Bordeaux 2018 En Primeur

17 June 2019 - “Incredible”

We’ve become accustomed to astonishing wines at VCC. Our expectations keep getting higher and higher, and Alexandre and Guillaume duly surpass themselves. The 2018 is a magnificent effort with all the glorious high-toned aromatic detail we would expect from VCC as well as a huge, intense core of fruit. This is a dense, concentrated wine and yet it maintains a great sense of energy and freshness. Texturally glorious, the fruit is silken and the tannins envelope the palate like a cashmere cardigan. It is decadent and resolute in equal measure. The critics are suitably effusive too, with potential 100 point scores from The Wine Advocate and James Suckling. There’s no doubting, this is a very special Vieux Chateau Certan – we just wish there was more to go around.

“The 2018 Vieux Château Certan is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. Yields were 40 hectoliters per hectare. The wine has a pH of 3.78, 14.4% alcohol and an IPT (total polyphenol index) of 77. Medium to deep garnet-purple—it has a very vibrant color—it drifts effortlessly out of the glass with wonderfully intense, beautifully delineated scents of red roses, black raspberries, kirsch and Darjeeling tea before the powerful, profound black fruits kick in: baked plums, wild blueberries, molten licorice and mulberries with touches of cigar box, cinnamon stick, tapenade and truffles. Full-bodied, rich, densely packed and revealing layer upon layer of red and black fruits with an incredible array of floral and spicy sparks, it has a high level of super ripe, incredibly fine, velvety soft tannins and fantastic freshness (not just from acid but from bright, crunchy fruit). It finishes very long, marvelously layered and with such jaw-dropping brightness from the fruit, the end is almost electric. Incredible. 97-100/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

“This is a significant VCC with masses of fruit and juicy tannins. It’s fresh, but impresses you with the rich and powerful fruit. A tower of a wine. Incredible depth and density. Thick and muscular. It is 30 per cent cabernet franc, the rest merlot. 99-100/100”. - James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

 

14 June 2019 - A true masterpiece

Since Pierre-Olivier Clouet became the Technical Director at Cheval Blanc, a seamless run of great wines has ensued. He has a bold, but quite simple vision utilizing the breadth and diversity of the terroirs at Cheval Blanc to develop complexity in the wine. The blending process is staggeringly intricate, but Pierre-Olivier and his team have mastered this art and are responsible for the finest sequence of wines this great chateau has ever produced. In an illustrious history, 2018 is without doubt the pinnacle of their achievements. Along with Lafleur, it was our selection of the Right Bank and arguably of the whole vintage. It is a breath-taking wine, a wine of nobility and grace. It reveals itself demurely; there’s nothing extravagant or pretentious, it is effortless and calm, yet there is such complexity and depth. Detailed nuances flicker and delight the palate, while majestic tannins support the full kaleidoscopic intricacy of this glorious wine. It’s a wine that defies comprehension. It is both cerebral and hedonistic, high-brow and rather sexy, powerful yet impeccably fluid. There’s no doubt that Cheval Blanc 2018 is a masterpiece that all wine lovers will want to drink many times during their lives.

“The 2018 Cheval Blanc is dazzling. Creamy, supple and inviting, the 2018 is endowed with phenomenal balance. The tannins and overall structure are imposing, and yet the richness of the fruit and perfect ripeness of the tannin really stand out. In 2018, Cheval is a bit richer than is often the case, but that is not at all a bad thing. I am struck by how much freshness and energy the 2018 has. Hints of lavender, spice and licorice add shades of nuance, but it is the wine's overall sense of harmony that leaves the strongest impression. A precise counterpoint of fruit richness and finesse makes for a truly unforgettable Cheval Blanc. 97-100/100”. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

 

14 June 2019 - Big ambitions

Figeac’s current run of form must rank alongside any period in its exceptionally long history. The past four vintages have been staggeringly good, each leaving the entire Justerinis team grasping for superlatives. When we were there in January we saw the enormous hole in the ground that will someday rise into a magnificent, state of the art winery. Frederic Faye and his team have big ambitions, and they almost certainly have an eye on the forthcoming St Emilion classification (2022). Figeac along with Canon must be in pole position for an upgrade to Premier Grand Cru Classe ‘A’ – their inclusion in the ‘A’ club alongside Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Angelus and Pavie would be entirely justified. Returning to January, we re-tasted the outstanding 2016. It was a joy: complex, ethereal, gently powerful. Fast forward to April and we were back with the 2018 in our glasses. If anything this is even more impressive. It is one of the stand out wines of the Right Bank, a wine of extraordinary purity, stupendous complexity and beautiful detail. Figeac is a unique style produced from a unique right bank terroir; a most distinctive wine that on current form is one of the most exciting and energising wines being made in Bordeaux. On this evidence, it is more than deserving of promotion.

