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2020 Bordeaux ‘highest scoring vintage ever’ at top end

By Andrew Catchpole

Based on a basket of 115 top wines, the 2020 Bordeaux vintage has been awarded the highest scores ever by Wine Lister’s partner critics.

The record-breaking score elevation was revealed with the release of part 2 of the trading and analysis platform's annual Bordeaux Study, which also surmised that: “Based on similar scoring vintages (2018, 2016 and 2015) producers would appear to have room for price increases this campaign”.

With most tasters in agreement that 2020 completes what Gavin Quinney described as “a fine triptych of 2018, 2019 and 2020” in his annual Bordeaux and en primeur report for Harpers, though with less consistency than vintages such as 2019, but with 2020 showing some very high quality indeed among the top wines.

In the foreword to the Wine Lister Study, critics Antonio Galloni and Neil Martin write that the best wines reveal great “terroir expression”.

The pair add that 2020 exhibits “greater focus and freshness” than preceding vintages such as 2018, forming “the third in a great trilogy of Bordeaux vintages”, but “without reaching the heights of 2019”.

Galloni and Martin also note “quite an evolution in winemaking over the past decade”, with producers especially focused on viticultural practices that bring “freshness and energy in the fruit” to the fore, rather than a focus simply on ripeness.

Writing for June Harpers, Quinney said that compared with the charm of the 2019 vintage, “the 2020s require more reflection and selection”, adding that while there were some “brilliant wines”, [the 2020 vintage] was “not a consistent rising-tide-lifts-all-boats-type vintage”.

The headline findings in Wine Listers Bordeaux Study 2021 report were that “first growths and their right bank equivalents [regained] their standing atop the quality ranking in 2020 compared with 2019”, with Pomerol topping the charts quality-wise and St Estephe remaining last among appellations, with the greatest loss of points on the 2019 vintage of any appellation.

On prices, the study suggested that while producers may be feeling bolder this year after a price reset on the “unprecedented 2019 vintage”, producers should exercise some caution with 2020 prices to help continue the momentum in interest rekindled by the 2019 campaign.

“The 2020 vintage achieves the highest average quality score of recent vintages on the market, earning five, nine and 10 points more than the high-scoring 2019, 2016 and 2015 vintages, respectively,” said the Study.

“Many of these wines from similar-quality vintages still show moderate availability in the market, providing physically available competition to the current release. As usual then, there 2020 needs to be well-priced comparatively in order to create a need for consumes to secure it before it is bottled.

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