2020 Margaux wines at their best are simply gorgeous. They display a beautiful depth of color, along with soaring aromatics and strong floral characteristics. The top wines are universally silky, elegant, concentrated, rich, and sensuous. Lower in alcohol than 2018 and 2019, and showing good freshness, many of the wines, while not as quite as full, or opulent, offer more freshness, length, finesse, and purity.
So, how did all this happen with the 2020 Margaux vintage? What makes 2020 Margaux so darn good?
The extremes in the growing season were difficult for vignerons all over the Left Bank. The spring was warm and quite wet. The summer months were hot and extremely dry. In fact, Margaux experienced almost no rain between mid-June and mid-August. And if that wasn’t enough, there was a massive heatwave that hit the region in the middle of August. Even the nights were warm, reaching 20 Celsius, (68 Fahrenheit.) Fortunately, rain began falling August 9-14, lowering ambient temperatures, and cooling the soils while adding moisture to the vines at just the right moment.
The extreme August weather created much of the character found in 2020 Margaux. Philippe Bascaules of Chateau-Margaux feels the success of the vintage was in part due to the vintages’ climatic extremes.
“The precocity of the vintage, together with alternating periods of hot temperatures, drought, and rain produced a classic style of wine, with exceptional levels of concentration.”
Each vineyard coped with the drought the best it could. Vines planted in soils with sand and mostly gravel had a difficult time reaching maturity. Henri Lurton of Chateau Brane-Cantenac credits much of the success this year to the clay in their soil.
“2020 Margaux vintage can easily be characterized by its capricious weather. The dry weather worked here due to our grapes from Terrace IV with its gravelly soil and higher proportions of clay.”
While the drought shaped much of the character of the vintage all over the Medoc, conditions became more manageable after the August rains as the season headed toward September. Temperatures dropped, dipping slightly below seasonal averages. While daytime temperature increased in early September, the nights remained cool, allowing the grapes to gain in acidity and much-needed freshness.
However, making 2020 Margaux even more difficult was harvesting during the pandemic. Emmanuele Cruse of Chateau-d’Issan recalls the difficulties brought about by Covid during harvest.
“One of the major concerns was preparing for the harvest. For example, our Danish pickers were not allowed to travel to work the harvest. But like all the other chateaux, fortunately, we were able to find a solution.”
By September 16, it began raining intermittently, continuing through the harvest. While some young vines were picked earlier in September, most of the harvest took place from about the middle of September, continuing until the beginning of October.
Alexander van Beek of ChateauGiscours recalls the exacting work needed during the harvest, especially with their oldest parcels.
“We harvested parcel by parcel, taking into account the age of every single vine with some vines dating back to 1926. Today, with vintages becoming more extreme, it is essential to take the age factor into consideration when harvesting, similar to picking in Sauternes, as we went through some parcels three different times!”
For 2020, it was imperative that producers took it easy during the vinification process. 2020 was not a vintage where it was necessary to put the pedal to the metal and get as much as you could out of the wines. Instead, it was a year when vignerons needed to keep a relaxed hand during the vinifications and extractions. According to Philippe Bascaules of Chateau-Margaux, a gentle, mindful approach was needed during the vinification of 2020 Margaux.
“The quality of the grapes required precise control of the extraction of the phenolic compounds to preserve the elegance and silky textures of the tannins.”
As you can see from the wine tasting notes below, with a few exceptions, most notably, 2020 Chateau Margaux, (Which I will be tasting in April) and hopefully Malescot St. Exupery, this is a fairly complete, in-depth look at the 2020 Margaux vintage. To read reports on the 2020 Bordeaux vintage in every appellation, as well as a 2020 Bordeaux vintage summary and analysis, please see The 2020 Bordeaux Complete Guide
All of the following 2020 Margaux wines were tasted in my home office in non-blind conditions.