“The 2018 Figeac is composed of 37% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Cabernet Franc, harvested September 17 to October 12 with a 3.7 pH and 14% alcohol. Deep purple-black in color, it charges out of the gate with vivacious black and red cherries, cassis, warm plums and wild blueberries scents plus fragrant hints of violets, star anise, tilled soil and forest floor with wafts of Ceylon tea and chocolate box. Full-bodied and jam-packed with energetic, crunchy black and blue fruits, it has a rock-solid, firm, grainy frame and loads of bright, refreshing sparks lifting the dense layers on the very long, savory finish. Wow—the Cabernet really makes itself known this vintage, and it is good. The signature of this wine is so clear, so defined, that this is a Bordeaux wine without peers. In my view, this is the finest Figeac ever produced. 97-99/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate

“The 2018 Figeac is simply magnificent. A regal, soaring wine with tremendous vertical lift and nuance, the 2018 is marvelously complete from the very first taste. All the elements fall into place effortlessly. Medium in body and refined, the 2018 is vibrant, with fine tannins and, frankly, quite a bit more freshness than I expected to see given the very dry, sunny summer. Rose petal, mint, lavender and spice add nuance to a core of red/purplish fruit. Harvest started on September 17 and finished on October 12. Yields were 39 hectoliters per hectare, just shy of the historical average of 42/32. While mildew pressure was an issue, it was the dry October winds and their dehydrating effect on the last Cabernets that impacted yields most. Like so many of his colleagues, Technical Director Frederic Faye and his team opted for gentler vinifications with no SO2 at crush, lower temperatures in fermentation and smaller pumpovers. The 2018 Figeac is brilliant. That's all there is to it. The blend is 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 26% Cabernet Franc. Tasted three times. 96-99/100”. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

Over the road and into Pomerol we have the sumptuous and rather luxurious Chateau La Conseillante. Marielle Cazeaux has honed the style here, creating wines with an haute couture feel. The 2018 is plush and ripe with beautiful, velour textured tannins.

“The 2018 La Conseillante is a blend of 83% Merlot and 17% Cabernet Franc, with a 3.65 pH and 14% alcohol. Yields were 32 hectoliters per hectare; Merlot was harvested September 19 to October 1, and Cabernet Franc was harvested on October 4. Very deep purple-black colored, it comes charging out of the gate with energetic notes of wild blueberries, chocolate-covered cherries and warm black plums plus hints of lilacs, damp soil, cardamom and cloves with gentle wafts of cast iron pan and fragrant earth. Medium to full-bodied, it fills the mouth with elegant black fruit and earthy layers, framed by soft, velvety tannins and just enough freshness, finishing long and mineral laced. 96-98+/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate

“The 2018 La Conseillante is magnificent. A wine of real vertical lift and explosiveness, the 2018 is distinguished by its spine of energy, freshness and purity of fruit. Inky blue/purplish berry fruit, mocha, lavender spice and mint develop in the glass, but it is the wine's overall sense of harmony that truly stands out. The 2018 showed tremendous vibrancy and vitality, with superb mid-palate richness and phenomenal balance all three times I tasted it. It is without question one of the wines of the vintage. The blend is 83% Merlot and 17% Cabernet Franc. This is the first vintage that includes a touch of wine aged in amphora, just 3%. Don't miss it! 95-98/100”. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

 

13 June 2019 - Saving the best ‘til last

It seems that the stars have aligned for the new team at Lafite. This was apparent as we tasted through Duhart Milon and Carruades de Lafite. When we arrived at the astonishing Grand Vin, it became obvious that 2018 was destined to be one of the all-time greats from this venerable First Growth. At the first impression we were struck by the reserved nobility of the bouquet. With aeration it slowly unfurled revealing complex aromas of minerals, flowers and decadent fruits. If anything the palate was even more compelling. Swathes of gorgeously textured black fruit coated the mouth. There’s a slight firmness and austerity that is befitting of a wine of this class – it’s an aristocratic giant yet it remained compact, precise and focussed. Lisa Perrotti-Brown sums up the stupendous finish superbly. “The finish goes on, and on, and on. If this wine doesn’t get Bordeaux lovers hearts' racing, nothing will.” It is fully deserving of all the accolades it has received and can now add the crown of Justerinis’ best wine on the left bank to that list!

The chateau has release 30% less stock on the market. As such, we will have to allocate. Please send requests to your Account Manager.

“The 2018 Lafite Rothschild is blended of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot and has 13.3% alcohol. The Merlot was harvested September 17-24, the Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested September 25 to October 5, and the Cabernet Franc was harvested on September 24. It has a deep purple-black color and then WOW—what a nose. It comes sashaying out of the glass with bags of grace and perfume, revealing notions of lilacs, red roses, fragrant soil, cinnamon stick and Morello cherries with a core of blackcurrant cordial, fresh black plums, redcurrant jelly and tapenade plus a waft of iron ore. Medium-bodied, the palate has wonderful, tightly wound layers of black, red and blue fruits intermingled with floral, earth and mineral notions and a rock-solid frame of the most finely pixelated tannins you can possibly imagine. Anyone who wants to see what I mean when I babble about the Lafite tannins needs to try this benchmark. The finish goes on, and on, and on. If this wine doesn’t get Bordeaux lovers hearts' racing, nothing will. 98-100/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

“A very compact and linear Lafite with a fantastic mouthfeel of intense but ever so refined tannins that draw a straight line through the middle of the wine. It’s full-bodied yet compact with complex character of plums, blackcurrants, cigar tobacco, cedar and hints of hazelnuts and coffee. Salty. Orange zest at the end. Delicacy with power. Richness with softness. Glamorous. Lasts for minutes at the finish. 99-100”. - James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

 

13 June 2019 - Right Bank Royalty

We are in the final furlong now and the pace is quickening… Out in the lead is the mighty Ausone with a hattrick of potential 100 point scores. Ausone’s terroir is considered by many to be the best in Bordeaux, and under the expert management of Alain and Pauline Vauthier, the Chateau’s reputation has risen to dizzying heights. The 2018 is a masterpiece. This is amongst the most complex and multifaceted wines of the vintage and must rank as one of the greatest Ausones ever produced. Due to very limited production, Ausone will be on allocation. Please submit your requests via your Account Manager.

