Guillaume Pouthier explains to us all about the secrets of the vintage 2018, probably the best vintage he's ever made!!
I’d like to refer to what Guillaume Pouthier, manager of Les Carmes Haut Brion told me during my visit at the end of March 2019 – “2018 started as a nightmare and finished like a dream. It was vintage of belief – you could choose what you wanted to do with grapes and in which direction concerning vinification you wanted to go”.
It was a year of two extremes - a lot of rain in the spring, causing quite many mildew outbreaks, which especially attacked Merlot and a glorious summer during July, August, and September. All these three months were parched and created a fundament for great quality.
Water from the spring showers was well stored in limestone/clay-based soils, allowing vine roots to "drink" it when they needed to. Mildew cut production at some chateaux by ca. 50% and up to 90% at biodynamically run properties. Grapes from vines on gravelly soils looked pretty small and thick-skinned to me. Warm days and cool nights did once again preserve aromas and freshness.
With long term forecasts promising perfect weather during harvest, there was no need to rush it, but winegrowers could risk high alcohol levels if they waited too long. Harvest of grapes in two colours started at the normal time in Bordeaux, white finished by mid-September and red finished more or less on Right Bank by 5th October, while late-ripening soils (f.i. around St.Etienne de Lise) have more or less finished by mid-October. Haut Medoc finished harvest by mid-October.
When I did my annual check of the harvest in October 2018, I noticed that the mousse's colour (foam) was pink to medium-red, promised power, huge fatness, and a big concentration in wines. It was duly confirmed when I tasted them for two weeks during primeur tastings in March/April 2019.
I came a few days before primeur week and stayed a few days after primeur week, tasting app. 385 samples of 2018 and app. 50+ wines from other vintages.
This primeur was a bit chaotic for my part as I was forced to reschedule several tastings for reasons beyond my reach and I hadn’t been able to do all the tastings I planned due to late changes from tasting venues. Therefore, I did miss several tastings in Saint-Emilion and Pomerol and tasting Listrac/Moulis wines as well, but anyway, I managed to taste close to 400 barrel samples.
2018 is most successful for red wines. Dry white wines aren’t as successful as in 2017, 2015 and 2013, mainly because of lack of acidity caused by not entirely favourable weather conditions (too hot up to harvest). For sweet white wines, botrytis came late, and there’s some lack of acidity and concentration. 2017, 2015 and 2013 vintages are significantly better.
So how is 2018 vintage? It’s winemaker’s vintage. They had time to wait during the harvest because the weather forecast promised perfect conditions to mid-October. Those who vinified carefully and didn’t fall in the trap of harvesting too late or too early, pushing extraction too much and using too much new oak, made fantastic wines. In many cases, imho, 2018 is a mix of 2015, and 2016 added some tannic power of 2010. The big wines will live forever! Some have compared 2018 to 1982, 1998, and 2003 – not relevant imho because of different ripeness, structure and tannin in these older vintages.
Then alcohol levels in 2018 vintage – high in several places but well-covered by thick and fat fruit. The alcohol in 2018 leads some to believe that 2018 is similar to 2009. Imho it’s not. Frankly, I don't care about these high alcohol levels in wines unless they aren't balanced by fruit and acidity. Alcohol is naturally produced and not artificially added. Claims that fruit disappears with age and alcohol stays with age in wine are according to my opinion, not correct assessments. Just look at 2009 vintage, and please tell me how many wines you find high alcohol levels. Another vintage claimed to be a "high alcohol" vintage, 2015, is imho not particularly showing this right now.
I’ve also heard some opinions about high pH in several wines meaning shorter life span, but I must admit I find the claim quite misplaced as pH in 2018 wines is approximately the same or differs slightly with 0.05 in vintages 2017, 2016 and 2015.
It was also great to see some properties leave more or less the modern way (big extraction and excess of new oak) of making wines and go back to style which expresses a great deal more of the soil and traditional wine style.
My feeling is that Pauillac, Saint-Emilion, and Saint Estephe, together with Pomerol, have been the most consistent wine-producing areas in Bordeaux and made the best wines in 2018 among red wines. Margaux, Pessac-Leognan and Saint-Julien are close, but not that consistent as the front runners. However, many lower classified properties made beautiful wines around Bordeaux.
I tasted very few disappointments in 2018, and I seriously doubt there will be more of these after bottling. Having tasted en primeur since 2002 and tasting wines from Bordeaux since 1984, I feel extremely confident about the further development of 2018!
Tasting notes and ratings have been added from several visits during Vinexpo in May 2019 - La Cabanne, Croix de Labrie, and Laroze.
Grading of my ratings:
98-100p - perfectly made wines, well on the way to becoming legends.
96-98p - truly remarkable wine with a lot of style and class, great, great potential, fabulously made.
94-96p - very focused wines with great precision, personality, and complexity.
92-94p - remarkable wines with style and class.
90-92p – well-made wines with personality and focus.
88-90p - excellent quality.
86-88p – just correct wines.
+ after rating means that given wine is better overall than the one without it.
Notice - all wines listed here were tasted with labels. Many of these have been tasted at the grouped tasting, and, of course, during visits at many properties.
Sauternes & Barsac:
d'Arche Sauternes 90 Bastor-Lamontagne Sauternes 90 Broustet Barsac 91 Clos Haut-Peyraguey Sauternes 94 Coutet Barsac 92 de Malle Sauternes 92 de Rayne Vigneau Sauternes 94 Doisy Daëne Barsac 92 Filhot Sauternes 92 Lafaurie-Peyraguey Sauternes 96 La Tour Blanche Sauternes 94 Lamothe Guignard Sauternes 90 Les Justices Sauternes 92 de Myrat Barsac 94 Rabaud Promis Sauternes 92 Raymond Lafon Sauternes 95 Sigalas Rabaud Sauternes 94 Suau Sauternes 92 Suduiraut Sauternes 94
I could only taste several 2018 sweeties from Bordeaux at Vintex tasting (Chateau Ripeau), where Bill Blatch presented the samples he got from chateaux. Overall, the wines presented themselves very well as seen from my ratings, despite not 100% favourable weather conditions all the year until harvest. Dry summer delayed the harvest a great deal because botrytis cinerea "attacked" grapes quite late. 2018 in Sauternes & Barsac is more or less like 2016, lacks some acidity and depth, but many wines show a great deal of finesse and elegance. However, the recent vintages like 2017, 2015 and 2013 are better than in 2018.
Lafaurie Peyraguey was for me the star wine with freshness and finesse, refined and creamy, acacia honey, fine acidity, and much focus. I also tasted it at the property with the same impression, and in addition to it I tasted 2016 and 2013 vintages in sweet and 2015 LP dry.
Left - wines to taste. Right - building housing Lalique restaurant
2016 - stylish, elegant, pineapple, acacia honey, finesse, splendid acidity. Splendid effort. 94p.
2013 - very intense and aromatic, botrytised flavours in numbers, elegant, honey melon, great complexity, and fine acidity. Excellent effort. 97p.
2015 sec - very flowery, acacia flower, citrus, lemongrass, fine acidity and length. 93p.
I'll strongly recommend staying for lunch or dinner at Lafaurie Peyraguey's Lalique restaurant, after visiting the property and tasting its wines. Incredibly well-prepared, tasty, delicate and flavourful food. One Michelin star now but next year it'll be upgraded to 2, that's for sure!
Green asparagus, traditional and modern. At restaurant Lalique.
Raymond Lafon produced something close to 2017 with very aromatic wine with the scent of pineapple, guava and mango, elegance, excellent acidity, sophisticated touch, and long finish. Jean-Pierre Meslier was so kind to let me taste vintages 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013.
2017 - imposing wine filled with freshness, great acidity, and sweetness. Pear, peach, and apricot. 95-96p.
2016 - barely the same intensity of botrytized flavours as in 2017 and 2018, elegance, finesse, and nice acidity. 93-94p.
2015 - intense and powerful, sweet pineapple, great acidity, fat finish. Excellent. 96p.
2014 - dense and intense, excellent acidity, candied orange peel, and brown sugar. Lingering aftertaste. Great effort for the vintage. 94-95p.
2013 - intense, aromatic, refined and sophisticated, fat on the palate, long and creamy, great complexity. Keeps improving every year!! 96p.
