2020 Bordeaux En Primeur Report – Episode 6 – Clos Cantenac & Séraphine

2020 Bordeaux En Primeur Report

Episode 6 – Clos Cantenac & Séraphine

2020 Clos Cantenac, Grand Cru, Saint-Emilion

100% Merlot

40% new oak

14.5% alc

Production is 8000 bottles

I tasted Petit Cantenac (the second wine from this estate) immediately before this wine and, as I subconsciously do with every wine I taste, I fleetingly predicted the shape, size and flavour of this Grand Vin before I took my first sniff and a sip.  Gosh, what a shock!  The nose sits down in the glass and glares back at you impertinently for disturbing its slumber.  The flavour is bound tightly in steel shackles and there is little wriggle room for the flavour to express itself, but the finish allows you to turn around and look back at what has gone before, admiring its rigidity and composure.  Like Petit C, the tannins are firm, fit and dry and this rigid, unbending platform supports the densely packed fruit perfectly.  Even though the alcohol seems pretty punchy on paper there is a cool feeling throughout the flavour and this is because the acidity is keen and nervy and it, accordingly, brings a fabulous dynamism and flair to the party.  Once the fruit notes open a touch on the palate it is possible to see deep mulberry and spice tones among the bold blackcurrant and plum theme and this makes 2020 Clos Cantenac as luxurious as it is controlled.  I have not seen anything like this wine before from Clos Cantenac and it proves that 2020’s vintage conditions were like no other.  It also shows us how this estate manages to respond to everything that is thrown at it and that makes this an unexpected and also a seriously impressive wine.  18+/20

2020 Petit Cantenac (2nd wine of Clos Cantenac)

85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon

14% alc

Production is 16000 bottles

Petit Cantenac always seems to give off an air of being more over-engineered than it deserves to be given it is a ‘second wine’.   There is an awful lot of detail here from the bold, ripe, immediate nose to the grand scale of the palate and then onto the grippy, energetic finish.  While this is a buoyant, juicy wine, initially, there is a coolness and crispness on the back of the palate which reminds us that it is ripe and refreshing and not overripe and sluggish.  The tannins are a little more taut than I expected them to be and this means that 2020 PC will lead a longer life than usual.  I am a fan of this wine as it always represents great value for money and in 2020 you will have a wine that stands the chance of developing further than any preceding vintage and that makes it a real treat.  17+/20

2020 Château Séraphine, Pomerol

100% Merlot

40% new oak – all barrels are 300-litre – for 12 – 14 months

14% alc

Production is 3200 bottles

I am a big fan of the 2020 wines that are dark-hued, vividly perfumed, densely fruity and yet, on the finish, refreshing, pinched, keen and bursting with energetic tannins.  Séraphine starts slowly with deep wells of purple and black fruit which you have to work hard to coax from your glass.  It gradually unfurls to reveal measured plum and blackberry tones with flashes of luxurious violet and sour cherry nuances before a rigid portcullis of acidity and tannin glides down into place on your palate leaving you trapped with a memory of plush fruit while you stare directly at a phalanx of perfectly turned-out, elegantly-besuited tannins.  This is dramatic stuff.  Time alone will raise these defences and allow both parties to mingle, but this will require patience.  I am certain that when they are given permission, which will certainly take a decade or more, this will result in one of the most elegant and perfumed Pomerols of the vintage.  18+/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.