2020 Angludet – Margaux – Medium-bodied, elegant, floral, spicy, and fresh, with a vibrant core of currants, cedar, forest leaf, and creamy cherries. There is lift, supple textures, and ample, sweet, red fruits that linger starting in the mid-palate and continuing all the way to the finish. Drink from 2024-2040. 91 Pts
2020 dArsac – Margaux – Dried flowers, herbs, tobacco leaves, lead pencil, and cherry aromas are your initial attraction. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, fruity, forward, and fresh with a nice blast of sweet, ripe, polished cherries on the mid-palate, and in the creamy finish where you find a refreshing note of spearmint on the backend. Drink from 2023-2037. 90 Pts
2020 Brane Cantenac – Margaux – With pungent notes of flowers, tobacco leaf, blackberry liqueur, creme de cassis, smoke, and wet earthy nuances, the perfume is in full force. The fruits on the palate offer purity, elegance, lift, and silky tannins, which is a good thing, because you want as much of these gorgeous, sweet, pure, red fruits as possible. The velvet and silk finish is a treat to taste and experience. This is another stellar vintage for Brane Cantenac, an estate that has been on a non-stop roll. This is a wow wine that fans of the estate should run, not walk, and buy as for now, prices are still more than reasonable. Drink from 2025-2055. 97 Pts
2020 Brane Cantenac Baron de Brane – Margaux – Roses, smoke, spice, and red currants form the core of this forward, medium-bodied, silky-textured wine that is already showing well. The refined palate, with all of its supple, creamy red fruits hits everything just right. This is perfect to enjoy on release while waiting for the Grand Vin to develop. This is a good example of a baby Brane Cantenac. Drink from 2023-2034. 92 Pts
2020 Brane Cantenac Margaux de Brane – Margaux – Medium-bodied, fresh, soft, and fruity, with a sweetness to its core of currants, and freshness too. This is a nice, uncomplicated, sapid wine that is perfect for ordering in a bistro or cafe. This is the new 3rd wine from Brane Cantenac. 2023-2030. 89 Pts
2020 Brane Cantenac Blanc – Bordeaux – The debut vintage for this new white wine from Brane Cantenac is loaded with spicy, orange and yellow citrus, pears, green apples, and white flowers. Juicy, creamy, and with loads of chalky yellow, orange, and green citrus, Granny Smith apple with chalky tannins, this is already delicious in your glass. Drink from 2023-2028. 92 Pts
2020 Cantenac Brown – Margaux – Deep, dark, and rich, the wine is packed from start to finish with layers of lush, polished, ripe, sweet, pure, black, and dark red fruits, flowers, espresso, hints of chocolate, and oceanic influences. There is a beautiful sense of symmetry, purity, freshness, length, and lift that already expresses its essence. The finish continues with its layers of ripe, opulent, yet refined fruits. This is a top vintage for Cantenac Brown that will age gracefully for 2-3 decades. Drink from 2026-2055. 96 Pts
2020 Clos Dufourg – Margaux – Espresso, black cherries, licorice, and spicy aromatics frame the perfume. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, soft, creamy, and fresh, with ample layers of sweet, soft, black cherries, and currants in the fruity finish. Drink from 2023-2035. 89 Pts
2020 Dauzac – Margaux – Lush, plush, polished, and creamy, this gem is packed with black cherries, chocolate, espresso, blackberries, smoke, and violets. Full-bodied, long, and rich, the fruit really lingers from the mid-palate through to the finish. Drink from 2025-2050. 93 Pts
2020 Desmirail – Margaux – Earthy, silky, fresh, and floral, this has really stepped up its game after aging in barrel. Now, you find a soft, supple-textured, round, fresh, and refined wine that could be even better in the years to come. Drink from 2025-2050. 92 Pts
2020 Deyrem Valentin – Margaux – Flowers, spice, cigar box, espresso, licorice, and red fruits create a wine that is forward, plush, polished, creamy, and fruity. This is going to be simply delicious on release and over the next 15 years or so. Drink from 2023-2035. 91 Pts
2020 Ferriere – Margaux – Blackberries, currants, flowers and spice create the nose. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, soft, round and fruity, with an edge of dark cocoa and plums in the fresh , vibrant, long and resonating finish. With age, this could score even higher. The wine blends 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. 13.1% ABV. Drink from 2025-2042. 94 Pts
2020 Gallen de Chateau Meyre – Margaux – Dried flowers, red currants, and cherries show easily on the nose. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, soft, supple, and creamy, with a fruit-filled, easy-to-like finish that leaves you with a dash of chocolate mint in the finish. Drink from 2023-2032. 89 Pts