“The 2018 Ausone is composed of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot. The Merlot was harvested September 25 and 27, and the Cabernet Franc was harvested October 3, 8 and 9. Deep purple-black in color, it is an impenetrable wall to begin, unrelenting without persistent coaxing, at last uncoiling to offer glimpses at preserved plums, blueberry coulis, molten licorice and underbrush with emerging scents of lavender, iron ore, crushed stones, charcoal and Indian spices plus a waft of red roses. Full-bodied, rich, decadent and tightly knit, it offers layer upon layer of fruit, spice and mineral nuances with a firm frame of exquisitely fine tannins and bold freshness, finishing with epic length and heart-stopping beauty. 98-100/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

“This is really exotic with wild-fruit character that I have seldom encountered in Ausone. Full-bodied yet reserved and very tight. Amazing depth and purity of fruit. Incredible beauty. Sexy. 99-100/100”. -James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

“The 2018 Ausone is off the charts. Deep, sensual and mysterious, the 2018 is going to need many years to show the full breadth of its potential. And yet, there is so much there. Rich and concentrated on the palate, with phenomenal persistence, the 2018 is loaded with energy, tension and precision, offering a compelling interplay of opulence, saline intensity and structure. It is without question one of the wines of the vintage. 97-100/100”. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

Just behind Ausone is Chateau Lafite’s Pomerol property, Chateau L’Evangile. A large part of the vineyard is farmed biodynamically. As a result, mildew accounted for a sizeable portion of the crop. Today’s release is 60% lower in terms of volume than the 2017, with a yield of just 17 hl/Ha. The new team lead by Saskia de Rothschild and Jean-Guillaume Prats is breathing considerable dynamism into this project. We expect to see a return to the glory days for Evangile.

“The 2018 L'Evangile is composed of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. The Merlot was harvested September 19 to October 2, and the Cabernet Franc was harvested September 25 to October 1. This is the optimal blend—with more Cabernet Franc coming through this year, since it was amazing. Deep garnet-purple colored, it slips seductively out of the glass with glamorous notes of baked black cherries, warm blueberries and raspberry tart plus wafts of kirsch, red roses, rose hip tea, espresso, licorice and sandalwood. Full-bodied, rich, concentrated and delivering opulent black fruit layers, the palate has a firm frame of lovely, ripe, rounded tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long and fragrant. Beautiful. 97-99/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

And last by a nose, but making good running, is Denis Durantou’s magnificent L’Eglise Clinet. Alas, production is tiny, but the wine is sensational. James Suckling has put a big ticket on this, 99-100 points. There’s no denying, this is a grand scale, rousing l’Eglise Clinet built for the long haul.

“This is incredibly powerful with fantastic depth and length. It goes on for minutes. Full-bodied yet so tight and intense. Blackberries and hints of spice. It has such energy and persistence. It is a wine that makes you really reflect. Bravo. Tiny production. 99-100/100”. - James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

 

07 June 2019 - Bordeaux 2018: The wines of Christian Moueix

The Moueix family is inextricably linked to the success of Pomerol. Their vision and endeavour coupled with their ability to locate and secure great terroirs has led to the creation of the most enviable portfolio on the Right Bank. Perhaps their brightest jewel is the mighty La Fleur Petrus. Since the adoption of the vines from Providence and Guillot, this has become the largest cru on the plateau of Pomerol. And if anyone thought that blending these terroirs might in some way detract, they’d be sorely mistaken. La Fleur Petrus continues to go from strength to strength. The 2018 is a sensational, grand-scale, classical Pomerol with a huge beating heart of rich fruit and a perpetual and highly nuanced finish.

“The 2018 Lafleur-Petrus is a stunning wine. Creamy, ample and generous, the 2018 has it all. Silky tannins and bright floral notes give the 2018 an air of sophistication to play off the rich, textured fruit. As good as the 2018 is on first impression, it is also magically persistent, with an eternal finish and fabulous balance. 94-97/100”. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

Since its inception in 1999, Hosanna has attracted a legion of admirers. This is typically the most exotic and hedonistic example in the Moueix range. The 2018 is certainly decadent and powerful, yet this is still rather refined and elegant. Complex and indulgent, this is one of the most attractive and compelling Hosannas to date.

“The inky purple/blue-colored 2018 Château Hosanna is 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc, all from a tiny 11-acre vineyard of clay and gravelly soils in Pomerol. Close in quality to La Fleur Petrus and Trotanoy (also in the lineup from Christian Moueix), it has a magical bouquet of blue fruits, tobacco, scorched earth, graphite, and crushed stone that, despite coming from a deep, rich, primordial barrel sample, is still layered and complex. Full-bodied, deep, and seamless on the palate, with fine tannins, it's a profound Pomerol that's going to flirt with perfection on release. 97-99/100”. - Jeb Dunnuck, Jebdunnuck.com

It seems like only yesterday that the Moueix team started restoring the fortunes of Belair. A name change and the incorporation of Magdelaine followed and now we are beginning to see the true potential of this great terroir. The steep, south facing limestone slopes, are capable of producing exquisite, haunting wines that last for an eternity. Anyone lucky enough to taste old bottles of Magdelaine and Belair will testify to their aging potential and sheer class. We have championed Belair Monange since 2008, but it is only since their first 100 point score for the magnificent 2015 that the wine world has paid sufficient attention to these wines. The 2018 is possibly the most profound effort yet. It is hugely impressive, with enormous concentration, yet impeccable balance and effortless charm – it’s absolutely ravishing!

