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En Primeur Releases: 23 June 2021

Giles Cooper

23 June 2021

Clarence Dillon Releases

The wines of the Clarence Dillon stable have been released this morning, and their second wines once again offer an excellent opportunity to get an alluringly priced slice of these Chateaux in what will certainly be a famous vintage at these particular neighbouring addresses.

The second wines of top wines have long been the smartest buy in Bordeaux and this remains true in 2020. Both La Chapelle de la Mission, the second wine of the 97-99pt rated La Mission, and Le Clarence de Haut Brion, baby brother of the 98-100pt HB have been highly rated by the critics and are available at a fraction of the price of their big brothers.

Not many wines that rival the 2010 and 2016s, but here it very much does” Jane Anson on La Chapelle 2020

probably the finest vintage of Le Clarence de Haut Brion ever produced. It is a great example of a baby Haut Brion.” Jeff Leve on Le Clarence 2020

Of equal interest should be the ever-brilliant white La Clarte de Haut Brion, the white made from younger vines of both La Mission and Haut Brion – delicious when young, it also ages superbly. The wine is in a new design this year, in the classic Haut Brion bottle shape which reflects the legendary whites with which it shares so much DNA.

“Very structured second wine with density and freshness.” James Suckling on La Clarte 2020

La Chapelle de La Mission 2020 (Grand Vin 97-99 NM, 97-99 LPB)

23 June EP Chapelle Mission bottle


94pts Jane Anson, Decanter “You are immediately set at ease by the confidence and sheer easy appeal of this wine. A silky and seductive La Chapelle that rivals plenty of first wines in this vintage. The texture is rich and taut at first, then softens in the glass, with a charge of freshness that keeps the momentum and the energy high. Not many wines that rival the 2010 and 2016s, but here it very much does - exuberant with chocolate and cracked pepper but pulls back at the right moment. Harvests from 7th to 29th September. I love it.”

92-94pts LPB, robertparker.com “A blend of 44.7% Merlot and 55.3% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2020 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion has an alcohol of 14.3%. It rolls effortlessly out of the glass with seducing notes of warm black plums, black cherry compote and blackberry pie, plus suggestions of lavender, crushed rocks and underbrush with a hint of sassafras. The medium-bodied palate is delicately played and refreshing, offering lots of soft-spoken black fruit and earthy layers with a soft texture and seamless acidity, finishing with a spicy kick.”

92-94pts Jeb Dunnuck “Black cherries, currants, tobacco, and leafy herb notes all emerge from the 2020 La Chapelle De La Mission Haut-Brion. and it's medium to full-bodied, with a round, layered mouthfeel, ripe tannins, and just a big, rich, yet concentrated vibe that's very much in the style of the vintage. It's going to have two decades of longevity.”

91-93pts Antonio Galloni, vinous “The 2020 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion is rich, dense and so inviting, right from the very first taste. Ripe red purplish/berry fruit, rose petal, spice and gravel all meld together in the glass, but what impresses most about La Chappelle is its exceptional balance. Aromatics, fruit and structure are all so well-balanced. The 2020 is an especially fine La Chappelle.”

GBP 720 per case/12 IB

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 740 per case/24 IB

Magnums – GBP 730 per case/6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 810 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 525 each IB

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Le Clarence de Haut Brion 2020 (Grand Vin 98-100 LPB, 99-100JS)

23 June EP Clarence HB bottle


96-97pts James Suckling “Very plush and tannic with full body and lots of structure and intensity. Top second wine. Very solid and quite muscular with fine tannins and texture.”

94-96pts Jeff Leve “Forest leaf, cigar box, herbs, flowers, cherry pipe tobacco, forest scents and spice nuances start off the perfume. On the palate the wine is juicy, silky, fresh and vibrant with layers of fresh, sweet, vibrant, polished red fruits that linger. Elegance is the keyword here. This is probably the finest vintage of Le Clarence de Haut Brion ever produced. It is a great example of a baby Haut Brion. Enjoy this for the next 10-15 years while waiting for the Grand Vin to develop.”