2020 Giscours – Margaux – Richly colored, the wine kicks off with an intense display of flowers, with additional nuances of tobacco leaf, earth, currants, black cherries, spice, and cigar box. The wine is silky, vibrant, sensuous, and long with layers of ripe, sweet, vibrant red, and black fruits that build in intensity. There is a beautiful purity to the fruit, symmetry on the palate, and a sexy endnote. Drink from 2026-2055. 96 Pts
2020 Giscours La Sirene de Giscours – Margaux – Cedar, black cherries, spice, and floral aromatics show in the perfume. On the palate, the wine is bright, fresh, soft, and silky. Already open, and accessible, this medium-bodied, lively wine is ready-to-go with its elegant, red berry, and cocoa-oriented finish, Enjoy this in its youth while waiting for the Grand Vin to develop. Drink from 2023-2032. 91 Pts
2020 Haut Breton Larigaudière – Margaux – Medium-bodied, forward, creamy, spicy, floral, cherry, and currant filled wine with a tobacco, and mocha edge in the finish that is going to be easy to enjoy with just a year or so in the bottle. Drink from 2024-2035. 89 Pts
2020 dIssan – Margaux – The first vintage to include 5 Bordeaux varietals in the blend starts out with violets, forest floor, spice, plums, currants, cherries, mint, and a hint of pepper on the nose. Vibrant red fruits, silky tannins, sweetness, and purity in the fruits are easy to discern on the palate. The elegant finish lingers, which is a good thing, as you are going to finish the bottle far too quickly. Tasting 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, and now 2020 over the years is going to be a lot of fun. But I warn you, it will be difficult to pick a favorite. Though, today, there is a good possibility that 2020, due to the inclusion of the new grape sources is going to be at the head of the class. Drink from 2025-2055. 95 Pts
2020 dIssan Blason d’Issan – Margaux – On the floral side of the style range with nuances of cherries, orange rind, spice, currants, and spearmint. The wine is medium-bodied, and supple, and finishes with sweet cherries on the mid-palate, and in the refined, and mildly, chalky finish. Drink from 2023-2032. 90 Pts
2020 Kirwan – Margaux – Wet earth, cocoa, mint, flowers, and spicy red fruits open the nose. On the palate, the wine is round, soft, and polished with layers of sweet, lush cherries, black currants, and plums. Fresh, and polished, this will drink well young, yet age for decades. Drink from 2024-2050. 92 Pts
2020 La Bessane – Margaux – Black cherries, smoke, and plums come through with ease here. The medium-bodied wine is soft, fresh, polished, and creamy with loads of ripe, plums, and black currants in the finish. This is new to me, and I am really liking it, so I hope to taste it again. Drink from 2024-2036. 90 Pts
2020 La Tour de Bessan – Margaux – Fresh, bright, forward wine with a lean to its tobacco, red currants, mocha, and spicy side. The wine is medium-bodied, energetic, and floral with ample, juicy red fruits, and savory herbs on the palate, and in the finish. This is a solid-value wine from the Margaux appellation. Drink from 2023-2036. 90 Pts
2020 La Tour de Mons – Margaux – Dried flowers, spice, and currants pop up in the bouquet. Medium-bodied, soft, ripe, and earthy with a core of chewy, red fruits, licorice, and chalky tannins, this is an insider’s secret wine from the ever-increasingly, expensive appellation that still sells for a very, friendly price. Savvy wine lovers should take a good look at this wine. Drink from 2023-2035. 92 Pts
2020 Labegorce – Margaux – Lush, creamy, silky, and already expressive, the wine is full-bodied, soft, and creamy with layer after layer of black cherries, plums, currants, licorice, chocolate, and a background note of espresso. Labegorce has been on fire since 2015, and I would not be surprised as the wines mature to find this to be the best vintage produced yet! Drink from 2025-2047. 94 Pts
2020 Lascombes – Margaux – Still quite oaky at the moment, so it takes a little effort to find its floral, spice, and dark cherry essence. Round in texture with a lush, opulent, albeit, oaky finish, perhaps with time, the wood will become better integrated. Drink from 2025-2045. 91 Pts
2020 Le Coteau – Margaux – Medium-bodied, fresh, early-drinking, plum, currant, and mocha-filled wine with a touch of espresso on the backend that is already drinking nicely. Drink from 2023-2036. 89 Pts
2020 Le Coteau Eucera – Margaux – The top-end wine from Le Coteau is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that has been aged in 100% new, French oak. Almost all of the oak has fully integrated into the wine, allowing you to focus on its silky, currant profile. Medium-bodied, elegant, fresh, and a bit reserved, there is freshness to fruits with nuances of tobacco leaf, and spearmint that show in the finish. Drink from 2023-2037. 91 Pts
