2020 Saint Estephe wines are among the best in the Medoc. The wines are deeply colored, concentrated, opulent, lushly-textured and aromatic. The cool clay soils played a big part in the vine’s ability to deal with the intense summer heat and drought conditions.
2020 Saint Estephe wines as you will see are the result of a difficult growing season that came with three dangers: Frost, intense spring rains and a long hot summer, capped by drought.
Though as you can see, there was much more to the 2020 vintage in St. Estephe. After a mild winter, March brought heavy rains, which was followed by a spring frost. Conditions changed rapidly with a surprisingly hot April, accelerating the vintage. With a warm May, flowering took place 10 days faster than usual, making 2020 Bordeaux an early vintage.
Early vintages often favor Saint Estephe. Look at 1989, 2003 and 2009, for example.
The summer was hot, sunny and dry, delivering drought conditions. Here is where the cool clay terroir played its part as the water-retentive clay nourished the vines. Vineyards with less moisture were suffering water stress and did not reach the same level of maturity.
While the August rains were beneficial, similar to what took place with the 2015 vintage the rains were heavy, some vineyards in Saint-Estephe received over 110 mm, (4.3”) with some growers producing slightly diluted wines when compared to vineyards located further south. Temperatures also dropped, so harvesting took place under moderate to cool conditions. More rain fell starting in the middle of September as well, continuing through much of the harvest.
Picking began for young Merlot vines in the early part of September, which is quite early. This was quickly followed by an early harvest for the Cabernet Sauvignon as well. Most of the Cabernet Sauvignon was picked by the end of September.
The difficult 2020 growing season in the Saint Estephe appellation demanded a lot of attention according to Dominique Arangoits of Chateau Cos d’Estournel.
“2020 Bordeaux required constant vigilance on our part and a readiness to adapt to changing conditions at every moment, while our vines once again demonstrated an uncommon ability to transcend unusual conditions.”
The following 2020 St. Estephe wines were tasted in non-blind conditions in my home office.
2020 Saint Estephe wine tasting notes.
2020 Beau-Site – Medium-bodied, savory, earthy and spicy, with a core of crunchy fresh red berries finishing with touches of cedar, tobacco leaf, peppery spice and red currants. You can enjoy this classically styled wine with just a few years of age. 89-91 Pts
2020 Bernard Magrez – Bright, fresh, crisp and crunchy, with a solid blast of chewy red fruits on the palate and in the medium-bodied, lifted, red berry finish. You can drink this within a few years of release, or let it get a bit more age on it before pulling a cork. 88-90 Pts
2020 Le Boscq – With a touch of smoke, herbs, blackberries and spicy cassis on the nose, the wine fresh, sweet and juicy and a crisp, red berry finish. Give this medium-bodied wine 3-5 years in the cellar before a cork. 90-92 Pts
2020 Calon Segur – If you are not familiar with everything going on with Calon Segur these days, you need to taste this wine. Deeply colored, without hesitation the wine shoots from the glass with Asian spice, boysenberry, black currants, cedar, cigar box, tobacco leaf, lead pencil and forest leaf. Full-bodied, concentrated, powerful and rich, yet it is also balanced, refined, and intense. There is purity in the fruits, freshness and symmetry, ending with seamless waves of perfectly ripe, creme de cassis. Let this rest for at least a decade and enjoy for 3 or more decades after that. The wine blends 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. 13.8% ABV. 96-98 Pts
2020 Le Marquis de Calon Segur – Sweet, robust, fleshy and chewy, there is a cool, spicy quality to the fruit with a savory character on the nose and palate. The wine ends with loads of juicy, chewy, firm fruits. This baby Calon Segur is perfect to enjoy while waiting for the Grand Vin to develop. As good as it is, let it age for 3-5 years before pulling a cork and it will be even better. 92-94 Pts
