Guillaume Pouthier reveals all the secrets of the vintage 2018, probably the best he's ever made!!
I want 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 spring rain, causing 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 excellent quality.
Water from the spring showers was well stored in limestone/clay-based soils, allowing vine roots to "drink" it when needed. 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 colors started at the usual 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 completed 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 color (foam) was pink to medium-red, promising power, huge fatness, and a significant 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, tasting the app. 385 samples of 2018 and app. 50+ wines from other vintages.
Primeur tastings were 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, but anyway, I managed to taste close to 400 barrel samples.
2018 is the most successful for red wines. Dry white wines aren’t as successful as in 2017, 2015, and 2013, mainly because of a lack of acidity caused by barely favorable 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 the 2018 vintage? It’s a winemaker’s vintage. They had time to wait during the harvest because the weather forecast promised perfect conditions until mid-October. Those who vinified carefully and didn’t fall into 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 the different ripeness, structure, and tannin in these older vintages.
Then alcohol levels in the 2018 vintage – were high in several places but well-covered by thick and fatty fruit. The alcohol in 2018 leads some to believe that 2018 is similar to 2009. Imho, it’s not. 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, in my view, not correct assessments. Just look at the 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 showing that right now.
I’ve also heard some opinions about high pH in several wines meaning a shorter life span. Still, I must admit I find the claim entirely misplaced as the pH in 2018 wines is approximately the same or differs slightly from 0.05 in 2017, 2016, and 2015.
It was also great to see some properties leave more or less the modern way (extensive extraction and excess of new oak) of making wines and return to style, which expresses much more of the soil and traditional wine style.
Pauillac, Saint-Emilion, Saint Estephe, and 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 as uniform as the front runners. However, many lower-classified properties made beautiful wines around Bordeaux.
I tasted very few disappointments in 2018 and want to know if there will be more after bottling. Having tasted en primeur since 2002 and tasting wines from Bordeaux since 1984, I feel incredibly 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 potential, fabulously made.
94-96p - very focused wines with great precision, personality, and complexity.
92-94p - remarkable wines with style and grace.
90-92p – well-made wines with character and focus.
88-90p - excellent quality.
86-88p – just correct wines.
+ after rating means the given wine is better overall than the one without.
Notice - I tastedall wines listed here with labels. Many of these have been included in the grouped tasting and during visits to 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 the Vintex tasting (Chateau Ripeau), where Bill Blatch presented the samples he got from chateaux. Overall, the wines showed themselves very well, as seen from my ratings, despite not having 100% favorable weather conditions all year until harvest. Dry summer significantly delayed the harvest because botrytis cinerea "attacked" grapes quite late. 2018 in Sauternes & Barsac is more or less like 2016 and lacks acidity and depth, but many wines show great finesse and elegance. However, recent vintages like 2017, 2015, and 2013 are better than 2018.
Lafaurie Peyraguey was 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 - intense and aromatic, botrytised flavors 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.
After visiting the property and tasting its wines, I strongly recommend staying for lunch or dinner at Lafaurie Peyraguey's Lalique restaurant. It was an incredibly well-prepared, tasty, delicate, and flavourful food. One Michelin star now, but it'll be upgraded to 2 next year, that's for sure!
Green asparagus, traditional and modern. At restaurant Lalique.
Raymond Lafon produced something close to 2017 with aromatic wine, pineapple, guava, mango scent, elegance, excellent acidity, sophisticated touch, and a long finish. Jean-Pierre Meslier was so kind as to let me taste vintages in 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 flavors 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, sophisticated, fat on the palate, long and creamy, great complexity. It 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. Superb wines.
Coutet, de Malle, Doisy Daëne, Filhot, Rabaud Promis, and Suau made charming wines with elegance, finesse, aromatic touch, good acidity, and a honeyed finish.
At Chateau Gilette, I tasted very nice, fresh, and aromatic Les Justices, "poor man's" Gilette in vintage 2018. The exact property in the 2015 vintage showed more intensity and acidity than in 2018, with more concentration and a long finish. Fat and honeyed aftertaste. 93+p.
