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En Primeur Releases: 16 June 2021

Giles Cooper

16 June 2021

Lynch Bages 2020

It’s no secret that we are merely one of a legion of fans of this superb Pauillac, which is simply getting better and better as the years go by. Lynch Bages 2020 has been released this morning at GBP 1040 with a one-off label to celebrate the completion of their new winery. We have already seen in recent years with Mouton, Margaux and others how these special labels add a certain frisson of collectability.

“This is easily one of the best Pauillacs that I have tasted in the vintage, totally gorgeous.” Jane Anson

What can we tell you that you don’t already know about Lynch Bages? A humble fifth growth which, along with Pontet Canet gave rise to the expression ‘Flying Fifth’, Lynch has risen above its 1855 classification and done battle with the likes of the Pichons and, dare I say it, the First Growths, on occasion; when considering the 1989 and 1990, and the future legends that are the 2016 and 2018 – and now the excellent 2020 – one has no option but to put this wine right near the very top of the tree.

“has brilliant purity of fruit, a layered, building sense of structure, and a great finish.” Jeb Dunnuck

Indeed this 2020 is a fascinating wine, the first to be made in their new winery (very subtly alluded to on the unique label for 2020 which shows the roofline of the new winery in subtle silver shadow behind the original chateau building), which has also ramped up the volume of Merlot in the blend to a distinctive 31%. However, there is considerably less wine made in this vintage with only 22hl/ha production; clearly the net result is that there will be a lot less to go around. On a positive note the wine is of huge character and quality: we tasted over Zoom with Jean-Charles Cazes and certainly echo the suggestion from the leading critics that whilst incredibly expressive and aromatic already, it is a long-term wine with the carefully hidden structure to last many decades.

“This is a Lynch-Bages that clearly will deserve long-term aging because there is real substance to this wine, and that will only increase during élevage. This is a great Lynch-Bages.” Neal Martin

Also not to be overlooked is the superb second wine Echo de Lynch Bages at GBP 340 which gets some excellent critical plaudits. The ‘echo’ of the Grand Vin can rarely have been more noticeable and given the patience required for Lynch 2020, it would be well worth having a case or two of Echo in the cellar to enjoy over the coming decade. 95-96pts James Suckling “So intense. Super second wine. Like the grand vin of Lynch from the 1980s.”

Lynch Bages 2020 tasting notes and prices

94-96pts Neal Martin, vinous “The 2020 Lynch-Bages contains proportionately more Merlot in the blend this year (31%) and will be aged for 18 months in 75% new oak. It has an intriguing bouquet, quite complex and classic in style, featuring tightly wound black fruit mixed with cedar, mint and touches of the estuary. One sniff and you know that the vines are in close proximity to the sea. The palate is medium-bodied with impressive weight on the entry, the tannins almost immediately coating the mouth (the IPT is 93, fairly high). But everything remains balanced thanks to the fine acidic thread, and it begins to firm up, becoming quite structured and, dare I say, reminiscent of Latour toward the finish. This is a Lynch-Bages that clearly will deserve long-term aging because there is real substance to this wine, and that will only increase during élevage. This is a great Lynch-Bages. The Cazes family should build a new winery to celebrate.”

96pts Jane Anson, Decanter “The lowest amount of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend on recent record but the signature of Lynch Bages is very much in play here - tons of liquorice, grippy and charismatic cassis and blueberry fruit with a velvety texture layered with blackcurrant pastilles and rich dark chocolate. This is easily one of the best Pauillacs that I have tasted in the vintage, totally gorgeous. The 22hl/ha yield meant I was worried that it would be too concentrated, but it pulls it off, although you've got to assume that they will need to be careful over ageing. Lower alcohol than both 2018 and 2019, a more classical balance in fact. 4% Cabernet Franc completes the blend.”

94-96pts LPB, robertparker.com “The 2020 Lynch-Bages is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, aging for around 18 months in French oak barriques, 75% new. It has an alcohol of 13.41%, a pH of 3.73 and an IPT (tannin index) of 93. Opaque purple-black in color, it leaps from the glass with notes of crushed blackberries, cassis and boysenberries, plus touches of garrigue, red roses and cedar chest with hints of graphite and black olives. The medium-bodied palate has a rock-solid frame of ripe, grainy tannins and plenty of freshness supporting the tight-knit black fruit and earthy flavors, finishing long and mineral laced.”