Clos Haut Peyraguey, de Myrat de Rayne Vigneau, Sigalas Rabaud, Suduiraut, and La Tour Blanche managed to produce wines with great flair, elegance and precision, freshness and nice acidity. Splendid wines.
Coutet, de Malle, Doisy Daëne, Filhot, Rabaud Promis, and Suau made very nice wines with much elegance and finesse, aromatic touch, good acidity, and honeyed finish.
At Chateau Gilette I tasted very nice, fresh, and aromatic Les Justices, "poor man's" Gilette in vintage 2018. The same property in 2015 vintage showed more intensity and acidity than 2018, more concentration, and long finish. Fat and honeyed aftertaste. 93+p.
The newest release of Chateau Gilette is 1997, and it tasted like honey essence, fresh and very intense, with the hallmark flavour of the property, grilled almonds, then mango and great acidity. Simply stunning! 98p. 1996 from Gilette wasn't as impressive as 1997. In this vintage, grapes were dried by wind (passerilage) and not by a huge attack of botrytis. Anyway, it possessed delicious sweetness, almond flavour, intensity and concentration, very nice acidity and length. 94p.
Yquem didn't offer its 2018 for tasting this time.
Graves & Pessac-Leognan red
Bouscaut Pessac-Léognan 89 Brown Pessac-Léognan 87 Cantelys Pessac-Lëognan 92 Clos Floridene Graves 90 Crabitey Graves 87-88 Cruzeau Pessac-Léognan 91-92 Domaine de Chevalier Pessac-Léognan 97 Domaine de la Solitude Pessac-Léognan 91 Gazin Roquefort Pessac-Léognan 92 Haura Graves 90 Haut Bacalan Pessac-Léognan 88 Haut Bailly Pessac-Léognan 97-98 Haut Bailly II Pessac-Léognan 92-93 Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 98-100 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 92 La Mission Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 98-99 La Reserve de Malartic Pessac-Léognan 90 L'Esprit de Chevalier Pessac-Léognan 91 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 92 Le Pape Pessac-Léognan 91-92 Le Petit Haut Lafitte Pessac-Léognan 92 Le Thil Comte Clary Pessac-Léognan 90 Les Carmes Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 98+ Les C de Carmes Haut Brion Pessac-Léognan 92 Les Hauts de Smith Pessac-Léognan 92 Lespault Martillac Pessac-Léognan 92 Malartic Lagraviere Pessac-Léognan 94 Pape Clément Pessac-Léognan 93-94 Respide Medeville Graves 92 Rochemorin Pessac-Léognan 91-92 Roquetaillade La Grange Graves 92 Seguin Pessac-Léognan 94+ Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac-Léognan 95-96
Top wines in this wine districts really did shine in 2018 and seemed to leave 2016 vintage a bit behind. For the most, they are powerful wines with big concentration, intensity, and complexity, but they haven't lost the silkiness of fruit and tannin and the velvety texture.
Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion made simply stunning wines. Haut Brion was more concentrated and more muscular then LMHB, had awesome structure, fabulous length, and striking complexity. Wow! La Mision Haut Brion delivered then riveting elegance, structure, and richness. Seamless and incredibly attractive and seductive. Wow again! Both second wines, Le Clarence de Haut Brion and La Chapelle de LMHB, made splendid wines, aromatic and silky.
Almost one month's harvest at both properties and Cabernet Franc has been harvested both places simultaneously as Cabernet Sauvignon, which is quite rare.
Les Carmes Haut Brion continues its progress up to the heaven, and 2018 here is just so, so ridiculously sublime! Combines perfectly power and elegance, added riveting richness, complexity, and length: grilled bacon and cigar box. More Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend (34%), normally there's 20%. Less Merlot, 29% (normally 41%), but Cabernet Franc is about the same, 37% versus 39%. 13.75% alcohol, 75% new oak, 16% wooden vats, and 9% terracotta amphoras, 50% whole bunches used in vinification. Imho, the best vintage Guillaume Pouthier has ever produced at LCHB!
Le C Les Carmes Haut Brion 2018 displayed a very seductive approach, blackberries, and blueberries in large quantities, fine structure, and velvety structure. The immediate attraction here.
Guillaume Pouthier was extremely kind to us and served later 1953 vintage of LCHB which was just utterly great experience with the elegance and finesse, vibrancy, deliciously fragrant, and tasty. 66 years old wine with no sign of fading away! 96p.
Great, great wine!
Haut Bailly was struck by mildew and hail in the growing season, and since the vineyard is organically farmed, the yield per ha did decrease significantly and landed at app. 21 hl. 2018 Grand Vin (55% C.Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% of both C.Franc and Petit Verdot) was powerful and concentrated with strong backbone, mineral with obvious graphite flavour, fabulous structure, complexity and length. Exceptional stuff. We also tasted the utterly excellent 2016, an extremely pure and precise wine, mineral, and great acidity, structure, and length. 97-98p.
Haut Bailly II (the new name of second wine instead of La Parde de Haut Bailly) reminded many of its big brother but in less scaled version. Terrific effort!
Le Pape was very nicely constructed, with ripe blueberries and ripe tannin, nice complexity, and fine finish.
Domaine de Chevalier - when I visited this property on the last day of 2018 harvest in October, Olivier Bernard told me - "Izak, this is the best vintage of my life!". The barrel sample of 2018 simply confirmed his words - it's best red Domaine de Chevalier under his reign I've ever tasted. A lot of freshness, sweetness-filled ripe blackcurrants, silky tannin, Cabernet Sauvignon shines through with grilled bacon flavour, graphite and tobacco leaves. Very precise and focused. There's a lot of refinement and sophisticated touch here with a long finish.
Other 2018s - Domaine de la Solitude was fresh, fruity with good acidity, round and accessible, Lespault Martillac had more power than DdlS, smoky and mineral flavours, nice structure and length, L'Esprit de Chevalier was similar to DdlS.
Tasting 2018s before dinner - March 2019
Smith Haut Lafitte followed the trend in 2018 - copious blueberry fruit, great intensity on the palate, all in silk, sophisticated touch, and great complexity with a long meaty finish. Impressive.
Cantelys and second wines Les Hauts de Smith and Le Petit Haut Lafite were all splendid in 2018 with intense sweet blueberries, fine structure, and depth. Le Thil Comte Clary was attractive and round with tasty fruit sweetness.
Seguin didn't make 2017 vintage because of devastating frost but came back with a vengeance in 2018! Very scented and aromatic nose of blueberries, rich, great complexity and length, elegant and refined. Impressive stuff.
Malartic La Graviere in 2018 displayed a nose full of sweet cherry/blueberry compote, elegance, and was so attractive and seductive, that you wanted to taste more and more of it!
Gazin Rocquefort reminded much of its big brother with fresh cherries, fine structure, depth, and length. The fine interplay between fruit and tannin here. The second wine of Malartic La Graviere, La Reserve de Malartic, had attractive cherry/blueberry nose, velvety texture, and a seductive approach.
Pape Clement was packed with luscious fruit and fat tannin and had a strong backbone, splendid complexity, and long finish. Splendid effort for the vintage.
Cruzeau, Respide Medeville, and Roquetaillade La Grange made all well-crafted wines, aromatic and concentrated with copious fruit and fat tannin, sleek and well-balanced.
Graves & Pessac-Leognan white:
Cantelys Pessac-Léognan 88 Clos Floridene Graves 91-92 Crabitey Graves 91 Cruzeau Pessac-Léognan 91 Domaine de Chevalier Pessac-Léognan 96 Domaine de la Solitude Pessac-Léognan 91 Gazin Roquefort Pessac-Léognan 92 Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 96 Haura Graves 88 La Clarté de Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 90 La Mission Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 95 L'Esprit de Chevalier Pessac-Léognan 90 Le Petit Haut Lafitte Pessac-Léognan 92 Les Hauts de Smith Pessac-Léognan 91-92 Lespault Martillac Pessac-Léognan 91-92 Malartic Lagravière Pessac-Léognan 94 Respide Medeville Graves 90 Rochemorin Pessac-Léognan 91 Roquetaillade La Grange Graves 91 Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac-Léognan 94
Although 2018 isn't one of the top vintages in white for whole Bordeaux, some splendid to excellent wines were produced because of not entirely perfect weather conditions for "white" grape varieties. This vintage is similar to 2016, and the culprit is less acidity than in 2017, 2015, 2014 and 2013. Still, some properties managed to have acidity in wines close to the one in 2017.