The most recent release of Chateau Gilette is 1997, and it tasted like honey essence, fresh and very intense, with the hallmark flavor of the property, grilled almonds, 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), not by a huge botrytis attack. It possessed delicious sweetness, almond flavor, intensity and concentration, and 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 district did shine in 2018 and left the 2016 vintage slightly behind. For the most, they are potent wines with great concentration, intensity, and complexity, but they have maintained 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 muscular than LMHB, with great structure, length, and striking complexity. Wow! La Mision Haut Brion delivered then riveting elegance, structure, and richness. Seamless and incredibly attractive, and seductive. Wow again! Le Clarence de Haut Brion and La Chapelle de LMHB made exquisite wines, aromatic and silky, both second wines.
Almost one month's harvest at both properties, Cabernet Franc, has been harvested in both places simultaneously as Cabernet Sauvignon, which is quite rare.
Les Carmes Haut Brion continues its progress to heaven, and 2018 here is so ridiculously sublime! Combines perfectly power and elegance, adding riveting richness, complexity, and length: grilled bacon and cigar box. More Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend (34%); usually, there's 20%. Less Merlot, 29% (usually 41%), but Cabernet Franc is about the same, 37% versus 39%. 13.75% alcohol, 75% new oak, 16% wooden vats, 9% terracotta amphoras, and 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. It's an immediate attraction here.
Guillaume Pouthier was extremely kind to us and served the 1953 vintage of LCHB, which was just an utterly great experience with elegance and finesse, vibrancy, deliciously fragrant, and tasty. Sixty-six 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 C.Franc and Petit Verdot) was powerful and concentrated with a strong backbone, mineral with pronounced graphite flavor, great structure, complexity, and length. Amazing stuff. We also tasted the excellent 2016, an extremely pure and precise wine mineral, acidity, structure, and length. 97-98p.
Haut Bailly II (a new name for the second wine instead of La Parde de Haut Bailly) reminded many of its big brothers but in a less scaled version. Terrific effort!
Le Pape was nicely constructed, with ripe blueberries and ripe tannin, nice complexity, and a fine finish.
Domaine de Chevalier - when I visited this property on the last day of the 2018 harvest in October, Olivier Bernard told me - "Izak, this is the best vintage of my life!". The barrel sample of 2018 confirmed his words - it's the best red Domaine de Chevalier under his reign I've ever tasted. A lot of freshness, sweetness-filled ripe blackcurrants, silky tannin, and Cabernet Sauvignon shines through with grilled bacon flavor, 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 flavors, excellent 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 Lafitte, 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 the 2017 vintage because of devastating frost but returned 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 2018 displayed a nose full of sweet cherry/blueberry compote, elegant and 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 delicate interplay between fruit and tannin here. The second wine of Malartic La Graviere, La Reserve de Malartic, had an 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 a long finish. A superb 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 the whole of Bordeaux, it produced some splendid to excellent wines because of the weather before the harvest. It's similar to 2016, and the culprit is less acidity than in 2017, 2015, 2014, and 2013. Still, some properties had 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 an outstanding style.
Haut Brion is reminiscent of D.d. Chevalier regarding 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 accessible with acacia, 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 flavors, nice acidity, and a smooth lingering finish.
Crabitey, Cruzeau, Domaine de la Solitude, Rochemorin, and Roquetaillade La Grange did well with freshness, lemongrass, 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 colors. 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 were strong, aromatic, had superb 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 expected due to logistic problems reaching all tasting venues in one day.
The significant 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 the sides of the vineyard, but the one in July went like a machine gun filled with hail right through the vineyard's center. On the other side of the road, there was nothing, no hail!! As a result of hail, no 2018 La Lagune was made, as hail destroyed everything. La Lagune's cellar master, Maylis de Laborderie, told us that as there was not so much to do since the 2018 vintage became nonexistent, she went then on a study trip to South Africa to overlook the 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. There is more Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend than usual, 75%, 20% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot.
2016 - impressive stuff, excellent cherry nose with distinction, stylish, fine acidity, polished, distinguished, very precise, focused, and complex. Simply fabulous wine!
2015 - Twin sister of 2016! There's nothing to add except roaring, "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, 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 fruity, sleek, and aromatic, with a lovely structure and elegant finish.
On my request, sales manager Pascale Thiel and recently appointed property manager Francois Hugueniot kindly prepared a tasting of some other vintages:
2017 had a silky texture, velvety fruit, 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 thinking that something was missing from the wine. Not a 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 of jammy fruit. Light, round and charming. 87p.
2012 was very seductive, with tasty 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 flavors, delicate palate, silky texture, and meaty aftertaste. Fine for the vintage. La Cardonne and Potensac had 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, less spectacular than in Pauillac.