“A blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, the medium to deep garnet-purple colored 2018 Belair Monange comes bounding out of the glass with all the energy and vigor of a pedigree puppy, offering notes of warm plums, wild blueberries, black raspberries and Morello cherries with touches of chocolate box, lilacs, underbrush, menthol and damp soil plus a waft of incense. Full-bodied, rich and decadently layered in the mouth, the densely packed layers are charged with energy, supported by firm, velvety tannins and a racy line of freshness, finishing very long and very spicy. 97-99/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

The most recent addition to the Moueix portfolio is Clos La Madeleine, a jewel-like vineyard of just 2.3 hectares located on the south-facing plateau and terraces of Saint-Émilion. The vines are literally nestled between those of Château Bélair-Monange. Edouard walked us through the vineyards soon after the purchase. He explained that a lot of work was required, but he couldn’t contain his enthusiasm.

“A blend of 76% Merlot and 24% Cabernet Franc, the medium garnet-purple colored 2018 Clos la Madeleine starts off just a little broody, soon giving way to very pretty scents of tilled soil, rose hip tea and fallen leaves over a core of warm redcurrants, chocolate-covered cherries and baked plums plus a hint of wild sage. Medium-bodied, the palate possesses loads of zip with vivacious red and black fruits and a racy line of freshness backed up by a chewy texture, finishing long and earthy. Not sure what the price is, but I’m imagining there’s a lot of bang for your buck here! 92-94+/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

And finally, and not strictly a Moueix property, but distributed exclusively by the Moueix clan, we have Certan de May. Jean-Claude Berrouet, the former wine-maker at Petrus is the Consultant Oenologist here and his craft is beginning to show in the wines. The 2018 is a resplendent offering. It is a dialled in Certan de May with less flamboyant fruit than normal. As a result it is much more cohesive and attractive proposition; taut, elegant and really engaging.

“The finesse and density to this young Pomerol is certainly impressive with gorgeous plum and floral character, full body and a very long and caressing finish. 95-96”. - James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

 

05 June 2019 - “A magnificent monster of a Montrose!”

Lisa Perrotti-Brown sums this up rather aptly - this is a monster of a Montrose, possibly the most concentrated and massive example we have ever tasted from this great second growth. It is a sort of hybrid of the massive 2010 and the ultra-refined, super-sleek, ethereal 2016. When we met with Hervé Berland in late January the team had just finished blending and there was an air of confidence that they had something very special on their hands. Their only regret was that yields were a paltry 25 hl/ha. This is a magnificent wine, possibly the most profound and long-term wine of the whole vintage. We were blown away by the concentration and the quite epic tannins – we were literally tasting this all the way to Cos d’Estournel. An absolutely sensational Montrose!

“Composed of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, harvested from September 17 to October 5, the 2018 Montrose has a very deep purple-black color and opens with tantalizing notes of crème de cassis, Black Forest cake, hoisin and mocha with nuances of molten licorice, fertile loam, cast iron pan and incense. Big, rich, full and powerful in the mouth, the voluptuous fruit has a rock-solid backbone of very firm, very ripe tannins to match with tons of freshness and an epically long, exotic spice finish. A magnificent monster of a Montrose! 96-98/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

“This is a big and muscular wine with great structure and depth of fruit. Blackberry and blueberry character. Hints of fresh leaves. Cool earth. Incredible depth, yet so polished. Concentrated. 98-99/100”. - James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

“The 2018 Montrose balances finesse and power to a degree I don't think I have seen in a recent young Montrose. The 2018 has plenty of depth, intensity and thrust - all signatures of Montrose - but it also has a striking sense of elegance. Crème de cassis, lavender, spice, menthol and licorice meld together in the glass. Although it is naturally very young, the 2018 Montrose appears to have a tremendous future. The blend is 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, which is to say more Cabernet and less Merlot than is the norm. Readers will have to be patient with the 2018, but it is a stellar wine in the making. Montrose presents an en primeur sample aged 100% in new oak (while the final wine is aging in 60% new barrels) to show a wine that is more ready to taste young. 95-98/100”. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

If you wish to place an order, please contact your account manager or follow the link below:

 

05 June 2019 - Bordeaux 2018: La Mission Haut Brion

An “Extraordinary wine” – Lisa Perrotti-Brown

Few wines flirt with perfection as frequently as Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion. One can debate the relative merits of both ad infinitum. For us, it was the more serious and introverted Haut Brion that pipped the more exuberant and decadent La Mission, but for Lisa Perrotti-Brown, the Bordeaux correspondent for The Wine Advocate, it was La Mission that stole the limelight and bagged the coveted 98-100 point score. This is a mighty impressive wine, so delicious when we tasted it, you could have been forgiven for wanting to drink it there and then. However, beneath the swathes of sumptuous and aromatic fruit there lies a fine tannic core that will help this to age for many decades.

