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En Primeur Releases: 10 June 2021

Giles Cooper

10 June 2021

The fast-improving Gruaud Larose have released their 2020 this morning at GBP 695.

Those of you who, like us, have had the good fortune to taste the brilliant 2009, 2000, 1986 or even 1982 will know just how good this estate can be. And the 2020? Well, as the estate declined to send samples off the property (as with the 2019 vintage) we only have two critical scores to go on – but the good news is that both are extremely positive.

Jane Anson in Decanter (95pts) admires its elegance: “driven with gentle power, nothing going overboard or trying too hard… A big shouldered St-Julien but with a wide nuance of flavours.” James Lawther MW, tasting for jancisrobinson.com, agrees with Jane in the wine’s sense of understated power: “Builds on the palate in persistent fashion, the refined tannins giving a long linear flow. Lovely fruit. Delicious now but has ageing potential.”

Whilst much of the discussion in 2020 has revolved around Merlot, at Gruaud Larose the story is very much about Cabernet and it appears to be a great success in this vintage; indeed the 2020 has the highest proportion of Cabernet yet at almost 80%. The estate’s unusually high proportion of clay will have helped to keep the vines refreshed during the long, dry, hot summer of 2020.

Gruaud Larose 2020

95pts Jane Anson, Decanter “Elegant yet driven with gentle power, nothing going overboard or trying too hard. This takes a beat, then it comes strongly - evident spice and flesh, full of raspberry, blueberry, blackcurrant pastille, fennel, hawthorn and liquorice. The tannins build up through the palate and press in on the final moments. Virginie Salette winemaker since 2017. A yield of 32hl/ha. Vinify at around 22-23°C, so an extremely low and slow extraction. Harvest was from September 14 to 29. A big shouldered St-Julien but with a wide nuance of flavours.”

17.5/20pts JL, jancisrobinson.com “Highest percentage yet of Cabernet in the blend. Fruit-driven and structured. Plenty of drive from the word go. Builds on the palate in persistent fashion, the refined tannins giving a long linear flow. Lovely fruit. Delicious now but has ageing potential.”

GBP 695 per case/12 IB

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Other formats available:

Halves – GBP 715 per 24 IB

Magnums – GBP 705 per 6 IB

Double Magnums – GBP 785 per 3 IB

Imperials – GBP 509 each IB

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“This is a great Talbot, a real success for the château” Jane Anson

The 2020 Talbot has been released this morning at GBP 479. If you’ve ever had the chance to drink the “prodigious” (RP) 1986 or the “magnificent” (RP) 1982 vintages you will be blissfully aware of the heights this coveted patch of turf is capable of and following a delicious 2019, the 2020 feels like another real turning point.

“The 2020 Talbot is a hugely promising wine… marries power, breadth and savory intensity with notable stylishness and tons of personality. Impressive.” Antonio Galloni

“I admire the way this Talbot builds so that it finishes with a flourish.” Neal Martin

The creator of some of the greatest vintages of La Conseillante in his earlier career, General Manager Jean-Michel Laporte has now brought to bear his talents on one of Bordeaux’s most loved, and yet previously bizarrely underperforming, estates. Nobody has ever questioned the terroir on offer at Talbot; it just required someone with the skill and vision to really capture what these vineyards can do. And increasingly, as JM gets his head and hands around all the challenges and opportunities, the estate is rebounding – and in 2020 the wine shows a clear direction of travel. Most importantly, it’s going in exactly the right direction: “Three years with Jean-Michel Laporte as director and he is doing great work” says Jane Anson, echoed by Jeff Leve: “Things continue improving here under the direction of Jean-Michel Laporte.”

We are huge fans of this great estate and could not be more thrilled that it is once again returning to the level of quality of which we know it is capable. Comes strongly recommended.

Also available is the Bordeaux Index under-the-radar white 2020 Caillou from the Talbot vineyards at GBP 275/12. We love this wine for its superb waxy texture and soft, crisp orchard fruits – which in 2020 have earned it an excellent 92 points from Jane Anson “This is an confident and attractive Caillou Blanc, showing soft apricot and white pear flesh through the mid palate. Not hugely varietal, it is more about the texture of the wine, with bitter almonds on the finish that give both pep and focus.”

Talbot 2020

95pts Jane Anson, Decanter “This is a great Talbot, a real success for the château. Subtle and deft touches throughout, from the smoked turmeric notes that lace the black fruits to the finessed aromatics that accompany the body of the wine. Balance and freshness, and a saline edge to the finish that is extremely moreish. Three years with Jean-Michel Laporte as director and he is doing great work.”

94-95pts James Suckling “A tight, focused young red with blackcurrant, lead-pencil and chocolate character. It’s full-bodied and tense with a long, flavorful finish.”

92-95pts Antonio Galloni, vinous “The 2020 Talbot is a hugely promising wine. It offers up an exotic mélange of inky dark fruit, chocolate, licorice, gravel, lavender and menthol. Brooding in the glass, with broad shoulders and tons of intensity, the 2020 is a Talbot that marries power, breadth and savory intensity with notable stylishness and tons of personality. Impressive.”