Chateau Margaux impressed greatly with an incredibly scented nose, sophisticated and refined touch, astonishing complexity, and length. Simply a proper "iron fist in the velvet glove"! Amazing 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 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 make great and incredibly stylish wine, concentrated and refined, with considerable and refreshing tannin. A tremendous effort for the vintage. 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot 40% and 7% Petit Verdot.
Thomas Duroux looks like saying, "Sorry guys, only that very little wine to taste today ;-)."
Giscours and Kirwan were very impressive, complex, and powerful, and they had a strong backbone, a lot of perfectly scented fruit and fat tannin, and a persistent fruity and meaty finish. Quite an excellent effort for both!
Brane Cantenac had typical Margaux elegance and finesse, was sleek and silky, had great interplay between aromatic fruit and velvety tannin, and a smooth finish. Impressive effort. Dauzac was similar in style to BC with the same elegant and fruity profile, just slightly less concentrated. Cantenac Brown tasted a bit extracted, modern style, meaty, and reasonably chewy finish.
Desmirail and Ferriere were potent, firm, and chewy with considerable depth, fine structure, delicate complexity, and splendid length. Well done!
Marquis d'Alesme, Marquis de Terme, Monbrison, and Rauzan Gassies were like candy with delicate elegance and finesse, well-balanced, complex, sleek, and smooth fruity finish. Typical Margaux style and people complaining about soft wines from this commune should know better!
Lascombes, on the contrary, was quite oaky and closed but showed encouraging 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. Delicate 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 can't at all complain about the 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 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 greatly with fine fruit intensity, complexity, and 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 a distinctive black cherry flavor, splendid complexity, and length. A superb 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 a strong structure, fatty fruit, and tannin. A showcase of Cabernet Sauvignon with almost 75% of it in the wine. Beautiful effort. Leoville Poyferre was an equally excellent wine with a slightly 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 delicate 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 a long meaty finish. Excellent effort.
Lagrange, Saint Pierre, and Talbot were elegant and sleek and showed finesse, delicate balance, silkiness and velvety texture, splendid complexity, and smooth finish. Gloria was a more modern type of juicy, sappy wine 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
Together with Pomerol, Saint-Emilion, and Saint Estephe, this commune 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, great structure, complexity, mega long finish. Undoubtedly one of the legends in the making. 13.6% alcohol. 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot.
Carruades de Lafite was a fruit bomb, fresh but massive 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, thanks to the owners' incredible generosity, I could taste the same three wines in vintage 2016 conducted by the present manager of Lafite, Eric Kohler. He took over from the previous manager, Charles Chevallier, in January 2016, so this vintage is his first. He was an assistant to Charles Chevalier before that 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. An 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 an intense nose full of tobacco, grilled bacon, and cigar box flavors, chewy and meaty, very complex and lengthy. Thirty seconds finish. An utterly impressive wine. 94p.
Eric Kohler, present manager of Lafite, April 2019
Latour was as powerful as Lafite with a lot of fat fruit and tannin, exceptional balance, and a long meaty aftertaste. Massive wine and well on the way to being a legend too! 14.3% alcohol. 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Merlot, an almost identical blend as at Lafite!!
Pauillac was strong, fat, juicy, fresh fruit and tannin, Petit Verdot shining. Les Forts de Latour, the best effort ever here, tasted strong with a lot of fruit and tannin and 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 style, and a meaty finish. 88p. 2013 LFdL showed problems with this vintage, was jammy, and lacked freshness and ripeness. 85p. 2008 Latour displayed truffles on the nose and was very stylish with great structure, complexity, tobacco and grilled bacon flavors, and a 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, a 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, and had a strong backbone and long meaty finish. Philippe Dhalluin said it's been 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 attention during the growing season. Still, Carmenere is even more complex 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 longer and displayed more fruitness. It's the best vintage since 1986, according to Philippe Dhalluin.
Le Petit Mouton was fruity, potent, aromatic, and 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, and alcohol, etc. We tasted not only 2018 but also 2017, 2016 and 2015.
2018 Pichon Comtesse epitomizes sophisticated touch, elegance, finesse, and richness. Velvety texture, silky fruit, and tannin, a lot of sensuality and attraction. Mind-boggling wine, which imho excels in 2016 by a tiny 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 a flowery nose, very aromatic and silky fruit, silky tannin, fine acidity, and an attractive fruity finish.
