April 2nd 2019
First day of Bordeaux En Primeur 2018 and the collective impression was one of intrigue for this vintage. We had heard early hype from the global media and various posts on social media so our interest was certainly piqued for this coming week.
We started the day at Château Latour in Paulliac, a personal favourite of mine. Out of the formal En Primeur system, but Latour is always a must. The Forts de Latour was lovely, a very fresh start to the vintage with bright and vibrant fruit. The Grand Vin was brooding and intense, but very controlled in terms of structure and balance despite having 14% alcohol.
Next up were the Pichon siblings. First off was Pichon Lalande, a treasured childhood favourite of mine. As with the 2017, I struggled to spit the Reserve de La Comtesse which was incredibly charming and will be excellent for at home consumption a couple years after being bottled. The Grand Vin was classically Pichon Lalande in style, full bodied, well balanced, and lots of crunchy juicy tannins. The Pichon Lalande team shared they had some issues during the growing season but were very lucky and happy with the end result.
Joining us at Pichon Baron was Christian Seely, who provided us with a full show of their range. They had a nightmare start – mildew in the vineyards but they managed to overcome the initial difficulties and the rest of the growing season was perfect. Overall, they had slightly higher alcohols across the board, with an astonishing Merlot quality adding an extra dimension to the wines compared to the 2016s. The Grand Vin was a ripper – one of my favourites of the day. Juicy, lush, open nose, long and seamless, this was firing on all cylinders.
The Mouton Rothschild stable have been producing some excellent wines in recent years. Clerc Milon 2018 is to Managing Director Philippe Dhalluin “the best wine we have made in the last 15 years. It improves year on year in terms of complexity and the refinement of tannins.” I cannot echo this enough, the wine was outstanding. The Grand Vin always holds a special place for me – it was very juicy but held a freshness and lift on the palate I had not tasted before. Epic.
Following Mouton we headed to Pontet Canet for lunch – the legendary cheese tables were a welcome site for lunch! I may or may not have had two plates… After lunch we drove north to Lafite Rothschild and were greeted with a lovely trio of wines. First up the Carruades, for long term fans, this is right up your alley. I have found that Duhart Milon has improved a lot in recent years, and the 2018 did not disappoint – vibrant fruit, crunchy & elegant tannins, a very well made wine. The Grand Vin was one of my favourites in recent years. Everything worked, very open, juicy, complex yet incredibly approachable at the same time.
We then moved North to St Estèphe with a start at Ormes de Pez together with the Cazes family stable. Lynch Bages is a beast, and will go the distance in terms of ageing.
Heading to Cos d’Estournel, we were introduced to the newly launched Pagodes de Cos Blanc, a wine that is more mineral and closer in style to a Sancerre with 93% Sauvignon Blanc compared to the Cos d’Estournel Blanc which was gorgeous in this vintage. On the red side, Pagodes was juicy, fresh and delicious. The Grand Vin was very pure, with nicely integrated chewy tannins. A winning pair from this Chateau.
Heading to Montrose, we began to see some rain. The Grand Vin was a solid and pure wine that was very well structured and concentrated and to me, so yummy. Managing Director Hervé Berland said this is a hypothetical blend of 2009 and 2016, and I completely agree!
Our final visit of the day was at a Goedhuis favourite, Calon Ségur. This was such a pleasure to finish on. The sun was not out, yet the trio of wines Château Capbern, Le Marquis de Calon and finally Château Calon Ségur, all held the similar line of delicious fruit freshness and sweet spice that made this so hard to spit. Any of these wines would be a delicious addition to your cellars!
A fabulous first day looking at what is undoubtedly a very fine vintage, we are all very excited to see what the other appellations have to offer us over the next few days.