New wines of the week :
• Bordeaux dry white : LES ARUMS DE LAGRANGE, CAILLOU BLANC de TALBOT, LATOUR-MARTILLAC
• Pessac-Léognan red : LATOUR-MARTILLAC
• Médoc/Haut-Médoc : BRANAS GRAND POUJEAUX (new), CHASSE-SPLEEN
• Saint-Julien : LES FIEFS DE LAGRANGE, CONNÉTABLE DE TALBOT, LAGRANGE, TALBOT, LÉOVILLE-BARTON
• Pauillac : LACOSTE-BORIE, GRAND-PUY-LACOSTE
From May 13 to May 17: VINEXPO BREAK
As planned, this week being occupied by Vinexpo Bordeaux and its many related events, no new Bordeaux cru has appeared (with two beautiful exceptions). Fortunately, two producers outside Bordeaux took the opportunity to offer their 2018:
• Rhone Valley : TARDIEU-LAURENT
• Spain : PSI, FLOR DE PINGUS, PINGUS
2018 in the Rhône Valley: another great vintage, the 4th consecutive after 2015, 2016 and 2017, but in an inverted profile where those from the south are fresher and less rich in alcohol than usual while those from the north show a more southern richness and unctuousness.
- in the south, the harvest is low due to grenaches decimated by mildew in spring. Quality level and breed comparable to 2015 on Châteauneuf, Gigondas, Rasteau, etc. Great success of the mourvèdre (superb Bandol).
- in the north, perfectly ripe Syrah has produced seductive wines with velvety tannins. They will evolve quite quickly and the charm will be there. Halfway in style between 2009 and 2010. To be noted is a new white wine, Crozes-Hermitage Vieilles Vignes, 100% marsanne over 50 years old.
2018 in the Duero Valley: same meteorology as in Bordeaux with a wet spring and a dry summer. By harvesting quickly and early (from September 26 to October 8), Peter Sisseck avoided the dangers of the vintage (too high alcohol and hard tannins). Thanks to its sweet extractions, its wines are especially aromatic and very fine, unlike any other in Ribera del Duero this year.
2018 in Bordeaux: on May 15, we published our general comment on the vintage in Gironde : here.
From May 6 to May 10: AT FULL THROTTLE
VINEXPO, the world's leading wine and spirits exhibition, will be held in Bordeaux from 13 to 16 May, with a large number of Châteaux rushing to offer their 2018 before next week's break. Here are the thirty wines selected this week:
• Bordeaux dry white : VIRGINIE DE VALANDRAUD, LARRIVET HAUT-BRION, CLÉMENTIN DE PAPE-CLÉMENT, PAPE-CLÉMENT
• Pessac-Léognan red : CLÉMENTIN DE PAPE-CLÉMENT, LARRIVET HAUT-BRION, PAPE-CLÉMENT
• Médoc/Haut-Médoc : POUJEAUX
• Margaux : PRIEURÉ-LICHINE, MALESCOT SAINT-EXUPÉRY
• Saint-Julien : MOULIN DE LA ROSE (new), LALANDE-BORIE, GLORIA, LA CROIX DUCRU-BEAUCAILLOU, SAINT-PIERRE, BEYCHEVELLE
• Pauillac : D'ARMAILHAC, DUHART-MILON ROTHSCHILD, CLERC-MILON
• Saint-Estèphe : SÉGUR DE CABANAC (new), MARQUIS DE CALON-SÉGUR, HAUT-MARBUZET, CALON-SÉGUR
• Right bank/Libournais : REYNON, LA VIEILLE CURE, D'AIGUILHE
• Saint-Émilion : CÔTE DE BALEAU, GRAND PONTET (new), FOMBRAUGE, POESIA, BARDE-HAUT, VIRGINIE DE VALANDRAUD, CLOS DE L'ORATOIRE, LARCIS DUCASSE, PAVIE-MACQUIN, VALANDRAUD
Calon-Ségur: due to a reduced harvest (mildew + drought) and a vineyard undergoing restructuring (grubbing-up + replanting), the volumes allocated by the château in 2018 are the lowest since 2012, forcing us, with great regret, to offer this wine only to 2017 buyers. If this is your case, do not hesitate to contact us before the end of May 2019.
Tasters present: many notes on the 2018 Bordeaux wines have now been published and, as expected, they are excellent and even exceptional. For each wine, you have on our site the notes and (partial) comments of the tasters we consider most relevant and whose opinions most often overlap ours:
- Michel Bettane, freely accessible on www.mybettanedesseauve.fr
- La Revue du Vin de France, May (already published) and June (to be published Wednesday, May 29) issues,
- Jacques Dupont, in Le Point magazine to be published on Thursday, May 23,
- Jean-Marc Quarin, by subscription on www.quarin.com
- Antonio Galloni, by subscription on www.vinous.com.
Absent tasters: three criticisms, which we shared with you in previous years, are not mentioned:
- Neal Martin, on subscription on www.vinous.com, will only come to Bordeaux in 2018 next September and we will not fail to give you his assessments as soon as they appear (at the end of the year),
- Bernard Burtschy, an excellent taster for 30 years at La Revue du Vin de France, Gault-Millau and Le Figaro, has now retired,
- The Wine Advocate, decimated since Robert Parker's retirement and the departure of Mr. Galloni and Mr. Martin, no longer has in our opinion the past expertise.