2017 had an impressive nose of tobacco leaf/grilled bacon, was very aromatic and sensual, seductive, and possessed great acidity, complexity, and length. Amazing stuff. 97+p.
2016 was an extremely sophisticated, velvety wine with great acidity, incredible complexity, and great length—an amazing quality close to 1. Growth's one! 98+p.
2015 tasted like a twin sister of 2016 with a bit more roundness and softness than 2016. There were less C.Sauvignon. 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 treated to a mini vertical of Pichon Baron! 2018s, here are the best-made wines under current ownership!
Pibran was dense, complex, flavourful (grilled bacon), and had charming complexity and good length. Superb quality for money.
Les Tourelles de Longueville, the second wine with the most Merlot (66%), appeared 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 but had a bit more depth and length than Les Tourelles. Same fine quality.
Pichon Baron was tight, dense, compelling with a strong backbone, fabulously complex, chewy, rich, and stunning in length. Emphatic and stupendous wine! 78% Cabernet Sauvignon + 22% Merlot. My rating may be a bit too conservative.
2017 Pichon Baron offered power, elegance, fine acidity, subtle complexity, 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 a 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 scaled wine with power and concentration at the highest gear, dense and tight, and unlimited longevity. Like many others, I remember this wine wasn't that stunning and expressive from the barrel in April 2011. After bottling, it's become a different wine that has improved and turned into a superstar. 98p.
Beautiful pictures. I was quick enough to take this picture of Pichon Baron from the side of it in glorious sunshine! April 2019
Pontet Canet - 2018 was decimated by mildew, so the yield per ha was only ten hl. This vintage is not 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, and had a strong backbone and persistent finish. Delicate complexity and length.
Grand Puy Lacoste and Lynch Bages aren't only close neighbors 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. 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 exceptionally well in 2018 because its complex soil contains much clay beneath the gravel. Clay kept the water from wet winter/early spring, and there was enough for dry three 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! This wine is 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 to have just turned the afterburners on in 2018!
Calon Segur has made the best vintage in the last 50 years. Beautifully scented nose, distinctive, precise, focused, stylish, elegant, and powerful simultaneously 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 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. It was focused and precise. Remarkable effort.
We were also treated to tasting the 2016 vintage of all three wines. They were 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 extraordinary complexity and length. Fatness and great 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, aromatic profile, strong backbone, delicate complexity, and fine persistent finish. Tronquoy Lalande was muscular, fat, and had nice complexity, big tannin, fresh, and long aftertaste.
Meyney has, imho made the best wine ever for the property! 2018 was intense on the nose, potent on the palate, juicy and creamy, and had 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 made superb wine for 2018 with a strong approach, fine depth and structure, complexity, and a meaty aftertaste.
Haut Marbuzet offered 2018 a seductive, sexy, fruity, well-defined wine with 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 the 2014 vintage, superb with perfectly mature Cabernet Sauvignon (late harvest) and splendid acidity. A very elegant wine. 92p. 2011 offered less concentration and intensity than 2014 and was a bit closed. It needs several years to come around. 90p.
That's a great welcome! April 2019
Cos Labory, de Pez, and Les Ormes de Pez were all aromatic with sweet fruit, strong backbone, and delicate complexity. Tremendous efforts for the vintage.
DalemFronsac 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 full-bodied wines with strong backbone, minerality, a lot of fatty fruit and tannin, complexity, and meaty aftertaste. Villars were slightly down on complexity than the wines mentioned above but had a very aromatic, 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 Sacha 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. The best wine of the tasted ones was Roc de Cambes. Intense and powerful, packed with large quantities of black cherries and fat tannin, with 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 Sacha 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 is somewhat uneven. Star wines are La Fleur de Bouard and Les Cruzelles, which are very aromatic, silky, sleek, and complex, followed by very aromatic, delicate, and 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, and long on the palate with a meaty finish. Domaine de Gachet was aromatic, sleek, and with a 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 Croix 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 highly successful in the 2018 vintage. With a lot of clay/iron dirt in the subsoil, there was enough water reserve to give off when the dry three summer months arrived. It allowed the perfect ripeness of 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, incredible structure, sophisticated touch, refinement, richness, and breathtaking length. A true legend in the making. My wine of the vintage, together with a 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 - solid and intense, pure, finely grained tannin, a lot of tension, persistent finish. High quality, indeed.
