En Primeur Releases: 14 June 2021

Giles Cooper

14 June 2021

Giscours 2020

A wine which has really become a personal favourite over the past few years is the Margaux Giscours. Their 2020 has been released this morning at GBP 492/12.

Many of the critics single out Margaux as a top performer in 2020, partly because of the relative lack of August rain versus those communes further north in the Medoc, but also because the early season particularly suited Merlot – which tends to play a greater role in Margaux than in say St Julien or Pauillac. The effect of this perfectly ripe Merlot in 2020 far outweighed the old tropes of adding ‘flesh’; indeed when it is able to achieve this level of ripeness, especially on gravelly soils, it brings a level of aromatic complexity that makes it a very different beast to either the Cabernet-based wines of further north or the Merlot-driven beauties from the Right Bank.

With fully 44% of this sumptuous Merlot in the blend, Giscours is undoubtedly one of the great successes of the vintage. The critics are virtually unanimous on this:

“Endless length and such refinement. Rather ethereal. Another winner from Giscours.” James Suckling

“This is an excellent Giscours, extremely precise, well drawn and seductive.” Jane Anson

“This is a classy Giscours with plenty of breeding.” Neal Martin

“In 2020 Giscours is a real charmer.” Antonio Galloni

“One of the most seamless Margaux in the vintage” Jeb Dunnuck

The Albada family have decided to make Giscours their absolute focus, offloading their other property, Chateau du Tertre, in order to give their primary investment their fullest attention. The highly acclaimed General Manager Alex van Beek is now assisted by top consultant Thomas Duclot and there is a new technical director with global experience on board to really help the estate to maximise its potential. Giscours continues to rebuild its fame and the consistency of the past few vintages shows they are on very much the right track.

Giscours 2020 tasting notes and prices

96-97pts James Suckling “Aromas of crushed berries, dried flowers and spices with undertones of ink and iron. Full-bodied with wonderful, fine tannins that are totally embedded in the structure. Endless length and such refinement. Rather ethereal. Another winner from Giscours.”

95-97pts Jeff Leve “Deeply colored, the nose kicks off with an intensive display of flowers, truffle, cigar box, cedar, red and black currants, lead pencil and savory herbs. Full-bodied, silky, sensuous, rich and vibrant, the layers of black, red and blue velvety, spicy fruits hit everything just right. There is a beautiful purity to the fruit and symmetry on the palate. The sexy finish goes on and on as it lingers and expands. The wine blends 56% Cabernet Sauvignon with 44% Merlot, 13.5% ABV. Picking took place September 8, October 2. Yields were only 36 hectoliters per hectare.”

95pts Jane Anson, Decanter “This is an excellent Giscours, extremely precise, well drawn and seductive. There is both concentration and spice, and a vivid sappy feel to the raspberry and bilberry fruits, all drawn out through the palate as the slate texture kicks in. Plenty of things to keep track on here, not least that this is now the only estate in Margaux owned by the Albada family, as they have sold du Tertre. The focus is now entirely on Giscours, and I would expect to see a concerted effort to raise the visibility of the property. Changes include Thomas Duclos as consultant since 2019, and vineyard choices such as intra-plot harvesting, meaning going in waves through the plots picking individual vines when they are at full ripeness. Plus, Jerome Poisson is the new technical director (a French Canadian, who worked in Napa, Italy, Chile, Cognac and Alsace), replacing Lorenzo Pasquini. 50% new oak for ageing. A yield of 35hl/ha.”

93-95pts Neal Martin, vinous “The 2020 Giscours was picked from September 21 to October 2. The huge difference in quality between the Grand Vin and Deuxième Vin is apparent on the nose of crystal-clear black fruit intermixed with raspberry, crushed stone and light crushed violet aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grained tannins, taut and crisp, and quite tensile, leading to a classically styled, sapid finish. This is a classy Giscours with plenty of breeding.”

93-95pts Antonio Galloni, vinous “The 2020 Giscours is surprisingly juicy and forward, with lovely mid-palate richness from the Merlot that comprises 44% of the blend. Inky dark fruit, new leather, spice, menthol and dried herbs all meld together effortlessly. In 2020 Giscours is a real charmer. I imagine it will drink well with minimal cellaring. Harvest started on September 8 for the Merlot and finished with the last of the Cabernets on October 3, which is a good week ahead of schedule. Yields are down about 25% from the 2019, mostly because of heat and dry weather during the summer. New oak is 50%.”

93-95pts Jeb Dunnuck “One of the most seamless Margaux in the vintage, the 2020 Château Giscours checks in as 56% Cabernet Sauvignon and 44% Merlot, brought up in 50% new French oak. Offering a wonderful, rich, powerful style that's classic Giscours, it has lots of cassis and darker currant fruits as well as notes of dried flowers, sandalwood, licorice, and earth. The tannin quality is spot on, which is rare in Margaux in 2020, and it has medium to full body, a great mid-palate, and a silky, layered mouthfeel. It's a beautiful Margaux.”

