2018 Bordeaux En Primeur: The Week in Review #7

A big week in Bordeaux EP started with a bang. Leoville Lascases was released to high anticipation having received sky high scores. With potential 100 points across the board, this St Julien is the highest scoring wine of the vintage. James Suckling simply declared: “OMG”, whilst Jeb Dunnuck hailed it as “a candidate for the wine of the vintage… it’s one of the greatest young Bordeaux I’ve been lucky enough to taste.” The release price was well judged, in line with the 2016 vintage (a young legend already).

In close succession came another bang – again from St Julien, this time in the shape of Ducru Beaucaillou. They say timing is everything. Leoville Lascases oversold within the morning, Ducru Beaucaillou didn’t quite hang on to the coat tails – the good news being that there is still availability and as a “contender for the best vintage every produced at Ducru” with two potential 100 point scores, we recommend not letting this one slip through the net.

We move to Pauillac for the third big release of the day from Pichon Comtesse Lalande. Again, several 100-point scores, this is an outstanding wine from Nicolas Glumineau and his team and was well received.

Smith Haut Lafitte followed in the afternoon and was another popular release. For Jeb Dunnuck, the Grave estate’s 2018 is “up with the top wines in the vintage” and at a release price below that of the 2017 vintage, it looks like the Chateau made a prudent call to err on the side of the buyer, which went down well in the market.

Tuesday kicked off with a release we had been keenly awaiting: Cos d’Estournel. A firm F+R favourite. This has become one of the hottest tickets in Bordeaux, in 2018 with scores that see it potentially matching the perfect 2016 and 2009 vintages. The pricing was bold but fair and with a wine this good, loyal followers were not deterred.

Next out was Pichon Baron. An almost technically perfect Pauillac, and priced below the 2016, the jewel in the crown of the Axa Millesimes empire proved a hit. With the improvements made at the estate over the last couple of decades, it is easily up there in quality with its elegant neighbour, Pichon Lalande, whilst still significantly lower in price. We had record sales of this fabulous wine on release.  

Haut Bailly, a beautiful wine recognisable in most vintages, but especially in 2018, for its silky tannins followed. Haut Bailly received global recognition when Robert Parker up-scored the 2009 to a perfect 100 points, admitting that he had underrated it on previous tastings. Another huge turnaround story, with credit to Winemaker Gabriel Vialard and General Manager Veronique Sanders for years of hard work and commitment. If only there had been more to go around in 2018! This was very limited availability and sold out quickly.

The last release of the day was Feytit Clinet. A Pomerol favourite, this small but perfectly formed Chateau makes magnificent wines and the value is outstanding. At £298 per case of 6, this is one to stock up on – as far as the tiny 1,500 case production allows.

Wednesday morning’s release of La Mission Haut Brion was interesting in part because of the significant price fluctuations in the release price over the last five vintages. In the end, 2018 was priced above 2017, but significantly below 2016 and 2015. Similar in style to the excellent 2015, we found the 2018 stood out for its measured restraint and freshness.

Montrose – one of if not THE most ambitions properties in Bordeaux in terms of minimising its environmental footprint – was another instant success. With some of the finest terroir in the Medoc, the team accepted a 40% reduction in their total yield in the name of organic viticulture and the result was a beautifully detailed and architectural wine.