Many French wine regions excelled in 2018. The Bordeaux region is one of the major success stories of this sun soaked vintage. This hot growing season produced ripe concentrated reds that remained balanced. Riper and fuller bodied than the reputed 2016, these structured Crus Classés should evolve favourably for the next 30+ years. In 50 years, they might still be in the conversation of experts and collectors. All Bordeaux districts have come through beautifully offering full bodied, elegant, structured reds. The châteaux chosen for this tasting should help us confirm the high quality level and amazing potential of this outstanding Bordeaux vintage.
A group of 13 tasters analysed 7 Bordeaux Crus Classés plus a mystery wine in the usual blind tasting format. How much time will these structured 2018 Bordeaux need to reach their plateau of maturity? And how long will they continue to improve and stand the test of time?
To establish the order of preference of the tasting panel, 3 points were awarded for a first place vote, 2 pts for a 2nd place vote and 1pt for a 3rd place vote.
This line up of high quality Châteaux performed extremely well. All wines showed great concentration and amazing potential. But our panel could not establish a clear cut favourite wine. All wines scored well, and all but one (#3 Giscours) received a first place vote. The 5 top wines scored between 14 and 11 points! The least preferred wines were #3 Giscours with 4 pts and #5 Clerc Milon with 7 pts. The favourite Chateau with 14 pts was the upcoming Château Berliquet from Saint-Émilion. In second place Ch. Trottevieille was also very impressive (13pts) just ahead of Ch. Pape Clément with 12 pts. The mystery wine surprised many participants with its high quality level (6 pts). Seven of the 13 tasters identified it as the odd man out!
We can conclude that the best 2018 Bordeaux Crus Classés will evolve favourably because of their great concentration and structure. They will need another decade to start softening up and deliver more complexity. We will need to be patient with this sun soaked structured vintage!
My top three wines were: 1-Talbot, 2-Trottevieille 3-Pape-Clément. See my tasting notes below.
The wines : Order of blind tasting:
1-Château Berliquet, St-Émilion 81$ (Group score: 14 pts)
Deeply coloured (like all wines)! Dark berry fruit, black licorice with earthy and woody scents. Full bodied with surprising acidity and some firm tannins. Great aging potential and great value. My rating: 93/100
2-Château Saint-Pierre, St-Julien 100$ (Group score: 11 pts)
Very deep purple colour. Lovely nose displaying blackberry and dark cherry with hints of oak, smoke and graphite. Full bodied, good extract, great balance and a solid structure for long aging. My rating: 92/100
3-Château Giscours, Margaux 110$ (Group Score: 4 pts)
Deep purple colour. Very ripe nose that exudes currant and blackberries with some new oak. Good extract and structure with fresh acidity. A bit firm but remains balanced. In its usual elegant style with good aging potential. My rating: 92/100
4-Cabernets 2018 Namarata, LaFrenz, Okanagan, Canada 35$ (Group score: 6 pts)
Not as deeply coloured. Nor as structured and concentrated but still displayed lovely ripe berry fruit. Medium to full bodied, well balanced with some aging potential (4 to 5 years). Quite easy drinking and elegant. Inexpensive (35$)! My rating: 90/100
5-Château Clerc Milon, Pauillac 150$ (Group score: 7 pts)
In a slightly more elegant style! Lots of ripe berry fruit with some new oak. Well balanced, solid structure with refreshing acidity and a enjoyable supple finish. Will age gracefully for an extended period of time (10 to 20 years). My rating: 92,5/100
6-Château Pape Clément, Pessac-Léognan 159$ (Group score : 12 pts)
One of my favourite wines of the tasting! Quite concentrated with firm tannins and fresh acidity for long term aging. The ripe nose of field berries also displays some new oak and graphite hints. My rating: 93,5/100
7-Château Talbot St-Julien 102$ (Group score: 11 pts)
My preferred wine of the tasting! This centenary anniversary bottling is superb! Deeply coloured with tons of ripe fruit and mineral undertones. A big wine built for the long haul, while remaining quite elegant. My rating: 95/100
8- Château Trottevieille Saint-Émilion 169$ (Group score: 13 pts)
My second favourite wine of the tasting! Classic Saint-Émilion (ripe) nose diplaying lovely berry fruit with just enough new oak. Well balanced, the mouthfeel reveals very good extract with lots of structured tannins for long term aging. My rating: 94/100
Photo: Château Talbot