If one needs a further reason to buy, the 2018 has been released at 20% below the release price of the 2016 and 35% below the current price for the 2009 and 2010.

“The 2018 La Mission Haut-Brion is composed of 53.5% Merlot, 42.9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3.6% Cabernet Franc, harvested September 10 to October 2. Deep purple-black in color, it slowly unfurls to reveal a beguiling nose of earth and soft-spoken fruit, opening with wild blueberries, wet slate, pencil lead and fresh black cherries giving way to a serious core of blackcurrant cordial, baked plums and wild sage, and then exposing delicate wafts of rose hip tea and candied violets. Full-bodied, the palate is very tightly wound and super intense with amazing restraint and energy focused around very firm, exquisitely fine-grained tannins and seamless freshness, finishing incredibly long and fantastically multilayered. Extraordinary wine. 98-100/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

We also have minute quantities of the Mission Haut Brion Blanc. This cuvee is rare as hens’ teeth, with just 6000 bottles produced annually from a 2.5 hectare vineyard. It is the ultimate collector’s item.

“This is a dense and lively La Mission white with lemon, lime and cream character and a light mineral and salty undertone. White pepper and salt at the finish. 97-98/100”. - James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

The second label from La Mission, Chapelle de la Mission was a particularly strong performer in 2018. There’s real Grand Vin class to this wine with its silky, lavish core of fruit and effortless, refined tannins. Jean-Philippe Delmas has captured the essence of the 2018 perfectly. The natural concentration is balanced by freshness and beautifully judged tannins.

 

04 June 2019 - The Red Baron

The Pichons are two of the most iconic Chateaux of Pauillac. Inevitably people will make comparisons, and in recent vintages, we have fallen for the allure of the Comtesse. However, the Baron is up for a dogfight. Christian Seely and the AXA Millesimes team have pulled out all the stops with their magnificent 2018. The Justerinis’ team, just like Lisa Perrotti-Brown, couldn’t choose a favourite. This is an immensely powerful, concentrated wine, bursting with a core of dark berries. It doesn’t have the finesse and aromatic charms of the Comtesse, but it makes up for this with waves of luxurious, velvety fruit. In the past we have criticised Baron for being too dense and lacking vitality – this effort is pitch-perfect – the fruit is vibrant and although concentrated, there is no sense of excess or heaviness. The tannin management is also superb. Pure fruits and mineral notes grip the palate with authority and give this a complex and long finish. There’s no doubt this is a hugely impressive Pichon Baron!

“The 2018 Pichon-Longueville Baron is made up of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Merlot. The Merlot was harvested September 24-25, and the Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested October 3-10. The wine is to be aged 18 months in barriques, 80% new and 20% one year old, and production represents 50% of the harvest this year. Very deep purple-black colored, it begins a little coy, rolling slowly and languidly out of the glass with notions of baked raspberries, blueberry coulis, crème de cassis and incense plus nuances of lilacs, truffles, damp soil and garrigue with wafts of lavender and wild sage. Full-bodied, voluptuous and oh-so-seductive, the palate reveals layer upon layer of savory, earthy and black fruit preserves, framed by wonderfully ripe, velvety tannins and lovely freshness, finishing very long and perfumed. Beautiful. 97-99/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

“Deep and dark young wine that takes you down, deep down to its center palate of blackberries and blueberries, firm and very silky tannins and a vivid finish. Wonderful palate and depth in this with such class and finesse. So many layers of polished, fine tannins. Great wine. 97-98/100”. - James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

 

04 June 2019 - Bordeaux 2018: Cos d’Estournel

Forget everything you thought you knew about Cos d’Estournel. Aymeric de Gironde, the previous General Director, plotted a new course for this second growth Chateau during his short tenure. The new regime, under the guidance of owner Michel Reybier and winemaker Dominique Arangoïts have the wind firmly in their sails. Some might say they have perfected this new style. This completes a hattrick of potentially perfect scores from The Wine Advocate, and for us it is clearly the most complete and convincing example to date. Ethereal, detailed, full of verve, it is a beautifully judged effort, brimming with bright fruit, yet measured and refined. The post-Parker style of Cos is attracting many admirers. One can emphatically say that Cos d’Estournel is back where is ought to be, as one of the leading ‘Super Seconds’ and one of the most sought-after wines of Bordeaux.

“The 2018 Cos d'Estournel is composed of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc and has 14.59% alcohol. Aging in 50% new barriques, it has a deep purple-black color and drifts effortlessly, gracefully, seductively out of the glass with slowly unfurling notions of blackcurrant cordial, wild blueberries, chocolate-covered cherries and plum pudding with touches of violets, licorice, wild roses and yeast extract plus a waft of loose tobacco. The full-bodied palate is built like a brick house with a solid frame of super firm, super ripe tannins and seamless freshness to back up the vibrant, crunchy, oh-so-muscular fruit, finishing long with loads of mineral layers. Amazing structure will keep this beauty for at least half a century and probably a full one! 97-100/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

“A regal, soaring Saint-Estèphe, the 2018 Cos d'Estournel is also clearly one of the wines of the vintage. On the palate, the 2018 is dark and sumptuous, with striking aromatic presence and silky tannins that wrap around a rich core of exotic fruit. Black cherry, savory herbs, leather, spice and menthol build in the glass in a wine that is both aromatically intense and richly textured. The 2018 has been nothing short of breathtaking on the two occasions I have tasted it so far. Don't miss it. 97-100/100”. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

 

03 June 2019 - “Simply breath-taking”

This is possibly the finest expression of Cabernet Sauvignon from the magical 2018 vintage. Jean-Hubert Delon’s superb clos, adjoining the vines of Chateau Latour, produces exceptionally pure, refined wines with an extraordinary ability to age gracefully for decades. The 2018 has been described by James Suckling as “2016 plus, plus”. It certainly convinced us. There is such effortless power combined with unerring grace. It’s a faultless style; a wine that will appeal to the purists and connoisseurs. Leoville Las Cases is in an elite group along with the likes of Lafite, Latour and Montrose, having produced one of the most profound and exciting wines of the Medoc.

