2020 Bordeaux En Primeur Report – Episode 24 – Margaux

2020 Bordeaux En Primeur Report

Episode 24 – Margaux

2020 Château Margaux, 1er Cru Margaux

89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc

100% new oak

13.5% alc

36 hL/ha

36% of the harvest was used for this wine

80 IPT


Philippe Bascaules is a fascinating chap and his commentary and frankness made for a brilliant tasting.  While I would prefer to taste at the Château I am not complaining about the many Zoom tastings I have been party to because instead of running into the tasting room and tasting and writing notes in 30 minutes flat before charging off to the next appointment, I have had the pleasure to tasting the wines this year over hours, revisiting the finest repeatedly in order to deep dive into their souls.  Philippe explained that while the beginning of the season was rather challenging with warm, humid weather meaning that they had to work hard to protect their crops from mildew, the summer was hot and while it didn’t rain up until the 10th August, between the 10th and 20th August they experience a good few showers with 80mm falling on the 13th alone which changed the fortunes at Margaux!   The vines loved this opportunity to drink up the rainfall and feed the grapes, and with lower temperatures arriving, too, the vines were in tremendous condition.  From 20th August until the end of September they enjoyed great weather, picking perfectly ripe grapes with the ideal balance of richness coming from the skins and freshness from the juice.  Aromatic and also refreshing, these delicate traits bookend a mesmerisingly deep and luxurious mid-palate with eye-catching silkiness bounded by an extraordinary energy.  This is a signature Margaux and as Philippe explained, “the storm in August made this wine”.  It is fascinating to think that famous wines are usually made in warm vintages with near-drought conditions, but in 2020, Margaux is undoubtedly one of the finest wines and its MD recognises that a storm was responsible for its greatness.  With this in mind, 2020 Margaux is not a full-bodied, creamy style, but a silky, languid creature with an all-enveloping perfume, deep, wild berry tones, amazingly regal oak and staggering length.  It manages to combine Margaux’s trademark elegance and tenderness with superb structure and finesse.  The tannins are also exquisite and they cradle this wine perfectly.  In 2020 Mouton is quintessential Mouton, Haut-Brion is an outlier in all respects and it shocks as much as it impresses, while Margaux also manages to hit the high notes while retaining its precise personality and signature.  All three are stunning wines and all three sit atop my deliberations this year, but they could not be more different and this is exactly why I like them so much.  19.5/20

My Scores –  As you know, I favour the 20-point score. It’s how I was taught to score wines 35 years ago and it dovetails nicely with the way in which I judge wines, too. The absence of a ‘+’ 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.