As we sing in the New Year, it seems like the opportune moment to reflect on the highlights of 2018. Last year saw some wonderful wine releases from around the world, aptly showcased in the critics’ Top Wines of 2018 round-ups. We are living in an age where preserving tradition, embracing technology and sharing knowledge have never been greater. Couple these factors with a good vintage or two and 2018 brought us some of the finest wines ever produced…
James Suckling’s Top 100 Wines of 2018 was dominated by Bordeaux 2015s following his re-tasting of the vintage after two years in bottle. “Bordeaux is back!” he cried, with Chateau Canon 2015 unsurprisingly hitting the No.1 spot of the year with 100 points for its flawless palate. Other (mainly Right-Bank) 2015 Bordeaux highlights for Suckling included Chateau Belair-Monange, St Emilion (No.2, 100 points); Chateau Beausejour Duffau-Lagarosse, St Emilion (No.6, 100 points) – “extraordinary… a phenomenal wine that reminds me of the great Bordeaux of the 1950s”; and Chateau Trottevielle, St Emilion, (No.13, 99 points).
The other region to feature heavily in Suckling’s list was Tuscany, with wines from the beautiful 2015 vintage. It really was an exceptional vintage for the region culminating in a huge range of bewitching wines. Suckling’s highlights include Le Macchiole Bolgheri (No.8, 100 points) described as “profound in its delivery of flavours”; Antinori’s “truly phenomenal” Solaia (No.9, 100 points); and Argentiera’s Bolgheri Superiore (No.16, 99 points) – “an essay in balance and depth”. For the Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2018 it was Tuscany’s legendary Sassicaia 2015 that took the No.1 spot.
The Southern Rhone 2016s rightly featured heavily in the Wine Spectator Top 100 with Le Vieux Donjon’s “clear, precise and streamlined” Chateauneuf du Pape coming in at No.8 and Chateau Beaucastel’s Chateauneuf du Pape at No.18 – “A stunner from the get-go”.
For Suckling, Riesling was king when it came to the best white wines of 2018 with Dönnhoff holding the highest spot (No.3, 100 points) with the “mind-blowing concentration and brilliance on the palate” of its 2017 Dellchen, closely followed by Christmann’s Idig GG 2017 from Pfalz (No. 13, 99 points) and F.X. Pichler’s ‘Unendlich’ Smaragd 2017 from Wachau (No. 17, 100 points).
The 2016 Vintage Port releases featured heavily in both Suckling’s and the Wine Spectator Top 100s with Taylor’s (No.4, 100 points) and Graham’s (No.27, 99 points) hitting the highest notes for Suckling and Warre’s being the top choice at the Wine Spectator, reaching No.14.
Although there was little Champagne in the Top 100s this year, Wine Spectator put the Dom Perignon 2008 in at No.5, describing it as “power with grace”. Strictly speaking this hasn’t been released onto the market yet so should technically fall into the Top Wines of 2019, however it serves as a great reminder that this upcoming release is truly a Wine To Watch this month…