Perrotti-Brown tackles the “enigma” of Bordeaux 2020

  • Perrotti-Brown has said 2020 is a much more complex vintage than either 2018 or 2019 but with “far more potential”.
  • She pinpointed the summer storms as a pivotal moment in the formation of the vintage for both banks.
  • Although a strong Right Bank year, she has awarded high scores to many Left Bank properties not least the First Growths.

The publication’s Bordeaux and Napa reviewer said that understanding the 2020 vintage had been a tricky task.

“I enjoy becoming 100% immersed in projects like the 2020 Bordeaux vintage enigma,” she said. “And it is an enigma – a vintage that has been more difficult to understand than 2018 or 2019, with far more potential.”

Unwrapping the riddle

Speaking to Liv-ex (see video above) Perrotti-Brown said that what confused her was a “hollow mid-palate” in some of the wines on the Left Bank.

She explained that she had identified heavy rainstorms during the otherwise incredibly dry summer as a pivotal moment for many estates.

“For some sites, it was just what was needed and not a minute too soon. For others, the effects were not entirely positive”, she noted.

She found that parts of the Left Bank received as much as 100mm of rain between the 9th to 14th August, while across Pessac-Léognan, Pomerol and St-Émilion it was as low as 30-40mm; just 10mm at Pavie.

Great – in places

Perrotti-Brown also said how “irregular” she found the vintage. “Perhaps on a par with 2017 in terms of the variability of quality”, she said, adding: “The peaks of quality far exceed 2017 and are right up there with 2018 and 2019.”

She said that calling 2020 a “Merlot vintage…greatly oversimplifies the situation”. The Right Bank communes of St-Émilion and Pomerol were among the “favoured terroirs” and she had high praise for top estates in Pessac.

In fact, all six of her 99-100 rated wines came from these three appellations.

On the other hand, she said there were Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines, such as Mouton Rothschild, which are of, “jaw-dropping greatness this year”. Margaux and Mouton are her next two highest-rated First Growths, both scored 97-99.

Overall, she summarised the vintage: “For some areas and terroirs, this is absolutely the third outstanding vintage in this trio. Success this year was largely down to location, luck of the rains and terroir.”

Our Bordeaux En Primeur 2020 page contains everything you need to know about this year’s campaign. You can also sign up for our daily En Primeur email alerts using the form below.