After having tasted more than 150 wines already (primo January 2021), big and small properties, I can already make a very bold statement. This vintage in red is really something, and I've to backtrack my earlier opinion based on barrel tasting, that it's inconsistent compared to 2010 and 2016. It seems that the time spent in barrels and final blends benefitted the wines a lot and they're of high quality everywhere in Bordeaux.
A couple of observations I'd like to add here because they're essential to know - taken from "2018 in the barrel" article:
1. It's 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.
2. Alcohol levels in 2018 vintage – high in several places but well-packed in by creamy fruit and fat tannin. 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. Alcohol with age becomes more integrated with fruit and tannin. Just look at 2009 vintage, and please tell me how many wines you find now with high alcohol levels.
3. 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 quite late, and there’s some lack of acidity and concentration. 2017, 2015 and 2013 vintages are significantly better.
4. 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 media/wine critics have compared 2018 to 1982, 1998, and 2003 – not really relevant imho because of different ripeness levels, different structure and quality of tannin in these older vintages.
The rating/score given at the end of each wine description is for bottled wine, while the one in brackets is from tasting a barrel sample of a given wine more than 1.5 years ago.
d'Ailguilhe white - green apple, white peach and acacia flower on the nose, light and round, some crispy fruit on the palate. Tasty. 87p.
Clos des Lunes d'Argent - 70% Semillon + 30% Sauvignon Blanc. Pleasant and round, a scent of acacia honey, pear and dried apricot. Some acidity, god balance and length. Makes a good aperitif. 89p (89p).
Clos des Lunes d'Or - 70% Semillon + 30% Sauvignon Blanc. More sweetness here than in d'Argent, more intensity and length. Tasty and attractive. 90p (90p).
Domaine de Cambes - it's a part of Roc de Cambes vineyard and situated closest to Gironde river banks and therefore not entitled to have appellation Côtes de Bourg. Lots of tasteful black cherries here, velvety texture, seamless, silky fruit and tannin, persistently fruity finish. A real heartbreaker wine I have to say. 91-92p (92p).
Le Nardian (white wine) - from Jonathan Maltus (Vieux Chateau Mazerat and others). Very aromatic on the nose with pineapple, acacia flower and pear. Full of freshness with very evident acidity, crispy fruit on the palate and persistently fruity finish. Splendid for the vintage. 92-93p (93p).
Petit Cheval Blanc white - 100% Sauvignon Blanc. An aroma of green apple, citron grass and acacia flower. Well crafted on the palate with some nice acidity to support the fruit and has nice crispiness. Persistent finish. 91p.
Pezat - 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc, Bordeaux Superieur. Earthy and spicy flavours on the nose, ripe raspberries, fine structure and balance. Polished and tasty. 87p.
Les Griffons de Pichon Baron - 52 % Merlot, 48% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromatic black cherries, full-bodied, creamy and fat, potent, splendid acidity, lush meaty finish. Splendid second wine. 92p (92p).
Pibran - very aromatic with dark berries, polished, strong backbone, complex, flavourful (grilled bacon), fine acidity, and creamy finish. Splendid qpr for money. 92p (92p).
Pichon Baron - 78% Cabernet Sauvignon + 22% Merlot. Very intense nose of tobacco and grilled bacon, tight, dense, fat and creamy on the palate with strong backbone, fabulously complex, chewy, rich, and stunning length. Emphatic and stupendous wine! Tasted twice from the barrel, once from the bottle. 98-99p (98p).
Pichon Comtesse - 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. This wine seems to have shed baby fat and turned into an incredibly complex, rich, sophisticated and multilayered creature, which needs several decades to develop awesome things. It'll be fun in 6-8 years to compare 2016 and 2018 vintages of Comtesse. 99p (98-99p).
Pichon Comtesse Reserve - aromatic, well-knitted, silky fruit and tannin, complex and harmonious, fine acidity and long meaty finish. Splendid effort. 92-93p (92p).
