Jancis Robinson MW has published her team’s critical view of the Bordeaux 2020 vintage. The UK’s most published wine critic, Robinson along with Julia Harding MW, tasted the barrel samples shipped to London, whilst James Lawther MW, based in Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux, attended the tastings at the chateaux which chose not to ship the new vintage and at the events hosted by the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux in the region last week.
The six-month old wines are described by Robinson as providing “only a suggestion of what the final wine will be like” at this stage, which is why the market relies on the expert view of a very small number of international critics, of whom Jancis Robinson is highly respected.
Robinson’s scoring system rates wine out of 20 points which differs from the majority of the internationally renowned critics who, in the main, follow Robert Parker Jnr’s system of scoring wine out of 100 points. The majority of the fine wines scored by the Robinson team are rated between 15 and 18.5 points out of 20 – the really outstanding may attain extremely rare scores higher than this.
Robinson’s initial view:
“On the basis of the cask samples, some stunning wines have been produced in 2020. On the Left Bank they tend to be made by producers who can afford to be extremely selective in their final blends. There is a host of very successful wines on the Merlot-dominated Right Bank too. But the vintage is looking generally less consistent than 2019.”
Bordeaux 2020: Jancis Robinson MW and her team – Top Wines
|WINE||CLASSIFICATION||AOC||SCORE / 20|
|Lafite Rothschild||1st Growth||Pauillac||19|
|Haut Brion||1st Growth||Pessac-Leognan||18.5|
|Mouton Rothschild||1st Growth||Pauillac||18.5|
|Cos d’Estournel||2nd Growth||St Estephe||18.5|
|Vieux Chateaux Certan||–||Pomerol||18++|
|Ausone||Grand Cru Classe A||St Emilion||18+|
|La Mission Haut Brion||1959 – Cru Classe||Pessac Leognan||18+|
|Montrose||2nd Growth||St Estephe||18+|
|Angelus||Grand Cru Classe A||St Emilion||18|
|Pavie||Grand Cru Classe A||St Emilion||18|
|Leoville Barton||2nd Growth||St Julien||18|
|Leoville Las Cases||2nd Growth||St Julien||18|
|Calon Segur||3rd Growth||St Estephe||18|
Scores – source: www.jancisrobinson.com . Note Pomerol wines are not classified
On the Right Bank, Robinson observes that “in very general terms, this most recent vintage seems to have been more successful, or at least more consistent, there than on the Left Bank.” Having noted that the St Emilion wines are enjoying a trend in recent years of producing greater “freshness” in the wines she claims to be “falling back in love with St Emilion” and that “the wines are so much more fresh and expressive than they used to be.”
Robinson noted the challenges faced by the Left Bank growers and the later harvest of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape which left them exposed to the unusual heat wave conditions of September 2020. As a consequence, there is a higher-than-normal Merlot component to Left Bank wines this vintage. Wines from the Graves and Pessac-Leognan AOCs are more consistent in her view.
Jane Harding MW commented on the ‘dark-fruited intensity” of some of the Margaux wines, which in her view, did not have the “traditional perfumed character” of the wines of that AOC.
The Wine Critic’s role
On the critics’ role to guide the market, Robinson describes the principle of scoring a wine as similar to “assigning points to a Picasso or a De Kooning.” Whilst recognising the value of scoring wines to guide the consumer her personal view is that “once numbers are involved, it is all too easy to reduce wine to a financial commodity rather than keep its precious status as a uniquely stimulating source of sensual pleasure and conviviality.”
Of course, the market ultimately relies on those consumers who will acquire these great wines to fully appreciate and relish the sensational rewards on offer. But equally, it is also essential that buyers are involved at the earliest en primeur stage to ensure the chateaux have the financial capacity to deliver these exquisite and highly valuable wines in the first place.
En Primeurs may be seen to be speculative, but certainties on offer include the pedigree of the producers, historical information on similar climatic conditions and comparative vintages and the opinion of the top critics. Price is one of the factors requiring the support of professionals who understand the dynamics of the secondary market.
Bordeaux 2020 – be prepared for a fast-paced campaign
We commented recently on our expectations for the Bordeaux 2020 en primeurs campaign, and that this is likely to be fast-paced, with some excellent wines but with smaller supply available for investors. We will be reporting on the en primeur investment wines as soon as details become available and for those interested in investing at first release it is important to act promptly.
For more information on investing in en primeur wines and to register your interest in Bordeaux 2020 allocations please click here or speak to a member of our team on 0203 384 2262.