Bordeaux 2018 En Primeur
Having been in Bordeaux in the first week of April to taste the new vintage, we are delighted to report that 2018 is a VERY GOOD to OUTSTANDING vintage. Whilst not perhaps as homogenous as some of the really great recent vintages, the better wines are at least their equals in terms of ripeness, power and potential longevity.
2018 was a ‘game of two halves’, the first of which had record amounts of rain leading to severe problems with mildew at many properties. While this drastically reduced the crop the unaffected grapes were perfectly healthy, and on the day (coincidentally?) that France won the world cup the weather changed and the region experienced a long and glorious summer with above average temperatures. In many places drought conditions resulted in thick-skinned, tiny berries, that further reduced the yield. Across the piece production was approximately 30% below average but the quality of the vintage had been transformed from disaster to potential triumph.
In 2018 great wines are to be found in all areas and communes across Bordeaux. On the Left Bank we found the quality to be most consistent in the northern Médoc, particularly in Pauillac and St Estèphe, with a number of great wines in St Julien, and a few further south in Margaux. On the Right Bank the properties in and around the Pomerol plain made exceptional wines, as did many of the top châteaux on the côtes of Saint Emilion. The low yields in 2018 have resulted in big powerful wines with concentrated fruit and strong tannins. In addition, crucially, the early season rainfall and cool summer nights have given the wines wonderful fresh acidities. They are hard to compare with those of previous vintages, but for us, if anything, the best have a combination of the depth and richness of the 2010s and the silky fresh tannins of the 2016s.
Whilst we do admit to having slight reservations about the heterogeneity of the vintage, critic James Suckling is unequivocal when he writes: “Most people agree that it is a great year and can be compared in quality to recent excellent years such as 2016 and 2015. I think it could turn out to be an all-time great, similar to 2010, 2009 and 1989 or even such classics as 1982 or 1959.”
Please e-mail your advance expressions of interest for particular wines, or the vintage in general to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read a report on the 2018 growing season on our blog here.
FULL LIST OF WINES OFFERED TO DATE BELOW
Prices are ex-VAT per case of 12 bottles, unless otherwise advised. DP = duty-paid ex-London. IB = under bond ex-London.
|Red||2018||Château Duhart Milon||75cl||£325 per case of 6||IB|
|Red||2018||Château Duhart Milon||75cl||£650 per case of 12||IB|
"Black core with barely a rim. So wonderfully scented, like the Clerc Milon. Bla... Read more
"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. 17.5 points" jancisrobinson.com (JH) "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! 93-95 points" Lisa Perotti-Brown, Robert.Parker.com "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. 95 points" Jane Anson, Decanter Magazine "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? 95-96 points" jamessuckling.com "The 2018 Château Duhart-Milon checks in as a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot that hit 14% alcohol. Beautiful black currants, smoked earth, chocolate, and damp earth notes flow to a medium to full-bodied, incredibly elegant Duhart-Milon that has ultra-fine tannins, a weightless texture, terrific balance, and a great finish. Seemingly all about finesse and elegance, it builds nicely on the palate and has a great finish. It should match or exceed the brilliant 2009. 94-96+ points" Jebdunnuck.com Close
|Red||2018||Château Enclos Tourmaline||75cl||£309 per case of 3||IB|
"Wow. The purity of fruit in this wine is stupendous with crushed raspberries an... Read more
"Wow. The purity of fruit in this wine is stupendous with crushed raspberries and blackberries. Full-bodied, very layered and gorgeous with superbly fine yet forceful tannins and a driven finish. A triumph. Pure-merlot magic here. 97-98 points" jamessuckling.com Close
|Red||2018||Château Enclos Tourmaline||75cl||£1,236 per case of 12||IB|
|Red||2018||Château Figeac||75cl||£1,086 per case of 6||IB|
"Inky with purple rim. A little bit spicy on the nose, scented and ripe but not ... Read more
"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. Drink 2024-2034. 18 points." Julia Harding MW, JancisRobinson.com, April 2019 "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. 98 points." Jane Anson, Decanter.com, April 2019 "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...The 2018 Figeac is brilliant. That's all there is to it....96-99 points." Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, May 2019 "Tasting like a hypothetical blend of the 2015 and 2016, the 2018 Château Figeac offers that rare mix of elegance and sexiness that makes it the most Médoc-like wine from the Right Bank...it offers a saturated purple color as well as incredible notes of liquid violets, exotic flowers, crème de cassis, and spice box. Full-bodied, multi-dimensional, flawlessly balanced, and with awesome purity of fruit, it's going to flirt with perfection in 4-5 years and keep for 3-4 decades or more. Hats off to director Frédéric Faye for another viscerally thrilling wine that's up with the crème de la crème of the vintage. 97-99 points." Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com, May 2019 "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. 97-99 points." Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (April 2019) "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. 98-99 points." James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, April 2019 "This is pretty gorgeous, with a 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 <†???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????‰????†???????????????????????CVanilla, cassis and oak on the nose. Big, chunky, ripe and velvety smooth tannins ease the Close
|Red||2018||Château Fonbel||75cl||£160 per case of 12||IB|
Lovely concentration of red and black fruits, beautifully supple tannins and goo... Read more
