2018 follows extremely well in the footsteps of 2010 and 2016 vintage!

Bordeaux 2018 in bottle

I've just finished tasting close to 500 wines ( April 2021) from famous and less famous properties in the 2018 vintage. This vintage in red is awesome, and I've to backtrack my earlier opinion based on barrel tastings that it's been inconsistent compared to 2010 and 2016. Now it's in the bottle and slightly inconsistent; that's the truth. It seems that the time spent in barrels benefitted the wines a lot, and there're plenty of high-quality wines everywhere in Bordeaux to choose from. 

Several observations I'd like to point out here because they're essential to know about the vintage:

1. It's great to see a growing number of properties leave behind the modern way (significant extraction and excess of new oak) of making wines and go back to a more fruity and fresher style which also expresses more of soil character.

2. Alcohol levels in 2018 vintage – high in several places but for the most well-contained in creamy fruit and fat tannin. I don't bother with these high alcohol levels in wines unless they aren't balanced by fruit and acidity. That's the fact.

3. 2018 is most successful for the red wines. Dry white wines aren’t as thrilling as in 2017, 2015 and 2013, to name some of the recent vintages, mainly because of the lack of acidity caused by hot weather in the summer and up to harvest. For sweet white wines, botrytis came relatively late, and there’s a lack of acidity and concentration in several wines. All red grape varieties reached perfect maturity, with Cabernet Franc excelling in vibrancy and energy and Petit Verdot magnificently contributing with a strong backbone to the wines.

4. So, how is the 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. The majority of winemakers had vinified carefully and intelligently, made fantastic wines. Generally, removing leaves from vines and maceration/extraction must at high temperatures almost not exist in 2018 because winemakers didn't want to overdo their wines. 

The keys words describing 2018 vintage are perfect ripeness of the fruit, wealth of aroma and fragrances, velvety texture, grained tannin, and great balance. The latter is a hallmark of the vintage, in my opinion. Imho, 2018 is a mix of 2015 and 2016, added some tannic power of 2010. The most successful wines will live forever! 

Important!

All the wines mentioned below were tasted not blind in Copenhagen, under identical conditions, meaning tasting in the same room and using only Spiegelgau Authentis red wine glasses (48 cl). They have been retasted the next day and the day after. All wines did come directly from the properties (sent by both separately and grouped by organisations) and were kept in my cellar for at least one week before tasting at 16-18 degrees C. 

The rating/score given to each wine is for the bottled one, and the one in brackets, when displayed, refers to the rating of barrel sample tasted in April/May/September/October 2019.

Abbreviations:

CB - Cru Bourgeois

CBS - Cru Bourgeois Superieur

CBE - Cru Bourgeois Exceptionel

CC - Cru Classé (Haut Médoc)

GCC - Grand Cru Classé (Saint-Émilion)

PGCC - Premier Grand Cru Classé (Saint-Émilion)

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Resumé

Already legends: La Mission Haut Brion (Pessac-Leognan), Lafite (Pauillac), Ch. Margaux (Margaux), Mouton Rothschild (Pauillac), Cheval Blanc and Tertre Roteboeuf (St.Emilion).

Legends in the making: Angelus, Beausejour Duffau-Lagarrosse and Figeac (St.Emilion), Les Carmes Haut Brion and Haut Brion (Pessac-Leognan), Ducru Beaucaillou (St.Julien), L’Eglise Clinet (Pomerol), Leoville Las Cases (St.Julien), Pichon Baron and Pichon Comtesse (Pauillac).

Surprises of the vintage: Boyd Cantenac and Pouget (Margaux), Franc Maillet Cuvee Jean Baptiste (Pomerol), Yon Figeac (St-Emilion) and properties from St.Emilion/Montagne/Puisseguin, mentioned in “Discoveries……..”.

Discoveries of the vintage: Carat de Reaut (Cadillac Cotes de Bordeaux), de La Huste (Fronsac), Clos Manou (Medoc), Confidence de Margaux (Margaux), Pauillac (Pauillac), Moulin Riche (St.Julien), Rollan de By and Tour Seran (Medoc), La Fleur d’Arthus, La Grangere and Trimoulet (all Saint-Emilion), des Laurets Baron and Roc de Becot (Puisseguin-St. Emilion), Reclos de La Couronne and Tour Bayard Angelot (Montagne-St.Emilion), Tour des Termes (St.Estephe) and Rabaud Promis (Sauternes).

Best value for the money: Bourdieu Absolu (Blaye), CarlMagnus (Fronsac), La Lagune (Haut Medoc), d'Escurac (Medoc), Meyney and Phelan Segur (St.Estephe), Le Rey Les Rocheuses (Castillon), Sociando Mallet (Haut Medoc), Capbern, Haut Marbuzet and Tour des Termes (all St.Estephe).

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And now we go ahead with tasting notes!

Bergerac

I received 3 different Bergerac wines in 2018 vintage from Rolland Labs to assess. 

1. N.1 Saint-Cernin Rouge - 60% Merlot + 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine comes from Perigord. Aromatic with cherry tones added some spices. Fine on the palate with mineral tones, bright acidity and fine tannin. Fine structure and length. Well-made. 88p.

2. Les Essais of Chateau Michel De Montaigne 45% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Mineral on the nose with spicy tones. Well-knitted with red berries and fine tannin on the palate. Solid effort. 87p.

3. N.1 Saint-Cernin Blanc - 100% Chardonnay from Limoux appelation. Melted butter on the nose, fresh, crispy and nicely structured. Pleasant and tasty. 87p.

Bordeaux/Bordeaux Superieur

d'Ailguilhe white -  green apple, white peach and acacia flower on the nose, light and round, some crisp fruit on the palate. Tasty. 87p.

Bad Boy - very fresh on the nose and very aromatic, catchy and seductive, silky fruit and tannin, caressing fruity finish. It drinks beautifully already now. 90-91p (90-91p).

Balthus (Bordeaux Superieur) - 100% Merlot cuvée from Reignac. A fine intensity of aromatic berries, polished and well-covered with creamy and tasty berries on the palate, well-knitted and lingering finish. It tasted better from the barrel. 90p (91-92p).

Camille de Labrie - 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is made from purchased grapes and dedicated to the owner's daughter, Camille. She designed the label of this wine when she was seven years old. She's now 12 years old. Vinified in vats and matured in partly vats and partly in oak. It starts impressively with lots of luscious berries and ripe tannin. Aromatic and fresh fruit makes this wine very attractive. It tastes just fine with a lingering finish. It tastes just fine. 91p. 

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. It 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 - a part of Roc de Cambes vineyard and situated closest to Gironde river banks and therefore not entitled to have appellation Côtes de Bourg. There was plenty 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).

Ad Francos white -  50% Sauvignon Blanc + 50% Semillon. It was very discrete on the nose, "louder" on the palate, some crispiness, light-body, nice fruit, pleasant and round. For everyday consumption. 84p.

Girolate red - 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc. Made by Despagne family, who also have other properties in the appellation, Mont Perat, Naujan and Tour de Mirambeau. Nice and delicate nose of blueberries, as nice and delicate on the palate, well-balanced, smooth and attractive. Enjoyable. 89p. 

Girolate white - 50% Sauvignon Blanc + 50% Semillon. Grapes come from vineyard in Grezillac village in Entrée-deux-Mers. Aromatic and crunchy green apples, some pineapple too, fresh and well-defined acidity. Delicate and tasty on the palate. Lingering aftertaste. More than solid effort. 87p.

La Grande Clotte - 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Sauvignon Gris, Semillon 20% and 10% Muscadelle. Rather lean in appearance, nice acidity and crispy fruit. It seemed closed and overpowered by new oak. 84p.

Loudenne white - pleasant, fruity and round, crispy fruit and nice acidity. Already drinkable and should be consumed within a few years. 85p.

de Lussac white (Le Blanc) - fresh, pineapple and peach, nice crispiness and acidity, a little touch of sweetness on the palate, a touch of the fruit's smokiness. Nice balance and fruity finish. OK. 85p.

Magrez Fombrauge white - some pineapple and green apples on the nose and palate, nice crispiness and acidity. New oak was kind of discreet here but seemed to dampen right now the energy of this wine. 89-90p (91p).

Mont Perat red - 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fragrant cherries and raspberries, fine intensity and length, polished palate covered by creamy and tasty berries. Lingering finish. Well made and attractive. 90p.

Mont Perat white - 80% Sauvignon Blanc + 20% Semillon. It was a well-assorted wine with a pretty scented nose of peach, pear, lemongrass and acacia flower on the nose, peach and pineapple on the palate. It's crispy and has a refreshing acidity. Smooth and fruity finish. 88p.

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 pronounced acidity, crisp fruit on the palate and persistently fruity finish. Splendid for the vintage. 92-93p (93p).

Naujan - similar in style and quality to Girolate, The only difference is the fruit's spicy flavour and spicy taste. 89p.

Pabus (Bordeaux Superieur) - 85% Merlot + 15% Malbec. Made from relatively young vines. It is very cherry on the nose and relatively smooth on the palate, nice bite, balance and concentration, ripe and delicate raspberries/cherries. A bit plain in construction but has tasty and attractive fruit to compensate for it. 86p.

Petit Cheval Blanc white - 100% Sauvignon Blanc. It had 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.

Peyfaures - (Bordeaux Superieur) - 87% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Cabernet Franc. Powerful with aromatic morello cherries, juicy and well-structured on the palate, fine balance and lush finish. Already a whole-hearted pleasure to drink. 90p.

Peyfaures Dame de Coeur (Bordeaux Superieur) - 88% Merlot + 12% Cabernet Franc. This is cuvëe made from grapes grown on older vines, and the vinification/maturing is entirely in oak. It's not a surprise then that there are more intensity, length and better structure than in standard cuvée. Meaty and persistent aftertaste. It can easily keep for 5-10 years. 91p.

Pey La Tour (Bordeaux Superieur) - 88% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petit Verdot. Fresh, delicate and aromatic cherry nose, spicy berries on the palate, fine tannin, harmonious and tasty sweet berry finish. Very enjoyable. 89p.

Pezat (Bordeaux Superieur) - 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc. Earthy and spicy flavours on the nose, ripe raspberries, fine structure and balance. Polished and tasty. 87p.

La Perriere white - not at all convincing, halfway between being half dry and dry. A bit odd but drinkable. 83p.

Prieure Marquet (Bordeaux Superieur) - Light in texture and intensity but lovely black fruit and soft tannin, balanced, polished, round and pleasant, sappy. Already drinkable. 85p.

Reignac (Bordeaux Superieur) - 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Not especially intense on the nose but better on the palate. Delicate, smooth with polished fruit, soft tannin and nice length. I remember it being more vibrant and lively from the barrel. 88p (91p).

Rollan de By white (Le Blanc) - 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Peaches and some acacia flower, not typical and lacks some acidity. Weak crispiness of fruit. An everyday wine and nothing more than that. 83p.

Tour de Mirambeau70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine had an aromatic nose of spicy raspberries and blueberries, tasty berries on the palate, fine acidity and balance, well-structured with fine length and persistent finish. Solid stuff. 90p.

Valandraud white - acacia flower, green apple and pear, crispy, acidity well-present, splendid structure and complexity, well-proportioned with tension, persistent finish. Better showing than from barrel and in all splendid for the vintage. 93p (92p).

Virginie de Valandraud white - second wine of Valandraud. Fresh pineapple, citron grass, aromatic and crunchy, nice acidity to support the fruit, excellent structure and length. Smooth aftertaste. 89p.

Virginie Thunevin - Not that different from Bad Boy, spicier fruit here, same attraction easygoing, fruity and seductive wine. Crowd pleaser. 90p.

Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux

Bourdieu - a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Elegant on the nose and palate with crushed blackcurrants and raspberries, polished, silky berries and supportive ripe tannin. No oak utilised here. Lovely wine. 89p.

BourdieuN.1 - a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Aromatic black cherries, blueberries and blackcurrants. Elegant, silky and tasty on the palate with some complexity and nerve. Vibrant and lingering finish. Splendid effort. 91p.

Bourdieu Absolu - a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Made from the best plots in the vineyard. Quite a dense aroma of dark berries on the nose, luscious and well-defined on the palate, layered, ripe, and fat tannin to support the creamy fruit. Terrific wine. 92p.

Haut Bertinerie red - 60% Merlot + 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Spicy cherries on the nose and palate, sleek and attractive with tasty berries, light texture and intensity, nice balance, round. 87p.

Haut Bertinerie white - 100% Sauvignon. Classic stuff with very nice crispiness, nice acidity, fresh pineapple, lemongrass and acacia flower, fine structure and balance. Lingering finish. Very nice effort here. 87p.

Côtes de Bordeaux/Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux

La Doyenne (Cötes de Bordeaux) - 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Lovely blueberry nose, fresh and vivid, nicely structured, silky blueberries/raspberries on the palate, harmonious and with an elegant fruity finish. A lovely one and not bad at all. 89p.

Lafitte (Côtes de Bordeaux) - 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. It did welcome you with aromatic red-yellow cherries/morello cherries on the nose and a well-structured palate with creamy fruit and silky tannin. Full-bodied, juicy and delicate finish. Fine effort. 90p.

Carat de Reaut - 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. The property is located in Rion village outside the town of Cadillac and overlooking Garonne river. A selection of grapes from the best plots in the vineyard is chosen for this wine, vinified in oak barrels and ageing in barrels and amphoras. Plenty of aromatic blueberries and mulberries on the nose and creamy berries on the palate. Well-defined, grained tannin, lively, velvety texture and great structure, quite complex and with persistent finish. Simply terrific stuff. 92-93p (92p).

Lagarosse Cuvée Les Comtes - fresh, aromatic raspberries and mulberries on the nose, well-constructed on the palate with adequate acidity support, fine on mid-palate, and finishes with a lingering and fruity finish. It's a lovely effort, indeed. 90p.

Reaut - Merlot 58%, Cabernet Sauvignon 37% and Cabernet Franc 5%. It was acquired in 2012 by Yannick Evenou, a La Dominique manager and responsible for creating Terrasse Rouge project at this property. He purchased Reaut from Roederer champagne house with some investors, and then wine-lovers could buy a share in it. Jean-Claude Ramonet from famous Burgundy producer, Domaine Ramonet, is among investors! Lots of aromatic and creamy dark cherries/blueberries/blackcurrants, well-composed, nice complexity, grained tannin, long and firm finish. 91p (92p).