Domaine de Chevalier - creamy, crisp, splendid acidity, impressive finesse and elegance. Typical wine for the property with a great style.
Haut Brion is very reminiscent of D.d. Chevalier in terms of creaminess, crispiness, and acidity, but here we have power and intensity instead of elegance and finesse. Excellent effort.
La Mission Haut Brion - freshness, acacia flower, nice acidity, tasty, great elegance and finesse. Sophisticated touch.
Malartic Lagraviere and Smith Haut Lafitte - fresh pineapple, lemongrass, citrus, very nice acidity and complexity, meaty finish. Splendid effort for both.
Gazin Roquefort is very accessible with acacia flower, pineapple, flowery, good supporting acidity, and smooth fruity aftertaste. Le Petit Haut Lafitte was similar with much tension and fine structure.
Clos Floridene, L'Esprit de Chevalier, Les Hauts de Smith, and Lespault Martillac were crispy and aromatic with pineapple and pear flavours, nice acidity, and smooth lingering finish.
Crabitey, Cruzeau, Domaine de la Solitude, Rochemorin, and Roquetaillade La Grange did very well with freshness, lemongrass and citrus tones, nice structure, and mellow finish.
Bordeaux, Bordeaux Superieur, Cotes de Bordeaux, Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux and Entre-deux-Mers:
20 Mille Bordeaux Superieur 92+ Perrieres de Lafleur Bordeaux Superieur 93 Aile d'Argent white Bordeaux 91 Bad Boy Bordeaux 90-91 Balthus Bordeaux Superieur 91 ClarendelleBordeaux 89 Clarendelle white Bordeaux 88 Clos des Lunes d'Argent Bordeaux 89 Clos des Lunes d'Or Bordeaux 90 Cos d'Estournel white Bordeaux 93 Croix Mouton Bordeaux Superieur 92 Cru Monplaisir Bordeaux Superieur 91 de Reignac Bordeaux Superieur 91 Domaine des Cambes Bordeaux 92 Grand Village Bordeaux Superieur 92 Grand Village white Bordeaux 90 Le Nardian (white) Bordeaux 93 L'Esprit de Pavie Bordeaux 91 Les Champs Libres (white) Bordeaux 92 Magrez Fombrauge Bordeaux 91Monbousquet white Bordeaux 90 Pavillon Blanc de Margaux Bordeaux 92 Penin Bordeaux Superieur 89 Reaut Cotes de Bordeaux 92 Reaut white Cotes de Bordeaux 88 Reynon Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux 87 Sainte Barbe Bordeaux Superieur 90 Sainte Marie Vieilles Vignes Entre-deux-Mers87 Valandraud white Bordeaux 92
Several well-made wines in both colours. Description of whites - see comments concerning white Graves/Pessac-Leognan.
Standouts in red:
Croix Mouton, Domaine des Cambes, Grand Village, 20 Mille, Perrieres de Lafleur and Reaut, all were strong and powerful, aromatic, had splendid structure and complexity, dense fruit and tannin. An excellent effort from all!
Bad Boy, Balthus, Cru Monpaisir, L'Esprit de Pavie, Magrez Fombrauge and de Reignac, followed after well-made wines, however, they had less intensity, depth and length than the ones above.
Standouts in white:
Aile d'Argent, Cos d'Estournel, Le Nardian, Les Champ Libres, Pavillon Blanc de Margaux and Valandraud. All being crispy and creamy, fresh, pineapple fruit, green apple, splendid acidity and complexity.
d'Arsac Haut-Médoc 89 d'Arcins Haut-Médoc 91-92 Blaignan Médoc 90 de Lamarque Haut-Médoc 91-92 Goulée Médoc 92+ Greysac Haut-Médoc 90 La Cardonne Médoc 90 La Demoiselle de Sociando Mallet 88p La Chapelle de Potensac Haut-Médoc 89 Loudenne Médoc 88 Malescasse Haut-Médoc 91-92 Potensac Haut-Médoc 90-91 Quintessence de Blaignan Médoc 91 Rollan de By Médoc 92 Sociando Mallet Haut-Médoc 95
Unfortunately, I didn't taste as many wines as I expected, due to logistic problems with reaching all tasting venues in one day.
The major absence here is La Lagune, which unfortunately suffered two hail storms in 2018, one in May and one in July. The one in May struck sides of the vineyard, but the one in July went like a machine gun filled with hail right through the vineyard's centre. On the other side of the road, there was nothing, no hail!! As a result of hail, no 2018 La Lagune was made, as everything was destroyed 100%. La Lagune's cellar master, Maylis de Laborderie told us that as there was not so much to do since 2018 vintage became no existent, she went then on a study trip to South Africa to overlook vinification of native grape varieties there and gain some more experience.
However, we tasted 2017, 2016 and 2015 vintages, which indicated how exciting this property has become.
2017 - seductive nose of black cherries, excellent acidity, stays long on the palate, elegant with finesse. Lovely and charismatic wine. More Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend than usual, 75%, plus 20% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot.
2016 - impressive stuff, great cherry nose with distinction, stylish, fine acidity, polished, distinguished, and very precise, focused, and complex. Simply fabulous wine!
2015 - Twin sister of 2016! There's not so much to add, except saying loudly, "This is also a beautiful wine"!
Absolute star wine here is Sociando Mallet! Its 2018 was powerful with fat fruit and tannin, perfectly ripe, aromatic (chocolate and cocoa powder), great precision and focus, very distinctive on the palate, dense and long, excellent structure, depth and complexity. Great, great success for the vintage! Best vintage for this property - I think so!!
The second wine, 2018 La Demoiselle de Sociando Mallet, acted very fruity and sleek, aromatic, with very nice structure and elegant finish.
On my request, sales manager Pascale Thiel and recently appointed property manager, Francois Hugueniot, kindly prepared a tasting of some additional vintages:
2017 had silky texture, velvety fruit and tannin, elegance, and finesse. A delicacy to enjoy. 91-92p.
2016 was a sensual wine with splendid concentration, complexity, structure, and length. 93-94p.
2015 left me to think that something was missing in the wine. Not typical 2015 imho and maybe in a very awkward phase. No rating.
2014 was meaty and sappy with splendid acidity and complexity. Firm finish. Very typical for the property. 92p.
2013 lacked some ripeness and had a bit jammy fruit. Light, round and charming. 87p.
2012 was very seductive with tasty with polished fruit and silky tannin. To enjoy now. 89p.
Left - wines to taste. Right - the property
Goulée managed and vinified by Cos d'Estournel is the best vintage I've ever tasted from this property.
D'Arcins, de Lamarque, Malescasse and Rollan de By made quite concentrated wines with chocolate flavours, fine palate, silky texture and meaty aftertaste. Fine for the vintage. La Cardonne and Potensac turned up with attractive, fruity and tasty wines.
Brane-Cantenac 94-95 Cantenac Brown 94 Dauzac 94 Desmirail 94 du Tertre 93 Eyrins 92 Ferrière 94 Giscours 95 d'Issan 93 Kirwan 95 Labégorce 93 La Tour de Mons 89 Lascombes 93-94 Malescot Saint-Exupéry 93 Margaux 98-100 Marojalia 91 Marquis d'Alesme 94 Marquis de Terme 94 Marsac Seguineau 88 Monbrison 94 Palmer 97+ Pavillon Rouge de Margaux 94 Prieuré-Lichine 93 Rauzan Gassies 94 Siran 93
Solid showing of wines from this commune - however not as spectacular as in Pauillac.
Chateau Margaux impressed greatly with an incredibly scented nose, sophisticated and refined touch, awesome complexity, and length. Simply a true "iron fist in the velvet glove"! Exceptional stuff. 14% alcohol. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.
Pavillon Rouge was potent and strong with excellent structure and backbone, sappy, deep, and with a long finish. Probably the best vintage of this wine I've tasted yet.
Palmer - Thomas Duroux, Palmer's technical manager, explained that the vineyard had been very sensitive to mildew in 2018 and lost a lot of potential production due to bio farming. Therefore, yield per ha landed at a small 11 hl, and no Alter Ego was produced. However, the remaining grapes did produce great and incredibly stylish wine, concentrated and refined, with big and refreshing tannin. A fabulous effort for the vintage. 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot 40% and 7% Petit Verdot.
