Wine Words & Video Tape

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MW Institute 2018 Bordeaux Tasting

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

There was something magical about the top wines in 2018 when first tasted during primeurs. The finest wines had fabulous levels of extract and exotic fruit profiles that were reminiscent of 2009, 1989 and 1982. Just over a year ago the MW Institute put on their 2018 horizontal tasting of all the principal Bordeaux appellations at four years of age. It was instructive. Some of the wines were developing really well and impressed. Others had firmed up considerably and had shut down. There were quite a few others that now felt a bit ponderous and lacking in freshness. There can be no doubt that this heatwave vintage has yielded some remarkable wines, but overall, the vintage continues to lack the overall consistency of 2019 and 2016 vintages from what I have tasted. So, what were the highlights?

In Pessac-Léognan Château La Mission Haut Brion and Château Haut Brion were impressive as you would expect. I thought La Mission pipped Haut Brion, though this was largely because the former was more open than the latter. I marked Domaine de Chevalier as their equal on the day, and this is a formidable effort from this great value property. Château Pape Clément has also produced a show-stopper which seems on par with these top wines too.

In Margaux Château Brane Cantenac has produced another wonderful wine – hauntingly pure and laser focused with remarkable freshness and clarity. I rated this as highly as Château Margaux which had lots of cool blackcurrant flavours and was fresh in the vintage context. Château d’Issan has also produced a lovely wine that ranks with their 2005.

In St Julien deep and powerful wines have been made at Château Léoville Las Cases and Château Léoville Poyferré, with Château Léoville Barton and Château Gruaud Larose not far behind. There is always good consistency in this small appellation and all the top wines here felt complete to me.

Further up in Pauillac, Château Pichon Baron and Château Pichon Lalande stood out as first growths in quality. Château Pontet Canet also impressed. Very good wines were also made at Château Batailley, Château Grand Puy Lacoste and Château Lynch Bages [but I rate the 2016 Lynch Bages much more highly].

In St Estèphe one of the greatest wines of the vintage must surely have been made at Château Montrose. This is a monumental effort that recalls the 2009 and 2003 here. It shows wonderful blackcurrant purity. Château Cos d’Estournel is also impressive, showing attractive balance and freshness. Sadly, the otherworldly Château Calon Ségur 2018 was missing from the line-up [a sublime wine that was simply remarkable from barrel].

Over on the right bank in Pomerol Château Clinet and Château La Fleur Pétrus led the pack in the small group of wines on tasting whilst in St Emilion, Château Cheval Blanc, Château Figeac and Château Angélus have produced very impressive wines. I’ll follow up with more detailed notes on all the wines tasted by appellation over the coming days.

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