2020 Capbern – Spicy, dark red berries, blackberry, savory herbs, cedar and cigar box open the nose. On the palate, the wine is fleshy, rich, chewy and packed with ripe currants with peppery, savory herbs. There is length, freshness, complexity and character here. This a vineyard to keep an eye on as it gets better and better. The wine blends 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, 14.1% ABV. 92-94 Pts
2020 Cos Labory – Round, ripe, chewy, sweet, and fresh, the wine is medium/full-bodied with an already delicious blast of blackberry, Asian spice and currants in the nose and palate. Cos Labory has really upped their game lately. This makes three solid vintages in a row. 91-93 Pts
2020 Cos dEstournel -Deep garnet in hue, the wine shoots from glass with tobacco leaf, currants, spice box, cigar wrapper, blackberry and cassis. Elegant, fresh and vibrant, the wine is silky, long and precise. There is a cool spicy note that rides along with all the layers of soft, polished fruits on the mid-palate and in the finish. This is a refined vintage for COS. You find lower alcohol and the wine feels more energetic on the palate and in the finish, even though the pH is high at 3.9. Let it sleep for at least a decade before popping a cork. Produced from a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Merlot, 13.46 % ABV, the harvest took place from September 10 to September 24. 97-99 Pts
2020 Les Pagodes de Cos – Fresh, bright, spicy and almost ready to go. The wine is medium-bodied, savory, lifted and polished. The fresh, red pit fruits are accompanied by tobacco leaf, spice, cigar box and savory notes on the nose, palate and finish. Drink this young while waiting for the Grand Vin to develop. The wine blends 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. 92-94 Pts
2020 Cos d’Estournel Blanc – Vivacious, bright, yellow citrus, lime, green apple, tangerine and honeysuckle notes are there for the taking on the nose and palate. Crisp and energetic, with a long blast of zesty green apples, lemon peel and a hint of vanilla in the finish. This is among the best vintages of Cos d’Estournel Blanc ever produced. The wine blends 66% Sauvignon Blanc and 34% Semillon. 96 Pts
2020 Les Pagodes de Cos Blanc – Crisp pomelo, lemon, lime and green apple notes on the nose and palate work well here. The wine is vibrant, sweet, juicy and fresh with a core of white peach and creamy yellow citrus in the finish. 92 Pts
2020 Haut Marbuzet – Dark in color, the wine offers notes of coffee beans, cherries, smoke, spice and peppery herbs. Medium/full-bodied, with a strong oak presence that accompanies the round textures and all the herbs, spices and fruits. The wine ends with a savory character on top of the espresso-tinged finish. The oak is still quite present, so give it time to come around. If it integrates, this will be a better wine. 91-93 Pts
2020 Haut-Beausejour – Cigar box, tobacco leaf, red currants and floral aromas pack the perfume. The wine is medium-bodied, round, soft and polished with a blackberry, cocoa, spice and savory centric, chewy finish. 89-91 Pts
2020 La Haye – Medium-bodied, forward, soft and accessible, the wine will be ready to drink on release with its fresh, polished, lighter, accessible style. 87-89 Pts
2020 Laffitte-Carcasset The Corsair -A touch of cappuccino with herbs, pepper, flowers and ripe fruits connects in the perfume. On the palate, the wine is soft, fresh and fruity with round tannins and a nice blast of ripe, polished dark berries in the finish. 90-92 Pts
2020 Lafon Rochet – Deeply colored, the wine is full-bodied, concentrated, long, dark, round, dark and energetic. The fruits are plush, ripe, sweet and fleshy. The mid-palate shows off its blend of cassis, blackberry, cocoa, tobacco leaf and spice with little effort. The finish is long, clean and vibrant with a creamy textured endnote. This should age and develop nicely for at least 2-3 decades. 94-96 Pts
2020 Le Crock – With good color, the wine is bright, fresh, juicy and richly textured. Medium/full-bodied with loads of ripe, sweet, round berries, spice and chocolate in the finish. This is is so good today, you can enjoy it right now. And it will be even better with just a few years of age. 90-92 Pts
