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En Primeur Releases: 4 June 2021

Giles Cooper

4 June 2021

Malartic Lagravière

The best way to make an unpronounceable wine unforgettable is to ensure that what’s in the bottle moves heaven and earth – and in 2020 Malartic Lagraviere have done exactly that. Not only this, but at GBP 347, it represents incredible value for a wine that Neal Martin scores at the same heady level as La Fleur Petrus, Lynch Bages and Troplong Mondot...

“This is one of the best vintages of Malartic Lagravière that I have encountered out of bottle. Ignore at your peril.” Neal Martin

If there is one wine you haven’t bought before that you should put into your cellar this year, it could be this. Pessac-Leognan is one of the key communes in 2020; in the words of Neal Martin, “Pessac-Léognan is one of the success stories of 2020” and over at Malartic they have been focusing more and more on that elusive balance of richness of style and purity of terroir expression that really marks out the very best producers. 2020 certainly delivers this: Jane Anson calls it “one of the successes of the appellation.” And Jeb Dunnuck agrees, stating “It's up with the crème de la crème of the appellation.”

Since being purchased by the Bonnie family in 1997, Malartic has undergone the kind of investment which really drives quality and banished the demons of mediocrity which had dogged the estate prior to the 1990s. They built a revolutionary winery, one of the first to use gravity in the winemaking process (now adopted by most, including the First Growths) and dramatically overhauled the vineyards. They were setting the wheels in motion for a run of superb vintages starting with 2015, and in 2020 the complex conditions showed what this terroir was really made of.

With these fabulous notes and scores from Galloni, Martin et al, and at this price, this redefines the concept of ‘no-brainer’.

Chateau Malartic Lagraviere 2020

94-96pts NM, vinous “The 2020 Malartic Lagravière, whose picking was completed on September 24, before the rains, has a bright, vivid nose of mineral-infused red fruit mixed with hints of blueberry and cassis. Very focused and precise, this is an aromatically sophisticated Pessac-Léognan. The palate is medium-bodied with graphite-tinged black fruit, hints of wild mint coming through, and lively and tensile toward the finish. This is one of the best vintages of Malartic Lagravière that I have encountered out of bottle. Ignore at your peril.”

93-95pts AG, vinous “The 2020 Malartic Lagravière is a powerful, tightly wound wine. There is perhaps a bit less opulence than in years past, but that just gives the wine an extra kick of energy and vibrancy that is quite attractive. Inky red cherry fruit, rose petal, spice, cedar and cinnamon all grace this beautifully taut wine from the Bonnie family. Tasted three times.”

94-96pts Jeff Leve “Dark garnet in color, the wine grabs your attention with its display of flowers, currants, espresso, smoke, licorice and incense. Full-bodied, rich and concentrated, the wine is lush and polished, with waves of opulent dark fruits that keep on coming. Fresh and expansive, creamy and deep, this is going to rival many of the best vintages produced here. Give this at least 5-7 years in the cellar and enjoy it for the following 2 decades after that.”

93-95pts Jeb Dunnuck “Based on a blend of 50.4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47.8% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc that hit 14.2% natural alcohol, the 2020 Château Malartic-Lagravière offers a gorgeously pure nose of both red and blue fruits as well as lots of floral and mineral nuances. Still aging in 65% new French oak, it's medium to full-bodied and has the vintage’s rich, concentrated style yet gorgeous purity of fruit as well as ripe, polished, building tannins. It's one seriously good 2020 that will impress with short-term bottle age and keep for 25 years or more. It's up with the crème de la crème of the appellation. Tasted three times with consistent notes.”

94pts Jane Anson, Decanter “Concentration and intensity to the cassis and bilberry fruits. Well expressed, carefully extracted and there is good balance with a crushed mint freshness on the finish. Really starts to show subtle floral edging with time in the glass. It has a silky texture and a finessed fresh core that holds interest from beginning to end. Another successful year at this estate. Tasted twice, and this is one of the successes of the appellation. A yield of 26hl/ha (24hl/ha Cabernets, 28l/ha Merlots) compared to 46hl/ha last year. 65% new oak, harvest from 9 to 24 September. Second year with Eric Boissenot as consultant.”

En Primeur Releases: 4 June 2021
En Primeur Releases: 4 June 2021, Image 1

GBP 347 per case

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 367 per case/24 IB

Magnums – GBP 357 per case/6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 437 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 277 each IB

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Clos du Marquis

Clos du Marquis 2020 has been released this morning at GBP 450. Whilst it would be quite wrong to consider this a ‘little brother’ of Las Cases, as it is really an estate in its own right, it certainly benefits from the same winegrowing know-how at a fraction of the price of the grandest of the Leovilles. In 2020 they have made a superb wine which Lisa Perrotti-Brown (93-95pts) calls “simply gorgeous”.

Leoville Las Cases has more than flirted with greatness over the past few decades – and particularly in the last 10 years. It has also become a wine priced out of reach for anything approaching regular drinking, saved exclusively for the most special of occasions; so what to do if you love the purity or fruit and sheer mineral expression of this great appellation but fancy something to stack up for Sunday lunches? Take advantage of the Las Cases team’s exceptional knowledge and skills, and an extremely fine piece of terroir, in the form of Clos du Marquis.