Thomas Duroux looks like saying "sorry guys, there is very little wine to taste ;-)"
Giscours and Kirwan were both very impressive, very complex, powerful, had a strong backbone, a lot of perfectly scented fruit and fat tannin, and persistent fruity and meaty finish. A quite excellent effort for both!
Brane Cantenac had typical Margaux elegance and finesse, was sleek and silky, great interplay between aromatic fruit and velvety tannin, and smooth finish. Impressive effort. Dauzac was similar in style to BC with the same elegant and fruity profile, just a little bit less concentrated. Cantenac Brown tasted a bit extracted, modern style, meaty, and with a fairly chewy finish.
Desmirail and Ferriere were potent, strong, and chewy with considerable depth, fine structure, fine complexity, and splendid length. Well done!
Marquis d'Alesme, Marquis de Terme, Monbrison, and Rauzan Gassies were like candy with fine elegance and finesse, well-balanced, complex, sleek, and smooth fruity finish. Typical Margaux style and people who complain about thin wines in this commune should know better!
Lascombes, on the contrary, was quite oaky, closed, but showed auspicious signs for the future with complexity, elegance, and length. It may turn out as excellent as the 2016 version.
d'Issan, Labegorce, Malescot Saint-Exupery, Prieure Lichine, Siran, and du Tertre were all true to Margaux style with a lot of elegance, finesse, velvety texture, silky fruit and tannin. Fine complexity and smooth aftertaste. Lovely and seductive wines.
Beychevelle 95 Branaire-Ducru 94 Clos de Marquis 94-95 Ducru Beaucaillou 98-99 du Glana 90 Gloria 93 Gruaud Larose 95 La Croix de Beaucaillou 93 Lagrange 93 Lalande Borie 93 Langoa Barton 94 Le Petit de Leoville 92-93 Léoville Barton 95-96 Leoville Las Cases 99 Leoville Poyferre 95-96 Saint-Pierre 93 Talbot 93
I could rather not complain about wines tasted in this commune. Very true and stylish wines, terroir-driven!
Leoville Las Cases appeared very concentrated and intense, full of black cherry fruit, sleek, silky fruit and tannin, very sophisticated and utterly complex. Perfect balance. This wine wasn't surprisingly a kind of bulldozer, merely an athletic man moving like a ballerina. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc. 14.5 alcohol.
LLC's second wine, Le Petit de Leoville, impressed a lot with fine fruit intensity, fine complexity, and fine acidity. Long meaty finish.
Clos de Marquis, again and again, showed how brilliant wine it is! Dense, tight, concentrated black cherries, great complexity and long finish. 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc. 14.5 alcohol.
Ducru Beaucaillou was a giant of a wine, incredibly well-constructed and incredibly complex with riveting structure, depth and length. Lots and lots of fruit and tannin in perfect balance. Best wine from this property in recent times I've ever tasted! 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot.
The second wine, La Croix de Beaucaillou, was potent, concentrated, and meaty with very distinctive black cherry flavour, splendid complexity, and length. Splendid effort for the vintage. Bruno Borie's other property, Lalande Borie, displayed the same fine things as LCdB and was equally splendid.
Our guide Juliette Despréaux and Bruno Borie the owner of Ducru Beaucaillou
Leoville Barton was classic and intense wine with strong structure, fat fruit, and tannin. A showcase of Cabernet Sauvignon with almost 75% of it in the wine. Beautiful effort. Leoville Poyferre was equally excellent wine with a bit softer texture and more elegance.
Beychevelle acted potently and with a strong backbone, pure fine depth and length. A very stylish and elegant wine. Gruaud Larose was powerful, massive yet polished, and had a strong backbone, great complexity, and length. Impressive effort.
Branaire Ducru did at last show some more personality than in recent vintages. Elegant with finesse, sleek with fine balance and smooth finish. Langoa Barton was, on the contrary, big scaled wine with a lot of fruit backed up by fat tannin and had long meaty finish. Excellent effort.
Lagrange, Saint Pierre, and Talbot were very elegant and sleek and showed finesse, fine balance, silkiness and velvety texture, splendid complexity, and smooth finish. Gloria was a more modern type of wine, juicy and sappy, with fat fruit and tannin.
d'Armailhac 92-93 Batailley 93 Carruades de Lafite 93 Clerc Milon 93 Croizet Bages 93 Duhart-Milon 93-94 Fonbadet 91-92 Grand-Puy Ducasse 94 Grand Puy Lacoste 93-94 Haut-Bages Libéral 93 Lafite Rothschild 100 Latour 98-100 Le Petit Mouton de Mouton-Rothschild 92 Les Forts de Latour 94 Les Griffons de Pichon Baron 92 Les Tourelles de Longueville 92 Lynch-Bages 93-94 Lynch-Moussas 93 Mouton-Rothschild 98-100 Pauillac de Latour 92 Pedesclaux 92 Pibran 92 Pichon Baron 98 Pichon Comtesse 98-99 Pontet-Canet 96 Reserve de La Comtesse 92
This commune has together with Pomerol, Saint-Emilion, and Saint Estephe offered much more than a bunch of fascinating wines. Several of them are for sure, going to be legends!
Lafite did craft a monster of a wine, incredibly aromatic on the nose, thick, dense, fat fruit and tannin, awesome structure and complexity, mega long finish. Surely one of the legends in the making. 13.6% alcohol. 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot.
Carruaders de Lafite was a fruit bomb, fresh but huge tannin, splendid depth and fine length. In 2018, the grapes selected for this wine underwent some changes after analyzing new soil characteristics to obtain more precision. Impressive effort. 13.4% alcohol.
Duhart Milon showed similar characteristics, more elegance and a bit more complexity. Splendid structure and balance. Impressive too. 14% alcohol.
Lafite's tasting room - April 2019
One week later, I was able to taste the same three wines in vintage 2016 conducted by the present manager of Lafite, Eric Kohler. Thanks to great generosity from the owners. He took over from previous manager, Charles Chevallier, in January 2016 so this vintage he made from start to beginning on his own. He was an assistant to Charles Chevalier and worked with him for many years.
2016 Lafite behaved like a monster moving with ballerina steps, very potent on the nose and palate with striking richness, complexity, and length. Whether the wine is old or young, the nose of Lafite is always so sensual and captivating. Unlimited future awaits, and this wine can live forever. Bull's eye! 100p. 92% Cabernet Sauvignon + 8% Merlot.
2016 Carruaders de Lafite was strong with great acidity, complex and rich, intense nose, and very long palate. Great effort. 93p.
2016 Duhart Milon showed great acidity and a great intense nose full of tobacco, grilled bacon and cigar box flavours, chewy and meaty, very complex and long. 30 seconds finish. An utterly impressive wine. 94p.
Eric Kohler, present manager of Lafite, April 2019
Latour was as powerful and strong as Lafite with a lot of fat fruit and tannin, exceptional balance, and long meaty aftertaste. Massive wine and well on the way to be a legend too! 14.3% alcohol. 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Merlot, which means almost identical blend as at Lafite!!
Pauillac was strong, fat, juicy, fresh fruit and tannin, Petit Verdot shining. Les Forts de Latour, probably the best effort ever here, tasted strong and powerful with a lot of fruit and tannin, added great complexity, structure, and length.
Additionally, we tasted 2014 Pauillac, 2013 Les Forts de Latour and 2008 Latour. 2014 Pauillac was a nice wine with fine acidity, classic in style, and a meaty finish. 88p. 2013 LFdL showed the problems with this vintage and was kind of jammy and lacked freshness and ripeness. 85p. 2008 Latour displayed truffles on the nose, was very stylish with great structure, complexity, tobacco and grilled bacon flavours, and very long finish. Classic wine for the property. 96+p.
Mouton Rothschild ticked all the boxes with a strong showing of refined and sophisticated touch, incredible complexity, strong backbone, and a thrilling finish. Another legend in the making for sure! 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc.
Clerc Milon was powerful and dense, well-packed with fat fruit and tannin, had a strong backbone and long meaty finish. According to Philippe Dhalluin, it's the best wine for the property since 1986. He commented on two grape varieties in this wine, Petit Verdot and Carmenere - Petit Verdot is a difficult grape to care for and needs a lot of attention during the growing season. Still, Carmenere is even more difficult and needs twice of care and attention. Both varieties fully deserve their nickname "enfant terrible"! 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 1% Carmenere.
