Reviewing the Bordeaux Barrel Tasting Reports from the Wine Spectator’s James Molesworth dating back to 2010, we can confidently say that Bordeaux 2018 has seen the highest number of potential 100 point scores in the last decade, with a total of five wines awarded 97-100 points.
With the benefit of one consistent taster throughout the decade – not to mention a taster famously conservative in his scoring – we believe this is a sure indication of the resolutely superior quality of this vintage. In fact, you would have to go back as far as the 2009, 2006 or 2005 vintages (when James Suckling was reviewing for the Wine Spectator) to find this level of promise from barrel.
Also of note is the even spread of potential 100 pointers between both the Left and Right Bank.
Reaching natural ripeness was not a problem in 2018, so retaining freshness is a common theme amongst all the most successful wines in the vintage. Any winemaker who was keen to protect acidity seems to have come out on top. A higher quantity of Cabernet Franc has also saved the day in terms of freshness, in addition to resisting the mildew which plagued many wineries at the beginning of the growing season. Finally, where there has been gentle extraction and maceration you tend to see phenomenal quality; this general move away from over extraction and a lighter toasting of oak plays out well in 2018.
Although it’s difficult to summarise across the entire region, the balance between acidity and tannin extraction, whilst retaining natural ripeness, appears to have produced the best wines. And there are more winemakers who appear to have achieved this balance than in most vintages.
See which Chateaux Wine Spectator thinks are in contention for “Wine of the Vintage” below…
Wine Spectator 2018 Bordeaux Barrel Tasting
Wines Scored 97-100 Points
|Chateau Figeac||St Emilion||Right Bank||-“This is pretty gorgeous, with velvety texture that lets nearly exotic cassis, plum and blackberry fruit reduction flavors roll through. Has a beautiful bass line of warm earth and smoldering tobacco notes all while keeping its sensational mouthfeel. The encore on the finish makes you realize this is the serious gourmet stuff. One of the highlights of the vintage.”—J.M.|
|Chateau Leoville Las Cases||St Julien||Left Bank||-“This is backward and dense, with thickly layered plum, blackberry, fig and blueberry reduction flavors wrapped liberally in warm ganache and melted licorice notes. A long echo of smoldering charcoal emerges at the very end. There’s a lot to resolve here as the rich and austere sides are still melding, but the extra amplitude doesn’t distort anything; it just all goes to 11.”—J.M.|
|Chateau Palmer||Margaux||Left Bank||-“The level of glycerine sets this apart, giving the cascade of plum, currant, blackberry and black cherry fruit extra oomph, while seeming to heighten the purity at the same time. Beautiful violet, incense and juniper notes flash in the background. This is packed with iron-laced grip, but remains seamless and extremely long. I suspect this will be one of the most talked-about wines of the vintage.”—J.M.|
|Chateau Pichon Longueville Lalande||Pauillac||Left Bank||-“This one nails it in 2018, with saturated, almost sappy kirsch, plum and blackberry preserve flavors at the core, inlaid with sweet tobacco, singed vanilla, worn cedar and fresh earth notes. A bolt of graphite provides support. Concentrated, long and very complete. One of the high water marks of the vintage.”—J.M.|
|Chateau Trotanoy||Pomerol||Right Bank||-“Gorgeous, showing hefty structure throughout, carrying waves of tobacco- and charcoal-coated cassis, steeped plum and warm fig fruit. The dense finish is packed together now and seriously long. A very complete wine that helps set the bar in this vintage.”—J.M.|