GBP 492 per 12

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 512 per case/24 IB

Magnums – GBP 502 per case/6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 582 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 373 each IB


2020 Beau-Sejour Becot

The 2020 Beau-Sejour Becot has been released this morning at GBP 516/12.

This is a wine on a serious upward curve and one which has dazzled several of the top critics including The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown (95-97+) who scores it only a point behind some of the biggest names including Lafite and Cos d’Estournel! Likewise LPB’s fellow Americans Jeff Leve (96-98) and Jeb Dunnuck (94-96) are seduced by its “striking floral notes”, “over 50 seconds in the finish” and “ethereal, incredibly perfumed, mineral-laced” character. However it’s not only those on the other side of the pond who find much to admire: Decanter’s Jane Anson (95) loves its “sleek and finessed fruit flavours… sense of forward motion…” and “extremely good quality”.

“shimmers with energy… Simply stunning.” Lisa Perrotti-Brown

“This is a new level of quality at Beau-Sejour Becot” Jeff Leve

“another thrillingly complete wine from this team that shines for its purity, elegance, and complexity.” Jeb Dunnuck

In addition to having pretty much perfect conditions for the terroir, 2020 has continued to display the welcome shift in winemaking style in St Emilion. Having once reinvented themselves as the creators of hugely extracted wines which prized sheer heft over elegance, the pendulum has swung right back in the other direction. There is no little ambition, fruit intensity or structure on display here though: wallflowers, these wines are not. However their sleekness and freshness is now on a par with their concentration and density, and the unique mineral characters derived from the best of the clay and limestone vineyards are being given the chance to shine through.

Also available is the excellent second wine, Joanin Becot, at GBP 155/12. This gets some rave reviews relative to its price – but it is perhaps best summed up by Bordeaux guru Michael Schuster (91-93pts) who states “Just gorgeous. I wouldn’t have thought this possible, this is batting way above its league! The best JB ever made?”

Beau-Sejour Becot 2020 tasting notes and prices

95-97+pts LPB, robertparker.com “Displaying a deep purple-black color, the 2020 Beau-Sejour Becot prances out of the glass with showy scents of preserved plums, chocolate-covered cherries, wild blueberries and raspberry preserves, plus suggestions of rose oil, ground cloves and licorice. The elegantly crafted, medium-bodied palate shimmers with energy, offering a fantastic intensity of crunchy red and black fruits, supported by fine-grained tannins and bold freshness, finishing long and perfumed. Simply stunning.”

96-98pts Jeff Leve “With striking floral notes on the nose, you also find licorice, Asian spice, spearmint, cigar wrapper and an array of red and black plums. The wine is lifted, elegant, refined and focused on its purity and silky tannins. The energetic palate leaves you with layers of velvet-textured, sensuous, spicy fruits that lingers and expands for over 50 seconds in the finish. This is a new level of quality at Beau-Sejour Becot and also a change in style with less volume, but more intensity, purity and precision. The wine blends 85% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.3% ABV.”

95pts Jane Anson, Decanter “Velvety rich deep blue fruits, this is powerful and measured, fruit-forward and yet subtle, layered blueberry and raspberry with smoked almonds and mocha on the finish. Sleek and finessed fruit flavours, a sense of forward motion from beginning to end and a burst of freshly-grated minerality on the finish. Extremely good quality. This is the second to last vintage in the new cellar, before building a new cellar for 2023 vintage. They have done a lot of work in the vineyards studying the terroir to understand how smaller sectors and zones within each plot reacts, and this work of studying the plots will help to inform the new cellar. Harvest September 8th to September 29th. 3.5ph. A yield of 42hl/ha. 16 months ageing in 65% new oak barrel, 35% in vats, amphoras and 20hl oak tanks. Thomas Duclos consultant.”

94-96pts Jeb Dunnuck “The vivid purple-hued 2020 Château Beau-Séjour Bécot is another ethereal, incredibly perfumed, mineral-laced Saint-Emilion, which is common from wines from the upper, limestone plateau. Gorgeous cassis and black cherry fruits as well as floral notes, violets, and chalky minerality all define the nose, and it’s medium-bodied, has wonderfulness and purity, and reveals a liqueur of rocks-like minerality on the finish. It’s another thrillingly complete wine from this team that shines for its purity, elegance, and complexity.”

GBP 516 per case/12 IB

Other formats are available:

Halves – 536 GBP per case/24 IB

Magnums – 526 GBP per case/6 IB

Double magnums – 606 GBP per case/3 IB

Imperials – 389 GBP each IB


2020 Larcis Ducasse

A great success in the vintage is the 2020 Larcis Ducasse which has been released today at GBP 665.

