Bordeaux 2018: Where does reality in bottle meet hype from barrel?

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com 

24 January 2021

From barrel, I had characterized 2018 Bordeaux as a vintage for “Hedonists and Intellectuals”. Over the course of the last few months, including several visits to Bordeaux during official lockdowns in France, I tasted 2018s on location, after recent bottling. Some bottles had been sent to me to Strasbourg, but it was great to go on location and taste when I could.

Then again, the advantage to having bottles delivered is that you can spend more time with each wine… I may request that for 2020.

My intro to the vintage as published in Wine-Searcher.com last month – here the link – posed the question whether the reality in bottle meets the hype from barrel, and to some extent it does.

Thanks for reading that text before you go to my tasting notes. Suffice to say, the term “great” often has been used to describe each new dry and hot vintage in Bordeaux, but – as ever – the devil is in the details.

Based on my tastings, many wines from the less-hyped 2019 vintage should surpass the 2018 vintage for lovers of cooler balances, even if alcohol levels are not so different. 2018 may win in terms of density, but 2019 seems to convey more subtlety, overall. Certainly 2016 is the vintage par excellence for lovers of cooler balances, of which I count myself.

How will 2016, 2018 and 2019 compare down the road?

Having said that, 2018 has many a gorgeous gem and some excellent wines with excellent price/quality ratios (although 2019 may prove the most interesting in terms of pricing), and I have purchased some 2018 vintage wines as a result, including, for higher end purchasing, Château Canon, Château Cheval Blanc, Château Larcis Ducasse and Château Léoville Las Cases.

One can argue that the very best 2018 wines are potential legends. Wines like Château Cheval Blanc, Château Mouton Rothschild, Petrus and the aforementioned Léoville Las Cases come to mind. Unlike 2016, it was not as consistent in quality across the appellations, so I hope that my tasting notes help you decide. As I am not tied to the industry, my notes are based on some 20 years experience tasting Bordeaux as a journalist and wine lover, and they are independent. 😊

Putting money where the mouth is: my 6 bottle case of Château Canon arrives. One of the best wines of 2018.

TASTING NOTES

Just click on the links below to get to the tasting notes by appellation. As ever, wines in bold I liked in particular. If red and bold, even more. If underlined, too, then a kind of wine nirvana!

LEFT BANK
Saint EstephePauillacSaint JulienMargauxMédoc/Haut-Médoc/Moulis/ListracGraves/Pessac-Leognan (reds)

RIGHT BANK
PomerolSaint EmilionRight Bank Satellites (Mostly Castillon)

WHITES 
Dry whites including Graves/Pessac-Léognan, Médoc and Sauternes producersSauternes/Barsac “Stickies”

 

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