The wines recommended in our brochure are listed below with our tasting notes and scores. The major critics' notes and scores will also be added as they are published.
As wines are released onto the market they appear in the top section of the list, and their release dates and prices will be updated. You can check availability and buy online from our list of released wines, but we will also be able to source many wines on request so do get in touch.
The recent change in ownership to the Moulin and Cathiard families and considerable investment see this property entering a new era. A really cracking example of Pomerol. A classical blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc, this has the sweet unctuous generosity of dark berry fruits one expects from a fine Pomerol. The tannins are beautifully silky and there is an appealing line of freshness that flows through the palate. A superb wine, with a long and complex finish.
Viticulture at Beauregard is organic, as at the sister property Smith Haut Lafitte, but Beauregard only lost about 15% of the crop to mildew. Composed of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc, the deep garnet-purple colored 2018 Beauregard develops slowly to reveal a core of blackberry compote, plum preserves and blueberry pie with touches of smoked meats, tobacco, baking spices, yeast extract and fragrant earth. Full, rich, velvety and packed with rich, expressive black fruit preserves, it has plenty of freshness, finishing long and spicy.
Very pretty and refined with a lovely core of ripe fruit and chocolate. Hints of cedar. Medium body, fine tannins and a juicy finish.
Beauregard is very pretty and accessible in 2018. Medium in body and quite expressive, the 2018 offers a lovely combination of rich dark fruit allied with just enough structure to give the wine energy while remaining quite supple in feel. Hints of leather, smoke, licorice and lavender add shades of nuance to a core of inky blue/purplish fruit in this easygoing, inviting Pomerol. The blend is 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc, with the Franc adding quite a bit of aromatic depth and supporting structure. It will be interesting to see if the team at Smith Haut Lafitte can take Beauregard to the next level. Tasted three times.
There is lots of density here but it shows a lovely supple side to the fruits with intense damson and black cherry alongside swirls of chocolate and a patisserie choux bun touch of gentle creaminess. A good job, and a wine that’s easy to approach with a build through the palate joined by layers of tannins that are a little deceptive. 3.77pH. Drinking Window 2026 - 2038
A fresh and lively Beauregard with some bitterness on the finish but this balances the exuberance of the fruit. I find the oak a little too hard, but there is a lot of depth here so it will find equilibrium relatively early in its life.
The white gravel stones of Cantenac-Brown have aided the Cabernet Sauvignon (69%) and Merlot (28%) to a maximum. They have allowed the vines to preserve freshness in the grapes and there is no sign of any hydric stress. A direct and intense style, with a scented nose of elderberries and blackcurrants. Bright and lively, with a hint of crunchy fruit tannins, but the lovely sweetness of black fruit sits beautifully at its core, making sure that this is a wine with real potential.
The 2018 Brane-Cantenac is deep garnet-purple in color and delivers expressive black cherry compote, blueberry coulis and crème de cassis scents with suggestions of cigar box, Provence herbs and lavender. Full-bodied with mouth-filling, rich black fruit preserves, it has a velvety texture and a long, perfumed finish.
Darkest core with barely a rim. Prettily scented, reminding me, along with Angludet just tasted, of the aromatic distinctiveness of classic Margaux. A bit dry and slim on the palate but the tannins have been gently handled and there’s freshness to finish. Drink 2024-2032
What strikes me about this Brane-Cantenac is the gorgeous center palate of ripe fruit, which gives an impression of generosity, yet it’s tight and reserved at the same time. Fine and polished tannins follow on and drive this gorgeous fruit.
The 2018 Brane-Cantenac captures all of the natural richness of the year. Ample, creamy and resonant, the 2018 offers quite a bit of intensity while retaining its mid-weight sense of structure. Dark red cherry, mint, spice, and dried rose petals are some of the signatures. Even with its obvious volume the 2018 retains lovely aromatic freshness and nuance. The 2018 is an especially juicy, open-knit Brane-Cantenac. Grilled herbs, menthol, spice and anise add an attractive upper-register to the perfumed finish. The blend is 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.
This is a serious wine, with well constructed walls and floor, but it's full of life too, with brambled, succulent and generously-extracted fruit on the nose. It has less immediate charm than some in the appellation and will take a while to come round, but it has clear ageing ability and is one to savour. You feel the precision and confidence in how it presents itself. 1% Petit Verdot makes up the blend - there was no Carmenère in the grand vin in 2018. 45hl/ha yield. 70% new oak. Drinking Window 2027 - 2042
This is yet another superb Brane-Cantenac and the fruit is clean, ripe and smooth and it is not too overblown or heavy. There is delicious intensity here and the tannins are wonderfully mouth-watering and complete. I would not hesitate to recommend this wine not least because it will surely drink early and hold well, too. The only problem I have with it is that the blend that I noted down only adds up to 99%!
An absolute beauty expressing the very unique clay limestone terroir of this wonderful property. They have capitalised on the very best aspects of the climatic conditions in 2018. Lovely bright blueberry aromas. This is joyous, exciting and full of energy. This wine embodies total harmony between fruit, alcohol, tannins and freshness. Everything is in complete balance, with no one aspect dominating another. At 42 hl/ha, this is a fine example of where higher yielding vineyards have excelled in the vintage.
The 2018 Canon is blended of 72% Merlot and 28% Cabernet Franc, with a pH of 3.69 and 14% alcohol. Deep purple-black in color, it comes sashaying out of the glass with glamorous notes of cinnamon stick, baked blackberries, black cherry compote and licorice plus an undercurrent of plum preserves and smoked meats and, with coaxing, reveals a lovely floral signature of candied violets and red roses. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is wonderfully soft-spoken, whispering of fragrant floral and earthy scents beneath a core of profound, mouth-coating black and blue fruits, draped in a high level of super ripe, plush tannins, finishing with amazing freshness and perfume with loads of mineral sparks emerging.
Deep purple with bright rim. Lovely Cabernet Franc fragrance of stony/mineral pure black fruit, both restrained in character and yet aromatic. Juicy and fresh on the palate, full of energy and great finesse in the tannins. Dark, refined beauty with a tiny hint of dark chocolate on the finish. Great persistence and cool subtlety. So fresh and juicy, pure and precise. Lightly chalky tannins on the finish, no sign of the alcohol and the tannins have an underlying power. 'Les tannins reactifs', as technical director Nicolas Audebert calls them (I didn't know what he meant either), give a mouth-watering finish. Silky freshness and elegance. Drink 2025-2038
Features a gorgeous core of plum and black currant fruit, deeply inlaid with tobacco notes and chalky minerality. Everything melds wonderfully through the finish, which is refined in feel.
This is a dense and focused Canon with beautiful blackberry, almond and hazelnut character. Vivid and lifted. It’s compact and complete with tannins that melt into the center palate and then build at the end. Full-bodied yet reserved and driven. A superb and focused wine. Classy all the way. New 1955?
The 2018 Canon bristles with energy, tension and explosive, vertical lift. Dark, powerful and full of personality, Canon is magnificent in 2018. Time in the glass brings out a range of dark fruit, mineral, floral and saline notes, but readers will have to be patient in order to enjoy the 2018 at its fullest splendor. Most importantly, I am blown away by how much precision and persistence there is given the wine's concentration and overall richness. The 2018 Canon is magnificent. That's pretty much all there is to it. The blend is 72% Merlot and 28% Cabernet Sauvignon. Technical Director Nicolas Audebert added that he and his team left more leaf cover to protect the fruit from the extreme heat and dryness of the summer. Once in the cellar, extractions were done as gently as possible, Audebert explained. Tasted four times.
Pretty closed up right now, this is full of latent energy. It's extremely powerful and precise, with poise and tension but also with generosity and density, yet it errs on the side of not giving much away rather than giving too much. You have to give it time in the glass for those cool blueberry, bilberry and tightly spiced notes to come to the fore. The stunning texture is clear but the aromatics take their time. This is a wine that carries its finesse with great skill, and they have done a brilliant job of allowing this aspect to shine amongst the heat of the vintage, allowing the density to inch deeper with every minute in the glass. This wine just gets better and better, Harvest ran from 7 September to 9 October, the longest ever here, with no pressure of rot. 42hl/ha yield. Thomas Duclos consults. Drinking Window 2027 - 2043
A very detailed Canon with super-ripe fruit but also flashes of greenness and beautiful complexity, too. The oak is under control and the length is minutes long. Concentrated and also quite closed right now, this will open beautifully over 20-30 years and I expect it to gather pace as it goes.
The 2018 Cantenac Brown is deep garnet-purple in color and a little coy to begin and then, with coaxing, opens out to lovely red roses, black tea, violets and underbrush scents with a core of warm red and black currants and chocolate-covered cherries. Full-bodied and laden with perfumed red and black fruit layers, it has a firm frame of fine-grained tannins and a long, fragrant finish.
Deepest black-cherry colour. Sweet small black berries, blackcurrant and elderberry. Pretty chewy on the palate, the freshness accentuating the tannins at the moment but the components are well matched if not yet integrated. Drink 2025-2032
Winey and dark in profile, with steeped currant, plum and blackberry fruit, buttressed by ganache, smoldering tobacco and warm earth notes. Accents of bay leaf, alder and mineral are in reserve. Delivers a beguiling feel despite the concentration. A very strong showing.
This CB has an extremely energetic palate with beautiful elegance and power. Pure and bright. Really lively. Firm and chewy tannins.
The 2018 Cantenac Brown is powerful, deep and super expressive, with striking persistence and terrific overall balance. The interplay of fruit intensity, aromatic depth and structure is compelling. In the 2018, the Grand Vin has a bit more Cabernet Sauvignon than in the past, plus drops of Franc, that give an added touch of energy. There is plenty of density and richness, but my impression is that the wine is also a bit less extracted than it has been in the recent past. The blend is 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc. Tasted three times.
This is delicious, silky in texture and filled with luscious black fruits, exotic spiced liquorice and sweet blackberry. Touches of grilled cedar and just a trace of heat appear at the final furlong, along with a hint of menthol. The tannins close their fist around the fruit, reflecting the small berry size in the Cabernets, the percentage of which is slightly up this year as new plantings have come on line. It's an impressive construction, a little less elegant than the 2016 but with a ton of personality and a sense of bursting out of its borders, not yet fully tamed - and hugely appealing as a result. 60% new oak barrels. Harvested 18 September to 11 October. Drinking Window 2027 - 2042
A glorious Domaine de Chevalier Blanc. Bright and lively lemon and lime aromas, with hints of nectarine. This has drive, energy and intensity which then gives way to a glorious breadth of volume. Beautifully textured, the floral delicacy evolves in the palate, with characters of chamomile, jasmine and hints of freshly cut pineapple. Completely balanced, this is a great wine in the making.
The Domaine de Chevalier 2018 Blanc, a blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon, slowly reveals beguiling scents of lemongrass, lime leaves, fresh grapefruit, allspice and ginger with a core of fresh lemon and grapefruit. Medium to full-bodied, the palate delivers bold citrus and spice layers with fantastic tension and a chalky finish. Aging on lees in barriques, 35% new, is anticipated to go for 16 months.
Smells classy at the outset, even though it is introvert because so young: just has hints of everything, fresh citrus, oak spice and leesy depths. On the palate, an incipient quality: cool, fresh, well structured and deeper than most in this vintage. Lightly chewy, lots of fruit and a hint of spice on the finish. Powerful and long. Impressive. Drink 2024-2035
Lively lime pith, herb, green apple, fennel and verbena notes streak through. The very focused finish has good zing for the vintage. Defined and long, this will unwind a bit more slowly than most of its peers.
This is dense and very structured with phenolic tension and depth. Full-bodied, lightly phenolic with sliced apples, cooked pears and lemons. Lively and intense. Solid as a rock. This is one to watch.
Domaine de Chevalier's Blanc is surprisingly unctuous in this vintage. Lemon confit, dried flowers and chamomile are some of the many notes that develop in the glass. The Blanc is, of course, famous for its ageworthiness, but I don't see the complexity, energy or structure of the very best years. I would prefer to drink it on the younger side. In 2018, the red is vastly more interesting than the Blanc. The blend is 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Sémillon. Tasted three times.
What this white does that not everyone has achieved in 2018 is hold your attention. It's not a 2017 or 2011 at Chevalier, but it has grip and personality and a whoosh of citrus and fleshy pear flavours that are highly enjoyable. Touches of spice run through the finish, together with a sweetness that speaks of the ripeness of the fruit. You could drink it today of course, but this is a white that can go two decades without blinking, so I wouldn't worry too much. Drinking Window 2020 - 2030
This is one of the most balanced white wines of the vintage and it is neither too oaky, nor is it too oily. There is depth of fruit here but it is calm, smooth, layered and there is lovely acidity on the finish.
The moment we saw the smile on owner Olivier Bernard’s face as we arrived at his property, we knew we were in for a treat. We were not to be disappointed. This is not only one of the sweet spots for the appellation but also one of the highlights of the vintage. Full of dark bramble fruits, it is bright and lively with a lovely fresh fruit character that flows through the palate. It is completely at ease, composed and yet confident with its careful richness of fruit and svelte like tannic grip sitting just underneath. A wine which will give huge pleasure throughout its life, young and old. Olivier feels this may have pushed his previous favourite vintage 2010 off its pedestal and we will not argue with that.
This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot to be aged for approximately 18 months in oak barriques, 35% new. Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Domaine de Chevalier starts a little closed before bounding out of the glass with bold expressions of fresh blackcurrants, kirsch, black raspberries and fragrant earth plus nuances of lilacs, Sichuan pepper and menthol. Medium to full-bodied, the palate maintains elegance and sophistication, with a lovely ripe, finely grained frame and plenty of freshness to back up the floral and black fruit layers, finishing long and perfumed.
Black core, cherry rim. Subtle and scented on the nose, even though it looks like a big wine. When I tasted this two days later, it was more open and rich on first impression. Plenty of oak on the nose, as you might expect at this stage. Crushed stones entwined with black, black fruit. Relative to the vintage, this has real tenderness on the palate, the finest of dry tannins and a finish that leaves your mouth clean, as 75% chocolate does. Very impressive. Drink 2025-2038
This is flashy, with mesquite, licorice, black tea and fruitcake aromatics leading the way to a frankly ripe core of steeped raspberry and plum flavors. Seems pretty liberal with the toast, but this has what it needs to come together in the end.
Wow. I can’t get over the pureness of fruit in this wine with so much currant, tar and wet-earth character. Flowers, too. So aromatic. Full body, yet pureness and brightness of fruit. Layered. Incredible depth and beauty. 65 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 30 per cent merlot and 5 per cent petit verdot. Greatest ever?
The 2018 Domaine de Chevalier is magnificent. Bright, lifted and wonderfully nuanced, the 2018 has so much to offer. Olivier Bernard turned out a dazzling Domaine de Chevalier in 2018 that speaks to precision and nuance above all else. Rose petal, mint, savory herbs and crushed rocks add striking aromatic top notes to this stunning, breathtakingly beautiful wine. The tannins need time to soften, but I doubt readers will be in a rush. The 2018 is simply majestic - that's all there is to it. The blend is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. Tasted three times.
These guys clearly know what they are doing, and they keep doing it. This wine is consistent even in difficult years but in years like this, where they have the room to manoeuvre, it really shines. This is great stuff, with lovely freshness to the deep fruit flavours. There is persistency and plenty of slate and freshly cut herbs to stack up against the juicy, concentrated fruit. It's a powerful, well handled and confident wine but doesn't push too hard. One-third new oak. Drinking Window 2027 - 2040
There is no doubt that this is a classy wine and it is certainly well-structured, but there is a tender mulberry tone in the core which signals a degree of complexity to it and even though the tannins are fairly rustic, they are sure to calm, too.
It is always a joy to taste this lovely château’s wine with Xavier and Emeline Borie. Their relaxed manner and natural charm seem to flow into their wines. 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a bright and racy wine, with striking dark blackberry fruit characters. It is very clean and pure, with a lovely vitality to it. The subtly granular tannins provide an additional layer and complexity. Beautifully discreet and composed but amazingly fulfilling. A wine in complete balance which will age superbly.
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Grand-Puy-Lacoste is scented of warm blackcurrants, black cherries, spice box, florals and chocolate box with a menthol hint. Full-bodied, the palate is rich, plush and generous, finishing long and perfumed.
Black core with wide purple rim. Great purity of intense, ripe but fresh black fruit. The fruit flavours are ripe not overripe and scented with cassis and blueberry yet overall there is a freshness to balance the fruit and that rocky/pencil quality that was also on the Lacoste-Borie. Darker and more mineral on the palate, then really bright on the finish with refined tannins. There's a real elegance here thanks to the purity of the fruit and the finesse in the tannins. Harmony and finesse right to the end. A very good year for Grand-Puy-Lacoste. Drink 2025-2038
This captures the style of the vintage to a T, with vividly ripe cassis and plum fruit, carried by solidly built but fine-grained structure. Lots of graphite and tobacco accents hang in the background for now. A firmly grounded wine.
This is a deep and beautiful 2018 with blackcurrant, wet-earth and fresh-tobacco undertones. Full-bodied, tight and polished. Gorgeous finish. The tannins kick in at the end. Fine texture.
A wine of precision, energy and nuance, the 2018 Grand-Puy-Lacoste is fabulous. Freshly cut flowers, mint and sweet red berry fruit grace this exquisite, nuanced Pauillac. Medium in body, understated and classy, Grand-Puy-Lacoste is one of the highlights of the year. In a word: impeccable. The 2018 is 78% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Merlot from yields of 40 hectoliters per hectare.
Another success from Grand-Puy-Lacoste – it’s bright and full of juice, prioritising vibrancy over power. As such, it has a touch less Pauillac typicity than in the absolutely brilliant 2016 vintage at this estate, although as it unfurls through the palate you do get the menthol, cassis and smoked cedar that is just such a beautiful sign of ripe Cabernet up in this corner of the world. They were extremely careful with extraction because of the high alcohols, so grapes underwent the shortest maceration to date with no pumping over just an infusion during the extraction process. Harvest took place between 21 September and 5 October. 12% press wine. 75% new oak used. A yield of 40hl/ha. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
There is an amazing volume of aroma when you approach this wine and it is ripe, bold, ever so slightly exotic and also all-enveloping. It alerts the senses and prepares you instantly for tasting the wine. On the palate all of the fruit notes and oak tones are marshalled perfectly and they are already in sync. Unlike some of the wines from this vintage, this is a well-drilled wine with not a molecule out of place. It is long, fine, detailed and also youthful and the tannins are some of the finest and chewiest I have seen. This bodes well. While many 2018s are unnervingly forward, but will also hold well, GPL warns the drinker that while the fruit is certainly exuberant and toothsome it would be a mistake to tackle this wine too early in its lifetime. I would leave it for at least ten years before uncorking a bottle. By this time, I think that this will be considered one of the most elegant and finely-tuned wines of the vintage.
Often overlooked in the mass of UGC samples when tasted en primeur, this is a wine that tends to be understated in it youth, but as one of the great second growth properties it rarely fails to deliver when it reaches full maturity. This will be the case for the extremely sound 2018. It wasn’t the star attraction in the room, but it had a lovely subtle purity of fruit, with hints of cranberries and damsons. A very controlled style with the bright berry fruits well supported by its gritty tannic core. It remains the value second growth in the pack.
The 2018 Gruaud Larose is blended of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc, with a pH of 3.88 and 14.2% alcohol. Deep garnet-purple in color, it leaps from the glass with bold black cherries, mulberries, plum preserves and blackcurrant cordial scents with hints of menthol, lilacs, licorice and cloves plus wafts of fallen leaves and tilled soil. Medium to full-bodied with a taut core of ripe, densely packed, muscular fruit, it has a firm line of ripe, grainy tannins and just enough freshness, finishing long and spicy. Very exotic Gruaud!
Darkest, smudgy black-cherry colour. Lifted cassis and a hint of tea leaf. Paper-fine layers of tannins but not a lot of juice on the palate. Savoury, dark but slightly flat finish. Drink 2025-2033
This is really generous and rolls off the tongue with ripe and velvety tannins and a fresh undertone. Full-bodied, firm and silky. Extremely long and flavorful. Very complex already.
The 2018 Gruaud Larose is inky, jammy and full-bodied. Crème de cassis, blackberry jam, spice, lavender and mint give the 2018 much of its extroverted personality. Gruaud Larose is one of the most extroverted wines on the Left Bank. The richness and elevated ripeness is evident in the 2018. It will be interesting to see what élevage brings. For my taste, Gruaud is on the edge of being too much. The blend is 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc.
This is good quality, not exactly generous but clearly carefully extracted - they kept the simultaneous alcoholic and malolactic fermentations to between 24°C and 26°C. It's packed full of flavour, with real precision to the fruit. Bramble and hedgerow scents suggest a firm acidity and a structure that's built to last, while still being appetising and full of pleasure. As it opens in the glass, liquorice and dark chocolate come to the fore. A wine that will age well without question. 85% new oak. Drinking Window 2027 - 2040
With a superb nose and a detailed palate with red and black fruit notes in harmony, this is a well-balanced Gruaud and while it is long and complete I felt that there was a little something missing and so while I was tempted to bump up the score to 18.5, in the end I stuck with a noble 18.
A very complete blend of 54% Sauvignon Blanc and 46% Sémillon. This is a pure bright energetic wine, balancing the grapefruit zest from the Sauvignon, with volume and richness from the Semillon. Nicely textured with a hint of toasty oak and then finishing with appealing citrus orange characters. A very rewarding style indeed.
The Latour Martillac 2018 Blanc has an expressive nose of fresh grapefruit, white peaches and lemon juice with hints of lime leaves and chalk dust. Medium-bodied, the palate delivers great intensity with loads of minerally sparks and a long, zesty finish.
Slightly cloudy. Lots of pure lemon and grapefruit on the nose, a touch of spice. Very spicy on the palate too but there’s the fruit to fill out the middle. A bit sweet and sour but should come round. Certainly plenty of fruit even if the acidity is slightly aggressive. Drink 2021-2026
Peach, clementine, heather and almond notes are melding here, with a light zingy aspect giving the finish enough cut and drive.
This is an intense, mineral and acidity-driven white, showing dried fruit, such as lemon and pineapple. Medium to full body. Bright finish.
A powerful, structured white, the 2018 Latour-Martillac Blanc has a real feeling of density to it. Citrus, white flowers and mint all take shape in the glass, but it is the wine's textural resonance that stands out most. Some rough edges remain, but hopefully élevage will take care of them. More than anything else, it appears these old vines on clay handled the rigors of the growing season pretty well. The blend is 54% Sauvignon Blanc and 46% Sémillon.
Ripe stone fruit flavours show the warmth of the summer but there's a lovely sense of restraint and freshness in this good quality wine. It has a touch of bitterness, which gives focus to the finish. Successful in both colours in 2018. 50hl/ha yield. 25% new oak. 3.13pH. Drinking Window 2020 - 2030
This delicious 2018 is a great example of controlled power and nuance. Scented flamboyant aromas of sweet summer fruits. A symphony of flavours in the palate boast succulence and richness, whilst remaining very poised and direct. On the finish the open fruit gives way to a subtle freshness, with a lively core of granular tannins. A classic and complex St Julien in a great vintage for this appellation.
Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2018 Léoville Barton simply sings of crushed black cherries, blackcurrant cordial and wild blueberries with touches of violets, dark chocolate, allspice and cardamom with a waft of stewed tea. Full-bodied, rich and decadently fruited in the mouth, the generous fruit has a solid structure of firm, ripe, grainy tannins and oodles of freshness, finishing long and layered.
Black core, purple rim. Sweet intense nose of elderberry and small, wild berries. Extremely wholesome, dense, firm but with lots of fruit at the core. Oak well in check and the tannins finer than many, dry and layered but harmonious. For the long term. Dry and almost chalky on the finish. Drink 2028-2038
A stunner, showing a great degree of purity, with long flavors of cassis, plum and blackberry preserves, seamlessly integrated with the graphite structure. A very vivid, defined, precise wine.
This is very structured and powerful with lots of blueberry and blackcurrant character. Full-bodied and muscular with so much intensity and density. Extremely muscular. Yet, it’s agile.
The 2018 Léoville-Barton is fabulous. Graphite, gravel, crème de cassis, mint, violet, spice and exotic spices are some of the many notes that infuse this stunningly beautiful unctuous Saint-Julien. In 2018 Léoville-Barton has an extra dimension of volume and resonance, yet it never loses its super-classic mid-weight structure and regal bearing. The blend is 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Merlot.
They are just hitting it out of the park at Léoville Barton at the moment, keeping the relaxed and effortless feel of a great St-Julien but loading up on the complexity and concentration that lies behind it. You don't see all the mechanisms, but you know they are there. This is going to age exceptionally well, but there's a freshness and juiciness to the structure already that suggests it's going to be great fun to drink along the way. It has glass-staining extraction, with plenty of cassis, graphite and liquorice flavours - everything's turned up high. 60% new oak. Drinking Window 2027 - 2042
By contrast to the restrained and gentlemanly Langoa this is a flamboyant and expressive wine with a wide span of flavours including bitter cherry and cranberry notes among the deeper, darker tones. Superbly long and with great energy and loveliness this will be a long-lived style which will open incrementally as opposed to firing on all cylinders from the off.
Petit Village’s cooler gravel clay soils served the wine well this year. There is no sensation of heat, it is bright and lovely, full of excellent deep dark berry fruit flavours. A full and structured style, this has drive, grip, freshness and brilliant purity on the finish.
Yields are down this year at Petit Village. They had a little coulure and battled a serious attack of mildew. Later, winds from the north dehydrated some fruit. In the end, they came in at 35 hectoliters per hectare. A blend of 72% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, the deep garnet-purple colored 2018 Petit Village springs from the glass with bold expressions of warm plums, Black Forest cake, black raspberries and kirsch plus hints of rose petals, chocolate box and spearmint. The palate is full and generously fruited with a firm frame of rounded tannins that have just a bit of chew, finishing with soft-spoken freshness and fragrance.
Darkest cherry red. Subtly spicy dark-fruited nose, quite restrained though the sample is relatively cold. Opens up to a more pencil-like perfume. Upright, and tastes as if there is more Cabernet Sauvignon than there is, perhaps because the Cabernet Sauvignon was so intense this year so that it needed to be infused not extracted, as many winemakers said. The tannins are fine and fresh, deceptively delicate. Light on its feet and fresh but long with a touch of dark chocolate on the finish. The tannins divert you from the sweetness of fruit. Drink 2024-2030
Very solid, featuring a core of plum and raspberry fruit flavors carried by iron-tinted structure, ending with a grippy edge that will need a little taming through the élevage. Well-built though.
The beautiful depth of fruit is very impressive with a fantastic center palate of full fruit, yet so agile and floating on the palate. The fine-grained tannins kick in at the end. Very fresh and racy.
The 2018 Petit-Village offers striking depth and textural richness, all in a mid-weight style that is undeniably appealing. Dark red cherry, tobacco and cedar add nuance, with an added touch of savory complexity from the Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. The finish is a bit tight at present. Hopefully élevage will take care of that. Half of the estate is farmed biodynamically. Yields are 23 hectoliters per hectare, which is about a third less than normal. Mildew was an issue, but according to Technical Director Diana Berrout-Garcia the drying northerly winds were an even more determining factor in reducing the crop. The blend is 72% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon.
This is a bigger vintage than some years at Petit-Village, with an excellent balance and an impressive swagger, giving notes of pencil lead and liquorice through the mid palate that give it a fairly Left Bank feel. There is clear concentration here with raspberry fruits that have an attractive floral edge and an abundance of silky and plump tannins. They are HVE3 but not organic and had a yield still lower than usual at 23hl/ha due to mildew and difficult fruit set which meant extremely careful sorting was required. 40% new oak was used. Winemaker Dania Berrouet-Garcia. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
Very pretty and exuberant with rare velvety notes over a deep plummy core. There is a serious succulence and almost bloody depth to it. The Cabernet manages to keep the Merlot under control and the result is superb. Lovely weight and freshness as well as depth and control and the oak is nicely seasoned and nutty.
The vagaries of tasting en primeur made this a very difficult wine to taste at our visit. For many it was one of their wines of the vintage but on our day it was a little more reticent. The power and concentration from the very low yielding crop at this property in 2018 just controls the fruit a little, giving the impression that this really is a wine for the long term and may remain shy for a number of years in its youth.
The 2018 Pontet-Canet is made up of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Picking began on September 24 and finished on October 5; aging is in 55% oak barriques and 45% amphorae. Very deep purple-black in color, it comes rolling sensuously out of the glass with all the opulence and seduction of Cleopatra on a carpet. It emerges with flamboyant scents of crème de cassis, preserved plums and blueberry compote, and after a few moments, it bursts with nuances of molten licorice, sandalwood, Chinese five spice, candied violets, dark chocolate and dried roses, followed by underlying earthy suggestions of fallen leaves, black truffles, underbrush and wild sage. Full-bodied, wonderfully dense, rich, impossibly layered and very, very decadent, the palate delivers all it promises on the nose, with a firm, wonderfully velvety frame and finishing with epic length, a scintillating wave of freshness and a beguiling perfume. This is one for true hedonists.
Very, very dark. Intensely fruity aroma –even a touch of wild strawberries, blueberry, fragrant and sweetly and wildly fruited. That aroma is on the palate too, a little darker, but all tied up in the tannins, which are smooth but dense. Firm, dry but not chewy. The freshness accentuates the tannins at the moment, hardening them a little. Utterly embryonic but everything in place even if not yet showing. Concentrated and sweet-fruited. Needs a lot of time. Juicy under all that structure and long. More Pontet-Canet than Pauillac, or than my stereotype of Pauillac. Drink 2028-2045
A bright and open young wine with polished and soft tannins that spread out and fold into the wine, becoming barely discernible, yet the feel and beauty of them frames the wine in a beautiful way. Love the fruit and purity.
The 2018 Pontet-Canet is a freak of nature. Dark, rich and explosive, the 2018 possesses off the charts richness and concentration, much of it coming from tiny yields of just ten hectoliters per hectare, or one third of a normal crop. The 2018 soars out of the glass with stunning aromatic intensity and depth. Black cherry, gravel, grilled herbs, leather, lavender and menthol stain the palate. Dense and hedonistically ripe, the 2018 is a stunningly beautiful wine. The grapes were crushed by hand. Because of the tiny yields, the entire production was vinified in Pontet-Canet's new smaller concrete vats. All winemaking was done manually, without the aid of external temperature control or electricity. The 2018 is aging in a combination of 55% new oak and 45% terra cotta amphora. Quite simply, I have never tasted anything like it.
The concentration that comes from having yields of 12hl/ha is extremely clear - it makes it feel very Pauillac, again resembling as at Latour, a 2010 style in terms of its backbone and sense of hunkering down. The fruit quality is dark and knitted, with a creamy texture if you give it a minute to settle, an obvious tannic structure and a menthol finish that lets in some juice, bramble and hedgerow pleasures. It’s clearly impressive, although I get just the slightest touch of over-concentration with hints of prune on the finish. The small yields meant the entire process, from destemming to sorting, was done by hand (last year around 30% of the crop was treated in this way), then fermented in small 40L cement vats that had seen their first service for just part of the crop in 2017. There was huge amounts of hard work and stress to ensure that no dried grapes made it through, with no pumping over and only soft manual punch down to control extraction. This is 100% 1st wine, same as it has been here for the past three years. 55% will be aged in new oak barrel, 45% in amphoras. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
The perfume on this wine is like nothing I have ever encountered in Bordeaux. It is the quintessence of juiciness and concentration, but the palate quickly nips this explosion in the bud and then the flavour is seriously controlled and elegant. The main thrust of fruit is purple and decadent with more than a glimpse of heather and liquorice. They were badly affected by mildew at Pontet-Canet and because of their biodynamic rules they couldn’t not simply run out and spray what they wanted in order to prevent catastrophic damage. In addition, they had to hand sort every berry and destem everything by hand. Winemaker Jean-Michel Comme said that they had, ‘11 people for one table’! In the end they made only one third of a normal production here and yet it shows that the biodynamic path still manages to make headline-grabbing wines. With so much exuberance and theatricality, this is a mesmerising wine with a shockingly vibrant flavour. Only a light pigeage (punching-down) was used with no remontage (pumping over) at all. Jean-Michel stated that the levels of quality and concentration achieved in this wine has ‘never been seen here before’. In his opinion it is higher than 2016 and even 2010. While I appreciate that this is an extraordinary wine, I am not as excited about it as I am the aforementioned vintages, so I have given it a cautious score because I have no idea how far or for how long this elixir will develop.