95-97+pts Jeb Dunnuck “Ultra-classic notes of blackcurrants, freshly sharpened lead pencil, damp earth, and crushed stone emerge from the 2020 Château Lynch-Bages, which checks in as 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Petit Verdot, all hitting 13.4% natural alcohol and a pH of 3.73 and a massive IPT of 93, which might be the highest in the vintage. Full-bodied and concentrated on the palate, it has brilliant purity of fruit, a layered, building sense of structure, and a great finish. While not austere or closed, this serious Lynch-Bages will need 10-15 years of bottle age to hit maturity and have 40-50 years of overall longevity.”

95-97pts Jeff Leve “The first vintage made in their brand new, state-of-the-art cellars is deep garnet in color. The wine rapidly opens with notes of Cuban cigars, cedar, creme de cassis, flowers and forest leaf aromas. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, soft, round and fresh. The elegant tannins allows the wine to gently unfurl, revealing its sweet red currants, kirsch liqueur and creamy textured, rich finish. This refined styled vintage of Lynch Bages blends 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc, 13.4% ABV. The yields were only 33 hectoliters per hectare.”

GBP 1040 per case/12 IB

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 1060 per case/24 IB

Magnums – GBP 1050 per case/6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 1130 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 739 each IB

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Echo de Lynch Bages 2020

95-96pts James Suckling “Intense graphite and violet character with lead pencil. It’s full and firm with chewy and balanced tannins. Iodine coming through. So intense. Super second wine. Like the grand vin of Lynch from the 1980s. 60% cabernet sauvignon and 40% merlot.”

92-94pts Jeb Dunnuck “Offering classic Pauillac notes of blackcurrants, scorched earth, violets, and lead pencil, the 2020 Echo De Lynch Bages is a big, rich, nicely concentrated wine that shows the fresh yet powerful style of the vintage beautifully. It's a terrific second wine, yet one that's going to benefit from a few years of bottle age. The blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot.”

92pts Jane Anson, Decanter “A serious Echo, one that has walls and depths to its tannins, and will take time to open up. Black pepper, cassis, cassis bud and liquorice, I would give this four or five years before opening. 3.8pH. Yields were down to around 22hl/ha. First harvest in the new gravity-fed cellars.”

GBP 340 per case/12 IB

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 360 per case/24 IB

Magnums – GBP 350 per case/6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 430 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 272 each IB

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Pichon Lalande 2020

Pichon Lalande has become a serious highlight of every year’s Primeur campaign and their 2020 has been released at GBP 1614. This puts it below the 2018 and 14.6% below the 2016; but perhaps of greater note is its position vis-a-vs the 2019 which, having been released at GBP 1332, has since increased by over 30% to GBP 1760+. This puts the 2020 at an 8% discount to the new ‘level’ for 2019.

We are becoming used to, some might even say blasé about, the almost surreal quality produced at this estate year in, year out – and the 2020 is just yet another superstar to add to the canon. Not only do we adore the style in which Nicolas Glumineau is fashioning the wines from this venerable terroir, we admire how its natural delicacy, transparency and precision has made it one of the ‘prism’ estates through which any vintage can most clearly be defined. If anyone thinks the key characteristic of the 2020 vintage is its sunny, ripe fruit, then Pichon Lalande shows the sheer architectural structure of 2020 – albeit built with tannins wrapped in silk and polished like diamonds. Jen Dunnuck gives it potential for the perfect score and the other top critics are not too far behind…

“an incredible wine that's going to flirt with perfection and is unquestionably one of the finest, if not the finest, Left Banks in the vintage. Bravo.” Jeb Dunnuck

“This is a magnificent, cerebral Pichon-Lalande that will deserve serious aging and the patience of anyone still waiting for The Cure's new album.” Neal Martin

“has a rock-solid frame of finely grained tannins and bags of freshness, finishing long and mineral laced.” Lisa Perrotti-Brown

“the 2020 is going to need at least a few years to come out of its shell… Readers will have to be patient” Antonio Galloni

There have been some truly ‘purple patches’ at Pichon Lalande, notably through the mid-1990s and late 2000s, alongside the famous, otherworldly ’82; but the run from 2015 to 2020 will go down with the very best of them. Last year we talked about how the 2018 and 2016 pair would rival the oh-so-good but oh-so-different siblings of 2009 and 2010 – and following the remarkable, potentially perfect 2019, we have another mesmeric effort in 2020.

Also available is the ever-reliable second wine Pichon Comtesse Reserve (formerly called Reserve de la Comtesse) which has been released at GBP 398/12. This finds fans with many critics with Antonio Galloni (91-93) stating “This is an especially fine vintage for the Réserve.”

