Bordeaux 2020 Primeurs: Pauillac
My tastings in Pauillac felt different this year. It wasn’t the fact that I was tasting in an office overlooking the East Lothian countryside (although that’s nothing to complain about). Nor was it the fact that all the wines on my desk had travelled north to meet me (tracking the deliveries, often by weird and wonderful routes), rather than me travelling south to meet them. Nor was it the fact that my winemaker chats were all via Zoom, rather than face-to-face. After all, that is pretty much how last year’s Covid-disrupted primeurs turned out as well.
No, it was something else. New faces and new names to get to know.
Change was felt most keenly at my tasting of Château Mouton-Rothschild, or to be more precise my tastings of the wines of Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA, which of course also includes Château d’Armailhac and Château Clerc-Milon (as well as many other more distant domaines, and branded wines not included here). It has been all change here; Philippe Dhalluin, or ‘The Gentleman of Pauillac’ as I liked to think of him, retired during the course of 2020, and was nowhere to be seen. Erick Tourbier, Mouton-Rothschild’s technical director, who I have also tasted with on occasion, has also moved on, into an advisory position to winemakers at the various châteaux, but also to those working in the branded wines division.
In their place we have Ariane Khaida, who takes on the all-seeing role vacated by Philippe Dhalluin, surely one of the most prestigious positions held by any woman on the Médoc. Meanwhile, in a new position overseeing the three châteaux, is Jean-Emmanuel Danjoy, previously the director of Château Clerc-Milon. It was with Jean-Emmanuel that I signed in with to talk about the wines.