There I was at my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source and I was doing a wine tasting with one of the employees and kibbitzing with the owner of the shop as well, as he already had a chance to taste the En Primeur wines of 2020. This was a special event for me, as I have never had the chance to try a wine straight from the barrel, and that is what these small dram bottles represent. I am sure that there is a more technical term, but a dram bottle works for me and I think it is rather self-explanatory. For a Street Somm, it is a very heady experience. Part of the En Primeur season is for the wineries to determine the future retail of the wines, predicated on how they are rated by the major critics and others in the industry, they also sometimes sell wines ahead of time, known as futures. When I was in college, way back when, I was once offered three bottles of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1973 for the princely sum of fifteen dollars a bottle. At the time that this was offered Chateau Mouton-Rothschild was the top of the Second Growths by the Classification of the Medoc and Graves of 1855 and they never even mentioned the Classification on their labels. The 1973 vintage not only featured art work by Picasso for the label, but lo and behold the label said “Premier Cru Classé” and that poor student when he got the wines had, he felt, the coup of the century. Looking back, I still feel that way, and I still have one bottle in my cellar.
Of the sixteen wines that I got a chance to try, courtesy of The Fine Wine Shop, over the years I had actually had five of the wines represented. In the very early days of my education of wines, I had envisaged that one day I might have a chance to try every bottle of the Classification of 1855, and so far, that hasn’t happened, but I have had many of them, and I think that I have a working knowledge of what the great Communes represent. Since for the most part, it has been on my dime, and I was just a working man, I think that I did alright. Just so that I don’t ramble on and on, I will write about the first six red wines and then I will follow up with the other six wines in two days.
Chateau Beaumont Haut-Medoc 2020 is one of the largest properties in Bordeaux, located in Cussac, which is between Margaux and Saint-Julien. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a dash of Petit Verdot. This was a good solid Bordeaux from the old school, but there was a trace of menthol, and I am not sure if it is because it was so young out of the bottle, but I thought I should mention it.
Le Merle de Pepy Faugeres Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2020 is a stand-alone vineyard inside of the larger Chateau Faugeres. The Chateau and grounds are now owned by Silvio Denz of Lalique. The wine is pure Merlot. It was a beautiful glass of wine, of course I am partial to Merlot and Saint-Emilion wines for fifty years, but this wine had big tannins, a solid Merlot with an amazingly long finish.
Chateau Le Boscq Saint-Estephe Cru Bourgeois Exceptional 2020 by Famille Dourthe. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. James Suckling rated this wine at 91-93. This was a well made and a very chewy wine, that is one of those rare affordable wines from Saint-Estephe and a pleasure to drink.
Chateau de Villegeorge Haute Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2020. This from Vignobles Marie-Laure Lurton. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. This wine was very young and chewy, but I thought it offered great potential, especially for an affordable wine.
Chateau Tour Saint Christophe Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2020. This is from the Vignobles K Group. A blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. This was a nice full and rich wine, quite a bit of heat at the opening an a very nice long finish. Once again, my bias is showing, but I think that this is a very nice wine, worthy of some cellar time.
Chateau Dauzac Margaux Fifth Growth 2020. One of the older vineyards and chateau going back to the 12th Century. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This is one of the earliest Classified wines that I had as a teenager and then it kind of disappeared from the horizon for me. This was a beautiful wine, as it even opened up in the glass between the first and the second taste, it was very impressive for such a young wine that is probably going to see more time in the barrel.