Les Tourelles de Longueville - 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot. Powerful stuff, pencil and tobacco leaves, plenty of well-defined fruit, strong and creamy, strong backbone, fine complexity and firm finish. Impressive second wine. 92-93p (92p)
Confidence(s) du Chateau Seguin - 63% Cabernet Sauvignon + 37% Merlot. From the best parcels of Seguin. More depth and intensity here than in Seguin normal cuvée. Excellent complexity, structure and finish. An imposing wine. Not bottled yet. 95+p.
Les Carmes Haut Brion - 37% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 29% Merlot. 50% whole bunches used in vinification and "only" 13.75% alcohol. This wine is so ridiculously sublime! Combines perfectly power and elegance, added riveting richness, complexity, and length: grilled bacon and cigar box. Imho, the best vintage Guillaume Pouthier has ever produced at LCHB! Tasted twice from the barrel, once from the bottle. 98+p (98+p).
Clos Marsalette - very aromatic cherries/raspberries, fleshy, delicious smoky fruit and tannin, lovely structure and delicate fruity finish. Seductive and tasty. Cute wine. 90p.
Clos Marsalette white - light fragrance of green apple, acacia flower and lemongrass on the nose, elegant round with some crispy fruit, light on the palate but delicate and tasty. 87p.
Domaine de Chevalier - 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. When I visited this property on the last day of harvest in October 2018, Olivier Bernard told me - "Izak, this is the best vintage of my life!". The barrel sample of 2018 I tasted then confirmed his words. In December 2020, now in the bottle, it was strikingly gorgeous and had a sensual, distinct and classy nose of perfectly ripe blackcurrants, rich on the palate with great complexity, structure and length, and vibrant and with a long aftertaste. Tasted twice from the barrel, once from the bottle. 97p (97p).
Domaine de la Solitude red - 50% Cabernet Sauvignon + 50% Merlot. Inviting cherry nose, very aromatic, seductive, tasty with fine balance, velvety tannin. Smooth and fruity finish. Very nice effort. 90-91p (91p).
Domaine de la Solitude white - 70% Sauvignon Blanc + 30% Semillon. Fresh, some lemongrass and citrus tones, nice acidity and nice structure, light texture and mellow finish. 88-89p (91p).
L'Esprit de Chevalier red - 55% Cabernet Sauvignon + 40% Merlot + 5% Petit Verdot. Second wine of Domaine de Chevalier. Very minty with tobacco leaves. Well-structured with nice complexity. Tasty. Smooth fruity finish. 91p (91p).
L'Esprit de Chevalier white - 60% Sauvignon Blanc + 40% Semillon. Crispy and aromatic with pineapple and pear flavours, nice acidity, and smooth lingering finish. 90p (90p).
Lespault Martillac red - 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon + 10% Petit Verdot. Plenty of aromatic blackcurrants and blueberries, creamy fruit and tannin on the palate, well-trimmed, sleek, meaty finish. An excellent effort. 92p (92p).
Lespault Martillac white - 80% Sauvignon Blanc + 20% Semillon. Green apple, pear and acacia flower on the nose, crispy and delicious on the palate, nice acidity and concentration. Sleek and tasty. Smooth aftertaste. Really fine for the vintage. 91-92p (91-92p).
Seguin - 42% Merlot + 58% Cabernet Sauvignon. Great nose of ripe Cabernet Sauvignon with salty flavour and tobacco leaf. Rich, great complexity and length, elegant and refined. Impressive stuff. 94+p (94+p).
Calon Segur - 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. The joint forces of Laurent Dufau (technical director from 2013 to 2019) and Vincent Millet (manager/winemaker since 2006, from 2020 technical director as well) have produced the best vintage at Calon Segur in the last 50 years. An awesome and classy nose of cigar box and forest floor. Distinguished and refined, silky and creamy fruit and velvety grained tannin, stunning complexity, structure and length, excellent acidity. Elegant and powerful at the same time. Wow! 14.9% alcohol, but it's well-covered by huge amounts of perfectly ripe fruit and tannin. Masterpiece! Tasted twice from the barrel, once from the bottle. 99p (98-99p).
Capbern - 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. I haven't tasted before such a distinctive wine from this property. Fresh, intense aroma of blackcurrants and mint, fat and silky fruit/tannin, creamy powerful and very complex. Long meaty finish. This property is a very stable performer and offers a wine of great qpr for money. Very impressive indeed for the vintage. 94p (93-94p).