2020 Malescot St. Exupery – Margaux – Deeply colored, the wine sports a nose of cocoa, flowers, black pit fruits, and espresso. The palate is full, rich, deep, vibrant long. The depth of fruit, length, and volume, as well as freshness attached to the fruit in the finish, is what counts here. The wine blends 49% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. 13.5% ABV. Drink from 2027-2050. 94 Pts
2020 Chateau Margaux – Margaux – It is the elegance of the wine, silkiness in the tannins and the purity in the fruits that form the character in this wine. On the palate, you find layers of sweet, refined, cherries, red plums and black raspberries tasting like they were picked at the perfect moment and eaten in the vineyard. Texturally, the wine is incredible. The fruits are velvety, creamy, fresh, long and rich. Everything is in balance and harmony. The finish is seamless giving you a wine that is effortless to taste. The wine blends 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc, 13.5% ABV, 3.68 Ph. Drink from 2030-2060. 99 Pts
2020 Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux – Margaux – Flowers, incense, cherries, and licorice aromas create the nose. Supple, fresh, and lush, with silky tannins, and layers of sweet, ripe, elegant, red berries that leave a lasting impression. The end note is fresh, balanced, long, and pure. The wine was made by blending 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Drink from 2023-2045. 95 Pts
2020 Marojallia – Margaux – Dried flowers, incense, spice, espresso, and black currants show in the nose. On the palate, the wine is round, supple, creamy, polished, and forward with a finish packed with black, and red currants, and chocolate. Drink from 2024-2045. 92 Pts
2020 Marojallia Clos Margalaine – Margaux – Espresso, chocolate, and cherry notes open the wine. On the palate, you find loads of supple, polished, creamy, red fruits, cocoa, and coffee bean. The wine exchanges complexity for pleasure, and it works, because this is probably the best vintage Clos Margalaine I recall, ever tasting., and, you can drink this with pleasure on release. Drink from 2023-2032. 90 Pts
2020 Marquis dAlesme – Margaux – Lilacs, roses, licorice, espresso, spice, and wild cherries, along with a hint of tobacco leaf shoot from the glass. On the palate, the wine is supple, creamy, polished, and generous, and the fruit is full-bodied, fresh, and rich, leaving you with layers of perfectly ripe, plums, cherries, and a touch of chocolate that comes in at the end. Drink from 2024-2050. 95 Pts
2020 Marquis de Terme – Margaux – Licorice, black cherries, blackberries, cocoa, crushed rocks, and violets pop in the nose. On the palate, the wine is silky, plush, and creamy, with a wealth of lusciously-textured black, and red fruits, and a touch of spicy chocolate that holds with you from the mid-palate, all the way through to the finish. Drink from 2025-2050. 94 Pts
2020 Marquis de Terme Cuvee 1762 – Margaux – Flowers, cherries, and licorice open the wine before you get to its medium-bodied, soft, silky core of polished, sweet, ripe, cherries, strawberries, and black raspberries with just a touch of spice that comes in at the end. You can enjoy this with pleasure on release. Drink from 2023-2032. 90 Pts
2020 Moutte Blanc – Margaux – Dried flowers, cherries, and licorice create the perfume for this medium-bodied, soft, fresh, red plum-filled wine. Texturally, this is soft, but a bit light in the fruity, easy-to-drink, mildly-spiced, vibrant finish. Drink from 2023-2030. 88 Pts
2020 Palmer – Margaux – Violets, lilacs, and roses covet their spot in the perfume before you find all of its black, and red cherries, black currants, blackberries, cigar wrapper, and earthy notes. While the perfume is intoxicating, it is on the palate where the magic happens due to its silky, sexy textures, and layers of pure, sweet, ripe, delicate, yet concentrated layers of fruit. The tannins are the text-book description of refined, leaving you with a seamless finish showcasing its purity, and sensuality for over 50 seconds. I have a sneaking suspicion that with time, my score is going to rise, as it feels like there is a lot more going on here that is still holding in reserve. Drink from 2027-2065. 98 Pts
2020 Palmer Alter Ego de Palmer – Margaux – Just a superb wine that showcases its elegant style with ease. Initially, you find a floral bouquet of purple, white, and red flowers before moving on to its wealth of ripe, deep, dark red fruits, spice, earth, and kirsch. Refined, silky, fresh, and long, the graceful finish is already a treat in your glass. If a reclassification were ever considered, this would rank quite high. You can enjoy this just about on release, or age it for 2 decades. Drink from 2024-2044. 94 Pts
