As I wrote in my report on the 2018 St Julien barrel tasting, this should win the prize for the most left-field consistent 2018 vintage in Bordeaux. Honestly, every wine I tried was delicious. And not only the Grand Vin, but also the second wines were strong. If you look at my tasting notes, you will see a remarkable level of consistency in the wines from St. Louis. John. Julian 2018.
Bruno Borie of Château Ducru Beaucheu is only too happy to call this year’s vintage a smash! Knockout Vintage gives not the idea of fullness, of flesh, but in fact a feeling of total satisfaction. For us, it is the most substantial wine produced on the estate! Bori continued: 2018 is clearly the beginning of a new era for Dukru Bojkayu.
The 2018 vintage was perfect for St. Julien when the rains stopped in late June. The winter and spring have been very wet in the region. But perfect weather, warm sunshine and drought hit the region in July and, with a few light rains to help the vines ripen, the good conditions lasted until harvest, allowing winemakers to harvest when they found the desired degree of ripeness.
Being a small appellation of only 910 acres, much of the gravelly soil has been able to work its magic by limiting excess water yet retaining just enough moisture to nourish the vines when needed during the dry summer months.
Lillian Barton Sartorius, of Castle Leoville Barton and Langoa Barton, said everything went relatively smoothly from start to finish. We were very lucky in 2018 with perfect timing for all weather conditions throughout the year. The flowering took place in good conditions. Then a hot summer with rain when needed, helped of course by the proximity of the river which acts as a thermal buffer and by our well drained gravel soils.
The warm, sunny days and cool, dry nights were perfect for the region and allowed most of the harvest to reach the maturity level desired by each farmer. If you want to know more about the 2018 harvest in Bordeaux.
The circumstances of the vintage allowed producers to make the style of wine they wanted, explained François Xavier Maroteau of Château Branaire Ducru : I’d say the 2018 Branaire Ducru is definitely a wine we want to make every year! A perfect combination of the complex structure of the 2016, the density and accessibility of the 2009 and the elegance and fruitiness of the 2015!
At the end of the harvest, conditions were right for both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for small, dark, deeply concentrated berries with thick, ripe skin. Sarah Lecompte-Cuvelier of Château Leoville Poyferre thinks the 2018 Saint-Julien is perfectly balanced. The 2018 is an incredible vintage of concentration and density, finding the perfect balance between alcohol and acidity and bringing a wonderful freshness.
Although 2018 Saint-Julien had a poor, very wet start, by the end of the harvest it was almost perfect and that made all the difference, according to Philippe Blanc of Château Beychevelle. This shows that you do better in the 100% ideal harvest conditions we had in 2018.
The tasting showed that producers everywhere produce wines that are uniformly dark in color, rich, concentrated, elegant, powerful and refined. The alcohol content is high, but the freshness of the wines is more than sufficient, they are both sensual and lively. Antoine Gimbert of Chateau Leoville Las Cases agreed to call 2018 a unique year for Saint Julien. 2018 is indeed an exceptional vintage, but it can hardly be compared to others.
The following wines from St. Gallen La Julienne 2018 were all tasted in my home office in non-blind conditions.
2018 – Beychevelle – The nose begins with flowers, tobacco leaf, thyme, blackcurrant, blackberry, cedar and damp earth. Deep in color, the wine is full-bodied, with serious depth of flavor that culminates in a rich, round, concentrated, long, elegant, fruity finish. He will live to be at least 25-30 years old and continue to develop. The wines are composed of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. 96 pt.
2018 – Admiral de Beychevel – Cedar, tobacco, cocoa, red stone fruit and just a hint of chocolate emerge easily from this supple, silky, sweet, juicy and fresh caster that is perfect for drinking while you wait for its big brother to develop. 90 pt.
2018 – Branaire Ducru – Shows better in the bottle than in the barrel. The wine is full of black and red berries, smoke, mocha, flowers and coffee beans. Elegant, refined, silky and fresh, the fruit offers that great sense of purity from the start that continues into the bright red berries. Fans of Braner Ducru should not miss this gem. The wines are a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc. 95 pt.
2018 – Ducru Boceiu – Intense color, the wine is completely opaque. Then the aromas of flowers, dark red and black fruit, forest floor, espresso, moist earth, tobacco leaves and dark chocolate stand out. Full-bodied, concentrated, full-bodied, deep, lush, fresh and full, the wine envelops your palate and stays with you. Which is just as well, because it’s hard not to crave all that sweet, ripe, tasty fruit. Cleanliness, symmetry and length are maintained for almost 60 seconds! Give it at least 12-15 years and it can reach triple digits! The wine contains 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, 14.5% ABV. The great wine was made from only 35% of the vintage. 99 pt.
2018 – La Croix Ducru-Beaucaillou – Floral notes and a touch of spiciness bring a lot to this sweet, medium-bodied wine. The fruit is ripe, sweet and fresh with good energy, rich, spicy and long, ending with soft, polished ripe red fruit that lingers. If you can wait, give it a few years of cellar time before uncorking the cork and enjoying it for the next 12 to 15 years. 93 pt.
2018 Le Petit Ducru – Forward, elegant, medium-bodied and ready to go, you’ll find plenty of spicy berries, tobacco crumble and earthy nuances here. The wine is round, charming and perfect for drinking over the next decade. 92 pts.
2018 – Gloria – Floral and berry aromas are supported by wet earth, cedar, tobacco and espresso. In the mouth, the wines are elegant, supple and juicy, with lots of sweet red fruit, body and concentration. The aftertaste is fresh and long. Give it 4-6 years in the cellar and enjoy it for the next two decades. The wine is made from a blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc. 94 pts.