“We produced great Cabernet Franc this year,” Directeur Général Pierre Graffeuille told me during my visit to Léoville Las Cases. Even though only 3% of the press wine was added back, he was also absolutely glowing about the quality of this too. And he should be—the finished blend for the 2018 Léoville Las Cases is yet another triumph for this great estate. Composed of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc and 9% Merlot, harvested September 15 to October 4 with yields of 35.5 hectoliters per hectare, it has 14.49% alcohol and will be aged in barriques, 90% new. Very deep purple-black in color, it is a little closed to begin, slowly emerging from the glass to reveal subtle woodsmoke, violets, tilled soil and underbrush scents over a core of warm cassis, wild blueberries and redcurrant jelly plus hints of rare beef and iron ore. Full-bodied, rich, super concentrated and bursting with latent energy, this is an atomic bomb waiting to go off in your mouth. It has a rock-solid foundation of firm, very ripe, very finely grained tannins and bold freshness supporting the muscular fruit through the epically long, amazingly nuanced finish. Simply breathtaking. 98-100/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

“OMG. This shows amazing depth of fruit and density. Full-bodied and so layered with incredible fruit and power. Blackberries. Blueberries. Violets. Hints of dried flowers. Fantastic fruit and tannins, yet agile and energetic. The château says 2016 plus, plus. 99-100/100”. - James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

 

29 May 2019 - A monumental Lynch Bages

Anyone who has visited the village of Bages in the last couple of years would be forgiven for thinking that the Cazes family was in the construction business. There have been a lot of cranes rising from Lynch Bages and now the most enormous edifice has emerged on top of the gravel croups. This impressive structure will be a state-of-the-art wine-making facility, which will ensure and bolster Lynch’s already exceptional reputation as one of the leading lights in Pauillac.

The 2018 is itself a monument, a towering example of precision winemaking and great gravel terroir. This is such a wonderful expression of the vintage. There is deep, brooding, gravelly cassis in abundance, huge tannic power and staggering length, yet it is all controlled and beautifully shaped. It pushes the limits, but it isn’t excessive; there’s a fluency, tautness and energy that makes this vivacious and lithe. However, we would not recommend this to anyone looking to pull a cork as soon as it’s in bottle; this will require considerable patience. It’s a hugely impressive Lynch Bages, which matches and even surpasses their wonderful 2009, 2010 and 2016. The only adverse news is the yields. Like so many Chateaux in 2018, berries were tiny, so the crop came in at a less than bountiful 37 hl/ha. As a result, there is 25% less wine on the market.

“The 2018 Lynch Bages is made up of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot aging in 75% new barriques. Very deep purple-black in color, the nose is quite coy and restrained to begin, fanning out to offer pure, ripe blackcurrants, black cherries and preserved plums with wafts of red roses, cigar box, incense, cardamom and fenugreek with savory touches of black olives, Marmite toast and smoked meats. Full-bodied, the palate is built like a brick house, with a solid foundation of very firm, very ripe, grainy tannins and superb freshness supporting the generous black fruit layers, finishing long with provocative ferrous suggestions. 96-98/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

“This is incredibly powerful and structured with so much tannin backbone and length, yet it’s cool and fresh with a compact palate and great length. Muscular. 97-98/100”. - James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

 

28 May 2019 - Regime Change

As we wrote last year, it’s all change at Troplong Mondot. The new owners have appointed Aymeric de Gironde (formally of Cos d’Estournel and Pichon Longueville), who has in turn employed the services of the talented Mr Thomas Duclos. Monsieur Duclos’ philosophy of early harvesting and gentle extractions has already made neighbouring Chateau Canon one of the must-have wines of the right bank. It’s only a matter of time before Troplong is mentioned in the same breath. This unique terroir, above the Cote Pavie, is famed for powerful, brooding wines. With Thomas’ delicate touch, they are also discovering a freshness, intensity and charm. There’s only one direction this Chateau is going…

“The focus to this wine sets a new standard for Troplong Mondot with density and minerality that I have not encountered for decades. Lots of slate and white-pepper character. Tight and very dense. Full body. Balanced. Wild mineral character and freshness here. Precise. 97-98/100”. - James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

“The 2018 Troplong Mondot is a remarkable wine. All the elements fall into place in a stunning, aromatically intense Troplong Mondot that is full of character. There is a level of precision and vibrancy in the 2018 that is simply breathtaking. Black cherry, raspberry, mocha, flowers, mint and spice all meld together in this captivating, arrestingly beautiful Saint-Émilion. New oak is 60%, with lower toast levels than what was common just a few years ago. The blend is 85% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc. 94-97/100”. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

Over in St Julien, Didier Cuvelier, after almost forty years at the helm of Leoville Poyferre, has handed the reigns to his cousin, Sara Lecompte-Cuvelier. Poyferre’s expression of the vintage is very striking and true to the house style; this is more of a subtle alteration rather than a wholesale change. It is still an impressive, opulent, powerful style of St Julien, but there is more energy and a bit more lift. The tannins are also more measured and harmonious than recent vintages. If this develops as we expect it to during elevage, it will be a blockbuster Poyferre.