Vieux Chateau Certan - black cherries, intense nose with evident 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. Amazing 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. It is a big one, with a lot of substance and power, a strong backbone, fat fruit and tannin, long, pleasing aftertaste. 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. The second wine, Blason d'Evangile, was fruity and round, indicating a significant portion of Cabernet Franc in the blend (40%), sleek and with a long finish.
Jean-Pascal Vazart, L'Evangile's technical manager, is 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 exceptionally well in the 2018 vintage. It is 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, the 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, precise, aromatic, deep, long, elegant, sensual, seductive, and 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, complex and refined, impressive length. Impressive for the vintage.
Cantelauze - same owner as Corbin Michotte. It consists of several small plots, mainly over Pomerol's east part. 90% Merlot +10% Cabernet Franc. This wine needs to be more noticed and deserves much attention from wine media! Its quality is just spectacular.
2018 - powerful, thick, great complexity, fat fruit and grained tannin, great structure and length. It's the best vintage from the property I've ever tasted! Simply excellent.
2017 - 80% lost due to frost in the spring. Intense cherries, spicy, elegant, and 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 - intense and potent, fat and dense, long, silky fruit and tannin. Very terroir-driven, as you really can taste flavors like truffles and iron here. Impressive effort too. 95p.
La Croix St. Georges is situated in the middle of Catusseau village near neighboring Le Pin. Chocolate flavors, a strong backbone, great complexity, very concentrated, long, fatty finish. Best vintage of this wine yet for me! 91% Merlot + 9% Cabernet Franc. Jean-Philippe Janoueix, the owner, is also responsible for Sacre Coeur, a selected parcel from La Croix vineyard and 100% taken care of and vinified. It was similar to LCStG concerning opulency, fruit and tannin's fatness, and length. Splendid effort. 100% Merlot.
Le Gay, situated close to Lafleur, also crafted a wine 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 the 2015 vintage when the quality of the wine here went significantly up. The intense nose of black cherries, potent and robust, modern, precise and focused, splendid complexity and length. Badass wine. 94% Merlot + 6% Cabernet Franc. La Cabanne's owner, 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 a 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 flavors, velvety, complex, and a fat fruity finish. Splendid effort.
We also tasted 2017 which was waiting for bottling in May 2019 and therefore tasted somewhat diffused. No rating here. 2016 was an excellent, opulent, traditionally styled, fleshy, concentrated, and full-bodied wine. 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 neighboring vineyards with sandy soil! 2018 was powerful and dense with a powerful and significant flavor of black cherries (a hallmark of Belle Brise!), delicate, complex, and with a long fruity finish. Pure delicacy.
Nenin was compact, concentrated, sappy, nicely structured, well-defined, focused, and had delicate complexity and length with a persistent fruity finish - the best effort yet under Delon's ownership of this property.
Bellegrave had a deliciously aromatic nose with chocolate/cocoa powder flavor, was very sleek and complex on the palate, and had a lingering fruity finish. I have never tasted such splendid wine from this property.
Clos de la Vieille Eglise, Feytit Clinet, La Pointe, and Latour-á-Pomerol were similar wines to Bellegrave but less intense and complex. 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 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 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, lovely structure, and length.
Beauregard, Lafleur Gazin, La Patache, Le Moulin, and Vray Croix de Gay were all attractive with significant flavor and taste of black cherries, tasty, well-made, and 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 precisely 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 it further. We had a great time on this particular visit and tasted some other vintages of TR, 2008, 2004, and 1982.
2008 was a classic wine from a cool climate 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 fine wine ages. I tasted this wine 21 years ago, wrote that it wouldn't benefit from further cellaring, and rated it 88p. When I retasted it in April 2019, it was much better with the property's significant soil character. Terrific wine! 93p. imagine that no new oak was utilized for this wine. It also rubbished with aplomb claims by some press media that Tertre Roteboueuf can't age longer than 20-25.
Ausone - was a different animal, like a giant moving around with ballerina steps, strong yet elegant. Massive, refined, and sophisticated, with 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 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 also tasted the same wines in the 2016 vintage, which 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 - stunning wine, refined and sophisticated, cherry, multiple layers of everything, great complexity and length. Probably the best wine from this property under Chanel's ownership. 70% Merlot + 30% Cabernet Franc. The same owner recently bought Berliquet. It offered significantly less of everything and was just a lovely fruity wine with spicy flavors and good length.