This great property really is in overdrive at the moment. Whilst a little reserved on the nose, the palate is wonderfully complete. Masses of dark berries with a touch of molasses, this has a lovely plush, luscious fruit palate. A wine of tremendous clarity and purity. Whilst the estate’s characteristically bold tannins give a firmness underneath, the fruit is so enticingly dark and sweet that they melt seamlessly into the palate. Excellent density and a light lingering freshness at the end.
The 2018 Rauzan-Ségla is blended of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested from September 27 to October 11; Merlot from September 13-27; Cabernet Franc on September 28; and Petit Verdot from September 28-29. The wine has 14% alcohol and aging is anticipated to be 18 months in barriques, 65% new. Deep purple-black in color, it comes bounding out of the glass with exuberant notes of warm plums, crème de cassis, Black Forest cake and candied violets with hints of mocha, Indian spices and fragrant earth plus a waft of crushed rocks. Full-bodied, multilayered and sporting a lot of freshness and tension in the mouth in spite of all its decadent perfumed black fruits, it has a firm, finely grained frame and seamless freshness, finishing long and fragrant. Seduction in a glass.
Black core. Expressive cassis on the nose, just slightly herbal and very stony/mineral. This has real finesse on the palate, chalky and very fine texture. Dark, almost savoury restraint on the palate. Pretty dry on the finish but in balance with the power on the palate. Notable freshness in 2018. Needs time. Drink 2025-2033
Very concentrated, atypically so for Margaux, with sappy kirsch and plum reduction notes that are well-defined and luxurious in feel, draping beautifully over a graphite underpinning on the finish. Very long.
This is one of the most structured and deep Rauzans I have tasted with a full body, layers of fruit and a firm and polished tannin backbone. Compact and composed. Such depth and power. 60 per cent cabernet sauvignon and 40 per cent merlot.
The 2018 Rauzan-Ségla is fabulous. Regal and soaring in the glass, Rauzan-Ségla is simply unforgettable. Stunning aromatics and layers of flavor develop in the glass in a drop-dead gorgeous Rauzan that will leave readers weak at the knees. Inky and explosive, the 2018 possesses off the charts intensity and richness. Leather, licorice, spice and grilled herbs add nuance as the 2018 builds to a huge crescendo of aromas, flavors and textures on the finish. I won't be surprised if one day the 2018 is considered among the greatest Rauzan-Séglas of all time. It is a tremendous achievement by the property and the team lead by Technical Director Nicolas Audebert. Don't miss it! Tasted four times.
Rauzan-Ségla is here proclaiming its right to be considered among the wines of the year in Margaux. In the Chanel stable, Canon has had the edge for me in the past few vintges, but here Rauzan Ségla comes roaring back with its mix of elegance and confidence matched by perfectly ripe, Cabernet-dominant fruit. There's a slightly higher percentage of Merlot than usual - partly because it was so good this year and partly because the concentration in the Cabernets took the yields down (a real feature of the vintage, they were at 32hl/ha here). The Merlot adds flesh through the mid-palate, which is followed by freshly crushed mint on the finish which adds precision and lift. Great quality. 3.8pH. 2% Cabernet Franc completes the blend. Drinking Window 2028 - 2042
Enticing on the nose with spicy berry fruit notes and nicely integrated oak, there is a cool feel about this wine which points to careful balance and reasonable alcohol – they got the picking dates just right. The texture is not too grainy or tough and the fruit rolls on well for a minute or so and therefore I am confident that this will be a well-earned success for this Château.
Deep opaque colour with masses of sweet dark fruit on the nose. On the palate this has striking intensity with a central line of controlling tannins. There is a volume of fruit which sits underneath, a little closed at this stage, but with the potential to evolves and unfurl in time.
Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2018 Rouget sports quite a lot of oak at this stage, opening out to lively red and black plums notes and notions of baked cherries, blueberry compote and dried mulberries plus wafts of raisin cake, tree bark and bouquet garni. Full and concentrated, with a firm, fine-grained frame, it fills the palate with berry preserves and offers plenty of spicy and earthy nuances on the long finish.
Very dark black-cherry colour. Sweet vanilla-laced black fruit, nicely stony/dusty to balance the sweet blueberry fruit. Extremely smooth, polished and rounded and a touch of vanilla sweetness on the finish. Drink 2023-2030
This young wine really sings with a level of purity and precision that I’ve never seen from here. Medium to full body, ultra fine tannins and beautiful red-berry and floral character at the end.
The 2018 Rouget is plush, flamboyant and exotically beautiful. Super ripe black cherry, chocolate, new leather, licorice and cloves are all amped up. Sumptuous fruit and silky, polished tannins add to its considerable appeal. Although not especially subtle, Rouget is very beautiful in 2018. It will appeal most to readers who enjoy big, rich wines. This full-throttle Pomerol is a real star in 2018. Tasted three times.
An excellent Rouget this year -there is perhaps the slightest trace of heat on the attack, but it disappears into the body of the wine, and this is really rather lovely. When you think back to this wine even in good vintages like 2009, it didn't have the flesh on the bones that it has today. It’s even more impressive that the weight has been gained without sacrificing balance – a great job from Edouard Labruyère, 3.4pH. Tasted on multiple occasions. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
Organic, in conversion to biodynamic. Tart and hard, this is a mineral-led wine with a sour edge to it which needs time to soften, but there is good blackberry fruit here and the oak is well-judged. This is the finest young Rouget I have tasted and it will develop slowly, and blossom into a beautiful wine.
2018 represents the 100th year that Ch Talbot has been in the ownership of the Cordier family and it is a very fine way to celebrate their centenary. A very complete wine, showing controlled Cabernet Sauvignon poise. A dense yet full style, with intense dark cassis flavours, hints of fresh tobacco leaf and an uplifting freshness on the finish.
Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2018 Talbot is just a little reduced to begin, opening out to reveal notions of warm red and black currants, baked plums and mulberries with touches of sautéed herbs, tilled soil, fallen leaves and unsmoked cigars. Medium to full-bodied, it has commendably ripe, fine-grained tannins and restrained, earthy layers on offer in the mouth with an herbal lift on the finish.
Deepest black-cherry colour. Sweet cassis and blueberry fruit. Smooth and juicy on the palate, much more apparently approachable than many but there’s a deep core of ripe tannin hiding behind the juicy fruit. Thickly textured on the finish yet promising. Drink 2026-2036
Shows range, with cassis, blueberry and plum fruit and a nice snap of licorice throughout. Fleshy, but with latent drive on the finish. A concentrated, solid wine.
Very attractive core of pretty fruit and polished yet chewy tannins. Medium to full body, integrated tannins and a driven finish. One of the best Talbots in a long time.
The 2018 Talbot is super-refined and nuanced from start to finish. Powerful yet also impeccably refined. Talbot is a wine of real character and glass. Savory Cabernet Sauvignon inflections of grilled herbs, cedar, tobacco, menthol, licorice and coffee all add shades of nuance. At times, Talbot can be a bit light. Not in 2018. Simply put, the 2018 Talbot is stellar. Tasted two times.
A great St-Julien that reflects the estate more than the vintage - a definite compliment to the winemaking team as well as those 50-year-old (on average) vines that are less swayed by climatic changes. This is full of blackberry and bilberry, with a touch of tobacco on the nose. There's good sweetness to the fruit, and although it's not quite as punchy, deep or concentrated as some, this means that it has a beautifully balanced appellation signature. 45hl/ha yield. 60% new oak. Drinking Window 2027 - 2040
The black cherry theme here is very attractive and the richness and silkiness on the palate certainly signals a successful wine. Smooth and round, the acid and tannin are both neatly tucked under the fruit and the result is a balanced Talbot which will soften and relax in no time at all. I like this vintage a lot at Talbot as it has harnessed a little more ripeness than usual and this serves to bolster their style.
A testing vintage to have done their full conversion over to 100% organic, but the vineyard coped extremely will with the challenges of the very wet spring. Merlot makes up the lion’s share of the blend, while there is a little less Cabernet Franc than normal (35%). Their strict selection of fruit has been rewarded. This is full of fresh aromatic summer fruit flavours, and redolent of Moroccan spice. A very flattering wine, with appealing sweetness of fruit and textured tannins which provide a hint of power on the finish.
“This year we have slightly less Cabernet Franc in the blend because we are only using the oldest vines, planted by my grandfather, as a tribute,” Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal said. “These are 60- to 80-year-old Cabernet Franc vines.” From 2018, 10% of the entire Angélus crop will be aged in large oak foudres. “These produce tighter, more perfumed, brighter wines from less oxygen exposure,” Stéphanie commented. The 2018 Angélus is blended of 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Franc, to be aged 18-22 months in barriques, 100% new, plus two new foudres. Deep garnet-purple in color, it slips slowly, sensuously out of the glass with beautiful black raspberries, kirsch, warm plums and red roses scents, building in intensity to reveal chocolate-covered cherries, raspberry coulis, black tea, woodsmoke and powdered cinnamon notions with a waft of black olives and charcuterie. Medium to full-bodied, the palate delivers a wonderfully profound, multilayered, seamless experience of red and black fruits intertwined with earth, spice and floral notions and framed by exquisitely ripe, satiny tannins, finishing with amazing freshness and length. Incredibly, finely, expertly, seamlessly knit. Stunning.
Inky core with purple rim. Refined aroma of restrained dark fruit and a mineral freshness even with the evident oak. More oaky on the palate, a touch of char, but much more restraint overall compared with earlier vintages, the restraint coming via the tannins. Power and freshness combined, with intensity and with a big charge of tannins but well handled to balance the whole in this powerful vintage. Needs a lot of time, to unfurl and for the oak to recede. Drink 2028-2043
Very gutsy in feel, with lots of tobacco leaf, loam and espresso notes swirling around a core of steeped black currant and warm fig fruit flavors. The muscular finish is a jumble right now, but there's ample acidity coiled within. A wine that clearly wants to stand out from the pack.
This shows beautifully sensibility of generous fruit and soft and velvety tannins with an undertone of chocolate and cedar. Full-bodied, pure and supple with a direct delivery of vibrant fruit and real terroir expression. Savory at the end with hazelnut and crunchy-seed flavors. Reality check here. Incredible fruit quality.
This is rich and complex from the very first nose, showing dense brambled fruit with real precision of expression. After a few minutes the aromatics explode, leaping out of the glass and giving an extra level of enjoyment to the wine. In the mouth, lovely vibrant tannins grip without any sense of urgency, joined by curls of woodsmoke and salt taffy through the finish. It's gorgeous and will make you smile with its mouthwatering finish.
This is a wonderful Angélus with masses of oak and fruit and it can handle this intensity with ease. The power is magnificent and the richness and weight is amazing, too. Considering how tannic and oaky a lot of the other wines are on this side of the river, they could all take a leaf out of this wine’s book because it shows you just how carefully balanced a big wine can be. There is some exoticism here as well as awesome length and this is certainly one of the finest Saint-Emilions of the vintage.
Spiced dark bramble fruit aromas, the sweet juicy fruit characters lead into hints of roasted coffee beans. The generosity of fruit is aided by a subtle gritty tannic core. A well rounded wine showing the integrity of structured Cabernet Sauvignon (55%) and the ripe easy volume of the Merlot (30%).
The 2018 D'Armailhac (14.5% alcohol) is composed of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, harvested September 12 to October 3. Deep garnet-purple colored, it reveals a very fruity nose of crushed blackberries, warm black cherries and mulberries plus hints of potpourri, spice cake and pencil shavings. Full-bodied, the decadent palate delivers loads of black berry layers and a firm, grainy frame with underlying freshness and an earthy finish. Wonderfully opulent D’Armailhac!
Black core. Scented with cassis and cassis leaf, lightly cedary. (This last is, unusually, a rare descriptor in this vintage.) Aromatic but not as much as Duhart-Milon tasted just after. Very tannic and chewy, dense, compact and telling you to stay away but not lacking fruit in the middle and the aroma is extremely inviting. Needs time to unfurl. Drink 2028-2038
Lively cassis and blackberry notes are liberally laced with briar, tobacco and smoky details. Reveals a serious chalky underpinning on the finish. A bit backward, but all the elements are here.
A soft and generous red with plum, tobacco and currant character and a delicious, full body and brightness. Juicy. Attractive, earthy aftertaste. Layered and dense.
The 2018 d'Armailhac is lifted, floral and nicely focused, although a touch closed today. Bright red cherry and floral notes add nuance throughout. Medium in body and fresh, the 2018 has quite a bit of aromatic depth from the Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, which helps hide the 14.5% alcohol nicely. Yields were just 32 hectoliters per hectare as opposed to 42-46, which is the norm. The blend is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. Tasted two times.
This is clearly one of the most concentrated d’Armailhacs that has been produced in recent decades owing to the extremely small and concentrated berries, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, harvested at the end of the growing season. It’s also one of the best, with clear personality and power, and although still the least complex of the three Pauillacs in the Mouton stable, it should offer the best value giving a ton of rich fruit and cigar box frisson. 5% Petit Verdot makes up the blend. 3.7pH. Tasted several times – always with the same impression. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
Very commanding and robustly fruited, this is a dense, velvety d’Armailhac with structure and layers of plum and chocolate fruit. Not overly complex but certainly luxurious and imposing this is a style of wine which will appeal to all palates thanks to its generosity and depth of flavour. There is certainly enough grip to allow this wine to expand in time and while the finish is quite tart, this will inevitably fade quickly.
In contrast to some estates this vintage Ch Batailley had very healthy yields at 50 hl/ha. This is no bad thing as the wine has really benefitted producing a very relaxed and easy style of wine with lots of dark currants and cassis. This has nicely balanced intensity, with subtle cappuccino oak flavours. A really rewarding style, with excellent structure and a bright fresh lively finish. Drink 2024 -2036
The 2018 Batailley is deep garnet-purple in color and offers up bright Morello cherries, black raspberries and redcurrant notes over a cassis and plum preserves core with a waft of dried mint. Full-bodied with a good core of juicy fruit, it has approachable, ripe tannins and a lively lift to the finish.
Black core, purple rim. Cedary blackcurrant and already quite expressive. A note of dark chocolate over the fruit. Surprisingly smooth tannins, obviously carefully handled. Still chewy but not tough. Should come together. Drink 2026-2036
Plum and cassis notes are melded with soft tobacco and toast accents, ending with a slightly dusty feel on the finish. Gently expressive, in a vintage where concentration and energy are the norm.
This is very structured and dense with lots of fruit and tannin, yet it’s tight and long. Linear and racy. Muscular.
The 2018 Batailley is powerful and resonant in the glass, with terrific textural richness and plenty of underlying structure as well. Lavender, rose petal, mint and spice infuse a rich, sumptuous Pauillac loaded with personality. Tasted two times.
This has a less luxurious feel than some Pauillacs but it has an effortless to it that is not always the case in 2018 and still with the traditional edge of the appellation that you want from these estates with menthol, eucalyptus and cigar typicity. It has firm tannins with clear signs of well-controlled extractions and presents as rich purple with violet edging. I have had the 2009 vintage of Batailley a few times recently, and there is something here of the same generosity of spirit to the brambly fruits, with lovely juice running through what are clearly fairly hefty tannins. I'll be very surprised if this is not an exceptionally enjoyable bottle to open in eight to 10 years’ time. Great stuff from owners Philippe and Frederic Casteja. A yield of 52hl/ha. 3.6pH. Drinking Window 2027 - 2038
Ripe and robust with juicy black fruit and decent depth this is a clean and perfectly balanced Batailley with crisp tannins and a neat finish. While a little monotonal I like the freshness and flavour and I can see it appealing earlier in its life than in a cooler vintage.
A blend of 50% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot. The dominance of Merlot made this wine a real showstopper in the flight of St Juliens. Masses of dark black fruits with hints of molasses and Moroccan spice. It has a sweet richness supported by very plush tannins. A bright lively wine with gloriously appealing vibrance and freshness on the finish, contributing to its high quality and length. Excellent.
The deep garnet-purple colored 2018 Beychevelle wafts sensuously from the glass with fragrant Black Forest cake, potpourri, star anise and black tea scents over a core of black raspberries, warm blackcurrants and kirsch with touches of fallen leaves and lavender. Full-bodied and packed with fragrant red and black fruit layers, it has a firm, velvety texture and fantastic freshness lifting the very long, perfumed finish. Beautiful! Anticipated time in barrel is 18 months, 60% new and 40% second fill. The tentative blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc.
Inky crimson. Lively elderberry-like tangy fruit on the nose. Thickly textured and rather oaky on the palate, slightly monolithic at this stage. Could do with a bit more freshness overall. Drink 2025-2032
Ripe and concentrated, but very sleek, with a remarkably pure beam of cassis and plum reduction flavors. Sweet spice, violet and apple wood notes are thoroughly embedded throughout. Polished and very long.
This is concentrated with a solid core of fruit, yet it’s energetic and driven with plenty of pretty and forceful tannins. Dusty texture. Persistent finish.
The 2018 Beychevelle is an exceptional, utterly vivid wine. Deep and beautifully layered in the glass, the 2018 has so much to offer. Super-ripe black cherry, crème de cassis, licorice, new oak and chocolate infuse this unctuous, spectacularly ripe Saint-Julien. Beychevelle is exotic, flamboyant and full-throttle, not to mention absolutely stunning. The high presence of Merlot in the blend gives Beychevelle much of its sensuality. What a wine! The 2018 is 50% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. Tasted three times.
This is a dark, deep colour that perfectly reflects the rich blackberry and bilberry fruits on the nose. I really have noticed that Beychevelle has raised its game over the last few vintages and it's maintaining that step-up here. The 2018 is built to age, and will do so with very little trouble. It has violet edging, a good ripe tannic structure and is full of life. It's rounded in terms of mouthfeel, smoothed out but not knocked off balance by the alcohol. It may be approachable earlier than usual perhaps, but with class, ambition and St-Julien signature. A yield of 55hl/ha, with 50% of production going into the grand vin. 60% new oak. Drinking Window 2027 - 2040
Beychevelle continues its run of excellence with this carefully assembled wine. Nothing is hurried or out of place and the nose, in particular, is sensational. I like the fact that it is not too extracted or heavy on the palate and this means that there is an even flow of fruit all of the way to the finish. The acid is perky and it nips at the heels of the fruit and the tannins are super-fine and mouth-watering. This is a huge success for Beychevelle.
This superb wine has the potential to be Branaire’s finest wine to date in the 21st century. It really has everything. A blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc. Deep dense opaque colour, full of dark black fruits, with hints of mocha and spice. A wonderfully energetic style, bright and lively, and deliciously sweet. The layer of ripe structured tannins provides additional texture to what is a wonderfully complete wine. Delicious.
The deep garnet-purple colored 2018 Branaire-Ducru begins just a tad reduced with broody tar, rubber and fried herbs scents giving way to a fragrant core of warm cassis, blackberry pie and blueberry coulis with touches of smoked meats and tobacco. Full-bodied, firm and rugged in the mouth with brawny, muscular fruit and a sturdy frame of grainy tannins, it finishes long and savory.
Black-cherry rim with opaque core. Scented with cassis and ripe damson fruit, quite open on the nose. Lively on the palate too, really fruity, balanced by fine layers of dry but not drying tannins. Oaky, chewy, rich, but smooth on the finish with aromatic fruit through to the finish. Drink 2025-2035
This is well-packed, with blueberry, açaí and blackberry fruit flavors and licorice snap and fruitcake notes. Long and refined despite the copious fruit, showing polish and poise through the finish.
This is a fantastic Brainaire with deep and dark fruit, such as blackberries and blackcurrants. Lots of raspberries, too. Full-bodied with firm and creamy tannins and a super long finish. We will see if it’s better than 2016, but on its way.
The 2018 Branaire-Ducru is fabulous. Bright, lifted and impeccably precise, the 2018 is one of the best recent Branaires I can remember tasting. The 2018 is distinguished by its vertical lift, striking aromatic intensity and exceptional balance. Lavender, rose petal, gravel, mint and sweet red/purplish berry fruit are all given an extra kick of textural richness. More than anything else, I was blown away by the wine's density and precision. The 2018 is dazzling. There's not much else to say. Well, except the obvious question, which is why is Branaire not at this level every year? The 2018 is 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc. Tasted three times.
Branaire-Ducru has managed to produce an exceptionally balanced and refined St-Julien in a year when that was not the easiest task. Depth and complexity is clear, although it's just a little held back right now. The architecture is such that there are walls to scale and depths to plumb, but with less generosity overall. 53hl/ha yield. Drinking Window 2027 - 2040
This is a delicious and silky-smooth Branaire with fondanty fruit notes and a deep, dark core. At no stage does the oak or alcohol interrupt the flow of fruit and the overall impression is of a wine with serious class and definition. Great balance and nice weight make this a very rewarding drop if not quite one of the stellar Châteaux in this vintage. I think it will last for a long time, too, given the quality of tannins on display.
An absolute joy to taste. This walled estate on the edge of the village of St Estèphe is quite simply on fire under the ownership of Suravenir, who acquired the estate in 2012, and the current management team headed by Laurent Dufau. Aromas of black olives and summer pudding. This is all about purity, elegance and class. A great drive of bright dark fruits on the palate flows into exceptionally fine and subtle tannins. This is full of life and very long, with a real tingle of excitement at the end.
The 2018 Calon-Ségur is blended of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot (14.9% alcohol). It is anticipated to age for 20 months in barriques, 100% new. Deep garnet-purple colored, it needs just a little coaxing before it reveals seductive notes of baked cherries, warm cassis, licorice and smoked meats with nuances of hoisin, camphor, Chinese five spice and dried roses with a waft of cardamom. Full-bodied and completely packed with concentrated black fruit and spice layers, it has a firm frame of grainy tannins and a wicked backbone of freshness giving an energetic lift to the very long finish. There's lots of brightness coming from the Cabernet Franc component in here, but it is nonetheless a decadent expression.
Darkest cherry colour. Lifted and fragrant, very Cabernet Franc on the nose. Both black and dark-red fruit, almost raspberry, but pencil shavings too. Super-fine tannins, so silky already, so fluent, though there is clearly a density and concentration here in the texture as it builds in the mouth. Lovely dry texture on the finish, dark-fruited but full of life – I would not have thought this had so much new oak as it is swallowed by the fruit. Drink 2028-2040
Delivers a laser beam of cassis, bitter plum and cherry reduction notes, with an extremely fine-grained structure carrying this through a long finish. Accents of iron and violet are piercing in their purity and definition. A very complete and precise wine.
The quality of the tannins is most notable here; they are present, but totally integrated and folded into the wine. Medium-to full-bodied with lovely savory fruit and a persistent and long finish. Very harmonious and fine. Yet, with air, it takes off with tannin power.
A stratospheric, regal wine, Calon Ségur embodies all the best qualities of the vintage. Rich to the point of being exotically ripe, 2018 reminds me of the 2014 in its composition, but with more of everything. On the palate, the 2018 is towering and statuesque, with soaring structure and tremendous overall intensity. Striking aromatic top notes and bright saline underpinnings give the 2018 its energy, tension and nuance. As in 2014, the entirety of the château's Cabernet Franc went into the Grand Vin. Inky, powerful and explosive, Calon Ségur is a headspinning wine. Don't miss it!
An impressive, concentrated and powerful Calon that will win many admirers without a doubt, but I would be a little hesitant if you're a fan of the more classic balance found in the 2016. It has gorgeous chocolate and rich coffee notes, with complex exotic spices and even salted caramel on the finish, along with a lovely mouthwatering quality helped by a relatively low pH of 3.75 and a good yield of 41hl/ha. This will need long ageing, probably 20 months. I tasted it on several occasions and there are no arguments that it's a stunning wine but I would probably favour the 2016 if looking to cellar something, because it's more in character for what is one of my favourite properties in the appellation. 3% Petit Verdot completes the blend. 100% new oak. Drinking Window 2028 - 2042
All of the Cabernet Franc in the property went in to the Grand Vin in this vintage and I have no doubt that it is this grape which has brought so much joy to this beautiful wine. Sexy and smooth Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot create the beating heart of this wine, but it’s the Cabernet Franc, with its beguiling aroma, that adds the X-factor. The depth of colour and haunting, violet tones do so much to invigorate the Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose is sensational, layered and exciting and the palate is stuffed with ebullient fruit and fine-grained tannins. It was, apparently, an easy vintage to make according to winemaker Vincent Millet as each plot was either very good or excellent. I have never seen Vincent smile so much in a tasting and it is not surprising because he has made one of the wines of the vintage.
80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. This is full of spice, rich chocolate and fruit cake characters, while the tannins provide an underlying drive. The finish is packed with appealing sweet black fruits, hints of caramelised vanilla and cinnamon.
The 2018 Domaine des Cambes is plush, dark and enveloping, with striking depth and texture. Black cherry, plum, chocolate, leather, licorice, spice and menthol run through this supple, luscious Côtes de Bordeaux. The blend is 80% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec.
The Asian spices and cloves on this wine are incredible. It has a cooler feel than the L’Aurage (q.v.) and the control and length are astounding. The freshness of red fruit on the surface of the flavour coupled with the depth of black fruit in the core is extraordinary. This is a wild, fabulously velvety wine with a sweetness and lift on the nose which is exquisite. Unlike any other wines in the region, the Mitjaville portfolio is more otherworldly than usual in 2018.
Under the same ownership as Ch Calon Ségur, but very much its own wine. A blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot, this is full of balance and poise with hints of violets and fresh summer red fruits. It focuses on finesse and harmony, while the granular tannins on the finish give additional dimension and complexity to this very complete wine.
The 2018 Capbern is composed of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot and comes in at 14.6% alcohol. It's anticipated to age for 16 months in barriques, 60% new. Deep purple-black in color, it leaps from the glass with vibrant scents of black raspberries, kirsch and fresh blackcurrants with nuances of cedar chest, pencil lead and forest floor plus a waft of lavender. Full-bodied, rich and packed with juicy fruit, it has a firm line of grainy tannins and loads of freshness, finishing with an herbal lift.
Deepest purple. Dark and stony, lovely slaty nose. Firm, chalky, dense and still with lovely freshness. Not the same richness as the 2009 but with great purity and definition. More serious, less seduction. Long and great structure. So pure in its dark cassis fruit. Cool with a touch of liquorice on the finish. Drink 2023-2029
Delicious cassis, plum and blackberry fruit forms the core, showing lovely purity and definition. Light tobacco, floral and mineral shadings emerge through the finish.
A fresh and firm Capbern with lots of dark berries, chocolate and hints of hazelnuts. Medium to full body and dense, lightly chewy tannins. Mineral undertone.
The 2018 Capbern is expressive, nuanced and inviting, with lovely upfront fruit. In 2018, Capbern is a bit compact and tightly wound, but it also has a good deal of persistence. The Cabernet is quite marked in the 2018, which is not a bad thing, it just means the wine is going to need time to be at its best. What really stands out, though, is the push and pull between the bright aromatics that this cool, clay-rich soil helped give in 2018, and the ripe, radiant fruit of the warm summer. That interplay makes for an absolutely compelling wine. Red cherry fruit, mint, dried flowers, cedar and tobacco add aromatic nuance to this highly expressive, vibrant Saint-Estèphe. The blend is 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. Tasted two times.
A tasty, extremely appetising Capbern that, after tasting, makes you you already look forward to drinking in bottle. It has a real elegance to its black fruits, and the tannins have a softness and succulence to them, leading on to a mouthwatering finish. Harvest took place between 19 September and 8 October, around one week earlier than in a classic year according to Laurent Dufau, and yielding 37hl/ha. 3.7pH. 60% new oak. Drinking Window 2024 - 2036
Calon Ségur winemaker Vincent Millet explained that this is a peculiar vintage because while the alcohol is high the pH is low (high acid) and so therefore the balance experience here is incredible. Exotic, clean and crunchy and also singularly bright and plummy, this is a terrific wine and it is set to be a bargain, too (I hope). They logged 750mm of rain between January and June and then it changed to only 30mm in July, 30mm in August and only 15mm in September. The vineyards didn’t suffer at all during the year and there was little incidence of mildew in Saint-Estèphe. I find that this has amazing balance and also that this is a vintage which is hard to compare with any other.
Les Carmes Haut Brion is a stand-alone property, neighbouring Haut-Brion. It is always a couple of degrees warmer than its illustrious neighbour, and the clay and limestone subsoil is well-suited to Cabernet Franc (39%) which delivers a fine balance and freshness. Vinification is always gentle and a percentage of the fruit is vinified as whole bunches. Cellar master Guillaume Pouthier believes this contributes to a more balanced and harmonious style of wine. Full of lovely plump generous plum fruit, this is a lively and fresh wine. The tannins for such a warm location are surprisingly shy but have a lovely sweetness to them. Very appealing and at 13.5% this is at the lower end of the alcohol spectrum for the vintage which will appeal to many.
The 2018 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is composed of 37% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 29% Merlot. It was made using 52% whole cluster and has 13.75% alcohol. It is anticipated to age 18-24 months in 75% new oak barriques, 16% foudres and 9% amphorae. Deep garnet-purple colored, it is slightly broody and reduced to begin, slowly growing to reveal notions of charcoal, smoked meats, truffles and tilled soil over a core of black raspberries, warm black cherries, blackberry coulis and redcurrant jelly plus wafts of Provence herbs and iron ore. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is taut and muscular, tense with latent energy, offering a rock-solid backbone of firm, grainy tannins and bold freshness to support the bright, vibrant fruit, finishing long and mineral laced.
This throws off a stream of cassis, cherry preserves and raspberry fruit that is pure and bright, laced with a racy mineral edge through the finish. Stands apart from the pack for its purity and finesse. Really beautiful.
This is really exotic with peaches, oranges and blackberries. Full body, lovely purity of fruit and soft and integrated tannins that are barely detectable. Extremely long and persistent. Savory. White pepper and bark with black-tea and charcoal undertones. Superb complexity. 53 per cent whole-cluster fermentation.
The 2018 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is one of the wines in this vintage that comes very close to its 2016 sibling. A wine of dazzling intensity and stature, Les Carmes Haut-Brion is simply magnificent. Rose petal, wild black cherry, sage, menthol, licorice and dried herbs add myriad shades of complexity to this explosive, dense wine. As always, Les Carmes is done with a fair amount of whole clusters, 40% in this case, but in 2018, the maturity is such that the stems are very well integrated into the wine's fabric. The blend is 37% Cabernet Franc, 34% Merlot and 29% Cabernet Sauvignon.
The march of Carmes Haut-Brion continues in 2018. Once again it stands out for a number of reasons: not least because of its high amount of Cabernet Franc, and also because it is made with 53% whole-bunch fermentation - a brave choice by winemaker Guillaume Poutier and one that pays off hugely in terms of balance and lean muscular build. Even without knowing any of the story behind the bottle, you would be hard-pressed to pass this wine by. It has obvious intensity but as you sit with it the softness and approachability of the tannins becomes apparent, helped by the inviting floral edge to the nose, adding peony and violet lift. The black fruits running through the palate are tight but silky and seductive - this has a higher Cab count than usual because the Merlots were more affected by the challenges of the vintage. The palate pulses, switching between richness and delicacy, feeling expertly handled. You get the feeling that you can relax - they've got everything covered! It will inevitably close down in a few years, but until then you could almost go for it with a good carafe. IPT95. Harvested 13-28 September. 3.58pH. Ageing is mostly in large oak casks, 76% new, plus 9% aged in amphorae. Drinking Window 2027 - 2042
Extremely exotic and perfumed on the nose this is a fabulously flamboyant wine and the oak is massive but also extremely enticing, too. The richness and depth of fruit is sensational and I love the overall balance, even though this is a rather heavy and muscular wine.
This blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc is taken from parcels planted on gravel. Dark red cherry, ripe raspberries and succulent red plums. This possesses a graceful silkiness and round generous sweet juicy fruits mixed with some spice, all balanced with a delicious gravelly mineral core that adds a touch of refreshing salinity towards the finish. Very suave and harmonious on the finish. This will drink well early and also has the pedigree and concentration to cellar for a number of years. Impressive and will be certainly be one the value wines of the vintage, although sadly very little is made.
This is produced by Denis Durantou of Château L’Eglise Clinet. The vineyard is in Lalande de Pomerol on gravel-based sandy soils. The 2018 La Chenade is composed of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc with 30% new oak. Deep purple-black in color, the nose is slightly reticent and broody, offering notes of tar, chargrill and damp soil to begin, giving way to a core of fresh plums, black cherries and kirsch plus touches of bay leaves and iron ore. Medium-bodied, the palate is fresh and juicy with plenty of bright black fruit and a plush texture, finishing long and refreshing.
Shows an herbal note out front, with light cherry and damson plum fruit. Silky finish.
This is really delicious and fresh with lovely dark berries and purity at the same time. Medium body, fine tannins and a lovely finish.