Lovely concentration of red and black fruits, beautifully supple tannins and good balance. This should drink relatively early. RKL "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. 91 points" Jane Anson, Decanter Magazine "A juicy and rich young wine with lots of fruit and density. Round and soft tannins with hints of freshness at the same time. 91-92 points" jamessuckling.com "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. 91-93 points" Lisa Perotti-Brown, Robert.Parker.com Close
|Red||2018||Château Gazin||75cl||£750 per case of 12||IB|
Lovely core of ripe fruit, very good intensity. Good depth, lots of tannin and v... Read more
Lovely core of ripe fruit, very good intensity. Good depth, lots of tannin and very long. Vibrant red and black fruit, likely a long-lived Gazin. RKL "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." (Score not released as at 02.05.19). Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com April 2019 "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. 94-95 points." James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com April 2019 "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. 93-96 points." The Wine Spectator, April 2019. Close
|Red||2018||Château Giscours||75cl||£546 per case of 12||IB|
|Red||2018||Château Gloria||75cl||£347 per case of 12||IB|
Mid-way between the concentrated expression of Leoville-Poyferre and the austeri... Read more
Mid-way between the concentrated expression of Leoville-Poyferre and the austerity of Talbot. Very finely balanced, with fine chalky tannins, hedgerow fruits with no hint of over-extraction, perfectly judged in 2018 by the look of this cask sample. RKL "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. Drinking Window 2027 - 2040. 93 points." Jane Anson, Decanter April 2019. "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. 92-94 points." Lisa Perotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate April 2019 Close
|Red||2018||Château Grand Puy Lacoste||75cl||£670 per case of 12||IB|
|Red||2018||Château Gruaud Larose||75cl||£660 per case of 12||IB|
Not so full-bodied as some other wines from this commune at the same level, clas... Read more
Not so full-bodied as some other wines from this commune at the same level, classical and exact, with fresh acidity emphasizing hedgerow and red fruits and some cedar notes. Suspect there is more generous black fruit here waiting to reveal itself with some time in bottle. RKL "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. 94 points". Jane Anson, Decanter Magazine "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. 95-96 points". Jamessuckling.com "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! 95-97 points". Lisa Perotti-Brown, Robert.Parker.com Close
|Red||2018||Château Haut Bages Libéral||75cl||£365 per case of 12||IB|
|Red||2018||Château Haut Bailly||75cl||£1,040 per case of 12||IB|
Fragrant and floral on the nose, with deep, dark succulent black fruit, fine cha... Read more
Fragrant and floral on the nose, with deep, dark succulent black fruit, fine chalky, tannins (concentrated by the low amount of water at harvest) and lots of minerality on the palate. Lots of layered complexity on the palate, savoury (coffee), earthy herbal notes adding layers to the richness of the fruit. RKL "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. 17.5 points" jancisrobinson.com (JH) "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. 94-97 points" Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com "...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. 96-98+ points" Lisa Perotti-Brown, Robert.Parker.com "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. 97-98 points" jamessuckling.com "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. 98 points" Jane Anson, Decanter Magazine "A wine that's going to flirt with perfection...its deep purple color is followed by a fabulous bouquet of pure crème de cassis, crushed violets, white flowers, graphite, and damp earth. An incredibly powerful, opulent wine, it nevertheless has sensational purity as well as the freshness and elegance that's the hallmark of this terrific estate. It will drink well in just a few years yet keep for 20-25 years or more. 97-100 points" Jebdunnuck.com Close
|Red||2018||Château Haut Batailley||75cl||£520 per case of 12||IB|
|Red||2018||Château Haut Brion||75cl||£2,450 per case of 6||IB|
|Red||2018||Château Haut Brisson||75cl||£220 per case of 12||IB|
"This is a very powerful and structured Haut-Brisson, showing incredible depth a... Read more
"This is a very powerful and structured Haut-Brisson, showing incredible depth and richness. Full-bodied and layered with incredible depth and purity. Layers of fruit and tannin. Best ever. 95-96 points" jamessuckling.com Close
|Red||2018||Château La Chenade||75cl||£145 per case of 12||IB|
|Red||2018||Château La Conseillante||75cl||£1,008 per case of 6||IB|
|Red||2018||Château La Mission Haut Brion||75cl||£1,500 per case of 6||IB|
|Red||2018||Château La Mission Haut Brion||75cl||£3,000 per case of 12||IB|
Restrained and not overt on the nose, but fresh blackcurrant and blackberry frui... Read more
Restrained and not overt on the nose, but fresh blackcurrant and blackberry fruits in evidence, confirmed on the palate with stupendous minerality and slightly dry on the finish. Very ripe and fine filigree tannins sustain the wine through the mid-palate and finish as it unfolds. RKL "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. 17.5+ points" jancisrobinson.com (JH) "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. Drinking Window 2023 - 2032. 97 points" Jane Anson, Decanter Magazine "Straight up awesome notes of black raspberries, smoked earth, melted licorice, and tobacco all emerge from this deeply colored 2018, and it develops a beautiful violet and floral quality with time in the glass. Rich, full-bodied, and concentrated on the palate, with subtle background oak and sweet tannins, it's one sexy yet also seamless 2018 that does everything right. 97-99 points" Jebdunnuck.com "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. 98-100 points" Lisa Perotti-Brown, Robert.Parker.com Close