Reynon - 61% Merlot, 25% Cabernet and 14% Petit Verdot. Aromatic blackcurrants and cherries, fresh and vibrant, sappy, bright acidity, luscious berries and grained tannin, fine structure and persistent finish. Splendid effort. 91p.

Left Bank:

Graves

Disappointing quality here, in my honest opinion. I expected much more from the wines and especially freshness and vibrancy.

Brondelle red - delicate on the nose with smoky blackcurrants, nice balance, smooth and attractive, tasty, and soft finish. Nice effort. 87p.

Brondelle white - pleasant, fruity and round, nice crispiness and acidity, tasty and harmonious. Smooth finish. 86p.

de Cerons red - extracted and lacked freshness, tannin was ahead of fruit at the moment. A disjointed wine which may better after some years in the bottle. Low rating now anyway - 85p.

Clos Floridene - powerful with spicy blackcurrants, luscious on the palate, firm structure and meaty finish. Well-made. 88p.

Crabitey - a similar wine to de Cerons with the same characteristics and rating. 85p.

de Cerons white - acacia flower, pineapple and lemon, bright acidity, elegant, crispiness, fine harmony and taste. Lovely wine. 87p.

Haura - fine on the nose with smoky blackcurrants, strong backbone, nice balance, smooth and attractive, tasty and with a persistent finish. Nice effort. 87p.

de Portets - 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot. Nice floral nose, some minerality on the palate, well-knitted with ripe fruit and tannin, nice balance and smooth finish. Already quite enjoyable. 87-88p.

Rahoul red - 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. Intense nose of crushed blackcurrants and blackberries, elegant yet powerful on the palate, creamy fruit and grained tannin, complex and with a lingering finish. A catchy and substantial effort. 91p.

Rahoul white - 77% Semillon + 23% Sauvignon Blanc. Fresh, delicate nose of green apple and acacia flower, crispy fruit on the palate well supported by fine acidity. Well-structured. Splendid for the vintage. 90-91p.

Saint Robert Poncet Deville red - reasonable on the nose with some blackcurrants, powerful on the palate with spicy berries and meaty tannin. The latter was very in the front and disturbing balance a little. I believe this wine will find itself very soon. 86p.

Saint Robert Poncet Deville whitepleasant, fruity and round, nice crispiness and acidity, tasty and harmonious. Smooth finish. 86p.

Tourteau Chollet red - on the light side, spicy fruit, tannin a bit edgy, not especially convincing. 84p.

Tourteau Chollet white - chunky, tasted bland, reasonable taste. 83p.

Pessac-Leognan

Top wines in this wine district did shine in 2018, and the lower classified competitors didn't disappoint either for the most part. The big guns are potent wines with big concentration, intensity, and complexity, but they haven't less fruit, tannin's silkiness and the velvety texture, for that matter.

Cantelys - fresh and aromatic blackcurrants on the nose, well-structured, silky fruit and tannin, lingering fruity finish. 91p. (92p).

Cantelys white - acacia flower and green apple flavours, crisp fruit and excellent acidity on the palate, quite tasteful and pleasant. 87p.

Confidence(s) du Chateau Seguin - 63% Cabernet Sauvignon + 37% Merlot. From the best parcels of Seguin. More depth and intensity here than in Seguin standard 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% of whole grape bunches were included in vinification. 13.75% alcohol. This wine was so ridiculously sublime! Combined 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).

Le Clarence de Haut Brion - similar to La Chapelle with more tobacco flavour on the nose, spicier taste, slightly more concentrated and stronger structure. Equally fine second wine of Haut Brion. 92p (92p).

La Chapelle de La Mission Haut Brion - splendid nose of aromatic blackcurrants, grilled bacon, luscious berries, grained tannin on the palate, strong backbone, good complexity and plush finish. Excellent second wine of La Mission Haut Brion. 92p (92p).

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.

Cruzeau red - same owner as Rochemorin. Fat and intense blackcurrants, spiciness, creamy fruit and smooth tannin, sappy and elegant. Lingering finish. Well-made. 89-90p (91-92p).

Cruzeau white - distinct nose of green apple and acacia flower, fine acidity and complexity, crispy taste, fine structure and lingering finish. Textbook white wine for Pessac-Leognan and a reliable one. 91p (91p).

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 Chevalier white - 75% Sauvignon Blanc + 25% Semillon. A very distinct nose of pineapple, acacia flower and lemongrass, splendid acidity and crunchiness of fruit, racy with finesse and sophisticated touch, persistent aftertaste. A spectacular effort for the vintage.  96p (95-96p). 

Domaine de la Solitude red - 50% Cabernet Sauvignon + 50% Merlot. Lovely 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 and 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).

De France red - 54% Cabernet Sauvignon and 46% Merlot. A light wine with some attraction and tasty fruit. Pleasant and round. Rather disappointing effort when knowing this property's capable of much more. We will see if it improves after several years in bottle. 86p.

De France white - 80% Sauvignon Blanc + 20% Semillon. Mineral and stony on the nose and palate, crunchy green apple, nice acidity, nice intensity and length. Solid wine. 89p.

La Garde red - 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot. Plenty of blackcurrants and raspberries on the nose and palate, strong structure, harmonious, tension and persistent aftertaste. Splendid effort. 91p.

La Garde white - 88% Sauvignon Blanc + 12% Semilllon. Fresh pineapple on the nose and palate, vibrant and crunchy, well-structured and robust, acidity well-present here. Splendid for the vintage. 92p.

Haut Bailly II - 65% Cabernet Sauvignon + 35% Merlot. Reminiscent of its big brother, however, in smaller doses. Subtle. Less tight and less powerful, more accessible and more upfront fruit. Mineral. Persistent aftertaste. Impressive for the second wine. 92-93p (92-93p).

Haut Bailly - 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Struck by mildew and hail during the growing season, and because the vineyard is organically farmed, the yield per ha landed at app. 21 hl. It was powerful and concentrated with a strong backbone, cigar box, mineral with obvious graphite flavour, great structure, complexity, and length. There was a sophisticated touch to it. Amazing stuff. 97-98p (97-98p).

Haut Brion - tasted in February 2021, and it looked like this wine's shut up the "doors" after bottling. Tight and not revealing that much, but you could sense the fantastic structure, depth and complexity just waiting to come out. For the moment, it's 97-98p point wine, but will, with time, surely come up to touch my rating from the barrel (98-100p).

Haut Lagrange - 55% Merlot + 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. Very spicy berries on the nose and palate. The fruit tasted of the slight touch of overripeness and extraction. Tannin was not of the edgy kind. Good structure and length. 86p.

Les Hauts de Smith - reminded a great deal of Le Petit Haut Lafitte, but it's more powerful and tannic. Barely so smooth and complex. 91p (92p).

Les Hauts de Smith white - aromatic nose of lemongrass and green apple, bright acidity and tension. 90-91p (91-92p).

Lespault Martillac red - 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon + 10% Petit Verdot. There were 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. Fine for the vintage. 91-92p (91-92p).

La Louviere red - 60% Cabernet Sauvignon + 40% Merlot. A bit closed on the nose but very friendly on the palate. Fresh, smoky blackcurrants and raspberries, a hint of liquorice, juicy, fine acidity, grained tannin. An elegant wine with finesse. 92p.

La Louviere white - 100% Sauvignon Blanc. It was a very stylish wine with finesse end elegance showing the aroma of green apple and lemongrass, fresh and crispy, and persistent finish. Always a very reliable wine and great value for money from this property. 92p.

La Mission Haut Brion - different story here compared to brother property, Haut Brion. More open and handling out the good things. Dense and tight, but also incredibly elegant and refined. Well-packed with concentrated blackcurrants and fat tannin. Creamy and with great complexity and a big structure. Mega long finish. 98-99p (98-99p).

Pape Clement - 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. An amiable and approachable wine with layers of luscious fruit and grained tannin. All that kept in subtle form without traces of extraction and not too much modern style. Fresh, spicy blackcurrants with smoky touch and velvety texture. A superb effort. 93-94p (93-94p).

Le Petit Haut Lafitte – powerful and intense on the nose, dark chocolate and black cherries, crunchy fruit and tannin, plenty of luscious blackcurrants, lovely complexity, well-balanced and persistent aftertaste. 92+p (92p).

Le Petit Haut Lafitte white –  on the light side, crunchy, round and pleasant. Nice fruity finish. 90p (92p).

Rochemorin red - smoky blackcurrants, fine structure, polished on the palate with creamy berries, silky texture, fine length and persistent finish. Splendid effort. 90p (91-92p).

Rochemorin white - similar to its sister property, Cruzeau. A distinct nose of green apple and acacia flower, fine acidity and complexity, crispy taste, fine structure and lingering finish. Textbook white wine for Pessac-Leognan and a reliable one. 91p (91p).

Rouillac red - aromatic blackcurrants, sappy and vibrant, creamy berries and fine tannin on the palate, well-structured and harmonious. Persistent finish. Sold effort. 88-89p.

Rouillac white -  on the light side, nice acidity, tasty pineapple and pear, crispy, harmonious and lingering finish. 87p.

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). 

Smith Haut Lafitte - lots of aromatic blackcurrants and black cherries on the nose, powerful on the palate with a strong backbone, big concentration, multilayered and with great length. Long, long finish. Impressive effort. 96p (95-96p).

Smith Haut Lafitte white fresh pineapple, lemongrass and citrus, crispy with tension on the palate, fine acidity and intensity, persistent finish. 93p (94p).

Le Thil - dark aromatic berries, sleek and harmonious, silky fruit and tannin, A nicely constructed wine with a solid backbone and delicate finish. 90p (90p).

Medoc & Haut Medoc

Belgrave CC - 68% Cabernet Sauvignon + 30% Merlot + 2% Petit Verdot. Delicate nose of ripe blackcurrants, well-balanced and silky on the palate with fine-grained tannin. Lingering finish. Catchy wine. 90-91p.

Benjamin de Marojallia - 57% Merlot + 43% Cabernet Sauvignon. Anonymous on the nose, Ok on the palate. Round and pleasant. Chunky stuff. Not at all up to the level of other properties owned by Philippe Porcheron (Marojallia and Clos Margalaine). 84p.

Bibian - Light and uncomplicated wine that offered tasty fruit and soft tannin in a smooth package but not anything else worth mentioning. It's an everyday wine. 84p.

Bournac CB (Medoc) - elegant and attractive wine with a lovely cherry nose, silky berries and soft tannin on the palate. Tasteful. Smooth finish. Much pleasure here. 88p.

Camensac CC - 50% Cabernet Sauvignon + 50% Merlot. A nicely concentrated wine with a meaty structure, creamy tannins, aromatic and tasty black fruit. Velvety texture and smooth, silky finish. It lacks maybe a little vibrancy and length. 89p.  

Cantemerle CC - 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot. Quite a seductive nose of blackcurrants, exquisite and stylish. For me, it was a bit light on the palate and lacked some more depth and length. 89-90p.

La Cardonne CBS (Medoc) - 50% Merlot , 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Fresh and aromatic dark berries, sappy, fine acidity, well-balanced, sleek and with smooth tannin. Lovely wine. 90p.(90p).

du Cartillon CBS - 37% Merlot,  37% Petit Verdot and 26% Cabernet Sauvignon. Quite an unusual blend here with a large portion of Petit Verdot. The average age of the vines planted here is 14 years, which means a young category. The wine itself was a well-made one with aromatic and spicy blackcurrants on the nose, a nicely structured palate with tasty fruit and soft tannin, and a nice fruity finish. Terrific effort. 88p.

La Chandelliere CB (Medoc) -  similar in style to Bournac. Elegant and attractive wine with a lovely cherry nose, silky berries and soft tannin on the palate. Tasteful. Smooth finish. Much pleasure here. 88p.

Clos Manou (Medoc) -  52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc. This property is a Bordeaux insider favourite, and 2018's been my first "meeting" with the wine. It's located in Saint-Christoly-Medoc commune in north Medoc. The wine here didn't disappoint - very impressive on the nose with intense dark cherries and tobacco, full-bodied on the palate, creamy berries and fat tannin, polished, complex with fine depth and length. Intelligent and careful winemaking by the owners. Well-deserved 92-93p.

Cuvée Jean Gautreau - 70 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 30 % Merlot. This wine is a unique selection of 15 barrels out of 60. The choice of these is made after a 1-year stay in the barrel by the property's oenologist, Jean Gautreau and Sylvie Gautreau. This special cuvée has more Cabernet Sauvignon than Grand Vin and is intended to show another version of Grand Vin by mixing these 15 barrels. To avoid confusion between Grand Vin and this cuvée, the bottle here is brown and taller and has another shape of the neck. The wine itself, then? It is very similar to Grand Vin but tastes denser and fatter with some more intense cigar box and tobacco leaf flavour. For sure, it's remarkably stupendous stuff! 95+p.

La Demoiselle de Sociando Mallet - 64% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon. Second wine of Sociando Mallet. Mint caramels on the nose, sappy, well-knitted on the palate with some power, delicate balance and nuanced complexity and long meaty finish. Even better after bottling. It's a superb effort. 90p.

Doyac CBS  - 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. It had quite an attractive and discrete aroma of rose and violet on the nose, polished and lively on the palate with a lovely intensity of red fruit, well-structured, and smooth fruity aftertaste. A nicely made wine. 88-89p.

Escot CB (Medoc) - 58% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petit Verdot. It was a light, supple, charming and round wine. It offers tasty fruit and soft tannin. Already drinkable. 87p.

d'Escurac (Medoc) - 60% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. It's the first vintage made by a daughter of the owner, Anne Landureau. It had an exquisite nose of black cherries and blueberries, spicy black fruit on the palate assisted by juicy tannin, lively and well-composed, and excellent structure and length. Lovely balance and persistent finish. Terrific effort. 91+p.

Les Grands Chenes - 60% Merlot + 40% Merlot. Fresh and aromatic on the nose with plenty of blueberries and cherries, well-constructed, polished on the palate with a velvety texture, luscious fruit and ripe tannin, nice acidity and persistent finish. 90p.