D'Armailhac showed similarly to CM with slightly less concentration and length and displayed more fruitness right now. Also here best vintage since 1986 according to Philippe Dhalluin.
Le Petit Mouton was fruity, potent, aromatic, had nice complexity, structure, and length. Pretty nice effort for the vintage.
Pichon Comtesse - for a change, we were welcomed by the property's oenologist, Stephanie Danglade, who brought a big binder (see right on the picture below) with her to answer all our questions about acidity, pH, IPT, blend, alcohol, etc. We tasted not only 2018, but also 2017, 2016 and 2015.
2018 Pichon Comtesse was an epitome of sophisticated touch, elegance, finesse, and richness. Velvety texture, silky fruit and tannin, lot of sensuality and attraction. Mind-boggling wine which imho excels 2016 by a little margin but just. It may even get a perfect score from me after bottling. It'll be fun in 4-6 years to compare 2016 and 2018. 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.
2018 Reserve de la Comtesse showed flowery nose, very aromatic and silky fruit, silky tannin, fine acidity and attractive fruity finish.
2017 had an impressive nose of tobacco leaf/grilled bacon, was very aromatic and sensual, seductive, possessed great acidity, complexity and length. Exceptional stuff. 97+p.
2016 was an extremely sophisticated wine, velvety and silky, with great acidity, fabulous complexity and great length—an astonishing quality which is very close to 1. Growth's one! 98+p.
2015 tasted like a twin sister of 2016 with a bit more roundness and softness than in 2016. There were less C.S. and more Merlot in the blend in this vintage. Stunning wine. 98p.
Pichon Comtesse's oenologist, Stephanie Danglade (left), wines to taste (right)
Pichon Baron - we tasted an imposing range of 2018 wines and were also treated with a mini vertical of Pichon Baron! 2018s here are most probably the best-made wines under current ownership!
Pibran was dense, complex, flavourful (grilled bacon) and had very nice complexity and fine length. Splendid quality for money.
Les Tourelles de Longueville, second wine with majority of Merlot (66%), appeared very fruity, dense, strong and powerful with a long finish. Splendid effort too. This wine is sold en primeur.
Les Griffons de Pichon Baron, which has 52% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, was also strong and powerful but had a bit more depth and length than Les Tourelles. Same fine quality.
Pichon Baron was tight, dense, very powerful with strong backbone, fabulously complex, chewy, rich and with stunning length. Emphatic and stupendous wine! 78% Cabernet Sauvignon + 22% Merlot. My rating may be a bit too conservative.
2017 Pichon Baron offered power and elegance, fine acidity and fine complexity, fine structure and balance. More accessible than the high heralded vintages. 96p.
2016 Pichon Baron was very aromatic and intense on the nose, mighty yet elegant at the same time, rich, noble and with the meaty finish. Exceptional effort. 97+p
2015 Pichon Baron showed more spicy fruit than 2016 but still had the same power and length. 97p.
2010 Pichon Baron was a big balls wine with power and concentration at highest gear, dense and tight, and unlimited longevity. Like many others, I remember that this wine wasn't that stunning and expressive from the barrel in April 2011. After bottling it's become a different wine which improved a lot and has turned into a superstar. 98p.
Samsung Galaxy S9 can take some beautiful pictures! I was quick enough to take this picture of Pichon Baron from the side in glorious sunshine! April 2019
Pontet Canet - 2018 here was decimated by mildew, so only 10 hl per ha was made. This vintage is by no means a powerhouse at Pontet Canet, merely an elegant wine with much finesse, style great complexity and excellent length. It had a significant taste of raspberries when I tasted it.
Pretty nice view isn't it?!
Grand Puy Ducasse was powerful, meaty, had a strong backbone and persistent finish. Fine complexity and length.
Grand Puy Lacoste and Lynch Bages aren't only close neighbours and made similar wines in 2018! Strong, dense and tight with Cabernet Sauvignon shining through. Concentrated and with a great future.
Croizet Bages and Lynch Moussas have upped their quality significantly in recent years. In 2018, both properties made quite well-made wines, aromatic, juicy, concentrated, and considerable. Pedesclaux and Fonbadet followed after with lighter wines, more round and softer.
Calon-Ségur 98-99 Capbern 93-94 Cos d'Estournel 99-100 Cos Labory 93 de Pez 92-93 Haut Marbuzet 93-94 La Dame de Montrose 93 Lafon-Rochet94 Le Marquis de Calon 93+ Les Ormes de Pez 92 Meyney 94+ Montrose 98-99 Pagodes de Cos 93+ Phélan Ségur 93-94 Serilhan 90-91 Tronquoy-Lalande 92
This commune succeeded extremely well in 2018, because of its complex soil containing a great deal of clay beneath the gravel. Clay kept the water from wet winter/early spring, and there was enough of it for dry 3 summer months. You can easily say that many properties here have made the best wines of their lives!
Cos d'Estournel did hit "bull's eye" in 2018! A true monster, big, iron-strong backbone, very concentrated and could be sliced in tranches. So fat is fruit and tannin even though there is elegance, sophisticated touch, fabulous complexity, very stylish, and long, long finish. Wow! 14.59% alcohol (well-hidden by fruit), only 50% new barrels, 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.
Left - wines to taste. Right - inside Cos d'Estournel. April 2019
Pagodes de Cos 2018 showed freshness and purity, was sleek and had great acidity. Superb wine.
Calon Segur and Montrose seemed like to have just turned the afterburners on in 2018!
Calon Segur seems to have made the best vintage in the last 50 years. Beautifully scented nose, distinctive, precise, focused, stylish, elegant, and powerful at the same time with excellent complexity, structure, and length. Once again, wow! 14.9% alcohol, but it's well-covered by fruit and acidity—65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot.
Capbern - I haven't tasted before such distinctive wine from this property with fat and silky fruit/tannin, powerful and very complex. Velvety texture and great, great complexity, meaty and fruity finish. Very impressive indeed in 2018.
The second wine, Le Marquis de Calon 2018, had beautiful sweet fruit and tannin with great complexity. Focused and precise. Remarkable effort.
We were also treated with tasting 2016 vintage of all three wines. They were very much reminiscent of 2018, more elegant and less concentrated—stunning wines - Capbern 92-93p, Le Marquis de Calon 92-93p and Calon Segur 96-97p.
Imposing Chateau Calon Segur in April 2019
Montrose was like always in recent vintages "an iron fist in the velvet glove"! Bulldozering through on its way, but moving elegantly. Creamy and with awesome complexity and length. Fatness and fabulous complexity. Wow! Only 53% of the total production went into Grand Vin. 14.8% alcohol, but you can't feel it due to fruit absorbing it. 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.
La Dame de Montrose, Montrose's second wine, was full-bodied with sweetness and aromatic profile, strong backbone, fine complexity, and fine persistent finish. Tronquoy Lalande was strong, fat, and had nice complexity, big tannin, fresh, and long aftertaste.
Meyney has made imho the best wine ever for the property! 2018 is intense on the nose, potent on the palate, juicy and creamy, has a strong backbone, great complexity, depth, and length. Fat fruit and tannin. Long, long finish. A steal for the money! 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 18% Petit Verdot.
Chateau Meyney in April 2019
Lafon Rochet did make splendid wine in 2018 with a strong and powerful approach, fine depth and structure, fine complexity, and meaty aftertaste.
Haut Marbuzet offered in 2018 a very seductive, sexy, fruity, well-defined wine with a lot of elegance and finesse. Very impressive indeed and for me the best HM in the last 25 years. 13.5% alcohol, 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc.
Phelan Segur was mighty with a velvety texture, silky fruit and tannin, splendid complexity, splendid structure, and long finish. Great effort for the vintage. We also tasted 2014 vintage which was just splendid with perfectly mature Cabernet Sauvignon (late harvest), and splendid acidity. Very sleek wine. 92p. 2011 offered less concentration and intensity than 2014 and was a bit closed. It needs several years to come round. 90p.
That's great welcome! April 2019
Cos Labory, de Pez, and Les Ormes de Pez were all aromatic with sweet fruit, strong backbone, and fine complexity. Excellent efforts for the vintage.