Cos d'Estournel - 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, This wine really did hit "bull's eye" in 2018! An extraordinary effort, big, iron-strong backbone, so concentrated and fat that it could be sliced in tranches. Creamy. There is elegance, sophisticated touch, awesome complexity, style, and long, long finish. Wow! 14.59% alcohol (well-hidden by fruit), only 50% new barrels. All the wonderful promises from the barrel are now transferred to the bottle! Tasted twice from the barrel, once from the bottle. 99-100p (99-100p).
La Dame de Montrose - 52% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc. Aromatic, full-bodied and creamy, strong backbone, splendid acidity, fine complexity and fine persistent finish. Excellent second wine. 93p (93p).
Le Marquis de Calon Segur - second wine of Calon Segur. 53% Merlot + 47% Cabernet Sauvignon. Minty on the nose with some aromatic cherries and blueberries. A strong one with noticeable high alcohol but well kept in check by ripe fruit and tannin. Corpulent, meaty and long on the palate. Splendid effort. 93p (93+p).
Montrose - 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Classic Montrose and very classic for the district. Strong and powerful, "an iron fist in the velvet glove"! Bulldozering all the way, but moving elegantly. Creamy and with awesome complexity and length. Fatness and fabulous complexity. 14.8% alcohol but you really can't feel it due to fruit and tannin vastly integrating it. Knowing that Montrose is a slowly maturing wine, it can easily improve further with age. 98+p (98-99p).
Pagodes de Cos - 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. What a second wine! Excellent in every aspect, powerful yet elegant. Creamy, well-defined, very complex, velvety texture, long finish. 93-94p (93+p).
de Pez - aromatic with sweet fruit, a bit on the light side but subtle and quite complex, fine acidity, well-balanced and with a smooth finish. 92p (92-93p).
Phelan Segur - 57% Cabernet Sauvignon + 43% Merlot. Superb nose of grilled bacon and tobacco. Mighty wine with a velvety texture, silky fruit and tannin, splendid complexity, splendid structure, and long finish. Great effort for the vintage. Fully on the level quality-wise with several Crus Classes! This is the first vintage of the new owner. Tasted three times from the barrel, once from the bottle. 94-95p (93-94p).
Tronquoy Lalande - 51% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Creamy and tannic, yet with plenty of ripe and spicy fruit, well-knitted with strong structure, long meaty finish. Splendid effort. 92p+ (92p).
Sauternes & Barsac
Clos Haut Peyraguey
Romer du Hayot
La Tour Blanche
Cotes de Bourg
Roc de Cambes - strong and powerful, packed with large quantities of black cherries and fat tannin, seamless, great complexity, structure and length. Equally impressive as from barrel. 94+p (94p).
Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux
A very successful wine district in 2018, which has produced some excellently perfumed, sleek, creamy and attractive wines. This aroma of rose and rose bush is incredibly seductive!
D'Aiguilhe - intense aroma of rose/rosebush, well-trimmed on the palate with silky fruit and tannin, finely structured and with a lingering aftertaste. 92+p.
L'Aurage - seductive perfume of roses/rosebush, seamless, silky fruit and tannin, creamy, smooth and tasty. Very catchy and attractive wine. 92p (92p).
Le Rey Les Argileuses - parcels 1-3, green and blue clay soil. 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc. Vinification 100% in stainless steel tanks. A lovely and aromatic fragrance of roses/rose bush on the nose, round and tasty, catchy, smooth and silky on the palate with raspberries. Perfect for drinking at garden parties and to light dishes. 91p.
Le Rey Les Rocheuses - parcels 5-6, 100% limestone soil, 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. A deeply aromatic and seductive fragrance of roses/rose bush breaks your heart, creamy berries on the palate, impressive depth and complex, sweet tannins, splendid balance, long fruity finish. It's simply delicious stuff! 92-93p.
Lalande de Pomerol
Enclos de Viaud - 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc. Potent with spicy blue-/blackberries, concentrated, fine balance, well-structured with a meaty finish. Very nice effort. 88p.
