Bordeaux 2020 Primeurs: Pomerol
We now transition from the clay and limestone (and sand, and gravel) terroirs of St Emilion to the other ‘big name’ right bank appellation, Pomerol. Traditionally this appellation is seen as being relatively small, more comparable in size to a communal appellation of the left bank such as St Julien or Pauillac, than to its neighbour, the all-encompassing giant that is St Emilion. This feeling is no doubt reinforced by the fact that the Pomerol limelight tends to fall on just a dozen-or-so properties, including a handful of really famous names. In this report I look far beyond these more familiar châteaux though, and I present a total of 59 tasting notes and scores, from names both familiar and novel.
Coming back to the issue of terroir for a moment, the dominant soil type around the village of Pomerol itself is gravel, in reality a continuation of the gravel bed that characterises the western extremities of the St Emilion appellation, upon which sit Château Cheval Blanc and Château Figeac. There is a small area of surface clay, of course, upon which sits Petrus, and maybe half a dozen neighbouring estates also claim a small piece of the clay ‘action’, but this soil is the exception rather than the rule; in reality, gravel dominates. Then, as you head down the slopes away from the village, either northeast towards the Barbanne, northwest towards the Isle, or southwest towards the Dordogne, the three rivers which (together with the town of Libourne) hem in the appellation, the soils become lighter moving through smaller gravels, to more silty and sandy soils.