Dalem Fronsac 93 de La Riviere Fronsac 93 Fontenil Fronsac 93 Gaby Canon-Fronsac 88 Haut Carles Fronsac 87 La Dauphine Fronsac 93 La Vieille Cure Fronsac 93-94 Les Troix Croix Fronsac 93 Moulin Haut Laroque Fronsac 93 Villars Fronsac 92
Very successful district in 2018 and a lot better than in 2017. Several quite splendid wines with La Vieille Cure as a top wine. Concentrated cherries, potent, strong, well balanced, fruit and tannin in perfect symphony, impressive personality. Then Dalem, de La Riviere, Fontenil, La Dauphine, Les Troix Croix and Moulin Haut Laroque, all potent wines with strong backbone, minerality, lot of fat fruit and tannin, complexity and meaty aftertaste. Villars were slightly down on complexity than the aforementioned wines but had a very aromatic and scented nose, and seductive approach.
Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux, Cotes de Bourg, Montagne-Saint-Emilion and St.Georges-Saint-Emilion:
Ampelia 92 Cap St. George St. Georges-Saint-Emilion 92-93 Clos de Bouard Montagne-Saint-Emilion 92 Clos Lunelles 91 Cote Montpezat 91 L'Aurage 92 La Papeterie Montagne-Saint-Emilion 89 Laussac 92 Laussac Cuvee Sasha 92 Montlandrie 91-92 Roc de Cambes 94 Cotes de Bourg Veyry 92
All districts/communes mentioned here did very well in 2018 and didn't make overblown or over-extracted wines—wise and thoughtful vinification. Best wine of the tasted ones was Roc de Cambes. Strong and powerful, packed with large quantities of black cherries and fat tannin, great complexity and length. Probably the best RdC ever! Then the dense Cap St.George, strong structure, complex and with a meaty finish, followed by deliciously fruity, aromatic and concentrated Ampelia, seductive and candy-like Clos de Bouard, L'Aurage with delicate flowery scent, ripe cherries and some dark chocolate, very cherry and luscious Lussac/Lussac Cuvee Sasha and potent Veyry with a lot of fat fruit and tannin.
de Bel Air 88 de Chambrun 87 Domaine de Gachet 90-91 Domaine des Sabines 92 Grand Ormeau 92 Jean de Gue 91 La Chenade 92+ La Fleur de Bouard 92-93 La Sergue 88 L'Ambroisie 91-92 Les Cruzelles 92+ Moncets 91 Perron La Fleur 87 Saint Jean de Lavaud 91-92 Siaurac 88 Tournefeuille 88
2018 vintage in this district seems to be somewhat uneven. Star wines are La Fleur de Bouard and Les Cruzelles, both very aromatic, silky, sleek and complex, followed by very aromatic, delicate and very fruity Domaine des Sabines. Grand Ormeau and La Chenade. L'Ambroisie, Jean de Gue, Moncets and Saint Jean de Lavaud were all well made wines, aromatic, sleek, full-bodied, long on the palate with meaty finish. Domaine de Gachet was aromatic, sleek and with fruity aftertaste.
Beauregard 91 Bellegrave 93 Belle Brise 94-95 Blason de L'Evangile 91 Bonalgue 92 Bourgneuf 94+ Cantelauze 95-96 Certan de May 96 Clinet 96-97 Clos de la Vieille Eglise 93 Clos du Clocher 88 Clos Vieux Taillefer 92 Clos des Rouzes 90 Feytit Clinet 93 Gazin 92 Haut Maillet 93 Hosanna 94-95 La Clemence 92-93 La Cabanne 95 La Commanderie 92-93 La Conseillante 98 La Croix Saint-Georges 95+ La Fleur de Gay 92 La Fleur Petrus 95-96 La Grave 91-92 La Patache 91+ La Petite Eglise 93 La Pointe 93 Lafleur 98-100 Lafleur Gazin 91 Lagrange 90 L'Evangile 98 Latour-á-Pomerol 93 Le Bon Pasteur 94+ Le Clos du Beau-Père 92 Lecuyer 92-93 Le Gay 95+ Le Moulin 91 Le Pin 98-99 L'Eglise-Clinet 98-99 Les Pensees de Lafleur 93-94 Mazeyres 92 Montvieil 90 Nenin 93+ Petit-Village 96 Petrus 100 Plince 92 Plincette 91-92 Rouget 95 Sácre Coeur 94-95 Taillefer 91-92 Tour Maillet 92 Trotanoy 99 Vieux Château Certan 98-99 Vieux Maillet 92 Vray Croix de Gay 91
This commune has been extremely successful in 2018 vintage. With a lot of clay/iron dirt in the subsoil, there was enough water reserve to give off when these dry three summer months arrived. This allowed entirely perfect ripeness inside and outside grapes plus fat and grained tannin—plenty and plenty and plenty of exceptional wines for every pocket and bank account. Just pick and choose!!
Petrus - oh la la! Enormous complexity, velvety and silky, incredible complexity, sophisticated touch, refinement, richness, and breathtaking length. A true legend in the making. My wine of the vintage together with some few chosen ones!
Trotanoy - huge, huge wine, lots and lots of everything, thick, fatness and dense, stunning complexity and length. This wine is simply mind-boggling! 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc.
Lafleur - huge, huge wine too, creamy, very concentrated, iron fist/hammer in velvety glove, incredible length, and finish. Wow! 54% de Bouchets (local name for Cabernet Franc) + 46% Merlot. Pensees de Lafleur - strong and intense, pure, finely grained tannin, a lot of tension, persistent finish. High quality indeed.
Vieux Chateau Certan - black cherries, intense nose with clear soil character, dense and massive, yet elegant and sophisticated, meaty and long. Pure cashmere as Alexandre Thienpont said about it! 14.4% alcohol. 70% Merlot + 30% Cabernet Franc. Le Pin was approximately from the same shelf with more finesse and kinky style. Awesome stuff! Jacques Thienpont considers 2018 as a blend of 2015 and 2016 vintages. 14.5% alcohol. 100% Merlot.
L'Eglise Clinet - showed big concentration, strong backbone, lot of minerality, great complexity, striking richness and length, and long finish. Exceptional stuff. The second wine, La Petite Eglise, was succulent, complex, well-balanced with a fine finish.
L'Evangile - only 20hl/ha here due to mildew. A big one, a lot of substance and power, strong backbone, fat fruit and tannin, long fine aftertaste. 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. The second wine, Blason d'Evangile, was fruity and round wine, clearly indicating a big portion of Cabernet Franc in the blend (40%), sleek and with a long finish.
Jean-Pascal Vazart, property's technical manager, is very, very proud of 2018 L'Evangile!
La Conseillante - very sensual and captivating wine with aromatic violets and cherries, lots of elegance and finesse. Utterly expressive wine, personified, and enchanting. Whoa! 14% alcohol. 83% Merlot + 17% Cabernet Franc.
Marielle Cazaux, La Conseillante's technical manager
Clinet - did extremely well in the 2018 vintage. Very aromatic, fat fruit and tannin, strong structure, great length, finely grained tannin, excellent complexity, and long aftertaste. 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc.
Petit Village - this property is really on the rise. Under the guidance of Diana Berrouet-Garcia, property's technical manager, wine is getting better and better here with every vintage.
2018 - very powerful and at the same time graceful, stylish, deep and long, finesse, refinement and sophisticated touch. 14.3% alcohol. 72% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon.
2017- currently (April 2019) under racking but very promising. Not rated.
2016 - very focused and precise, very aromatic, deep and long, elegant, sensual and seductive, complete. Covered by cashmere. 95-96p.
Diana Berrouet-Garcia - a woman behind Petit Village's uprise
Certan de May - intense blueberry nose, strong and tight structure, concentrated and opulent, great complexity, long finish. Excellent effort.
La Fleur Petrus - massive, deep and concentrated, very complex and refined, impressive length. Impressive for the vintage.
Cantelauze - same owner as Corbin Michotte. Consists of several small plots spread out over mainly east part of Pomerol. 90% Merlot +10% Cabernet Franc. This wine is grossly overlooked and deserves a lot of attention from wine-media! Its quality is just stupendous.
2018 - powerful, thick, great complexity, fat fruit and grained tannin, great structure and length. This is the best vintage from the property I've ever tasted! Simply excellent.
2017 - 80% lost due to frost in the spring. The intense flavour of cherries, spicy, elegant, splendidly constructed. Fine effort indeed. 93p.
