by Lara Victoria

All in all, the 2020 vintage is one you don’t want to pass up. It is a time capsule for an extraordinary year…

F all ushers in an unmistakeable air of excitement at BCLIQUOR as wine lovers anticipate the much- celebrated annual Bordeaux Release. The spotlight this year is on the 2020 vintage. Before we explore the features of this vintage, let’s first establish what a “vintage” means to classic wines like Bordeaux. A vintage often summons images of bustling vineyards with bins of harvested grapes set amongst rows of vines kissed in shades of fall colours. The fact is, there is more to a vintage than harvest. The wines produced each year from that season’s grapes are an expression of many details viticulturists manage throughout a vine’s growing season. This is why winemakers often claim that wines are made not in wineries, but in the vineyard. Each growing season has its challenges. Too much rain can dilute the complexity of the grapes. If conditions remain damp after the rain, undesired mould can become a threat in addition to other pests and diseases. Extreme heat can speed up ripening, reducing acid levels. Too little sun and the fruit cannot ripen adequately, reducing sugar levels necessary for alcohol content in the wine. The 2020 growing season threw in an additional challenge. As bud break happened across wineries in the northern hemisphere, the onset of the COVID-19

pandemic around mid-March brought panic and uncertainty and mandated social distancing, which disrupted workforces globally. Very few people could work on vineyards, leaving the vintage mostly to Mother Nature’s care. In Bordeaux, a mild winter triggered early vine activity that was nurtured by a wet spring. The first part of the summer was notably warm and dry, allowing for favourable growing conditions. Intense rain in late summer caused considerable yield loss in some parts of the Bordeaux region but brought much- needed drought relief to vineyards in other parts. Interestingly, since the vine cycle started early in 2020, the grapes were ready for picking early too. This timing was extremely fortunate since October received substantial rainfall and the harvest was mostly done by then. Mildew and drought-affected vines reduced Bordeaux’s 2020 yields, but the quality was significant. The dry spell produced smaller berries with tremendous fruit concentration for rich, intense wines. Smaller berries also mean a higher skin-to-juice ratio, which adds to the phenolic structure of the wine, enhancing its cellar-worthiness. With pandemic-enforced reduced human intervention, this vintage reveals

the true “nature” of 2020. It also makes this vintage more interesting because nature’s influence on the regional expressions of Bordeaux’s renowned terroir diversity is more prominent. Experts use words like “sublime,” “stellar” and “seductively silky” to describe this vintage. It has produced harmoniously balanced wines with tremendous complexity, bright and fresh acidity and texturally integrated tannins in many cases. Barbara Philip, Master of Wine, category manager for European wines at BCLIQUOR, has curated a healthy selection of 2020 Bordeaux wines to suit all palates and price points. She says, “It is another truly great and accessible vintage with ripe, complex wines at a range of prices. I am excited to taste how they have developed while aging in their barrels in Bordeaux.” This year’s Bordeaux Release will feature wines that are ready to enjoy now as well as bottles that will age for decades. All in all, the 2020 vintage is one you don’t want to pass up. It is a time capsule for an extraordinary year, and it offers us a taste of what Bordeaux produces when nature takes the lead in rearing a wine. Wouldn’t you say that’s worth raising a glass to?



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