The primeur tastings have finished now, and wine lovers are keen to get the initial verdict on Bordeaux’s 2020 vintage. We won’t keep you in suspense any longer, and we can tell you that this a fine vintage for the region, a very fine one for some wines.
Weather conditions: a precocious vintage
2020 began with a relatively mild winter, followed by a warm spring, which meant that the vines tended to flourish early, around 2 to 3 weeks in advance of their usual schedule. The warm and humid spring encouraged the plants to grow quickly, blossoming at the end of May in good conditions. From the beginning of June, though, the weather took a turn for the worse, with frequent rain increasing the risk of mildew, but this was remedied by a dry period of almost two months. This dryness brought about water stress for the plants, especially the younger vines, which was relieved mid-August with the arrival of summer storms.
The white grapes were harvested during the last ten days of August through to the beginning of September. Around this time it was sunny and dry, which led to a quicker ripening of the grapes. Merlot grapes began to be harvested on the 10th of September in some very good conditions. A certain amount of rain did the fruit some good, but then this rain became more frequent and worrying. The Cabernet grapes were picked after the Merlots, and the more precocious of these were harvested in good conditions, whereas the later ones had to be picked very quickly due to bad weather.
The dry whites are good quality, very aromatic, sapid, and keeping a good level of acidity. As for the dessert wines, the dry weather pushed back the development of botrytis, eventually encouraged by the mid-September rain. Most of the grapes were harvested mid-October when there was a window of good weather. Harvests in the Sauternes region were low in quantity but highly satisfactory in quality.
In all, we can say that this wasn’t an easy vintage. We might call it a ‘vintner vintage’, in that it required a lot of careful work, sage decisions, and good timing on the part of the wine makers.
For us, Bordeaux’s 2020 vintage is classic in style. By classic, we certainly don’t mean that it lacks anything special, rather that it carries all the character of a fine Bordeaux: balanced, structured by strong but silky tannins, fresh (either thanks to a certain level of acidity or minty aromatics), and ‘normal’ alcohol levels. In recent years, the latter has been a slight issue for the region’s wine. Their density and balance promise good ageing potential. It is also a classic vintage in that it isn’t especially indulgent as the 2016 can be.
One of the biggest strengths of the 2020 vintage is how all of the grape varietals reached a good level of maturity, with some truly remarkable Merlot. The Cabernet franc grapes were perfectly ripe, as was the Petit Verdot which has been added to certain cuvées where it hadn’t been blended before.
The general opinion of the tasters is that this is a fine vintage for both banks of the Garonne. Saint-Estèphe, Margaux, Pessac-Léognan, and Pomerol seem to have done particularly well with some extremely accomplished cuvées. As for Sauternes, the overall quality is quite heterogenous but with some good results; however, quantities are unfortunately quite low this time.
As is often the case at Bordeaux’s primeurs, the wines from the right bank tend to get better press at tastings due to the amount of Merlot used, a grape that gives the cuvées a flattering profile whilst they’re still maturing.
At iDealwine, we don’t sell primeur wines, but we do have allocations with some of the region’s finest properties. This means that the wines will all be available on our site in good time. In the meantime, you can discover our rich selection of Bordeaux wines here! There’s plenty to keep you going…