From April 29 to May 3: UPSCALING
The "Primeurs 2018" campaign continues on its launch, with around twenty vintages selected this week, including several grand cru classés, while remaining at an intermediate price between 2016 and 2017:
• Pessac-Léognan red : HAUT-BERGEY (new), MALARTIC-LAGRAVIÈRE
• Médoc/Haut-Médoc : MILLE-ROSES, FONRÉAUD, SOCIANDO-MALLET
• Margaux : DEYREM-VALENTIN, SIRAN
• Saint-Julien : LANGOA-BARTON, BRANAIRE-DUCRU, CLOS DU MARQUIS
• Pauillac : FONBADET, HAUT-BAGES-LIBÉRAL (new)
• Saint-Estèphe : ORMES DE PEZ
Here are in detail the three climatic events to be considered for the 2018 Bordeaux wines, two have affected the quantities and one concerns quality:
• after a winter (December-February) that was much wetter than the norm (+26%), there was a particularly wet March: 113 mm for an 30-year average of 65 mm. The soils were soaked, favouring the departure of the vine but also and especially mildew. In the memory of a winegrower in Gironde, never before has there been such a strong and long (until July) pressure from this fungus, which first attacks the leaves and then the bunches. Organic vineyards have been heavily impacted, especially those less experienced in conversion, but also those in conventional cultivation. It only took one or two days of delay in a treatment for the damage to be significant).
• second event, violent hailstorms very localized but devastating for the properties concerned:
- May 26th on Pessac-Léognan (Pope-Clement...) and southern Médoc (Cantemerle, La Lagune...),
- on July 15th on Sauternes (Fargues, Guiraud, Rieussec...) and again in the southern Médoc.
• the third event, the most important because it shaped the profile of the 2018 vintage, is the mid-July weather changeover. From July 17, summer settled in and never left the Gironde until the end of October: 15 continuous weeks of hot weather (+2.8°C compared to the norm, 26 days at over 30°C) and incredibly dry: in 3 months it fell barely a quarter of the usual rainfall (58 mm instead of 210 mm). With a month of September practically without water (3.2 mm instead of 80 mm), the weather was cloudless, allowing everyone, in white and red, to pick at their ease and according to their choices.
Outside Bordeaux, Domaine Jean CHARTRON has just offered its 2018 wines for the first time:
• Burgundy dry white : Domaine Jean CHARTRON, three villages, four 1ers crus, two grands crus
After several years of minimal production (frost, hail...), Côte de Beaune has regained a smile in 2018 with a harvest finally complete, with golden, ripe and perfectly healthy grapes. The wines, rich and pulpy, have very expressive fruity aromas with gourmet structures. In contrast to the liveliness of 2014 or 2010, closer in style to 2000 or 1990.
From April 15 to 26: LAUNCHING FOR 2018 FUTURES
From mid-April and without waiting for Easter, Angelus launched the "Futures 2018", which has since been followed by a number of vintages. Thus, there are already 35 vintages on our lists while we are only at the end of April:
• Graves red : CLOS FLORIDÈNE
• Médoc/Haut-Médoc : DU RETOUT, PETIT MANOU, MAUVESIN BARTON, BELLE-VUE, CHARMAIL, PETIT-VERDOT by BELLE-VUE, CLÉMENT-PICHON (new), CLOS MANOU, POTENSAC, LA TOUR CARNET
• Margaux : LA TOUR DE MONS, LA GURGUE
• Saint-Estèphe : TOUR DES TERMES
• Right bank/Libournais : PUYGUÉRAUD, ALCÉE, LA CHENADE, DALEM, MONTLANDRIE, HAUT-CARLES, LES CRUZELLES, CLOS DE BOÜARD, LA FLEUR DE BOÜARD, CLOS LOUIE
• Pomerol : LA PETITE ÉGLISE
• Saint-Émilion : MOULIN SAINT-GEORGES, BELLEFONT-BELCIER, CARILLON D'ANGÉLUS, ANGÉLUS
We will give more details in the next few letters the particular circumstances of the 2018 Bordeaux vintage, but here are some of the key points that shaped this vintage for red wines:
• Weather forecast
- very wet spring until mid-July, responsible for a mildew that is all the more devastating in organic (or in conversion) properties,
- from mid-July onwards, the weather was durably warm and dry until the end of October, producing concentrated grapes with thick skins and calm harvests.
- undoubtedly, 2018 is a very great vintage for Bordeaux reds, globally at the level of 2015 and a notch below 2016.
- but, unlike 2015 and 2016, 2018 is very heterogeneous, exceptional wines (fruity, tasty, deep and dense flesh) alongside other unbalanced wines (hard tannins, high alcoholic degree), in all appellations and for all grape varieties.
- 2018 will produce "serious" wines, rich and tannic and therefore long-lasting. After the charms of their first youth in the year following bottling, they will close again and should be expected to last for a good ten years (or more...).
- the mildew of spring, then the hail storms of June-July and the drought of summer explain the 2018 harvest, which was finally quite low in Gironde (5 million hectoliters), placing 2018 behind 2016 (6 Mhl), 2015 (5.5 Mhl) and 2014 (5.4 Mhl).
- we are only at the beginning of the Futures but it is easy to guess the price of the 2018 futures, between the price (ceiling) of 2016 and the price (floor) of 2017. The 2015 price in Future 3 years ago is in our opinion a good compromise, those who want to derogate from it must have solid qualitative arguments.