2020 Bordeaux En Primeur Report – Episode 3 – Pichon Baron, Pibran & Suduiraut

2020 Bordeaux En Primeur Report

Episode 3 – Pichon Baron, Pibran & Suduiraut

2020 Château Pibran, Pauillac

55% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon

50% new oak for 18 months

This is a plump, juicy Pibran with a mass of black fruit which crowds the palate as soon as you take a sip.  Bold and relatively forward with dusty but not aggressive tannins, this is a classically shaped Pibran and it manages to taste refreshingly ‘Pauillacais’, too, which adds a dash of glamour to proceedings.  16.5/20

2020 Les Griffons de Pichon Baron (2nd wine of Pichon Baron)

50% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot

50% new oak and 50% one-year-old oak for 18 months.

This wine represents 25% of the yield of the 73ha of vines

The Merlot sings loudly in Les Griffons and it has even given this wine a dashing, deep red hue as opposed to the more familiar blacker tones.  The Merlot dominance continues on the nose with mulberry tones hovering above the cassis ensemble.  And again, this fruit-driven grape adds a hint of exoticism and also a silky sheen which softens the Cabernet tannins giving Les Griffons a delightful and delicious appeal.  You will not have to wait long for this wine to start drinking and it will be sure to be received with open arms.  17/20

2020 Les Tourelles de Longueville, Pauillac (from the Pichon Baron portfolio)

64% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc

30% in new oak and 70% in one-year-old barrels for 12 months

This wine represents 27% of the yield of the 73ha of vines

There is more Merlot in this wine than found in Les Griffons and it tastes more formal and stern.  Perhaps there is some older vine fruit here because there is superb balance and control from the perfume to the finish.  Without the obvious flesh of Les Griffons, this is a more upright and traditionally Pauillac-shaped wine and I like it enormously because it captures the essence of the commune while polishing the body and making it a lot more forward than many of the other labels found here.  I anticipate that it will blossom fully within a decade and provide much joy as well as some typical Pichon-Baron flair.  17.5/20

2020 Château Pichon Baron, 2ème Cru Pauillac

76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot)

70% new oak and 30% one-year-old for 18 months

This wine represents 48% of the yield of the 73ha of vines

As expected Cabernet leads the way in this blend and it is the only red in this particular family to feature this grape in the driving seat.  For this reason, it has a markedly more commanding nose and stance on the palate.  Small berries make for a deep, dark colour and alongside the intensity of the perfume and palate one might expect to experience a markedly tannic finish, but no.  This is a genteel, honed wine with a long, lithe finish and a discreet, savoury kick on the back of the palate and this makes me think that it might start to drink a little sooner than the more structured 2018 vintage.  A shade lighter, a touch more expressive and silky, this is a suave Pichon Baron with restraint offset with typical distinction and I expect it to blossom in a decade and then hold well into the future.  18.5/20

2020 Blanc Sec de Suduiraut (Suduiraut)

54% Semillon, 46% Sauvignon Blanc

75% in vat and 25% in barrels of which 30% is new oak for six months

13% alc

This is a slow-build wine that leads with Semillon, in keeping with its Sauternes heritage, but brings crisply lemony Sauvignon Blanc in to grab your attention leaving it feeling bright and refreshing on the finish.  But along this path, the flow of flavour is hampered by the discreet oak which shuts down the overall exuberance and this is simply because it is too young.  When this wine is given permission to unravel and stretch its limbs I venture that it will be an elegant beauty, but right now it looks a little cramped and in need of repose.  17/20

2020 Château Suduiraut, 1er Cru Preignac, Sauternes

(100 Semillon)

50% new oak and 50% one-year-old oak for 16-20 months

14% alc.

137 g/l residual sugar

With very low yields of 8.5hL/ha, Suduiraut picked its grapes in four tries in 2020 and the first two, which were a little earlier in the picture, were deemed too light and lacking in concentration and they were downgraded (presumably into Castelnau).  However, because of a dry September and therefore a late onset of botrytis, a third trie starting on 19th October and a fourth starting on the 2nd November yielded sensational noble rot-touched grapes.  The resulting flavour is amazingly decadent with layers of honey and marmalade, nougat and quince.  It is a firm wine, too, with stunning acidity underpinning the lusty fruit.  Closed and noble, this will take a good decade to unfurl but when it does I am sure that this will be a great vintage for Suduiraut with exceptional staying power, too.   19+/20

Scores – I have attached my scores out of 20 for each wine.  If a score has no ‘+’, this indicates a wine that is in balance and can be drunk relatively young thanks to its precocity and charm. One ‘+’ indicates a wine that will benefit from medium-term ageing (in accordance with the style of the wine), while two ‘++’ indicates a wine that should manage to make the long haul, softening and evolving as it goes.   A ‘?’ means that I am unsure about an element within the wine – this will be explained in my note.