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Bordeaux 2020: No perfect scores from Martin in “excellent” vintage

    • The 2020 vintage “completes a trilogy of great vintages”.
    • Although it’s an “excellent” vintage there are caveats.
    • Martin found the 2020 offers a complex set of wines that defy easy categorisation.
    • There were no potential 100-point wines.

Excellent but…

The final verdict is that “generally the 2020 does form the third in a trilogy of great vintages after 2018 and 2019,” said Martin in his report for Vinous.

In his view, 2020 is better than 2018 – a vintage he is known to be less enthusiastic about – but its peaks do not reach those of 2019.

“Consensus is forming that 2019 may turn out the best. At first glance, 2020 does not match 2019, though the difference is marginal,” he wrote, adding there were a handful of wines that “will surpass 2018 and 2019”.

It is a vintage that will “merit long-term cellaring,” however, as its tannins are firmer than those of 2019.

Frog-to-princess ratio

In both his report and his interview with Liv-ex, Martin spoke of “caveats” when discussing the vintage. Its strengths include its ageing potential, acidity levels that “engender fresh wines with ample tension” and low alcohols that revealed great terroir expression.

On the other hand, he found some alcohols on the Right Bank to be very high – upwards of 15% abv in some instances. It is also an inconsistent vintage.

Apart from the very top estates, he said he “tasted many frogs to find a princess”. Drought and rains clearly affected the lesser terroirs and buyers will be “easily disappointed” if they make a wrong choice; however, he added there are still wines “punching above their weight” among the smaller châteaux.

It’s a trap

Martin stressed that he did not think this was a vintage easily described as “Left” or “Right”. Looking at the weather, soil and vine age from estate to estate or appellation to appellation, he argued each wine should be taken on its own merits.

He said: “Don’t fall into the trap of believing that it’s a Right Bank or Merlot vintage – 2020 is far more nuanced and complicated than that.”

His three top wines were from Margaux, Pessac-Léognan and Pomerol. As he has made clear, this is a vintage where great individual terroirs were central in producing the best wines.

Further interviews

Liv-ex has conducted several interviews with leading critics on the subject of Bordeaux 2020.

For the interview with Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, click here.

For the interview with James Suckling, click here.

For the interview with Jancis Robinson MW, click here.

For the interview with Jane Anson, click here.

Our Bordeaux En Primeur 2020 page contains everything you need to know about this year’s campaign. You can also sign up for our daily En Primeur email alerts using the form below.