2018 – Gruaud Larose – Round, lush, sweet and full, the wine offers good richness, layers of ripe currants, cherries and plums. The elegant and luxurious finish has depth and complexity with hints of stone. Clearly, Gruud Larose is back on track. The wine is made from a blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc. 94 pt.
2018 – Lagrange – Deep in color, the wine spends little time finding its feet. Bright, fresh and spicy red berries, cigar box, tobacco leaf and cedar draw your attention. On the palate the wine really takes off with all its layers of juicy, sweet, energetic fruit and finishes lush, round, supple, fresh and vibrant. As I wrote during the barrel tasting, this is the best vintage of Château Lagrange ever! As it ages and develops more sweetness and nuance, this wine could score even higher. 95 pt.
2018 – Langoa Barton – Aromas of cassis, chocolate mint, flowers and tobacco leaf begin the wine. But it’s in the full flavor, with all its firm, crisp, fresh, vibrant layers of bright, spicy berries, that the full character is revealed here. Young and brown as expected, give it at least a decade of maturation before you pull the plug. The wine contains 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc. 93 pt.
2018 – Léoville Barton – With a dark, black and purple accent, the nose is peppery with all its ripe, blackberry and berry notes accompanied by a note of cigar box, forest floor, spice, cedar and cigar paper. Full, concentrated, powerful but refined, the finish is deep, long and intense. Wait at least ten years before you pull the plug. It will be difficult to choose the best vintage of the 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016 and 2018 Léoville Barton, but it will be fun to taste them together over the next few decades. The wine is a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18%. 97 pt.
2018 – Léoville Las Cases – Stylistically different, but not far from the quality level of the perfect 2016, this is the future legendary vintage of Léoville Las Cases. When you begin to smell the wine, you find amounts of crème de cassis, Cuban cigars, smoke, forest leaves, tobacco, blackberries, coffee beans, flowers and earthy aromas. Full-bodied, rich and dense, the wine combines power with layers of sweet, supple, round and rich fruit that feels as good as it envelops the palate. Long and full, the comparisons to 2016 and 2019 across the decades will be a lot of fun. The wine is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc 14.5 ABV. 99 pt.
2018 – Le Petit Lion de Marquis de Las Cases – Here is a family resemblance to the Grand Vin. Lighter, closer to the end drink and definitely sweeter, this Baby Las Cases is perfect for restaurants and early breakfasts with a profile of black raspberry and currant combined with round tannins, a fruity filling, supple texture and a hint of tobacco. Enjoy it over the next decade or more while you wait for the Grand Vin to develop. The wine is a blend of 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 13% Cabernet Franc, 14.5% ABV. 91 pt.
2018 – Clos du Marquis – The smoky nose gets even better with all the ripe creme de cassis, blackberries, forest floor, cigar box and sweet cherries in the perfume. Lush, round and full of sweet, ripe, juicy red fruit, the wine offers length, freshness and liveliness, as well as supple tannins on the finish. It may get even better with bottle age. The wine is made from a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc, 14.5% ABV. 94 pt.
2018 – La Petite Marquise is medium-bodied, forward, sweet, round and fresh with a juicy, cherry, red plum, herb and berry finish. It should be delicious when it comes out. 90 pt.
2018 – Leoville Poyferre – Smoke, licorice, espresso, spice, blackberry and roasted currant make for a heady aroma. Full-bodied, lush, rich and creamy, with velvety tannins and plenty of coffee beans, dark chocolate, black cherry and tobacco leaf, this wine will hit the spot. Patience is as necessary as wine. If you’re not a fan yet and you love this style, just try it and you’ll be hooked! The wines are composed of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 32% Petit Verdot, 14.4% ABV. 97 pt.
2018 – Pavillon de Léoville Poyferré – Medium-bodied, soft, refined, gentle, light in style, an early drinking charm from the Left Bank. You should drink it while waiting for the Grand Vin to develop. 90 pt.
2018 – Les Ormes is a medium-bodied, sweet, forward, fresh and light wine based on Cabernet Sauvignon with a core of red fruits, spices and tobacco leaves. It will be good to drink on the way home. 86 pt.
2018 – Moulin-Riche – Sweet red fruits with notes of butterscotch, smoke, tobacco leaf, mint and spice come together to create a fragrance. In the mouth, the wine is medium-bodied, forward, charming and elegant with a black cherry and berry finish. The wines are a blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 17% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. 91 pt.
2018 – Moulin Riche M de Moulin-Riche – This is the first wine of this new second wine. A blend of 69% Petit Verdot, this dark wine offers black and blue fruit, black pepper, flowers and spice on the nose. Powerful, tannic, fruity on the attack but dry on the finish, perhaps time will help soften the tannins. 87 pts.
2018 – St. Pierre – Deep color, the wine starts with flowers, smoky currants, spiciness, espresso notes and cigars in the box. From there, the richly structured dark red fruit builds layers of wonderfully textured fresh berry fruit and toasty oak. Balanced, elegant and fresh, give it time to fully develop and integrate the oak. The wine is made from 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc. 95 pt.
2018 – Talbot – Smoke, espresso, tobacco leaf, cedar, currants and spiciness combine to create a beautiful nose. On the palate, the wine is round, juicy and fruity, filled with sweet currants, spice and oak. Give it at least 8 years to develop more nuances and to allow the oak to integrate better. 93 pt.
2018 – Talbot Connectable – A medium-bodied, forward, already charming drink. This fruity gem with a soft texture and fresh, tart red berries, spice and tobacco leaves is perfect for short-term drinking while you wait for the Grand Vin to mature. 90 pt.
2018 – Talbot Cayeux White – Light notes of yellow tropical fruit, white peach and honeysuckle line the nose. The palate is soft, juicy and creamy with green apple and citrus notes on the finish. 91 pt
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