This is one of the highest-scoring 2020 St Emilions from Lisa Perrotti-Brown (96-98), Jane Anson (97), Jeb Dunnuck (96-99) and Antonio Galloni (95-97) – indeed Galloni scores it the same as Figeac, Canon and Belair Monange… Lisa Perrotti-Brown scores it only one point behind its neighbour Pavie (GBP 2890/12)… Some of the most hallowed terroirs the commune has to offer. Not that Larcis Ducasse is any slouch when it comes to terroir quality; Parker himself stated “This great terroir on the Cote Pavie has long been recognized as one of the most privileged spots in St.-Emilion”. Jumping back to 2020, US writer Jeff Leve offers Larcis Ducasse the potential for 100pts, saying it is “on the way to developing into one of the best vintages ever produced by Larcis Ducasse.”

“ripe, rounded tannins and lovely tension, finishing very long and fantastically layered. Absolutely, stunningly singular.” Lisa Perrotti-Brown

“shows itself to be something out of the ordinary. A brilliant wine that I thoroughly recommend getting hold of.” Jane Anson

“The 2020 is quite simply a dazzling Larcis.” Antonio Galloni

“A wine that’s going to flirt with perfection… If you get a chance, buy it.” Jeb Dunnuck

One of the jewels in the crown of the Thienpont family estates (on the Nicolas Thienpont side) alongside the equally superb Pavie Macquin, this remarkable piece of terroir up on the steep ‘côtes’ next door to Chateau Pavie combines a multitude of different soils and aspects giving a variety of characters and textures from across the property. Being predominantly clay and limestone the land held up magnificently during the hot summer and kept the vines amply supplied – resulting in layers of incredible, plush, hedonistic fruit intertwined with pure, cool minerality and shot through with amazing freshness.

As we have mentioned before St Emilion is riding an extraordinary new wave of quality and style and many estates are making better wines than ever. This is one such estate that is going from strength to strength.

Larcis Ducasse 2020 tasting notes and prices

98-100pts Jeff Leve “Pungent aromas of flowers, licorice, crushed rocks, oak, dark cocoa, black, red and blue fruits focus your attention. The wine offers a mineral-driven, full-bodied blast of silky, flamboyant, luscious red fruits with salty tannins. The fruit coats your palate, lingers and seamlessly expands, finishing with licorice, sensuously textured red and black fruits, espresso and oyster shell. This is on the way to developing into one of the best vintages ever produced by Larcis Ducasse.”

96-98pts LPB, robertparker.com “The 2020 Larcis Ducasse has a deep purple-black color, leaping from the glass with bold notions of redcurrant jelly, plum preserves, kirsch and red roses, followed by hints of licorice, fragrant earth and spice cake, with a touch of woodsmoke. The medium to full-bodied palate is laden with fragrant red berries and profound black fruit preserves, supported by ripe, rounded tannins and lovely tension, finishing very long and fantastically layered. Absolutely, stunningly singular.”

97pts Jane Anson, Decanter “Great consistency over the past few years at this property but this is really stepping things up a level. With poise and depth of flavour, we are digging down through the layers. Extremely elegant, a wine that is precise and pared back and totally delicious. You can almost feel the points of minerality poking into your tongue, but then they melt into a softer more luxurious whole, with blackberry, cassis and black chocolate. Great stuff. Tasted several times, and every time it shows itself to be something out of the ordinary. A brilliant wine that I thoroughly recommend getting hold of. 50% new oak. A yield of 38.5hl/ha. Owned by Famille Gratiot-Attmane, but with the Nicolas Thienpont team overseeing winemaking.”

95-97pts Antonio Galloni, vinous “The 2020 Larcis Ducasse captures all the pedigree of the year in its savory, mineral-driven personality. Graphite, dried herbs, lavender, spice and menthol lend striking aromatic intensity. The 2020 is a rich, deep wine, yet it retains the classic midweight sense of structure that is a signature of the estate. The 2020 is quite simply a dazzling Larcis.”

96-99pts Jeb Dunnuck “A wine that’s going to flirt with perfection is the 2020 Château Larcis Ducasse. It’s a Saint-Emilion with an almost Pomerol-like depth and power paired with classic Saint-Emilion aromatics and minerality. Incredibly pure notes of black cherries, blackberries, white flowers, truffle, and leafy herb notes all emerge on the nose and it’s full-bodied, with a layered, multi-dimensional texture, thrilling tannins, and a finish that won’t quit. If you get a chance, buy it. The blend is 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, aging in 55% new French oak.”

GBP 665 per case/12 IB

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 685 per case/24 IB

Magnums – GBP 675 per case/6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 755 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 489 each IB