The 2018 La Chenade is another stellar wine in Denis Durantou's lineup. Ripe, racy and exuberant, the 2018 is super-expressive, even in the early going. Succulent red cherry, plum, spice and new leather add layers of nuance. Ultimately, though, La Chenade is a wine of pure and total pleasure more than anything else. Floral notes and a final burst of red-toned fruit add character to this Lalande de Pomerol from sandy, gravelly soils.
This is super fresh and juicy - an easy wine to recommend. It’s full of well-ripened autumnal fruits and is in fact pretty concentrated in terms of flavours – a wine that shows just how fully the grapes ripened on gravel soils in 2018 and yet maintains its floral aromatics and sense of easy elegance. 30% new oak was used. A yield of 40hl/ha. Drinking Window 2024 - 2038
Thrilling balance and great density of fruit mark this as a wine with huge potential and the oak is certainly present, but it is the skin tannins which bring the palate together. Imposing and indulgent this is a mighty wine and there is a superb red-fruited theme in the background which will emerge in time.
A real head turner, this wine jumps out at the glass! Full of spiced blueberry fruits, with smoky peppery undertones. A richly flamboyant style, great volume of fruit and well rounded tannins. A very complete blend of five varieties; mainly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but also Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and the rare used Carmenère. A brilliant effort here from the Mouton team.
The 2018 Clerc Milon is composed of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 1% Carménère. Grapes were harvested a bit later here than at Mouton, from September 17 to October 10. Deep garnet-purple colored, it leaps from the glass with bold scents of warm cassis, blackberry compote and dark chocolate with hints of Morello cherries, baking spices and dried roses plus a waft of underbrush. It has a wonderfully rich, confidently sensuous palate with plenty of spicy layers and a velvety texture, finishing long and perfumed. This should age incredibly.
Very dark cherry colour. Beautifully aromatic – not just pure black fruit but tea leaf and a touch floral. Silky and fresh, elegant in its texture. Juicy and fresh on the finish and much more open than the Armailhac just tasted, the tannins not as thick. Drink 2028-2038
This is well-built, with a sleek and persistent structure carrying energetic cassis, damson plum, violet and iron notes. Offers a long, pure, almost chiseled finish. A strong showing.
Very generous and dense with layers of gorgeous blackberries and blueberries. Full-bodied and so layered with fantastic tannin backbone at the same time.
The 2018 Clerc Milon is laced with generous dark fruit, chocolate, licorice and gravel, all of which give the wine its distinct aromatic inflections. Powerful and tannic, the 2018 is going to need at least a few years to come into its own, but it is quite promising. The Cabernet Sauvignon is particularly expressive at this stage. Clerc Milon is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 1% Carmenère.
The progression of this property continues to be evident in the glass with a beautiful classicism, full of life and layers comprising dark spice and touches of black pepper against blueberry and cool fruits, pumped up by black chocolate and liquorice. It’s confident and clearly has a fierce quality to the tannins giving a long life ahead of it. The harvest started on September 17, one week later than Mouton because of its cooler terroir, with the blend completed by 3% Petit Verdot and 1% Carmanère. This is the last vintage with Jean-Emmanuel Donjoy at the helm as he’s making his way over to Mouton-Rothschild to work alongside Philippe Dhalluin. A tough gig to turn down of course, but I will miss the work he has done here and look forward to seeing what his successor will add. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
Spicy and detailed on the nose and palate, this is a feisty Clerc Milon with attractive blackberry fruit and a bold attack of flavours from the off. The nose is ripe and there is obvious oak in play here, but it will settle into the core of the wine in due course. Nice and chunky and lacking in any subtlety this is a wine which approaches you head on and I like its attitude.
Clos du Marquis is not the second wine of Ch Léoville Las Cases but comes from specific parcels of vines under the great property’s ownership near its neighbours, Léoville Barton and Poyferré. This is a superb example of St Julien, with intense dark cassis and black cherry flavours. It balances approachable sweet fruits, with hints of cocoa. It has an excellent balance between good chewy firmness, refinement and length on the finish. Deeply flavoured and very long.
The 2018 Clos du Marquis is composed of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc, with 13% press wine added back to the blend. Grapes were harvested September 18 to October 10, with yields of 35.5 hectoliters per hectare, and the wine has 14.5% alcohol. It will be aged in barriques, 55% new. The finished blend was put into barrels last December. Deep purple-black in color, it displays flamboyant scents of kirsch, crushed black cherries and warm cassis with hints of cinnamon stick, underbrush and chocolate box plus a waft of sandalwood. Full-bodied and built like a brick house with firm, grainy tannins and bold freshness supporting the muscular fruit, it finishes long and spicy.
Deep purple core and bright purple rim. Deep, dark and charry. Combination of ripe and intense cassis and a rocky, more savoury quality to add complexity, yet it's scented too. Tannins are incredibly fine, many layered, dry and yet supple. And great freshness. A very good second wine. Drink 2025-2038
Warm and fleshy in feel, with steeped plum and boysenberry flavors. Light ganache and licorice notes underscore the finish. Slightly brooding in feel today, but retains a healthy core of fruit.
The purple-fruit and black-olive character with violet undertones is wonderful here. Full-bodied, yet reserved and intense. Finesse. Graphite and minerality. Layered.
The 2018 Clos du Marquis is a powerful, heady Saint-Julien. Smoke, cedar, tobacco, menthol, licorice, iron, scorched earth and gravel all run through this potent, virile Saint-Julien. In 2018, Clos du Marquis is especially tannic. There is so much to like about Clos de Marquis in 2018, but it will need time in bottle. Best of all, it should be a solid value. The blend is 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc. Tasted two times.
Graphite is a marker that you often find in LLC but typically less so in Clos du Marquis, but it's here in 2018. This is a glass-staining purple colour, with a lovely rich quality to the autumnal blackberry and cassis fruits, with the balance of St-Julien and the intensity of the vintage. This is a good vintage to try out this wine, as you definitely get some of the signature of its elder statesman sibling. 55% new oak. Yield of 35.5hl/ha. 3.64pH. Drinking Window 2025 - 2038
This is a restrained and not too demonstrative Clos de Marquis with lovely texture and length and also a silkiness which is incredibly attractive already. The tannins counterbalance the fruit perfectly and the overall feel is of an incredibly good wine with superb freshness and plum fruit which is not too dark or overbearing. I have no doubt that this wine will drink much earlier than the 2016, which is also a favourite.
New to our list in 2017 and received with huge success, this is a wonderful St Emilion Grand Cru on the easterly side of the appellation owned by the Vauthier family, proprietors of Ch Ausone. With a notable predominance of Merlot at 85%, this has bright pomegranate aromas. In the palate there is a warming volume of fruit, some Caribbean spice and the overall richness is balanced by a tightly woven tannic core. Ripe and full, a superb cuvée.
The 2018 La Clotte is made up of 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Deep purple-black in color, it leaps from the glass with gregarious scents of crushed blueberries, Morello cherries and black raspberries with touches of oolong tea, violets, mocha and cigar box plus a waft of cedar. Full-bodied with a solid frame of fine-grained tannins and oodles of freshness, it is packed with vibrant black and blue fruits layers, finishing long with great purity.
A tight and firm red with dark berries and wet earth. Medium-bodied, racy and bright. Shows tension and structure for the vintage.
The 2018 La Clotte is fabulous. In fact, I don’t remember a recent vintage that has been anywhere near as compelling as the 2018. Striking aromatics give the 2018 dimension and nuance. On the palate, the wine is every bit as arresting in its beauty. Rose petal, mint, sage, lavender and blood orange add vivacity throughout. The Franc really comes through in the wine's aromatic profile and saline-infused finish. I loved it.
As the Vauthier influence continues to be felt, this is definitely a wine to watch this year. It's a powerful wine with this juicy, seductive texture to the fruit that you see in so many of the best wines in 2018. It's fleshy and brambly, with finely tuned tannins and gorgeous lift through the finish. Harvested between 27 September and 9 October. Right now there's a 10-year programme of vineyard restructuring under way, as well as drainage programmes, and the percentage of Cabernet Franc is set to rise. 100% new oak. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
Always a delicious and rewarding wine, in 2018 this is a fleshy and expressive La Clotte and the fruit is juicy and ripe. The oak is incredible fine, too, given that it is all new. With a raspberry and cherry perfume and a sleek texture, this is a superb wine in this vintage and it will age slowly for twenty years.
This 18 ha estate neighbouring Cos d’Estournel is occasionally overlooked, perhaps due to its small size. In terms of quality however it represents superb value and is very true to its St Estèphe origins. Bright brilliant purple colour, this is full of sweet Black Forest fruits. It has a deliciously mouthcoating texture with soft rounded tannins and an appealing lift on the finish. Excellent.
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Cos Labory is a little reduced to start, unfurling to display notions of baked blackcurrants, blackberry preserves and boysenberries with touches of sautéed herbs, smoked meats and tar. Medium to full-bodied, it has a firm, fine-grained frame and background freshness supporting the elegant black fruit and savory layers, finishing on a lingering mineral note.
Black core with narrow purple rim. Subtle aromas – spicy, ripe yet still fresh black fruit. Dense and thickly textured on the palate, big and tannic so that fruit and fragrance are all hidden on the palate. Dry, chewy but not tough. Drink 2028-2038
The core of fruit in this wine is all there, together with a polished tannin frame that provides form and refinement.
The 2018 Cos Labory is terrific. Pliant, deeply layered and full of complexity, the 2018 has a lot going on. Grilled herbs, cured meats, smoke, licorice and dark fruit all flesh out in this deep, super-expressive Saint-Estèphe. In 2018, Cos Labory is a wine of real character and distinction. The natural concentration of the year, along with a higher percentage of Petit Verdot than normal, result in a Cos Labory with intense fruit and equally huge tannins. Here, too, yields are down 50% at 25 hectoliters per hectare as opposed to 50. The blend is 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot. Tasted two times.
Directly opposite Cos d'Estournel and still a family-run affair on a more low-key scale than its neighbour, Cos Labory has produced a decent wine in 2018, with lovely juicy, rich fruits on the nose. It's a little out of balance as it moves through the palate but there is good bite here, and careful construction. Things soften in the glass but it struggles to get going and is a touch drying on the finish - possibly the low 25hl/ha yields here have had an impact. I have really enjoyed this wine in recent years and there is definitely pleasure to be had in this bottle, but I would suggest heading to the 2016 to really see what the estate is capable of. 50% new oak. Drinking Window 2025 - 2036
A deep hedonistic style showing the warmth of the summer, with sweet black summer fruit aromas. This is rich and warm, with lots of succulence and African spices. A kaleidoscope of flavours, mocha, coffee and fresh vanilla pod. The finish is rich and concentrated.
This is not a second wine as such, because it comes from a dedicated part of the vineyard, located on the south bank of La Mouline. The 2018 La Croix de Beaucaillou is a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot, to be aged 12 months in 60% new barriques. It has a pH of 3.75, 15% alcohol and an IPT (total polyphenol index) of 96. Deep garnet-purple colored, it is a little closed and broody to begin, offering subtle notions of fertile loam, tobacco, truffles and cast iron pan with a core of crème de cassis, blackberry compote and boysenberries with hints of underbrush and bay leaves. Full, rich and seductive in the mouth, it has firm, rounded tannins and just enough freshness to lift the dense fruit to a long finish.
Black hearted. Intense ripe cassis and damson fruit. A slight sourness to the black fruit but the tannins are smooth and compact. There's richness to the fruit and impressive density just a little bitter and some alcoholic heat on the finish. More power than elegance and not very digestible. Drink 2025-2034
The solid core of kirsch and plum sauce flavors is laced with apple wood and graphite notes. Direct and well-built.
This is so savory and delicious with dark-berry and mushroom character and cedar undertones. Lavender and smoke as well. Full body, firm and silky tannins and a flavorful finish.
The 2018 La Croix Ducru-Beaucaillou is an outrageously beautiful, vivid wine. Gravel, crushed rocks, menthol, lavender, espresso, licorice and dark spice all infuse a racy, sumptuous Saint-Julien loaded with personality and class. In 2018 La Croix is especially fine. Ample, voluptuous and racy to the core, the 2018 is stunning in its beauty. I can't wait to taste it from bottle. The 2018 is 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot. Tasted two times.
The 2018 Croix has an IPT of 96 that comes from the unusually small size and thick skins of the Merlots, Cabernets and Petit Verdots. It's a huge wine filled with deep, vivid and intense pencil lead, cassis and sweet black cherry, with a silky texture. It's aged in 70% new oak but this is already well integrated, and the wine is wonderfully stretched out through the palate. An impressive La Croix. 3.75pH. Drinking Window 2026 - 2038
This is a super-dark wine with the highest IPT they have experienced at Ducru. La Croix has pretentions of the throne and it clearly wants to depose the King. The tannins are awesome and dense and dark, but it is also fruit-rich and chocolatey and the overall experience is breath-taking. Very over the top in one respect, but also incredibly focussed and concentrated this is a massive and slightly scary wine.
If this was a vineyard in Burgundy it would be called a Monopole, as Denis owns the entirety of the 0.5 hectare plot. 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc grows on a gravelly clay soil with a little sand. Dark red fruit, black cherry and juicy fleshy red plums. Very supple and silky with a beautiful clarity. Broader in style, it’s a bit more savoury and serious than its neighbour, La Chenade. With an intense mulberry core, the rich ripe fruit takes on complexity of creamy flavours and tobacco spice from the oak and some graphite minerality. It is seductive, extremely drinkable and always offers exceptional value.
This is produced by Denis Durantou of Château L’Eglise Clinet. The 2018 Les Cruzelles is blended of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc with 40% new oak and 14.5% alcohol. Deep purple-black in color, it features slightly reduced notions of asphalt and tires over a core of warm red and black plums, blackberry pie and boysenberries with hints of fruitcake, incense and potpourri. Full-bodied, rich and packed with perfumed black fruit, it has a velvety texture and seamless freshness, finishing long.
In a crowd-pleaser style, with notes of warm plum and cherry preserves forming the core and a light, toasty vanilla frame.
This is a firm and lightly chewy young wine with dark berries and blueberries and wet earth. Stony undertone. Full to medium body. Linear finish.
The 2018 Les Cruzelles emerges from older vines Denis Durantou's Lalande De Pomerol property. Clay/gravelly soils in this parcels give the Cruzelles a darker fruit profile and greater breadth as well as more tannic clout than its sibling. Inky, dark blue/purplish fruit, lavender, spice, menthol and licorice all develop in the glass. This is an especially powerful, structured expression of Lalande de Pomerol, and it works beautifully.
With ‘sweeter’ fruit notes on the nose than both Saintem and La Chenade, this is initially a more flattering wine, but the tannins swoop in and there is a very dry finish here which shows smokiness and tobacco tones, making this an exotic wine. It will need a decade, but I anticipate a complete and complex wine in time.
Denis Lurton, of the great Lurton dynasty, is quiet and thoughtful and his wines are similar: discreet and precise. With lovely pure blackcurrant and cassis flavours, the tannins have subtle grip, but this wine has a natural volume and the favours keep evolving in the palate. Long and subtle.
The deep garnet-purple colored 2018 Desmirail comes rolling out of the glass with exuberant blackcurrant cordial, prunes and baked cherries scents plus hints of tobacco, fried herbs and woodsmoke. Medium to full-bodied, it has a firm, chewy texture with just enough freshness and bags of spiced berry preserves flavors, finishing on an earthy note.
A sappy, vivid style, with exuberant cassis and blackberry puree flavors leading the way, backed by black licorice and a light mesquite thread at the very end. A showy style.
Bright and fresh with a citrus undertone to the dark-berry and dark-chocolate character. Medium body, integrated tannins and a pretty core of fruit.
The 2018 Desmirail is rich, luscious and super-expressive. Hints of blood orange and spice give this punchy Margaux a decidedly exotic flair that works well here. Pliant and forward, with plush fruit and silky tannins, the 2018 has much to offer in a decidedly overt, flamboyant style.
Denis Lurton has quietly made a lovely Margaux in this vintage. It's full of life and vigour, although a little austere - the tannic grip makes the black fruits seem less obviously plump than some, but you get a beautiful sense of lift and length. The floral character of the appellation comes through after a few moments in the glass. A promising wine, this should fill out some of the corners during ageing. Harvested 24 September to 5 October, yielding 45hl/ha. 50% new oak. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
Quite meaty and dense, this is a multi-layered wine which errs on the over-extracted, charry, side of the fence and this means that it is quite a challenge for the palate at this moment in time. There is a touch of raisined fruit here and while this is not necessarily welcome it doesn’t detract too much from the overall shape of the wine. A little too flamboyant for many, this is still an impactful and interesting wine.
Duhart Milon makes it three out of three for the Domaines Baron Rothschild stable in 2018. This is a cracker. Sweet aromas of dark plums and mulberry. This is a direct and intense style with a firm and robust nature. The flavours are dark, with hints of fig and black treacle, which remain throughout balancing the natural firmness and weight of fruit that flow through from start to finish.
The 2018 Duhart-Milon is composed of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot, with the Cabernet Sauvignon harvested September 25 to October 4 and the Merlot harvested September 17-25, and it has 14% alcohol. Deep garnet-purple colored, it leaps from the glass with exuberant notes of Black Forest cake, plum preserves and crème de cassis with hints of spice cake, woodsmoke, potpourri and eucalyptus. Full-bodied, rich and laden with layers of black fruit preserves and spices, it has a velvety texture and just enough freshness, finishing long. Very impressive—the densest, most opulent Duhart I have tasted!
Black core with barely a rim. So wonderfully scented, like the Clerc Milon. Blackcurrant tea, pure cassis, almost floral, but so pretty. Firm and dry but super-refined on the palate, dry tannic finesse. Finely balanced for the long term. Dark and savoury and full of such refined elegance and dark finesse. A beauty. Drink 2028-2038
Generous in feel, with a light herb note darting amid the rich plum and cassis fruit flavors. Displays the weighty fruit of the vintage, with a background of warm earth and tar details on the finish.
This is a very powerful Duhart with blackcurrant and blackberry character. Lots of graphite and black tea. Full-bodied and muscular with lots of formed muscles and great length. Could be best ever?
The 2018 Duhart-Milon is a dense, powerful wine. Black cherry, licorice, dark spice, coffee, gravel and grilled herbs add to an impression of gravitas and brooding power. In 2018, Duhart-Milon is a wine of vertical build and intensity. The elevated ripeness of the vintage is very much in evidence in the wine's flavor profile and richness. It will be interesting to see how the 2018 develops during élevage. The blend is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot.
A wine that is often austere during En Primeur but is here showing its seductive side with a generous texture lending a wonderful richness through the palate giving it the feel of a 2009, although clearly loaded with tannins, but of a softer style than 2010 or 2016. It has a juiciness rippling with bramble fruit on the attack, then the herb, slate and liquorice root come in through the mid-palate adding complexity and gravitas. Harvest took place between 17 September and 4 October. 73IPT. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
Duhart is a wine which often passes me by, but this is certainly a demonstrative wine and it harnesses the heat in the vintage well without tipping over the top. There is a dark, mineral core which brings backbone to the wine and while it is not a delicate wine, it is structured and imposing. The volume of rain at the beginning of the year helped this wine to make it through the hot and dry part of the year and this balance has worked well.
Always one of St Emilion’s great value wines. This breaks the mould with its blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and the final proportion of the little used but fine quality Carmenère. A bright and lively wine, focusing on red fruits with the tannins providing a crisp edge. This is very appealing with a soft gentle finish.
Made up of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Carménère, the deep garnet-purple colored 2018 Fonbel gives up spicy notes of Sichuan pepper, cinnamon stick, cloves and fenugreek with a core of warm red and black cherries, mulberries and fragrant earth. Medium to full-bodied, the palate has wonderful freshness and a soft, creamy texture supporting the vibrant red and black fruit preserves flavors, finishing with a peppery lift.
A juicy and rich young wine with lots of fruit and density. Round and soft tannins with hints of freshness at the same time.
The 2018 de Fonbel is a gorgeous entry-level wine in the Vauthier family's range. Plush, succulent and inviting, the 2018 radiates with striking fruit density. Soft curves and silky tannins give the wine's its pure appeal. Sweet floral and spiced notes add complexity, but more than anything else, Fonbel stands out for its glorious fruit and allure. Exotic spice and black pepper notes from the Carmenère are laced into the finish I loved it.
Always one of the more accessible of the Vauthier range, this is really good in 2018. It's rich and lyrical, with lovely aromatics and great clarity to the raspberry and redcurrant flavours. It has firm but flexible tannins, and is altogether rather delicious. Touches of spice reveal themselves on the finish. Harvested 24 September to 8 October with a 30hl/ha yield. 30% new oak. Drinking Window 2024 - 2036
Ch Gazin’s great terroir and history is highly respected, but in recent years this estate has gone through something of a personality change. The current team craft a more opulent and flamboyant style than historically, and this is a beautiful example. Masses of sweet generous Black Forest fruits, a very supple style, with a light tannic core sitting under the striking volume of fruit. Gentle freshness and a rewarding aftertaste of liquorice and black fruit.
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Gazin (composed of 93% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc) has quite an earthy/broody nose to begin, with subtle black soil, tar and chargrill notes giving way to a core of prunes, baked blueberries and sautéed herbs. Full, muscular and chewy in the mouth, it has loads of earthy layers and a dried herbs lift on the finish.
Dark plum and blackberry reduction flavors pick up light ganache and licorice snap notes along the way. Has the vintage's grip on the back end, giving this a serious feel.
This is very tight and polished with a compact and beautiful palate of blackberries, currants and black olives. Full-bodied yet structurally solid with a very long finish.
The 2018 Gazin was impressive all three times I tasted it. Powerful and vibrant, with terrific persistence, the 2018 has more than enough supporting structure to balance the natural richness of the year. Grilled herbs, scorched earth, iron, licorice, mint and dried flowers give the red/purplish toned fruit a decidedly savory dimension that is hugely attractive. Some samples showed quite a bit of tannin, but the wine has more than enough breadth to develop beautifully during élevage and beyond. Tasted three times.
This is a little less densely knitted than Gazin in some vintages, perhaps because there is no Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, but it has clear blueberry fruits, with black chocolate and graphite edges. There’s plenty of personality and grip and the Gazin tannins flex their muscles at the close of play – it’s good, but for me the 2016 is a more classic example of the estate. 50% new oak was used. 3.67pH. Drinking Window 2028 - 2040
There is some nice depth of fruit on the nose and it leads with this theme as opposed to oak, which is a relief. The palate is juicy and ripe and the finish manages to maintain this fruit, too. It is a big wine, but everything is in proportion and the oak, while quite prominent, does not overtake the wine.
For sheer price vs quality this superb little wine deserves ten out of ten. It is everything a top cru bourgeois should be and highlights the outstanding quality of wines within this category in 2018. Intense dark colour, the focus is on cassis and blackcurrants. It is wonderfully flamboyant and the kernel of deliciously ripe tannins provides a feeling of real class. Rounded with a subtle firmness.
The 2018 Gloria is deep garnet-purple colored and gives up expressive notions of warm red and black currants, black cherries and boysenberries with hints of spice cake, cedar chest, pencil lead and menthol. Full-bodied with a firm texture of ripe, grainy tannins, it has a lively line cutting through the dense, savory layers, finishing on a lingering spicy note. The blend is currently 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. Anticipated aging is for 14 months in oak barriques, 40% new.
Deepest cherry red. Aromatic black fruit, finely scented without excess sweetness or ripeness. On the palate, flattened a bit by the oak and the tannins, which are compact and layered but dominant at the moment. Should come round once they slim down and unlock the fruit. Drink 2026-2034
There's lots here, with raspberry, blackberry, currant and blueberry fruit all playing a role, along with lively briar and licorice snap notes. An apple wood frame keeps the elements in line.
This is a tight and linear red, showing dark berries and blueberries with cedar with flowers. Full-bodied and foursquare. Framed and focused.
Gloria is once again fabulous. Brisk and vibrant, the 2018 has so much to offer. The 2018 is a bit more linear than other recent vintages (such as the 2016) but it nevertheless has a lot to offer. Bright red cherry, cedar, tobacco, spice and floral notes pulse with tremendous energy. The tannins need a few years in bottle to unwind, but there is so much to look forward to. The blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. Tasted four times.
Gloria is fast becoming one of the most exciting insider wines of the entire Bordeaux region, and that rare species of a non-classified St-Julien. The fruit here is brambly, textured and autumnal, and again the alcohol seems generous but balanced, with plenty of St-Julien finesse. It has a feeling of not needing to go too far to convince anyone. This is some austerity here but there's a bounce to the tannins through the mid-palate, while the alcohol is clearly there but not dominant, helped I would expect by relatively generous yields of 46hl/ha. Very good quality. 5% Cabernet Franc makes up the blend. 50% new oak. Drinking Window 2027 - 2040
There is a nice bonus of red fruit in this wine which sits atop the darker core and it excites the palate. The tannins and acidity are both firm and unresolved, but the fruit is holding them back so I can taste this wine easily. Good balance and decent shape make this an unexpected success for Gloria.
Haut Batailley is situated on the western side of Pauillac. This is the second vintage under the new ownership of the Cazes family, proprietors of Ch Lynch Bages. This is a deep intense wine with strong elderberry aromas. And a hint of new vanilla oak. The overall character is plush and ripe with sweet flavours of mocha and peppery spice. The underlying tannings provide grip and energy for this very sophisticated Pauillac.
Blended of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon and 41% Merlot aging in 60% new barriques, the 2018 Haut Batailley is very deep purple-black in color and takes some coaxing to reveal profound notes of dark chocolate, crème de cassis, blueberry pie and anise with waves of raspberry pie, lavender and Indian spices. Full, very tightly would and jam-packed with layers of crunchy black and blue fruits, it has a firm line of ripe, grainy tannins and compelling freshness, finishing long with a mineral hint coming through.
Dark and pure on the nose just a touch stony/smoky to add finesse to the fruit. Oak is quite evident on the palate but there's fruit to fill it out. Less aromatic than the second wine (new name: Verso) but there's still a restraint and subtlety in a powerful vintage. Long on the finish yet the persistence is gentle. Fine-grained tannin texture. Drink 2026-2038
Fresh and driven, opening with a piercing iron note that is quickly met by a core of racy cassis and damson plum flavors. Everything extends nicely through the pure finish.
I can’t remember a Haut-Batailley this tannic, yet the tannins are savory and very ripe with beauty and purity. Full-bodied, chewy tannins and a long and intense finish.
The 2018 Haut-Batailley is a powerful, virile Pauillac. Black cherry, lavender, spice, menthol, licorice and chocolate are pushed forward, with tons of Cabernet Sauvignon character in both the wine's flavor and structural profile. This is a decidedly unctuous, powerful style, and the elements still need time to fully come together, especially the oak. The blend is 59% Cabernet Sauvignon and 41% Merlot.
This is a lovely wine from the second vintage under Lynch Bages’ ownership, full of power and poise and controlled precision. It has a slightly unusual blend owing to a greater proportion of Merlot than has been used in previous vintages, but it doesn't suffer in terms of concentration due to the thick skins and structure of the Merlots in 2018, and what you get instead is a creamy, velvety texture through the mid palate. It has lots of tannins but they have the enrobed quality that comes from the higher than usual alcohols, and are extremely seductive. It’s more lightly framed than the Lynch Bages, as it was in 2017, and is enjoyable. 3.61pH. 81IPT. Drinking Window 2024 - 2036
Owner Basile Tesseron is maximising the benefits afforded to him by his wonderful new winery. His 2018 reflects the deep density of fruit so typical of the estate, but it also has a new found charm and is wonderfully comfortable in its own skin. Dark in colour with bright crunchy fruit aromas. This is beautifully polished, balancing an innate richness of black fruits with harmonious rounded tannins and a gentle zest of freshness on the finish.
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Lafon-Rochet is scented of cassis, blackberries, herbs and soil with tar and underbrush. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is firm and grainy with herb sparks and an earthy finish.
Deepest crimson core with wide purple rim. Unusual nose: wild black fruits, vibrant fruit. Intense too, a bit like a blackcurrant pastille. Really expressive on the nose. Chocolate flavour and texture on the palate, not as vibrant as I expected from the nose, perhaps just all curled up inside the oak. The freshness on the finish is lovely. And the finish very long. Very good. Drink 2028-2038
Light pepper and bay leaf accents lead the way, followed by ripe plum and blackberry compote flavors. Juicy and open in feel up front, but acquires a nice tug of earth through the finish.
A firm and silky red with blackberries and hints of chocolate and hazelnut character. Medium to full body. Beautiful, fresh finish.
A wine of lovely finesse the 2018 Lafon-Rochet offers a striking combination of fruit density and nuance, all in an understated style that is quite appealing. Dark cherry, sweet tobacco, menthol, dried flowers and mint all run through this silky, supple Saint-Estèphe. As always, Lafon-Rochet is one of the more laid back, elegant wines of the appellation. Even so, the 2018 has lovely mid-palate sweetness and silky tannins, both of which add to its considerable appeal. The blend is 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc. Yields were a healthy 50 hectoliters per hectare, higher than the average, which is closer to 42-45. Tasted three times.
I presume Basile Tesseron is feeling pretty relieved that he decided not to continue with organics in February 2018, as the ability to be more flexible with treatments proved pretty important during the rest of the season. The result is very good, full of juice and life, with crunchy blackberry and cassis fruits that are up there in expression with the 2016. It has clear quality, but is also pretty austere, with good slate minerality and touches of hedgerow. It feels like a wine with good life ahead and something to say. 4% Cabernet Franc makes up the blend. Harvested 24 September to 11 October. 3.7pH. Drinking Window 2026 - 2038
This is a super-succulent Lafon-Rochet with fleshy Cabernet fruit which is nicely weighted with just the right amount of oak and spice. The nose is beautiful and there are mulberry notes overlaying the cassis core. A lip-smacking wine, which adds crisp tannins and bright acidity to its ingredients, this is undoubtedly another Saint-Estèphe winner in 2018.
Owned by the Borie family of Ch Ducru Beaucaillou, this is a separate vineyard on the western side of St Julien sitting alongside the great classified growths of the appellation. Luscious dark berry fruits, with hints of Christmas cake and spice. On the palate the sweetness of fruit is balanced by a touch of freshness and a fine granular tannic finish.
The 2018 Lalande-Borie is composed of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, with a pH of 3.77 and 14.5% alcohol. It is to be aged 12 months in barriques, 30% new. Deep garnet-purple colored, it gives up gregarious notions of baked black cherries, warm blackberries and cassis with hints of pencil lead, camphor and underbrush plus a waft of Sichuan pepper. Full-bodied with bags of black fruit, it has a plush frame and just enough freshness, finishing long and earthy.
Black core. Dark, ripe and spicy. Lively even though the fruit is so dark it is almost savoury. Dry, firm and still rounded on the finish. Drink 2024-2032
Juicy and inviting in feel, with blueberry and blackberry compote flavors. Shows a good bolt of singed mesquite through the finish. On the showy side and very tasty.
A red with lots of blackberry and currant aromas and flavors. Full body, firm tannins and a salty finish. Minerally.
The 2018 Lalande-Borie is pliant, supple and wonderfully inviting. Bright floral notes perk up the red/purplish berry fruit in a silky, succulent Saint-Julien that will drink well right out of the gate. In the glass, the 2018 is heady and alluring, and yet it retains its classic mid-weight personality and structure. Readers will have a hard time keeping their hands off this jewel of a wine. The blend is 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon.
The colour on these wines is wonderful, clearly showing just how easy the extraction was in 2018 - an IPT of 90 in the Lalande Borie has got to be a record. They have handled the wine extremely well this year, showing tension through the palate between beautiful freshness, firm tannins and juicy, appetising fruit. It's unquestionably powerful, and you are definitely getting a lot of bang for your buck here. Very drinkable. 35hl/ha yield. Drinking Window 2024 - 2036
Even though Merlot leads the way it behaves like Cabernet in this wine. As Bruno Borie explained rather cryptically, ‘the Merlot was Médoc before being Merlot’. This is an extraordinary wine with incredible impact and depth and it is a stunning example of Lalande Borie with amazing balance on board already. It will drink soon and then it will age for longer than expected, too. Without doubt the most remarkable Lalande-Borie I have ever seen, this is a superb wine from start to finish.
Sitting on the very edge of St Julien, Ch Lanessan is one of the most consistent wines in its category. With deep aromas of blackcurrants, this balances a good richness of fruit and an appealing Cabernet drive. This has good length, rounded tannins, and is lightly fresh on the finish.
