Matthew Jukes - Wine Notes

2020 Bordeaux En Primeur Report – Episode 12 – Mouton Rothschild & Family

2020 Bordeaux En Primeur Report

Episode 12 – Mouton Rothschild & Family

2020 Château Mouton Rothschild, 1er Cru Pauillac

84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot

100% new oak

13.13% alc

I urge you to read my tasting note on Le Petit Mouton before this one because it sets the scene perfectly for this wine.  Dark, rich, layered, precise, composed, calm, aerial, sensational, epic, classic, resplendent, perfumed, refreshing, bright, great and measured are all words I noted down when I tasted this thrilling wine.  In a vintage where alcohol levels vary by up to 2.5%, this is one of the slimmest and yet it is also one of the sexiest wines of all.  2020 Mouton carries so much spectacular Cabernet flavour along in this lithe, athletic framework is it truly mesmerising.  The lift on the nose, the penetration and accuracy of the flavour and the prodigious length are all awe-inspiring and magical at the same time.  While the weather conditions have given every estate in the region a set of baffling challenges in this vintage, it seems like this wine was assembled with all of the time in the world, by precision watchmakers such is the detail and beauty on display.  I think that this is a classic Mouton, but there are so many and they are all so different.  And that alone is the trick.  If you take what nature gives you and build it, with no compromises whatsoever, into as stunning a creation as possible that is all anyone could ask for and in 2020 Mouton has done just this.  19.5+/20

2020 Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild (2nd wine of Mouton Rothschild)

72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc

50% new oak

13.1% alc

This is a sensational Le Petit Mouton and it has every bit as much finesse and elegance as any wine in this vintage.  The fruit has great depth and power but delivered in a controlled, beautifully pure and resonant 13.1% alcohol framework.  It is such a melodic and tender wine on the surface, but underneath there is great depth and genuine personality.  In fact, I haven’t recognised this amount of character in this wine before and it seems that LPM is developing its own distinct signature and this is thoroughly fascinating.  With such crystalline purity and freshness, it is amazing that the fruit has enough persistence and flavour to swallow the oak without any issue whatsoever.  Layered and refined, this is a triumph for the Mouton family in 2020. 18+/20

2020 Château d’Armailhac, 5ème Cru Pauillac

59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot

13.3% alc

Deep and brooding with wells of black fruit and even some liquorice and spice here, this is a huge success for d’Armailhac and there is more than enough intensity to shrug off the oak and tannin and this puts it in rather exclusive company in this vintage.  There is a considerable degree of polish, elegance and control here in spite of the exuberance of the fruit and there is no excess fat either, making this is pure, Cabernet-driven wine with a refreshing finish.  Simply lovely.  17.5+/20

2020 Château Clerc Milon, 5ème Cru Pauillac

53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot

13.28% alc

50% new oak

3.82pH

The nose is a little muted on Clerc Milon and the palate seems a little more slender than usual, too, but this is not surprising when you read the super-fit 13.28% alcohol.  While it might seem like this wine is perhaps not quite plush enough to support the oak and the tannins, which are rather noble, that there is surprising energy behind the scenes.  Going back to the nose, there is a haunting red fruit aspect to Clerc Milon which, combined with the darker tones on the palate, is yearning to be set free.  This is an extremely elegant wine and one which will certainly open up beautifully given time.  17.5+/20

2020 Pastourelle de Clerc Milon, Pauillac (2nd wine of Clerc Milon)

51% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 1% Carmenère

13.45% alc

100% one-year-old oak

The first vintage of this wine was the 2009 which was launched in 2015 and it has mainly been focused on the on-trade.  Interestingly, it took the Rothschild team three years to decide upon a charming name for this second wine only to find it had been previously been trademarked by none other than Baron Philippe de Rothschild, back in the 1930s.  They say that great minds…  This is a genuine second wine as opposed to a ‘different wine’ and so it fits neatly into the Clerc Milon template just with a cooler fermentation, lighter extraction and phenolic profile and a more immediate appeal.  This is accordingly a refreshing, cool, pure wine with a fair dose of old-vine Merlot playing an important part in the core of the flavour.  The tannins are fine and the acidity is energetic and I don’t doubt that it will start drinking well after five years.  This is a delightful wine and the name, as just about everyone will agree, is spot on!  16.5/20

2020 Aile d’Argent Blanc (Mouton Rothschild)

52% Sauvignon Blanc, 34% Semillon, 14% Sauvignon Gris

45% new oak

I am becoming rather keen on this wine as it gradually tightens up its demeanour as the years pass.  While I enjoyed the lush older vintages with their flamboyant oak and hedonistic richness this stylish, cooler, more dynamic model is far more appealing to my palate.  While it is barrel fermented, there is no skin contact or malolactic fermentation here, so this is a balletic wine with both power and grace.  Only a month off being bottled (in June 2021), this is probably the one wine in this entire Report which is most similar to the finished object and so I can tell you with every confidence that it is a glittering gem of a wine.  Cool, refreshing, tangy and super-long, this is an Aile d’Argent which will work well as a young, feisty wine and also as an older beauty.  This is superb winemaking and I think that this is the closet that this wine has got to perfect balance in all of the vintages that I have tasted.  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.