2016 - intense aromatic nose of black cherries, really well-constructed, splendid acidity, concentrated and juicy, long meaty finish. Impressive effort. 95p.
2015 - strong and potent, fat dense, long, silky fruit and tannin. Very terroir-driven as you really can taste flavours like truffles and iron here. Impressive effort too. 95p.
La Croix St. Georges - situated in the heart of the Catusseau village and neighbouring Le Pin vineyard. Chocolate flavours, potent, strong backbone, great complexity, very concentrated and long, fat finish. Best vintage of this wine yet for me! 91% Merlot + 9% Cabernet Franc. Jean-Philippe Janoueix, the owner, is also responsible for a tiny vineyard named Sacre Coeur. It was similar to LCStG in many ways concerning opulency, fruit and tannin's fatness, and length. Splendid effort. 100% Merlot.
Le Gay, which is located opposite Lafleur, also crafted a wine, which was quite similar in style and quality to LCStG.
La Cabanne - since 2013 the consulting oenologist here has been Thomas Duclos, and his work can be tasted since 2015 vintage when the quality of the wine here went significantly up. Very intense nose of black cherries, potent and strong, very stylish, precise and focused, splendid complexity and length. Badass wine. 94% Merlot + 6% Cabernet Franc. La Cabanne, Francois Estager, also produces Haut Maillet (located in the hamlet of Maillet) which had aromatic black cherries on the nose, fine acidity, fine structure, fine length and meaty finish. Beautiful wine.
Rouget - very aromatic, compact, sleek, great complexity, splendid structure and depth, fruity and persistent finish. Impressive effort.
Bourgneuf - rather elegant than powerful, finesse, chocolate flavours, velvety, complex, and a fat fruity finish. Splendid effort.
We also tasted 2017 which was waiting for bottling in May 2019 and therefore tasted rather disorganized. No rating here. 2016 was an excellent wine, opulent, traditionally styled, very corpulent, concentrated and full-bodied. 95p. 2015 was tight and closed but revealed enough to consider it a big competitor to its one year older "brother". 95p.
Hosanna - tasted similar to La Fleur Petrus but with less concentration and intensity. Excellent quality, no doubt about it.
Le Bon Pasteur - from Dany and Michel Rolland. Potent, well-packed with everything, strong backbone, creamy fruit and grained tannin. Long finish. Excellent effort.
Belle Brise - tiny vineyard in the eastern part of Libourne, app. 2 km fra centrum, close to Paris' railway line. A garden with vines where Mother Nature put some splendid clay in the subsoil precisely here and not in the neighbouring vineyards with sandy soil! 2018 was powerful and dense with a powerful and significant flavour of black cherries (a hallmark of Belle Brise!), delicate, complex and with a long fruity finish. Pure delicacy.
Nenin was quite compact, concentrated, sappy, nicely structured, well-defined, focused and had fine complexity and length with a persistent fruity finish—best effort yet under Delon's ownership from this property in my honest opinion.
Bellegrave had a deliciously aromatic nose with chocolate/cocoa powder flavour, was very sleek and complex on the palate and lingering fruity finish. Never tasted before such splendid wine from this property.
Clos de la Vieille Eglise, Feytit Clinet, La Pointe and Latour-á-Pomerol were similar wines compared to Bellegrave, but with less intensity and complexity. Beautiful wines though and nothing to complain about here!
La Clemence, La Commanderie and Lecuyer were modern wines, much scented with a lot of chocolate/cocoa powder/cherry aromas, potent, well-structured, complex and with the meaty finish.
Bonalgue, La Fleur de Gay and Tour Maillet were strong, well-packed with well-defined fruit and tannin and had well-marked acidity, complexity and fine structure to lean on. Fine efforts. Clos Vieux Taillefer, Gazin, Le Clos du Beau-Père, Mazeyres, Plince and Vieux Maillet tasted quite similar, slightly less concentrated and more elegant.
La Grave, Plincette and Taillefer were on the light side with a seductive nose of violets and cherries, roundness, magnificent structure and length.
Beauregard, Lafleur Gazin, La Patache, Le Moulin and Vray Croix de Gay were all attractive with significant flavour and taste of black cherries, tasty, well-made and with a lingering fruity finish. Very approved efforts.
An ocean of wines to taste, many of them will be legends! One of the strongest districts in 2018. Over 100 barrel samples tasted!
Á Capella 94+ Amélisse/Saintayme 91-92 Angelique de Monbousquet 90 Angelus 97 Carillon d'Angelus 92 Angelus 3 91 Aromes de Pavie 90 Ausone 99 Balestard La Tonnelle 91 Beau Sejour Becot 94 Belair-Monange 97-98 Bellefont Belcier 94-95 Bellevue 93 Bellevue Mondotte 96 Berliquet 91 Boutisse 92 Canon 98 Canon La Gaffelière 92 Cap de Faugeres 91 Cap de Mourlin 89 Cheval Blanc 98-99 Clarendelle 89 Clavis Orea 93+ Clos Badon 92 Clos de Sarpe 92 Clos Dubreil 93 Clos Fourtet 96-97 Clos La Madeleine 88 Clos St. Martin 92 Clos St. Vincent 89 Corbin 95+ Corbin Michotte 95 Cote de Baleau 92 Croix Cardinale 88 Croix de Labrie 94 Dassault 92 Daugay 92 Destieux 89 Faugeres 91 Figeac 98 Fleur Cardinale 92 Fonbel 91 Fonroque 92 Fourney 90 Franc-Mayne 92 Gracia 93 Grand Mayne 92 Haut Simard 90 La Chapelle d'Ausone 92 La Clotte 91 La Confession 95+ La Couspade 94-95 La Croizille 92 La Dominique 92 La Gaffeliere 94 La Serre 91 La Tour Figeac 94 La Voute 92 Laforge 92 Laroze 93 Larcis Ducasse 96 Larmande 94 Le Carre93 Le Dôme 96 Le Dragon de Quintus89 L'If 95 Les Asteries 94 Lusseau 91 Lynsolence 92-93 Magrez Fombrauge 93 Mangot 91 Monbousquet 91-92 Montlabert 92 Moulin du Cadet 90 Moulin Saint-Georges 91 Osage 91-92 Pavie 98 Pavie Decesse 96 Pavie-Macquin 96-97 Peby Faugeres 92+ Petit Cheval 92 Pindefleurs 90 Pontet Labrie 93 Pressac 92 Puy Blanquet 90 Quinault L'Enclos 91 Quintus 93 Ripeau 93-94 Sansonnet 91 Simard 89 Soutard 95 Soutard-Cadet 90-91 Tertre Roteboeuf 99-100 Teyssier 90 Trimoulet 88 Tour Baladoz 92 Tour St.Christophe 91-92 Valandraud 98 Vieux Chateau Mazerat 95 Vieux Guinot 91 Villemaurine 92 Virginie de Valandraud 92 Yon Figeac 91-92
Tertre Roteboeuf - Francois Mitjavile keeps on making unforgettable wine year after year. This wine magician seems to know exactly how to produce mind-boggling wines. His 2018 TR is so seamless, so precise, so focused, so aromatic, so perfectly made, that you can't believe it. I lack words to describe further. We had a great time this particular day of visit and tasted some additional vintages of TR, 2008, 2004 and 1982.
2008 was a classic wine from a cool vintage. Quite intense, mineral with a fine level of complexity and style. Needs to age. 94+p. 2004 was very aromatic but tannic. It's like this wine changes every year how to show its credentials. In April 2019 it was playing hardball with us. 94p.
1982 - it's amusing to find out how a fine wine ages. I tasted this wine 21 years ago, and I wrote that it wouldn't benefit from further cellaring and I rated it 88p. When I retasted it in April 2019, it was much better and with the property's very significant soil character. Terrific wine! 93p. Just imagine that there was no new oak utilised for this wine. It also rubbishes with aplomb several wine media claims that Tertre Roteboueuf can't age longer than 20-25 years.
Ausone - was a different animal like a giant moving around with ballerina steps, strong and powerful, yet elegant. Massive, refined and sophisticated, enormous depth and density. A legend in the making! 60% Merlot + 40% Cabernet Franc. Chapelle d'Ausone had firm Moulin St.Georges and Fonbel showed fruity tones, the aroma of blueberry and cherries, roundness and nice complexity.
