Matthew Jukes -Articles- Notes

2020 Bordeaux En Primeur Report – Episode 25 – Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse

2020 Bordeaux En Primeur Report

Episode 25 – Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse

A late entry to my 2020 Report, which will miss my first edition, but will be included in the second.  I couldn’t keep this note to myself so I have decided to publish it free to view for Friends & Members in the meantime.


2020 Château Beauséjour – Héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Émilion

82% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc

70% new oak

Approximately 14% alc

22 hL/ha


Merlot was harvested on the 11th, 16th, 19th & 21st September, and the Cabernet Franc was harvested on the 30th September

There have been no Zoom tastings this year as quietly emotional nor as dramatic as my video-chat with Joséphine Duffau-Lagarrosse.   It was only six weeks ago that Joséphine learned that her last-minute bid to retain ownership of her historic property, which has been in Duffau-Lagarrosse family since 1847, won a nail-biting competition against rival bidders Philippe Cuvelier, owner of Clos Fourtet, and Stephanie de Boüard-Rivoal of Angélus.   This tiny 6.5ha property sits atop the famous Saint-Émilion limestone plateau, overlooking Angélus, and with Canon, Beau-Séjour Bécot, Bélair-Monange and Berliquet all near-neighbours this is an extremely well-situated estate.  There have been many stories in the wine world of young family members being asked to step up to the plate when they were least expecting it and Joséphine had the grace to admit that she hadn’t expected to be sitting in the hot seat for a good few years.  But with plenty of winemaking and viticultural experience, both internationally and also closer to home, she is more than ready to take the helm.

Her first decision was to meticulously taste through all of the barrels, which were vinified under the expert guidance of Nicolas Thienpont and Stéphane Derenoncourt, and then re-blend the 2020 vintage wine in her image.  Creating a personal signature is not an easy task, but her indelible imprint involved increasing the Cabernet Franc percentage to achieve the control and timbre which she felt was needed.  This is something which she is keen to augment in years to come.  The result is an extraordinarily composed wine with Cabernet Franc graphite underpinning the innate Merlot power hidden in the core of this wine.  Freshness and delicacy were words I wrote several times in my scrawl and Joséphine mentioned ‘verticality’ and ‘salinity’ which should give you some idea of the shape and energy in this tremendous red.  The oak and tannin are discreet and respectful allowing the fruit to billow and caress the palate.  This will be a vintage that will start drinking early and then hold its stance for a long time to come.  Indeed, the finish is one of the calmest and most complete in the entire commune.  I asked Joséphine when the label was changed to include the foil detail not only on the Château name but also on the little people walking along the road to the property.  She seemed amused at this question not least because I am the first person ever to ask her.  She told me that this tweak was made in the 2015 vintage and it was to symbolise that while there is an imposing stately home and stunning vineyard at Beauséjour there are also people who are important in bringing this estate’s wines to life.  This statement has never been truer than it is today.  18.5/20