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Bordeaux 2020 at Two Years

Bordeaux 2020 at Two Years

The sleek form of the Gulfstream G5, resplendent in its deep blue, white and gold livery, coasted to a stop at the edge of the apron. The crew swung into action, and within a minute or two the door was open and the steps were down. It was time. I drained the last few drops of the 1959 Bollinger Extra Dry from my glass and rose from the comfort of my suede aviator’s chair.

Emerging from the cockpit, the pilot gave an appreciative wink, before coming forward to thank me for my custom. It’s the little things like this – a quick, personal note of appreciation – that make all the difference. And why I chose to charter this particular private jet for my flight out to France. Before me the other members of the crew lined up, and I bid each one farewell in turn, before floating down the steps.

There, on the tarmac, stood the Mercedes-Maybach S600 limousine, ready to whisk me out to the vineyards.

I eased myself into the back seat, enjoying the welcoming caress of the cream leather of the Pullman limousine. This model had been a good choice; I had also been offered the bullet-proof and bomb-proof Pullman Guard but, despite rumours to the contrary, I don’t yet need that level of protection in Bordeaux. Vouvray, maybe, but not Bordeaux. The driver finished loading my bags and less than a minute later we were away, gliding in near-silent comfort towards the no-security, no-passport-control, no-delays VIP exit.

I flipped open the on-board drinks cabinet to see what treats lay within, but I was out of luck. Just another bottle of the 1959 Bollinger Extra Dry. What are the chances? Perhaps it was for the best; it was rather late, and I could feel my eyelids becoming heavier and heavier. I finally yielded to them, allowing them to close, sinking just that little bit further into the sumptuous Italian leather. After such a tiring flight, surely a little nap wouldn’t do any harm? After all, I did have an early appointment at Château La Mission Haut-Brion, first thing tomorrow….

Bordeaux 2020

Thump! Thud-thump!

I awoke with a start, as the wheels hit the tarmac.

We had landed. I was in Toulouse, I had a two-hour drive to Bordeaux ahead of me, and it was already late. I wasn’t hanging about. I grabbed my bag and joined the scrum of elbows and coughs trying to exit the Ryanair Boeing 737. I sprinted to passport control, sprinted to the car hire desk, and then sprinted to the multi-storey car park opposite the main terminal.

There, outside the rental office, stood the Fiat 500, ready to whisk me up to the vineyards.

I clambered in, and plugged in my phone, before firing off a couple of texts. And then I was off. What followed was a long drive, one featuring torrential rain, at times frighteningly inadequate visibility, aggressive drivers and an arrival time of 1am. And naturally no 1959 Bollinger Extra Dry – just a half-eaten cereal bar I found languishing at the bottom of my rucksack. But it would be worth it…..

I started the next day, with a 9am appointment at Château La Mission Haut-Brion, this early rendezvous just about the only facet of my airborne dream that was true. And after that came a further two weeks retasting the 2020 vintage in Bordeaux.

And so here we are.

In this report I provide several hundred (I haven’t counted yet, hence the rather vague nature of this figure) new tasting notes and scores on the wines of the 2020 vintage. As usual, these will be divided across a number of region-by-region reports, starting in St Estèphe, ending in Sauternes (although not necessarily published in that order!). Less usual, these will be released in an accelerated fashion over the next ten days, not the next three weeks. First and foremost, because I know subscribers want to read them. Secondly, because that means I will have it all ‘done and dusted’ before I head out to Angers for the Salon des Vins de Loire.

Ever onwards then. Below, I first present a brief recap of the 2020 season, after which some overarching thoughts on quality in 2020, followed by some details of the tastings on which these reports are based. As for the notes, these begin with St Estèphe.

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