Cheval Blanc - immensely refined and sophisticated, distinguished nose, aromatic, great structure and richness, mega long aftertaste. Simply extraordinary effort. 54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. The second wine, Le Petit Cheval, did very well with dense, fruity, complex and well-structured effort. Quinault L'Enclos was of the same stature, but less intense and less complex. Sleek and tasty.
We did also taste same wines in 2016 vintage and they were close in quality to 2018. Cheval Blanc 97-98p, Le Petit Cheval 91-92p and Quinault L'Enclos 90-91p.
Left picture - two Pierres - Pierre Lurton, the general manager (left) and Pierre Olivier Clouet, technical director (right)
Canon - really stunning wine, very refined and sophisticated, very cherry, multiple layers of everything, fabulous complexity and length. Probably the best wine from this property under Chanel's ownership. 70% Merlot + 30% Cabernet Franc. Recently bought Berliquet by the same owner, offered significantly less of everything and was just a nice fruity wine with spicy flavours and good length.
Figeac - probably the best wine made here in the last 50 years and it does say that much! Dense and tight, sophisticated, rich, incredibly complex and long. Well on the way to be a legendary vintage for this property! 14% alcohol. 37% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 33% Cabernet Sauvignon. Harvest lasted nearly for one month.
Frederic Faye, Figeac's technical manager, is a very, very happy man!
Pavie - very aromatic, dense, tight, lot of power and intensity, strong backbone and great length, awesome complexity, refined, and sophisticated touch. Nice to see this property not overdo and over-extract its wines anymore!
However, Bellevue Mondotte and Pavie Decesse were true to modern style with some extraction but not heavy, dense, tight and very concentrated. I just wonder when the changes at Pavie will be introduced at these two properties.
Valandraud - showed excellent purity, precision and focus, great complexity and finesse, sophisticated touch and great length. Highly impressive.
Belair Monange - a big wine, full-bodied, concentrated, strong backbone, dense, rich, complex and long. Best wine for this property ever? Sky high quality. 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc.
Angelus - I've to admit, that even I'm not fond of the style this property represents, the quality here is sky high and the wine itself is meticulously made. It's a modern style, dense, extracted, powerful and tannic, iron-coated backbone, big complexity, and long heavy (not alcohol) finish. It's like for me to hear heavy-metal music from Metallica and Iron Maiden, then Queen, Status Quo, and Dire Straits! I wonder what would happen if Hubert de Bouard's daughter Stephanie, who has managed Angelus since 2012, and her staff, did put some more personal influence on the wine and soften both extraction and lower the amount of new oak. She doesn't need to look far after inspiration - just see what Henrique da Costa and Gerard Perse have done at Pavie since 2014 vintage. Back to the roots! Carillon d'Angelus (Angelus 2) resembled in some way, Grand Vin. Angelus 3 was a pleasant wine with cherry flavour, packed with soft fruit and tannin.
Bellevue was tight and dense with strong structure and backbone, concentrated and with a firm finish. Daugay was similar in style to Bellevue.
Clos Fourtet - concentrated, fruit full of sweetness, well-defined, velvety fruit and tannin, great complexity, structure, and length. Highly impressive! Pavie Macquin was equally excellent, potent, strong and creamy.
Larcis Ducasse - well-packed with fruit, sleek, velvety, potent and concentrated, splendid structure and long finish. Impressive effort. Le Dôme followed closely after with creamy fruit and fat tannin, great structure and complexity, dense, and strong structure. Equally impressive.
Corbin - big, fleshy, corpulent wine with striking complexity, structure, and long persistent finish. I could taste a slight change of style here towards more concentration and more vibrancy. Possibly the best vintage ever for the owner, Anabelle Cruse Bardinet, who can celebrate 11th vintage of her own. Whopping 15% alcohol but it's completely "eaten" by fat fruit! You can't taste it. 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. She also let us taste 2016 and 2015 Corbin.
2016 - very subtle and distinguished, great complexity and balance, great precision, elegance, and finesse. Sublime wine. 94+p.
2015 - tasted somewhat diffused. Earthy, spicy, and raspberry fruit. Vinified in the old cellar. 92p?
La Confession - fresh, dense and tight, powerful, plenty of fat fruit and tannin, vibrant, strong structure, striking complexity, and length. Another badass wine. You can't complain about alcohol level here, and it would be ridiculous if you did, only 13.71%! 73% Merlot + 27% Cabernet Franc. The latter grape variety contributed greatly to the very high quality of this wine.
Corbin Michotte - lost appeal recently to be reinstalled in Grand Cru Classe rank. This property has always made a classic and true wine worth a safe place in the classification. Emmanuel Boidron, son of the owner and taking care of sales and marketing, told us that he had never seen such perfect Cabernet Franc grapes in 2018. It can be tasted in the wine. Creamy, fruity, sweetness, velvety texture, seductive with finesse, sophisticated, splendid balance, fat fruity aftertaste. Simply excellent. Yet another badass wine! Also, we tasted 2017, 2016 and 2015 vintages from this property.
2017 - 80% of potential grapes lost in spring, but remaining ones produced an elegant wine with nice complexity. Not so detailed as 2018 and not that concentrated, but it's fully understandable. 92p.
2016 - smoky flavours, distinguished, well-defined, woody, closed, needs time to develop. 93-94p.
2015 - open arms here, seductive and attractive wine with the aromatic flavour of chocolate/cocoa powder, silky, meaty and long, complex and tasty. Splendid. 94p.
Soutard - very sleek and seductive, velvety texture, silky fruit and tannin, very complex with finesse, very tasty and attractive. Long fruity finish. Heartbreaker wine. The winemaker here, Veronique Corporandy, also makes wine at Larmande, situated few kilometres from Soutard.
I was at Larmande in October 2018 towards the end of the harvest and saw/tasted these well-ripen and tasty grapes. Saw also Veronique Corporandy doing "breaking the cap". Larmande in 2018 is potent and well-defined wine, very elegant with finesse, very stylish and with a smooth fruity finish. Very attractive indeed.
L'If from Le Pin's owner, Jacques Thienpont, was sleek and expressive, fruit and tannin covered in silk, velvety texture and fine length. Impressive effort.
Vieux Chateau Mazerat, made by Jonathan Maltus (Le Dôme), was powerful, dense, well-packed with perfectly ripe fruit and tannin, and had excellent complexity, structure, and persistently fruity finish. Impressive effort too.
Bellefont Belcier - splendidly attractive and full flavoured nose, delicious fruit, fine-grained tannin, striking complexity and fine fruity finish. Great news for the new owner of this property, Peter Kwok from China, purchased it in 2017.
La Couspade - cherry drops, sleek, lovely fruit and silky tannin, velvety texture and excellent length. Best effort from this property until now.
Á Capella - intense cherries and blueberries, very pure, meaty, focused and expressive wine with excellent structure and complexity. Made by Franck Jugelmann. 70% Merlot + 30% Cabernet Franc. 2017 vintage of this wine was slightly less concentrated but had a very appealing aromatic touch and delicate fruit. 93-94p.
Clavis Orea, a joint venture of Lahcene Boutoba and Franck Jugelmann, came up with very fruity 2018, spicy fresh cherries, finely composed, grained tannin, velvety texture and long caressing aftertaste. Great effort. The first vintage of Clavis Orea was 2015.
Beau Sejour Becot was a very well-made, sleek, splendid complex, velvety texture, fine intensity, and length. La Gaffeliere had much elegance and finesse, otherwise similar to BSB. Both splendid wines. La Tour Figeac and Les Asteries followed closely after with the same attractive and fruity style.
All other wines rated from 93+p to 91p were well-made wines with different grades of concentration, complexity, structure, and length. However, they were fault-free and in many cases, attractive, seductive, and tasty wines.
Lastly, some few comments on dinner at Domaine de Chevalier on Saturday the 30th March 2019. Every year for a long time, Olivier Bernards organizes this dinner, where guests and hosts contribute with wines, which the last digit in vintage is the same as one in the year when they're tasted. So this time it was 9, and we tasted some stunningly remarkable wines, like Cos d'Estournel 1929, Beychevelle 1949 (my contribution) and 1959 (Jeff Leve's contribution), Lafite 1949 and rounded off with extremely rich and tasty vintage Cognac Roullet Fransac from 1899!
Many wines tasted this particular Saturday at D.d. Chevalier, March 2019