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Bordeaux 2018: MW Institute St Estèphe Tasting

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

In a warm year St Estèphe is always going to do well. The percentage of clay soils really helps deal with drought and heat extremes, and the proximity of the Gironde river helps ameliorate hot temperature. There is no doubt that this appellation has produced some of the best wines of the vintage. Only four wines from the appellation were shown at the MW Institute’s 2018 Bordeaux tasting [way back at the end of 2022], but they did show two of the possible wines of the vintage. Château Cos d’Estournel is wonderful, full of finesse and poise. It’s currently quite tight and needs some more time, but this is a very refined and polished effort. Château Montrose is monumental. It is beautifully pure and close to perfection. Although the prodigious Château Calon Ségur wasn’t on show at the MW Institute’s 2018 tasting, I’ve been struck by the magical quality of that wine several times. I’ve also recently tasted Château Meyney which has lots of extract and tannin. It needs time but is very impressive.

The following four wines were tasted in November 2022 at the MW Institute’s Annual Claret tasting. I hope these notes are useful. 2018 is a very promising vintage in St Estèphe.

Château Cos d’Estournel, Grand Cru Classé, St Estèphe, 2018

Big and bold looking; creamy and layered in the nose; quite tight and needs to open up; lots here obviously; blue cherry and ripe black fruits emerge; ripe entry on the palate; rich but nicely balanced which retains freshness; lots of depth and extract. Very good wine indeed. [14.5% alc, 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot]. Tasted Nov ’22. Drink 2028-2052. 97+

Château Cos Labory, Grand Cru Classé, St Estèphe, 2018

Deep and saturated look; ripe plum aromatics; attractive and full; again plenty of juicy fruit on the palate with attractive texture. This is really nicely done and is undoubtedly the best Cos Labory in a while in my book. [14% alc, 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot]. Tasted Nov ’22. Drink now-2038. 91+

Château Lafon-Rochet, Grand Cru Classé, St Estèphe, 2018

Deep and dark; sturdy aromatics; wet rocks, stones with an earthy edge; stalky black fruits on the palate; this is spicy and big if lacking a bit in finesse. [14.5% alc, 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted Nov ’22. Drink 2028-2042. 91

Château Montrose, Grand Cru Classé, St Estèphe, 2018

Deep and dark; seriously deep aromatics; blackcurrant purity beautifully layered; strong and deep on the palate with evident structure and considerable extract. This is a pretty monumental wine. [14.5% alc, 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot]. Tasted Nov ’22. Drink 2030-2060. 99+

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