Haut Chaigneau - residence of Pascal Chatonnet, a renowned oenologist who consults Cos d'Estournel, Chateau de Beaucastel, Vega Sicilia and owns L'Archange in Saint-Emilion in addition to Haut Chaigneau.
La Croix Chaigneau - 50% Merlot + 50% Cabernet Franc. Second wine of Haut Chaigneau based on young vines.
La Sergue - a composition of three different soils.
Pavillon de Beauregard - fresh, aromatic black cherries, sleek and tasty, attractive and smooth. To drink already now. 88p.
Beauregard - freshness, intense black cherries, aromatic and complex, sleek and silky. Well-balanced and well-knitted on the palate. 91-92p (91p).
Enclos Tourmaline - 100% Merlot. Made from parcels situated in the hamlet of Clinet, among the best soils in Pomerol. Intense dark cherries and blueberries on the nose, fat and creamy fruit on the palate with grained tannin, all supported by fine acidity, strong backbone and fine structure. Splendid complexity is there as well. 94-95p.
Esprit de La Commanderie - it's the second wine of La Commanderie and mostly Merlot. Fruity, attractive and enjoyable stuff with aromatic blueberries, silky fruit and tannin on the palate, lovely balance and smooth aftertaste. Tasty. 88p.
La Commanderie - 91% Merlot + 9% Cabernet Franc. Situated just outside the main road through Catusseau just after Nenin on great soil. Owned by a couple from Hong Kong since 2013 and consulted by a well-known oenologist, Pascal Chatonnet. Powerful with intense and creamy dark berries on the nose and palate, fat tannin, splendid complexity and long finish. Impressive effort indeed. 93p (92-93p).
La Patache - 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc. Powerful and strong, lots of creamy dark berries, fat tannin, some associations to truffles, complex and with persistent finish. This wine represents its district very well. 91p (91+p).
Petit Village - 72% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. 40% new oak and 5% amphoras. Because of mildew, the yield per ha was only 24 hl. Intensely aromatic on the nose with dark berries, Creamy and both powerful and at the same time graceful, stylish, deep and long, finesse, refinement and sophisticated touch. This is a real thrill and a big proof of huge improvement of the quality here since the arrival of Diana Berrouet! Tasted twice from the barrel, once from the bottle. 96p (96p).
Angelus Nr. 3 - 75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Silky and aromatic with a fine backup of grained tannin, nice structure and smooth fruity finish. Tasty and attractive wine. 91p (91p).
Angelus PGCC "A" - 65% Merlot + 35% Cabernet Franc. Stephanie de Bouard-Rivoal, daughter of Hubert de Bouard, took over management and vinification in 2015. She's aimed to change the style of Angelus her father practised, meaning she wanted to reduce the amount of new oak used in the vinification, obtain more freshness and make more delicate grained tannin. She explained in ZOOM interview with me in the mid-December 2020 that she felt she really succeeded with this style changing in 2018 vintage. For me, it was quite a metamorphosis, because remembering barrel sample of same wine tasted in April 2019 being heavy, extracted and oaky, now it turning into sublime, sophisticated and incredibly complex wine. Imposing effort for sure and woman touch wine for real! 98p (97p).
Bellefont Belcier GCC - 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fine nose of ripe raspberries and blueberries, potent on the palate with fine acidity, grained tannin, opulent and sleek, quite complex and with a meaty finish. A stylish wine with big confidence. 94p (94-95p).
Canon-La-Gaffeliere PGCC "B" - spicy black cherries/raspberries on the nose and palate, well-constructed and with subtle complexity, well-balanced, and a lingering finish. A fine effort for the vintage. 93p (92p).
Carillon d'Angelus - 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc. Freshness, silky fruit with grained tannin, creamy texture, well-balanced and with persistent finish. Fine second wine. 92p (92p).
Cheval Blanc PGCC "A" - 54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc's quality in this vintage was mind-boggling. Immensely refined and sophisticated, distinguished nose, aromatic, great structure and richness, mega long aftertaste. Could surpass amazing 2016 version here on the long run. Simply an extraordinary effort. 98-99p (98-99p).