Pichon Lalande 2020 tasting notes and prices

98-100pts Jeb Dunnuck “An estate that has been on fire of late, the 2020 Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse De Lalande is another brilliant wine in a succession of brilliant wines. Revealing a dense purple hue as well as full-bodied aromas and flavors of blac currants, scorched earth, tobacco leaf, and violets, it hits the palate with an expansive, rich, yet pure, precise texture that carries fabulous tannins, perfect balance, and a stacked mid-palate. Based on 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, and 6% Cabernet Franc, it's an incredible wine that's going to flirt with perfection and is unquestionably one of the finest, if not the finest, Left Banks in the vintage. Bravo. Tasted twice.”

96-98pts Neal Martin, vinous “The 2020 Pichon-Lalande has a backward nose similar to that of its neighbor Pichon-Baron, and so I decanted the bottle for 45 minutes. It then revealed gorgeous scents of blackberry, wild hedgerow, seaweed (Japanese nori) and wild mint. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy black fruit and gentle but insistent grip. Very intense but not ripe; there is a coolness about this Pauillac that I like, while the finish is very classically styled and leaves behind a persistent, slightly briny aftertaste. This is a magnificent, cerebral Pichon-Lalande that will deserve serious aging and the patience of anyone still waiting for The Cure's new album. Tasted three times, including directly from the château. Drink: 2027 – 2055”

95-97pts LPB, robertparker.com “Deep purple-black in color, the 2020 Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande begins on a single, well-defined, wonderfully pure note of ripe blackcurrants, opening out to a melody of redcurrant jelly, kirsch, ripe blackberries and tar, with emerging suggestions of dark chocolate, cardamom, ground cloves and violets, with a waft of black truffles. Medium-bodied, tightly wound and with loads of fantastically nuanced black fruit layers, it has a rock-solid frame of finely grained tannins and bags of freshness, finishing long and mineral laced. The blend this year is 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc.”

96pts Jane Anson, Decanter “Softer and silkier than many Pauillacs in the vintage, this is a clear success. Hugely silky and seductive, with grip, power and finesse. One of the best of the appellation, with finessed tobacco, heather and plump blueberry and cassis fruit, expertly managing the low 30hl/ha yield. 60% new oak.”

96-97pts James Suckling “This is extremely structured, but with a level of polish and refinement that highlights the excellence of the terroir. Very long and expansive on the palate, showing class and beauty. Powerful.”

95-97pts Antonio Galloni, vinous “The 2020 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is holding so much in reserve. Tightly wound and not fully expressive, the 2020 is going to need at least a few years to come out of its shell. Bright acids and persistent tannins give the 2020 a super classic, mid-weight feel. I very much like the wine's persistence. Readers will have to be patient with the 2020. The exuberance of some recent vintages is not present today. The blend is 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc, which means a touch more Cabernet Sauvignon than in recent years, and quite a bit more than in the past. Harvest ran from September 7 to October 1, which is about ten days earlier than normal. In the cellar, Estate Manager Nicolas Glumineau opted for light extractions, with minimal pumpovers of just one volume of wine per day, at no more than 25 degrees Celsius. Time on the skins was 21 days, pretty much the norm these days. Tasted two times. Drink: 2032-2060”

GBP 807 per case/6 IB

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 822 per case/12 IB

Magnums – GBP 813 per case/3 IB

Double magnums – GBP 1704 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 1121 each IB

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Pichon Comtesse Reserve 2020

93-94pts James Suckling “A tight, focused red with currants, chocolate, walnuts and some flowers. Medium-to full-bodied with ripe tannins. Pretty second wine.”

91-93pts LPB, robertparker.com “Composed of 47% Merlot, 43% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot, the 2020 Reserve de la Comtesse is redolent of cassis, redcurrant jelly and raspberry coulis, plus suggestions of chocolate box, lilacs and stewed tea, with a waft of unsmoked cigars. The medium-bodied palate delivers mouth-coating, juicy black fruits with a soft texture and seamless freshness, finishing long with a spicy kick. This is a very different style from the grand vin, possessing a more playful, upfront and effortlessly delicious character that truly draws you in! 2024 – 2041”

91-93pts Antonio Galloni, vinous “The 2020 Réserve de la Comtesse is absolutely gorgeous. Far more expressive than the Grand Vin today, the Réserve is everything a second wine should be. Ripe dark cherry, plum, spice, menthol, licorice and tobacco all flesh out in a sumptuous, racy Pauillac that impresses with its alluring personality. This is an especially fine vintage for the Réserve. The 2020 is 47% Merlot, 43% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot – in other words, a high percentage of PV that undoubtedly marks the blend.”

