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En Primeur Releases: 2 June 2021

Giles Cooper

2 June 2021

Beychevelle

The 2020 Beychevelle has been released this morning at GBP 695. Beychevelle is a wine which has come so far in the past 5 years, with their new winery laden with tanks giving them the ability to pick and ferment on a micro-plot level delivering more detail and terroir precision than ever before. Priced below any other physical vintages, and over 20% below the similarly-scored (95+) 2016, this looks a good buy.

“Even as a barrel sample, I am so tempted to just drink it.” Antonio Galloni

Whilst some of the St Juliens in 2020 deliver a crisp, elegant and medium-bodied style – and there is nothing wrong with this, I hasten to add – the 2020 Beychevelle is a wine of immense aromatic power and a great weight of ripe, intense fruit. The tannins are a wonder in themselves being so ripe and soft they are almost subsumed into the wine and yet they still deliver the freshness required to give the wine great balance. As Jeb Dunnuck (95-97) says “It's one of the more up-front, exotic wines in the vintage” and Antonio Galloni (94-96) agrees: “an overt, flamboyant wine, but all of the elements are so well put together. The 2020 is sexy, alluring and impossible to resist”. It’s clear that this is a St Julien which takes the ripeness of the vintage and runs with it – and it appears to be a great success on this front.

Under Philippe Blanc and his team, Beychevelle has progressed from a St Julien ‘also-ran’ into one of the leading wines of the appellation. And with the bravery to fashion a hedonistic wine like this, it’s not hard to see why.

2 June 2021 Releases
2 June 2021 Releases, Image 1

Beychevelle 2020 tasting notes and prices

95-97pts Jeb Dunnuck “Based on 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, and 4% Petit Verdot, the Grand Vin 2020 Château Beychevelle is a stunner that does everything right, offering a monster bouquet of black and blue fruits as well as candied violets, incense, flowers, and toasty oak. A ripe, full-bodied, incredibly sexy wine in every sense, it has a great mid-palate, ripe, velvety tannins, no hard edges, and a great finish. It's one of the more up-front, exotic wines in the vintage and should be accessible with just short-term cellaring.”

95-97pts Jeff Leve “Dark garnet in color, the wine shows off its black currants, licorice, wet forest floor, tobacco leaf, creme de cassis and blue fruit on the nose effortlessly. Full-bodied, fresh, elegant, lifted and vibrant, the wine is refined, juicy, sweet and long, with an ending packed with ripe, red and black currants, silky tannins, spice and crushed stones from start to finish. Made from blending 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot , 13.45% ABV, pH 3.8. 55% of the harvest was used in the Grand Vin.”

94-96pts LPB, robertparker.com “Deep purple-black colored, the 2020 Beychevelle offers up vibrant notes of black raspberries, fresh black cherries and cassis, plus hints of wild sage, chocolate mint, rose hip tea and fallen leaves, with an exotic hint of Indian spices. The medium to full-bodied palate offers layers of crunchy black fruits with a firm, grainy texture and just enough freshness, finishing long and perfumed.

94-96pts Antonio Galloni, vinous “The 2020 Beychevelle opens with the most exotic bouquet imaginable. Wild flowers of all sorts, spice, lavender and inky dark fruit all saturate the palate. As always, Beychevelle is an overt, flamboyant wine, but all of the elements are so well put together. The 2020 is sexy, alluring and impossible to resist. Time in the glass brings out redder tonalities of fruit along with sweet floral notes that add striking inner perfume. Even as a barrel sample, I am so tempted to just drink it.”

GBP 695 per case/12 IB

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 715 per case/24 IB

Magnums – GBP 705 per case/6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 785 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 509 each IB

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La Mondotte

La Mondotte’s first vintage in 1996 had one clear aim: to compete with the new wave garagistes who were pulling in the big scores from their big wines. Boasting 100% new oak, 100% Merlot and 100% extraction La Mondotte built a reputation for size (Robert Parker likened the 1996 to Fonseca’s 1994 Vintage Port while suggesting the 2000 be consumed with a spoon!) and big scores from the get-go. It certainly appealed to new fashions and new buyers but eventually, like the wine itself, the market grew tired of this trend and very soon it became an anachronism.

Fast forward 22 vintages and it’s surely no coincidence that Bordeaux’s most fashionable proprietor, Count Stephan von Neipperg, has cottoned on to the new trend for more elegantly fashioned wines which favour infusion over extraction. In fact you might go back to the count’s delicious 2014s to pinpoint his moment of conversion. Now an evangelist for sustainable farming and minimum sulphur, von Neipperg’s 2020s have proven to both maintain the high standards he has set and capture this remarkably sunny vintage. As with the very best terroirs in St Emilion La Mondotte has delivered incredible richness of fruit with a brightness of acidity that gives a palpable sense of energy.

“There is real depth to this La Mondotte, yet the acidity keeps it light on its toes… constitutes one of the finest La Mondotte releases in recent years. Chapeau!” Neal Martin

La Mondotte is an approx. 12-acre vineyard planted to Cabernet Franc (25%) and Merlot (75%) high up on St Emilion’s limestone plateau next door to Pavie and around the corner from Le Tertre Roteboeuf. It is a spectacular terroir, now given free rein to express itself in full: the wine itself remains unapologetically intense and explosive on the mid-palate but belies a purity, a sensual texture and a marked mineral energy that leave one utterly beguiled. For those in search of St Emilion’s nouvelle vague at its apogee this is one wine we highly recommend.

