Bordeaux Expert, Sarah Kemp went to Bordeaux tasting the new 2018 cuvée. We are delighted to share with you her analysis and recommendations.
2018 was looking all but auspicious
The saying goes that great vintages are born when the wine producer is lying in his deck chair and has little to do. On that basis, the 2018 Bordeaux vintage should have been a disaster. The year can be split into two parts, a wet winter with continual rain until June (one producer told me they didn’t get out of their wellington boots until then), followed by the hottest summer since 2003. Many producers had to deal with mildew, which affected the yield, especially on biodynamic estates, and in the southern Médoc some producers were badly hit by hail. So, 2018 was a year where producers needed to be constantly in the vineyard, rather than the deck chair.
Therefore, 2018 is a Janus vintage, a vintage of halves, but in this case the halves turn out to have made a delightful whole. There are some brilliant 2018s–the biggest surprise is how fresh many of them are considering the long hot summer, which lasted all the way to October. Though 2018 is no 2003, it has its own idiosyncratic personality, and in several cases the top wines are truly great, with balance, elegance and energy.
Wines to watch
I did not taste comprehensively, but can report great success in the northern Médoc. I was hugely impressed with many of the 2016s, so the wines had a lot to live up to, and in most cases they did. Standouts (where I marginally preferred the 2018s to 2016s) include Pichon Lalande, Lafite, Pavillon Rouge and from the Montrose stable, one to watch for value, Château Tronquoy-Lalande. For a final coup de coeur, there is Clos des Lunes d’Argent, Olivier Bernard’s dry white Sauternes. Fully comprehensive reports will be coming from the critics, it’s well worth taking note of your favourite, while buying, as always, will be down to price.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Much appreciated 67 Pall Mall Member, Sarah Kemp is recognised as one of the top experts in the wine industry, and a Bordeaux specialist. She was at Decanter for 32 years, more than 20 years as Managing Director. She launched the Decanter World Wine Awards, which became the world’s largest wine competition. Her passion for wine started as a teenager, through books. I dare describing her as a unique charismatic personality, with an insatiable knowledge and curiosity about wines, and a remarkable Bordeaux analyst. Should you meet her in the Club, do ask her about her favourite book!