“the balance, purity, and precision are all brilliant… This will be a long-lived Saint-Julien!” - Jeb Dunnuck

“Simply gorgeous.” - Lisa Perrotti-Brown

Created from designated vineyard sites just to the west of Las Cases and surrounded by the Leovilles’ other great vineyards (Poyferre and Barton) Clos du Marquis has turned in an excellent 2020. It’s unquestionably an affordable reflection of the Las Cases style and being unquestionably ‘packed and stacked’ in terms of fruit and structure it will go the distance thanks to its great precision and balance.

Clos du Marquis 2020

94-96pts Jeb Dunnuck “Pure crème de cassis, tobacco, black cherries, lead pencil, and a wonderful sense of minerality emerge from the 2020 Clos Du Marquis, and it's medium to full-bodied, with a pure, elegant texture, plenty of ripe tannins, and the vibrant, focused, lengthy style of the vintage front and center. It's going to need 4-6 years of bottle age, possibly more, but the balance, purity, and precision are all brilliant. The blend is 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc, raised in 40% new French oak. The technical information checks in with the alcohol at 13.57%, pH of 3.76, and an IPT of 84. This will be a long-lived Saint-Julien!”

93-95pts LPB, robertparker.com “The 2020 Clos du Marquis is composed of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc, weighing in with an alcohol of 13.57%, a pH of 3.76 and an IPT (tannins index) of 84. The Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested from the 26th to 29th of September, the Merlot from the 11th to the 16th of September and the Cabernet Franc from the 18th to the 29th of September. Deep purple-black in color, it bursts from the glass with flamboyant notes of crushed blackberries, ripe, juicy plums and blackcurrant pastilles, with suggestions of licorice, red roses and espresso. The medium-bodied palate is completely coated with perfumed black fruits, framed by firm, grainy tannins and bold freshness, finishing long and fragrant. Simply gorgeous.”

94-95pts James Suckling “A tighter, more linear red with blackcurrant, olive and floral character. It’s medium-to full-bodied with a firm, racy finish. Tight. Sweet tobacco. 61% cabernet sauvignon, 6% cabernet franc and 33% merlot.A tighter, more linear red with blackcurrant, olive and floral character. It’s medium-to full-bodied with a firm, racy finish. Tight. Sweet tobacco. 61% cabernet sauvignon, 6% cabernet franc and 33% merlot.”

En Primeur Releases: 4 June 2021
En Primeur Releases: 4 June 2021, Image 2

GBP 450 per case/12 IB

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 470 per case/24 IB

Magnums – GBP 460 per case/6 IB

Double magnums – GBP 540 per case/3 IB

Imperials – GBP 345 each IB

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La Petite Eglise

One wine the BI staff buy every year (when they can get their hands on it) is the brilliant second wine of L’Eglise Clinet, La Petite Eglise. We have a precious allocation of their new 2020 at GBP 413/12 of which only a tiny amount is produced. As with their smaller estates, 2020 is the first year in which the wines have been made completely under the control of the late Denis Durantou’s daughters Constance and Noemie, alongside long-standing cellarmaster Olivier Gautrat. And as with those wines, their 2020 is a triumph of which they can be rightly proud:

“There is a subtlety and class here which mark this out as a very special expression of LPE.” - Michael Schuster

“Quite frankly, La Petite Eglise is better than many top wines in Pomerol.” - Antonio Galloni

“This is a sensual La Petite Eglise, pure and refined, almost pixelated. Outstanding.” - Neal Martin

There isn’t much more to say except recognising that 2020 is an oh-so-good vintage for Pomerol and this could be the best way to get your hands on some at a comparatively friendly price...

La Petite Eglise 2020

92-94pts Antonio Galloni, vinous “La Petite Eglise is once again fabulous in 2020. Elegant, silky and wonderfully nuanced, the 2020 hits all the right notes. This is the first vintage that includes fruit from a recently replanted plot near the winery. All the elements are impeccably balanced from start to finish. Quite frankly, La Petite Eglise is better than many top wines in Pomerol. Pretty floral and spice notes add delicacy to the perfumed finish.”

92-93pts Michael Schuster, WOFW “Subtly black fruit-ripe to smell, discreet and with a touch of truffle and mineral; fullish, fresh, plump, and very fine in tannin; a touch oak-tinged to taste, but long and refined, complex, flowing, and yet with the close-grained quality of so many of this year’s best Pomerols; effortlessly graceful and complete wine with a beautiful fruit fragrance on a very long finish. There is a subtlety and class here which mark this out as a very special expression of LPE. One of the best ever? 2026–40+.”

93pts Jane Anson, Decanter “Noemie and Constance Duranou now in charge, with Noemie winemaker alongside Olivier Gautrat. This is rich and ripe led by raspberry fruits on the nose, a little subdued through the mid palate, plenty of weight to the tannins, but it still shows the precision that has been built up over many years of this wine. A yield of 42hl/ha, harvest from September 8.”

91-93pts Neal Martin, vinous “The 2020 La Petite Eglise is noticeably deep in color. It has a tightly wound bouquet, broody at first, unfurling to reveal blackberry, briar, touches of seaweed and light oyster shell aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with pliant tannins, a fine line of acidity and a silky-smooth, utterly harmonious finish. This is a sensual La Petite Eglise, pure and refined, almost pixelated. Outstanding.”

En Primeur Releases: 4 June 2021
En Primeur Releases: 4 June 2021, Image 3

GBP 207 per case/6

Other formats are available:

Halves – GBP 221.50 per case/12 IB

Magnums – GBP 212.50 per case/3 IB

Double magnums – GBP 173 each IB

PLACE AN ORDER

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