2020 Paveil de Luze – Margaux – Flowers, cherries, espresso, and blackberries crowd the nose. The wine is medium-bodied, polished, soft, and fresh with an elegant finish consisting of creamy, silky, lively, black, and red pit fruits, chalk, and dark cocoa that shines through on the backend. This can be enjoyed young, but it can age for up to two decades as well. Drink from 2025-2040. 92 Pts
2020 Paveil de Luze Blanc – Bordeaux – Grapefruit, orange rind and flowers form the core of this forward, creamy wine. The finish is all about its blend of yellow, and green apples with pears and lemon rind. You can enjoy this over the next few years. Drink from 2023-2027. 89 Pts
2020 Prieure-Lichine – Margaux – Flowers, dark, red pit fruits, mint, and just a hint of chocolate create the perfume. The wine is silky, fresh, plush, and polished with an elegant, vibrant finish that does not want to quit. This is already stellar in your glass, and with some time in the cellar, it is only going to get better with age. Drink from 2024-2047. 94 Pts
2020 Rauzan Segla – Margaux – The complex perfume stands out with its array of flowers, cinnamon, currants, cherries, cigar box, and a touch of tobacco. The wine is full-bodied, deep, sensuous, silky, and yes, sexy, finishing with a wealth of expansive fruit, espresso, and dark cocoa that holds our focus for over 50 seconds. Drink from 2027-2060. 98 Pts
2020 Segla – Margaux – Silky, vibrant, supple, and fresh, this is exactly the right wine to order in a bistro or café, if you are looking for an elegant, refined, soft, creamy wine packed with sweet, ripe, polished cherries, and plums that feels as good as it tastes. Plus, this is already drinking beautifully. Drink from 2023-2038. 91 Pts
2020 Rauzan-Gassies – Margaux – Plums, cherries, chocolate, and flowers emerge with no effort. Silky, fresh, soft, and polished, this is what Margaux elegance is all about. There is length, vibrance, and purity in the fruits that linger in the long, refined, polished finish. As I wrote in my barrel tasting notes, clearly, this is a big step up from previous vintages. You must go back to 1928 to taste a wine from Rauzan Gassies this good. Drink from 2024-2050. 93 Pts
2020 Siran – Margaux – The complex nose opens with espresso, spice, smoke, mint leaves, and an array of red pit fruits. The palate experience is even better with its layers of creamy, fresh, sweet, luscious fruits, silky tannins, and a touch of chocolate, and spice that kicks in at the end of the long finish. Give this a year or two in the cellar, and enjoy it over the following 2 decades. Siran is the best deal in high-quality wine in the Margaux appellation today. Drink from 2024-2050. 93 Pts
2020 Tayac – Margaux – Tobacco, blackberry, currants, and herbs create the nose. The wine is medium-bodied, soft, round, and polished, with a creamy, black currant, filled finish, and endnote. This is already delicious in your glass. Drink from 2023-2037. 91 Pts
2020 Tayac Or Norme – Margaux – Dried flowers, chocolate, cherries, and Indian spices create the perfume. On the palate, the wine is fresh, medium-bodied, lush, dusty, and lively, with layers of spicy red currants, black cherries, salty chocolate, cinnamon, and a tiny hit of turmeric that only comes in on the backend of the finish. The wine is made from an interesting blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Petit Verdot, and 20% Merlot. Drink from 2023-2040. 91 Pts
2020 du Tertre – Margaux – Cedar, spice, forest leaf, and dark red fruits appear on the nose. From there you find sweet, ripe, chewy, red fruits that meld into an herb, olive, and crisp, red berry finish. Drink from 2025-2045. 91 Pts
2020 du Tertre Les Haut – Margaux – Tobacco, cherries, and flower notes come through easily in the perfume, and in the medium-bodied, fresh, savory-edged palate. Drink from 2023-2029. 88 Pts
2020 du Tertre Blanc – Vin de France – Flowers, orange rind, white peach, and vanilla notes come through the nose easily. On the palate, the wine is sweet, juicy, and fresh, leaving you with loads of luscious, white peaches, tangerine, honey, lemon rind, and vanilla. The wine was vinified in stainless steel and barrel and aged in 100% new, French oak barrels. Drink from 2023-2027. 90 Pts
With almost 950 wines from the 2020 Bordeaux vintage tasted, we are almost at the conclusion of our report. With only one more article to go, we will end our series of articles with our final report from 2020 Bordeaux which reviews 2020 Pauillac Wines
It is hard to believe, but it is only 2 weeks to go until I am back in Bordeaux to taste the 2022 vintage. I am ready. Let’s go!!!