The 2018 Lanessan is deep garnet-purple colored with black cherries, cassis, mulberries and baked plums on the nose with herbs, earth and tea hints. Medium to full-bodied, it is a little chewy and herbal with the oak poking through on the finish.
Shows tightness and focus with blackcurrant and olive character on the nose and palate. Medium body, fine tannins and a flavorful finish.
I have enjoyed Lanessan over the last few years, and there's a lot to take note of here. It's a pretty serious take on the vintage with a strong architecture of cassis fruits, pencil lead and slate, more 2016 than 2015 in style. It should age well. Good value. Harvested 24 September to 16 October. Ageing is in 33% new oak. Drinking Window 2024 - 2038
A nice nose and good balance make this one of the more harmonious wines in the Haut-Médoc in this vintage. Not too heavy or forced this is a nice wine with a charming feel about it.
This delightfully elegant property festooned in flowering wisteria during the primeur week has been home to Anthony Barton since he inherited the estate from his Uncle Ronald Barton. A beautifully classic example of St Julien, shining purple in colour, full of dark fruits with a hint of black olive. I loved the central core of fruit in the palate, with a kernel of tight intense tannins providing an additional dimension to the wine. This has drive and energy with a finish of delicious sweet black fruit. Lovely.
The deep garnet-purple colored 2018 Langoa Barton is slightly shy at this nascent stage, revealing wonderfully pure, warm red and black currant scents with nuances of blueberry preserves, chocolate mint, smoked meat and a waft of bouquet garni. Full-bodied, rich and sporting a lot of vibrant, juicy fruit in the mouth, it has firm, rounded tannins and a lively backbone lifting the fruit to a good, long finish.
Black core. Intense, small-berried wild black fruits. A very nice combination of dark fruit and savoury black olive. Firm, dense and compact in tannin structure but not tough or drying, just very tannic. The second time I tasted this it seemed more supple. Even with these obvious tannins, there's freshness on the very end. Drink 2027-2037
This has the ripe, intense, racy feel of the vintage, with cassis, plum and blueberry compote flavors, carried by a long graphite spine. A textbook 2018 and a textbook St.-Julien.
There’s real freshness to the crushed-raspberry and blueberry character of this young red. Medium-to full-bodied and zingy with energetic tannins. Crisp finish. Lovely purity of fruit to this.
I was really impressed with the 2018 Langoa Barton. Fresh, floral and silky, with tremendous fruit purity, the 2018 is delicate and understated to the core. Langoa is always one of the most gracious wines of Saint-Julien. The 2018 has an extra kick of textural resonance that makes it incredibly appealing and delicious. The 2018 is an especially fine Langoa Barton. Tasted two times.
The gap has been closing recently between Langoa and Léoville Barton, but Langoa is not quite keeping up in this vintage. There's no question that here is a firm, structured, complex and concentrated wine with an effortless St-Julien signature, but the tannins are a touch more foursquare on the finish, not quite as supple and full of life as in 2016. Still, it will be ready to drink sooner and offers tons of pleasure in the glass, so I'm not complaining. 60% new oak. Drinking Window 2026 - 2038
A lovely and balanced wine with some superb length and controlled flavours, there is none of the super-ripeness seen in other estates and in its place is a layered and elegant wine and this is exactly what Langoa should be. Relaxed, honed and cultured, this is a delightful wine.
A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc. At 13.5% alcohol, this is very much at the lower end of the spectrum for this warm vintage. Masses of Black Forest gateau aromas and flavours. This is luscious and giving, with a charming degree of intensity, an appealing succulent modern style, and very good freshness. A lovely example of Margaux in 2018.
The deep garnet-purple colored 2018 Malescot St. Exupery comes prancing out of the glass with flamboyant raspberry coulis, kirsch and redcurrant jelly scents over a fresh blackcurrant and boysenberry core with wafts of red roses, cinnamon stick and forest floor. Full-bodied, rich and opulent in the mouth, the palate delivers stacks of red fruit, cassis and floral layers with a firm, finely grained frame and plenty of freshness, finishing long and fragrant. Just lovely.
Black core with narrow rim. Pretty oaky on the nose but a hint of something prettily floral underneath. The oak is covering the fruit at the moment but there’s flesh at the core, and the tannins are just slightly hard on the finish. The juicy fruit in the middle gives it a chance for the future. Drink 2025-2033
Fresh and silky in feel, with light herb and sanguine notes amid the cassis and cherry puree flavors. Graceful and very pure.
A structured and muscular Malescot with blackberry and blackcurrant aromas and flavors. Full-bodied, chewy tannins and a flavorful finish. Big wine for this producer.
The 2018 Malescot Saint Exupéry is fabulous. Powerful and explosive in the glass, and yet remarkably polished, the 2018 is impressive. Graphite, smoke, gravel, spice and leather infuse a potent, full-bodied Margaux built on structure. Even so, in this vintage, Malescot shows unusually supple tannins and a softer feel than is usually the case. The blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. Tasted three times.
Malescot is always a relatively modern style, and it stays true to form in 2018. It's an enjoyable, high energy wine but it doesn't quite reach the heights of its 2016. It's a rich damson colour, with plump fruit on the attack. The oak impact is a little forced, and this is clearly aiming for vibrancy and character. 5% Petit Verdot completes the blend. Drinking Window 2026 - 2038
The riverside road on the east of St Estèphe is a wonderful route to see the unique terroir and great classified growth vineyards of this fine appellation. Pass the grandeur of Ch Montrose and immediately next door is the charmingly humble property of Ch Meyney – you will be instantly struck by how special its terroir must also be. One of our “value buys” of the vintage. Shining purple colour, with open aromas of dark hedgerow fruits, this is plush, polished and luscious. The tannins are very ripe and rounded, and it has a lovely warming sensation on the finish.
The deep garnet-purple colored 2018 Meyney gives up blackcurrants, black berries and plums on the nose with earth and spices plus fried herbs and lots of oak. The big, full-bodied palate has some promising fruit but is a bit hard and oaky.
Black core with deep purple rim. Very oaky on the nose, sweetly toasty as a counterpoint to stony, dark fruit. The oak really dominates the palate, the tannins thereby thickened, like thick chocolate. Chewy finish but it does have enough freshness. Drink 2025-2035
Pure and direct, featuring damson plum and cherry fruit flavors streaming through, laced with tobacco and chalk notes. Good streamlined finish.
A very dense yet tight and focused red with blackcurrants, blackberries and hints of spices and walnuts. Full-bodied, very compact and long. Intense finish.
The 2018 Meyney is powerful, dense and super-expressive. Gravel, game, scorched earth, smoke, licorice, incense and spice infuse this potent, virile Saint-Estèphe. The fruit profile and oak integration point to a transition towards a less extracted style. Even so, there is plenty of the richness readers have come to expect from Meyney. Tasted two times.
It's clear that this is hugely concentrated, as is the Montrose right next door, but there's also beautiful juice and freshness underneath the black fruits and the powerful grip. Tannins, acidity and fruit: it's all there. This is great quality and should be long-lived, with a rich palate, evenly balanced and austere in all the right places. Another good vintage at this increasingly impressive property. Drinking Window 2024 - 2040
This is a blend of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon grown on plots high up in the Côtes de Castillon. A very inviting highly aromatic nose of fresh cassis, blueberries and crunchy cranberries, with hints of spice and gravely minerals. Silky cashmere tannins and layered fruit flow through the broad rich palate. There is a little more structure and muscle thanks to the Cabernet Sauvignon, and this will benefit from a few years ageing. This will offer great value to those looking for something to cellar and enjoy in a few years’ time.
Produced by Denis Durantou of Château L’Eglise Clinet, the 2018 Montlandrie is a blend of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon with 14.5% alcohol and is currently aging in 40% new oak. Deep purple-black in color, it features fragrant notes of lilacs, Morello cherries and blueberry compote over a core of plum preserves and woodsmoke plus a waft of underbrush. The medium to full-bodied palate is richly fruited with black and blue fruits, lifted by earthy accents and lovely freshness, finishing long and velvety textured.
On the ripe and slightly heady side, with a healthy dose of toasted vanilla surrounding the steeped plum and blackberry fruit. Shows a bit more oomph than freshness, but remains solid.
This shows a really beautiful core of ripe fruit with dark chocolate and blueberries. Full body and firm, chewy tannins. Flavorful finish.
A sleeper in 2018, Montlandrie is powerful, racy and super-expressive. Succulent red cherry, raspberry, mocha, licorice and rose petals all run through this racy, polished Côtes de Castillon from Denis Durantou. Sweet floral notes add brightness in the glass. The tannins just need time to soften. Tasted two times.
This is very good quality and has beautiful complexity right off the bat - Denis Durantou's Castillon estate is pretty much always one of my value picks, although the price is rising. This takes its time, there’s a touch of reduction that clears in the glass before the layers of juicy brambly fruits come to the fore ending with a fairly delicate finish. Although the power is clearly there, he keeps a clever nuance in the flavours. 40% new oak was used. Drinking Window 2021 - 2030
The tannins are incredibly commanding here, but if you can see past them the fruit is insanely beautiful and dramatic. With amazing complexity and layers and layers of red fruit, this is a luxurious wine with staggering grip and it will repay only the most patient of collectors.
A blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, this is a striking cuvée. Full of luscious wild bramble fruits, there is a hint of fresh tobacco and iron filings. The tannins are extremely fine and a gentle freshness flows through the palate. This is a really appealing style which will give youthful pleasure but also have the ability to age.
Blended of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, the 2018 Moulin Saint-Georges is deep purple-black colored and opens slowly to display notions of sautéed herbs, menthol and pencil shavings over a core of chocolate-covered cherries, baked plums and cedar plus a waft of potpourri. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is elegantly played with lively, juicy fruit framed by plush tannins and finishes with a floral skip in its step.
This shows brightness and firmness with lovely tannin and acidity balance to the ripe fruit. Racy at the end.
The alcohols are a touch higher than usual here, as at Ausone, but it retains an excellent fresh feel. This is always my wine to buy from the Vauthier lineup for the 95% of us who can't afford Ausone, and here again it is gorgeous, with the most perfect line of sight to the generous black fruits, showing sapidity and juice. 100% new oak. Drinking Window 2025 - 2040
This is a wonderfully complete wine with freshness and depth and also a lovely lifted perfume. The palate is not too tense and so it is easy to appreciate the black fruit and the finish is long and fine, without being too dry or hard. The oak, while powerful, is very well integrated in this wine.
All the talk at this estate was of the tiny yields, just 11 hl/ha, and that they made just one wine this year, no Alter Ego at all. Despite the difficulties they experienced in the vineyard, this is a hugely successful wine. With masses of dark summer fruits, this is a very structured wine, less voluptuous than some vintages. A strikingly intense wine, with quite pronounced tannins, but the deliciously sweet black fruit is the lasting sensation, convincing that there really is enough fruit to cope with the pronounced degree of masculinity underneath.
The 2018 Palmer is composed of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot. Grapes were harvested September 13 to October 15, and the wine has a 3.83 pH and 14.3% alcohol. Very deep purple-black in color, the nose is a little reticent to begin, but with coaxing, it slowly emerges to show fragrant violets, underbrush, mossy bark and iron ore with exponentially growing notions of crème de cassis, Black Forest cake, plum preserves, hoisin, Christmas cake and red roses with wafts of dusty earth, Indian spices and cracked black pepper. Full-bodied, concentrated and downright powerful in the mouth, it has a solid structure of firm, wonderfully plush tannins and masses of fragrant accents, finishing very long and very spicy. By the time I finished tasting this, the nose had exploded in this fragrant bomb of fruit, earth and floral notions. This is one of those 2018 wines that has a beguiling brightness that comes from the many floral, spice and mineral accents among all that rich fruit. WOW!
Black with barely a purple rim. Intense, concentrated cassis and blackberry, super-ripe but absolutely not overripe, a little bit of alcohol on the nose, lightly floral even with all this concentration. Very dark, almost a little tarry, black olive. Dark and rocky. On the palate, incredible concentration and density but with no thickness or astringency. So dense but so clean-lined and precise. Tannins are dry and compact but smooth and there’s an amazing freshness that seems to come from the compact tannins. And your mouth feels clean on the finish. So moreish even though at the moment you would have to take small sips. Great finesse to the texture even in such a big wine. Dark, dark and savoury on the finish. No sweetness even though the fruit is pure and ripe. Drink 2028-2045
The level of glycerine sets this apart, giving the cascade of plum, currant, blackberry and black cherry fruit extra oomph, while seeming to heighten the purity at the same time. Beautiful violet, incense and juniper notes flash in the background. This is packed with iron-laced grip, but remains seamless and extremely long. I suspect this will be one of the most talked-about wines of the vintage.
It is the essence of cabernet fruit with density that is so thick that it has the texture of grape puree. Full body and melted tannins that give the wine a sense of velvet. Very soft and juicy. With air, it goes to bright, crushed black currants. Tar. Fresh tannins give it energy. I have never tasted anything like this in all my 38 years as a wine critic in Bordeaux. From tiny berries of cabernet sauvignon (53 per cent), 40 per cent merlot and seven per cent petit verdot.
The 2018 Palmer is a freak of nature from yields of just 11 hectoliters per hectare harvested over an entire month by CEO Thomas Duroux and his team. Rich, unctuous and flamboyant in its ripeness, the 2018 possesses off the charts intensity from start to finish. Blackberry jam, espresso, crème de cassis, licorice, menthol, lavender and cloves develop in a palate-staining, hedonistic Palmer that oozes with personality. This extravagantly ripe Margaux won't be for everyone, but it is a stunning, head-spinning wine that may, in time, very well join the ranks of the truly epic Palmers. A wine of pure and total pleasure, the 2018 is nearly impossible to resist. The blend is 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot. In 2018, Palmer bottled just their Grand Vin and no Alter Ego.
Possibly the most talked about estate in the vintage, with its mildew-induced 11hl/ha yields making waves all the way back at harvest time. They made it through though, and have made an exceptional wine that will clearly be discussed and enjoyed for years to come. There's no denying that the yields have had an impact - even in the colour you see a rich, velvety density with the violet edging that suggests a good pH (it's 3.83, so a touch higher than usual). There is a stunning sweetness to the cassis and bilberry fruits, and it retains the finesse and floral aromatics of Palmer even with the concentration, complexity and depth on show here. It also has the signature of the vintage, and despite the volume of tannins it feels silky and seductive, and you wonder if it will close down at all. This certainly has a long life ahead of it. Sadly there is no Alter Ego in 2018, for the first time since it was created in 1998, with the production of the grand vin down by about 50% on a normal year. Harvest ran from 13 September to 15 October, and 90% of production went into the grand vin due to the low yields. No sulphur was added to the fruit until after malo, and it is aged in 70% new oak, already barely discernible. Thomas Duroux said, by the way, that if mildew pressure happened again to this extent, he would treat despite his strong commitment to biodynamics. Let's hope it doesn't come to that. Drinking Window 2028 - 2044
There was no Alter Ego made in 2018 and with only 11hl/ha yields, winemaker Thomas Duroux was lucky that he had any fruit at all to make his beloved Grand Vin. Thomas explained that it was his job to keep the Palmer DNA in this wine, at all costs. It therefore took his team a month to harvest just 60 hl of wine – they were most likely picking berry by berry! It certainly tastes like this wine was made using kid gloves though because it is every inch a remarkable creation. By trying to avoid concentration but to remain relaxed enough to harvest every single vine at the right time Palmer have made a triumphant wine in 2018. Had there been any pressure to rush out and pick this would not have been possible, but this vintage is unlike any other. Winemaking was all about following the pointers of the vintage while trying to maintain some semblance of control. What a revelation this wine is. It is super-fresh on the nose, palate and finish. There is amazing buoyancy of fruit with an eye-popping crunch of acidity underneath the extraordinary papal purple colour. Mega-precise, focussed and all-enveloping this is one of the most fascinating and mesmerising wines of the year. Thomas thinks it is a milestone wine at Palmer as he has never made any like this before. Like some of the other great vintages from this Château it was born of accident if you like. I simply allowed the ridiculously decadent fruit to wash over my palate while the Asian spices, liquorice root, violet and espresso details tweaked the synapses in my brain. The finish was still going half an hour after I left the property. This is a sublime wine.
This great estate has enormous pedigree and has produced an extremely striking wine this vintage. Full of damsons, sloes and Victoria plums, there is masses of ripeness and generosity. It gains an added dimension from the drive of ripe tannins which flow though the wine. A full, long wine with an appealing gravelly edge.
This wine is a blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc to be aged for approximately 18 months in oak barriques, 60% new. Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Pape Clement is a little closed, slowly unfurling to reveal fragrant earth, crushed rocks, iron ore and tobacco notions over a core of crushed red and black currants plus kirsch, red roses and Ceylon tea. Full-bodied and wonderfully vivacious, it offers a solid line of firm and fine-grained tannins and amazing freshness, finishing very long and mineral laced.
Black core, purple rim. Plenty of lively black fruit on the nose, then really thick and chewy on the palate. The alcohol, high generally in this vintage, shows here. Dense, chewy and a bit monolithic. Tough finish at the moment. For lovers of power rather than elegance, though I think it would be too much for the table. Drink 2028-2036
This is really well put together, with waves of steeped plum, currant and raspberry fruit, bolts of licorice and tar and a long apple wood accent on the sappy finish.
This is a very driven Pape Clément with fantastic density and finesse at the same time. Linear and driven, the finish goes on for minutes with incredible tension and focus. More cabernet. Refinement with power.
The 2018 Pape Clément is dense, powerful, and brooding. In most vintages, Pape Clément is much more showy and inviting, but the 2018 is in no mood to show all of its cards. Instead, we find a Pape Clément that explodes with vertical intensity and lift. Captivating scents of gravel, smoke, leather, tobacco, chocolate and incense add layers of complexity. I can't wait to see how the 2018 ages. Today, it is super expressive. The blend is 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. New oak is 45%. Tasted four times.
I love watching how Pape Clement is evolving with every vintage. There's still a bit of Venice Beach in its muscles but it has let some juice in between the firm tannins and it's all the better for it. There are ripples of freshness here too, with lots of fleshy fruit, and a slatey mineral finish that sits against chocolate and smoked cedar notes. It's clearly been carefully extracted yet still has the serious ageing ability and sense of confidence that is the signature of the property. 37hl/ha yield in 2018. Two-thirds new oak. Drinking Window 2026 - 2042
Dry and powerful, the style of wine here is certainly long-lived and yet while the tannins are huge and there is powerful astringency on the finish, the fruit manages to control these two elements well because it is so rich and deep. You would have to like oaky wines to be able to appreciate this, and, it is right at the extremities for me, but I think that this is a grand wine and it will age for an eternity, too
The fruit which goes into Petite Eglise comes from the youngest vines which average 5-6 years old. It is beautifully perfumed with floral notes leading into blueberry, dark cherry and violets. The palate offers lots of fresh concentrated fruit, hints of exotic spice and elegant charm. Very silky, layered with a powerful length and ripe fine tannins. Always a fantastic wine to seek out if you can, production is very limited. Delicious.
Produced by Denis Durantou of Château L’Eglise Clinet, the 2018 La Petite Eglise is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, with 35% new oak and 14.5% alcohol. This is the first time Cabernet Franc was used in the blend and the first time younger vines from L'Eglise Clinet were used. Deep purple-black in color, the nose is boldly scented of baked plums, Black Forest cake and kirsch with suggestions of forest floor, cinnamon stick, fertile loam and sautéed herbs with a waft of roses. Full-bodied, the palate is packed with fragrant black fruit preserves, textured by ripe, rounded tannins and finishes long and perfumed.
This is very tight and long for Petite Église with a very compact and focused palate. Medium-to full-bodied, compressed palate with ripe tannins that are firm and fresh.
The 2018 La Petite Eglise is a gorgeous second wine from Denis Durantou's L'Eglise-Clinet. Creamy and plush, the 2018 wraps around the palate with fabulous density. The natural richness of grapes with thick skins and little juice comes through in intense dark cherry, mocha, spice and new leather flavors. Soft contours and plush, silky tannins give the Petite Eglise tons of immediacy. Readers will have a hard time keeping their hands off this gem. Sadly, yields are down 60%. The blend is is 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.
This is powerful and tingly with great minerality on show, but a large-framed Petite Eglise - a pretty hedonistic take on 2018, and certainly more than Durantou usually gives in to. There’s more Cabernet Franc in Petite Eglise than usual because new plantings up by the church have come on line, plus most of the usual vines for this wine are currently pulled up ready for replanting meaning it’s pretty much entirely young vines which took, and show, the heat of the summer. 35% new oak was used. Drinking Window 2024 - 2036
Civilised and controlled on the nose by contrast to the satellite commune wines in Denis Durantou’s portfolio, this is a polished and elegant wine with considerable depth of fruit and class and it has a rich core of juiciness which the tannins have sunk their teeth into. Impressive and long-lived this is a shockingly good wine.
This superb wine highlights the strength of the Delon family estates in 2018. A blend of 45% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. One of our star value wines of the vintage. Aromatics of violets and fragrant fruit. It is instantly striking with bright energy and vivid dark fruits in the palate. There is a touch of mocha and charcoal in the mid-palate. A very complete wine with a tightly woven tannic core. Very pure and perfectly balanced.
The 2018 Potensac is blended of 45% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, all harvested between September 21 and October 13, with yields of 49 hectoliters per hectare. The wine has 14.42% alcohol and is to be aged in barriques, 35% new; the finished blend was put into barrels last December. Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, it rolls effortlessly out of the glass with bright, fresh red and black plums, crushed blackcurrants and bay leaves with hints of cracked pepper and damp soil. Full-bodied, rich and laden with red and black fruit layers, it has a plush frame of rounded tannins and fantastic freshness, finishing long.
Inky core with purple rim. Such beautifully pure black fruit. Such fine texture and so juicy and lively. Absolutely delicious and fresh with no heaviness and no sense of the alcohol. Low pH because of the terroir, says Pierre Graffeux. They picked the Merlot early and spread out the picking for the Cabernet Sauvignon. Silky finesse and freshness. Lovely wine with a red-fruited brightness and persistence. Drink 2023-2030
The dark cherry and plum fruit is fresh and direct, with light tobacco and toast accents hanging on the finish.
The excellence of this lies in the quality of the tannins, which are so polished and refined. Compact and tight. Medium-bodied. Very, very long. Beauty already.
2018 was the warmest season of the last 10 years at Potensac, with just under half the usual rainfall over the summer. The property has produced a great bottle: bright and cheery with vibrant fruit, it's highly enjoyable and approachable. You rarely find such impressive mid-palate focus in the Médoc, and that alone makes this a year worth exploring for the wines at this price level. Drinking Window 2023 - 2034
Rather ravishing and approachable with serious length and also superb red fruit and balance. The nose is beautiful, harmonious and rich and moreish. It is possible to drink this wine early but I have a suspicion that it will greatly repay those who decide to cellar it.
An excellent example of the potential of Moulis in warmer drier years. The sandy clay soils provided plenty of moisture to the vines during the summer months, while warm days and cold nights allowed this quality cru bourgeois to make a ripe wine, with more succulence than usual for the appellation. Very pure and bright with excellent length. An appealing earthy character underneath gives additional interest and personality.
Deep garnet-purple colored, the nose of the 2018 Poujeaux is a little reticent to begin, offering glimpses at smoked meats and tar over a core of warm red and black currants plus a waft of Marmite toast. Medium to full-bodied, the palate delivers plenty of earth-laced black fruit and a firm, chewy texture, finishing with an herbal lift.
Black core. Invitingly dark and spicy on the nose, just a touch charry. Really chewy and dense on the palate, compact but surprisingly smooth tannins, though they dominate. Needs a little more freshness overall to lift the finish. Drink 2024-2028
Flavors of plum and cherry preserves are melded nicely with cocoa and tobacco notes. Soft and rounded, yet persistent on the finish.
Solid core of fruit and polished tannins give this a tight and composed palate. Fresh and bright.
Poujeaux is a wine that I often hold up as classic example of what the Médoc can achieve, and here again it's a huge success. It has a beautiful nose, with vibrant and well extracted brambly dark fruits on the palate - but not so much that it feels like it's pushing too hard. It's an architectural wine, a more classic take on the vintage, but for me this is where the money is in Moulis. It takes its time to unravel, and the heat of the summer comes through in its rich, ripe mouthfeel. The tannins close in on the finish, which has a menthol and eucalyptus edge that suggests a long life ahead. Drinking Window 2024 - 2036
Chunky, ripe and rather muscular on the palate and yet perfectly balanced, this is a superb Poujeaux and it will age evenly for a long time. This is a well-made wine and I am very impressive with its integrity and polish.
This lovely Côtes de Bourg from the Mitjaville family portfolio has spiced oak and hot cross bun aromas. A warm and giving style, this has a juicy richness to it and a broad volume reflecting the higher degree of alcohol. Rich, full and long on the finish.
Roc is more backward and more obviously tannic than Domaine de Cambes in 2018. It is more red-fruited and more austere and the elegance and edge are fascinating as it shuns the black fruit spectrum and it majors on red fruit. The oak is perfectly matched to this lusty red fruit and there is a cinnamon dusting of spice which invigorates the palate. The length is mellow and long and the tannins never dry the palate.
This 100% Merlot is beautifully ripe and open knit, with lovely juicy sweet dark fruit. Medium bodied with a gorgeous layered palate of plump dark berries, savoury notes and cedar spice. Opulent ripe tannins are beautifully woven into this approachable and smooth wine. A relatively early drinker that will give enormous pleasure.
Produced by Denis Durantou of Château L’Eglise Clinet, the 2018 Saintayme is made of 100% Merlot with 30% new oak and 14.5% alcohol. Deep garnet-purple colored, it bursts from the glass with plum preserves, crushed blackberries and chocolate-covered cherries with hints of lavender, unsmoked cigar and fragrant earth. Medium to full-bodied, the palate reveals beautiful freshness and elegance with soft tannins and loads of mineral sparks on the finish.
Lively, featuring raspberry and red currant notes stretching out, with light floral and singed apple wood accents.
This is very perfumed with a firm and solid, stony tannin structure. Lovely, linear line through this. Full and tight at the same time.
Denis Durantou's 2018 Saintayme is especially fine in 2018. Bright, floral and energetic, Saintayme really shines. In fact, I can't remember a recent vintage with this much finesse. The tannins need time to soften, but there is plenty of radiant fruit waiting to emerge. I won't be surprised if the finished wine is even better than this note suggests. Tasted two times.
Vibrant ruby in colour, this is a touch austere right now, subdued but rippling with potential. The plump and glossy fruits are good quality and the palate is well structured, with clear lift on the finish. It may be holding back right now but it has a long life ahead. 30% new oak. Harvested between 29 September and 9 October. 3.7pH. Drinking Window 2025 - 2038
The oak is dominant and the fruit is tense and very closed, but the nose is amazing with fabulous, deep red fruit and some wilder berry tones intermingle with cinnamon and Asian spices. It will take a long time to soften, but this will be a full-framed, impressive wine in due course.
At just 17 hectares this is a relatively small estate in Médoc terms, and it has certainly been on a roll in recent years. With a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot this has flattering dark mulberry and plum fruit aromas. Very generous in the palate with hints of fruit cake and cocoa. It is mouthcoating and subtle rounded tannins sit comfortably underneath. This is a wine with presence which will give much pleasure.
The deep garnet-purple colored 2018 Saint-Pierre displays shy scents of rose hip tea, dried mint, crushed rocks and lavender to begin, opening out to a growing core of warm blackcurrants, baked blackberries and Morello cherries plus wafts of garrigue and wild sage. Full-bodied and absolutely laden with black fruits and provocative mineral sparks, it has a firm texture of grainy tannins and plenty of freshness, finishing long and savory. Aging is anticipated to be for 14 months in 50% new and 50% second-fill barrels. The blend is currently 77% Cabernet Sauvignon and 23% Merlot.
Deepest purple colour. Aromatic with dark red fruit and tea leaf, even a touch floral. Sadly, that fruit is rather overwhelmed by the oak on the palate, but the tannins are smooth if quite dense. Chewy finish. Drink 2025-2033
Very fresh and pure, with plum and cassis notes that are vivid and focused. Light graphite and anise accents line the finish. Solid.
A very tight and toned red with blueberry and blackcurrant aromas and flavors. Full-bodied, closed down and very long. Solid.
A powerful, virile wine, the 2018 Saint-Pierre is also one of the highlights of the vintage. Black cherry, graphite, smoke, leather, menthol, violet and spice meld together in a brooding, tannic Saint-Julien that is going to need a bit of time to truly come into its own. Saint-Pierre is muscular, massively tannic and forbidding, and yet there is a ton of fruit behind all of that structure. Cabernet Sauvignon features heavily in the blend, and that comes through in the wine's flavor profile and overall feel. Readers will have to be patient. I can't wait to taste it from bottle. The 2018 is 77% Cabernet Sauvignon and 23% Merlot. Tasted four times.
A St-Julien name that I can't recommend highly enough, Château Saint-Pierre 2018 is extremely architectural in feel, a beautiful, confident, masculine, muscled wine with vertical walls - although it's interesting to note it has slightly lower alcohol than some other St-Juliens. It's intense in its black fruit and charcoal character, rippling with tannins. I am full of admiration for this impressive wine that demands your attention. Drinking Window 2027 - 2040
This is really generous and rolls off the tongue with ripe and velvety tannins and a fresh undertone. Full-bodied, firm and silky. Extremely long and flavorful. Very complex already.
Francois Mitjavile’s tiny 6 hectare estate, planted with 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, breaks the St Emilion mould. It offers a very different style to the rest of the appellation but is entirely worthy of its almost cult-like following. Not for the faint hearted at comfortably over 15% alcohol, but it is to Francois’s eternal credit that tasting this wine, you are oblivious to the alcohol. It is the complexity of layered sweet autumnal fruits and soft rounded tannins that provide the overall sensation. Francois rates this amongst the very best he has produced.
Barrel sample. Very dark crimson. Intense red fruits and also intensely toasty/oaky, as this wine so often is en primeur. The fruit is concentrated and sweet but not overripe, the tannins deep and densely silky. At the moment the oak and the concentration give a very slight bitterness on the finish but I think this will disappear as the oak recedes and the lovely fruit emerges. (I tasted the 2017 straight after this and although it is still oaky, the fruit is becoming more obviously the core of the wine.) Just fresh enough, if not quite as fresh as in some vintages. Drink 2025-2036
The 2018 Tertre-Rôteboeuf is a real powerhouse. Rich and explosive, the 2018 possesses stunning depth and fabulous textural intensity. Dark fruit, chocolate, spice, leather, tobacco and cedar add aromatic nuance, but more than anything, Tertre-Rôteboeuf is a wine that captures the heady, ripe personality of the year in spades. Alcohol approaches 16% and yet is not all that evident. The blend is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.
It is always a joy to taste at Tertre Roteboeuf and, sadly, I was rather rushed this year so I didn’t manage to spend much time with the Mitjavilles as I would have liked. Nevertheless, as far as level of enjoyment per minute spent on site, this was, by far, the most successful visit of the week. Tertre Roteboeuf is always an opulent and flamboyant wine and the 2018 vintage is no exception. In spite of the seismic levels of alcohol this wine is super-smooth, and as Louis Mitjaville put it, ‘digest’. This one word sums up the elemental beauty of Tertre Roteboeuf in that it tastes cosmically beautiful but it is also a joy to drink and savour. In spite of the massive intensity and kaleidoscopic fruit this is an insanely pretty and velvety smooth wine. Heroic in all departments, I have no idea when it will start drinking let alone when it will finally run out of energy. I expect that it will perform miracles on your palate on any given date in the next half century and I guarantee that you will be amazed when you have tasted what I have had the immense pleasure of tasting today.
With hints of citrus and magnolia, this is relatively broad and full for the vintage and extremely high class. The subtle citrus lift is balanced by a creamy character and sweet vanilla pod flavours. Concentrated with a nice bite of freshness on the finish.
The Pape Clement 2018 Blanc slips languidly from the glass with tropical notes of warm pineapples, fresh mango and green guava plus hints of nutmeg, orange blossoms, lanolin and crushed rocks. Full-bodied, rich and seductive, it is absolutely laden with tropical fruit and spice layers, with a racy line to support and long, opulent finish. The blend is 57% Sauvignon Blanc, 39% Sémillon and 4% Muscadelle. Anticipated aging regimen is 14 months in 55% new and 45% second-fill French oak barrels.
Super-inviting creamy lemon nose. Ripe and spicy but not OTT. On the palate, lots of oak spice and a bit of heat but the fruit is pure citrus and pear. Perhaps a little intense on the finish, overwhelmed by spice, but should calm down. Drink 2022-2028
This is on the showy side, with a brioche frame around creamed white peach, yellow apple, honeysuckle and lemon curd notes. Long finish.