Figeac - is the best wine made here in the last 50 years, and it does say that much! Dense and tight, sophisticated, rich, incredibly complex, and lengthy. 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 one month.
Frederic Faye, Figeac's technical manager, is a very, very happy man!
Pavie - very aromatic, dense, tight, powerful, intense, strong backbone and great length, excellent 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 the modern style with some extraction but not heavy, dense, tight, and very concentrated. I'd like to know when the owner will introduce the same changes as at Pavie 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 though I'm not fond of the style this property represents, the quality here is sky-high, and the wine itself is made meticulously. It's a modern style, dense, extracted, powerful, tannic, iron-coated backbone, great 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, had a more personal influence on the wine, softened both extraction and lowered the amount of new oak. She doesn't need to look far after inspiration - see what Henrique da Costa and Gerard Perse have done at Pavie since the 2014 vintage. Back to the roots! Carillon d'Angelus (Angelus 2) resembled, in some way, Grand Vin. Angelus 3 was a pleasant wine with a cherry flavor, packed with soft fruit and tannin.
Bellevue was tight and dense with a strong structure and backbone, concentrated and with a firm finish. Daugay was similar in style to Bellevue.
Clos Fourtet displayed a concentrated fruit full of sweetness, well-defined, velvety fruit, tannin, and great complexity, structure, and length. Highly impressive! Pavie Macquin was equally excellent, potent, intense, and creamy.
Larcis Ducasse - well-packed with fruit, sleek, velvety, potent and concentrated, splendid structure, and long finish. Impressive effort. Le Dôme followed closely 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 style change here towards more concentration and vibrancy. It is the best vintage for Anabelle Cruse Bardinet, who can celebrate her 11th vintage. Whopping 15% alcohol, but it's completely "eaten" by fatty 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, with great complexity, balance, 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, tight, powerful, plenty of fat fruit and tannin, vibrant, firm structure, unique complexity, and length. Another badass wine. You can't complain about alcohol level here; it would be ridiculous if you did, only 13.71%! 73% Merlot + 27% Cabernet Franc. The latter grape variety contributed significantly to the very high quality of this wine.
Corbin Michotte - lost an appeal recently to be reinstalled in Grand Cru Classe rank. This property has always made a classic and authentic wine worth a safe place in the classification. Emmanuel Boidron, the owner's son and taking care of sales and marketing, told us that he had never seen such perfect Cabernet Franc grapes in 2018. You can taste this in the wine. Creamy, fruity, sweetness, velvety texture, seductive with finesse, sophisticated, superb 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 were lost in spring, but the remaining ones produced an elegant wine with nice complexity. Not as detailed as in 2018 and not that concentrated, but it's fully understandable. 92p.
2016 - smoky flavors, distinguished, well-defined, woody, and closed, need time to develop. 93-94p.
2015 - open arms here, seductive and attractive wine with the aromatic chocolate/cocoa powder flavor, silky, meaty, long, complex, and tasty. Splendid. 94p.
Soutard - very sleek and seductive, velvety texture, silky fruit, and tannin, complex with finesse, tasty and attractive. Long fruity finish. Heartbreaker wine. The winemaker here, Veronique Corporandy, also makes wine at Larmande, a few kilometers from Soutard.
At Larmande in October 2018, towards the end of the harvest, I saw/tasted these well-ripen and tasty grapes. Saw also Veronique Corporandy doing "breaking the cap". Larmande in 2018 is a potent and well-defined wine, elegant with finesse, stylish, and 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-flavored 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, who 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, pure, meaty, focused, and expressive wine with excellent structure and complexity. Made by Franck Jugelmann. 70% Merlot + 30% Cabernet Franc. The 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 in 2015.
Beau Sejour Becot was well-made, sleek, splendid complex, velvety texture, fine intensity, and length. La Gaffeliere had much elegance and finesse, otherwise similar to BSB. Both are superb wines. La Tour Figeac and Les Asteries followed closely with the same attractive and fruity style.
All other wines rated from 93+p to 91p were well-made with different grades of concentration, complexity, structure, and length. However, they were fault-free and, in many cases, attractive, seductive, and tasty wines.
Lastly, a few comments on dinner at Domaine de Chevalier on Saturday, the 30th of March 2019. Every year, Olivier Bernard organizes this dinner every year where guests and hosts contribute with wines, where the last digit of the 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 were tasted this particular Saturday at D.d. Chevalier, March 2019