Some of the finest reds we have ever tasted en primeur
When Christian Moueix, a wise vigneron very much not given to hyperbole, describes 2018 as “the best vintage of any of the 49 I have been involved with”, you can be sure that he means it.
Quite simply, this vintage has produced some of the finest reds we have ever tasted en primeur.
Colours are deep, alcohol levels between half a degree and a full degree higher than recent averages, and tannins are ripe. Yet the best wines have maintained freshness, energy and most importantly balance, and not just at the higher price points. Many super wines were made at the more affordable end of the spectrum, and you’ll find plenty of those in this offer.
It’s a selection we’ve made with the utmost care because, while there are truly remarkable wines to be found across the board, this vintage is much less consistent than 2016, 2010 and 2009. In the vineyard, choosing the right time to harvest was key: those who picked too early achieved acidity at the expense of ripeness, while those who waited too long faced excessive alcohol and a lack of freshness. In the cellar, careful handling was vital. The grapes at harvest were tiny, their skins packed with tannin, and only the gentlest of extractions was required.
Our final line-up for this, our main en primeur offer, reflects the success of those growers who got it right at every stage, from grape to glass. While the main focus of this selection, and, indeed the vintage, is reds, we felt we must include three outstanding dry whites which have achieved freshness despite the heat and dryness of the vintage. Our pick of the best sweet wines of this remarkable harvest completes the picture.
Château Bouscaut in Pessac-Léognan
Château Gruaud Larose in Saint-Julien
A vintage of extremes
2018 was marked by one of the wettest early seasons on record and one of the driest and sunniest summers. The mild, damp spring encouraged a widespread and aggressive mildew attack, with devastating effects on yields in some properties. Producers favouring organic and biodynamic practices were particularly badly affected. Hail also struck in parts of the southern Médoc, Sauternes and the Côtes de Bourg.
But then the clouds parted and the sun shone… and shone. Between the beginning of July and the harvest there was 25% more sun than the 30-year average, and rainfall was tiny – just 46mm fell throughout the entire summer at Château Margaux. The harvest was very long and unhurried, with growers able to decide exactly when each plot of vines should be picked.
Vigilance, timing and precision
In summary the superlative wines of 2018 are those that have benefited from vigilance in the vineyards during the growing season, timing at harvest, and precision in the cellar. Not everyone has achieved these three vital elements.
So, in April, I spent two rigorous weeks of tasting in Bordeaux to pick the cream of the crop for this offer. From the many hundreds of wines I evaluated emerge not only perennial favourites, but new wines too, chosen because we feel that they reflect the personality of this remarkable year. It goes without saying that I would happily snap up any of them for my own cellar.
Your Buyer for Bordeaux
This offer will close at 8pm, Tuesday 16th July, 2019.