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Bordeaux 2018: Pessac-Léognan MW Institute

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

There was lots of extract and sweet ripe fruit on display from the nine wines from Pessac-Léognan in 2018 at the MW Institute tasting in late 2022. A few felt a little lacking acidity. This was definitely not the case for Château La Mission Haut-Brion, which even eclipsed the thrilling wine made at sibling Château Haut Brion. Both are outstanding. I was very impressed with a brilliant Domaine de Chevalier and a typically flamboyant Château Pape Clément. Château Malartic Lagravière balanced the ripeness with the freshness and felt complete. The usually knock out Château Smith Haut Lafitte seemed to lack a bit of zip on the end, though it was decadently lush and layered on the palate. Château de Fieuzal felt a somewhat stewed and lacking freshness, while Château Bouscaut was ripe and caressing. Château Oliver was sturdy with a tannic chunky finish.

The following notes were taken at the MW Institute tasting in November 2022 in London. I hope you find them helpful.

Château Bouscaut, Pessac-Léognan, 2018

Deep colour; ripe and plummy aromatics; fruit cake notes; ripe and caressing fruit on the palate; lacks a bit of complexity currently but has ripe fruit and nice extract. Sturdy. [14.5% alc, 58% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec]. Tasted 1.11.22. Drink 2024-2035. 90

Château de Fieuzal, Pessac-Léognan, 2018

Deep and dark; smoky aromatics; menthol, black fruits and espresso notes; impressive aromatically; ripe black fruits on the palate but lacks a bit of acidity and fruit feels a little stewed. Not as lively as expected. Maybe retreated into its shell. [14% alc, 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted 1.11.22. Drink 2023-2038. 89

Château Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan, 2018

Deep earthy black red; complex nose with savoury aspects, meats and black fruits; palate a little closed but evident extract and structure. Length too. Excellent wine but for me eclipsed fractionally by La Mission in this vintage at this stage. [14.5%, 49.4% Merlot, 38.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11.9% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2028-2050. Tasted 1.11.22. 96+

Château La Mission Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan, 2018

Deep; fine aromatics – lots of finesse, blackcurrant and spices; sturdy blackcurrants flavours on the palate with balancing acidity and freshness. Really well balanced. Sinewy as usual but will develop well. Needs another few years and then will improve for twenty. [14.5% alc, 53.5% Merlot, 42.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3.6% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted 1.11.22. Drink 2026-2050. 97+

Château Olivier, Pessac-Léognan, 2018

Dark black in the glass; chocolate notes; lacks a bit of interest and layering; some freshness on the palate but the tannins are chunky and tannic. Extraction lacks finesse. [14.5% alc, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot]. Tasted 1.11.22. 87

Château Pape Clément, Pessac-Léognan, 2018

Deep colour; attractive aromatics; lots of sweet, lush black fruits – blackcurrants and plums; classic Pape Clément seduction; some chocolate notes; palate has freshness and finesse and is really caressing; substance here too – lots of depth and the sweet fruit hides a firm structure. Lots of extract and matter here. A showstopper. [14.5% alc, 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted 1.11.22. Drink now – 2050. 97+

Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan, 2018

Deep and saturated looking; great purity on the aromatics; plummy and sublimated; some prunes and eaux de vie; lots here on the palate; lovely sweet black fruits; lacking a bit of zip on the finish. Little chew on the end. I’d like to taste this again in a few years. Has all the ingredients and SHL plushness but lacks a bit of freshness on this outing. [14.5% alc, 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2025-2050. 93?

Domaine de Chevalier, Pessac-Léognan, 2018

Deep colour; real finesse here; bluer cooler fruit tones here like La Mission and cut from the same cloth [though not at all close geographically]; this has style and poise; great balance on the palate with the ripe fruit balanced with freshness and elegance. This works very well. [14.5% alc, 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot]. Tasted 1.11.22. Drink now – 2050. 97

Château Malartic Lagravière, Pessac-Léognan, 2018

Deep colour; prunes and black fruits dominate the aromatics; chocolate notes too and ripe black cherry; supple palate; nicely handled and not over-extracted; polished and impressive Malartic. Great effort with freshness on the end. [14% alc, 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted 1.11.22. Drink now – 2038. 95+

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