Greysac CBS - 65% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 10% Petit Verdot. Among the four properties Jean Guyon owns, Haut Condissas, Rollan de By and Tour Seran. It is very cherry on the nose and palate, earthy, some oak, acidity, balanced, and firm aftertaste. Solid effort. 89p.

Griviere (Medoc) -  60% Merlot + 40% Merlot. There is a good portion of aromatic cherries and blackcurrants, well-knitted, soft tannin and nice acidity, and smooth finish. Ready to drink. 86p.

Haut Condissas - 60% Merlot, 20% Petit Verdot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. Aromatic morello cherries on the nose and palate, a dash of truffy and dusty tones, harmonious and well-structured, creamy cherries and grained tannin. Full cherry aftertaste. A lovely wine with much attraction. 91p.

La Lagune CC - 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and it's stated on the label. It was a big surprise to receive this bottle for tasting as I didn't expect it to be made because of two hail storms during the summer of 2018, one in May and the second one in July. The first one didn't affect the best plots, but the latter was quite destructive by ravaging through the main vineyard. Happily, some Cabernet Sauvignon plots came unscathed and passed La Lagune's manager Caroline Frey's demands quality-wise. I don't know if it'll be on sale commercially. It's a beautiful effort and 100% in the property's style, despite missing the contribution of other grape varieties in the blend. I've immense praise for Caroline Frey for maintaining the style of the wine! You have here a fabulous and pure nose of blackcurrants, the same classy fruit on the palate with energy and vibrancy, astonishing complexity, sheer finesse and elegance. The excellently lingering finish completes this sensual wine! 95-96p.

de Lamarque45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot. This wine's a well-made one with aromatic and spicy blackcurrants/raspberries on the nose, a nicely structured palate with tasty fruit and soft tannin, and a nice fruity finish. Terrific effort. 87p.

Lanessan - plenty of aromatic blackcurrants on the nose and palate, fresh, vibrant, well-structured and silky, fine acidity, harmonious,  fine length and persistent finish. Splendid. 91p.

Lestage Simon CBE - Delicate aroma of ripe blackcurrants and yellow-red cherries on the nose, silky berries on the palate, sappy, and nice acidity, well-balanced and persistent finish. A well-made wine with an identity. 89p.

Loudenne (Medoc) - correct wine, nicely made, chunky, fruity, round and pleasant. 84p.

Potensac (Medoc) - 45% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Fresh, aromatic cherries and blackcurrants, vivid and well-structured, velvety texture, fine ripe tannin, complex and persistent finish. In my honest opinion, it's the best wine from this property ever produced. 91p (89p).

Ramafort CB (Medoc) - 50% Merlot + 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. Spicy berries on the nose and palate, polished, delicate fruit, smooth tannin, nice balance. Drinks well already. 87p.

Rollan de By (Medoc) - 70% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 10% Petit Verdot. similar to Haut Condissas in the quality. Delicious raspberry drops, creamy cherries and blackcurrants, well supported by ripe tannin and bright acidity. Fine balance, structure and persistent finish. Terrific effort 92p (92p).

Sociando Mallet 55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Black label instead of usual white one to celebrate the 50th vintage made by Jean Gautreau. Densely aromatic with dark berries and some mint, creamy on the palate with strong backbone, great precision and focus, dense and long, excellent structure, depth and complexity. As thrilling as from barrel. It gives several classified growths run for their money. 95p (95p).

La Tour Carnet CC - 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Splendid nose of spicy blackcurrants, finely composed on the palate, fresh and vibrant fruit, acidity well-present, persistent finish. Fine quality. 91p.

Tour Seran CBS (Medoc) - 65% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 10% Petit Verdot. Similar to Rollan de By. More concentrated and longer. Terrific wine as well. 92p.

de Villegeorge - same owner as La Tour Bessan in Saint-Estephe (Marie-Laure Lurton). Plenty of fragrant blackcurrants and cherries, acidity to keep everything in good order, well-knitted, sappy, smooth tannin, lush finish. Very nice effort. 90p.

Listrac

Cap Leon Veyrin - 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and  5% Petit Verdot. It was very nicely made wine overall, well-structured on the palate with earthy and spicy tones, tasteful dark berries supported by acidity. Nice length and firm aftertaste. Very typical in style for Listrac. 88p.

Rose Sainte-Croix - 60% Cabernet Sauvignon + 40% Merlot. Spicy fruit and a good bite on the palate, reasonably structured. Short aftertaste. Correct wine but relatively lean. 86p.

Moulis

Boyqueyran - 57% Merlot + 43% Cabernet Sauvignon. A nice portion of aromatic raspberries on the nose and polished on the palate with nice acidity and structure, good balance, sappy, and a smooth aftertaste. 87-88p.

Chasse-Spleen - this wine displays intense black cherries on the nose, fresh and energetic on the palate, fine tannin and splendid acidity, complexity, length and with a persistent aftertaste. Splendid effort. 91p.

Mauvesin Barton -  plenty of intense black cherries/blueberries on the nose, vibrant and lively on the palate, creamy berries and grained tannin, pleasing complexity and meaty finish. Splendid wine as well. 91+p.

Margaux

Many fabulous wines with few exceptions. Some huge surprises. Generally, wines from this commune have performed better from the bottle than from the barrel. 

d'Arsac CBE - 70% Cabernet Sauvignon + 30% Merlot. It was promoted to Cru Bourgeois Exceptionel at the latest classification. Tobacco leaves mixed with spicy black cherries on the nose, well-structured on the palate with fine acidity and bite. It finishes well with a meaty aftertaste. 88+p.

Boyd Cantenac CC - 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot and 6% Cabernet Franc. I rarely taste wines from this property, but this time I was lucky! Guillemet family owns this property, and vinification is traditional. I've to say I was pretty impressed by this 2018. Fabulous nose of grilled bacon and fresh coffee beans, deliciously scented fruit on the palate and grained tannin, excellent acidity and long persistent finish. Maybe it lacks a bit more density compared to top wines, but who cares. This is a drop-dead gorgeous wine! 94p.

Brane Cantenac CC - 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 0.5% of Petit Verdot and Malbec. Typical Margaux elegance and finesse, combined with a powerful approach. Strong structure, lovely complexity, great interplay between aromatic berries and creamy tannin on the palate, and long finish. It's an impressive effort, indeed. 95p (94-95p).

Cantenac Brown CC - 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc. It's a kind of modern wine with upfront fruit, energetic and vibrant, aromatic and luscious on the palate with splendid acidity and persistent finish. Gorgeous wine. 94p (94p).

Clos Margalaine - 50% Cabernet Sauvignon + 50% Merlot. The owner is Domaines Philippe Porcheron, which also has another vineyard in the commune, Marojallia. Freshness, aromatic raspberries, succulent, vibrant, well-knitted, polished, luscious fruit in good co-operation with grained tannin. Fine effort. 92p.

Confidence de Margaux - 50% Cabernet Sauvignon +  50% Merlot. This small property is owned and run by Dominique Befve, the 2nd Cru Classe property manager, Lascombes, in the same commune. This wine caught one's attention immediately with an aroma of grilled bacon and roasted coffee beans on the nose, elegance on the palate with silky fruit and grained tannin, fine acidity and lovely structiúre. Seductive and subtle. Very Margaux style! 92p.

Dauzac CC - 70% Cabernet Sauvignon + 30% Merlot. Fine, fine aromatic nose of grilled bacon, cigar box and coffee beans, fresh and livid, concentrated with splendid structure and balance, creamy, velvety tannin and lingering finish. High quality here. 94p (94p).

Desmirail CC - 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot. Entertains with a seductive and fragrant nose of blackcurrants and black cherries, luscious berries and grained tannin on the palate, vibrancy, finesse, and it ends with a fine and lingering finish. Kind of a heartbreaker wine. 93p (94p).

Ferriere CC - 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. It was lovely on the nose with fragrant blackcurrants, potent, fine structure and complexity, lively, elegant, and with a smooth aftertaste. A little change of style compared with the barrel sample, which showed more power and a more tannic approach. Now it's more aromatic, polished, and truly in Margaux commune's style. 92+p (94p).

La Fortune - fragrant black cherries on the nose, lush berries on the palate, nicely structured, round and pleasant. Smooth aftertaste. Enjoyable and ready to be consumed. 88p.

Giscours CC - 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot. Intense nose of red meat and tobacco leaves, very complex and powerful on the palate, strong backbone, plenty of dark berries and fat tannin, long-lasting finish. It brings a big smile to your face! 95p (95p).

La Gurgue - 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 8% Petit Verdot. Quite nice wine with tasty fruit and tannin, round and pleasant. 88p.

Haut Breton Larigaudiere - quite fine on the nose with aromatic morello cherries and truffles, dusty, finely composed on the palate with creamy berries and ripe tannin, harmonious. Solid effort. 88p.

d'Issan CC - 60% Cabernet Sauvignon + 40% Merlot. True to Margaux style with elegance, finesse, velvety texture, silky fruit and tannin. Subtle complexity and smooth aftertaste. Lovely effort. 93p (93p).

Kirwan CC - 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 13% Petit Verdot. Deliciously aromatic and subtle on the nose, really well-equipped on the palate with luscious blackcurrant and grained tannin, vivid and complex, and long lingering finish. Eminent wine. 94-95p (94-95p).

Lascombes CC - 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. It had a sensual and aromatic nose of grilled bacon and coffee beans, great elegance and finesse, powerful, sophisticated touch, silky berries and very finely grained tannin. It's so true and classy Margaux wine as it can be! Wonderfully captivating effort. Improved a lot compared to barrel sample! 95+p (93-94p).

Malescot St. Exupery CC - 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. In earlier vintages, I found this property to produce slightly too extracted and overdone wines. The great news is that you won't find anything like that in 2018! There are intense blackcurrants and tobacco leaves on the nose, a lot of elegance and finesse mixed with great structure, velvety texture, silky fruit and tannin. Fine complexity and length. An eminent and seductive wine. 94p (93-94p).

Margaux 1. Growth - 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Impressed greatly with an incredibly scented nose, elegance, sophisticated and refined touch, astonishing complexity, and length. Simply a proper "iron fist in the velvet glove"! Amazing stuff. 99-100p (98-100p).

Marojallia - 70% Cabernet Sauvignon + 30% Merlot. It was a wine made in a modern way. One tastes the extraction, but this wine's for sure not overdone! Potent with strong backbone, black tea and blackberries/blackcurrants, well-structured, luscious fruit, fat tannin and long lingering finish. Not that typical for the commune but splendidly well-made, and it indeed will have many fans out there. 92-93p. 

Marquis de Terme CC - 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot.  It is an attractive wine with plenty of lush and tasty fruit supported by grained tannin, round and elegant with a delicate and soft finish, but it could be a bit denser and longer on the palate. It tasted stronger and better from the barrel. Hopefully, it'll improve in the future. 91-92p (94p).

Pavillon Rouge de Margaux - 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 9% Petit Verdot. It was potent and strong with excellent structure and backbone, creamy blackcurrants and fat tannin, long, lush finish. The best vintage of this wine I've tasted yet. 94p (94p). 

Pouget CC49% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot. The same owner as at Boyd Cantenac, and the style of the wine is similar. Delicate aroma of grilled bacon and fresh coffee beans, a bit lighter than Boyd Cantenac, but deliciously well-balanced, elegant and fruity with a lush palate and lingering finish. I don't taste wines from this property too often, but this 2018 is the best vintage I've yet experienced for this property. 93p.

Prieure Lichine CC - 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. It was an elegant wine with finesse, a bit light on the palate, silky and tasty fruit, tasty and subtle finish. Not as expressive as from barrel, but hopefully, it'll improve in the future. 91-92p (93p). 

Rauzan Gassies CC - 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 48% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. The same team runs it as at Croizet Bages in Pauillac, twins Jean-Philippe Quié and his sister Anne-Francoise, young generation of the Quié family. Lovely and fragrant nose of raspberries and black cherries, velvety fruit and tannin on the palate, elegant and seductive, smooth and lingering finish. Improved significantly in recent vintages. 93-94p (94p).

Rauzan Segla CC - 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Fresh and vibrant, dense, tight and creamy, great complexity and structure, sophisticated, great balance and very long aftertaste. Great, great future. Excellent effort. 96p (96p). 

Ségla - second wine of Rauzan Segla - lovely on the nose with fresh blackcurrants, velvety texture, sappy and well-knitted on the palate, well-structured and with persistent finish. 91p.

du Tertre CC - 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc and 14% Petit Verdot. Fine nose of tobacco box, black currants and black cherries. Very elegant and sleek with finesse, velvety texture, well-structured and persistent finish. 93p (93p).

La Tour Bessan - fresh raspberries and blackcurrants on the nose and palate, vivid and well-constructed, elegant, juicy, tasty, acidity well present. Persistent finish. A wine with a nice personality. 90p.

Saint Julien

I didn't have that many wines from this commune, but I absolutely can't complain about the ones I tasted. Some of them have been genuinely emphatic. Therefore, I disagree with a famous wine critic, and imho a few of them deserve hallelujah praise for different reasons. 

Beychevelle CC - 50% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. Intense aroma of black fruit, great structure and complexity on the palate, silky berries and tannin, creamy and vibrant, lingering long finish. Classy, classy wine! 95p (95p).

Branaire Ducru CC - 58% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Plenty of fragrant raspberries on the nose, elegant with finesse on the palate, sleek with fine balance and smooth finish. 93p (94p).

Clos de Marquis -  64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc. Dense, tight, concentrated black cherries, blackcurrants and tobacco, classy elegance, sappy and luscious on the palate, velvety texture, layered and refined. An utterly brilliant wine! 95p (94-95p).

La Croix Ducru Beaucaillou - 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot. It's not the second wine of Ducru Beaucaillou, meaning made from declassified grapes. Grapes for this wine come from separate parcels in Ducru Beaucaillou's vineyard. It was potent and intense wine with a very distinctive blackcurrant/black cherry flavour, creamy black fruit on the palate with corresponding fine acidity, splendid complexity, and a long meaty finish. Splendid effort for the vintage. 93p (93p).

Ducru Beaucaillou CC - 85% Cabernet Sauvignon + 15% Merlot. It is a giant of a wine that combines in a  perfect way power and elegance, incredibly well-constructed and incredibly complex with riveting structure. Creamy fruit and exquisitely grained tannin, perfect balance. Classy and stylish. It must be the best wine from this property in recent times I've ever tasted! 98-99 p (98-99 p).