2020 Lilian Ladouys – I am really liking the spicy quality to the fresh, sweet red fruits, cigar wrapper, cedar and blackberries on the nose. Medium/full-bodied, round, soft and energetic, there is richness along with soft textured tannins, ripe dark red fruits and a hint of cocoa in the finish. 92-94 Pts
2020 Lilian Ladouys La Devise de Lilian – Forward, early-drinking, medium-bodied, lighter-styled charming wine with a bright, crisp, red currant character for early drinking pleasure. Enjoy this while waiting for the Grand Vin to develop 86-88 Pts
2020 Martin – Very herbaceous, with strong green notes that override the fruit with a hard, chewy, tart, green finish. 79-81 Pts
2020 Meyney – Black and blue fruits with a wealth of Asian spices and espresso are found right off the bat on the nose. On the palate, the wine is rich, supple, lush and polished with a core of ripe, dark, sweet fruits, silky tannins and a finish packed with peppery fruits, chocolate and espresso beans. Give this at least 5-6 years in the cellar and enjoy it over the following 20-25 years. 92-94 Pts
2020 Meyney Prieur de Meyney – Round, soft, forward, juicy and medium-bodied, the wine is already serving its delicious layers of dark red, supple textured fruits. 87-89 Pts
2020 Ormes-de-Pez – Things keep getting better and better here and 2020 is no exception. The nose, with its spicy personality, also shows forest leaf, tobacco, pepper, black and red fruits and earthy nuances. On the palate, the wine is rich, round and ripe. It’s packed with sweet, fresh, polished, juicy red berries on the mid-palate and in the open, soft textured finish. Forward in style, this should drink quite well with just 3-4 years of aging. 92-94 Pts
2020 Petit-Bocq – Round, fruity and polished with a soft core of dark red fruits, breakfast tea, wet earth, and ripe, spicy, black currants in the endnote. 89-91 Pts
2020 de Pez – The spicy character is just great here. Instantly it adds character and complexity to the perfectly ripe, juicy, fresh, red fruits. Soft, round and inviting, the ripeness and energy in the red berries keep on going from the mid-palate straight through to the finish. 91-93 Pts
2020 de Pez 2nd Pez – Forward, fresh and fruity, this medium-bodied, already fully-drinkable, red berry, soft textured charmer is ready to go for easy drinking pleasure. 88-90 Pts
2020 Phelan Segur – Bright, fresh, spicy and a bit peppery, there is great lift and energy here. Flowers, cigar wrapper, cedar, red currants, raspberries and red plums are all over the place in the nose and on the palate. The wine is long, balanced and refined. There is freshness, length and a crispy, silky quality to the texture on the palate and in the finish. Rich and balanced with the oak being already close to fully integrated. The wine blends 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, 13.5% ABV. 2020 marks the first vintage to feature Petit Verdot in the blend. 93-95 Pts
2020 Saint-Pierre de Corbian – Medium-bodied, soft, round, fruity and forward, the savory wine easily delivers its tobacco, cedar and dark currants on the nose and on its chewy, fresh palate. This will be easy to drink in its youth with just a year or two of age. 88-90 Pts
2020 Serilhan -Ripe, soft, dark red fruits are on the nose and palate. The wine is medium-bodied, polished, fresh and juicy with a touch of spice in the creamy finish. 90-92 Pts
2020 Tour Saint-Fort – Dark in color, the wine is loaded with dark red berries, wet earth, cocoa, herbs and spice, Medium-bodied with round, juicy fruits and polished tannins in the sweet and savory finish. 89-91 Pts
2020 Tour de Pez – Medium-bodied, fresh, creamy, currant, cedar and tobacco leaf-filled wine with round, soft textures and a nice blast of sweet, polished, red fruits and spice in the juicy finish. 89-91 Pts
2020 Tour des Termes – Deep in color, the wine is loaded with black and blue fruit, chocolate, black raspberries and spice on the nose and palate, finishing with layers of round, ripe, sweet, fresh black and red fruits with a creamy finish. 91-93 Pts
Our next article focuses on all the best 2020 Pauillac wines. If you have questions or comments, please post.