92-94pts Jeb Dunnuck “The second wine of Château Haut-Brion, the 2020 Le Clarence De Haut-Brion is certainly a gem and well worth seeking out. Offering loads of red cherry and currant-like fruit, this medium to full-bodied, concentrated beauty has lots of graphite, fresh stone, and tobacco aromatics, beautiful mid-palate depth, outstanding length, and ripe, polished tannins. It has everything you look for from this region, all in a character-filled, up-front, undeniably delicious style that should evolve gracefully for over two decades.”

17+pts jancisrobinson.com “Mid purplish crimson. Rather simple, or at least uncommunicative, on the nose at present, though there is a beguiling combination of ripe fruit and stoniness (warm bricks?) on the palate which has impressive concentration. Comparing it with other celebrated Pessac-Léognans of the same vintage, it is clear that this has some magic dust – as it should considering how much more expensive it is. Lots of leathery tannin underneath but it is the integrity of the fruit that is so impressive.”

GBP 1440 per case/12 IB

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 1460 per case/24 IB

Magnums – GBP 1450 per case/6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 1530 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 1005 each IB

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La Clarte de Haut Brion 2020 (Grand Vins 97-98JS, 95-97+LPB / 98-99JA, 95-97LPB)

23 June EP Clarte HB bottle


94-95pts James Suckling “Very structured second wine with density and freshness. It’s full-bodied and creamy with a flavorful, lightly chewy palate. About 75% semillon, the rest sauvignon.”

94pts Jeff Leve “Long, fresh, juicy and intense, the wine shows off its flowers, crushed rock, greenery, lemon peel, mango and green apple with ease. Creamy, oily and fresh, the finish keeps on going.”

92pts Jane Anson, Decanter “Powerfully rich with excellent weight through the mid palate. Silky in texture, seductive but balanced by an enjoyable touch of green apple and steel through the close of play. Harvest from 19th to 28th August.”

GBP 864 per case/12 IB

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 884 per case/24 IB

Magnums – GBP 874 per case/6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 954 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 621 each IB

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2020 La Mission Haut Brion Blanc

95-97pts LPBThe 2020 La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc is a blend of 54.7% Sauvignon Blanc and 45.3% Semillon, harvested 19th to 28th August, with an estimated alcohol of 13.8%. The nose tingles with electric notes of lemon zest, orange blossoms and pink grapefruit, followed by hints of fresh ginger, elderflowers and crushed rocks, plus a waft of lime leaves. The medium-bodied palate quivers with intense, tightly wound citrus fruit layers, backed up by a racy backbone and finishing long and steely.

98-99pts JSA vivid, really bright La Mission, showing strength and finesse at the same time. Honeysuckle, lime, lemon and other citrus fruit with stone and mineral undertones. 55% sauvignon and 45% semillon.

GBP 1440 per 3 IB

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2020 Haut Brion Blanc

23 June EP HB Blanc bottle


95-97pts LPBA blend of 71.4% Sauvignon Blanc and 28.6% Semillon, harvested 20th to 27th August and with an alcohol of 13.9%, the 2020 Haut-Brion Blanc slowly unfurls to reveal notes of fresh pears, spiced apple slices, orange zest and lemongrass, plus touches of wet pebbles, dillseed and baking bread. The medium-bodied palate wears its lightly spicy apple and pear layers with grace and sophistication, supported by a racy backbone and subtly creamy texture, finishing long and mineral laced. It will need time, but there's no doubting it's a knock-out.

97-98pts JSVery perfumed with floral, citrus and stone aromas, as well as hints of grapefruit. It’s full-bodied and seamless in texture. Extremely long and fine-grained. 72% sauvignon and 28% semillon.

GBP 1800 per 3 IB

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2020 Montrose

23 June EP Montrose

The epic 2020 Montrose has been released today at GBP 1540.

Chateau Montrose is one of our favourite addresses in Bordeaux. With the remarkable unbroken run of ’14-‘19 still fresh in the mind, and the incredible double-hundred pair of 2009 and 2010 quietly gaining ground in quality and maturity (and both tasting extraordinary at 10 years old), we have the arrival of the 2020. With the estate’s reluctance to send out samples to critics and merchants, only those who visited in person have tasted – but the good news is that Jane Anson writing in Decanter gives it a stellar review; indeed it is one of her highest rated wines of the year, pitching up at the same 98pt level as such luminaries as Mouton Rothchild, La Mission Haut Brion and Petrus!