Lagrange CC - 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. Aromatic black cherries and cassis on the nose, velvety texture, focused, tasty, sleek and elegant, lingering finish. Beautiful effort. 93p (93p).

Langoa Barton CC - 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc. Sister property to Leoville Barton. Not that different from her big "sister" in terms of the quality. Big scaled on the nose and palate with creamy blackcurrants and some graphite, fat tannin, strong backbone and striking complexity. Classy stuff as well. 94+p (94p).  

Leoville Barton CC - 82% Cabernet Sauvignon + 18% Merlot. A very detailed and refined nose of high-quality blackcurrants mixed with tobacco and mint. Sophisticated and very stylish, striking balance and multi-layered Great complexity, structure and length. A pin-point traditional St.Julien wine which can last for many decades. No modern vinification frills here! Upper-class stuff! 97p (95-96p).

Leoville Las Cases CC - 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc. It was very concentrated and intense wine, full of intense blackcurrants on the nose and palate, luscious fruit and grained tannin, very sophisticated and utterly complex. Perfectly balanced with immaculate structure. This wine wasn't quite a kind of bulldozer, merely an athletic man moving like a ballerina. 99p (99p).

Leoville Poyferre CC -  62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. You were enjoying a very dense nose of intense blackcurrants and tobacco leaves. Exquisitely concentrated and multilayered, plenty of black fruit and fat tannin, great depth, complexity and length, strong structure and long, long finish. This wine is just so, so sublime. 97p. (95-96p).

M de Moulin Riche - 69% Petit Verdot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Merlot. It's the second label of Moulin Riche and supposedly a lighter version of Grand Vin. It wasn't with such a ridiculously high percentage of Petit Verdot in the blend!  This grape variety was for sure ripe á point when harvested. It is better to be ready because this wine is an iron fist in disguise and doesn't take any prisoners!! Splendid effort. 91+p.

Moulin Riche - 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 12% Petit Verdot. Same owners as Leoville Poyferre. I don't come across wines from this property very often, but this 2018 has been a revelation. Sparky, lively and vibrant. It's easy to notice Petit Verdot's contribution here as it provides a strong backbone and energy. All that results in fat and creamy palate, excellent complexity, plenty of black fruit and a long meaty finish.  A badass wine! 94p. 

Pavillon de Leoville Poyferre - 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot. The second label of Leoville Poyferre showing the same acceptable characteristics as Grand Vin but less intense and less concentrated. More approachable right now. 90-91p. 

Saint-Pierre CC - 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. It was very inviting on the nose with the fragrance of blackcurrant and cherries, elegant and sleek, bright acidity, well-knitted, and with a smooth finish. Fine effort. 93p (93p).

Pauillac

This commune's considered among the most successful ones in the 2018 vintage. I fully agree with that. Several wines are just mind-boggling and future legends!

d'Armailhac CC - 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. A gorgeous wine, which reminds a lot of sister property Clerc Milon. Same silkiness and opulence. Same splendid quality.  92-93p (92-93p).

Batailley CC - 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc. This one was a bit old school Pauillac with a tannic approach, well-structured, and strong backbone. The fruit here is not allowed here to move freely around yet. Maybe in 5-10 years. Different from the barrel sample, which showed more elegance and a more aromatic approach. 92p (93p).

Carruades de Lafite - 56.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 5.5% Cabernet Franc. 13.4% alcohol! Densely aromatic cherries, a fruit bomb, fresh but massive tannin, splendid depth and fine length. In 2018, the grapes selected for this wine underwent some changes after analysing soil characteristics to obtain more precision. The best Carruades ever produced imho! 93p (93p). 

Clerc Milon CC - 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 1% Carmenere. When tasted in April 2019 during primeur, property's manager,  Philippe Dhalluin, told me that in his opinion, it's the best wine for the property since 1986. He also commented on two grape varieties in this wine, Petit Verdot and Carmenere - "Petit Verdot is a difficult grape to take care of and needs a lot of attention during the growing season. But Carmenere is even more difficult and needs a double amount of care and attention!  Both varieties fully deserve their nickname "enfant terrible"! I haven't tasted many vintages from this property before 2000. Still, this 2018 is opulent and subtle, creamy, seductive and elegant with the fruit and tannin's silkiness, fine complexity, and lovely, long-lasting finish. Highly entertaining wine. 93p (93p).

Croizet Bages CC - 50% Cabernet Sauvignon + 50% Merlot. The young generation of the Quié family, Jean-Philippe Quié and his sister Anne-Francoise pull strings here and at Rauzan Gassies in Margaux commune. They try very hard to improve wine here, and 2018 is a superb effort. It was quite an aromatic, complex and well-composed wine with elegance and finesse. Light-footed a bit on the palate but delicate, seductive and tasty. No reason at all to complain. 92p (93p).

Duhart Milon CC - 65% Cabernet Sauvignon + 35% Merlot. It was very intense on the nose, full of tobacco, grilled bacon and cigar box flavours, chewy and meaty, excellently structured, very complex, and long. An utterly impressive wine. 93-94p (93-94p).

Fonbadet - 75% Cabernet Sauvignon + 25% Merlot. Grapes come from vineyards placed in different parts of the commune. Close to Mouton Rothschild, close to Lynch Bages and close to Latour/Pichon Comtesse. Intense black cherries, tobacco leaves and pencil on the nose, creamy blackcurrants on the palate are well-supported by fine acidity, complex and persistent finish. Very true to the style of Pauillac commune and a splendid effort. 92-93p.

Grand Puy Ducasse CC - 52 % Merlot + 48% Cabernet Sauvignon. Powerful, meaty and tight, strong backbone and persistent finish. Excellent balance. Fine complexity and length. A well-made, characterful and stylish Pauillac. 94p (93-94p).

Les Griffons de Pichon Baron - 52 % Merlot + 48% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromatic black cherries, full-bodied, creamy and fat, potent, splendid acidity, lush meaty finish. Superb second wine. 92p (92p).

Haut Bages Liberal CC - 79% Cabernet Sauvignon + 21% Merlot. It was a very nicely made wine. Much in the style of Croizet Bages. Light, sappy, tasty and with a smooth finish. 91+p (93p). 

Haut Batailley CC - 59% Cabernet Sauvignon + 41% Merlot. Same owner as Lynch Bages. A very distinct flavour of cinnamon, spicy blackcurrants and tobacco leaf on the nose. Powerful wine but with grace. Excellent structure and complexity, vibrant and with a persistent aftertaste. It impresses me a lot! 94p.

Lafite 1. Growth - 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot. Please note one thing here - the alcohol level stops at 13.6%! It was a monster of a wine, both powerful and elegant, incredibly aromatic on the nose, thick, dense, fat fruit and tannin, awesome structure and complexity, mega long finish. Ballerina moves. Surely one of the legendary wines in the 2018 vintage! 100p (100p). 

Lynch Bages CC - 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. This wine was quite impressive on the nose with classy blackcurrants, dense and powerful on the palate, vibrant and in perfect balance, strikingly complex and multilayered. Long and meaty finish. Excellent. 94-95p (93-94p)

Lynch Moussas CC - 72 % Cabernet Sauvignon + 28% Merlot. This property's improved a lot in recent years, especially since the 2015 vintage. Intense blackcurrants and grilled bacon on the nose, seductive and creamy on the palate, silky fruit and grained tannin. Splendid concentration and delightful taste. Long and velvety finish. Not no less than impressive effort here! 93+p (93p).

Mouton Rothschild 1. Growth - 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Upper-class nose and which was extremely distinctive, deep and intense. Layers and layers of creamy fruit and fat tannin cover the palate. Unique structure and complexity, sophisticated and thrillingly long finish. This wine ticks all the boxes. Another legend in the making for sure! 99-100p.

Pauillac - 60% Cabernet Sauvignon + 40% Merlot. Made by the Peyronie family, owners of Fonbadet. Grapes for this wine come mainly from the parcel between Latour and Pichon Comtesse. Low yield - only 20hl/ha. More intense and more concentrated than Fonbadet and with more depth and length. A lot of creamy blackcurrants on the palate. Strong backbone. As stylish Pauillac as Fonbadet. Impressive effort. 93+p.

Pedesclaux CC - 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. Dense dark berries on the nose, luscious fruit and fine tannin on the palate, strong backbone, persistent aftertaste. Splendid wine represents its district quite well. 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 CC - 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 CC - 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. This wine seemed 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 the 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).

Pontet Canet CC - 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Yield only 10 hl/ha due to mildew in the spring. I wrote this after tasting from the barrel - "This vintage is by no means a powerhouse at Pontet Canet, merely an elegant wine with much finesse, style, great complexity and excellent length." Now in the bottle and the description is different! Intense and deep nose of tobacco leaf, cigar box and mint on the nose, strong and tight on the palate, creamy blackcurrants and fat tannin, exquisite complexity and long-lasting aftertaste. Awesome stuff. 97p (96p).

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).

Saint Estephe

Many beautiful wines here, and I simply can't complain!! Together with the neighbouring commune, Pauillac, the strongest one quality-wise in the 2018 vintage.

Andron Blanquet - 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. Same owner as its closest neighbour, Cos Labory (Audoy family). Spicy blackcurrants on the nose and palate, medium concentrated, bright and fresh, polished and harmonious, tasteful and with a nice meaty finish. Well-made wine. 88p.

Beau Site - seductive on the nose with fragrant blackberries and cherries, velvety texture, deliciously fruity, elegant tannin and lingering finish. It tastes just fine. 90p.

Bernard Magrez - full-bodied with nice fruit and tannin, rather polished and commercial in appearance, earthy and a little bit rough. A monotonous one, I'm afraid. 85p.

Le Boscq CBE - 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot. Notes of cigar box and spicy blackcurrants on the nose, dark fruit and strong tannin, complementing acidity, sappy, and everything in fine balance, meaty finish. Rather a wine to drink with food than one accompanying conversation. 91p.

Calon Segur CC - 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 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 CC - 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, This wine did hit for real "bull's eye" in 2018! It was an extraordinary effort, big, iron-strong backbone, so concentrated and fat so that somebody could slice it 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).

Cos Labory CC - 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 8% Petit Verdot. Stylish, succulent, lively, complex, creamy berries and grained tannin. Quite sleek and well-trimmed on the palate with fine balance and length. Appetising. 92-93p (93p).

La Croix St. Estephe - 56% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Cabernet Franc. Le Crock's second wine provides a lighter version of Grand Vin with more forward fruit, roundness, and softer tannin. 87p.

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 Crock CBE - 45% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. Same owner as Leoville Poyferre and Moulin Riche. Typical for the commune with a dense approach, strong backbone, immense depth and length, juicy palate and persistent finish. Excellent. 92p.

Haut Marbuzet - 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc. This property's always had its own style compared with its peers in Saint-Estephe. Lusher, more upfront fruit and more elegance. Catchy aromas of roasted coffee beans and cherries, silky fruit and tannin, complex and well-defined on the palate with a lot of grace and finesse. A very seductive effort. 94p (93-94p).

La Haye - discreet on the nose, freshly crushed berries on the palate, sappy, nice acidity, ripe blackcurrants and smooth tannin. Harmonious and lingering aftertaste. Solid effort. 87-88p.

Lafon Rochet CC - 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc. Now in the bottle, and this wine tastes a bit leaner than from barrel. However, there is nothing to complain, because you have enough fragrant dark berries on the nose, crunchy blackcurrants on the palate, grained tannin, fine composition and a long finish. 93-94p (94p).

Lilian Ladouys CBE - fragrant black cherries and blueberries on the nose, dense and tight approach with spicy berries on the palate, earthy, strong backbone, meaty finish. A bit raw at the moment, so it needs several years to soften up. Splendid effort. 92p.

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).

Meyney -  42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 18% Petit Verdot. 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. Best for this property imho in the last 25 years and a steal for the money! 94+p (94+p).

Montrose CC - 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Classic Montrose and for the district. Strong and powerful, "an iron fist in the velvet glove"! Bulldozering but moving elegantly. Creamy and with awesome complexity and length. Fatness and great 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).

Petit Bocq CBS - kind of powerful on the nose and palate, very ripe fruit but not crossing the overripe line, fine structure, acidity well-present. Firm finish. Traditional style. 87-88p.

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 CBE - 57% Cabernet Sauvignon + 43% Merlot. Superb nose of grilled bacon and tobacco. Mighty wine with a velvety texture, silky fruit and tannin, splendid complexity, a magnificent structure, and a long finish. Great effort for the vintage. Fully on the level quality-wise with several Crus Classes! It's the first vintage of the new owner. Tasted three times from the barrel, once from the bottle. 94-95p (93-94p).

Tour des Termes CBS - 65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet and 5% Petit Verdot. Full and intense nose of black cherries with a dash of dark chocolate and mint. It's powerful and vibrant on the palate with creamy fruit and fat tannin, juicy and terror-driven, complex, and long lingering finish. Excellent effort! 92p.

Tour Saint Fort CB - aromatic blackcurrants and blueberries on the nose and palate, polished and silky with luscious fruit and smooth tannin, fine structure, harmonious and persistent finish. Lovely wine. 90p.

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

Weather conditions weren't favourable for the 2018 vintage to be excellent. The funny, or I would say the remarkable thing is that this district is "always" better in vintages ending with 1,3, 5, 7 and 9. 2018 from the bottle has, for the most part, performed slightly better than from barrel with several wines excelling themselves. 

d'Arche - 90% Semillon + 10% Sauvignon Blanc. Intense peach and honey melon flavours, clementines/mandarins on the palate. All that is supported by excellent acidity and fine balance. Deliciously honeyed finish. Significantly better from the bottle. Lovely effort. 92p (90p).

Broustet - acacia honey, honey melon on the nose, quite elegant, nice concentration, some acidity, honeyed finish. Seductive and tasty. 90-91p (91p).  

Cantegril - a nice flavour of orange peel and honey melon, pleasant and tasty, good sweetness and balance. 86p.

Clos Haut Peyraguey - 97% Semillon + 3% Sauvignon Blanc. Aromatic pineapple and orange peel, fresh and delicate, stylish, nice acidity, quite elegant and with finesse. 92+p (94p).

