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2020 Troplong Mondot

A decade or so ago Saint Emilion was the lost boy of Bordeaux.  With the retirement of Robert Parker the extracted fruitbombs that would seduce his palate and garner his big scores became less popular, and some might say that a number of winemakers and/or proprietors didn’t quite know what style of wine they wanted to make.

These days, however, the appellation is arguably the most exciting in all of Bordeaux, with many properties both finding their style and improving in terms of outright quality. Two shining examples of this would be châteaux Canon and Figeac, which can both now compete with the very best of Saint Emilion following substantial investment and inspired, rather than excessive, work in the winery. The most drastic – and speedy - turnaround, though, has to be that of Troplong Mondot.

Troplong Mondot has a magnificent, and unique, terroir. It sits at the top of the hill with un-eroded ancient clays, gently sloping to varied soil types at a range of altitudes that allow fruit to ripen at different times and in different ways. In the right hands it offers the opportunity to make truly great Bordeaux, though for much of the past two decades the wines here were ripe, inky, high-alcohol and fully-extracted: a style that some critics, notably Robert Parker, adored though was just too much for many.

In 2017 Troplong Mondot was sold to French reinsurance company SCOR group, who took no time at all in poaching Aymeric de Gironde from Cos d’Estournel and appointing him CEO. Aymeric – the man behind the near-perfect 2016 Cos d’Estournel, was equally rapid in getting to work at Troplong.  Turning a château around can take decades; Aymeric de Gironde arguably managed to turn Troplong Mondot round inside three vintages: the 2019 was the first true expression of the changes he made, the 2020 that followed it was the vintage that crowned his achievement.

Decanter’s Georgina Hindle scores the wine a full 100 points “A sensational Troplong”.  The Wine Advocate’s William Kelley rates it 98+ “one of the Right Bank's finest wines in this vintage” .. “remarkably pure and seamless”..“With the 2020 vintage, this estate's stylistic redemption appears to be complete”.

We have magnums and bottles available.  At £900/6 magnums or £880/12 bottles this is a deal not only in that it is comfortably less expensive than the grandest names of Saint Emilion (Kelley scores it higher than both Cheval Blanc and Ausone in 2020), it is also less expensive than the most recent release – 2022 - the pricing of which shows the justified ambition of the current ownership.

A sensational Troplong. Vibrant and vivid, this makes you smile from the first smell: milk chocolate, floral notes of roses and lavender, wet stones, liquorice, cinnamon and ripe bramble fruits. Round and thrilling on the palate, tannins are abundant with a chalky blueberry coolness while a salty tang settles around the mouth. Lovely precision and purity of fruit; you feel the sharp definition - still linear which makes it less immediately charming than the 2019 but giving undeniable complexity. Deep but not heady, this remains pure and detailed, with a leanness from the terroir really setting this apart. After a few minutes, the glamour starts to appear giving a salivating, succulent and moreish aspect to the finish. An absolute beauty.

Georgina Hindle, Decanter.com, January 2023

The 2020 Troplong Mondot may prove to be even better than the brilliant 2019, and it is one of the Right Bank's finest wines in this vintage. Unwinding in the glass with deep aromas of mulberries, blackberries and red cherries mingled with hints of rose petal, licorice and exotic spices, it's medium to full-bodied, deep and layered, with a satiny attack that segues into a vibrant, polished mid-palate, concluding with a long, resonant finish. Having seen only 65% new oak and with malolactic fermentation completed in tank rather than in barrel, it's remarkably pure and seamless. With the 2020 vintage, this estate's stylistic redemption appears to be complete. Drink 2027-2060.

William Kelley, Wine Advocate, April 2023

A blend of 85% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Cabernet Franc, the 2020 Troplong Mondot is deep garnet-purple in color. It needs a swirl or two to release a profound nose of plum preserves, juicy blueberries, and chocolate-covered cherries, giving way to hints of violets, black truffles, fertile loam, and tar, with a waft of licorice. The full-bodied palate shimmers with energy, delivering tightly wound layers of black fruits, floral notes and mineral layers, framed by very fine-grained tannins and a lively backbone, finishing long and minerally. So very fresh and bright - it needs time, but is already a temptress.

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Independent, March 2023

The 2020 Troplong Mondot has a limpid dark hue. The bouquet is intense with black cherries, red plum, Earl Grey and very subtle floral scents, a mixture of peony and violet. The palate is medium-bodied with very pliant tannins, fine acidity, taut and fresh. With moderate depth, this Troplong possesses impressive salinity, a little powdery texture towards the finish, with a gentle but insistent grip. Black fruit dominates here, chalky and terroir-driven, so you can feel the terroir tingling on the aftertaste. Quite a "serious" Saint-Émilion, it will require half a dozen or so years to show what it is capable of. NB A decanted bottle had more "pixelation" on the finish. Drink 2027-2050.

Neal Martin, vinous.com, February 2023

Tasted blind at the Southwold Group 2020 tasting. Bright purple with a red hue in the glass. The nose is already complex and alluring, with jewel-like blue and red fruit offset by notes of iron filings, rosemary and wood smoke. The palate has the same blend, together with hints of cured meat and more graphite-edged Cabernet Franc tones. Tightly wound, this needs time in bottle and will only hit its stride at a decade old. Pithy, fine tannins are persistent but carefully judged, this is not a wine led by extraction. Almost airy in its fruit quality on the finish, the notes are of redolent red flowers and a lick of kirsch, tempered by that lingering note of iron and rosemary. Full of potential.

Thomas Parker MW, Farr Vintners (Southwold), February 2024

A soft and round red with plum and milk chocolate. Hazelnuts. Full-bodied and layered. Juicy. Hints of sea salt. Power is there. Turns firm and vivid. So attractive now. Savory. Needs three to four years to open. Drink after 2027.

James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, May 2023

Inky in colour, this is utterly gorgeous, so much purity and definition on the nose. Things start out intense, with crushing tannins, then it steps up and back, with a delicate but juicy slate and crushed rock minerality flooding in. Great physicality, with a push and pull that goes from power to lightness of touch. I assume it will gain a little more weight over ageing, but this is exceptionally well controlled. Crushed blackcurrant and blackberry fruits, with chalky tannins and savoury Cabernet florals. 60% new oak. 3.53pH. The new cellar will be used for vinification from the 2021 vintage, with this vintage aged in the new barrel cellars. No malolactic fermentation in barrel since the 2019 vintage. Just 2mm of rain in July and 30mm in August but the deep clay-limestones at Troplong kept their freshness, and there were no blockages in ripening. Thomas Duclos consultant. 2028 - 2044

Jane Anson, Decanter.com, May 2021

85% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc. Cask sample. Aromatically a little awkward at present (oak and a bit of oxidation?) but palate clearly defined with crunchy fruit, suave texture and chalky freshness. Impressive structure of finely crafted tannins and a real sense of terroir displayed. Definite potential. (JL) Drink 2028 – 2040

James Lawther MW, JancisRobinson.com, April 2021