This is a cylinder of dense fruit and phenolic intensity, yet it remains agile and vivid with cooked-apple, honey and cream character, compounding the fantastic texture and structure. A great white with the same gravitas as a red.
The 2018 Pape Clément Blanc is laced with white flowers, mint, passion fruit, apricot and chamomile. Here, too, the more restrained style that is typical at the estate these days is very much in evidence. The blend is 57% Sauvignon Blanc, 39% Sémillon and 4% Muscadelle, all fermented in oak, including larger 500-liter and 10HL foudres. Larger format oak adds an element of tension and brightness that is super intriguing.
I rarely write the word tannic about a white wine, but this is a massively intense wine with a lot of traction coming from the skin and this brings size and scale to the whole experience. You will have to wait a long while for it to calm down, but this is a fascinating, if unusual, (tannic) white wine.
Tasted at the end of our day in St Emilion and what a way to finish. This is a sensational Ausone. Bright violet aromas, with an almost lacquered veneer of fresh summer berries. It is opulent and yet without excess. Delicious cherry fruit flavours, and a harmoniously graceful style so typical of great St Emilion. Mouth-coatingly rich, the tannins sit comfortably underneath all the bright fresh fruit flavours. The layers of warm fruit and silky composure just keep evolving in the palate. This really is a wine of true breeding and class.
The 2018 Ausone is composed of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot. The Merlot was harvested September 25 and 27, and the Cabernet Franc was harvested October 3, 8 and 9. Deep purple-black in color, it is an impenetrable wall to begin, unrelenting without persistent coaxing, at last uncoiling to offer glimpses at preserved plums, blueberry coulis, molten licorice and underbrush with emerging scents of lavender, iron ore, crushed stones, charcoal and Indian spices plus a waft of red roses. Full-bodied, rich, decadent and tightly knit, it offers layer upon layer of fruit, spice and mineral nuances with a firm frame of exquisitely fine tannins and bold freshness, finishing with epic length and heart-stopping beauty.
Black core with narrow purple rim. Intense, aromatic if slightly charry cassis. Very fine fruit – intense but surprisingly juicy and fresh. Rounded yet powerful. Chewy and with a great undertow of terrific, perfectly ripe fruit and there's a much clearer influence of Cabernet Franc here, with that freshness it brings. Just fresh enough but would show a lot better if the sample were cooler. Drink 2028-2040
This is really exotic with wild-fruit character that I have seldom encountered in Ausone. Full-bodied yet reserved and very tight. Amazing depth and purity of fruit. Incredible beauty. Sexy.
The 2018 Ausone is off the charts. Deep, sensual and mysterious, the 2018 is going to need many years to show the full breadth of its potential. And yet, there is so much there. Rich and concentrated on the palate, with phenomenal persistence, the 2018 is loaded with energy, tension and precision, offering a compelling interplay of opulence, saline intensity and structure. It is without question one of the wines of the vintage.
Pauline Vauthier is the 11th generation of the family to be producing wine here. It's always such an incredible wine, and as ever you can see that they are playing a different game from so many others. The juice, the slate, the minerality, the drip-drip-drip of freshly squeezed berries, spice and barely-there tannins, the sapidity on the finish. Amazing! Harvest ran from 25 September to 9 October. 3.6pH. 100% new oak. Drinking Window 2028 - 2042
Extremely intense and incredibly perfumed, this is a very rich and power-packed Ausone and the fruit is almost impenetrable thanks to the density of the flavour. Deep crimson in colour and with immense spice and earth underpinning the majestic fruit, this is a frighteningly youthful wine and a vintage which one probably shouldn’t touch for thirty years. The nose gives away more about the wine than the palate, which is resolutely introverted, and it shows a glittering array of aromatics – fruit, spice, herb, flower and earth. One of the wines of the vintage, this is an anthem to Cabernet Franc and its awesome potential which was realised in 2018.
Bright pure elderberry and cassis flavours. This has a classic directness of fruit, with well controlled tannins, a gentle touch of freshness and clean uplifting finish.
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Beaumont leaps from the glass with vibrant black and red cherries and warm cassis notes plus an undercurrent of bay leaves, lavender and pencil shavings. Full-bodied, firm and grainy, the mid-palate is taut and muscular with plenty of energy and an herbal lift on the finish.
Inky dark with purple rim. There's a pretty fruit sweetness on the nose and a touch of vanilla, much less severe than the Moulis and Listrac wines just tasted. Well balanced on the palate too, for a tannic wine, and more refined texture on the finish. Dry but not drying. Drink 2022-2028
Firm, deep and well extracted, this is a rich purple colour with sweet blackberry fruits on the nose along with some gentle spicing. It's an elegant and extremely classic Médoc wine. The tannins are already smooth and starting to integrate with the fruits. The quality bodes well for the medium-priced wines in this vintage. One of the value picks of the Médoc. Drinking Window 2023 - 2035
A nice Beaumont with generous fruit, which is a shade or two darker than in most vintages, and also some fit tannins and a long finish. This will be a notable effort for this estate and it will be sure to impress fans, too.
The predominance of Merlot (90%) in this blend gives a richness of Victoria plum and hints of loganberry. A very layered wine, with silky rounded tannins. Harmonious and rich with hints of dark Valrhona chocolate. Nicely layered and a real sense of class from this finely positioned château on the plateau of St Emilion.
A blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, the medium to deep garnet-purple colored 2018 Belair Monange comes bounding out of the glass with all the energy and vigor of a pedigree puppy, offering notes of warm plums, wild blueberries, black raspberries and Morello cherries with touches of chocolate box, lilacs, underbrush, menthol and damp soil plus a waft of incense. Full-bodied, rich and decadently layered in the mouth, the densely packed layers are charged with energy, supported by firm, velvety tannins and a racy line of freshness, finishing very long and very spicy.
Darkest crimson. Black fruit, pencil shavings and a touch of oaky char on the nose. Compact and refined in texture on the palate, very fine tannins. Much the most elegant of the Moueix stable, with impressive persistence and harmony even now, just needs a lot of time to unfurl and for the tannins to release the fruit in all its richness. Finishes fresh and dry and clean in the mouth even if the oak is blocking it a little at the end. Powerful but not overbearing. Drink 2028-2040
Ripe and dense in feel, with layers of plum, fig and boysenberry fruit. The structure is decidedly stony, revealing a long echo of tobacco. Among the more backward wines at this early stage, but seriously long and well-built.
This is very linear and structured in a classical way for Bordeaux with a very focused and tight core of beautiful fruit that gives an agile and vivid palate of pretty fruit and bright acidity, not to mention the ultra fine tannins, which deliver a seamless and limitless finish.
The 2018 Bélair-Monange is a bold, racy and exuberant wine endowed with tremendous textural richness and overall intensity. Sweet spice and floral notes wrap around a core of super-ripe stone fruit in this decidedly flamboyant, racy Saint-Émilion. In 2018, Bélair-Monange is not exactly subtle, but it is quite delicious and full of allure. Even so, Bélair-Monange will be enjoyed most by readers who like overt wines.
A gorgeous wine, with concentrated power offset by lift and lyricism. It fully expresses the character and personality of its location on the limestone plateau, showing real juiciness and a focussed minerality, with extremely flavourful crushed raspberry and blackberry fruits, and touches of peony and rose on the nose. This is delicious, graceful, spicy and persistent, with notes that spiral both downwards and upwards. The violet reflections are off the chart. Drinking Window 2027 - 2042
This is a serious wine with a kaleidoscope of fruit notes and a forest of oak propping it up. Like many of the top Right Bank wines in this vintage it is slow to reveal the extent of its skills. It required some urgent swirling to unlock the various elements in this wine and there is a lot of complexity here. Sleek and stealthy, this is a noble wine and it is one of the finds of the vintage. Closed and firm now, but sure to blossom relatively early in its life, this is a wine which will make half a century with ease.
Bought by the Wertheimer brothers (owners of Rauzan Segla and Canon) in 2015, it is still in the early days of being restructured, but this is already showing a huge upward curve. A very fresh and pure style, with good intensity of flavours. There is a grippy tannic core and a bite of freshness. A little closed on the finish at this stage, but there is undoubtedly plenty more to come.
This was really Nicolas Audebert’s first vintage at Berliquet, since the property was acquired by Chanel in the autumn of 2017. The most significant, immediate change from 2018 came from noticing that blocks of the vineyard had Merlot and Cabernet Franc interplanted. These used to be harvested together. This year the different cultivars were flagged and harvested separately so as to achieve optimal ripeness for both varieties. The 2018 Berliquet is blended of 78% Merlot and 22% Cabernet Franc and has 14.5% alcohol. Deep purple-black in color, it leaps from the glass with bold kirsch, blueberry compote and Black Forest cake with touches of cloves, lavender, menthol and lilacs. Medium to full-bodied and elegant, with lovely freshness lifting the densely packed blue and black fruit flavors, it has a velvety texture and long, earthy finish.
A focused, restrained style, with cherry, plum and red currant notes that are carried by persistent chalky minerality. Shows a light tobacco shading throughout.
A fine and fruity red with blueberries and blackberries and hints of walnuts. Medium to full body and ultra fine tannins that melt into the body of the wine. It’s muscular in some ways. Lots of potential. Punchy.
The 2018 Berliquet represents a major stylistic shift under the guidance of Nicolas Audebert and the technical team at Canon. Plump and juicy, the 2018 offers an explosion of fruit that gives it a distinctly exuberant personality. A joyous, radiant wine, Berliquet expresses the natural radiance of the vintage in a forward, juicy style that offers tons of near and medium-term appeal. The wine's fruit and overall density are both impressive, to say the least. This is the first vintage made by the Nicolas Audebert and the technical team at Canon following Chanel's acquisition of the estate in 2017. The blend is 78% Merlot and 22% Cabernet Franc. Tasted four times.
2018 is the second vintage under Canon ownership, but the first one where they were involved throughout the growing season. This wine has an austerity that's apparent from the start, but as ever with the Canon team they don't try to smother it and instead focus on the elegant but powerful blue fruits that pull you along. The power and density reflects the higher levels of clay in the soils here compared Canon, and they have produced a really stunning wine with so much potential ahead of it. It's quite different in personality from Canon, and I hope they keep them as separate properties beyond the 2022 classification, when I guess they will have the chance to put them together. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
One of St Emilion’s most consistent properties has yet again performed excellently in 2018. A little reserved on the nose, this has a generous appealing palate, full of mocha and dark black fruits. Not excessively weighty, but extremely well structured with tightly woven tannins. Gentle intensity and lovely long finish.
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Canon la Gaffeliere has a fantastically exuberant nose of preserved plums, blueberry compote and black cherry pie with hints of menthol, mocha, Sichuan pepper and garrigue plus wafts of lavender and tilled soil. Full-bodied, concentrated and wonderfully decadent, it has a firm yet plush texture and just enough freshness in the background, finishing long with a menthol lift.
A bright, mineral-driven style in the making, with the chalky aspect leading the way, quickly followed by a racy stream of red currant, raspberry and cherry coulis flavors. Has the grip of the vintage, but this is piercingly focused in feel.
A lovely, fruity and juicy red with mineral and dried-tea character. Full and tightly structured with a long and flavorful finish. Tight at the moment, but shows momentum and depth.
The 2018 Canon La Gaffelière is extraordinary. Fresh, vibrant and bursting at the seams with energy, the 2018 takes full advantage of all the work Stephan von Neipperg and his team have implemented at their properties. Expressive floral and savory notes add myriad shades of nuance to a dark, sumptuous Saint-Émilion that melds together aromatic intensity and fruit richness. Even with all of its intensity, the 2018 retains an element of translucence that is beguiling. The blend is 50% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, which is to say a bit more Cabernet than in the past. Tasted two times.
Owner Stephan von Neipperg always gives a little kick to his wines, a little swirl of oak finesse, a nod in the direction of glamour without going overboard. This gets the balance pretty much perfect, and although you can feel the ripeness of those red fruits, it's balanced by the minerality through the finish that asks you to stop, scrape your way up the limestone walls and rest at the top for the view. Good quality. Harvest ran from 19 September to 4 October, with a yield of 35hl/ha. 50% new oak. Drinking Window 2025 - 2040
The perfume on this wine is sensational. Exotic, ripe and stuffed with wild berry fruit it promises much. It’s a shame that the tannins are so firm because they swarm in early on the palate and suck the moisture out of the wine, but I can see that they are not bullying the fruit too much and so they will abate given time. The oak is quite forceful but it works well with the intensity of the fruit and I think that this wine will work well in the long term.
The whispers throughout the en primeur week were that the 2018 Carruades could possibly be the best ever. We were not disappointed when we tasted! A balanced blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc. More red than dark fruits, with hints of cranberry and pomegranate and a touch of lavender. A graceful and harmonious style, expressing a lovely balance and so much more than a second wine. Deliciously pure, with the same degree of refinement as the Grand Vin and a very long distinguished finish.
The 2018 Carruades de Lafite is composed of 56.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 5.5% Cabernet Franc. The Merlot was harvested September 17-24, the Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested September 25 to October 5, and the Cabernet Franc was harvested September 24. Deep garnet-purple colored, it reveals a very serious nose of pencil shavings, black tea, violets and dark chocolate with earthy wafts of underbrush and mossy bark over a core of warm cassis, blackberry preserves and black raspberries. Medium to full-bodied, the densely packed, black-fruited palate is laced with loads of compelling mineral sparks with a firm, grainy frame and beautiful freshness to lift the long, earthy finish.
Dark core with narrow dark rim. Very ripe but not overripe black fruit. Rich and savoury at the same time, a really dark, elegant wine with good acidity. The tannins here are notable for their extreme finesse, dry, wonderful texture, with a hint of clean dry dark chocolate on the finish. Fabulous tannins. Juicy and so elegant at the same time. Light on its feet even with this concentration. High score is especially for the tannins. Drink 2024-2038
This is an extremely fine-grained Carraudes with a complex character of chocolate, walnut, cedar and a hint of graphite. Medium-to full-bodied, tight and chewy but, at the same time, agile and light. Savory finish. Special.
The 2018 Carruades de Lafite is silky, polished and very pretty. Silky tannins and bright, red-toned fruit give the Carruades a feel of total sophistication and polish. This is a very pretty second wine from Lafite-Rothschild. Even so, the four day-old sample almost certainly does not show the 2018 at its best. The blend is 56.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 5.5% Cabernet Franc.
This has rich fruit notes with exotic spices, a silky texture and a seductive approachability that clearly translates the higher than usual amount of Merlot in the blend this year, as with Petit Mouton. It’s a wine that is bound to make a lot of people happy but also means that whereas Lafite is archetypal Lafite, this is perhaps a less classic Carruades. It still has the tannins of Pauillac, and as so often is the case this year the first time you taste feels easy then they steal up on you and start to layer but this is flexible and approachable, with a menthol finish. Carruades is continuing to benefit from the techniques brought to it under in-house RD technician Manuela Brando which include honing vineyard mapping, detailing smaller plots and tracking vine vigour, all of which are particularly useful since Carruades' soils are less consistent than those of the main wine. 39% of production. Drinking Window 2024 - 2036
There is superb balance here and the Merlot is the driver, given that the Merlot performed so well in this vintage. Carruades benefits from Merlot which didn’t, in the end, go into the Grand Vin because it didn’t ‘fit’. The density, richness and length are stunning and the freshness is incredible for this wine. It is one of my favourite Carruades I can remember. Long, lithe, smooth and refreshing this is a delicious, lip-smacking wine.
Bright blueberry aromas, this is a very harmonious wine, with a light sweetness of fruit and charismatic freshness. Hints of arabica coffee bean and fresh vanilla. Masses of appeal and very rewarding.
The 2018 Certan de May is composed of 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, it sings of red cherry compote, redcurrant jelly and black raspberries with nuances of potpourri, fallen leaves, tapenade and cinnamon toast plus a waft of cigar box. The palate is medium to full-bodied with a wonderfully plush texture and seamless freshness supporting the generous fruit, finishing long with a spicy kick.
Deep crimson. Intense pure sweet and sour cherries on the nose, amazing fruit intensity and openness on the nose, with a slight charry dark-fruited overlay. Fresh and silky on the palate, finely textured, lithe and surprisingly juicy on the finish. Drink 2023-2032
Offers a nice display of fruit, with cassis, boysenberry and plum flavors all wrapped together. The ample structure is polished and integrated. Anise details flash on the finish. Well-built.
The 2018 Certan de May is a potent, brooding wine. Elevated ripeness and big tannins are two of the signatures in this decidedly ample, potent Pomerol. It will be interesting to see where élevage takes the 2018. Today, my impression is that Certan de May is one of the more pushed Pomerols of the vintage. Time will tell.
This is serious and very good quality, less seductive than some Pomerols, focusing instead on elegance and gentle spice but it has pretty high floral aromatics – more than on many, with the Cabernet Franc already clearly playing its role. It’s definitely one to age. There are clay and deep gravels at this lovely estate located directly opposite Vieux Château Certan. The new winery should be ready for the 2019 vintage. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
The perfume on this wine is superb, parading red fruit and spice and the palate is bright and sonorous, too. The tannins are firm and defensive and this is to be expected. There is a fairly large whack of oak here and the palate is somewhat dry on the finish, but this is a successful vintage for Certan de May.
This high class second wine shows the exceptional quality of the Grand Vin and the overall success of all the wines in the Vauthier stable. A 50:50 blend of Merlot and Cabernets, this is a deep dense dark cherry colour. Very pure fruit aromas of damsons and sloe. The palate is bright and fresh with a hint of crunchy fruit. This has great purity and poise, with no excess of weight.
The 2018 Chapelle d'Ausone is made of 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Merlot was harvested on September 25 and 27, the Cabernet Franc on October 3, 8 and 9, and the Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested on October 9. Deep purple-black in color, it is a little reticent to begin, unfurling slowly to reveal notes of Black Forest cake, mincemeat pie, candied violets and Chinese five spice plus waves of charcuterie, black olives, mossy bark and cast iron pan. Full-bodied with a fantastic line of freshness lifting the dense layers, it has a very plush, silt-like texture and a very long, mineral-laced finish.
Black core, purple rim. Intense, dark fruited and expressive on the nose. There's the lovely pencil-shavings character of Cabernet Franc and the generosity of Merlot. Very ripe cassis but not overripe. Deep and full in the mouth, slightly sweet and sour at the moment, needing time to mesh. Juicy freshness on the finish and smooth, deep tannin texture. Chewy and juicy on the finish. Drink 2024-2030
This is a very tight and structured second wine with blueberry, spice and light hazelnut character. It’s full of volume, but shows underlying firmness and brightness. Lovely length.
The 2018 Chapelle d'Ausone is a drop-dead gorgeous second wine. Wonderfully finessed in every way, the 2018 conveys intensity allied to a sense of weightless elegance. Freshly cut flowers, spice and blood orange add freshness, but more than anything else, the Chapelle is a Saint-Émilion that speaks to regal elegance. It is also one of the best wines in its peer group.
This is a pretty serious Chapelle - you can tell it's going to age well with its sense of purpose and power, yet it demonstrates notable restraint. It has the most incredible aromatics, with beautiful depth and power, and a silky texture with clear Cabernet influence to the savoury black cherry and liquorice. There's no hiding how ripe those tannins are. 37hl/ha yields, relatively normal for Ausone despite mildew pressure that was the worst Alain Vauthier had seen in 45 years. Drinking Window 2024 - 2036
One of the grandest second wines of the vintage, this is built for the long haul and it is majestic and very long. The oak is massive, but the fruit can cope with this impact and the finish is heroic, too. Closed and unyielding on the palate, this is a wine for long term ageing.
A bright and very pure wine reflecting the dominance of the two Cabernet varieties in the blend. This is full of fresh plump cherries. It balances a natural harmony of flavours and the alcohol is supported by a subtle tannic grip underneath. Charming and fine class.
The 2018 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion is composed of 40.8% Merlot, 51.6% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7.6% Cabernet Franc, harvested September 10 to October 2. Deep garnet-purple colored, it rocks up with ready-for-business scents of baked blueberries, raspberry compote and warm blackcurrants with touches of fungi, yeast extract, menthol and espresso plus a fragrant waft of red roses. Full-bodied, the palate has wonderful freshness lifting the black and red fruit preserves, framed by beautifully rounded tannins and finishing on a savory note.
Mid cherry red. Really juicy and lithe, the tannins folded into the fruit. Lots of freshness and tannic finesse with a spicy firmness at the end. Drink 2024-2032
A solid second wine from La Mission with currants, blackberries and hints of fresh tobacco. Oyster shell as well. Full-bodied with firm and chewy yet fine-grained tannins. Driven and long.
The 2018 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion is delicate, floral and savory. The aromatics are quite appealing in the Chapelle, but I find the mid-palate a bit lacking in both fruit and freshness. The finish is also both compact and short. My impression is that the wine is not fully put together just yet. The blend is 51.6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40.8% Merlot and 7.6% Cabernet Franc.
Gorgeously finessed blueberries and blackberries are fresh and full of juice. Not for the first time tasting these 2018s, there's the feeling that this is a 2009 but with a little more freshness. Luxurious and silky, it's perhaps a little atypical but easy to love. 3.96pH. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
This was officially the warmest summer ever, but it didn’t have the peak of 2003. The yields here were fine as they managed the mildew well and only got a little troubled with the Cabernet as yields were slightly down thanks to a very rare hailstorm. The nose is fairly deep and brightly red-fruited and the palate shows a lot of skin tannin which builds on the finish. The oak is well-judged and it barely makes itself heard. Overall this is a fresh style with a crisp acidity with a powdery tannin feel running the length of the flavour. It is rather more introverted on the palate than the nose would suggest and so there is need for some extra ageing before you decide to open this wine. I suggest at least ten years.
Aromas of violets and strong bramble fruits. A very well balanced example of the appellation, with a controlled tannic core, good freshness and gentle sweetness on the finish.
Inky black cherry. Dark-fruited and spicy. Firm, dry, rather lean but the tannins are smooth on the finish. Could become elegant with time, though hard to judge. Drink 2024-2030
Chasse Spleen continues as the modern, vibrant face of Moulis, with lovely violet edging to the colour. The oak seems higher here than in its peers, accompanied by strong aromatics of damson and vanilla bean. Some rosemary hints come in after a few minutes in the glass. It's good quality and made in the estate's signature, with the freshness helping to balance the oak flourish. Clear spicing runs through the finish. Drinking Window 2024 - 2036
This is a linear, focussed wine and there is not as much extraction or as much concentration as I would have expected in this vintage and this makes it a rather fascinating wine. With honed tannins and stylish balance, this is a very classy Chasse-Spleen and I think it will live for two decades such is the perfect balance.
54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. An impressively fresh bouquet of damsons and blueberries. The richness and gentle bulk of Merlot fruit gives this an almost Pomerol-esque feel. Warm dark Asian spiced flavours and a lovely almost hedonistically rich character are balanced by its gentle freshness and softly rounded tannins. Broad, full and generous.
Thirty-three plots contributed to this wine, out of the 43 in production. Five went into Petit Cheval and five into bulk. The 2018 Cheval Blanc is a blend of 54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, with a 3.75 pH and 14.5% alcohol. Deep purple-black in color, the nose is more open at the core of the wine than the Le Petit Cheval, strutting out of the glass with bold, ripe black cherries, cassis, warm plums and raspberry preserves notes. With coaxing, a whole array of fragrant spice, floral and earth notes emerge, followed by candied violets, star anise, powdered cinnamon, iron ore, tapenade and truffles plus wafts of camphor and mocha. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is firm yet possesses a beautifully plush structure of velvety tannins wrapping round the densely packed, complex, fragrant fruit, with seamless freshness and a very long, layered finish.
Deepest cherry red. Pure cassis, with a more savoury mineral aspect and opening to become more scented. Very, very fresh. Dark and mineral on the palate. Extremely fine tannic texture. More savoury, with that dark finesse on the finish. Long, chalky finish, so dry and yet so elegant. Drink 2028-2040
What strikes you is how aromatic this already is at this stage. Complex and decadent, showing lots of dark berries, smoked meat, wet earth, and dried leaves. Decadent. Full-bodied with very ripe and polished, velvety tannins. Great finish.
The 2018 Cheval Blanc is dazzling. Creamy, supple and inviting, the 2018 is endowed with phenomenal balance. The tannins and overall structure are imposing, and yet the richness of the fruit and perfect ripeness of the tannin really stand out. In 2018, Cheval is a bit richer than is often the case, but that is not at all a bad thing. I am struck by how much freshness and energy the 2018 has. Hints of lavender, spice and licorice add shades of nuance, but it is the wine's overall sense of harmony that leaves the strongest impression. A precise counterpoint of fruit richness and finesse makes for a truly unforgettable Cheval Blanc.
This is a wonderful, fairly classic Cheval Blanc, less exuberant than some of the wines that you're going to find in 2018. It's full of intense red and black berries, floral notes, and a ton of menthol, eucalyptus and liquorice which underpins the entire concentrated fruit expression. Silky tannins slowly layer up over the palate. It's full of focus and extremely elegant but it accelerates through the mid-palate, gathering strength as it goes. I love this wine in so many vintages, and they have done it again in 2018. There's no press wine, as ever, with 74% of the crop making it into this wine. Drinking Window 2028 - 2042
This is a much more structured and intense wine than expected and it has a dark core and a stern mineral edge which runs all of the way to the finish. There is great freshness and lift on the finish and the tannins are firm but not dry. Tense and introverted, the Cabernet Franc element takes control and it forces the Merlot to stand firm. It was the cool nights in the autumn that fixed the perfume and majesty of the Cabernet Franc and this in turn has made this wine what it is. This is a superbly suave and commanding Cheval Blanc and I like its restraint and control.
A dense deep dark fruited wine with lots of rich fruit cake characters and hints of cocoa and Moroccan spice. The focus here is on richness and sweet dark black fruits. The bold tannins create a sense of power and drive and give added length on the finish.
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Clos Fourtet is a little youthfully mute to begin. With coaxing, it opens out to notes of crushed blackberries, warm black plums and wild blueberries plus suggestions of forest floor, lavender, baking spices and potpourri. Full-bodied, the palate has an amazing texture of soft, plush tannins and oodles of freshness supporting the layer upon layer of berries and spices, finishing long and fragrant. Total time in barrel should run 16 months in 60% new and 40% one-year old barriques. The blend is 90% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Cabernet Franc.
Dark plum and boysenberry fruit is laced with tobacco and chalk notes, while the fleshy grip slowly builds through the finish. This is seriously long, and though the fruit is gorgeous, the minerality steals the show in the end.
This is one of the best wines I have had from here. Full-bodied yet focused and super dynamic. Tight and linear with fantastic length and energy at the end. Exciting
One of the wines of the vintage, the 2018 Clos Fourtet is positively stunning. In the glass, the 2018 sizzles with tension and energy. A whole range of floral, mineral and red berry notes develop, but it is the wine's exceptional sense of harmony that leaves the deepest impression. Consulting winemakers Stéphane Derenoncourt and Jean-Claude Berrouet turned out a glorious Clos Fourtet in 2018. Don't miss it. The blend is 90% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc. Tasted three times.
Easily as good as the 2015 at this estate, the 2018 may even prove to be better after some ageing. There is depth and concentration to the berry fruits, but also a fine quality to the tannins and a softness overall that suggests nothing was pushed, that all of this power is simply what was naturally given by the vintage. It's very good quality, true to the confidence of the estate, pulsating with rich raspberry and damson notes and playing between a seductive gourmet edge and maintaining its limestone freshness. I have enjoyed a number of older vintages of this wine recently, and I feel pretty sure that this will grow into one of those wines that you are so happy to open after a few decades of ageing. 33hl/ha yield. 60% new oak. Drinking Window 2027 - 2043
This extraordinary 12 hectare Pomerol vineyard is split into two portions, one third of the soil neighbouring Cheval Blanc is more gravelly and sand based, with the other two thirds classic Pomerol clay. The result is a wine which has the appeal and generosity of great Pomerol, balanced with St Emilion finesse and freshness. This blend of 83% Merlot and 17% Cabernet Franc is an absolute joy. Bright shining purple in colour, with beautifully floral aromas of violets and lavender. This is an extraordinarily textured wine, with its controlled velvety tannins. A wonderfully precise style, expressing a natural richness, but not in excess. So pure, beautifully bright, and everlasting on the finish. Exceptional.
The 2018 La Conseillante is a blend of 83% Merlot and 17% Cabernet Franc, with a 3.65 pH and 14% alcohol. Yields were 32 hectoliters per hectare; Merlot was harvested September 19 to October 1, and Cabernet Franc was harvested on October 4. Very deep purple-black colored, it comes charging out of the gate with energetic notes of wild blueberries, chocolate-covered cherries and warm black plums plus hints of lilacs, damp soil, cardamom and cloves with gentle wafts of cast iron pan and fragrant earth. Medium to full-bodied, it fills the mouth with elegant black fruit and earthy layers, framed by soft, velvety tannins and just enough freshness, finishing long and mineral laced.
This is a forceful red, showing blueberry and blackberry character with violets and light wet earth. Clarity and beauty with so much transparency and focus. Full-bodied, firm and silky with lots of white-pepper and salt undertones.
The 2018 La Conseillante is magnificent. A wine of real vertical lift and explosiveness, the 2018 is distinguished by its spine of energy, freshness and purity of fruit. Inky blue/purplish berry fruit, mocha, lavender spice and mint develop in the glass, but it is the wine's overall sense of harmony that truly stands out. The 2018 showed tremendous vibrancy and vitality, with superb mid-palate richness and phenomenal balance all three times I tasted it. It is without question one of the wines of the vintage. The blend is 83% Merlot and 17% Cabernet Franc. This is the first vintage that includes a touch of wine aged in amphora, just 3%. Don't miss it!
This is extremely good quality with a lovely persistency, luscious and luxurious with richly textured tannins that place you perfectly in the heart of Pomerol. It’s inky and concentrated with clear liquorice from the start and an abundance of flowers and fruit; violets and iris followed by black chocolate alongside subtleties of woodsmoke and coffee that curl out of the glass after a few minutes. It has bouncy tannins with a 95IPT but they're so hugely silky that you can be pretty sure this is going to age every bit as well as the 2016. They continued with all biodynamic and organic farming here except for one treatment during flowering against mildew which meant they had to stop the certification process. 3% will be aged in amphoras, the rest in barrel. Michel Rolland consults. A yield of 32hl/ha. 3.65pH. Drinking Window 2028 - 2044
The nose is exceptional and incredibly deep and perfumed. There is no trace of oak, astringency or tannin. Winemaker Marielle Cazaux said that she was ‘lazy’ this year. No pigeage, no délestage (rack and return) , and only a smooth pump over and all because she was in search of really pure fruit. She tried hard to make the wine detailed and long and so blending was vitally important. It would have been easy to make a big round wine but Cabernet Franc has played a super-important role in this wine. The perfume is exquisite and it is not made up of oak, just floral fruit and aromatic impact. There is some great tension and it has a feel of the stellar 2016 just with more flesh and swagger. There is more density and length, too, at this stage of its life and this makes 2018 La Conseillante totally seductive and yet completely different to any preceding vintage. I happen to think that it is one of the finest wines of the year.
There is a feeling of a new era at this great château and quality is certainly equalling some of its greatest historical vintages. Their 2018 epitomizes the huge success of St Estèphe in this vintage and the exciting times for the château. 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 3% combined Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Deep opaque colour, with a nose of richly layered dark summer berry fruit. This has a delicious volume whilst remaining elegant. A classic Cos, with a bright energetic drive. It is multi layered with strong persistent tannins and a line of freshness from the cool clay soils gives an additional dimension. Huge class and one of the standout wines of the vintage.
The 2018 Cos d'Estournel is composed of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc and has 14.59% alcohol. Aging in 50% new barriques, it has a deep purple-black color and drifts effortlessly, gracefully, seductively out of the glass with slowly unfurling notions of blackcurrant cordial, wild blueberries, chocolate-covered cherries and plum pudding with touches of violets, licorice, wild roses and yeast extract plus a waft of loose tobacco. The full-bodied palate is built like a brick house with a solid frame of super firm, super ripe tannins and seamless freshness to back up the vibrant, crunchy, oh-so-muscular fruit, finishing long with loads of mineral layers. Amazing structure will keep this beauty for at least half a century and probably a full one!
