

Score: 17 Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com

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