Clos de L'Oratoire GCC - fragrant cherries and blackberries, well-structured, savoury and meaty, fine complexity and length. Silky fruit and tannin. Lingering finish. A pretty seductive wine. 92p.
Grand Faurie La Rose - my first encounter with this wine and a real surprise. This property's the same owner as Larmande and Soutard and shares the same winemaker, Veronique Corporandy. This wine is predominantly Merlot. Quite intense and seductive nose of black cherries, delicate, sleek and lush on the palate, complex and balanced, fine fruity finish. Fresh and lively wine which immediately catches your attention. 92p.
Haut Brisson - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. A nice and seductive nose of blueberries, well-trimmed on the palate with silky fruit and tannin, good length. Smooth finish. 88+p.
Laforge - from Jonathan Malthus portfolio like Le Carre and Les Asteries. Dense, aromatic with delicious dark berries full of sweetness, strong backbone and structure. Long fruity finish. Quite impressive. 92-93p (92p).
La Mondotte PGCC "B" - plenty of intense sweet blue-blackberries on the nose and palate, creamy, strong structure, refined and complex. Silky fruit and tannin yet robust and with a fat lingering finish. Imposing effort. 96p.
Larmande GCC - 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. I was at Larmande in October 2018 towards the end of the harvest and saw/tasted well-ripen Cabernet Franc grapes. It's the sister property to Soutard, situated opposite Larmande. Potent and well-defined wine, exquisite with finesse, very stylish and with a smooth fruity finish. Very attractive indeed. 94p (94p).
Le Carre - similar to Laforge in quality but there is more elegance and finesse here, same complexity. Smooth and lingering finish. 92-93p (93p).
Le Dôme - 80% Cabernet Franc + 20% Merlot. A jewel in the collection of properties owned by Jonathan Maltus, Dense and tight with creamy fruit and fat tannin, is incredibly refined and complex with sheer class and charisma. Fabulous stuff. 96p (96p).
Les Asteries - filled up with aromatic dark berries, compact, strong structure, silky fruit, fat tannin and long finish. Excellent effort. 94p (94p).
Quinault L'Enclos - quite well-formed wine with freshness, spicy raspberries/blackcurrants, nicely structured and with a lingering finish. 91p (91p).
Petit Cheval - sappy, smooth and silky, velvety texture, creamy fruit and grained tannin, fine complexity, meaty finish. Well-done second wine of Cheval Blanc. 92p (92p).
Petit Faurie de Souchard - similar to Grand Faurie La Rose, but significantly lighter and less intense. Round and tasty. 87p.
Petit Soutard - aromatic dark cherries and blueberries, well-knitted and velvety on the palate with fine structure, silky fruit and tannin. Persistent fruity finish. 90-91p.
Soutard GCC - 63% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Malbec. Very sleek and seductive, lots of blackberries and blueberries. Velvety texture, silky fruit and tannin, very complex with finesse, very tasty and attractive. Long fruity finish. Really excellent wine with flair. 95p (95p).
Tertre Roteboeuf - imposing nose of dark cherries/wild cherries/blueberries and blackberries. Almost Burgundian elite one in the intensity. Francois Mitjavile keeps on making unforgettable wine year after year, and this wine magician knows exactly how to produce mind-boggling wines. It's so seamless, so precise, so focused, so aromatic, so perfectly made, that you can't believe it. Simply surrealistically decadent wine! Tasted twice from the barrel, once from the bottle. 100p (99-100p).
Teyssier - 70% Merlot + 30% Cabernet Franc. Nice on the nose with spicy dark blackberries and raspberries, nice intensity on the palate as well with earthy undertones and fine acidity to support fruit and tannin. Firm aftertaste. 90p (90p).
Tour St. Christophe - 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. Potent, well-defined, fine concentration, structure and length. Fine complexity and meaty finish. Tannin is dominating here a bit at the moment. 91-92p (91-92p).
Vieux Chateau Mazerat - made by Jonathan Maltus, who owns Le Dôme and several other properties in Saint-Emilion. Powerful, dense, well-packed with perfectly ripe fruit and tannin, all cylinders in use, excellent complexity, structure, and persistently fruity finish. Impressive effort. 95p (95p).