Black core with narrow purple rim. Intense black fruit with just a hint of charry oak. Smells sweet and ripe but pure and fresh-fruited too. Glorious Cabernet here. Deep, chewy and rich on the palate, firm velvet texture, incredibly moreish and so fresh, as much from the tannins as from the acidity. Leaves your mouth clean with dark, savoury, rocky length. Very precise winemaking. I love those dry clean-tasting tannins on the finish. Drink 2028-2045
The beautiful integration of ripe fruit and ripe tannins gives the wine a layered and agile mouthfeel. Soft and gorgeous with silky tannins that really kick in at the finish and carry the wine for a long time.
A regal, soaring Saint-Estèphe, the 2018 Cos d'Estournel is also clearly one of the wines of the vintage. On the palate, the 2018 is dark and sumptuous, with striking aromatic presence and silky tannins that wrap around a rich core of exotic fruit. Black cherry, savory herbs, leather, spice and menthol build in the glass in a wine that is both aromatically intense and richly textured. The 2018 has been nothing short of breathtaking on the two occasions I have tasted it so far. Don't miss it.
This has some austerity on the attack, then announces its arrival in the inimitable way that Cos is able to do: with a slow build up of exotic spices, liquorice root, cedar and cassis. It stretches out through the palate and you keep waiting for the tannins to punch through like they did in 2010, but it doesn't happen, even though this is a big wine with high alcohol and an IPT of 80. There's a great menthol freshness on the finish, helped no doubt by a fresh 3.65pH. It has the luxurious signature of Cos, the glamorous touch that you look for in this wine - like at Mouton and at Angelus - that is part of their DNA, but it's also married to elegance and a touch of slate minerality. This is a wine that you would be thrilled to own. 12mm of rain on 12 September and 20mm in mid-August were just enough to stop any blockages in ripening, although the 30hl/ha yield is low due to a touch of mildew and some concentration in September. This compares to a more generous 45hl/ha in 2016. 65% of production went into the grand vin. 1% Petit Verdot makes up the blend, and the wine is aged in 50% new oak (a little lower than the usual 60%). A candidate to upscore when in bottle. Drinking Window 2028 - 2042
I tasted the wines with owner Michel Reybier and winemaker Dominique Arangoïts and they were peculiarly quiet as I worked my way through the glasses. This only ever happens when those concerned are extremely pleased with their wines but don’t want to show it. How right they were, albeit without giving anything away! The entire suite of wines from this estate is impeccable, but the Grand Vin is a staggering tour de force. From the incredible volume of fruit on the nose to the exquisite detail on the palate, this is an awesomely balanced wine. It has everything. The fruit is sensationally seductive and its depth is profound. The mouth-watering mid-palate is truly epic and there is freshness and bounce from the first sip to the final flavour memory and this balance is enchanting. This is a spectacular vintage for Cos and everything you could possibly want in a wine is here but, crucially, there is not too much of any one element. So often, larger framed wines can tip out of balance and deliver too much of a good thing. Cos remains masterful, expansive and also precision-tooled in its detail. This is the finest young wine I have tasted at this Château and I have no hesitation in giving it a perfect score. While many foundered, this imposing estate, sitting on its majestic plot of land took the best elements from the complex and baffling season and used them to its advantage. It is true that wineries used to making richer styles of wine are the most successful, in my eyes, in 2018. Cos d’Estournel is one such property and it has made a wine which will taste incredible every day of its life and, inevitably, many of these days will be long after I have departed this world.
A very striking style from a classic blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot. This wine has all the hallmarks of the superb summer weather conditions. Strongly spiced earthy Black Forest fruit aromas. A full intense wine, very bold in both richness and power. A concentrated style, with a structured tannic firmness, providing a central weight. However it never loses the ripeness of sweet dark fruits, and the touch of mocha at the end gives an added dimension. Powerful with excellent ageing potential.
The 2018 Ducru-Beaucaillou is composed of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, to be aged 18 months in 100% new barriques. It has a pH of 3.7, 14.5% alcohol and an IPT (total polyphenol index) of 95. Very deep purple-black in color, it prances out of the glass with flamboyant, showy scents of cinnamon stick, wilted roses, star anise, fallen leaves and Ceylon tea with a core of blackcurrant cordial, black cherry compote, violets, chocolate mint and espresso plus a waft of crushed rocks. Full-bodied, opulent and decadently fruited with layer upon layer of black/blue fruit and floral nuances, it has an exquisitely ripe, fine-grained frame and fantastic freshness supporting the multifaceted, beguiling fruit, finishing with tons of fragrant flowers and mineral sparks. At once beautifully elegant and wonderfully bold. About 7,000 cases of the grand vin will be produced, really focusing on the area around the estate.
Black core. Intense black fruit. Highly structured but smooth, like thick velvet. Generous in fruit and massive but still surprisingly fresh. Long and refined finish even with all this power and density. Rich but not overly sweet or overripe. Savoury long finish. Hard to judge now. Drink 2028-2043
Another rock 'em sock 'em St.-Julien here, brimming with nearly exotic blackberry, plum, blueberry and açaí berry reduction notes, bristling with brambly energy and racing through a graphite-edged finish. Shows gorgeous perfume throughout, despite the fairly obvious level of concentration.
This is so layered and beautiful with incredible tannin quality. Full-bodied with a caressing texture that reminds me of the finest cashmere. So layered. You want to swallow this. Brings a smile to the face. Wow. So well crafted.
The 2018 Ducru-Beaucaillou is a wine of pure and total sensual beauty. Layers of intense fruit nearly cover the massive tannins that lurk beneath. Sweet floral notes, spice, mint, lavender and rose petals all grace a sublime Ducru that is long on class and character. In most recent vintages, Ducru has been a tannic behemoth, but the 2018 is remarkably silky, sumptuous and nuanced. In 2018, Ducru is not an obvious wine, but it is exceptionally beautiful. The 2018 is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot. New oak is 100%. Tasted two times.
Extremely complex, this is tight and holds on with an initial austerity. The plentiful tannins layer up right through the palate, but they are sandwiched by gorgeous blackberry and cassis fruits. There's an inkiness and a spice box feel here, with notes of dried herbs, black olive tapenade and graphite, all generously present. The longer the wine stays in the glass, the more the flesh of the fruit takes precedence and yet the wine manages to also convey a St-Julien classicism. This has all the elements to age exceptionally well, and to give great pleasure along the way. Harvested 19 September to 10 October. 3.7pH. 95IPT. 100% new oak. Drinking Window 2028 - 2042
The berries here were around 10-15% smaller than in regular vintages and this goes some way to explaining the volume of flavour and devastating stance of this imperial creation. The key to making such a masterpiece at Ducru was avoiding over-extraction coupled with the care and attention that they paid during winemaking. Réjouissant was the word that owner Bruno Borie used when we tasted this wine together and I know that this translates as ‘worthy of rejoicing’, but also ‘heartening’ and ‘gratifying’. This wine is all of these things and more. It is nothing short of a masterpiece in my opinion. Of course Ducru is often a flamboyant wine and in this vintage, with its extraordinary growing season, those Châteaux that are used to creating larger-framed more ostentatious styles of wine were bound to do very well. With all of the exuberance one might expect under this label but also with immense reserve and a heightened IQ this wine sets a new standard for this estate. It is not a once in a decade wine - it is a once in half a century wine. Control and precision are the watchwords here and this is done of such a scale and with such panache that it is sensational. This is a wine which will amaze every single person on the planet. I cannot think how it could be improved. This is such a detailed wine with so much fruit integrity it is amazing and I have never tasted anything like it from this property. It follows that I am honour-bound to award this delicious wine a perfect score.
Eglise Client’s vines are situated in four blocks which total 4.2 hectares on the Pomerol plateau with half gravel and half clay soils. 50% of the vines are 50-75 years old, producing very small concentrated berries and ensuring production will be very limited. Denis said to us, “the 2018 vintage will be very rare”. Dark blue and black fruits, blackberry, cassis and damsons are intermingled with hints of exotic spice, cinnamon and black truffle. This is a powerful and polished wine with lots of energy and tightly wound old vine concentration of fruit. Coming out of this brooding density it has a beautiful purity and freshness of fruit, spice and minerals that leave a wonderful persistence on the palate. The old vine tannins are fine and grainy, but beautifully ripe, sweet and married into the body of the wine. This is very opulent and full-bodied with all the hallmarks of a truly great vintage. It is nuanced, textured and layered with a long haunting finish, and is certain to get better and better with age. Very good.
Maintaining freshness in the wine was a priority for Denis Durantou at L’Eglise Clinet. “The pH developed quite quickly,” he said. “We had to test it every day; we had made a conscious decision to pick before it got too high. At a maximum of 3.7 pH, we pick. As soon as we have an evolution—a flavor change—we decide to pick.” Merlot was picked September 18-26 and Cabernet Franc on September 28. The resulting wine has a 3.63 pH and 14.5% alcohol and will be aged in 70% new barriques. A blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, the 2018 L'Eglise Clinet is deep purple-black in color and opens with beguiling truffles, forest floor, mossy bark and black tea scents, slowly unfurling to reveal a core of Black Forest cake, plum preserves, licorice and candied violets plus wafts of tar and cast iron pan. Full-bodied, concentrated and jam-packed with muscular fruit, the velvety-textured palate delivers layer upon layer of savory and earthy accents, finishing with a lingering mineral lift.
Lush in feel, with boysenberry reduction and crushed plum flavors, carried by a polished, solid structure. A mineral hint filters through on the finish, adding length and cut.
This is incredibly powerful with fantastic depth and length. It goes on for minutes. Full-bodied yet so tight and intense. Blackberries and hints of spice. It has such energy and persistence. It is a wine that makes you really reflect. Bravo. Tiny production.
The 2018 L'Eglise-Clinet is a powerful, tightly wound wine. In fact, it is one of the most reticent Pomerols I tasted, which makes it hard to evaluate today but probably bodes extremely well for the future. Dark and brooding in the glass, the 2018 has too much to offer. A wine of real gravitas and power, the 2018 is likely to need the better part of the next decade to open up, and even that probably won't be enough. Spice, leather, lavender, rose petal and tobacco gradually develop in the glass, but what really comes through is the sheer depth and intensity of the year.
This is rich, with layers upon layers of black chocolate, ripe fleshy blackberries and raspberries tempered by acidity and tannins that support, pushing the entire palate slowly onwards and upwards. It has all the generosity of the vintage but tempered with Durantou's amazing ability to sculpt freshness out of the fruit his vineyards deliver. It’s immensely seductive and powerful with more evident flesh than the 2016 – a wine that’s going to run and run. Drinking Window 2028 - 2040
This is the first vintage in which every wine made in this portfolio comes from Denis Durantou’s own plantings! He calls it his year of the ‘Revolutionary’. Noëmie Durantou Reilhac, Denis’s daughter, and his cellar master Olivier Gautrat are very much involved these days and Denis notes that the old adage that you can only make great wines from vines that were planted by your ancestors is definitely not true today! The nose on L’Eglise Clinet is magnificent. The oak is typically commanding as is the fruit and the tannins are super-fine and also very fit and lively. These tannins are big but energetic and healthy and they will propel this wine forwards for 50 years. This is another tour de force from this famous estate.
A deep dense dark colour, this is full of plums and ripe back cherries. With deliciously luxurious ripe fruit cake characters, this has an appealing succulence, velvet like tannins and a hint of granular complexity. There is a real feeling of generosity and intensity, a beautifully rewarding wine. Its approachable character belies its wonderful layers and evident longevity.
The 2018 L'Evangile is composed of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. The Merlot was harvested September 19 to October 2, and the Cabernet Franc was harvested September 25 to October 1. This is the optimal blend—with more Cabernet Franc coming through this year, since it was amazing. Deep garnet-purple colored, it slips seductively out of the glass with glamorous notes of baked black cherries, warm blueberries and raspberry tart plus wafts of kirsch, red roses, rose hip tea, espresso, licorice and sandalwood. Full-bodied, rich, concentrated and delivering opulent black fruit layers, the palate has a firm frame of lovely, ripe, rounded tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long and fragrant. Beautiful.
Inky core, deep crimson rim. Perfumed with black fruit and violets. Dense but not tough, many fine layers giving density but it's smooth and plush nevertheless with some dark chocolate on the finish. Fruit character is dark enough to be savoury, black olive and then becoming just slightly more floral with air. Changes a lot in the glass. It's a wine all in the future even though the tannins are smooth now. It's quite closed in on itself but should have a long life. Drink 2028-2035
A very plush and exciting L’Evangile with polished, velvety tannins that set this up to be a classic. It’s full-bodied with glorious fruit and a great center palate that has fantastic depth. It’s so caressing and beautiful. So much here.
The 2018 L'Évangile is shaping up to be exceptional. Rich and sumptuous in the glass, the 2018 exudes richness in all of its dimensions. Opulent and dense in the glass, with soft curves and silky, polished tannins, the 2018 is hugely promising. All the elements just fall into place. Dark raspberry jam, cloves, menthol and new leather are some of the many notes that build in a sumptuous, racy Évangile loaded with class and personality. I can't wait to taste it from bottle.
You feel the density and power straight off the nose here - this is really silky, sexy and smoky wine with a ton of complex flavours combining berry fruits with spices swirling through, and finishing up with liquorice bean and coffee grounds on the finish. There’s less lift perhaps than the 2016, but you feel the concentration, the depth to the flavour, and the balance. It has a beautiful texture and feels very classically Pomerol but with elegance and persistency. A small production in 2018 but a very beautiful one. 75% new oak used. Drinking Window 2027 - 2044
A powerful, structured L’Evangile and a wine which is densely packed with fruit, but having said this, this is still a very introverted wine. This property changes so much with the sensitivity of the vintage and the 2018 will be an extraordinarily long-lived wine. The oak is well-judged and the skin tannins are fit, lively and very well-balanced. Darker and more muscular and, funnily enough, a little like Lafite, this is a stronger and more square-shouldered wine than the past few vintages. There is no need to open this wine for at least fifteen years.
The fact that we tasted the 2018 in a portacabin due to the extensive cellar works taking place at this great property says buckets about the quality of this wine that we left almost speechless at its quality. In a year when the right bank has excelled, Ch Figeac sits up there with the absolute best. The most striking characteristics are its brightness, freshness and absolute purity. One of the most balanced wines of the vintage: there are subtle summer fruits, precision and balance in the palate, the tannins are controlled and yet structured, and there is a line of freshness flowing throughout. Amazing poise and superb quality, a real star in the making.
The 2018 Figeac is composed of 37% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Cabernet Franc, harvested September 17 to October 12 with a 3.7 pH and 14% alcohol. Deep purple-black in color, it charges out of the gate with vivacious black and red cherries, cassis, warm plums and wild blueberries scents plus fragrant hints of violets, star anise, tilled soil and forest floor with wafts of Ceylon tea and chocolate box. Full-bodied and jam-packed with energetic, crunchy black and blue fruits, it has a rock-solid, firm, grainy frame and loads of bright, refreshing sparks lifting the dense layers on the very long, savory finish. Wow—the Cabernet really makes itself known this vintage, and it is good. The signature of this wine is so clear, so defined, that this is a Bordeaux wine without peers. In my view, this is the finest Figeac ever produced.
Inky with purple rim. A little bit spicy on the nose, scented and ripe but not overripe, that touch of nutmeg that I found on the Nénin. Ripe and pure. Very smooth and rich on the palate, remarkably soft when you know the quantity of tannins. Smooth and accessible, rounded and luxurious but balanced by the freshness. Grainy texture but fine grained. Second tasting of a cooler sample (the temporary tasting room was a tent and the samples warmed up quickly when the sun was out): fragrant with small black berries, opens up to a more scented beauty, still some spice but also a hint of roses. Greater finesse and freshness at a cooler temperature. Concentrated but so round on the finish. More Cabernet Sauvignon would have given a hardness on the finish, says Faye. Cool chalky finesse. Fine-grained persistence and freshness with a surprising juiciness on the finish. (JH) 14% Drink 2024-2034
This is pretty gorgeous, with velvety texture that lets nearly exotic cassis, plum and blackberry fruit reduction flavors roll through. Has a beautiful bass line of warm earth and smoldering tobacco notes all while keeping its sensational mouthfeel. The encore on the finish makes you realize this is the serious gourmet stuff. One of the highlights of the vintage.
This shows wonderful precision and focus with dark-berry, tobacco, and blueberry character. Full-bodied, tight and vivid. Solid and structured. Really powerful for Figeac. The real new style here of Figeac that harkens back to the great wines of the 1950s and 1940s. This year, equal parts of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc.
The 2018 Figeac is simply magnificent. A regal, soaring wine with tremendous vertical lift and nuance, the 2018 is marvelously complete from the very first taste. All the elements fall into place effortlessly. Medium in body and refined, the 2018 is vibrant, with fine tannins and, frankly, quite a bit more freshness than I expected to see given the very dry, sunny summer. Rose petal, mint, lavender and spice add nuance to a core of red/purplish fruit. Harvest started on September 17 and finished on October 12. Yields were 39 hectoliters per hectare, just shy of the historical average of 42/32. While mildew pressure was an issue, it was the dry October winds and their dehydrating effect on the last Cabernets that impacted yields most. Like so many of his colleagues, Technical Director Frederic Faye and his team opted for gentler vinifications with no SO2 at crush, lower temperatures in fermentation and smaller pumpovers. The 2018 Figeac is brilliant. That's all there is to it. The blend is 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 26% Cabernet Franc. Tasted three times.
Back to a more traditional blend after last year's frost impact, Figeac has done a wonderful job of harnessing the opulence of the vintage while maintaining freshness. This is extremely focussed and precise, with a silky texture and inky depths, developing complexity as the flavours unfurl. These are big tannins but they steal up on you, doing that subtle creep that's such a marker of the vintage. Powerful, utterly gorgeous and clearly a wine that will age well, this is equal to the estate's excellent 2016. Harvest ran from 17 September to 12 October, giving a 39hl/ha yield (with 70% organic farming, 30% bio-control). 65% of the crop went into the grand vin. 3.7pH. Drinking Window 2027 - 2042
91% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. This has bright damson and blueberry aromas. A strikingly succulent wine, with a seductive velvety texture. Lots of dark chocolate and spice, rich and warming on the finish.
Composed of 91% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2018 la Fleur-Petrus has a medium garnet-purple color and opens softly and quietly with perfumed nuances of violets, potpourri, underbrush and garrigue with a core of warm plums, blueberry compote and raspberry pie plus touches of smoked meats and crushed rocks. Medium-bodied, the palate is charged with wonderfully energetic red and black fruits, framed by fine-grained tannins and oodles of freshness, finishing beautifully fragrant.
Inky crimson with purple rim. Dark, ripe black fruit and a slight lift of violets – perhaps the touch of Petit Verdot? Subtle but intense black fruit. Lots of fruit but also an overlay of slightly charry oak. Concentration and fine fruit, with sufficient freshness, all in embryo. Savoury, long, tangy finish with a touch of dark chocolate as an aftertaste. Drink 2025-2038
A brick house, featuring steeped currant and plum fruit, scored by tobacco, bay leaf and charcoal notes. A great tug of earth lurks underneath, but there's plenty of fruit to handle it. This is a big one.
This is a tannic and structured red with loads of walnut, hazelnut, dark-berry and wet-earth character. Full-bodied yet tight and reserved. Muscular and beautifully formed.
The 2018 Lafleur-Petrus is a stunning wine. Creamy, ample and generous, the 2018 has it all. Silky tannins and bright floral notes give the 2018 an air of sophistication to play off the rich, textured fruit. As good as the 2018 is on first impression, it is also magically persistent, with an eternal finish and fabulous balance.
This is extremely good quality - intense, concentrated, inky but not a wine to rush. It takes its time in the glass, with the floral aromatics only beginning to curl out after five minutes before revealing an obvious supple and rich texture alongside fruit that packs a punch, so densely knitted together it feels as though you're walking across a bed of blackcurrants. The wine shows the ambitions of this property but things are not as effortless as in the brilliant 2016 from La Fleur Petrus - my guess is that the gravel soils suffered just a touch more than usual in the heat of the summer. 3.9pH. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
What a wine! The volume of fruit and the amplitude of flavour both start off on maximum impact and then they don’t drop in the slightest until the very end of the finish. This wine is packed with incredible energy and this force of character and flavour is breath-taking. The length is amazing and the whole experience shows that this label is on top form in 2018.
This 46 hectare estate situated between Moulis and St Julien produces a wine from almost equal proportions of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. A delicious wine balancing an inherent richness of fruit with a gentle refinement and poise. Beautifully ripe with sweet dark fruits. The tannins are silky and the flavours linger on the palate for a long time, providing additional reward.
Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2018 Fourcas-Dupre opens a little shy with subtle black raspberry, redcurrant jelly and cassis scents followed by suggestions of garrigue, bay leaves and tilled soil. Medium to full-bodied, it has a solid line of chewy tannins tagged with compelling freshness sparking energy into the bright fruit, finishing mineral laced.
Inky core, purple rim. Sweetly fragrant cassis on the nose but less immediate fruit on the palate. In fact it’s rather severe in its tannin structure. Tannins are fine-boned but there’s not a huge amount of flesh in the middle. Dry but actually quite elegant. Drink 2023-2028
This is a little tight, but shows attractive currant and earth character, medium body and a fresh finish. Medium-firm tannins.
This has a vibrant ruby colour with violet reflections, gourmet touches, firm black cherry and raspberry fruits and a wet stone texture. It shows real vibrancy through the fruit without being too austere - a far more difficult line to walk to get vibrancy right, than it is to layer on the oak, so hats off to them. Drinking Window 2024 - 2038
Calm and balanced with nicely-weighted blackcurrant fruit and a smooth mid-palate. The tannins are quite grainy, but they will settle down in due course and this will end up being a complete wine.
A richly dark and spicy wine, which shows the benefits of the warm dry summer, with its strong caramelised plum and damson flavours, and hint of cocoa. A mouth-coating style, the tannins providing additional breadth and a very pleasing finish with hints of fresh vanilla pod and cassis.
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Giscours delivers expressive notions of baked raspberries, Black Forest cake and sautéed herbs with a core of crème de cassis, pencil lead, fertile loam and fallen leaves. Full-bodied, taut and muscular in the mouth with earth-laced baked black fruits, it has a firm, chewy texture and refreshing herbal sparks on the finish.
Inky core. Dark and introverted but beckons you in to find out more. Soberly seductive. A dark, savoury charm, a smooth but compact texture. Gravelly like its site. Not obvious and in your face, but refined in its power. Opens up to dark perfume. Most elegant vintage of Giscours I have tasted. Drink 2024-2033
A very solid wine, with a dense core of steeped plum and blackberry puree flavors, liberally infused with black tea, alder and sanguine accents. The long finish unfurls nicely, revealing depth and a caressing feel.
The black color indicates a solid and structured red with loads of blackberry and blueberry character. Full-bodied and very tight and tensioned. Savory tannins that are powerful and intense at the finish. Classically structured. Finely toned and formed young red.
The 2018 Giscours is another in a series of brilliant wines from the estate. Bold and explosive in the glass, with tremendous fruit richness, the 2018 has so much to offer. In 2018, Giscours is radiant, exotically ripe and incredibly inviting, with a relatively high percentage of Merlot that adds juiciness. All the elements are in gorgeous harmony. The 2018 is an especially fine Giscours. It is certainly the best recent vintage I have tasted. The blend is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot. Tasted two times.
Deep purple in colour with violet edging, this is beating fast with juicy bramble fruit and life. You can feel the texture of the berries in the mouth, making this a luxurious, confident Giscours, with swirls of smoke backed up by spice. There's an effortless quality to the tannins, but this is definitely built to last. It easily stands up to the 2015 and 2016. Harvest lasted for a full month, from 12 September to 12 October. Aged in 50% new oak. Drinking Window 2027 - 2042
This is a structured Giscours and it is a well-built and flavour-packed wine, too. I like the nose and the palate doesn’t overstep the mark and this means that it manages to keep on track all of the way to the finish. One of my favourite Giscours in recent vintages, I am impressed with this wine.
Véronique Sanders described the 2018 vintage at Ch Haut Bailly as “Vive La Liberté”: the freedom to act as and when required in the vineyard to protect against the climatic challenges of the year. The appellation of Pessac-Léognan was tested during the season and yields at the estate were reduced by 50%. Veronique and her winemaking team have crafted a very intense and concentrated wine from their small crop. A high toned wine full of perfumed black fruits, with great concentration and a layered gravelly tannic core. This is a full muscular wine with long lingering flavours.
The 2018 Haut-Bailly is blended of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Grapes were harvested September 17 to October 9, and the wine has 14.4% alcohol. Deep purple-black in color, it opens slowly with profound notions of Black Forest cake, crème de cassis, roasted nuts and black olives, unfurling to reveal notions of menthol, crushed rocks, molten licorice and chargrilled meat plus a hint of lilacs. Full-bodied, rich and densely laden with layer upon layer of vibrant black fruits and mineral nuances, it has a solid backbone of firm, velvety tannins and seamless freshness, finishing very long with compelling restraint and exciting energy.
Black core. Intense black fruit, less open than Haut-Bailly II, as you might expect, but just as intense in fruit. Deep, more chewy than velvety but the layers of tannin are very fine, there are just a lot of them. A more savoury quality on the palate than in the Haut-Bailly II. Packed with fruit but all coiled up on itself. Big but nothing sticks out. Clean, dry, dark-chocolate finish. Very ripe Cabernet cassis but with the freshness of the Merlot (they always pick the Cabernet late and the Merlot early). Juicy at the core. Big, harmonious and smooth. Embryonically elegant in its power and concentration. Drink 2026-2040
Incredible depth of fruit to this with a center palate that shows superb character and texture. I love the hazelnut and coffee-bean undertones to the beautiful fruit, which shows great finesse. Full-bodied yet compact and tight, giving a sense of agility and flight to the wine. Extremely tight and polished tannins.
The 2018 Haut-Bailly speaks with real authority and class. Deeply spiced notes lead into a core of red/purplish berry fruit, lavender, licorice, new leather, menthol and tobacco. Vivid and dramatic in bearing, the 2018 possesses striking resonance from start to finish. There is plenty of tannin as well, but it is pretty much buried by the sheer luxuriousness of the fruit, while the mid-palate and saline-infused finish show terrific freshness as well as purity. The blend is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot.
This is a serious 2018, structured, layered and full of Haut-Bailly signature. The texture is striking, with the silkiness emphasised by a pH of 3.87 and a relatively high alcohol that is effortlessly integrated into the body of the wine. The complexity builds slowly through the palate but the persisting feeling is of menthol, a lifting off and peeling back of the intensity, revealing the fresher more nuanced notes underneath. There's a lot of the 2015 character here, in terms of its enjoyable structure and generous fruit, but it's more like 2016 in its serious finish, and there's no question that this will age well. The IPT is 86, more than the 84 measured in the 2010, but you don't feel it in the same way here. 5% Cabernet Franc completes the blend, co-fermented with Petit Verdot because they like the balance that it gives. 21hl/ha yield. Drinking Window 2027 - 2042
This is a superb Haut-Bailly and the nose alone is worth a standing ovation. A big wine and somewhat of an anomaly for Haut-Bailly, the oak is perfectly balanced and the skin tannins are so well-judged – some of the finest in the region – that there is little astringency but massive quantities of energy and verve. The tempo of the flavour as it expands on the palate is staggering. The length is great, too, but this is not a big wine in spite of the IPT. It is simply sensational and it will live to fifty years.
It was an “I remember where I was...” moment, tasting this sublime wine for the first time. Does it have the potential to be another 1989 as one of the icons in the history of the château? Quite possibly! Hitting perfection, it shows the merits of Pessac, and particularly Haut-Brion, in a vintage when both Merlot and Cabernet excel. A blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernets (39% Sauvignon and 12% Franc). An amazing medley of dark liquorice, toffee and black forest fruits immediately jump out of the glass. The entry is fresh with light freshly picked tobacco leaf and a salty medicinal character. A wine of extraordinary intensity, but in no way overpowering, it is so layered, with a central kernel of deep dark fruit in the mid palate. It has a tight texture, is generous and powerful, yet the end releases into a gracefully long-lasting silken sensation. There are wines its equal this year but none better.
The 2018 Haut-Brion is a blend of 49.4% Merlot, 38.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11.9% Cabernet Franc, harvested September 6 to October 2. Deep purple-black in color, it is much more closed than the La Mission. It holds back for the first few minutes, reticent to reveal what slowly uncoils to give wave after wave of exotic spices—cardamom, cassis, star anise and fenugreek—over an opulent core of red roses, Black Forest cake, warm cassis and black raspberries with nuances of cigar box, crushed rocks, truffles, tilled black soil, iron ore and smoked meats. The full-bodied palate is truly profound, with restrained black fruit and spice layers slowly offering mineral sparks and savory suggestions within a rock-solid frame of firm, super fine-grained tannins and beautiful freshness, finishing with epic length and depth. This will take longer to come around than the La Mission, but it will be well worth the wait.
Deepest black-cherry colour. Much more subdued on the nose than La Mission but has intense purity. Finely textured and yet dense, the freshness lifting it off the ground even with all the underlying power. Deep-rooted purity and wonderful persistence, all tied up and just with that slight rocky character that finishes dry but not drying. Impressive elegance in a powerful vintage. Firm, dry and yet so much more supple than many wines. Very slightly toasty on the finish but the oak is swallowed by the fruit. Drink 2028-2048
The length and texture to this wine is so very impressive. It’s not so much the sheer power that is impressive here, rather the form, tension and exquisite form that the abundant, fine-grained tannins provide. It lasts for minutes on the palate. A classic beauty in the making.
The 2018 Haut-Brion is a regal wine. Creamy, soft and inviting, the 2018 is one of the more open-knit young Haut-Brions I can remember tasting. Cedar, tobacco, smoke, licorice, grilled herbs, leather and menthol are nicely layered in the glass. In 2018, Haut-Brion is almost shockingly elegant at this very early stage. There is plenty of tannin, but it is totally woven into the wine's fabric. In 2018, the blend is 49.4% Merlot, 38.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11.9% Cabernet Franc.
A beautiful Haut-Brion that combines generosity and elegance. It's rich, and velvety, with a vibrant ruby rim, all conveying structure and a sense of power. The flavour floods in through the mid-palate, displaying wonderfully vibrant blackberry, blueberry, slate, touches of blond tobacco, freshly cut herbs and exotic spicing. You can feel in the texture that it's a warm year, not holding back. It's powerful but elegant and unforced at the same time, with some brambled edges that give a welcome sense of acidity and a touch of bitterness. Harvested 6 September to 2 October, yielding 44hl/ha. 3.8pH. IPT72 - the same level as 2015, but it was a little higher in 2010 and 2009. Drinking Window 2027 - 2044
Like Le Clarence, Haut-Brion majors on the black fruit spectrum and it looks dark and menacing warning off all-comers. The tannins are superb here and they have none of the dryness and tart characteristics of La Mission, preferring to be super-fine and powdery. They don’t get in the way of the flow, but the fruit, while complete, is refusing to budge an inch. I can detect some serious complexity here but this is a belligerent wine and it refuses to open up in the glass. The intensity of the flavour is staggering and I venture that this will be another great Haut-Brion, but you have to be extremely patient for it to emerge from its chrysalis.
This 4.5 hectare estate, neighbouring Petrus, Vieux Château Certan and Certan de May, has a superb terroir and certainly deserves greater recognition. It is a distinguished blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. With deep black cherry aromas, it has a wonderfully giving volume of Pomerol succulence. A sweet and juicy but very succinct wine. Full of life and joy.
The 2018 Hosanna is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, it is a little closed to begin, giving way to black and red plum preserves, wild blueberries and boysenberries with suggestions of forest floor, bouquet garni and Marmite toast. The medium to full-bodied palate delivers profound, mouth-coating black fruits with firm, velvety tannins and just enough freshness, finishing with a lingering herbal lift.
Darkest crimson. Lovely open and inviting fragrance of Cabernet Franc: pencil shavings, wild fruits and so vibrant. Lots of fruit energy on the palate, too, attractively dry tannins with finesse and more marked freshness on the finish but also a very slight bitterness at the very end, although I think this will mesh better with a few years in bottle. Drink 2025-2035
This has a strong tobacco and loam aspect, with lots of black currant, fig and bitter cherry fruit. Shows heft and muscle throughout. Dense and built for the cellar.
This tension and focus to this is very impressive with a freshness and linear drive that really perk you up. Medium to full body, chewy yet polished tannins and a crisp finish.
I expected the 2018 Hosanna to be super-rich and flamboyant, but instead I am quite struck by how finessed it is. There is plenty of depth and intensity in the glass, but at the same time, Hosanna retains a level of both translucence and structure that make it wonderfully complete. My impression is that the 2018 is still holding quite a bit back in reserve, and that is a very good thing.
