Bordeaux En Primeur 2018: Part Two
Monday, April 15, 2019 in News
A vintage report for Bordeaux En Primeur 2018 by Andrew Caillard MW.
2018 is an exceptional year. The Bordeaux whites and Sauternes are very good, but from an Australian perspective, the excitement is all in the red wines. All subregions produced examples of really good wines, but some performed better than others. Generally, the very top estates made exemplary wines illustrating that the human factor and wealth can have a major impact on terroir!
Pauillac and Saint-Julien
In my opinion, the strongest subregions are Pauillac and Saint-Julien – which have both produced wines of great consistency and classicism. They are powerfully expressive with pronounced ripe tannins and pure fruit flavours. The combination of better micro-climatic conditions, wealth and physical resources helped with the result. Ch Pontet-Canet is an outlier because of its approach to biodynamic viticulture. It suffered terribly from mildew and has produced only a third of the crop. The wine is markedly different from wines like Ch Latour or Ch Pichon Lalande, but its overall buoyancy and richness of fruit is compelling. It also stands for something that is worthwhile and important.
I always think of Pauillac as being the reference for Bordeaux. Typically the wines are extremely expressive with pure cassis cedar aromas and fine grainy tannins. This year the wines are particularly dense and inky with plentiful graphite tannins. They are not at all sinewy or soupy and hence when the tannins settle down the wines will be exceptional.
There are many outstanding wines from Pauillac including Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Ch Pichon Longueville Baron, Ch Lynch Bages, Ch Batailley, Ch d’Armailhac and Ch Grand Puy Lacoste. The first growths Ch Latour, Ch Mouton Rothschild and Ch Lafite Rothschild are very impressive. Their second wines Les Forts de Latour, Petit Mouton and Carruades are also of very high quality.
Neighbouring Saint-Julien has also performed very well. Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou and Ch Léoville-Las Cases probably lead the pack but Ch Léoville Barton, Ch Léoville Poyferré, Ch Gruaud-Larose, Ch Talbot and Clos du Marquis are all exceptionally well-made wines
Saint-Estèphe is variable. Some estates controlled the volume and consistency of tannin very well and made classical wines. These include Cos d’Estournel, Ch Montrose, Ch Tronquoy-Lalande, Ch Phélan Ségur and Ch Calon Ségur. Other examples were, in my opinion, excessively brutish in structure. For those willing to keep the wines for a decade or two, many of them will eventually come around.
Margaux is also variable and does not always have the density of fruit to go with the tannins. Yet one of my favourite wines of the vintage is Ch Palmer which is magical. In fact I think it is the wine of the vintage. Ch Prieuré Lichine, Brane-Cantenac, Giscours and Marquis de Terme were all good. Ch Margaux and Pavillon Rouge were of course well above the average.
Subregions Moulis, Listrac and Haut Medoc wines are all over the place yet there are some genuine highlights including Esmond de Rothschild’s Ch Clarke, Ch Cantemerle and Ch Beaumont.
Graves and Pessac Leognan have produced wines of varying quality yet again the very top Châteaux including Ch Haut Bailly, Ch La Mission Haut Brion and Ch Haut Brion have made impressive grand vins. Ch Smith Haut Lafitte has really moved up the hustings and has made a really good wine this year.