Bordeaux 2018 en primeur – a true hedonist’s vintage!

It’s that time of year again when Bordeaux’s chateaux release their latest vintage for sale en primeur (out of barrel). And their 2018 vintage really is something special!  I cannot remember ever tasting so many extraordinarily delicious, hedonistic, fresh and fruit-packed wines in my 15 years’ experience of tasting the region’s young wines out of barrel!

The vintage was not a great success in all appellations and at all price points, so you need to choose wisely. And it will probably – like the past run of vintages released en primeur since 2009 – be expensive and sometimes over-priced (Bordeaux’s top chateaux have become increasingly greedy over recent years!)

But if you simply want to make sure that you have some of the most amazing wines Bordeaux has ever produced in your cellar, then I do recommend that you order some of my top tips “en primeur”!

The prices for Bordeaux’s 2018 wines will be released by the chateaux during May and early June. Please e mail me if you would be interested in receiving my Bordeaux 2018 en primeur offers and I would be happy to send you my complete offer in early June?

About to taste at Vieux Chateau Certan, one of this year’s wines of the vintage!

All you need to know about Bordeaux’s 2018 vintage in a nutshell

  • A “climate change-influenced vintage” with one of the wettest Springs on record followed by one of the hottest and driest Summers and early Autumns.
  • There were severe mildew problems in the early Summer which caused significantly lower yields in certain chateaux, specifically those which work organically or biodynamically in the vineyards (without chemical sprays).
  • The hot, dry summer and reduced crop of grapes on the vines produced smaller grapes than usual with thicker skins. Colour depth, fruit concentration and tannin levels are as a result very high in 2018, meaning that the best wines have long/very long bottle ageing potential.
  • The tannins are usually however so silky and smooth and the fruit so sexy, floral and hedonistic that the wines will also be deliciously approachable young!
  • Despite the warm, sunny days during August –October, night time temperatures were cool, which has given the wines important freshness and balance.
  • The vintage was extremely successful for later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes, which benefitted from the perfect weather conditions in September and October.
  • Picking took place across Bordeaux in ideal conditions, so the grapes could be picked at optimum ripeness levels.
  • The wines are medium to full bodied with alcohol levels averaging 14% in the Medoc and 14.5% in the Right Bank.
  • The most consistently excellent appellations were St Estephe, St Julien and Pauillac, where there are many superb wines from the most famous chateaux but also some great value buys from lesser chateaux.
  • The best chateaux of Margaux, Pomerol and St Emilion also produced fantastic wines, but quality in these appellations was much more varied.
  • Dry white wines and sweet Sauternes are full of exotic fruit flavours in 2018, but often lack a little freshness and acidity; these are not “must buys” en primeur.

Important note about pricing this vintage

I did not offer a single wine en primeur from last year’s 2017 Bordeaux vintage because I felt that the release prices were too high relative to the good, but never great, quality of the wines. You will be able to buy almost every Bordeaux 2017 wine when they are physically released in bottle next year at around the same price as they were sold this time last year en primeur; I have no doubt about this!

There has to be a good reason to invest your cash 2 years before you receive the wines. A wine’s en primeur price should be fair and competitive versus older vintages of a similar quality currently available on the market. And the quality of that wine should be so good that you feel you really need to secure a case or two en primeur, just in case the wine is not easily available at its original release price when it is available in bottle in 2 years’ time.

It is very likely that many 2018s will again be released at high or very high prices, as has become the norm in Bordeaux over the past 10 years.  Quite simply, I will try only to recommend to you wines which I believe are fairly priced, and which in my opinion are of fantastic quality for their price.

Otherwise, why buy en primeur?!

My Top Tips from Bordeaux 2018 vintage

Please note that I am usually quite conservative with my wine ratings. This is the first vintage I have awarded any wine a perfect 100/100 points, and this year there are 3 of them!

My top 3 wines of the vintage

Pontet Canet, Pauillac – 100pts

Ausone, St Emilion – 100pts

Vieux Chateau Certan, Pomerol – 100pts

10 very close runners up

Palmer, Margaux – 99pts

Latour, Pauillac (not available en primeur) – 99pts

Pichon Lalande, Pauillac – 98pts

Leoville Las Cases, St Julien – 98pts

Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac – 98pts

Calon Segur, St Estephe – 97pts

Montrose, St Estephe – 97pts

Ducru Beaucaillou, St Julien – 97pts

Chateau Margaux, Margaux – 97pts

Figeac, St Emilion – 97pts

My 10 best value buys of the vintage under CHF50/bt

Capbern, St Estephe – 93.5pts

Croix De Beaucaillou, St Julien – 93pts

Reserve De La Comtesse, Pauillac – 93pts

Tronquoy Lalande, St Estephe – 93pts

Villars, Fronsac – 93pts

Bellevue St Emilion – 93pts

Meyney, St Estephe – 92.5pts

De Fonbel, St Emilion – 92pts

Fonplegade, St Emilion – 92pts

Pedesclaux, Pauillac – 92pts

5 Up and coming stars of excellent quality and potential

La Clotte, St Emillion – 94pts

Durfort Vivens, Margaux – 94pts

Rochebelle, St Emilion – 94pts

La Marzelle, St Emilion – 93pts

Mazeyres, Pomerol – 92pts