Highly successful Pontet, one of the few Pauillacs that, for me, overperforms on its 2019. Inky purple with ruby reflections in colour. Lots of firm but upright tannins, a good dollop of graphite, pencil lead and cassis bud, there is depth through the mid palate shot through with wild blackberry, hawthorn, sage, rosemary and wild mint. It has personality, and is a little old school in the best possible way. Recommended. They have avoided the over-concentrated feel of some Pauillacs in the vintage, while remaining true to the appellation. 4% Petit Verdot completes the blend, 50% new oak 35% amphoras, 15% one-year barrels. First full vintage for Mathieu Bessonnet who replaced the previous long-term director Jean-Michel Comme in 2020. 100% first wine, as it has been for the past four years. 45% will be aged in new oak barrels, 15% one year, 40% in amphoras. The mildew pressure was stressful in the early part of the year, but they had learnt from 2018, and brought in the manpower to get around the whole vineyard in a (very long) day, so their yields ended up being close to normal.
Anticipated maturity: 2028-2052
The 2020 Pontet-Canet is captivating effort from the Tesseron family. The intensely perfumed, savory bouquet is immediately alluring. Deep and substantial, the 2020 is luxuriously rich from start to finish. Swaths of incisive tannin wrap around a core of dark red cherry fruit, gravel, dried herbs and rose petal, and a whole range of floral and savory accents lend aromatic presence. The Pontet-Canet is often a charmer en primeur, but the 2020 comes across as quite serious. I can’t wait to see how it develops. As always, one of the signatures of Pontet-Canet is a high proportion of Merlot vis-à-vis its peers among top Left Bank châteaux that lends tremendous midpalate weight. In 2020 production is within historical norms. Mildew pressure was high, but not as severe as in 2018, when two-thirds of the crop was lost in a single day. Harvest took place September 14–30, a bit more of a compact time frame than normal, and a good 7–10 days earlier than is typically the case. Aged in 50% new oak, 35% amphora and 15% once-used barrels.
Anticipated maturity: 2035-2060
Robert Parker 97
The 2020 Pontet-Canet is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot, aging in 50% new French oak barriques, 35% concrete amphorae and 15% in one-year-old barrels. Harvest began on the 14th September for the Merlot, and the final lot of Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested on 30th September. Opaque purple-black in color, it needs significant aeration and swirling to coax out evocative notes of black cherry preserves, raspberry pie, blackcurrant pastilles and damp soil, before launching into gorgeous floral and spice notions of red roses, cinnamon stick, star anise and cardamom, with a waft of crushed rocks. The medium to full-bodied palate reveals a lot of depth and polish, delivering mouth-coating red and black fruits with loads of fragrant earth and floral sparks, framed by velvety tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long and mineral tinged. This is a singular, fascinating expression of the vintage and highly recommended!
Anticipated maturity: 2026-2056
James Suckling 98-99
This is integrated, with superb density and beauty, offering blackcurrant, mineral and some bark. Full-bodied, yet so polished and refined. Crushed stone. Lots of expression and texture to this wine. Creamy. Pure and precise. Elegant, yet layered. Slightly plusher than the 2019. Dense, yet agile. Fresh as always. 60% cabernet sauvignon, 32% merlot, 4% cabernet franc and 4% petit verdot. 50% new oak 15% old oak and 35% concrete amphorae.