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Is 2020 A Good Vintage Year?

From extreme climatic phenomena to the spring lockdown shattering the organisation of vineyard activities, early vegetative vine stages and an optimal Indian summer: 2020 will have put to the test those who have endeavoured to make it a vintage year, to say the least.
Throughout 2021, the Bordeaux and Burgundy primeur tastings had set the tone : after the two great years of 2018 and 2019, and despite an unprecedented sanitary crisis, the 2020 vintage is an undeniable global success.

Featured as a year of lockdown and pandemic for us all, 2020 is also a very singular and very satisfying year as regards wine quality.
As far as the weather is concerned, the French vineyards had a very singular year, because of a recurring phenomenon for the past ten years: very late frosts, hailstorms, increasingly widespread drought, and hot temperatures burning the vines. Generally speaking, a mild winter and a very warm spring favoured an early vegetative cycle for the vine throughout France, where several regions had very early harvests, particularly in the eastern part of the country. The other phenomenon that characterized 2020 is drought: it hit more or less all French vineyards and added up to the already dry conditions registered during the past years, especially in the south and south-east, resulting in a decrease in yields. Nonetheless, in most cases, grapes were of good sanitary quality.

2020 IN BURGUNDY: A Vintage Quality Hardly Ever Seen Before

This vintage is marked by a historic precocity, from budburst to harvest. The warm and sunny weather also allowed the vines to remain in almost perfect health. Even more surprisingly, as confirmed by the tastings, the wines are as unexpectedly fresh as they are remarkable despite the high temperatures and almost constant drought.

Vintage 2020, Burgundy

WHITE WINES

The 2020 white wines are fruity and express a beautiful aromatic complexity, with very good acidity. Despite the summer heat, they show very nice balances, carried by a classic freshness, in line with the expectations of a Burgundian vintage.
Chablis and Grand Auxerrois
2020 will be a milestone for the quality of its wines and their very good ageing potential. The nose has a beautiful intensity, marked by pleasant smells of ripe fruit. Notes of apricot and candied citrus are mixed with exotic fruit and lime blossom. The mouth is ample, perfectly balanced, keeping a very pleasant freshness and a very nice mineral character.
Côte de Beaune
The perfect ripeness of the grapes, combined with an acidity that has resisted high temperatures, is at the origin of concentrated and superbly balanced wines. Their nose evokes yellow and exotic fruits: mango, grapefruit, orange peel and bergamot. They are long on the palate and last impressively long. A vintage that will be enjoyed with great pleasure in a few years.
Mâconnais
Thanks to their remarkable freshness and exemplary concentration, these wines have all the potential to be top ranked. On the nose, citrus, yellow fruit, pineapple and dried fruit combine with intense floral notes. Their mouth, round and smooth, keeps an excellent acidity and their greedy finish is very pleasant. 2020, a vintage that will leave its mark.

RED WINES

The 2020 red wines stand out for their incredible balance. The ideal sunshine conditions and the warmth during the ripening stage have led to concentrated wines, full of character but not heavy. Like the white wines, they have kept their freshness and offer gourmand profiles upon black fruits such as blackberry, blueberry, black cherry…
Côte de Nuits
It’s hard to dream better than the 2020 vintage in Côte de Nuits. The colour is deep red. Its nose, of an uncommon richness, is marked by intense fruity notes. Black cherry, blackberry, blackcurrant, cocoa, and liquorice mingle with delicate scents of rose, peony, violet and sweet spices. The palate is impressively concentrated, yet very fine. Full-bodied and with a magnificent tannic structure, these wines are promised to a dazzling future.
Côte de Beaune
Here too, we get close to perfection. The highly coloured wines, with exemplary aromatic intensity and quality, are models of their kind. On the nose, it is an explosion of small fruits, wild berries, spices and blond tobacco. On the palate, the balance is perfect. Fleshy, full-bodied, the wines remain fresh and elegant, their finish is tasty, their length astonishing. Like all wines from great vintages, they will reveal all their qualities in a few years.
Source © BIVB / Aurélien IBANEZ

2020 BORDEAUX VINTAGE: Beautifully Balanced Wines

Three is the magic number! After 2018 and 2019, hailed as great Bordeaux vintages, here comes 2020. The level of the samples tasted during the primeur wines in April 2021 indicates that the vintage is top-of-the-range, with an elegant and atypical style: “warm fruit and sharp tannins. Black fruit, flowers, graphite, mint and even citrus notes capture the attention of the tasters of this deep and fresh year, which can beguile them either now or later”.

Vintage 2020, Bordeaux

The Climatology of Good Vintages…

Marked by a rainy spring, the year 2020 was then incredibly sunny for fifty days, without the slightest shower rain. The right bank, with its more clayey soil, kept water in stock to support the summer heat wave. The challenge was more difficult for the left bank, which is more draining. The grapes will therefore be under a little more stress there. The last rains that fell at the right time, in August, allowed the grapes to blossom in the best conditions, before the harvest of the 2020 vintage. However, production is down by more than 30% compared to 2019.

