Bordeaux 2020 Primeurs: Pessac-Léognan, White
I won’t beat around the bush; I have found many of the white wines coming from the Pessac-Léognan appellation in the most recent vintages to be a little lacking. I am thinking specifically of the recently retasted 2018 vintage, but the same could be said of the 2019 vintage, which I worked my way through during last year’s primeurs tastings. Both vintages gave us a broad slew of wonderful red wines, but each stumbled in turn when it came to the whites, which tended to lack acidity and drive, often feeling a little out of focus as a result. They had beautiful aromatic profiles in many cases, rich in enticing scents of peach, apricot and fragrant tropical fruits, but even these inviting aromas can’t compensate for the flaccid midpalate that results from a lack of acid frame.
Well now it is time to rejoice, because the 2020 vintage sees the most welcome return of acidity to the dry white wines of Bordeaux. This provided a very pleasant surprise when I started pulling the corks on the whites; after all, I have already likened the pattern of the 2020 growing season to 2018, and 2019 was another warm vintage, so I approached these wines expecting to find a similarly soft, low-acid style. And this expectation was only reinforced by data published by Professor Axel Marchal, from the University of Bordeaux, showing fruit from a test parcel in the Graves region had similar pH and acidity levels to that recorded in 2019 and 2018 (for the number geeks, which includes me, a pH of 3.28 vs. 3.27 and 3.22, and a total acidity of 4.3 g/l vs. 4.3 g/l and 4.6 g/l).