This is very good quality and clearly will age - powerful yet fresh, sculpted, with more than a touch of 2010 about it. It’s a more masculine take on the vintage but without sacrificing charm. Drinking Window 2028 - 2040
This is a very concentrated Hosanna and the fruit is solely in the black spectrum with flashes of black olive and liquorice appearing, too. I like the bravado here, not least because the oak and tannins are in harmony with the fruit and this is quite some task because the fruit is certainly very opinionated! When this wine mellows and softens I think that I may have to add another half point, assuming that everything calms down a notch, too.
Emmanuel Cruse describes the 2018 harvest as a very serene one and this fine balance and comfortable composure can be seen in this 2018. This is fresh and energetic, with lively summer fruit aromas. Hints of graphite and fresh tobacco leaf provide added nuance to the intense currant flavours. The tannins are rounded but provide some tension to the finish which is long and memorable.
The 2018 D'Issan is composed of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, aging in 50% new and 50% second year barrels for an estimated 18 months. With 13.97% alcohol and a deep garnet-purple color, it features baked berries, warm cherries and cassis with spice box and fragrant earth plus tea hints. Medium to full-bodied, it has a great core of muscular fruit with firm, fine-grained tannins, with nice freshness, finishing layered with mineral notions.
Deep core and cherry rim, not quite as black-hearted as most Bordeaux 2018s. Intense ripe cassis that is pure Cabernet. Nicely savoury too. Chewy and quite oaky on the palate, the tannins thickened by the oak but very smooth. Dense and still fresh. Very good. Drink 2025-2035
The cashmere texture of the tannins is wonderful in this. They are ripe and precise. Dense at the same time, giving a slow drive and a long finish. Full-bodied with dark and pretty fruit. Persistent finish.
An explosive, dense wine, the 2018 d'Issan possesses off the charts richness and fabulous intensity. A rush of blue/black fruit, chocolate, smoke, spice, leather and tobacco builds in a potent Margaux endowed with tremendous concentration and pure, unbridled power. The 2018 is an unusually brooding, somber d'Issan that is likely to require a number of years to be at its best. Today, it is compelling, even in the early going. Tasted four times.
This is a vibrant ruby colour, with floral aromatics that are even more evident on the nose here than with the second wine, Blason. This is not always the case during En Primeur tastings, when it's the second wines that tend to be a little more open, but it's a feature of the 2018 vintage. This is a brilliant Issan with richness and poise joined by a delicate acidity that pulls the fruit along. The tannins are deceptive, as they are supple and appealing, but the density and power builds over the palate and clearly indicates long ageing. A wine that feels like it's rooted in its appellation. 50% new oak. 40hl/ha yield, with 53% of production going into this wine, higher than in both 2017 and 2016. Eric Boissenot consults. Drinking Window 2027 - 2042
A richly proportioned d’Issan which is a few shades darker than I might have expected and the fruit is, accordingly, rather powerful and dry on the finish. The tannins are also quite fierce, but they do not damage the flow of the fruit and so I am happy to recommend this wine. Please make sure that you give it at least a decade to mellow.
This is a true second wine from the estate of Grand Puy Lacoste, consisting of a blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc. It doesn’t have delusions of grandeur, it just sets out to represent the origins of its terroir, the typicity of Pauillac and the characteristics of the vintage. The Borie family have certainly nailed this 2018. Gentle aromas of violets and pomegranate, a firm direct style, brightly fresh and a gentle rewarding finish.
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Lacoste-Borie opens with baked plums, stewed cherries, cassis and milk chocolate with earth and herbs. Medium to full-bodied, firm and chewy, it has a good fruit core and an herbal lift on the finish.
Inky crimson with purple core. Very Cabernet on the nose, such pure cassis and a lovely rocky/mineral note. Ripe but quite savoury on the palate with a hint of black olives. Lots of freshness and a long savoury finish. Tannins are fine, smooth and the whole is juicy even with good concentration. Opens up in the glass to a touch of spice. Attractively dry and still fresh, juicy on the finish. Drink 2023-2030
The 2018 Lacoste-Borie is plump, silky and absolutely delicious. Bright red cherry, plum and mocha add lovely shades of nuance throughout. I would prefer to drink this succulent, mid-weight Pauillac over the next handful of years, while it retains its youthful juiciness. The blend is 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc. Tasted two times.
This is star bright and juicy, and certainly settles in the glass to show its rich tannic structure. It’s not as creamy through the mid-palate as in 2015 or 2016 but there’s no question that Lacoste-Borie is a sure-fire quality choice and this is a lovely wine. The harvest took place between 21 September and 5 October. 13.9% ABV here and 14%ABV at Grand-Puy-Lacoste. A yield of 44hl/ha. Drinking Window 2024 - 2036
The nose here is amazingly attractive – summer pudding notes with more volume than usual. In addition, there is a deep minerality which is clear on the palate, too, bringing control and backbone to the lush fruit. Long and perfectly balanced, the tannins are neat and grainy and they sit right on the tail of this wine, refreshing the palate and allowing the fruit to keep its shape all of the way through the experience. This is a superb Lacoste-Borie.
Unquestionably one of the stand out wines of the vintage, bearing the hallmarks of potential greatness. This is a truly exceptional example of both Lafite and Pauillac at its very best. 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot. Deep damson in colour, this has a symphony of aromas and flavours, ranging from dark summer berries, hints of mulberries, blueberries and blackcurrants. An extraordinarily composed wine, nothing is in excess. The start of the palate is one of grace and refinement, slowly giving way to intensity and subtle power. Beautifully poised, balancing sweetness of fruit with freshness and as everything builds in the mouth, one is left with a sensation of complete class. It is hard to find fault in this wine.
The 2018 Lafite Rothschild is blended of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot and has 13.3% alcohol. The Merlot was harvested September 17-24, the Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested September 25 to October 5, and the Cabernet Franc was harvested on September 24. It has a deep purple-black color and then WOW—what a nose. It comes sashaying out of the glass with bags of grace and perfume, revealing notions of lilacs, red roses, fragrant soil, cinnamon stick and Morello cherries with a core of blackcurrant cordial, fresh black plums, redcurrant jelly and tapenade plus a waft of iron ore. Medium-bodied, the palate has wonderful, tightly wound layers of black, red and blue fruits intermingled with floral, earth and mineral notions and a rock-solid frame of the most finely pixelated tannins you can possibly imagine. Anyone who wants to see what I mean when I babble about the Lafite tannins needs to try this benchmark. The finish goes on, and on, and on. If this wine doesn’t get Bordeaux lovers hearts' racing, nothing will.
Black core. Introverted dark fruit, almost sour in its dark freshness. Amazing elegance without any apparent sweetness. So dry, so serious but with body and richness in the middle. Classicism and precision. Some rocky/mineral darkness. Paper-fine layers of tannins. Fresh with a power and yet a delicacy at the same time. A dark dry purity. There is a serenity to this wine, it has muscles but is not flexing them. Opens up to riper, richer fruit character. Wonderful harmony and refined length. Could turn out to be my wine of the primeurs tastings. (It did.) Drink 2028-2045
A very compact and linear Lafite with a fantastic mouthfeel of intense but ever so refined tannins that draw a straight line through the middle of the wine. It’s full-bodied yet compact with complex character of plums, blackcurrants, cigar tobacco, cedar and hints of hazelnuts and coffee. Salty. Orange zest at the end. Delicacy with power. Richness with softness. Glamorous. Lasts for minutes at the finish.
The 2018 Lafite-Rothschild is creamy, sensual and inviting, with lovely purity of fruit and impeccable balance. Dark cherry, plum, licorice and spice are some of the many nuances that develop. Time in the glass brings out striking aromatic depth and overall persistence. Although an undeniably attractive wine, the 2018 does not appear to have the sheer pedigree of the very best wines in this vintage. None of the three samples I tasted were as impressive as I had hoped for. Perhaps I had bad luck. Time will tell. The blend is 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot.
This is silky and delicious and juicy, not something you can often say about a Lafite En Primeur sample but before you even get close to tasting the wine you can feel the layers building. It has the precision, the freshness and the sense of effortless elegance that Lafite always conveys with lots of power and depth, deep black fruits on the nose and a mix of spices from rosemary to saffron on the palate. Is it better than the 2016? It’s hard to say at this stage but it certainly feels its equal, although differently constructed and unlikely to take as long to come around - think 10 rather than 14 years before reaching its drinking window. It's worth adding that very few wines have been so unmarked by the extremes of the vintage, or as technical director Eric Kohler puts it; 'Even after 25 years of working at Lafite I continue to be full of admiration for this terroir. Other plots that we own reacted to the heat at times, but Lafite just kept sailing on as usual'. The harvest took place between 17 September and 5 October, with a yield of 40hl/ha. 40% of the production went into the grand vin. 3.75pH which is classic for them. 74IPT. Drinking Window 2028 - 2050
With a more exuberant stance, which is certainly less classic than 2016, this is a rather shockingly delicious and immediately appealing Lafite. There is some superb depth, amazing graphite notes and even some floral tones here, too. The volume of flavour and freshness is thanks to the gentle extraction. It was important to control everything humanly possible in this vintage and I think that the team here has managed to get a little extra out of their bunches. Controlling temperature and less pumping over meant than this is an extremely interesting wine. It remains a Lafite-shaped wine matthewjukes.com 15 16 matthewjukes.com and the signature is still here, but it is out on a limb in terms of its flavour expression and I happen to like this a lot, as I favour more expressive wines over more reserved ones. Lafite suggested that is was their divine terroir which enabled them to retain the perfect balance which this wine shows and this is the critical reason for its success. Even the small addition of Merlot, planted in 1919 and 1967 played their part! While this is an unusually exciting Lafite on the palate, it is familiarly strict on the finish and so while I venture that this is an atypical creature in the greater scheme of things it will still cast a Lafite-shaped silhouette on your palate in years to come.
It is always hugely disappointing when a wine of such outstanding quality isn’t available to offer en primeur. This wine exudes class. It is deep opaque in colour and has an array of fruit compôte and deep black fruits on the nose, with a hint of liquorice. It balances a luscious sweetness and succulence of fruit with great composure. Taut and intense with a nice bite of freshness, the central tannic core provides additional grip and length. High quality and a great example of Cabernet Sauvignon at its best, making up 91% of the final blend.
The 2018 Latour is composed of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Merlot, with 14.3% alcohol and an IPT (total polyphenol index) of 81. Very deep purple-black in color, it is very reluctant to show itself to start. With considerable coaxing, it begins to give up notions of chocolate-covered cherries, kirsch, blackcurrant cordial, Sichuan pepper, hoisin and underbrush scents with slowly unfurling red roses, woodsmoke and espresso plus a waft of truffles. The full-bodied palate is a bodybuilder—absolutely stacked with taut, muscular cassis and savory layers, structured with sky-high, very firm, very ripe tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long and layered. Powerful!
The colour of elderberry juice, so dark. Rich and luscious on the nose. The tannins are even finer than on Les Forts but it is more aromatic on the palate than usual, more exotic and more obvious and immediate fruit flavours. Compact, dense, concentrated yet complex too. Riches on the palate that show more than usually at this stage. A rather exotic Latour. Drink 2028-2048
A solid and statuesque Latour with an extremely dense yet refined center palate of steely tannins and lots of blue fruit and an undertone of graphite. Some slate, too. It’s tight and very powerful. Reminds me of the texture of the 1959 (which I didn’t taste in barrel!) But the density here is so, so long. Steely.
The 2018 Latour is fabulous. Rich, dense and unctuous on the palate, the 2018 possesses tremendous textural resonance. Huge tannins give the wine energy and drive, but there is more than enough fruit to balance things out. My impression is that the 2018 is holding a lot back. Then again, it is Latour. The interplay of aromatic intensity, fruit richness and structure is compelling. Even with all of density, the 2018 possesses terrific energy and drive.
A hugely impressive wine, powerful and concentrated, this is going to make a lot of friends, particularly those who loved the style of Latour in vintages like 2010. It has less fragrant nuances than in recent years but it’s full of liquorice, slate, cigar box, pencil lead, bergamot, black tea, black fruit jelly and fresh mint. No one can doubt that this is going to run and run but it will take its time to come around. Low yields of 24hl/ha after one of the most careful sorting processes ever to ensure no berries were affected by mildew. The harvest took place between 17 September and 11 October. 37% of overall production went into the grand vin. 3.7pH. 81IPT. Drinking Window 2029 - 2050
Another incredibly high Cabernet percentage at Latour and this time the power and muscle is very evident. There is little beauty here, just structure and brawn and there is a sour note on account of the ripeness of the skins which warns the taster away. Hints of exoticism can be seen but they are quickly ushered away – mere fripperies, not to be trifled with. The calibre of Cabernet here is awe-inspiring but it is equally mono-tonal in its delivery and so we must be exceptionally patient to allow these defences to start to give way. I anticipate that this wine will not start drinking this side of 2035, by which time I am sure it will have been made available for sale. I can sense that there is an awful lot of potential here, but I don’t think that it is quite as stellar as the 2010 or my perfect-scoring 2016.
The Clarence Dillon stable certainly did the Grand Slam in 2018 with a perfect selection of wines for the vintage. A Merlot dominant blend, this has dark perfumed aromas of currants and damsons. A very seductive style, with plump generosity. There is a glossy warmth to this wine, with hints of spice. Despite the appealing sweetness of fruit, it has marked vitality and freshness. A very classy second wine.
The 2018 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion is a blend of 58.2% Merlot, 28.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 3.6% Petit-Verdot, harvested September 6 to October 2. Deep garnet-purple colored, it opens with a very serious nose of earthy layers—tilled soil, truffles, underbrush and crushed rocks—giving way to notions of Black Forest cake, kirsch and redcurrant jelly with wafts of cassis and pencil shavings. Full-bodied, the palate is sparked with fantastic energy, featuring layers of red and black fruits with a smooth, rounded texture and lively minty kick to the finish.
Deepest crimson, not as opaque as so many this year. Delicate dark-fruit fragrance. Dark-red juicy fruit on the palate, intense but light on its feet. So juicy and moreish yet persistent, long. Concentrated without heaviness. Drink 2025-2035
This is an excellent second wine from Haut-Brion with fantastic depth of fruit and structure. Full yet very energetic and a long, linear finish. Shows great length.
The 2018 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion is soft and understated. Bright floral notes, sweet red berry fruit and soft, silky tannins give the wine its gracious, classy personality. The 2018 offers lovely freshness in a soft, fruity style that holds quite a bit of near-term appeal. The blend is 58.2% Merlot, 28.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 3.6% Petit Verdot.
The structure is more evident in Haut-Brion's Clarence than in La Mission's Chapelle - the former is not as luscious but has greater depth and the encircling walls that make this feel like the fruit is cosseted and will age well. It has a clear link to the grand vin. 3.6% Petit Verdot makes up the blend. A 44hl/ha yield, despite hail for just the third time in 30 years. 3.84pH. IPT68. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
Much darker in colour and also deeper in perfume than La Chapelle, this is a mighty wine with a briary, deep, blackberry and spice palate and the tannins are certainly not shy either. A rich and layered flavour is dusted by dynamic tannins which lift the darker olive and liquorice notes and elongate the finish, too. This is a superbly suave Clarence and it will repay long cellaring. I love the weight of this wine – while it is intense and dark in the glass, the palate weight is not too heavy and this means that it skips along on the palate and this makes for exciting drinking.
Arguably the Medoc’s fifth first growth, this is an exceptionally poised wine exuding total class. A structured blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc and 9% Merlot. Shining bright purple colour, with a striking nose of pure scented violets and a drive of fresh blackcurrants. These characters follow through in the palate, intense and direct, and then evolve to provide a delicious richness of dark fruits and hints of cedar. Nothing is in excess, it manages to balance the high degree of concentration with a lovely feeling of finesse. The subtle tannic core gives an added dimension on the finish and the final memory is one of sweet dark spiced fruits. Destined to be considered one of the greats in the history of this superb estate.
“We produced great Cabernet Franc this year,” Directeur Général Pierre Graffeuille told me during my visit to Léoville Las Cases. Even though only 3% of the press wine was added back, he was also absolutely glowing about the quality of this too. And he should be—the finished blend for the 2018 Léoville Las Cases is yet another triumph for this great estate. Composed of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc and 9% Merlot, harvested September 15 to October 4 with yields of 35.5 hectoliters per hectare, it has 14.49% alcohol and will be aged in barriques, 90% new. Very deep purple-black in color, it is a little closed to begin, slowly emerging from the glass to reveal subtle woodsmoke, violets, tilled soil and underbrush scents over a core of warm cassis, wild blueberries and redcurrant jelly plus hints of rare beef and iron ore. Full-bodied, rich, super concentrated and bursting with latent energy, this is an atomic bomb waiting to go off in your mouth. It has a rock-solid foundation of firm, very ripe, very finely grained tannins and bold freshness supporting the muscular fruit through the epically long, amazingly nuanced finish. Simply breathtaking.
Black core with narrow purple rim. A moment of hush needed here. So dark and so intense but also with incredible beauty in its restraint. Silky even with so many layers of tannin. pH 3.65 – quite a miracle in 2018. So dry but so not drying. The freshness from both the pH and the tannins. So fine, it just slides across the palate even if the tannin level is high. A wine of great power and restraint, and tannic finesse. Opens to a tiny note of wild herbs even though it is perfectly ripe, more aromatic as it opens. Drink 2030-2050
This is backward and dense, with thickly layered plum, blackberry, fig and blueberry reduction flavors wrapped liberally in warm ganache and melted licorice notes. A long echo of smoldering charcoal emerges at the very end. There's a lot to resolve here as the rich and austere sides are still melding, but the extra amplitude doesn't distort anything; it just all goes to 11.
OMG. This shows amazing depth of fruit and density. Full-bodied and so layered with incredible fruit and power. Blackberries. Blueberries. Violets. Hints of dried flowers. Fantastic fruit and tannins, yet agile and energetic. The château says 2016 plus, plus.
The 2018 Léoville Las Cases is a rich, sumptuous, exotic wine in 2018. Plush fruit and suave, silky tannins give the 2018 a level of textural richness that is unusual for a young Léoville Las Cases. Crème de cassis, lavender, mint and sweet spice all build in this extraordinarily beautiful wine. I can't recall tasting a young Las Cases with this much immediacy and sheer allure. The 2018 Las Cases has a very bright future. It is also one of the unquestioned stars of the vintage. In 2018, the blend is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc and 9% Merlot.
2018 is another vintage where it's pretty much impossible to find fault with Las Cases, and where you get a kick of happiness from tasting it. Owner Jean-Hubert Delon compares the 2016 to the 1961 and the 2018 to the 1959 - let's all check back in a few decades to see if that's true! But where the 2016 was monumental, this has a subtlety that's rarely seen in such a young LLC. It's not that you'd call this approachable but you rarely see this level of plush density to the fruit at this stage. There's a civilised quality to the structure that makes you think, just maybe, the 2018 will be at optimum drinking before the 2016. You're still getting the complex cigar box and cassis aromatics, with deep, rippling black fruits on the palate accompanied by a cassis and liquorice whoosh and the layering up of dense but fine tannins. It demonstrates precise balance and an exceptionally long finish. All in all, this is a standout St-Julien. This year sees the lowest percentage of press wine ever used at this estate, coming in at under 3% (it's normally double this), because the wine already had so much structure that the normal level of press wine threw it out of balance. I'm pretty sure that I've never given a drinking window this early for LLC at En Primeur, which says something. 90% new oak. 80IPT. 3.65pH. Yield of 35.5hl/ha. Drinking Window 2028 - 2048
Las Cases manages, yet again, to make one of the most composed and complete wines of the year. Following on from a sensational nose, a super-complex initial burst of fruit hits the palate and it left me reeling, while I desperately tried to compute what was going on. There is a coolness here which balances the exuberance on the palate and it is magical. In complete contrast to Ducru, this is a Zen-like wine with very fine length and serious definition. On the face of it the blend, the alcohol and oak look very similar to that of Ducru’s but the flavour is the antithesis and I adore the fact that two great estates have made such exquisite but contrasting wines in this vintage. Already very complex, there is every sign that this will turn out to be one of the truly great vintages for Las Cases. I know that this is a relatively forward style of wine for this venerable Château but I would still bet that patience rewards those who wait. There is so much depth and harmony in this wine it would be a shame to drink it before every nook and cranny can be fully explored.
The higher proportion of Merlot in this blend (30%), in comparison to its other second growth neighbours, produces a wonderfully rewarding and hedonistic style of wine, guaranteed to give huge pleasure at almost every stage of this wine’s life. The polished dark cherry aromas instantly excite. This is juicy and succulent, whilst never lacking in depth and core. The tannic richness creates a silky texture and there is just a mountain of sweet dark fruit flavours, with hints of cocoa and liquorice. Such a crowd pleaser but with complexity and drive.
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Léoville Poyferré begins sporting a veil of cedar, opening out to reveal profound notions of crème de cassis, warm kirsch, Black Forest cake and Indian spices plus hints of chargrilled meats and Sichuan pepper. Full-bodied and built like a brick house, the taut, muscular black fruit has a solid frame of firm, ripe tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long with loads of savory nuances. Aging is anticipated to be for 18 months in barriques, 80% new. The current blend is 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc.
Black core and purple rim. Ripe, pure vanilla-laced blackcurrant and a note of toasty oak. Gorgeously smooth and rounded even if the tannins are many layered, building to a compact finish. A touch of violets on the scented palate but also an attractive dry stony touch to counterbalance all the rich aromatic fruit. It's oaky but the fruit can stand up to it and seems comfortable in its own skin. Drink 2026-2040
This is brimming with plum, blackberry and blueberry reduction flavors, backed by grippy, energetic bramble, licorice and apple wood notes. Chockablock with stuff but defined and balanced. A no-brainer for the cellar.
This is so powerful and dense with amazing tannin quality that reminds me of dense clouds, because they are agile and light. Multilayered. Extremely long, too. Punchy! One of the best wines I have ever had from here.
The 2018 Léoville-Poyferré is a stunning wine that shows a very distinct shift in style under the leadership of Sara Lecompte Cuvelier towards greater energy and vibrancy. The 2018 soars out of the glass with stunning aromatic presence. In its latest incarnation, Léoville-Poyferré is marked by a distinct emphasis on freshness and less extraction than in the past, with sweeter, riper tannins than is the norm. It will be interesting to see if that is an expression of the vintage, or a move toward a gentler approach to winemaking, but I suspect much of it is the latter. Dark red cherry, menthol, pine and wild flowers abound in a stunning, vibrant Saint-Julien that will leave readers weak at the knees. Tasted three times.
Deep, silky, and satiny in texture, you can practically stroke this in the glass! The round mouthfeel tells of ripe fruit and generous alcohol but there's not a trace of heat, and the balance is gorgeous. Tannins match you step for step, stopping for breath in all the right places. They keep the luscious black cherry, liquorice and dark chocolate all in place. The 2016 vintage was almost one degree less in alcohol, and certainly this is a little less architectural in its construction, but that extra percent has clearly gone a long way to covering the tannins in silk. 3.7pH. IPT90. Tasted several times. Drinking Window 2028 - 2042
Commanding and statesmanlike, this is a huge wine with massive power and extract and yet, somehow, it is all in balance. I love the sweeping black fruit, the oak, the mighty tannins and the bright acid which sweep up the carnage left on your palate after this wine has ploughed a taste furrow across your tongue. I have no doubt that this action will all settle down and that the wine will mellow in time (and my confidence in this statement resulted in a crucial extra half a point on my score), but overall this is a great vintage to announce Sara Lecompte-Cuvelier to the Château! She picked out one of the great expressions of the vintage with which to describe her wines – ‘2018, Disgrace to Grace’. Clever and jolly accurate, too.
72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. This is a big dense wine full of sweet dark cassis. It is powerful and structured with the characteristic Pauillac punch of tannins driving the wine throughout the palate. A savoury touch on the finish gives an added dimension, but the lasting sensation is a wine with real muscle.
The 2018 Lynch Bages is made up of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot aging in 75% new barriques. Very deep purple-black in color, the nose is quite coy and restrained to begin, fanning out to offer pure, ripe blackcurrants, black cherries and preserved plums with wafts of red roses, cigar box, incense, cardamom and fenugreek with savory touches of black olives, Marmite toast and smoked meats. Full-bodied, the palate is built like a brick house, with a solid foundation of very firm, very ripe, grainy tannins and superb freshness supporting the generous black fruit layers, finishing long with provocative ferrous suggestions.
Black core. Spicy, intense cassis nose. Imposing grip in the tannins holding everything prisoner at the moment but they are compact and dense rather than tough. Chewy, dense, powerful and 'masculine'. Highly structured and muscular but well balanced. Not a charmer but finely built in its power. Drink 2028-2040
Dark cassis, plum and cherry fruit flavors stream through in this red, harnessed well by bolts of iron along the way. Sweet tobacco detail echoes through the finish, which is seriously long. An extremely rock-solid wine in the making here.
This is incredibly powerful and structured with so much tannin backbone and length, yet it’s cool and fresh with a compact palate and great length. Muscular.
The 2018 Lynch-Bages is a potent, racy wine endowed with real textural depth and intensity. Even so, it retains terrific nuance and vibrancy. All the classic Lynch-Bages signatures are present, but amped up, with huge tannins and equally huge fruit. The 2018 is going to need at least a few years to shed some of its baby fat. Today, it is decidedly rich and unctuous in style. Rose petal, lavender, mint and sweet spice add striking layers of aromatic nuance. The blend is 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot.
This is hugely impressive right from the off - strap on your walking boots, get your crampons at the ready, there is a wall to climb - not one that you ever hit by the way, because contrary to expectations this unfurls slowly, keeping the peak just out of sight. It’s great quality and one of my favourites from this property because it’s full of power but with a caress, so much tannic power too and yet so light of foot. It’s filled with absolutely delicious black chocolate, rosemary, cardamom and pepper but also lets the light in thanks for a fresh core running through. Having tasted it a few times it’s clear it’s going to age extremely well. A yield of 38hl/ha. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
A stunning Cabernet nose leads the way and this signals the start of a rather imposing wine. Exquisite fruit concentration coupled with prodigious length make this a bit of a beast and I found myself searching for detail among the power and extraction. Big and just about balanced with rather racy tannins and a lot of oak, this is a monolithic Lynch Bages and I hope that it starts to unravel soon for fear that it will always be a little bit too muscular and tough.
This is a true Cabernet Sauvignon based wine, as it makes up 90% of the total blend. A little reserved on the nose, although the focus is on cassis and blackcurrants. A striking direct style, with intense bright driven black fruit flavours. There is great depth and a slightly denser feel than in some years. A broad palate with hints of mocha, Caribbean spice and dark Valrhona chocolate, and a lovely line of uplifting freshness on the finish.
The 2018 Château Margaux is made of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. The grand vin represents 36% of the crop this year. The wine has a pH of 3.8 and 14% alcohol. Deep purple-black in color, it comes prancing out of the glass with energetic Morello cherries, black raspberries and blackberry pie scents plus nuances of fragrant soil, candied violets, lavender, sandalwood, unsmoked cigars and black olives with a gentle wave of cassis and licorice emerging with coaxing. Full-bodied, the palate is charged with the most amazing energy, delivering layer after layer of red and black fruits with tons of earthy nuances, framed by the most exquisitely ripe, fine-grained tannins, finishing with amazing freshness and an extraordinarily long-lingering perfume. Magnificent.
Intense cherry red with black core. Scented cassis and cassis leaf. Small, intense berries giving refined and intense fruit. Tannins are super-charged but not aggressive, deep and chewy but layered rather than monolithic. There’s a fine dark, charry character on the palate, giving a savoury dry freshness. Very fine in all its tannic power. Dare I say, more Pauillac than Margaux? Elegance in power. Great length. So smooth on the finish. The concentration is carried lightly. Drink 2028-2048
Wow. This takes off on the palate the moment you taste it. Aromas and flavors of redcurrants, flowers, cherries and hints of hazelnuts. Full-bodied, tight and compact, but the linear tannins, running down the center of the wine, draw the wine through the finish. Superb.
Château Margaux's 2018 Grand Vin boasts off the charts textural richness and intensity from the very first taste. A huge core of dark fruit, potent, muscular tannins are two of the signatures. Dense and explosive in the glass, with breathtaking concentration, the 2018 is one of the finest Margauxs in recent memory. Lavender, rose petal and spice add striking perfume in this compelling, memorable Grand Vin. In 2018, the Grand Vin represents 36% of the crop and is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.
Without doubt an incredible Margaux, although whether it will equal the 2015 remains to be seen. It's less serious than the 2016 but every bit as good, floating above the palate, performing that acrobatic trick that only happens in the really great years. It's silky yet intense and powerful, with sweet, fleshy and succulent raspberry cut through with fresh rosemary and sage that add texture and grip. The menthol side of the Cabernet is already coming through, which suggests the fruit was just perfectly ripe - these are aromatics that you don't get in true heatwave years like 2003. The flavours stretch out, gently gripping and keeping you involved in what is unfurling. Harvested between 17 September and 13 October, with an average yield of 31hl/ha due to both mildew and the concentration of the berries that occured at the end of ripening. The impact was uneven, depending on the vineyard blocks, so yields actually varied between 15 and 50hl/ha. The best plots were the least affected, which means that unusually there is more production in the grand vin and in Pavillon, with less in the third and fourth wines. Final numbers are 36% of production here, 30% in Pavillon Rouge. 83IPT. 100% new oak. 12% press wine. 2% Petit Verdot completes the blend. Drinking Window 2028 - 2045
They had 600mm of rain between April and July, then only 40mm in following hot and dry three months. Mildew was a threat and they lost a part of the crop as well as losing fruit from dehydration in the summer months, too. The quality of tannins in this wine is amazing and the entire framework of the fruit is built on these foundations. The fruit is richer and more intense than Pavillon by quite a jump in power and there is obvious richness here. 13% press wine was added in this vintage on account of its sheer quality. The berries were particularly small and this certainly influenced the density of flavour and fondant nature of this wine. Long and calm with superb balance in the mid-palate and a crunch of acid on the finish, there is not the scale of fruit here which I have seen in some of the other top wines, but it is still a lovely Margaux. I am sure that this is a vintage which some will go nuts for but for me it is a lovely interpretation of 2018, but not on a par with 2010 or 2016.
Owned by the Barton family, of Léoville and Langoa fame, whose extensive investment has brought a new lease of life to this charming Moulis château. This 2018 is a welcome return to form after their vineyards were decimated by frost in 2017. A brilliant deep ruby colour, with pure fresh summer berry aromas. Excellent direct intensity with life, energy and drive. This is a bright and lively wine with a firm central tannic core and fine purity on the finish.
Deep cherry red. Ripe, deep fruited, smooth and just slightly chewy with a hint of spice. Honest, packed with dark fruit. Drink 2024-2032
Shows gentle charm, with a kirsch and tobacco core framed by light dust and balsam hints.
There is serious depth of fruit in the center palate. Medium to full body, firm tannins and a lovely finish. Shows brightness and minerality.
They produced no 2017 here due to frost, so it's good to see it back and benefitting from all the work the Bartons have done here since arriving at the property. It's a little chewy and austere but good quality. The bright palate is rippling with redcurrant and bramble fruit. A cheerful wine with a firm tannic structure - quite a classical take on the vintage. Drinking Window 2023 - 2036
Delicious and very easy to fall for, this is a juicy wine and one which shows the pliability and ease of some of the wellmade wines in this vintage. The fruit is controlled, bright, lovely and fresh and there is little astringency or obvious tannin. Given that the acidity is so perky the result is a charming, forward-drinking wine.
A truly lovely La Mission with a very similar overall make up to Haut-Brion with 53% Merlot and 47% Cabernets. On this occasion, despite its lovely quality on the day, it had to play second fiddle to its first growth neighbour. Similar smoky dark fruits and black olive aromas. This is full of ripeness and charm, very scented with damsons and Caribbean spice. There are so many rewards and flavours in this wine from mocha and coffee to dark winter hedgerow fruits. Delicious volume, svelte tannins and superb length.
The 2018 La Mission Haut-Brion is composed of 53.5% Merlot, 42.9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3.6% Cabernet Franc, harvested September 10 to October 2. Deep purple-black in color, it slowly unfurls to reveal a beguiling nose of earth and soft-spoken fruit, opening with wild blueberries, wet slate, pencil lead and fresh black cherries giving way to a serious core of blackcurrant cordial, baked plums and wild sage, and then exposing delicate wafts of rose hip tea and candied violets. Full-bodied, the palate is very tightly wound and super intense with amazing restraint and energy focused around very firm, exquisitely fine-grained tannins and seamless freshness, finishing incredibly long and fantastically multilayered. Extraordinary wine.