This is a great Montrose, inky, broad-shouldered and structured… you see the precision, the heft, the chiselling of the fruits with a ton of graphite, cigar box and campfire smoke - huge persistency. This will need a long time and will reward patience. One of the few where a 1986, 2016 and 2010 comparison makes sense.” Jane Anson

Montrose is one of the greatest estates in Bordeaux – period. Its spectacular terroir in the prime sector of St Estephe has been brought to its pinnacle by owner Martin Bouygues and his team, leading to a run of sublime performances over a decade long; in a number of these vintages, it stands scrutiny as a potential ‘wine of the vintage’.

We are delighted to also offer the brilliant second wine La Dame de Montrose at GBP 349/12. Year in year out this is one of the best value wines of the vintage; 2020 signals “a return to classicism” according to Jane Anson (92pts).

Montrose 2020

23 June EP Montrose bottle

98pts Jane Anson, Decanter “A serious wall of blueberry and blackberry compote, and a ton of savoury Cabernet sinew and freshness. This is a great Montrose, inky, broad-shouldered and structured. It needs time to aerate and open in the glass, then you see the precision, the heft, the chiselling of the fruits with a ton of graphite, cigar box and campfire smoke - huge persistency. This will need a long time and will reward patience. One of the few where a 1986, 2016 and 2010 comparison makes sense. A yield around 30hl/ha.”

18+/20pts JL, jancisrobinson.com “Deep colour. Dark, intense and very pure but with an energy that makes it vibrant. Big tannic frame but tannins really finely honed. Long and persistent with plenty of drive on the finish. Long ageing potential.”

GBP 1540 per case/12 IB

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 1560 per case/24 IB

Magnums – GBP 1550 per case/6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 1630 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 1072 each IB

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La Dame de Montrose 2020

23 June EP Montrose Dame bottle

92pts Jane Anson, Decanter “A ton of dark fruits on offer in the form of cassis, bilberry, blackcurrant, brambles of blackberry and raspberry, a ton of spice and sinew. Bitter almond and chocolate notes come in on the finish and add to the feel of a signature Dame de Montrose. Not the exoticism of 2018, this is more of a return to classicism, closer to the 2019 or 2016. 4% Petit Verdot completes the blend. A yield of around 29hl/ha.”

GBP 349 per case/12 IB

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 369 per case/24 IB

Magnums – GBP 359 per case/6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 439 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 278 each IB

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2020 Haut Bailly

23 June EP Haut Bailly chateau

The long-awaited 2020 Haut Bailly has been released at GBP 1152/12. This is the first vintage produced in their new cellars; they have been extremely excited about this journey for some time and it seems that 2020 has delivered them of a vintage to be remembered with a string of fabulous scores and reviews, including the full 99-100 from James Suckling.

It’s full-bodied, yet dynamic and agile, with so much polished and muscular tannin. Yet, it remains in harmony and balance. So much character.” 99-100 James Suckling

one of the most structured, powerful Haut-Bailly I've ever tasted, yet it still has the classic elegance, nuance, and length of this terrific terroir.” 96-98+ Jeb Dunnuck

Deep, rich and explosive, the 2020 Haut-Bailly is magnificent from the very first taste. Dark fruit, chocolate, licorice and spice give the 2020 a level of unctuousness that is absolutely thrilling.” 95-97 Antonio Galloni

An estate that is at once both truly historic and very forward-thinking, under the ownership of the American Wilmers family and stewardship of Veronique Sanders, Haut Bailly has been producing wines of incredible quality for the past 10-15 years – although of course their history goes back way, way further than this. In fact the estate has some of the oldest vines, and one of the largest proportions of old vines, of any estate in the region. In 2020 the presence of old vines was all-important as the deep, complex root structures allowed the vines to search out the April and June rainwater left deep in the soils.