Coutet - 75% Semillon, 23% Sauvignon Blanc and 2% Muscadelle - fresh and intense nose of pineapple, peach and mango, creamy on the palate, excellent acidity, finesse and sophisticated touch, complex with a long honeyed finish. This wine did improve significantly compared to the barrel sample, and I underrated it then. Truly eminent wine. 94+p (92p).

Doisy Daëne - 92% Semillon, 7.5% Sauvignon Blanc and 0.5% Muscadelle. It was very intense on the nose with sweet pineapple, orange peel and peach, creamy fruit on the palate well supported by splendid acidity. Quite complex and with caressing finish. Fine effort. 93p (92p).

Doisy Vedrines - 80% Semillon, 15% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Muscadelle. Acacia honey and peach on the nose, quite elegant with finesse, fine acidity and depth on the palate, lingering finish. Tasteful and attractive. 92p.

Filhot - 50% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Muscadelle.  Acacia honey, pineapple and peach on the nose, elegance and finesse, fine fruit sweetness and corresponding acidity, honeyed aftertaste. Tasteful and attractive. 92-93p (92p).

Lafaurie Peyraguey - 93% Semillon, 6% Sauvignon Blanc and 1% Muscadelle. Freshness and finesse, refined and creamy, red grapefruit and some sweet pineapple, fine acidity, sheer elegance and complexity. Long, long honeyed finish. It's just sublime stuff. 95+p (96p).

Lamothe Guignard - fresh citrus and guava on the nose, nice intensity, fine taste of peach and apricot on the palate, nice acidity and subtle finish. 91p (90p).

Lions de Suduiraut - honey melon,  mango, and orange peel marinated in sugar, delicate sweetness, brown sugar flavour on the palate, and attractive and easy going. Pretty nice second label of Suduiraut. 87p.

de Myrat - 90% Semillon, 6% Sauvignon Blanc and 4% Muscadelle. Elegant nose of acacia honey, citrus and pineapple, delicate with fine sweetness, acidity well-present, lingering finish. Attractive. 92-93p (94p).

Rabaud Promis - 90% Semillon and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. I start with an eye-catching bottle, heavy stuff, and it looks like it's made from crystal. It's a kind of necklace containing four paper clips. One with QR scan to go directly to property's website, second explaining how to make Rabaud French Martini, third explaining how to use to large screw cap and fourth containing the property's history. All that in French and English. Spectacular and smart, wouldn't you say?! What about the liquid inside the bottle? As spectacular as the bottle? Yes, very close indeed. I've to say that I've never tasted so exciting vintage from this property! Plenty of peaches and apricots, sweet pineapple and mango, remarkable finesse and elegance, rich, splendid acidity and long aftertaste full of honey. Striking change to the better compared with the barrel sample. Simply amazing for the vintage! 95p (92p).

Raymond Lafon - very aromatic wine with the scent of pineapple, guava and mango, elegance, excellent acidity, sophisticated touch, and long finish. 95p (95p).

Rayne Vigneau - 76% Semillon + 24% Sauvignon Blanc. This property has produced excellent wines in recent vintages, and their 2018 fits well in the description. Excellent intensity on nose and palate, great flair, elegance and precision, freshness and nice acidity. Rich and quite complex. Lingering aftertaste. Classy stuff. 94p (94p).

Romer du Hayot - pleasant and round with some citrus and grapefruit flavours, very enjoyable and tasty. Nice acidity and sweetness. Lightly honeyed aftertaste. 90p.

Sigalas Rabaud - aromatic nose of mango and sweet grapefruit, fresh, fine sweetness and corresponding acidity on the palate, great flair and finesse. Smooth and honeyed finish. 93-94p (94p).

Suau - 100% Semillon. Nice botrytised flavours of acacia honey, peach and honey melon on the nose and sweet pineapple on the palate. Nice acidity and sweetness, complex and with orange marmalade flavour on the finish.  91p (92p).

Suduiraut - 100% Semillon. Rich and concentrated, red grapefruit and peach, very refined and elegant, fine acidity and length. Fine aftertaste with heather honey. Excellent effort. 94+p (94p)

La Tour Blanche - 80% Semillon, 10% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Muscadelle. Fresh and elegant with pineapple and peach, fine sweetness and corresponding acidity, long finish. 92+p (94p).

Yquem - 85% Semillon + 10% Sauvignon Blanc. Rich and fat with great structure and big intensity. Creamy and multilayered. Loads of everything. Very, very long honeyed finish. It's fantastic stuff! 97p. 

Right Bank:

Cotes de Bourg/St.Georges-de-Saint-Emilion

Cap St. George - 82% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. Freshness and nose full of fragrant roses and raspberries, powerful on the palate, spicy, silky and complex, tasteful and with a meaty finish. Impressively well-made wine. Great value for the money. 92-93p (92-93p).

Roc de Cambes -  comes from Cotes de Bourg and is made by magician winemaker Francois Mitjavile from Tertre Roteboeuf. 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).

St. Georges - 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. You get a pleasant, round and tasty wine with nicely scented fruit (ripe raspberries), which already is quite enjoyable. 87p.

Canon-Fronsac/Fronsac

Very successful district in 2018, and I've had the opportunity to taste some excellent wines, representing great quality for money. Additionally, it's beautiful countryside as well. Thanks a lot for that!

CarlMagnus - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. The first vintage of this wine was 1998, still going strong with no sign of getting old! By then, the name of this wine was de Carolus, but it had to change because of a lawsuit over de Carolus's name (Karolus in Haut Medoc). The present name has been valid since the 2000 vintage. So 2018 vintage marks the 20th anniversary of the property. It's potent and concentrated stuff with a deep nose of spicy black cherries, luscious berries and thick tannin on the palate, fine complexity, structure and a long meaty finish. Very reasonably priced wine and worth a big acknowledgement! 93p.

La Croix "Madeleine" - 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromatic and succulent, spicy cherries/raspberries on the nose and palate, full-bodied, luscious fruit well-supported by fine tannin and fine acidity, lovely complexity and length. Well-crafted effort. 91-92p.

Dalem - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. Sister property to de La Huste and kind of a different wine. More elegance and subtlety here, medium body, silky black cherries and grained tannin. Lingering finish. Splendid effort. 93p (93p).

La Dauphine - 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc. Aromatic cherries and raspberries, sleek and attractive, well-knitted and complex, vibrant, luscious fruit and lingering finish. Impressive wine. 93p (93p). 

Le Defi de Fontenil - 100% Merlot.  It's a special cuvée made from 100 years old vines. Maceration + both fermentations take place in new barrels. No pumping here, all is done by hand. I've to admit that I liked Fontenil better while tasting both wines the same day. Le Defi was more approachable and more upfront fruit on the tasting day(s), tasty raspberries, smooth and subtle. Lingering finish. 92p.

Fontenil - 100% Merlot from vines that are more than 50 years old. Home of Dany and Michel Rolland, famous Bordeaux oenologists. It was potent and strong, with great intensity of creamy black cherries and fat tannin on the palate, abundant and complex, strong backbone, long finish. An immaculate effort, full of drive and great winemaking skills. 93-94p (93p).

Herve Laroque - second wine of Moilin Laroque. Upfront fruit, well-trimmed with a lovely intensity of fruit and tannin, sappy and tasteful. Nice balance and smooth finish. EnjoyableTasty wine. 88p.

De La Huste - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. It's Brigitte Rullier-Loussert who pulls strings here, and she also owns another property, Dalem. Both properties are situated in Saillans commune in the Fronsac district. I haven't had an opportunity to taste wine from this property before, apart from half a bottle of 2016 consumed in late 2020. It was quite a strong effort. 2018 is a dense and full-bodied wine with a strong backbone, minerality, black cherries on the nose and palate, vibrant, sappy and complex. Long and meaty finish. Splendid effort. 93p.

Lagüe - same owner as CarlMagnus, Arnaud Roux-Oulié. Lovely and aromatic nose of roses and red fruit, silky and lush on the palate. Savoury and with a lingering finish. Well-made and enjoyable wine. 90p.

Moulin Laroque - strong and meaty, black cherries and raspberries in large quantities, succulent, well-knitted with nice depth and length. Well-made. 92p (93p). 

De La Riviere - 84% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Malbec. It's an utterly reliable property producing wines of very high quality. As always, pure and stylish, great flair, vivid and vibrant, creamy berries with the great support of grained tannin, great complexity and long finish. 94p (93p).

Les Troix Croix - 88% Merlot + 12% Cabernet Franc. 2018 was the last vintage where Patrick Léon, who once worked at Mouton Rothschild, was involved. Aromatic and concentrated, vibrant, creamy berries well supported by grained tannin, strong structure, fine balance, complex and persistent aftertaste. Splendid effort. 93p (93p).

La Vieille Cure - 87% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. It changed hands before the 2018 harvest (July 2018). Powerful and strong, yet in perfect balance, black cherries with a touch of dark chocolate and cocoa on the nose, creamy fruit and fat tannin on the palate, splendid complexity and length. Persistently long finish. Remarkable effort. 94p (93-94p).

Villars - 77% Merlot + 23% Cabernet Franc. Fresh with aromatic and crunchy dark berries, sappy, elegant, fine acidity and balance between luscious fruit and ripe tannin. Complex. Persistent finish. Lovely wine. 92p (92p). 

Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux

A very successful wine district in 2018, which has produced some excellently perfumed (rose/rose bush!), seductive, sleek, creamy and lovely wines for little money.

D'Aiguilhe -  intense aroma of rose/rose bush, well-trimmed on the palate with silky fruit and tannin, finely structured and with a lingering aftertaste. 92+p.

Ampelia - 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. Spicy raspberries and scent of roses on the nose and palate, fresh and well-balanced in appearance, polished and harmonious. Velvety texture. A lovely and elegant wine. 92p (92p).

L'Aurage - seductive perfume of roses/rose bush, seamless, silky fruit and tannin, creamy, smooth and tasty. Very catchy and attractive wine. 92p (92p).

La Brande - trademark perfume of rose bush that's so typical for the soil of Castillon. Round and attractive wine with spicy raspberries, silky and smooth, soft finish. Nice taste. 88+p.

Le Rey Les Argileuses - parcels 1-3, green and blue clay soil. 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc. Vinification is carried out 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 profoundly aromatic and seductive fragrance of roses/rose bush breaks your heart, creamy berries on the palate, impressive depth and complex, sweet tannins, superb balance, long fruity finish. It's simply delicious stuff! 92-93p.

Dubois Grimon - 100% Merlot. Attractive on the nose with raspberries and roses, sappy, round and tasteful. Silky berries and soft tannin. Persistent finish. Lovely effort. 91p.

De Lussac - 75% Merlot + 25% Cabernet Franc. Aromatic boysenberries and raspberries with a scent of roses, luscious and silky on the palate, velvety texture and lingering aftertaste. Seductive and well-made wine. 91-92p (92p).

De Lussac Cuvée Sacha - 60% Merlot + 40% Cabernet Franc. A special selection from a part of the vineyard (old vines and low yield) with grapes undergoing more "luxury" vinification. Similar to standard cuvée but understandably with more intensity, concentration and length. Vibrant. Splendid effort. 92p (92p).

Montlandrie - 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fresh, very aromatic nose of a rose bush, well-defined, delicate and velvety on the palate, fine complexity, long lingering finish. Catchy wine which tastes just splendidly. 92p (91-92p).

Veyry - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. Intense nose of spicy raspberries and succulent on the palate, fresh, silky palate with luscious fruit, well-measured acidity, lovely balance, complexity and persistent finish. Impressive effort. 92+p (92p).

Francs Côtes de Bordeaux

Ad Francos - 100% Merlot. Vinification in stainless-steel vats. Full blueberry nose with an addition of boysenberries/blackberries scent and a hint of roses. Luscious and well-constructed on the palate. Lingering finish. A solid showing. 89p.

Ad Francos  Reserve ad Aeternam - 100% Merlot. Vinification in oak barrels. Small production. Fresher than standard cuvée, fatter and longer finish. Fine complexity and balance. Seductive effort. 90p. 

Lalande de Pomerol

Uneven quality in this district.

de Chambrun - 78% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc. I was not satisfied with the barrel sample in April 2017 because it tasted very extracted and too oaky. I've found wines from this property overdone in recent vintages. However, 2018 in the bottle here tasted much better than the barrel sample and wasn't overdone. It is quite aromatic on the nose with black cherries and spicy berries on the palate, backed up by nice tannin, structure, and length. 89p (87p).

La Chenade - 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. Belongs to the Durantou family also have Montlandrie, Les Cruzelles, Saintayme, La Petite Eglise and L'Eglise Clinet in their portfolio. It is very cherry on the nose, delicate and vibrant on the palate, subtle and complex with a lingering and persistent aftertaste. Splendid effort. 92p (92+p).

La Croix Chaigneau - 50% Merlot + 50% Cabernet Franc. Second wine of Haut Chaigneau based on young vines. Aromatic, round, sleek and harmonious, attractive and tasty. Even if it's lightfooted, there's a lot of charm. 87p.

Les Cruzelles - 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. Intensely aromatic blueberries and blackberries on the nose, same lush berries on the palate, vibrant, velvety texture, well-defined and complex, lingering finish. Very likeable wine. 92+p (92p+).

Domaine des Sabines - spicy berries, nicely composed and with good structure. On the light side with some attraction, nice length and smooth finish. It's underperforming slightly compared to the barrel sample. 90+p (92p).

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.

Grand Ormeau - 74% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon. Pretty nose of black cherries and lush cherries and raspberries on the palate, well-structured, juicy and well-balanced, sleek and elegant. Offered a lot of pleasure. 91-92p (92p).

Haut Chaigneau - home 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. Fragrant dark cherries and blueberries, well-knitted, lovely intensity, structure and concentration, subtle complexity as well, bright fruit was matching sweet grained tannin. Very attractive and tasty. Lingering aftertaste. 92p.

Maine Chaigneau Cuvée JS - Aromatic raspberries and violets on the nose, some extraction on the palate, smooth fruit and tannin. This wine could have used some spark and tension because it lacked excitement. 86p.

Moncets - 81% Merlot & 19% Cabernet Franc. Same owner as de Chambrun. Very discreet on the nose, some extraction on the palate, upfront fruit and nice tannin. Tasty. Modern style. Lacked a bit of freshness. Not even close to an excellent barrel sample tasted in April 2019. 86p (91p).