Deepest crimson with very dark core. Intense, pure aromatic cassis and a hint of cassis leaf, though fully ripe. Smells very Cabernet. And the tannins are upright and structured but extremely lithe and supple. No thickness here. Agile. Just a little chewy on the finish. So seemingly approachable and full of energy. Drink 2026-2040
A tight and linear red with fantastic oyster-shell, iodine and crushed-stone character, complementing the currants and blackberries. Extremely long and fresh.
The 2018 La Mission Haut-Brion is bright and punchy, with lovely radiant fruit and a good deal of immediacy. Sweet red and purplish berry fruit, mint, tobacco, blood orange and wild flowers all grace this expressive, open-knit La Mission. It will be interesting to see what develops with élevage. Today, La Mission is decidedly expressive, and yet its typical layers of nuance are not yet especially in evidence. In 2018, La Mission is 53.5% Merlot, 42.9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3.6% Cabernet Franc.
An extremely fine Mission, just beginning to say its piece. It's dense, gorgeously velvety in texture and bursting with fruit and energy. On the palate you get liquorice and dark chocolate notes, showing clear generosity while easily walking the line of balance. The longer it sits in the glass, the more the minerality takes hold on the mid-palate, doling out its tiny sparks of electricity and holding your attention. The subtle smoke, freshly cut herbs and tight tannins steal up on you, planting their flag in the finish. Harvested 10 September to 2 October, giving a 44hl/ha yield. 1% Petit Verdot completes the blend. IPT 75.8. The 3.76pH is the highest since 1989. Drinking Window 2023 - 2032
This is a blunt and tough La Mission with muscle and power and it is not showing much fruit, preferring to lead with skin tannin and oak notes. The dryness and intensity of the skin derived flavours are rather arresting and this dents the flow of the wine across the palate. There are slight coffee bean notes and some tobacco details here, but overall this is a square, monolithic wine which needs a lot of time and also some serious softening of the tannins to fall into balance.
Another stellar wine from this great estate. Dense black cherry colour, the nose is full of blackcurrant, Arabian spice and dark Valrhona chocolate. Wonderfully bright, it has a superb bold intensity, supported by succulence and richness. A slightly more hedonistic style than some of its neighbours and so rewarding. Multi-dimensional, rich and long and an example of why a wine from St Estèphe should form part of any cellar from the 2018 vintage.
Composed of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, harvested from September 17 to October 5, the 2018 Montrose has a very deep purple-black color and opens with tantalizing notes of crème de cassis, Black Forest cake, hoisin and mocha with nuances of molten licorice, fertile loam, cast iron pan and incense. Big, rich, full and powerful in the mouth, the voluptuous fruit has a rock-solid backbone of very firm, very ripe tannins to match with tons of freshness and an epically long, exotic spice finish. A magnificent monster of a Montrose!
Black core with narrow purple rim. More obvious oak than on La Dame de Montrose but still with hints of violets alongside pure cassis intensity. Almost a mintiness in the ripe (but not in the least overripe) black fruit. Oak spice and fruit spice. Amazingly juicy even with the density and concentration of both fruit and tannins. Needs lots of time but has great harmony and length. Powerful without being aggressive. Very oaky at the moment but has the stuffing and the wonderful fruit to hold its own. Drink 2028-2048
This is a big and muscular wine with great structure and depth of fruit. Blackberry and blueberry character. Hints of fresh leaves. Cool earth. Incredible depth, yet so polished. Concentrated.
The 2018 Montrose balances finesse and power to a degree I don't think I have seen in a recent young Montrose. The 2018 has plenty of depth, intensity and thrust - all signatures of Montrose - but it also has a striking sense of elegance. Crème de cassis, lavender, spice, menthol and licorice meld together in the glass. Although it is naturally very young, the 2018 Montrose appears to have a tremendous future. The blend is 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, which is to say more Cabernet and less Merlot than is the norm. Readers will have to be patient with the 2018, but it is a stellar wine in the making. Montrose presents an en primeur sample aged 100% in new oak (while the final wine is aging in 60% new barrels) to show a wine that is more ready to taste young.
This is wonderfully rich, with the precision of 2016 but the seductive quality of 2009. It feels architectural in the way that truly great vintages do in the Médoc, and it seems to have consumed its alcohol rather effortlessly. There's plenty of liquorice and exuberant but well buttoned-down brushed damson and cassis pit notes that maintain the signature of Montrose. You can see the concentration in the legs and in the depth of the colour. 20% press wine was added, which is typical here, but the vintage yielded an extremely low 25hl/ha, due partly to drought, partly to mildew and partly to coulure - with drought accounting for most of that/ The Cabernets were affected more than the Merlots because of the later harvesting (which ran from 17 September to 5 October), which meant careful sorting was essential. A good 3.7pH has definitely helped it maintain its balance and sense of minerality, but for me the 2016 remains the one to beat. 2% Petit Verdot makes up the blend. Phenolic count of 81IPT. Drinking Window 2028 - 2042
My tour of epic Saint-Estèphe estates continued at Montrose where I was greeted by yet another incredible wine. With fantastic fruit and excellent balance this is a completely distinctive and very opinionated Montrose and it errs on the theatrical given its generosity and impact. Incredibly expressive but also impressively balanced, too, the only real concern at Montrose was trying to regulate the extraction from the grapes during vinification such that the tannins were not too raw. There was so much potential at harvest, but they managed to only take the silkiest tannins and freshest acidity and so the balance here is pinpoint accurate. 2018 Montrose will be a favourite for fans of overtly demonstrative wines and as this Château is usually such a strict and statesmanlike fellow, I feel that this vintage will broaden its appeal and widen its fan-base like no other.
The Mouton Rothschild star continues to shine. Richly polished dark berry and sweet raisin fruit aromas. This wine is polished from start to finish. It has a wonderful volume and generosity, without excess. Flavours of mocha, with hints of arabica coffee, spice and deep cassis fruit. There is a characteristic Mouton boldness flowing through the palate with firmly structured tannins giving drive and energy. Very long and has huge wow factor.
The 2018 Mouton Rothschild is composed of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc—there is also a splash of all the Petit Verdot they had, but it doesn’t even register in the percentage. Grapes were harvested September 10 to October 3, and the wine was blended at the beginning of December; it has 13.8% alcohol, and the tannins were slightly higher this year. Deep purple-black in color, it is a little closed to begin compared to some 2018s, slowly unfurling to reveal a profound nose of warm black plums, blackcurrant cordial, star anise, blueberry pie and mocha with suggestions of candied violets, oolong tea, camphor and unsmoked cigars plus a touch of crushed rocks. Medium to full-bodied, the palate delivers waves of opulent, spiced black and blue fruits with seamless acid lifting this gorgeous mouthfeel that is at once plush from the ripe fruit and firm and grainy from the super ripe tannins, finishing very long and wonderfully creamy.
Black core with purple rim. Pure, perfectly ripe and lightly spiced cassis. Perfect Cabernet Sauvignon with a nice touch of cassis leaf to freshen the aroma – invitingly perfumed. On the palate, much more freshness than on the Petit Mouton, the tannins slimmer and finer even if they are compact and very present. Chewy, generous in fruit, big but harmonious. Structured and deep and so much more to come. Drink 2028-2048
I am a little bit speechless about this one. I have not seen such earthy and totally deep character of the soil in a young Mouton in my career. Of course, I didn’t taste 1945 or 1959 when they were young, but I have been lucky enough to have a few bottles in my life. There is really terroir-driven character to this. Layered and so intense with polished and incredible tannins.
The 2018 Mouton Rothschild is dense and unctuous in the glass, with striking textural depth and plenty of overall intensity. Super-ripe dark cherry, plum, spice, leather and sweet spice infuse a Mouton that stands out for its unctuousness and fruit intensity. There is plenty of tannin, but it is nearly buried by the sheer voluptuousness of the fruit. In 2018, Mouton is radiant, sensual and impeccable in its balance, even if it doesn't possess the sheer visceral thrill, energy or pedigree of truly great vintages. The blend is 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc.
This has incredible persistency and density of flavour in 2018. It’s extremely well knitted with everything drawn out and taut through the mid palate, slowly layering on the succulent, plump notes of damson, juice-filled blackberries, charcoal, menthol, cigar box, pencil lead and black chocolate that is a signature of the vintage. I always love that this property shares the same gravel-filled plateau as Lafite and yet the two have such different personalities and interpretations of vintages – with Mouton here absorbing the richness of the year and adding a touch of glamour into the wine as always. The alcohol, while still very balanced compared to most in the vintage, is unusually high at Mouton because, as managing director Philippe Dhalluin says; ‘usually the poor soils at Mouton mean the grapes make tannins but not sugar, but in 2018 they made both’. There is the tiniest touch of Petit Verdot in the blend but under 1% so it’s not in the official figures. 100% new oak which has been beautifully integrated. 62% of production went into the grand vin. 3.78pH. 88IPT. The artist design for the 2018 label will be revealed later. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
There is an immediate volley of class on the nose of this distinguished wine and it introduces its leather and graphite details up front. This is certainly not a Cabernet show in spite of the dominance of this grape in the cépage because the Merlot is present throughout and this brings welcome complexity and tonal variation to the whole. Succulent and sumptuous, this is a heady Mouton with a long, cool finish and it is in very good shape overall. Honed and polished, 2018 Mouton is true to type.
Brilliant purple colour, this is a very scented wine full of violets and mulberries. A direct pure style, with a degree of tension and hints of grippy tannins. This is a more substantial style of second wine which will benefit from a period of bottle ageing.
The 2018 Les Pagodes de Cos (14.51% alcohol) is a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc, aging in 20% new barriques. Deep purple-black in color, it practically explodes from the glass with rambunctious notions of baked black cherries, plum preserves and crème de cassis with hints of cigar box, fungi, tilled soil and woodsmoke plus a touch of crushed rocks. The full-bodied palate delivers mouth-coating black fruit preserves with a beautiful earthy undercurrent and a rock-solid frame of grainy tannins, finishing with fantastic length. A very serious second wine! Should age incredibly.
Dark core with purple rim. Sweeter and spicier than the Goulée (Cos's Médoc wine) just tasted. Bramble and mulberry fragrance. Excellent freshness and finesse in the tannins, dry, compact but lifted by the scented fruit and unusual brightness. Powerful and chalky on the finish. Very good balance already. Long and classy. Drink 2028-2038
This is so beautiful with very fresh and ripe fruit at the same time. Medium-to full-bodied. Rich and layered. The accessibility and forwardness is so enticing in this second wine. Best Pagodes ever?
The 2018 Les Pagodes de Cos is fabulous. Rich, dark and explosive, Pagodes captures all of the natural intensity of the vintage. Black cherry, leather, cedar, scorched earth and grilled herbs all blossom in a dark, somber wine loaded with class. Huge, ripe fruit and equally large-scaled tannins result in a Pagodes that, if anything, may be too serious for a second wine. In 2018, Pagodes is equal to or better than the top wines from many other châteaux. The blend is 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc.
Full of liquorice and dark chocolate, the nose is immediately seductive. This is a second wine that's full of fleshy, sexy, bright fruit and real elegance. It's a lovely wine, if clearly marked by the generosity of the vintage. The 30hl/ha yield was affected by a mix of mildew and some concentration in September. To control extractions, they macerated at a lower temperature of 27-28°C. As with the grand vin, this is aged in 20% new oak, down a little on the usual amount. 3% Petit Verdot completes the blend. Drinking Window 2024 - 2036
Rather controlled, a little quiet and introverted, rather in the shadow of the Grand Vin and rather closed and reticent, too. I am sure that this will unravel and show its charms in due course.
Seven years under the management of Véronique Sanders and her team at Haut Bailly shows a lovely progression in the quality of this small 9 hectare property. Sadly they lost half the crop through hail on 26th May, but what remains has a dense volume of rich Merlot fruit. This is an intense and concentrated wine, full of spice and dark black fruits.
The 2018 Le Pape is blended of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Merlot was harvested on September 17, 18 and 24, and the Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested October 9. Deep garnet-purple colored, it opens with beautiful floral notions of red roses and lavender over a core of warm plums, black cherry compote and redcurrant jelly with hints of truffles, tapenade, yeast extract, licorice and dark chocolate. Medium to full-bodied, it fills the mouth with juicy black plums and savory notions, framed by firm, rounded tannins and just enough freshness, finishing fragrant.
Deepest crimson. Dark, ripe and almost savoury on the nose. Smoky, dark, super-pure. Opens up to rich black fruit. Generous and smooth and rounded, a harmonious whole already. Highest tannins and alcohol ever but you cannot taste it. Lovely, supple wine. Drink 2023-2032
Lots of crushed berry and currant character with an almond undertone. Full to medium body, round and juicy tannins and a flavorful finish. Shows density and juiciness for this estate. 80 per cent merlot, the rest cabernet sauvignon.
The 2018 Le Pape is gorgeous. Fresh, floral and beautifully lifted, the 2018 is all elegance. Sweet floral notes meld into a core of red berry fruit in a mid-weight, inviting Pessac Léognan. The richness of the year comes through in the wine's ripe, racy fruit, but the 2018 remains light on its feet, with a level of finesse that belies its alcohol and tannin readings on paper.
Welcoming berry fruit aromas make it clear that this is extremely concentrated. There are excellent floral and fruit aromatics that layer up over each other, and its power is latent. It's hard to ignore as it widens and deepens through the mid-palate. Brambly black fruits join tannins that build to the finish, making this a pretty serious Le Pape. 30% new oak. 3.87pH versus 3.85pH in 2009, so pretty high, which helps give this a luxurious feel although it lacks a little typicity. Hail affected 4ha out of the 9ha which, combined with mildew, meant a yield of 21hl/ha. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
This vineyard got bashed with hail, mildew and also concentration (from lack of rain) but the wine is amazing, given its concentration. It is shame that the quantities are down by half. This is a very structured and densely fruited Le Pape and the stylish tannins prop up the flavour and they allow the fruit to show floral notes, too. The acidity is crisp and bright and the tannins are a little bit dry but they will soon soften.
A beautiful Pavillon Rouge consisting of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot and a remarkable 9% Petit Verdot. A very perfumed nose of lavender and spring blossom, with lots of purple fruits and hints of kirsch in the palate. This flamboyant and boisterous Pavillon Rouge is hugely striking and will give an enormous degree of pleasure. The fruit has a very warming feel underpinned by the svelte tannins. Excellent.
The 2018 Pavillon Rouge accounts for 30% of the crop this year. It is composed of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc, with 14.5% alcohol. Deep garnet-purple in color, it sings of crushed black and red currants, warm black berries and plum pudding with touches of fungi, cedar chest, truffles and smoked meats plus a fragrant undercurrent of fallen leaves and potpourri. The palate is medium to full-bodied with a solid backbone of fine-grained tannins and loads of freshness supporting the vibrant red and black fruits, finishing long.
Deepest cherry red. Black core and deep dark rim. Tiny little wild black berries on the nose. Subtle, dark and intense on the nose, gently fragrant and not closed though not jumping out of the glass. Super-fine texture, rounded and creamy even with the paper-fine tannins. Notable freshness and beautifully dry but not drying texture. Very moreish and much more approachable then many wines tasted this morning at the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting, even though there is a serious charge of tannins. Very long, and a wine you would really want to drink, not just taste. Deeply concentrated but not heavy. Drink 2025-2038
Fantastic depth of ripe fruit with currant and dark-berry aromas. Hints of citrus and dry earth. Full body and round, velvety tannins that are melted into the wine. Very intense and fruity.
The 2018 Pavillon Rouge is absolutely gorgeous. Pliant, rich and enveloping, Pavillon Rouge is unusually deep in this vintage. Dark red cherry, plum, spice, tobacco, licorice and rose petal are all given an extra kick of textural resonance in the 2018. Dehydration at the end of the growing season concentrated the fruit, a phenomenon that was mostly felt in younger vines and parcels on gravel soils rather than clay. Even with all of its obvious richness, the 2018 has striking aromatic intensity and brilliance to round things out. Pavillon Rouge accounts for 30% of the harvest and is a blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc.
Richly coloured, almost inky, this is seductive and full of flavour with raspberry and brambled fruits that have texture and density. For me, this is far more similar to the 2009 than the 2010. It's an enjoyable Pavillon, all parts present and correct and well assembled, even if it's a little less supple and fragrant than in some years. A subtle closing in on the finish gives you a clue to how tannic this really is (82IPT, high for this estate). 3% Cabernet Franc makes up the blend, with 13% press wine. 60% new oak ageing. Drinking Window 2024 - 2038
This is a very focussed and very densely fruited wine but it is one of the lightest and most ethereal of those on the Left Bank. The spice and florals are amazing and the length is superb and beautifully buoyant, losing none of its energy, from the start to the finish. Very expressive and very juicy this is a lithe Pavillon and it is a wine with a Burgundian texture and silkiness with impressive control and freshness, too.
A real star amongst the second wines this vintage. A brightly striking crimson colour. Fresh loganberry and mulberry fruits, with hints of vanilla pod. A wine with appealing richness and a very silky texture. Polished, long, rich and full.
The 2018 Le Petit Mouton is blended of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc, harvested September 10 to October 3. It represents about 26% of the total crop and has 14% alcohol—the alcohol has never been this high! Deep garnet-purple, it comes bounding out of the glass with sit-up-and-beg notes of crème de cassis, plum preserves and mulberries plus nuances of chocolate box, Chinese five spice, licorice and candied violets. Full-bodied, rich and oh-so-hedonic, the palate is packed with juicy black fruit layers wrapped in a firm, velvety structure, with loads of fragrant spice layers on the very long finish.
Black cherry to the rim, very dark. Ripe, sweet and gently chocolatey on the nose. Ripe plum and cassis. Fleshy and generous on the palate, rounded and smooth even though there's clearly massive structure. Just enough freshness. Rich rather than elegant, the fruit ripe and lifted. Much more open than many wines from this vintage. Fruit bomb but well structured and just a hint of chocolate. Drink 2024-2036
Fresh and pure, with a mouthwatering edge to the cassis and bitter plum flavors that form the core. A bright iron streak defines the finish. Very focused.
This is phenomenal with such dense and layered tannins that go on for minutes. It’s full-bodied with blackberries, blueberries and chocolate. Sexy and so beautiful. Not sure what to say here. Maybe it should have gone into the first wine?
The 2018 Le Petit-Mouton is unusual in that it contains a high (40%) amount of Merlot. Pliant, racy and supple, the Petit-Mouton should drink well with minimal cellaring. In many vintages, Petit-Mouton is a smaller-scaled version of the Grand Vin, but in 2018, the elevated presence of Merlot yields a wine that is quite different in style, with softer contours and a much gentler overall feel than is often the case. The blend is 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. Yields were about 28 hectoliters per hectare as opposed to 34-37.
This is a serious, deep and beautifully enticing wine with plenty of that glossy, glamorous Petit Mouton appeal. Ripe damson in colour, it has more Merlot in the blend than a typical year because only a small amount of the variety made it through to the first wine. The Merlots were however, as you see at many Médoc properties, unusually rich and structured and this feels enveloping and hard to resist. Extraction was slow and careful and the liquorice, chocolate, grilled sarment notes are subtle but pressing. Yields were 28hl/ha whereas a usual year would be closer to 35hl/ha. 26% of overall production, a little less than usual, and 11% press wine. Drinking Window 2024 - 2036
Clean, friendly and approachable and bursting with fruit, this is a jolly little Mouton and it looks rather attractive already. The balance is spot on and while it is not a particularly complex being it is a very neat package and the alcohol and oak are kept very much under control.
There can be no better example of individual terroir and microclimate than this truly superb 2018. A healthy flowering, free of disease, and Petrus’s famed unique buttonhole of blue clay meant the vines coped with the vagaries of the seasons. The grapes were harvested in perfect conditions allowing for a very healthy crop of 37 hl/ha. Brilliant shining deep purple colour. Very subtle fruit compote and fresh plum aromas. An amazingly composed wine with open sweet juicy dark fruit. The tannins are tightly woven with a velvety texture and there is a glorious freshness throughout. Wonderfully at ease and so stylish.
Very deep purple-black colored, the 2018 Petrus is a little slow to reveal itself, opening out to beautiful floral notions of violets, red roses and lavender with emerging scents of blueberry compote, powdered cinnamon, star anise, fragrant earth and unsmoked cigars plus nuances of black tea, cardamom, rose hips, iron ore and Sichuan pepper. Full-bodied, the palate builds very slowly in the mouth, growing to a crescendo of black and blue fruit with an aria of earth and exotic spice accents, finishing with the most amazing perfume, all draped in super plush, seductive tannins, ending with just enough freshness to make the beguiling flavor waves go on and on. Big, bold and opulent yet with fantastic muscle and energy, this timeless 2018 is nothing short of mind blowing.
Black core with purple rim. First impression is a paradoxical combination of intensity and restraint. There's obviously great fruit concentration even though it is not jumping out of the glass – perhaps because it is so concentrated – but there's also a pencil-shavings mineral quality, very slightly cedary. That same beauty in restraint on the palate, bone-dry, super-fine tannins, layered and compact, almost chalky, darkest of black fruit and mineral savour. As it opens, there's a tiny, tiny, hint of violets giving scent to the palate. Even with all that restraint, it is a big, powerful wine. Very concentrated if not in the least heavy. The restraint and the tannins are the freshness. Creamy richness on the finish but still so finely dry and that floral character in the empty glass. Gorgeous in its restrained and elegant power. Perfect tailoring and leaves your mouth clean and dry. Drink 2028-2050
This wine leaves me speechless. It has so much intensity and density with fantastic ripe fruit with spices, dark berries and walnuts and hazelnuts Currants and licorice. Violets and earth. Full-bodied, very, very tannic yet polished and beautiful. Lasts forever on the palate. Reminds me of the great 1998.
The 2018 Petrus is a magnificent wine. There is not much else to say. From the very first taste, the 2018 Petrus is simply magical. Dark, sumptuous and beautifully resonant on the palate, the 2018 offers superb richness, aromatic depth and intensity. Blueberry, spice, black pepper, licorice and earthy notes open up in the glass, but it is the wine's vivid beauty and extraordinary harmony that stand out most. I don't think I have ever tasted a young Petrus with such silky, suave tannins. "We lowered the canopies and left more leaf cover to protect the fruit," Technical Director Olivier Berrouet told me. "The berries were especially small. Cuvaison was a bit longer than normal, but we chose to extract more gently."
There is an intensity, concentration and richness to the fruit in this wine with the one-two sleight of hand between density and elegance that everyone talks about but few people actually get right. This is unquestionably full of plush yet tight cassis, blueberry, tobacco, graphite, chocolate and slate with a fresh mint finish, but it’s elegant and pure, full of pleasure and juice with tannins that have the silky hidden power that is so cherished in Petrus. Grape skins were thick at harvest, with huge tannic potential, but there is an approachability to this wine that makes it one of the more elegant Petrus’ of recent years with so much hidden that by the time the tannins and power have built up, you are enveloped by them almost without noticing. To achieve all this, they kept extraction careful and light, just a little longer than usual but as an infusion, with tiny amounts of pumping juice over the skins. The harvest took place between 13 September and 27 September. 50% new oak. A yield of 37hl/ha which is relatively normal here. Drinking Window 2027 - 2044
Pétrus director Olivier Berrouet explained that the berries at harvest were tiny - 1.1-1.2g each! They carried out eight picks over two weeks and then long and gentle winemaking was key to making a great wine. They knew the wines were powerful but the challenge was to control this power and to preserve elegance and length. The quality of tannins in 2018 Pétrus is incredible. It is thanks to these tannins that there is remarkable freshness on finish of this wine. Dark, dense and powerful, but super-controlled at every step of the way, this is an extraordinary wine. Brooding, deep, profound and inky are all words that I noted down when I tasted this wine. What was amazing was that I didn’t list any words that suggest fruit sweetness. Instead I focussed on the savoury notes, extraordinary length and complete composure and this means that this is a truly classic vintage for this noble wine.
It is over 20 years since Louis Roederer Champagne purchased this 26 ha estate and the fruits of their expertise and investment can clearly be seen in this superb 2018. An almost 50:50 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, it has a very perfumed aroma of violets, blueberries and hints of lavender. A refined style much in the vein of the illustrious Pichon Lalande, also under the same ownership. This is beautifully balanced, with a gentle line of sweetness. The lift of freshness on the finish creates what the French describe as a deliciously “digestible” wine.
Composed of 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 49% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2018 de Pez rocks up with bold notes of crushed black and red currants, warm plums and mulberries with hints of unsmoked cigars, bay leaves and black pepper plus a touch of black olives. Medium to full-bodied with an approachable, fine-grained frame, it has just enough freshness and a lively lift on the finish.
Black core. Perfumed, lightly floral black fruit. Black tea leaves. Charry and dark on the palate but the tannins, while dry and firm, are not monolithic and allow the wine to flow across the palate. Lovely savoury, cool black fruit, fine, smooth texture. Darkly aromatic, cedary scent on the palate. Mouth-watering and satisfying even in embryo. Just a little heat on the very end. So not ready for tasting… Drink 2028-2040
Tobacco, plum and bitter cherry notes are in the mix here, with a dusting of cocoa along the edges. The fleshy, smoky finish has a touch of austerity for typicity.
The density and layers of ripe fruit and tannins are impressive. It reminds me of the excellent 2016. Medium to full body, really fine, polished textures and a long finish.
The 2018 de Pez is especially rich in 2018, with a surprising level of textural richness and overall intensity. Black cherry, plum, licorice, chocolate, violet, spice and leather give the 2018 myriad layers of nuance. Super-ripe, dense and exotically beautiful, the 2018 will drink well right out of the gate. In this vintage, the tannins are especially ripe and silky. The en primeur sample is 100% new oak, but the final blend will be one-third each new, one year-old and two year-old barrels. The blend is 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 49% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. This is an especially racy expression of Saint-Estèphe, but there is plenty of savoriness and structure as well. Tasted two times.
Roederer no longer owns Beausejour, so this is now their only estate in St-Estèphe, at which they are currently building a new winery. The 2018 is highly appealing, with rich plum fruits and firm but flexible tannins. You get the slightest trace of heat but the evident concentration is well handled and has a gourmet edge. This is an excellent choice for drinking a little earlier than others in the appellation. 1% Cabernet Franc finishes the blend. 3.65pH. Drinking Window 2024 - 2036
A brilliant contrast to the typically more feminine styled Pichon Lalande. This wine comprises 78% Cabernet Sauvignon and is full of deep dark summer pudding fruits. It is immediately striking with its intense bold dark fruit flavours and an innate richness. The ripeness of the tannins contributes to a wine with power, drive and depth, supported throughout by a fabulous weight of fruit. Fantastic flavours of black cherries, dark cocoa and Arabian spice, which linger beautifully throughout.
The 2018 Pichon-Longueville Baron is made up of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Merlot. The Merlot was harvested September 24-25, and the Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested October 3-10. The wine is to be aged 18 months in barriques, 80% new and 20% one year old, and production represents 50% of the harvest this year. Very deep purple-black colored, it begins a little coy, rolling slowly and languidly out of the glass with notions of baked raspberries, blueberry coulis, crème de cassis and incense plus nuances of lilacs, truffles, damp soil and garrigue with wafts of lavender and wild sage. Full-bodied, voluptuous and oh-so-seductive, the palate reveals layer upon layer of savory, earthy and black fruit preserves, framed by wonderfully ripe, velvety tannins and lovely freshness, finishing very long and perfumed. Beautiful.
Colour of elderberry juice. Intensely pure Cabernet nose, so intense it is quite introvert, especially compared with the Tourelles, but there is just a hint of fresh and creamy blackcurrant. A dry beauty on the palate. Not a great deal of acidity but finishes clean and fresh with these slub-silk tannins. There's texture and depth but it's still silky. Freshness of fruit compensating for moderate acidity. Drink 2028-2040
Warm, dense and fleshy in feel, featuring cassis, plum and cherry compote flavors infused with tobacco and worn cedar details. Seriously long, with a well-buried iron note, though the purity of the fruit is the dominating feature overall. This cuts a pretty broad swath as it moves along. A big wine.
Deep and dark young wine that takes you down, deep down to its center palate of blackberries and blueberries, firm and very silky tannins and a vivid finish. Wonderful palate and depth in this with such class and finesse. So many layers of polished, fine tannins. Great wine.
Pichon Baron is exceptional in 2018. Pliant, silky and super-finessed, the 2018 has a level of textural finesse that really elevates the wine into Pauillac's upper echelon. Ripe fruit and silky tannins give the 2018 much of its inimitable finesse. At the same time, the 2018 is bright, punchy and surprisingly fresh, not to mention absolutely impeccable in its balance. The blend is 78% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Merlot, while new oak is 80%.
Straight from the nose you feel the wave of power with the wine uncurling through the palate, starting with tight notes of cassis then gently softening into sweeter brambled hedgerow fruits alongside a ton of ink and pencil lead. The tannins are present but seductive, and as is often the case this year, they're concentrated without being remote. It’s less monolithic than the 2010 with some of the seduction of 2009 at this property but with higher levels of extraction. The harvest took place between 24 September and 11 October. Again, we see here a Pauillac with the highest alcohol ever but it carries it extremely well. There was one week less of maceration than normal, so 21 days instead of 28, which will have helped control extractions. 86IPT. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040
Very smart and much more exuberant than I had expected, Directeur Général Christian Seely prefers this wine to both his 2010 and 2016 and I happen to agree. The balance is already evident and while it will undoubtedly start to drink early in its life it has the legs to run and run. This is a blackberry and blackcurrant-soaked wine with perfect weight and intensity. Something magical happened here in 2018 and they have managed not to lose any flavours from the vine to the barrel. The length and freshness of the tannins and acidity on the finish is nothing short of tremendous and everything is held together by succulent, perfectly seasoned oak. This is one of my favourite Pichon Baron’s of all time. Its seamless flavour appears to borrow elements from every great style of Cabernet in the world, combine them, and then make them its own.
One of the most exciting wines of the week. This is a glorious wine, highlighting the gentle fruit handling policy of wine director Nicolas Glumineau and the importance not to over-extract in this vintage. A wine all about purity and brightness of fruit. There is a sweet elegance to the fruit so very typical of Lalande, which then evolves to show true Pauillac drive and intensity. A wonderfully structured wine with a very layered texture and flavours of mocha and dark fruits. The final sensations move from compactness and density to finesse and refinement. A great wine in the making.
The grand vin represents 50% of the crop this year. The 2018 Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is made up of 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot with a pH of 3.85, an IPT (total polyphenol index) of 87 and 14% alcohol. Very deep purple-black colored, it is like hitting a brick wall to begin, needing considerable coaxing to start to reveal notes of crushed black cherries, warm blackberries, ripe blackcurrants and chocolate cake with nuances of violets, rose hip tea, charcuterie, tapenade and incense with wafts of new leather and iron ore. Full-bodied, concentrated and completely laden with tightly wound black fruit and savory layers, the palate gives a rock-solid backbone of firm, super ripe, super fine-grained tannins and soft background freshness, finishing very long with a veritable display of mineral fireworks.
Black core. Cedary cassis-leaf aroma, typically Pichon Lalande. Like the Réserve de la Comtesse, this is so gentle, charming, rounded, fresh and tender. Easy to underestimate. Extremely fine, intense but no show of power even with a long finish and even knowing that it has real depth. A gentle and surprisingly subtle beauty. Drink 2028-2038
This one nails it in 2018, with saturated, almost sappy kirsch, plum and blackberry preserve flavors at the core, inlaid with sweet tobacco, singed vanilla, worn cedar and fresh earth notes. A bolt of graphite provides support. Concentrated, long and very complete. One of the high water marks of the vintage.
A deep and intense young red with blackberries and blueberries, as well as green olives and hints of fresh tobacco. But really black fruit. Full-bodied, tight and integrated with a refreshing and harmonious finish. Just floating on the palate. Great tannin backbone to this. A classic. Another flying carpet.
The 2018 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is powerful, dense and explosive, with a real sense of vertical lift that conveys energy. Grilled herbs, lavender, inky blue/purplish fruit and spice notes develop in the glass, but it is the wine's balance, purity of tannin and finish that stand out most. In 2018, so many wines lean towards extreme versions of themselves, but Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande remains very much within its classic parameters. The 2018 doesn't quite offer the visceral thrill of the very best recent vintages, but it comes very close. At its purest essence, the 2018 is very Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. The en primeur sample is shown from 100% new oak, although the wine will have about 60% new wood. Tasted four times.
This has to be up there with one of the most seductive Comtesses on record with layers of alternating softness and concentration combined with a lot of 2016’s eleg