“This is so powerful and dense with amazing tannin quality that reminds me of dense clouds, because they are agile and light. Multilayered. Extremely long, too. Punchy! One of the best wines I have ever had from here. 97-98/100”. - James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

“The 2018 Léoville-Poyferré is a stunning wine that shows a very distinct shift in style under the leadership of Sara Lecompte Cuvelier towards greater energy and vibrancy. The 2018 soars out of the glass with stunning aromatic presence. In its latest incarnation, Léoville-Poyferré is marked by a distinct emphasis on freshness and less extraction than in the past, with sweeter, riper tannins than is the norm. It will be interesting to see if that is an expression of the vintage, or a move toward a gentler approach to winemaking, but I suspect much of it is the latter. Dark red cherry, menthol, pine and wild flowers abound in a stunning, vibrant Saint-Julien that will leave readers weak at the knees. Tasted three times. 94-97/100”. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

 

24 May 2019 - A Sensational Brane Cantenac

It's easy to lose track of wine’s essential role in the pursuit of the highest possible scores. Namely, fine wine is there to give pleasure, and if there is one region capable of producing the most seductive, pleasurable wines in the world, then it must surely be Bordeaux. As we’ve said many times now, the 2018 vintage has produced scores of wines that will seduce and mesmerise drinkers for many years to come, but Brane Cantenac stands head and shoulders above the others as one such sensational example. In our minds, this is one of the most charming, joyous and delightful wines of the vintage. There is a sumptuousness to the fruit and a glorious texture that coats the palate with sweet berry fruit, whilst notes of rose petals and violets delight the nose. It is deep yet light and vibrant, framed by effortless filigree tannins. Forget scores for a moment, “this is absolutely delicious,” in the words of our esteemed Buying Director. What more can you ask for?!

“What strikes me about this Brane-Cantenac is the gorgeous center palate of ripe fruit, which gives an impression of generosity, yet it’s tight and reserved at the same time. Fine and polished tannins follow on and drive this gorgeous fruit. 95-96/100”. - James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

“The 2018 Brane-Cantenac captures all of the natural richness of the year. Ample, creamy and resonant, the 2018 offers quite a bit of intensity while retaining its mid-weight sense of structure. Dark red cherry, mint, spice, and dried rose petals are some of the signatures. Even with its obvious volume the 2018 retains lovely aromatic freshness and nuance. The 2018 is an especially juicy, open-knit Brane-Cantenac. Grilled herbs, menthol, spice and anise add an attractive upper-register to the perfumed finish. The blend is 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Tasted three times. 92-95/100”. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

We also have a small quantity of Pontet Canet 2018 available at £520 per six. Alfred Tesseron’s vineyards are farmed biodynamically and were ravaged by mildew. The final wine is produced from just 10 hl/ha and is likely to become something of a collectors’ item. If you would like an allocation, please speak to your Account Manager.

“The 2018 Pontet-Canet is made up of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Picking began on September 24 and finished on October 5; aging is in 55% oak barriques and 45% amphorae. Very deep purple-black in color, it comes rolling sensuously out of the glass with all the opulence and seduction of Cleopatra on a carpet. It emerges with flamboyant scents of crème de cassis, preserved plums and blueberry compote, and after a few moments, it bursts with nuances of molten licorice, sandalwood, Chinese five spice, candied violets, dark chocolate and dried roses, followed by underlying earthy suggestions of fallen leaves, black truffles, underbrush and wild sage. Full-bodied, wonderfully dense, rich, impossibly layered and very, very decadent, the palate delivers all it promises on the nose, with a firm, wonderfully velvety frame and finishing with epic length, a scintillating wave of freshness and a beguiling perfume. This is one for true hedonists. 97-99/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

 

23 May 2019 - The Greatest

We seem to live in a world of superlatives. When every wine that is released is the best or most profound – one can become a little bit cynical. However, when someone as well respected as Olivier Bernard suggests that his 2018 is the “greatest” wine he has ever produced at Domaine de Chevalier, you take note! We had already tasted and reached the same conclusion before we exchanged views. This is one seriously impressive wine: deeply concentrated, with swathes of effortless fruit, wrapped in grand scale, yet caressing tannins that finish with sumptuous, bright fruit. It’s exquisitely constructed, and for us, eclipses the likes of the 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2016. Greatest? Without hesitation - this is not to be missed!

"Wow. I can’t get over the pureness of fruit in this wine with so much currant, tar and wet-earth character. Flowers, too. So aromatic. Full body, yet pureness and brightness of fruit. Layered. Incredible depth and beauty. 65% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot and 5% petit verdot. Greatest ever?" 99-100/100”. - James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

 

23 May 2019 - “Seduction in a glass” – Lisa Perrotti-Brown

Nicolas Audebert coined the phrase the “Grand Huit”, the big eight or the rollercoaster. A clever play on words that appositely sums up the sentiments of vignerons and the style of the vintage. As ever, there is a refreshing honesty from the Canon, Rauzan and Berliquet team – this after all, was a vintage with tumultuous ups and downs that ultimately ended in elation.