In a typical year, Haut Bailly would be the final estate we visit on our week-long En Primeur trip. Whilst it has always provided the warmest of welcomes – and often a chilled glass of rose post-tasting to sooth the fatigued palate – in recent years Haut Bailly has also sent the week off with a bang. The quality here has been good for a long time but the past half-decade has seen a new level of precision and expression; the 2020 is another in the recent run of extraordinary Pessacs.

Haut Bailly 2020

23 June EP Haut Bailly bottle


99-100pts James Suckling “This has incredible power and drive with blackberry, black olive and graphite. It’s full-bodied, yet dynamic and agile, with so much polished and muscular tannin. Yet, it remains in harmony and balance. So much character. The head of the chateau calls it diabolical beauty. 25% less production than the 2019. 52% cabernet sauvignon, 42% merlot, 3% cabernet franc and 3% petit verdot.”

97-99pts Jeff Leve “Deeply colored, the wine explodes with fresh flowers, tobacco leaf, cigar box, currants, blackberry, Allspice, licorice, savory herbs and smoke aromas. On the palate, the wine is intense, balanced, silky and refined. The fruits express purity, harmony, length and complexity, finishing with layers of currants, blackberry, herbs, pepper and plums that hold your focus for at least 50 seconds. Give this at least 10-12 years of age. It will evolve and provide sensuous tasting for at least 25 or more years after that. The wine blends 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc., 14.3% ABV, pH 3.9. The harvest took place September 9 to September 25. The Grand Vin was produced from 60% of the harvest. 2020 was the first vintage produced in their new cellars.”

96-98+pts LPB, robertparker.com “A blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot, the 2020 Haut-Bailly was harvested from the 9th to 25th of September. It has an alcohol of 14.3%. Deep purple-black in color, it prances out of the glass with naturally beautiful notions of fresh black cherries, violets, mulberries and boysenberries, giving way to hints of redcurrant jelly, star anise, tilled soil and menthol. The medium to full-bodied palate is delicately crafted with velvety/grainy tannins and fantastic freshness framing the perfumed red and black berry layers, finishing on a lingering fragrant-earth note.”

96-98+pts Jeb Dunnuck “A legendary Haut-Bailly in the making, the 2020 sports a dense purple color to go with powerful notes of blackcurrants, black cherries, scorched earth, and graphite. Reminding me of the 2010, it takes plenty of air to show at its best yet is full-bodied, has a seamless texture, massive of ultra-fine tannins, and a blockbuster of a finish. It's one of the most structured, powerful Haut-Bailly I've ever tasted, yet it still has the classic elegance, nuance, and length of this terrific terroir. It will need 5-7 years (or more) of bottle age but will have 50 years of overall longevity. The 2020 is 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, and 3% each of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.”

95-97pts Neal Martin, vinous “The 2020 Haut-Bailly was picked September 9–25 in what the estate has called the "year of reinvention." Having left my sample to open for 30 minutes and then assessed it over the following three hours, I found that it has a mercurial nose of gorgeous blackberry, briar, white pepper, incense and hints of blood orange. It gains intensity and becomes more floral with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with supple but firm tannins that provide backbone. There is plenty of black fruit laced with white pepper and clove. Perhaps less rich on the finish compared to the last two vintages – a virtue as far as I am concerned, as it allows more terroir to show through. This is an impressive Haut-Bailly to coincide with their new winery, which I hope to visit very soon.”

95-97pts Antonio Galloni, vinous “Deep, rich and explosive, the 2020 Haut-Bailly is magnificent from the very first taste. Dark fruit, chocolate, licorice and spice give the 2020 a level of unctuousness that is absolutely thrilling. Readers should be patient, as the 2020 is going to need time to come around. Yields are down 25% from 2019, and that richness comes through loud and clear.”

96pts Jane Anson, Decanter “Rich in texture and colour, this has clear layers and complexity, a wine that you want to take your time with, slow down and enjoy. One that will take its time to age also. This has a precision and a clarity to the aromatics, and a gentle buzz of minerality that gives a physical reaction in the mouth. Less exuberant than the 2018 or 2019, making this a vintage that suits the style of Haut-Bailly. A slight austerity to the tannins on the finish gives a blueberry redcurrant edge. 3% Petit Verdot completes the blend (now around eight years old), usually co-fermented with the Cabernet Sauvignon (sometimes with Cabernet Franc). IPT similar to 2016, 2010, 2005, but with a softness that comes from extremely ripe tannins. Strong potential for upscoring when in bottle.”