Pavillon de Beauregard - fresh, aromatic black cherries, sleek and tasty, attractive and smooth. To drink already now. 88p.

La Sergue -  this wine is made from 3 parcels in the district, with each one having different soil and diverse grape variety and different microclimate. It was pretty similar to Haut Chaigneau but had a more robust structure, more elegance, and a bit more flair. There was a significant improvement since tasting this wine from the barrel. 92+p (88p).

Lussac-St-Emilion

This commune's produced some nice wines, but neighbouring communes of Montagne-/Puisseguin-St.Emilion did much, much better!

Barbe Blanche80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. Attractive cherry nose, spicy berries on the palate, light in concentration but nicely constructed, harmonious and smooth. 86-87p.

Courlat - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. A light but delightfully aromatic wine with tasty raspberries and smooth tannin, soft and delicate. Harmonious and round. It's already quite enjoyable. 86p. 

Courlat Cuvêe Jean Baptiste - a special selection of grapes for a cuvée dedicated to the owner's grandfather. More of everything than in standard cuvée, more concentrated and longer. Quite enjoyable as well. 86-87p.

La Grande Clotte - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. Aromatic violets, raspberries and blueberries on the nose, nicely structured, silky and luscious on the palate with tasty dark berries, harmonious and elegant. Well made and attractive wine. 87-88p.

La Grande Clotte L'Envolée - 100% Merlot coming from old vines. It is more intense on the nose and longer on the palate than in standard cuvée, creamy on the palate, well-structured, and velvety texture. Delicate and crunchy. Very seductive effort. 89p.

De Lussac - Attractive cherry nose, spicy berries on the palate, juicy, light in concentration but nicely constructed, harmonious and smooth. 87p.

La Rose Perriere - 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Same owner as of Grand Cru wine, Clos Les Grands Versannes from Saint-Emilion. Splendid and elegant nose of iris, violets and roses, fresh creamy berries on the palate, finely grained tannin, discreet acidity supporting fruit, fine length and lingering aftertaste. Splendid effort for the vintage. 90p.

Montagne-St-Emilion

This commune offers wines of terrific quality for the money. Some star performances and several properties totally unknown to me produced delicious wines indeed. Balance and tasty stuff are the keywords here!

La Bastienne - 100% Merlot. Fresh black cherries on the nose and palate, aromatic, well-constructed, polished and elegant, well-balanced with fine tannin. Sleek finish.  A bit on the light side but quite attractive. 88p.

Clos de Bouard - 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Intense wild cherries on the nose, concentrated and lush on the palate, complex and splendidly balanced, fine length and fine vibrancy. Long finish. This wine is great entertainment! 93+p.

La Couronne - 100% Merlot. Plenty of aromatic morello cherries and raspberries on the nose and creamy berries covering well palate, elastic tannin, vivid, well-composed and tasty. Delicate and lengthy finish. 89p.

Dame de Bouard - 66% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon. It's the second wine of Clos de Bouard and a really joyful one to taste. Fresh, aromatic cherries and blueberries, lush and silky fruit combined with grained tannin on the palate, harmonious, velvety texture and lingering finish. Catchy and seductive effort. 90-91p.

Faizeau - 97% Merlot + 3% Cabernet Franc. Pleasant and round, tasty cherry fruit, plain and soft tannin. Correct wine, which is made for quick consumption. 84p.

Heritage de Negrit - 100% Merlot. Blueberry and raspberry nose with the addition of cherry tones. Some spiciness on the palate, nice acidity, sleek fruit and soft tannin. Pleasant and tasty wine to enjoy. 87p.

Montaiguillon - 65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Very blueberry on the nose and palate, fresh, elegant and harmonious. Silky tannin and acidity keeping all the good things together well. Lovely. 88p.

Reclos de La Couronne - 100% Merlot. A selection of grapes from the oldest and best plots in Couronne's vineyard. More intensity and concentration here than regular cuvée and more depth, fatness, complexity, and length. Great balance and long finish. Style is the same, but this wine offers a greater pleasure for the bucks. 92p.

Roudier - 65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. No oak involved here. Both vinification and ageing take place in cement vats. Fragrant violets, roses and iris on the nose with the scent of raspberries, delicate fruit and soft tannin on the palate. Silky texture and fine fruity finish. Lovely wine and a great value for money. 88p.

Tour Bayard - 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. A bit discreet on the nose but marching on the palate, covered by a large chunk of luscious berries and a fat tannin. Lavish aftertaste. Nice to drink already. 90p.

Tour Bayard L'Angelot - 100% Malbec. It's not often one comes across a full "house" of this grape variety. It's atypical. Plenty of spicy raspberries and wild cherries on the nose and palate, quite powerful and with a strong backbone, well-marked acidity and fine structure. Long and lingering finish. Imposing wine. 91+p. 

Vieux Chateau des Rochers Cuvée Prestige - 100% Merlot. Aromatic black cherries "wrapped" in cocoa powder and grated dark chocolate, luscious and well-defined on the palate with splendid structure and bright acidity, grained tannin. Persistent finish. Absolutely a splendid effort! 91-92p.

Puisseguin-St-Emilion

This commune came up with wines of glorious quality in 2018!

Clarisse Cuvée Veilles Vignes - 70% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc and 3% Carmenere. 75 years old vines on average! Fresh and dense on the nose with intensely flavoured black cherries and morello cherries, creamy on the palate with fine-grained tannin. All this was greatly complimented by fine acidity, structure and length. A great discovery for me and a great juice for a decade to enjoy! 92p.

Guibot La Fourvieille - 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. Here we had a well-made wine with a quite attractive scent of morello cherries and roses on the nose and a creamy palate that is well-structured and has a fine interplay between tasty berries and fat tannin. Persistent finish. Catchy effort. 90p.

Bernon Becot - 90% Merlot + 5% Cabernet Franc. Same owners as at Roc de Becot. Fresh, aromatic cherries and raspberries on the nose, luscious on the palate with bright acidity, creamy fruit and fine supporting tannin. Well-composed and lengthy finish. Fine quality. 90-91p.

des Laurets - 90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Subtle nose of blueberries and blackberries added some grated dark chocolate, luscious berries on the palate with a splendid contribution of grained tannin, well-structured and delicate, lush aftertaste. I don't recall having tasted this wine before, and I haven't expected so fine quality. On the level with several GCCs in Saint Emilion! I loved it! 92p.

des Laurets Baron - 100% Merlot. The owner since 2003, Benjamin de Rothschild, who died in January 2021, wanted something special to achieve with grapes from the vineyard. This wine is a selection of the best plots from the top of the vineyard. Very intense morello cherries on the nose with a scent of black truffle, creamy and grained tannin, there's a high level of consistency going through taste, great structure and density, layered and with fat cherry finish. Great discovery and a big surprise as well, and what a wine! Fabulous effort. 93p.

Roc de Becot - 90% Merlot + 5% Cabernet Franc. Dominique Becot's two children, Caroline and Pierre, own this property. Dominique Becot is one of the owners of the PGCC slot in Saint-Emilion, Beau-Sejour Becot. Very comparable with other property they own, Bernon Becot. However, there is more intensity and concentration here. A delightful aroma of raspberries and roses, creamy berries and grained tannin. Complex and with a lingering aftertaste. Terrific effort. 92p.

La Vaisinerie - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. It was an elegant and delicate wine with crunchy berries,  tasty fruit and soft tannin, silky texture, and sweet cherry aftertaste. Enjoyable. 88p.

Pomerol

I'll repeat myself with the phrase, "One of the strongest districts in 2018"! The truth is that it's an accurate and valid statement. Despite not tasting Petrus and Lafleur, to name some of the big hitters, I can assure, that there is enough exceptional goof for every Pomerol taste. But there also are very few wines under the usual standard.

Beauregard - freshness, intense black cherries, aromatic and complex, sleek and silky. Well-balanced and well-knitted on the palate. 91-92p (91p).

Beausejour de Bonalgue - 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc. Second wine of Bonalgue. Light, round and monoton. 84p.

Bonalgue - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. I've expected more from this wine. It tasted pretty well from the barrel, but it's on the lean and light side of the bottle. Cherry fruit, soft tannin, nice structure and length. Maybe it'll benefit from the further stay in the bottle. For now, and I'm sorry, I can only rate it 88p (92p).

Le Bon Pasteur - 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. Both Michel Rolland and Benoit Prevot craft it. Intense black cherries wrapped in dark chocolate and cocoa powder on the nose. Some truffles too. Voluminous, well-packed with everything, strong backbone, creamy fruit and grained tannin. Long finish. Distinct and excellent effort. 95p (94+p). 

Bourgneuf -  80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. Intense blueberries and raspberries on the nose with a black winter truffle touch and the same creamy berries on the palate. Well supported by velvety tannin. It had some power, elegance and finesse combined with splendid complexity. Long and meaty finish. So classy Pomerol wine! 95p (94+p).

Certan de May - intense blueberries, cherries and violets on the nose, strong structure, concentrated and opulent, great complexity, long finish. Gorgeous effort. 96p (96p). 

La Clemence - 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc. Modern styled wine with many chocolate/cocoa powder/cherry aromas, potent, well-structured, complex and with a meaty finish. Well-made. 92p (92-93p).

Clinet - 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was utterly impressive from the barrel and now is even better from the bottle! Excellent nose of intense black cherries and scent of truffles, strong and powerful on the palate with creamy berries, finely grained tannin, excellent complexity, and long aftertaste. The character of the soil here shines through. 97p (96-97p).

Le Clos de Beau Pere - well fragrant dark berries on the nose, powerful and dense on the palate, splendid acidity, creamy berries and fat tannin. Good complexity and persistent finish. Splendid effort. 92-93p (92p).

Clos de Beauregard - 100% Merlot. It was nicely made, round and attractive. Tasteful but a bit simple. Smooth finish. Commercial stuff. 88p.

Clos de Clocher - 75% Merlot + 25% Cabernet Franc. This wine's a good reputation normally. However, in 2018, its effort is far from convincing. It lacks freshness and has some dryness on the palate. Harvested too late? 85-86p (88p). 

Clos Vieux Taillefer - modern style with a flashy approach, some extraction but not overdone, fine, velvety fruit and tannin, well-structured, and persistent finish. Solid one. 91p (92p).

La Commanderie - 91% Merlot + 9% Cabernet Franc. It is situated just outside the main road through Catusseau, just after Nenin, on great soil. It's owned by a couple from Hong Kong since 2013 and consulted by a well-known oenologist, Pascal Chatonnet. It is powerful with intense and creamy dark berries on the nose and palate, fat tannin, splendid complexity, and a long finish. It's an impressive effort, indeed.  93p (92-93p).

La Conseillante - 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. Very sensual and captivating wine with aromatic violets and cherries, lots of elegance and finesse. Utterly complex, expressive wine, charismatic and. Wow! 98+p (98p).

La Croix de Gay - 92% Merlot + 8% Cabernet Franc. This wine enters the scene with a splendid nose of black cherries, freshness, vibrancy, creamy fruit and fine tannin. Well-structured and complex. Deliciously fruity finish. 92p.

Croix des Rouzes - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. Attractive nose of black fruit, finely composed palate with creamy berries and soft tannin, well-structured and fine balance. Meaty finish. 91p (90p).

La Croix St. Georges - 94% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc. 96p (95+p). This property is situated in the middle of Catusseau village and closes to neighbouring Le Pin and Petit Village. Managed by Jean-Philippe Janoueix (La Confession). Potent, freshness, strong backbone, a lot of intense black cherries/blueberries, creamy and grained tannin, excellent complexity, very concentrated and long, fat finish. Best vintage yet from this property? It could be, but the 2019 version is a strong contender! 96p (95+p).

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.

L'Eglise Clinet - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. Huge concentration, strong backbone, fat and dense on the palate (old vines), lot of minerality, great complexity, multilayered and awesome length, and long, long finish. Denis Durantou had always utilised traditional winemaking at his properties without modern tweaks. Amazing stuff. 98+p (98-99p). NB - this vintage's one before his last as he deceased in May 2020. Now his three daughters will continue the awesome work of their father. 

L'Evangile - 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. The yield here was only 20hl/ha due to mildew. A potent and tightly structured wine with a strong backbone, layers and layers of everything. Very deep on the nose with dark berries and secondary aroma of dark chocolate. Creamy on the palate with fat tannin. Fabulous stuff. 98p (98p).

Franc Maillet - 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. It's located in Maillet's hamlet in east Pomerol with Le Bon Pasteur as the closest neighbour. Somewhat, this property seems to have gone under my radar for quite some years, for I haven't tasted wines from it before. So it was quite a surprise and a very positive one when I tasted the 2018 vintage. It was very expressive on the nose and palate with plenty of aromatic and creamy black cherries and blueberries, freshness, finely grained tannin, vibrancy, velvety texture, a magnificent structure, and complexity. Lingering and lush finish with aplomb. 94p.

Franc Maillet Cuvée Jean Baptiste - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. This wine is dedicated to the grandfather of the present owner. His grandfather purchased the first parcel of the vineyard in 1919. Very similar to Franc Maillet, with slightly more intensity and length. An impressive effort, indeed. 94+p.

La Fleur de Gay - 96% Merlot + 4% Cabernet Franc. The best parcels from the sister property, La Croix de Gay, contribute to this wine. It is similar in style to La Croix de Gay but with black fruit intensity, denser on the palate and longer aftertaste. 93p.

Le Gay - fresh black truffle on the nose, opulent, well-knitted on the palate, fine structure, lengthy and meaty aftertaste. Modern winemaking. 94p (95+p).

Mazeyres - 66% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. Delicate cherry nose and scent of violets plus truffles. Earthy and spicy on the palate. Soft fruit and tannin. Correct wine OK but lacks a bit of spark and excitement. This wine tasted better from the barrel. 91p (92p).

Monregard La Croix - 100% Merlot. Pleasant, tasteful, silky texture, nice structure, smooth finish. 87p.

Montvieil - displayed freshness, aromatic fruit, sweetness, luscious palate, soft tannin, tasteful, and smooth finish. Very correct and pleasant wine. 89p (90p).

Le Moulin - 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. Querre family owns it, and this property is consulted by Murielle and Jean-Luc Thunevin (Valandraud) plus Alain Reynaud (president of Grand Cercle). It was a modern styled wine with upfront black fruit, meaty tannin, strong backbone, vibrant, powerful yet elegant, well-constructed, and persistent finish. Quite entertaining wine and one which improved a great deal since tasting from barrel. 93p (91p).