92-94pts Neal Martin, vinous “The 2020 Talbot has a fragrant nose with black cherries, bilberry, wild mint and chalk, quite harmonious and gaining intensity in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with a sweet, almost candied opening, predominantly red berry fruit laced with mint and orange zest, and a liberal sprinkling of black pepper. I admire the way this Talbot builds so that it finishes with a flourish. This may well land at the top of my banded score.”

92-94pts Jeff Leve “The array of flowers and fruits here, blackberry, black currant, kirsch and cassis is just great! Concentrated, fresh and lifted, the wine is long, elegant, and expansive with a solid touch of minerality and crispness to the fruits on the palate and in the finish bringing complexity and ageability here. This is going to be just great with 7-9 years of aging. Things continue improving here under the direction of Jean-Michel Laporte.”

17/20pts jancisrobinson.com “Dark crimson. Savoury, saline nose. Luscious palate entry with ripe fruit that almost smothers the tannin. A very good effort from Talbot with velvety tannins in profusion and some winning perfume too. This is doing well under ex-Conseillante Jean-Michel Laporte.”

GBP 479 per case/12 IB

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Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 499 per case/24 IB

Magnums – GBP 489 per case/6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 569 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 365 each IB

PLACE AN ORDER

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The return to form of the Delon (Las Cases) owned Chateau Nenin in Pomerol has been one of the most interesting stories of the past few years. Their 2020 has been released today at GBP 593/12 and it is very definitely worth your attention.

“So long. One of the best modern wines from here?” James Suckling

“glides effortlessly out of the glass… fantastically elegant and beautifully poised… A real head-turner!” Lisa Perrotti-Brown

“flawless balance, and a great finish. It's another gem of a Pomerol” Jeb Dunnuck

The Delon family bought the estate in 1997 and renovations began in 2004 – but in these early years, quality remained somewhat lacklustre. So what has changed at Nenin in recent years to pique our interest? Well, an awful lot. Despite being a large estate (some 30 hectares) only the grapes from the true Pomerol plateau, around 8 hectares bordering the remarkable Trotanoy, go into the Grand Vin; the remainder goes into the second wine, Fugue de Nenin. Furthermore an increase in the volume of Cabernet Franc in the blend – as much as 32% in 2020 – has helped bring not only definition and aromatics, but a real sense of uniqueness. Indeed only the great Lafleur can boast more in Pomerol. And it’s not just the volume of Cab Franc, it’s the quality: the majority is around 25 years of age but there are sections as old as 80 years. These older vines and clay sub-soils were so crucial in 2020 to cope with the well-reported summer drought.

The scores and notes below speak for themselves, but safe to say Nenin is firmly back on our radar and it should be on yours too…

Whilst the 2020 Nenin will take a good few years to open up, you can enjoy the 2020 Fugue de Nenin considerably earlier. To quote Antonio Galloni “The 2020 Fugue de Nénin is an absolutely delicious second wine. Juicy dark cherry, plum, mocha, spice, new leather and licorice all flesh out in this succulent Pomerol. Best of all, the 2020 will drink well upon release. It's a real charmer, that much is obvious.” It is available at GBP 239.

Nenin 2020

97-98pts James Suckling “This is from only the old vines in the clay and gravel soils on the plateau. Really fantastic. It’s medium-to full-bodied and the tannins just roll off the palate at the end. Dark fruit and spices. So long. One of the best modern wines from here? 68% merlot and 32% cabernet franc.”

94-96+pts LPB, robertparker.com “A blend of 68% Merlot (harvested 8th to 16th September) and 32% Cabernet Franc (harvested 21st to 23rd September), the 2020 Nenin is aging in French oak barriques, 40% new. It has an alcohol of 14%, a pH of 3.65 and an IPT (tannin index) of 76. Deep purple-black in color, it glides effortlessly out of the glass with wonderfully pure notes of crushed blueberries, fresh blackberries and ripe red and black plums, plus suggestions of lavender, star anise and Ceylon tea with a waft of cast-iron pan. The medium-bodied palate is fantastically elegant and beautifully poised, featuring exquisitely ripe, fine-grained tannins and bold freshness to support the perfumed red and black fruit layers, finishing long and mineral laced. A real head-turner!”

94-97pts Jeb Dunnuck “A blend of 68% Merlot and 32% Cabernet Franc raised in 40% new oak, the 2020 Château Nenin brings the intensity up a notch, offering a rock star nose of cassis and darker berries as well as crushed stone, graphite, chocolate, and violets. The purity is spot on and it has a precise, focused texture that's very much in the vintage, flawless balance, and a great finish. It's another gem of a Pomerol in the vintage readers will love to have in the cellar. For the tech geeks out there, the alcohol reached 14% and the pH was 3.65 with an IPT of 76.”

GBP 593 per case/12 IB

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Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 613 per case/24 IB

Magnums – GBP 603 per case/6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 683 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 440 each IB

PLACE AN ORDER

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The hotly-anticipated Rauzan-Segla 2020 has been released today at GBP 798. Unlike last year, the estate sent us samples of the 2020 vintage and we were blown away by the texture, the purity of the fruit, and the incredible freshness and quality of tannins, which are inextricably linked. Margaux has thrilled us as an appellation in 2020 at this is one of the very best.

