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A Praiseworthy Bordeaux 2018

“I can tell you that 2018 is an exceptional year for Bordeaux wines.” – James Suckling

Starting as a nightmare and ending as a dream, despite the many challenges this year has brought - the latest 2018 Bordeaux vintage, to put it frankly, is exceptional. After a week of traveling, touring and most importantly, tasting Bordeaux’s latest releases, 2018 is definitely shaping up to be ranked amongst the great Bordeaux vintages.

“The year was like two separate seasons” – Jean Garandou, Château Latour

“The determining factor was the hot and sunny weather from mid-July until the end of the harvest in October.” – James Suckling

Described as a year of extremes, with an unprecedented wet start plagued by hailstorms, downpours and mildew outbreaks, the region was then blessed during the second half. Starting from mid-July, Bordeaux welcomed a dry, sunny summer, leading to optimal harvesting conditions. It was due to these factors, as well as, some ongoing unfortunate consequences of the frost in 2017, that the yields were quite low for certain producers. While these aspects greatly impacted the quantity, they fortunately, did not affect the quality.

“The best wines have a lot of things together. Lots of freshness on the nose, a great brightness considering the vintage, pulpy structure on the palate, dense, but melting and ethereal, without the powerful 2018, tannin marking the finish.” – Jean-Marc Quarin

While the quality of this ripe vintage has many golden stars, it also its inconsistencies. As usual in Bordeaux, the greatest terroirs were able to produce fresh and dramatically elegant wines. However, the properties that were also able to choose the perfect time to pick during harvest, have present the best wines. The greatest reds this year are fresh, with a powerful concentration, they also have silky tannins that balance their higher alcohol levels, making them, both approachable and extremely age-worthy. Overall, it is definitely a red wine vintage, while the dry whites and sweet wines proved a bit more challenging. The dry white wines carry their usual high-quality characteristics, but picking times were especially crucial this year to ensure freshness. The sweet wines however suffered a bit more, due to the slow development of botrytis.

“It’s not homogeneous, but 2018 will be regarded as one of the great Bordeaux vintages.”
Jeff Leve, The Wine Cellar Insider

As it is not necessarily Right Bank or Left Bank year, there are appellations all over the region that stand out. On the Right Bank, Saint-Émilion and Pomerol have produced some magnificent wines, especially those producers that were able to preserve the fruits’ natural acidity and freshness. Châteaux Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Figeac and Pavie, as well as others, brought their best wines to the table for this 2018 vintage. In Pomerol, the consistent well-performing Châteaux La Conseillante, Clinet, Vieux Château Certan and l’Église Clinet presented structured wines full of finesse.

“The wines have the rare combination of opulence, with high acidity and freshness”
Alexandre Van Beek, Managing Director of Château du Tertre and Château Giscours

As for the Left Bank, all the appellations in the northern Médoc - Saint-Estèphe, Pauillac and Saint-Julien - have produced outstanding wines, not uniformly, but for the most part the key players have performed very well. In Saint-Estèphe, Château Calon Ségur stood out as the star of the appellation, and maybe even, the 2018 vintage. Châteaux Cos d’Estournel and Les Ormes de Pez produced top wines of brilliant quality. In Pauillac, the sleek and provocative 2018 Lafite Rothschild stole the show, while Pichon-Longueville Comtesse, Pichon-Baron and Grand-Puy-Lacoste also presented perhaps their best wines ever. This year, Saint-Julien was very consistent. Léoville Las Cases and Ducru-Beaucaillou, however, emerged as the appellation’s luminaries. As for Margaux, the appellation as a whole produced remarkable 2018s, the Rauzan-Ségla 2018 is close to perfection and a great representation of region. While Palmer suffered greatly from the mildew outbreak, losing up to 2/3 of entire production, the remaining wine was one of high-quality, a true Margaux inspiration. Without question, Brane-Cantenac produced the ultimate quality-price wine this year. The Pessac-Léognan appellation, although very heterogenous in terms of quality and style this year, Les Carmes Haut-Brion was particularly incredible, producing a vibrant 2018 that left our Head Sommelier speechless.

“Two words best describe the 2018 Bordeaux wines presented at this year’s En Primeur: Heartbreak and happiness.” – Roger Voss, Wine Enthusiast

As many of you know, the good weather and long harvesting window allowed many châteaux to ultimately produce incredible wines, this vintage however is still not a consistent enough to buy blindly. It is important to break down this vintage not only by appellation, but also by château and maybe even, by vineyard. We cannot stress enough how important it is this year to rely guidance from a trustworthy source. After spending a week carefully tasting hundreds of En Primeur 2018 wines, in the winemaking capital of the world, the ARVI team is more than happy to share their expertise with you.

“Regardless of how they were made, the majority of the 2018 reds in my tastings were beautifully structured with ripe fruit and potent tannins, yet there is an impressive drinkability to them, which is a great sign of quality.” – James Suckling

With such a variable vintage, it is also imperative to secure the best wines before they are released onto the market. Purchasing En Primeur wines is not only the best way to guarantee the most sought after labels, but also reserve the quantities and unique large bottle formats that you desire. Purchasing Wine En Primeur guaranteed its origin – coming from a credible source, rest assured that each bottle has been stored and handled properly.

“The 2018 vintage will be one for the record books.” – Elin McCoy, Bloomberg

Like always, when it comes to En Primeur wines it is vital that you buy from a dependable and financially strong source. In the past years, some companies even went bankrupt, therefore it is more than imperative to purchase from a proper, trustworthy merchant. One that has definite allotments and will deliver your wines.

“The wines are structured for the long haul. They’re at least as good as the 2016s and sometimes better.” – Christian Seely, Managing Director of AXA Millésimes

Globally, the demand for En Primeur wines is high, and growing each year. We expect that the top wines will sell out quickly. As usual, we will inform our clients immediately upon release. But in order to avoid disappointment, we will need an equally face-paced reaction in return.

ARVI is here to help. We have one of the largest allocations of top-end Bordeaux 2018 wines and offer each and every producer without any tie-ups. If you have bought En Primeur wines from us before, we would like to give priority to those clients. Along with the standard and half-bottle sizes, as always we will give our clients the possibility to choose from larger formats as well - from Magnums to the extravagant 27-liter Primats – En Primeur is the time to dream big (and act faster). Our ambitious lineup of wine consultants will support you along the way. We will guide you through this year’s selection of En Primeur wines and assist you in making the best decision – fitting with your personal tastes and desires, of course.