92-93pts Michael Schuster, WOFW “Closed to smell, but tight and very mineral; rich, vital, finely tannic, a very fine second-wine constitution, in a slighty more austere register for RC; tasting sweet and juicy, very Cabernet Sauvignon despite the dominance of Merlot, but the flesh of the Merlot also clear; both flesh and complexity here, very long and close-grained to taste, dark and vital, and with lovely fragrant persistence. Some way from the aromatic volume of Pichon itself, but so elegant, so complete. A superb-quality second wine, with almost a “grand vin” character. So supple that it is likely to be drinkable fairly early, but will keep for decades. 2026–40+.”

GBP 398 per case/12 IB

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 418 per case/12 IB

Magnums – GBP 408 per case/3 IB

Double magnums – GBP 488 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 310 each IB

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Malescot St Exupery 2020

One of the few remaining top Margaux performers to be released, Malescot St Exupery 2020, is now available at GBP 462. This estate has been ‘on song’ for a good decade now, and this is another superstar wine at a very alluring price.

“It has a bouquet that I would describe as controlled opulence… continues the purple patch for this property and comes highly recommended.” Neal Martin

“Malescot has been one of the under the radar gems in Bordeaux these last few years. The 2020 is another gorgeous wine from the château.” Antonio Galloni

“another incredibly impressive Margaux that will have two decades or more of prime drinking.” Jeb Dunnuck

Those of you who have been to Bordeaux have probably driven past the chateau of Malescot without realising it; it is located in the town square, close to Rauzan Segla and almost opposite the entrance road which runs down to Chateau Margaux. As with so many of these great estates which have been bought and sold, and broken up and rebuilt, over the centuries, its vineyards are scattered across the immediate vicinity with some directly abutting the great gravels of Chateau Margaux itself. Other vines are located on chalk and clay, often with rich iron deposits which bring a uniquely mineral character to the wine. Thanks to a good weight of Merlot in the blend – which has been turned up to a full 49% in 2020 – Malescot delivers a fabulous sense of panache and richness and rarely more so than in this vintage. As Jeff Leve writes “Run, do not walk and taste this wine! Jean-Luc Zuger is on fire at Chateau Malescot St. Exupery. The wines being made at the property today are stunning!”

We are delighted to offer another great success from this sought-after appellation.

Malescot St Exupery 2020 tasting notes and prices

95-97pts LPB, robertparker.com “Sporting a deep purple-black color, the 2020 Malescot St. Exupery prances out of the glass with showy scents of ripe black and red currants, black cherries, raspberry leaves and ground cloves, plus wafts of lilacs and tilled soil. Medium to full-bodied, the palate delivers mouth-coating black and red fruit layers with a firm, grainy texture and well-balanced acidity, finishing on a lingering fragrant-earth note.”

94-96pts Neal Martin, vinous “The 2020 Malescot St. Exupery was picked at 31hl/ha. It has a bouquet that I would describe as controlled opulence: lavish blueberry, Dorset plums, crushed violet and incense burst from the glass... but in orderly fashion. The palate is medium-bodied with ripe and succulent tannins that lend this Margaux a fleshy texture, yet there is clearly ample structure, as well as marvelous salinity and precision on the finish. This 2020 continues the purple patch for this property and comes highly recommended.”

97-98pts James Suckling “Solid red with blackberry, blueberry, chocolate and spice. Lots of hazelnut, too. It’s full-bodied with chewy, polished tannins and a long, flavorful finish. Best of the trilogy vintages?”

95-97pts Jeff Leve “Incredibly dark in color, the nose jumps with smoked currants, burning embers, singed cherries, spice and flowers. The wine is plush, dense, full-bodied and rich, with layers of polished, velvety dark red fruits that coat and soothe your palate, finishing with dark chocolate, sweet plums, licorice and espresso. Give this at least 8 or more years in the cellar and the wine is going to really start to show.”

93-95pts Antonio Galloni “The 2020 Malescot Saint Exupéry offers up scents of scorched earth, licorice, smoke, gravel and menthol. Powerful, bold and savory, the 2020 possesses remarkable depth and tons of character. Malescot has been one of the under the radar gems in Bordeaux these last few years. The 2020 is another gorgeous wine from the château.”

93-95pts Jeb Dunnuck “Lots of cassis, blackberries, toasted spices, and vanilla-tinged oak define the nose of the 2020 Château Malescot Saint Exupery, and it’s medium to full-bodied, round, and supple on the palate. With velvety tannins, terrific mid-palate depth, and the classic purity of fruit that’s the hallmark of the vintage, it builds nicely with time in the glass and is another incredibly impressive Margaux that will have two decades or more of prime drinking.”

GBP 462 per case/12 IB

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 482 per case/24 IB

Magnums – GBP 472 per case/6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 552 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 353 each IB

PLACE AN ORDER


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