The critics were also sent samples this year and their comments have been effusive to say the least…

“amazing length and a stunning perfume… Nicolas Audebert and his team have knocked it out of the park this vintage.” Lisa Perrotti-Brown

“this is a sophisticated and quite intellectual Margaux. It’s also flippin’ delicious.” Neal Martin

“The push and pull of muscular tannins and deft supple acidity gives an extra layer of success.” Jane Anson

This superb 2nd growth Margaux estate has been soaring in quality over the past few years since the Wertheimer brothers of Chanel fame took charge. Dynamic winemaker Nicolas Audebert fashioned a ground-breaking 2015 in that Margaux-friendly vintage and his 2016 was equally impressive – however both were a little overshadowed by the astonishing rise of their sister estate in St Emilion, Chateau Canon. In 2020, another vintage which has allowed the occasionally marginalised Margaux to ‘deliver the goods’ in aromatics, texture and fruit purity, Rauzan once again steps ever closer to the centre of the spotlight that has been so firmly focused on its Right Bank sibling.

It will likely take longer to ‘come around’ than the equally stunning but quite different 2019, and in time will compete with the very best vintages from this exciting address.

Rauzan Segla 2020

96-98+pts LPB, robertparker.com “Composed of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc, the 2020 Rauzan-Ségla is aging for 18 months in French oak barrels, 60% new. It has an alcohol of 13.5% and a pH of 3.74. Deep purple-black colored, aromas of blackcurrant cordial, stewed red and black plums, chocolate-covered cherries and raspberry coulis erupt from the glass, leading to an undercurrent of tar, licorice, red roses and menthol, plus a hint of unsmoked cigars. The medium-bodied palate is elegant and yet manages seriously impressive intensity, which is well-sustained throughout the mid-palate and finish. Refined and refreshing, delivering beautifully soft, silt-like tannins and bags of bright red and black fruits, it finishes with amazing length and a stunning perfume. Between this and Château Canon, Nicolas Audebert and his team have knocked it out of the park this vintage.”

95-97pt Neal Martin, vinous “The 2020 Rauzan-Ségla is set to be matured in 60% new oak barrels for an intended 18 months. I left my sample for 30 minutes because, like the Ségla, it was backward and rather taciturn on the nose. It repaid a little patience with very classic scents of blackberry, crushed stone, wilted iris flowers and a hint of orange blossom. The aromatics are exquisitely delineated yet succinctly controlled. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-boned tannins that support crystalline black fruit interlaced with light graphite and crustacean notes. Brimming with energy and full of tension from start to finish, this is a sophisticated and quite intellectual Margaux. It’s also flippin’ delicious.”

95-97pts Antonio Galloni, vinous “The 2020 Rauzan-Ségla is all reserve and nowhere near as showy as the last few vintages. Don't be fooled though, this tightly-coiled, brilliant wine has the potential to be magnificent, but it needs time. Sweet floral, spice and cedar nuances open with a bit of coaxing, but the 2020 is in no mood to show all its cards yet. The 2020 is a super-classic Rauzan-Ségla that will delight readers in search of restrained elegance, something that is not so easy to find in Bordeaux these days.”

97-99pts Jeff Leve “Incredibly dark in color, the wine explodes with violets, boysenberry, cigar box, graphite, blackberry, plum, black cherry, toasty oak and spice. Full-bodied, with a fabulous depth of flavor, energy, purity and refinement, the wine is long, intense and silky. The finish, with its velvet-drenched layers of fruits entices you to take another sip, simply because it is that good. The finish holds on to for close to 50 seconds, leaving you with a wealth of expansive fruit, espresso and dark cocoa. The wine blends 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc, 13.5% ABV, pH 3.74. The harvest took place September 8 - September 29.”

96pts Jane Anson, Decanter “Tumeric and cumin spices alongside concentrated cassis and bilberry fruits, this has a powerful structure where the tannins layer up through the palate. There is no question that this is intense, and a reflection of the low yields of the vintage, but Rauzan Segla manages what it always does, which is to take the foot off the pedal at exactly the right moment, and allow the juice to come rushing in. The push and pull of muscular tannins and deft supple acidity gives an extra layer of success. Should be ready to drink a little earlier than the biggest years such as 2016 or 2019, but this will still age for decades. 1% Cabernet Franc completes the blend. Harvest began September 8, a yield of 30hl/ha. 60% new oak. Tasted twice.”

95-97+pts Jeb Dunnuck “The 2020 Château Rauzan-Ségla checks in as 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, and the balance Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. It's one of the more inky, backward wines I can recall from this address and has brooding notes of blackcurrants, spring flowers, tobacco, graphite, and crushed stone. A big, rich, concentrated 2020, it's medium to full-bodied, has ripe, building tannins, fabulous purity, and a great finish. There's a certain austerity here that makes me think this will be one for the cellar.”

GBP 798 per case/12

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Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 818 per case/24 IB

Magnums – GBP 808 per case/6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 888 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 577 each IB

PLACE AN ORDER

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