Nenin - 63% Merlot + 37% Cabernet Franc. Aromatic and crunchy raspberries with earthy spices, elegance and finesse, fine balance. Subtle. It was a Pomerol wine made in a lighter style compared to its peers but not less attractive. 92p. (93+p).

La Patache - 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc. It is a powerful and strong wine with lots of creamy dark berries, fat tannins, some associations to truffles, and a complex and persistent finish. This wine represents its district very well. 91p (91+p).

La Petite Eglise - 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. Grapes come from sandy soil. Fresh and lively, intense nose of violets and blueberries, creamy black cherries on the palate, well-knitted and possessing splendid complexity, excellent taste and a persistent finish. 93p (93p).

Petit Village - 72% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Because of mildew, the yield per ha here was only 24 hl. Intensely aromatic on the nose with dark berries, Creamy and powerful and at the same time graceful, stylish, deep and long, finesse and refinement. This wine is a big proof of a huge rise in quality since the arrival of winemaker Diana Garcia-Berrouet in 2015! Tasted twice from the barrel, once from the bottle. 96p (96p).

Rouget - 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc. Very aromatic, powerful and intense nose of aromatic berries, compact, great complexity, splendid structure and depth, creamy fruit and grained tannin. Persistent finish. Impressive effort. 94-95p (95p). 

Sacre Coeur - 100% Merlot. A selected parcel from La Croix vineyard and 100% taken care of and vinified by Jean-Philippe Janoueix (La Confession and La Croix St.Georges). Plenty of black cherries on the nose, vibrant, luscious berries and grained tannin, lovely complexity and long aftertaste. Brilliant wine. 94+p (94+p).

Tour Maillet - 100% Merlot. Strong, fresh, well-packed with luscious fruit and tannin, vivid, fine complexity and fine structure to depend on. Meaty finish. Fine effort. 92p (92p).

Vieux Maillet - 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Violets, black cherries and fresh aroma of coffee beans, creamy berries, elegant, fine acidity and balance, velvety texture and lush aftertaste. Lovely stuff. 92p (92p).

La Violette - 100% Merlot from very old vines. Very concentrated, with plenty of sweetness, silky berries and grained tannin, polished. Very complex. Modern style. 95p.

Saint-Emilion

One of the most impressive districts in 2018. A lot of wines to taste; many of them will be legends! A wide variety of styles. Several extracted wines where fruit tasted on the border of overripeness and therefore lost freshness. I'm happy to mention some real stand-out performances among less-known Grand Crus, and many of these were the first tasting of these for me! 

Les Angelots de Gracia80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. It's not the second wine of Gracia but a special selection of grapes vinified in the same way as Gracia. However, the style of the wine here is, for me, more on elegance and finesse and less extraction. Fresh, deliciously fruity, smooth and lingering on the aftertaste. Heartbreaker wine. 91p.

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 a ZOOM interview with me in mid-December 2020 that she felt she succeeded with this style changing in the 2018 vintage. I remember tasting a barrel sample of this wine in April 2019, and I felt it being extracted and oaky. However, while tasting Angelus 2018 from the bottle in December 2021, it's turned into sublime, sophisticated and incredibly complex wine. Imposing effort for sure, and woman touch wine for real! 98p (97p).

L'Archange - 100% Merlot. Deliciously aromatic and seductive wine with luscious fruit and grained tannin. Velvety and well-structured, fine intensity and lingering finish. It's a delicious effort of fine quality. 91-92p.

Les Asteries - 83% Merlot + 17% Cabernet Franc. It's filled with dark aromatic berries, compact, strong structure, silky fruit, fat tannin, and a long finish. Excellent effort. 94p (94p).

Badette - 75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot. Fresh and fruity, noticeable acidity, ripe tannin, nicely constructed and smooth finish. Attractive and friendly wine. 89p.

Balestard La Tonnelle GCC - 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. I've thoroughly enjoyed this wine. A densely aromatic cherry nose, lush berries and tannin on the palate, lively, well-knitted and complex, and with a lingering finish.  Imho, this is the best effort yet from BLT. 92p (91p).

Beausejour (Duffau-Lagarrosse) PGCC "B" - 86% Merlot + 14% Cabernet Franc. Stunning effort! Great, great nose with remarkable intensity of black cherries, dark chocolate and cocoa powder, creamy on the palate with exquisitely grained tannin, awesome complexity and sophisticated touch and lingering finish for more than 60 seconds. This wine was just badass sublime! 98+p.

Bellefont Belcier GCC - 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fine nose of ripe raspberries and blueberries, powerful 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).

Berliquet GCC - fresh, attractive and with a nice intensity of black fruit on the nose, silky and tasteful on the palate, very nice structure and length. 91p (91p).

Cadet Bon GCC - 75% Merlot + 25% Cabernet Franc. Sweet aromatic cherries on the nose, attractive and catchy, delicate fruit and silky tannins, elegant and well-structured. Lingering finish. A heartbreaker wine. 91-92p.

Canon PGCC "B" - 72% Merlot + 28% Cabernet Franc. Deep and intense aroma of black cherries/blueberries on the nose, creamy on the palate with silky berries and grained tannin, very complex and sophisticated, great complexity and length with a long, long aftertaste. Sublime effort. 98p (98p).

Cantin - 100% Merlot. Jammy flavours and overall a rather simple wine. I wonder if grapes for this wine were harvested a bit too late. 84p.

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).

Cap de Mourlin GCC - not quite as entertaining as sister property Balestard La Tonnelle. Correct, round and pleasant, tasty and smooth. 88p (89p).

Carillon d'Angelus - 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc. Freshness, silky fruit with grained tannin, creamy texture, well-balanced and persistent finish. Fine second wine. 92p (92p).

Le Carre - 85% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. This vineyard borders the one of Clos Fourtet and was purchased from Canon in 2005. It was similar to Laforge in quality, but there were more elegance and finesse here and the same complexity. Smooth and lingering finish. 92-93p (93p). 

Carteau - 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. A bit overdone, dark berries, flavours aren't clean, and this wine is chunky. 84p.

Chapelle de Labrie - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. It's the second label of Croix de Labrie made from young vines planted in the hamlet of Saint-Sulpice. It was very fragrant on the nose and delicate on the palate, smooth and lush, silky fruit and tannin. Quite attractive with a fine aftertaste. 91+p.

Chauvin GCC - 86% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a bit reluctant on the nose, but there were freshness, creamy berries and fine tannin, balance, fine structure, and meaty finish. Approved effort. 90-91p.

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. It could surpass the amazing 2016 version sometimes in the future. Simply an extraordinary effort. 98-99p (98-99p).

Clavis Orea - 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine showed a seductive fragrance of violets and rose, fine composition, grained tannin, velvety texture and long caressing aftertaste. Heartbreaker wine. 93+p (93+p).

Clef de Voute - 100% Merlot. Attractive and seductive wine with soft fruit and tannin tastes well, pleasant, smooth fruity finish. 87p.

Clos Badon - strong, succulent and meaty, concentrated with luscious fruit and fat tannin. It tasted a bit dry on the finish, but I don't think it was because of an excessive amount of oak. It's probably Cabernet Franc (usually app. 1/3rd of it in the blend) flavour, making its presence felt. 91-92p (92p). 

Clos Dubreil - 75% Merlot + 25% Cabernet Franc. Plenty of dark fruit like blackberries, boysenberries and blueberries with spiciness on the nose and palate, full-bodied, strong structure, big tannin and persistent aftertaste. This is a wine made in a modern style with upfront fruit, a good portion of oak and a tannic approach. Nevertheless, there's a fine balance here, and fruit/tannin is ripe á point. 92-93p (93p).

Clos Dubreil Anna - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. This is the second wine of Clos Dubreil, and it mirrors Grand Vin, however, to less degree concerning intensity, concentration and length. Rounder and softer fruit, more approachable and more subtle. 88p.

Clos de L'Oratoire GCC - fragrant cherries and blackberries, well-structured, savoury and meaty, delicate complexity and length. Silky fruit and tannin. Lingering finish. A pretty seductive wine. 92p.

Clos des Prince - 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. Well-crafted wine with aromatic and luscious blueberries, fine structure, silky texture and ripe tannin. Finishes crunchy and smooth. 91-92p.

Clos de Sarpe GCC - 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc. Old vines here and low yield. This wine caught your attention immediately with a fabulous nose of intense black cherries and blueberries/blackberries, plenty of creamy dark berries, matching fat tannin, precision, great depth and complexity, great balance and a long fatty finish. Even better from the bottle compared to the barrel sample. Tremendous effort! 94p (92p).

Clos Les Grandes Versannes -  83% Merlot + 12% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Fragrant nose of different sorts of dark berries, finely composed, polished on the palate with velvety texture, juicy, creamy, harmonious and lingering aftertaste. Lovely wine. 91p.

Clos St. Martin GCC - 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Intense nose of creamy cherries with great distinction, vibrant and luscious on the palate with fine complexity, structure and balance. Quite complex as well and long finish. Strong showing. 93p (92p).

La Confession - 73% Merlot + 27% Cabernet Franc. Greatly aromatic with black cherries, boysenberries and blueberries, freshness, silky fruit and grained tannin, great complexity and acidity, strong structure and quite a long aftertaste. You can't complain about alcohol level here, and it would be ridiculous if you did because it's only 13.71%! Cabernet Franc has significantly contributed to the very high quality of this wine. Badass wine and imposing one! 95-96p (95+p).

Corbin GCC - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. This was fleshy and corpulent wine with more concentration than usual for this property, seductive nose of dark berries, elegant and sublime, splendid complexity and long aftertaste. Labelled with 15% alcohol, but these percents were absorbed by creamy fruit! It could turn out as the best vintage yet for the owner, Anabelle Cruse Bardinet. 95+p (95+p).

Corbin Michotte - 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was pretty fragrant on the nose with violets and raspberries, elegant and sappy on the palate, lovely balance and complexity, finesse, silky fruit, and tannin. Caressing finish. A catchy and seductive wine will provide a lot of pleasure in the coming years. 94p (95p).

Cote de Baleau GCC - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. Same owner as Clos Fourtet. Deliciously fragrant blueberries and cherries, fresh and vibrant, luscious berries on the palate which well-matched by fat tannin, silky texture, lovely complexity and structure. This heart-breaker wine tastes just excellently. 92-93p.

Coudert - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc, Light and round, tasty fruit and smooth tannin, velvety texture and fruity aftertaste. Designed for quick consumption. 85p.

Croix Canon - second wine of Canon. Sweet cherries and blueberries on the nose, silky on the palate with elegant tannin, very attractive, tasteful and with a lingering aftertaste. Well-made. 90-91p.

Croix Cardinale - 75% Merlot + 25% Cabernet Franc. It was quite concentrated and beautifully balanced, fine complexity and well-structured, delicious and tasteful with a smooth and delicate finish. A big improvement compared with tasting from the barrel sample! 91p (88p).

Croix de Labrie - 97% Merlot + 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep and intense nose of black fruit (blueberries/blackberries) with great flair, creamy berries and grained tannin, seamless on the palate. Voluptuous with great complexity and lingering finish. Imposing stuff! 95+p (94p). 

La Croizille - 70% Merlot + 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fresh and aromatic, elegant and polished wine, silky fruit and gentle tannin, nicely structured and tasty. Solid one. 89-90p.

Dassault GCC - 75% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. Elegant and polished, aromatic raspberries and blueberries, silky, nice structure and length. Smooth finish. Nice effort. 91p (92p).

D de Dassault - 75% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. It's the second wine from Dassault. Attractive and round, delicate, tastes of cherry drops, polished, some elegance, forward, supple and smooth aftertaste. Ready to drink already. 86p.

Daugay - 63% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Only 10 hl/ha produced. Low yield could be tasted here as the wine was fleshy and concentrated with plenty of dark berries, fatty tannin, powerful structure and meaty finish. Strong effort.  92p (92p).

Destieux GCC - 66% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc and 17% Cabernet Sauvignon. Big and potent, dark berries, fat tannin and some traces of jammy fruit. This wine felt a bit aggressive and probably needs some time to soften. 88+p (89p).

La Dominique GCC -  freshness, fine aromatic cherries/raspberries on the nose, luscious and vibrant on the palate, creamy berries and grained tannin, fine acidity to support, finesse and elegance, and persistent finish to round off this excellent effort. 93p (92p).

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, incredibly refined and complex with sheer class and charisma. Fabulous stuff. 96p (96p).

Le Dragon de Quintus - fresh, cherries, lively and tasteful, sleek, upfront fruit, pleasant and with a silky texture. Very nice and enjoyable wine. 88p (89p).

Faugeres GCC - 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. A little muted nose with some cherries and blueberries, more life on the palate with crushed berries, modern style, nicely constructed with fine length. All in all, it's nicely made and enjoyable wine. 91p (91p).

Faurie de Souchard GCC - 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromatic and seductive on the nose, lush and elegant on the palate, sleek, joyful and tasty, silky fruit and tannin. Lingering finish. 91-92p.

Figeac PGCC "B"- 37% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 33% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dense and tight, closed at the moment (February 2021) and not revealing that much of the great things it possesses. However, there's no doubt in my mind that this wine's immense potential to become the best vintage for this property in the last 30 years. 97+p (98p).

Fleur Cardinale - 74% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. This property is situated around 8 km from the village of Saint-Emilion on the hills of Saint-Etienne-de Lisse commune, where the soil is late ripening. Dense and spicy black cherries on the nose, intense, powerful and a little bit tannic and tight on the palate with spicy black fruit, creamy with a fine complexity. Meaty and persistent finish. Splendid effort. 93p (92p).

La Fleur -  92% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. Same owner as Dassault. Fresh, fragrant nose of crushed cherries/blueberries, well-defined and lush on the palate with tasty berries and grained tannin. It finishes smooth and lingering. Lovely and seductive effort. 91p.

La Fleur d'Arthur - 80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. Old vines. Intensely aromatic, fresh, succulent, polished, layered and silky. Luscious fruit compliments the grained tannin greatly. Lingering aftertaste. Beautiful wine. 92p.