2 June 2021 Releases
2 June 2021 Releases, Image 2

La Mondotte 2020 tasting notes and prices

98-100pts Jeff Leve “Intensely colored, the aromatic profile, with its licorice, blackberry, bitter chocolate, plum liqueur. crushed rocks and stones get noticed quickly. On the palate, the wine is concentrated, full-bodied and intense. Picture a giant gulp of ripe black plums, blue fruits, licorice, cocoa and broken stones with salt coating your palate and expanding for at least 60 seconds. Not much wine is made here. In fact, the production was about 1,200 cases. Still young, give this stunner at least a decade and drink it over the next 3 decades or longer.”

96-98pts Jeb Dunnuck “A true blockbuster in the vintage is the 2020 La Mondotte, which comes from a tiny 12-acre parcel of limestone soils located near Troplong Mondot, Pavie, and Larcis Ducasse, on the upper limestone plateau. Emerging from the talented team of Stephan von Neipperg and brought up in new barrels, it has a wonderfully pure, clean, medium to full-bodied style offering integrated oak, a straight, focused texture, and incredible purity in its darker berry fruits as well as notes of gravelly earth and liquid violets. It’s common for the wines from the upper plateau to show more perfumed ethereal aromatics (as opposed to more richness from wines on the hillside), and this is incredibly perfumed, elegant, and aromatic while still offering density, structure, and length. It’s going to take 7-8 years to hit maturity, but it should see its 30th birthday in fine form.”

97-98pts James Suckling “This is really spicy and flavorful with a solid core of fruit and chewy tannins that are polished and very long, providing this wine with super structure and tension.”

95-97pts Neal Martin, vinous “The 2020 La Mondotte does not mess about, delivering a payload of ripe, opulent blackberry, cassis, India ink and figgy scents, exotic but very sensual and managing to retain impressive delineation. The balanced palate presents succulent tannins and a satiny texture. There is real depth to this La Mondotte, yet the acidity keeps it light on its toes, and there is impressive salinity toward the finish. This constitutes one of the finest La Mondotte releases in recent years. Chapeau!”

95-97pts Antonio Galloni, vinous “The 2020 La Mondotte is inky and powerful, but also very much closed in on itself. Inky blue/blackish fruit, spice, lavender, gravel, new leather and coffee all take shape with a bit of air. Like all of Stephan von Neipperg's 2020s, La Mondotte deftly marries textural richness with energy. The result is a deep, potent La Mondotte that has so much to offer. The clean, vibrant finish is a thing of beauty. Superb.”

GBP 798 per case/6 IB

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 813 per case/12 IB

Magnums – GBP 804 per case/3 IB

Double magnums – GBP 1686 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 1109 each IB

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2 June 2021 Releases
2 June 2021 Releases, Image 3

Sansonnet 2020

Perched high up on the top of St Emilion’s limestone plateau, Chateau Sansonnet’s single 7ha plot, surrounding the chateau itself, couldn’t be better located if you picked it up and placed it there. Since its renaissance in 2009 the property has accrued plaudits from all the most respected critics with the 2016 being awarded #1 in Jeb Dunnuck’s Top 100 Red Wines of 2019. 2020 is another exceptional vintage that sings of its exemplary terroir – “another winner” exclaims Dunnuck, “once again terrific” regales Galloni. We couldn’t agree more.

Chateau Sansonnet competes with many more recognised addresses in 2020 and is well worth making a detour for. You’ll be very glad you did.

Relative merits:

  • 2020 Pichon Lalande – WA 95-97
  • 2020 Sansonnet – WA 94-96
  • 2020 Lynch Bages – WA 94-96
  • 2020 Leoville Barton – WA 93-95

2020 Sansonnet tasting notes and prices

94-96+pts JD“Always a gem in the vintage, the 2020 Château Sansonnet is another winner offering a terrific bouquet of red, black, and blue fruits as well as tobacco, violets, and classy oak. Possessing full-bodied richness, a pure, seamless, polished texture, terrific tannins, and a great finish, this rock star of a Saint-Emilion will benefit from 3-5 years of bottle age and keep for two decades or more.”

94-96pts LPB “Deep purple-black colored, the 2020 Sansonnet needs a bit of swirling and coaxing to release its beguiling nose of black cherry preserves, bursting ripe blueberries and stewed plums, with hints of star anise, violets, dark chocolate and cardamom, plus a waft of wood smoke. The rich, decadent, full-bodied palate (15% alcohol) delivers impactful, mouth-coating black fruits, framed by velvety tannins and seamless freshness, finishing with lingering exotic spices notes.”

93-95pts AG “Sansonnet is once again terrific in 2020. It offers up copious inky dark fruit, chocolate, blackberry jam, spice, mint, licorice and espresso. As always, this is a big, extroverted Saint-Émilion built on richness and texture. The oak needs time to fully integrate, but it always has in the past. Tasted two times.”

93-95pts NM “The 2020 Sansonnet has a tightly wound nose that opens nicely with aeration, revealing blackberry and wild hedgerow, light rose petal and iris scents and a touch of potpourri; the oak is very well assimilated. The palate is medium-bodied with a sapid entry and lightly spiced with a dash of white pepper. A classically-styled Saint-Émilion that continues a strong run of form for the estate. Excellent.”

GBP 290 per 12 IB

Alternative formats available

Half bottles – GBP 310 per 24 IB

Magnums – GBP 300 per 6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 380 per 3 IB

Imperials – GBP 239 each IB

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