GBP 1152 per case/12 IB

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 1172 per case/24 IB

Magnums – GBP 1162 per case/6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 1242 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 813 each IB

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23 June EP Valandraud Vineyard

We present two of St-Emilion’s great names hiding in plain sight and yet can boast some of the critics’ most enthusiastic plaudits and highest scores.

Chateau Valandraud 2020

Chateau Valandraud, one of the original self-proclaimed ‘bad boys’ of the garagiste movement, is now an elderly statesman of St-Emilion producing intense, pure, mineral wines that bridge the opulent nouvelle vague of the ‘80s with the grace of today’s new wave zeitgeist. “[Valandraud is] unquestionably up with the crème de la crème out there,” assures Jeb Dunnuck and “one of his crowning achievements to date. Chapeau!” enthuses Neal Martin. It is a spectacular wine that merits rediscovery.

Chateau Belair Monange meanwhile is home to Edouard Moueix and family, an estate into which they ploughed a not inconsiderable fortune. This is one of St-Emilion’s great terroirs sitting in prime position on the limestone plateau - and recent vintages have shown the true potential of this remarkable property. Jane Anson exclaims “just the most incredible depth and layers. I love it,” while Jeb Dunnuck exclaims it “a brilliant wine in the making.” This is another wonder Belair Monange not to be missed!

2020 Valandraud

23 June EP Valandraud


97-99pts Jeb DunnuckWinemaker Jean-Luc Thunevin has hit a home run in the vintage, and his 2020 Château Valandraud is unquestionably up with the crème de la crème out there. Made in a ripe, sexy, plush style, it brings an incredible amount of ripe black fruit, chocolate, vanilla, espresso, and leafy herb-like aromas and flavors. This carries to a full-bodied, powerful Saint-Emilion that somehow stays weightless and graceful on the palate, with moderate acidity, ripe tannins, and a great, great finish.”

95-97pts Neal MartinThe 2020 Valandraud has a deep purple hue and delivers an intense bouquet of lush blackberry, raspberry, cassis and crushed violet aromas, all beautifully defined. The palate is very well balanced with a sensual opening. This’ll have you smitten from the first sip: silky-smooth with immense depth and harmony. There is tension and precision from start to finish. This 2020 continues a startling run of form by Jean-Luc Thunevin, this representing one of his crowning achievements to date. Chapeau!

GBP 640 per 6 IB

Alternative formats available

Half bottles – GBP 650 per 12

Magnums – GBP 645 per 3

Double Magnums – GBP 455 each

Imperials – GBP 898 each

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2020 Belair Monange

23 June EP Belair Monange


99pts Jane Anson Decanter.com “The gunsmoke character is immediately evident on the nose, as is richly expressed damson and raspberry fruit. This is pared back and held back right now, elegant, showing a seductive edge without trying too hard. The texture is softly-brushed velvet, these tannins are front and centre but so fine and so precise that they don't get in the way of the fruit. Salinity from the limestone is evident on the finish, bringing a moreish juiciness and you can scrape your tongue against the pumice stone texture. Austere in all the right ways, with just the most incredible depth and layers. I love it. Harvest September 15 to 23. 98-100.”

96-98+pts Jeb DunnuckA quintessential Saint-Emilion, the 2020 Château Belair-Monange reveals a dense purple/plum color as well as classic Saint-Emilion minerality that covers lots of ripe black fruits, graphite, tobacco, and violet aromas and flavors. Rich, medium to full-bodied, and concentrated, you could almost eat it with a fork and yet it still stays light on its feet, has building, polished tannins, and a great finish. It's a brilliant wine in the making.”

GBP 725 per 6 IB

Alternative formats available

Half bottles – GBP 735 per 12

Magnums – GBP 730 per 3

Double Magnums – GBP 513 each

Imperials – GBP 1012 each

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