La Fleur Chantecaille - 70% Merlot + 30% Cabernet Franc. Same owner as Franc Maillet in Pomerol. Elegant yet robust, strong backbone, well-structured and well-balanced. Not that complex but compensated well for it with rows of crunchy berries, velvety texture and a desirable approach. 91p.

Folie de Chauvin - it's second wine of Chauvin. Fruity, uncomplicated, round, pleasant and ready to drink. 85p.

Fombrauge GCC - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. It was potent and robust, rather mute on the nose while more open and friendly on the palate, extracted, a lot of upfront fruit and massive tannin, delicate balance. I guess this wine needs to spend at least a couple of years or more in the bottle to reveal its qualities fully. 92p.

Fonroque GCC - 82% Merlot + 18% Cabernet Franc. Delicate nose of fresh raspberries, elegant, polished and crunchy on the palate. I could use some spark, more concentration and complexity. Correct wine but also one made without risking anything. It tasted better from the barrel. 90p (92p).

Franc Pipeau - 75% Merlot + 25% Cabernet Franc. The same owner as Carteau, and in my honest opinion, the wine here was much better. Fresh, aromatic black-/red-yellow cherries on the nose, well-knitted and harmonious on the palate, creamy fruit well-supported by ripe tannin and acidity. Lingering aftertaste. 90p.

Gracia - 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Only 20hl/ha produced. Potent and extracted but certainly not overripe. Modern style with fat fruit upfront well supported by fat and creamy tannin, splendid structure and length. Holds well in mid-palate. Not everybody's favourite wine, but excellent quality is undoubtedly present here. 93p (93p).

Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac -  65% Merlot + 35% Cabernet Franc. Potent and well-knitted, nice structure and length, silky dark berries and silky tannin, well-balanced and meaty on the aftertaste. Quite attractive and tasty wine. 91p.

Grand Corbin Despagne - 75% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. A potent, juicy and elegant wine with finesse. Aromatic black cherries and a scent of violets on the nose, luscious on the palate and complex. Well-made. 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. A fresh and lively wine, which immediately caught your attention. Quite intense and seductive nose of black cherries, delicate, sleek and lush on the palate, complex and balanced, fine fruity finish. 92p.

Grand Pontet GCC - quite unusual blend for St. Emilion - 44% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon and 17% Malbec. Low yield per ha in 2018. It belongs to a member of the Becot family who also owns nearby La Gomerie and Beausejour Becot. It was a pretty, polished wine with a lovely scented nose of raspberries and blueberries, a finely composed palate with creamy berries and matching tannin. LIngering finish. Delightful - nothing to complain about here. 92p.

La Grangere - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. The vineyard's biggest parcel is located close to Troplong Mondot, and the remaining parcels are situated on slopes. Only 25 hl/ha produced. I've never tasted wine from this property before, and I've to say that my "date" was a great success. Purely scented blueberries and red-yellow cherries, layered, juicy and vibrant, creamy berries and grained tannin. Focused. Long and with persistent finish. Excellent effort. 92-93p.

Haut Brisson - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. A lovely and seductive nose of blueberries, well-trimmed on the palate with silky fruit and tannin, good length. Smooth finish. 88+p.

Intuition de Fleur Cardinale - 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc. It's a second wine all right but is first really created after tasting Grand Vin barrels after one year and deciding which ones go to Grand Vin and Intuition. Aromatic dark fruit on the nose, sappy and polished on the palate with black cherries, some acidity, ripe tannin and smooth aftertaste. 90p.

Laforge - from Jonathan Maltus large portfolio of properties like f.i. Le Carre and Les Asteries. 92% Merlot + 8% Cabernet Franc. Dense, aromatic with delicious dark berries full of sweetness, strong backbone and structure. Long fruity finish. Quite impressive. 92-93p (92p).

Laniote GCC -  74% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. An attractive wine with a charming appeal, tasty fruit, sweet tannins and lingering finish. 89p.

Laplagnotte Bellevue - 75% Merlot + 25% Cabernet Franc. Spicy raspberries on the nose, juicy, nice acidity, well-constructed, balanced, silky fruit and gentle tannin, fine length and lush aftertaste. An amiable wine. 90p.

Larcis Ducasse PGCC "B" - aromatic and voluptuous nose of blueberries/blackberries, potent and concentrated on the palate, luscious berries and lush tannin, great structure and long creamy finish. Very impressive. 95p (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 just opposite it. Potent and well-defined wine, exquisite with finesse, very stylish and with a smooth fruity finish. Very attractive indeed. 94p (94p).

Laroze GCC - 59% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. Delightfully aromatic on the nose, creamy and polished on the palate with grained tannin. It showed great elegance and finesse. Complex and subtle. Persistent finish. It's the best effort from this property in the last 30 years! 93p (93p).

Lynsolence - 100% Merlot. Fine aromatic nose of blueberries and blackberries, powerful on the palate, luscious fruit and gentle tannin, well-structured and with a lingering finish. Modern style all right but certainly not overdone. Substantial effort. 91p (92-93p).

Mangot - its neighbours are Valandraud and Fleur Cardinale. It was a powerful wine with clean flavours of dark berries, creamy and concentrated blueberries/raspberries, well-built and well-balanced, meaty and persistent finish. A splendid effort. 92+p (91p).

Magrez Fombrauge - potent, modern style meaning upfront fruit and extraction. Lots of creamy cherries and fat tannin, well-structured and meaty, complex and with persistent finish. 93p (93p).

La Marzelle GCC -  75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Very cherry nose, spicy berries, luscious and delicate fruit, well-composed with a velvety texture, silky tannins and lovely fruity finish. An attractive and elegant wine. 91-92p.

La Mondotte PGCC "B" - plenty of intense sweet blue-blackberries on the nose and palate, creamy, firm structure, refined and complex. Silky fruit and tannin yet robust and with a fat lingering finish. Imposing effort. 96p.

Montlisse - 85% Merlot + 15% Cabernet Franc. Owned by Dauriac family (Destieux). This wine differs substantially in style compared with oaky and modern Destieux. We're treated here with freshness, aromatic black cherries, a well-knitted palate, vibrancy, ripe tannin, superb balance and lush finish. True delicacy here and seductive effort as well. 92p.

Moulin de Cadet GCC - 100% Merlot. It was quite aromatic and attractive, cherries and blackberries, polished and creamy on the palate, well-trimmed tannin, well-knitted, and with a smooth fruity aftertaste. Enjoyable and tasty - that's the truth. 91p (90p).

Quinault L'Enclos - quite well-formed wine with freshness, spicy raspberries/blackcurrants, nicely structured and with a lingering finish. 91p (91p).

Panet - 75% Merlot + 25% Cabernet Franc. Chunky, nicely structured, tasty fruit, light texture. Round and pleasant. Already very drinkable. 85p.

Pas de L'Ane - 55% Merlot + 45% Cabernet Franc. Every time I've tasted wine from this property, I always find it modern styled, extracted, and upfront fruit. Same coincidence with 2018. I wonder what would happen if the winemaker tried to harvest grapes earlier, extracted less and made the wine fresher. 84p.

Pavie Macquin PGCC "B" - strong and powerful, many strings to play on, lush and creamy with voluptuous fruit on the palate balanced by fat tannin. Greatly structured and with exquisite complexity. As impressive as from barrel. Persistent finish. 96+p (96-97p).

Petit Cheval - sappy, smooth and silky, velvety texture, creamy fruit and grained tannin, subtle complexity, meaty finish. Well-made 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.

Pierre 1er -  80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. Intensely aromatic black cherries on the nose, luscious and sappy on the palate, creamy berries and grained tannin, acidity well present and supportive, complex and tasty. Finishes strongly with flair and finesse. A splendid effort here. 92p.

de Pressac - 71% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Carmenere and 2% Malbec. Very traditional in style. Plenty of dark berries well matched by fat tannin and bright acidity. Splendid structure, fine complexity and fine balance as well. Both lingering and persistent aftertaste. Terrific wine. 93p (92p).

Quintus - fresh, succulent and vibrant, harmonious, creamy raspberries and blackberries, fine complexity and lingering finish. Splendid effort. 93p (93p).

Relais de La Dominique - second wine of La Dominique. Lighter than its big sister. Deliciously attractive with aromatic and tasty cherries/blueberries, round and pleasant. Ready to drink. 87p.

Rol Valentin - 90% Merlot + 10% Cabernet Franc. Modern style and the fruit tasted extremely close to the overripe line, a bit pruney and extracted. A pity because the remaining ingredients in the wine tasted OK. But where was freshness and vibrancy in it? 84p, and maybe this rating is too high anyway.

Roylland - delicious blackberries and aroma of dark chocolate, powerful with spiciness, meaty on the palate, a well-balanced, strong backbone and strong structure, fine length, and potent finish. Splendid wine. 91-92p.

Saintayme - 100% Merlot. Cherries and violets on the nose, silky berries on the palate with accompanying gentle tannin, lively and with a lingering finish.  Quite a tasty and seductive effort. 91p (91-92p).  

Sansonnet GCC - 85% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon. Delicate nose of dark cherries and blueberries, silky and smooth on the palate, crunchy tannins, sleek and elegant. Well-balanced, tasteful, harmonious and with a lingering finish. Well-made and attractive wine. 92p (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. Excellent wine with flair. 95p (95p).

Soutard-Cadet - 90% Merlot +  10% Cabernet Franc. Very aromatic and seductive nose of cherry drops, delicate and silky on the palate, elegant and polished, well-balanced and lingering on the aftertaste. Immediate attraction. 91p (90-91p).

Tertre Roteboeuf - imposing nose of dark cherries/wild cherries/blueberries and blackberries. Almost like a Burgundian top wine in the intensity. Francois Mitjavile keeps making unforgettable wine year after year, and this wine magician knows exactly how to produce mind-boggling wines. It was so seamless, so precise, so focused, so aromatic, so perfectly made, that you couldn't believe it. Simply surrealistically rich 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).

Todeschini Distique 11 - 40% Cabernet Franc + 49% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a special blend of grapes coming from a vineyard of 2 ha. and partially matured in amphoras. There was a very intense aroma of blackcurrants, rose bush and violets on the nose, creamy and concentrated dark berries on the palate, vibrant and lush, splendid complexity, and length. Impressive effort. 93p.

Tour Baladoz - discreet on the nose, but everything on the palate is just fine. Luscious berries, ripe and gentle tannin, silky texture, elegant and well-balanced. Lovely stuff. 91p.

Tour Fonrazade - 100% Merlot. It has a lovely and elegant cherry nose, silky and well-defined on the palate, harmonious, tasty and lingering finish. Delightful effort. 90-91p.

Tour St. Christophe -  80% Merlot + 20% Cabernet Franc. Potent, well-defined, fine concentration, structure and length. Lovely complexity and meaty finish. Tannin dominates here a bit at the moment. 91-92p (91-92p).

Trimoulet - 70% Merlot + 30% Cabernet Franc. Jean-Luc Thunevin (Valandraud) consults here. A fine and distinct nose of black cherries/blueberries, well-composed, luscious berries, and grained tannin on the palate keeps well in mid-palate, velvety and elegant. It's an excellent effort from this property. Major improvement detected! 91-92p (88p).

Troplong Mondot PGCC "B" -  85% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Franc. 2018 is the first vintage made by the new technical director, Aymeric de Gironde. He arrived at the property in October 2017 from Cos d'Estournel. At Cos d'Estournel, he significantly contributed to making the wine less extracted, fresher and adding more soil character. It seems the same now has happened for Troplong Mondot, which beforehand was a real "in your the face". While tasted in January 2021, it offered a great, great nose of intense black cherries/blueberries, richness, seamless structure, grained tannin and creamy berries on the palate. A sublime effort, oozing of sheer class and sophisticated touch. 97-98p.

Valandraud PGCC "B" - 90% Merlot + 4% Cabernet Franc + 3% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Malbec. There's a very prominent nose of high-quality black cherries, excellent purity, precision and focus, great complexity and finesse, sophisticated touch, and great length. Sheer class. Highly impressive. 97+p (98p).

Vieux Chateau Mazerat - 65% Merlot + 35% Cabernet Franc. It's owned by Jonathan Malthus, who also owns Le Dôme and several other Saint-Emilion properties. It was a powerful, dense and well-packed wine with perfectly ripe fruit and tannin with all cylinders in use, with great complexity, structure, and persistently fruity finish. Impressive effort. 95p (95p).

Virginie de Valandraud - second wine of Valandraud. Fine and intense aroma of dark cherries and some chocolate on the nose, sappy, well-knitted, fine structure and complexity, persistent finish. 92p (92p).  

La Voute - 100% Merlot. A close neighbour to Fleur Cardinale and Valandraud. I was glad for this wine from the barrel, and after tasting it from the bottle, I still like it. Aromatic black cherries and blackberries on the nose, creamy and silky on the palate, fine tannin, well-constructed with a lingering finish. 92p (92p). 

Yon Figeac GCC - 80% Merlot + 13% Cabernet Franc + 7% Petit Verdot. This wine was quite good from the barrel, but it seemed like a real deal when tasted from the bottle! A distinct nose of fresh cherries and blueberries, vibrant, creamy and luscious on the palate with great structure and length. Sleek and with fine complexity. Big fruity aftertaste. I haven't tasted this property so impressive before. 93+p (91-92p).

 

Latest news

2020 vintage in Bordeaux is said to follow the trend of excellent vintages as f.i. 2016 and 2018/9. Unfortunately, because of coronavirus, I'll not travel to Bordeaux for primeurs tastings. Instead, I'll get barrel samples sent to my home in Copenhagen. It'll be fascinating to find out how 2020 will fare compared to the above-mentioned vintages.

I've finished my tastings of the 2018 vintage bottle from Bordeaux (April 2021). I did end with close to 500 tasted wines. A full report on the vintage is available on my website. Check out chapter "2018 IN BOTTLE" in "VINTAGES".

TNs/ratings on 2019 Bordeaux barrel samples - see "2019" in "Vintages" chapter. I received 325 samples from classified/non-classified properties, which I tasted during the summer of 2020.

A new feature is the Burgundy blog in the News chapter, which includes impressions from tastings/tasting dinners attended since November 2018.

In addition to my website, I also post tasting notes to a well-driven and hugely- scaled website, www.tastingbook.com, where I've 7.750+ followers and 2.350+ TNs by primo April 2021.