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Posts Tagged ‘Bordeaux’

Bordeaux 2023 Primeurs – First Thoughts

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

What a difference a year makes. Bordeaux 2023 is stylistically light years apart from 2022. That generalisation is based in this case on tasting a hundred or so wines really centred on St Emilion in late April. Yes there is freshness, energy and drive to the nascent wines – they are perhaps more quintessential ‘Bordeaux’ in style than some recent vintages – but there is also heterogeneity. There is not the richness or mid palate weight of the 2022 vintage, or the evenness in quality, but the best wines from St Emilion and Bordeaux’s right bank show brightness and purity in 2023. The difference largely comes down to the weather. The 2023 growing season presented plenty of challenges across Bordeaux. A generally warm and humid year for much of the vegetative cycle, these conditions lead to considerable mildew pressure in the vineyards, challenges that required constant vigilance and affected some properties more than others. While high summer was warm it wasn’t hugely sunny. There were storms in June and there wasn’t the major water deficit that defines the exceptional years. That said there were some heat spikes and as the later growing season progressed the weather became drier, hotter and much sunnier and the vintage was harvested in generally dry, very good conditions. Overall though this is not a solar vintage like 2022 or 2018, and this might be something a relief for some consumers, with the wines perhaps truer to their terroirs and types.

Bordeaux 2018: St Julien MW Institute Tasting

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

St Julien has put in a very strong performance in 2018. This is a relatively small and very consistent appellation and the terroirs here have clearly succeeded in this tricky, unusual vintage. At the very top of the quality tree are the Léovilles [in a line-up sans Ducru]. Château Léoville Las Cases is tremendous but Château Léoville Poyferré and Château Léoville Barton are close behind. Château Gruaud Larose is almost on an equal footing and has made impressive wine. Château Lagrange, Château Langoa Barton and Château Branaire-Ducru are also very impressive. Château Beychevelle shows lots of finesse and Château Talbot continues its good run of decent form. Buy any of these and you will not be disappointed.

Bordeaux 2018: Margaux MW Institute Tasting

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

The Margaux appellation is large and heterogeneous. This variety comes through in the wines in 2018. A hot year with wildly shifting conditions – first wet and humid, then dry and hot – is complex enough and likely to yield variation. When translated across a wide variety of soils [clay, sand and gravel] it adds another dimension of complexity. For me classic Margaux is defined by enticing perfume, purity of fruit and velvet tannins. In that respect Château Margaux itself alongside Château Brane-Cantenac and Château d’Issan lead the pack with these characteristics in spades in 2018. Not a hint of vintage heat in these wines, just layered, cool blackcurrant fruit tones. I’d have expected Château Palmer and Château Rauzan-Ségla to be in this set too, but they were not represented at the MW tasting. I’ve previously been a fan of both Château Giscours and Château du Tertre, but neither impressed greatly on the day. Château Lascombes and Château Cantenac Brown were comfortably the next best wines. The former is typically opulent and saturated, the latter inky and structured. Neither are classic Margaux as identified above, but they will be bold, satisfying glasses of wine for sure.

Bordeaux 2018: Haut-Medoc MW Institute Tasting

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

The MW Institute had three Haut-Médoc wines on offer at their tasting. Château Belgrave delivers a lot of pleasure at a reasonable price. The 2018 seemed to have retreated a bit into its shell and needed a bit of coaxing in the glass. My experience with this wine is that it does age well in the medium term, so I’d give this another two or three years to settle, and it will improve over the next ten years. Château de Camensac has been another good buy for the past decade. This wine has experienced a renaissance over the past fifteen or so years and is worth seeking out, especially in riper vintages. This is a fresh and attractive 2018. Château Cantemerle, a little like Belgrave, has retreated somewhat. Again, Cantemerle offers good value and this 2018 has plenty of extract but currently lacks complexity. It may have opened up since it was tasted [these notes were taken at the end of 2022]. Elsewhere I’ve enjoyed other 2018 Haut-Medocs in the past year, including Château Beaumont and Château Sénéjac from my own purchases. I’ve not taken formal notes but Château Beaumont has lots of bright, juicy fruit tones and Château Sénéjac lots of flesh and texture in 2018.

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