… makes Beautifully Balanced Wines

If the 2018 and 2019 vintages were distinguished by their power and concentration, 2020 is a lacy year, which unfolds the thread of freshness and elegance. Here, there is no overpower, high degrees or too intense colours. The great Bordeaux primeur wines flirt with nuance and temperance. When tasted, they are structured, and their tannins have already melted. Their freshness is also noteworthy, combined with a surprising persistence in the mouth.

In the Médoc region, the first impression that strikes when tasting a 2020 vintage is of freshness. The crispness of the fruit, the acidity, the minty and peppery finish are the hallmarks of its wines, as is their alcohol level – one of the lowest Bordeaux has seen for a long time, proof that great wines do not need to be very high in alcohol. Thanks to its clay soils that can handle draughts well, Saint-Estèphe wines have a very spectacular brilliance and are probably a Médoc vintage appellation with a bright future ahead.

On the right bank, time to enthusiasm! Approaching the 2020 Bordeaux primeur wines from the right bank – Pomerol and Saint-Emilion in particular – is impossible without praising the historic quality of Merlots. Throughout the hot summer, spring rains have made up a water reserve that has abundantly watered the best clay and limestone soils. In Pomerol, we find a very high level of maturity markers and at the same time, an almost unexpected freshness. Fruit is in the limelight, even if, of course, there is sometimes a hint of a jam-like taste. In any case, 2020 allows the assertion of the amazing diversity of Pomerol wines, which range from perfumed and airy wines – already appreciated by all – to the deepest and most enduring of the great long-keeping wines.

Complicated whites wines to make but successful in tasting

The end of the dry season does not necessarily make everyone happy, and the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac in 2020 played with the winegrowers’ nerves. The famous noble rot was slow to appear and it took reactivity and self-sacrifice to see this 2020 vintage through. The harvest is thus very small but the wines produced are superb, characterized by a very good balance and aromatic profiles that make you salivate. Finally, the white wines of Pessac-Léognan and the 2020 Bordeaux dry white primeur wines are mostly successful, despite the summer heat that could have entailed a lack of tension and freshness. The clay-limestone terroirs produced very fine, tasty, and balanced wines, less exuberant than in 2019 but with a spectacular finesse.

THE 2020 VINTAGE IN THE RHONE VALLEY: A Fine Early Vintage Despite a Heterogeneous Harvest

In 2020, the quality is there, despite the heterogeneous harvest volumes marked by climatic incidents in the southern zone. 2020 was a sunny, yet not hot year. The volumes harvested were satisfactory but heterogeneous, depending on the area. The tastings show harmonious, balanced wines with good concentration.

Elegance and finesse for wines from the north.

The northern part of the vineyard was not impacted by any particular weather incidents, with the exception of certain plots which suffered from a lack of water. “In Côte-Rôtie, wines are very elegant, very fine with aromas of red and black fruits, while we were expecting something more ripe because of the summer heat. We are in an unprecedented line of 6 great vintages in Côte-Rôtie, we are blessed by the Gods, even if the yields are not up to scratch”, says David Duclaux, Co-Chairman of the Côte-Rôtie section at Inter-Rhône.

Flexibility and Balance in the South

For the southern appellations red wines, we already notice a beautiful colour and a good structure. Tannins are present and melted. The first wines tasted are supple, balanced and very elegant. They are gourmand and fruity, a quality that can be found in the first vintages ready to be tasted, and notably in the primeur wines of this 2020 vintage, which have already been on the market for a few weeks.
Copyright vins-rhone.com

THE 2020 VINTAGE IN THE LOIRE VALLEY

“We were lucky to have an early vintage with exceptional quality and maturity. This allowed us to choose the harvest dates according to the grape varieties and the wines we wanted to make. In the end, we have a very nice vintage with a wide range of wines and satisfactory yields”, says Jean-Martin Dutour, 2020 President of InterLoire.

WHITE WINES: A Beautiful Range

At the beginning of September, the weather conditions concentrated both sugar and acidity. Depending on the date of harvest, different profiles of still Chenin wines are emerging according to the feedback from tastings: fresh wines with a beautiful vivacity for grapes harvested at the beginning of the harvest, ripe fruit profiles, and concentrated profiles for grapes from the late harvest.

RED WINES: A Generous Vintage

2020 is a generous vintage for the reds of the Loire Valley, with two main profiles depending on the variability of the rainfall: fruity, elegant, and gourmand Cabernet Franc wines and wines with great potential, with high concentration and beautiful tannins. The Gamays from the Loir-et-Cher also show very good maturity with aromas of jammy fruit. The côt grape variety has a beautiful colour, with aromas of black fruits and violets.

Other Regions

In the southern vineyards (Languedoc, Roussillon), the vines, more used to hot weather and drought, seem to have resisted well to the extreme weather conditions of 2020. Fortunately, nights were often relatively cool, which compensated for the daytime heat by allowing the vines to “breathe”. The quality of the 2020 wines is therefore met, both for reds and whites, with wines that are rather less powerful and with a little less alcohol compared with 2019. Champagne also foresees a very good vintage in all areas and appellations.
Finally, in the Jura and Savoie regions, which naturally benefit from cooler nights because vineyards are mainly located in altitude, the 2020 vintage is also looking good.

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