Bordeaux 2018 Vintage Report
Published by Oliver Bartle on 09/04/2019
Looking for info about the 2018 vintage in Bordeaux? Head of Fine Wine Oliver Bartle has just returned from tasting the latest releases in Bordeaux – here’s his take on the 2018 vintage.
After spending four days in Bordeaux to taste the 2018 vintage, I arrived back into the office last week and like every year, my colleagues were keen to ask my thoughts of the vintage.
My response this year, “up and down”.
I can use the term up and down to talk about many parts of the past week. It applied to the short one hour flight to the south west of France, the weather over the four days I was in Bordeaux, climatic conditions during the 2018 growing season and most importantly, the wines produced in 2018.
The first half of 2018 was extremely wet, also with hailstorms, followed by a much milder spring. This led to a lot of mildew which impacted the amount of wine produced at many estates.
These weather conditions at this stage worried winemakers and put the quality of the vintage in doubt.
But then the sunshine prevailed and led to an extremely hot and dry summer, rescuing 2018. Grapes were small, but extremely rich in sugar and tannins, conditions which led to high alcohol in most wines, some up to 15%.
But do not be put off this, as I will explain below.
When I look through my hundreds of tasting notes, I always search for the words I’ve written the most to describe the vintage.
So here goes: Rich, Elegant, Fresh, Pure & Balanced.
So if they are my most commonly written words, why am I saying "up and down"?
2018 is not 2016, where every wine I tasted sang from the trees. It is a vintage where the top Châteaux have produced simply brilliant wines, but many smaller estates have failed to reach those heights. People always ask for vintage comparisons. I would say 2018 offers a mix of the richness of 2015, coupled with the freshness of 2016, but without the consistency of either of these years.
If pricing is reasonable, I wholeheartedly recommend buying 2018s; they are up-front wines, yet have the ability to age for decades to come. Alcohol is certainly high, but the freshness and balance of the wines hide it, unlike in 2009 and 2010, where it is prevalent.
In terms of highlights, I can certainly recommend once again Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion. They have produced an excellent wine in 2018 with wonderful purity and balance. We have been following this up-and-coming estate for a number of years now and I have no doubt it would be a great addition to your cellar this year.
Château Tour Saint Christophe is another estate we have followed and it again hits the great heights of previous vintages this year. Power, complexity and richness prevail, it is a bargain!
Château Beychevelle is always a fantastic wine to taste En Primeur, but the 2018 is the finest I have ever tasted from barrel. Their second wine, Amiral de Beychevelle, is serious too and is certainly worth a look.
We expect releases to begin within the next two weeks, with most coming in May/June.
Our private client manager Paul Williamson will be offering as soon as the Châteaux release. If you wish to receive those offers or have specific requests, please do contact him via email, or call him on 020 7381 7881.
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