Since Nicolas assumed control in 2015 both Rauzan and Canon have experienced unparalleled success. 2018 is no different, however, tables have been turned. Whilst both wines are off the charts in terms of quality, our team clearly felt that Rauzan Segla has got one over its Right Bank compatriot. That is not to say that Canon is anything but exceptional, it’s just that Rauzan Segla has achieved a new level of excellence. Even the other-worldly 2010 and 2015 don’t come close – this is a masterpiece, a wine that towers above the rivals. For us it was one of the wines of the vintage; a view echoed by many of the major critics.

“The 2018 Rauzan-Ségla is fabulous. Regal and soaring in the glass, Rauzan-Ségla is simply unforgettable. Stunning aromatics and layers of flavor develop in the glass in a drop-dead gorgeous Rauzan that will leave readers weak at the knees. Inky and explosive, the 2018 possesses off the charts intensity and richness. Leather, licorice, spice and grilled herbs add nuance as the 2018 builds to a huge crescendo of aromas, flavors and textures on the finish. I won't be surprised if one day the 2018 is considered among the greatest Rauzan-Séglas of all time. It is a tremendous achievement by the property and the team lead by Technical Director Nicolas Audebert. Don't miss it! Tasted four times. 97-100/100”. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, May 2019

Canon too was glorious, albeit in a more mineral infused, serious style than the benchmark 2015. The power and concentration of the vintage have been harnessed into a deep melting pot of dark, graphite and earthy cassis. It is introspective and profound, yet there is energy and lift as well as considerable refinement to the imposing tannins. In short, they are both exquisite and would be worthy additions to the most discerning of cellars. Alas, volumes are limited, so these wines will have to be allocated.

“The 2018 Canon is blended of 72% Merlot and 28% Cabernet Franc, with a pH of 3.69 and 14% alcohol. Deep purple-black in color, it comes sashaying out of the glass with glamorous notes of cinnamon stick, baked blackberries, black cherry compote and licorice plus an undercurrent of plum preserves and smoked meats and, with coaxing, reveals a lovely floral signature of candied violets and red roses. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is wonderfully soft-spoken, whispering of fragrant floral and earthy scents beneath a core of profound, mouth-coating black and blue fruits, draped in a high level of super ripe, plush tannins, finishing with amazing freshness and perfume with loads of mineral sparks emerging. 97-99/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

Please note that these Chateaux have released significantly less wine this year. As such, both these wines will have to be allocated.

And last, but by no means least, we have the Wertheimers’ latest acquisition, Chateau Berliquet. This is the first full vintage under the new ownership, and Nicolas and his team have pulled out all the stops. Never before have we tasted a Berliquet with this level of precision, with such glorious texture and potential. Nicolas would modestly say it’s a work in progress, and we are sure there is more to come, however, this is a very strong debut. At £198 per six bottles, this is a great price for one of the up and coming stars of the appellation.

“This was really Nicolas Audebert’s first vintage at Berliquet, since the property was acquired by Chanel in the autumn of 2017. The most significant, immediate change from 2018 came from noticing that blocks of the vineyard had Merlot and Cabernet Franc interplanted. These used to be harvested together. This year the different cultivars were flagged and harvested separately so as to achieve optimal ripeness for both varieties. The 2018 Berliquet is blended of 78% Merlot and 22% Cabernet Franc and has 14.5% alcohol. Deep purple-black in color, it leaps from the glass with bold kirsch, blueberry compote and Black Forest cake with touches of cloves, lavender, menthol and lilacs. Medium to full-bodied and elegant, with lovely freshness lifting the densely packed blue and black fruit flavors, it has a velvety texture and long, earthy finish. 93/95+/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

 

22 May 2019 - A “Fabulous” Leoville Barton

We agree wholeheartedly. This is a grand scale, muscular Leoville Barton, built in the mould of all the greats produced from this noble Second Growth vineyard. The 2018 vintage has provided power, concentration and tannins in abundance, however, all these components have been united into a cohesive, balanced and very impressive wine. Make no mistake, this is a proper vin de garde, a wine that will last for decades and will require considerable patience, but the virtuous will be rewarded with something spectacular.

Stocks are limited and may have to be allocated. If you would like something a little more immediate, yet made in the classical Barton cast, we still have the excellent Langoa Barton available at £435 per dozen.

“The 2018 Léoville-Barton is fabulous. Graphite, gravel, crème de cassis, mint, violet, spice and exotic spices are some of the many notes that infuse this stunningly beautiful unctuous Saint-Julien. In 2018 Léoville-Barton has an extra dimension of volume and resonance, yet it never loses its super-classic mid-weight structure and regal bearing. The blend is 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Merlot. 93-96/100”. - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com

“Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2018 Léoville Barton simply sings of crushed black cherries, blackcurrant cordial and wild blueberries with touches of violets, dark chocolate, allspice and cardamom with a waft of stewed tea. Full-bodied, rich and decadently fruited in the mouth, the generous fruit has a solid structure of firm, ripe, grainy tannins and oodles of freshness, finishing long and layered. 94-96/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate

“This is very structured and powerful with lots of blueberry and blackcurrant character. Full-bodied and muscular with so much intensity and density. Extremely muscular. Yet, it’s agile. 95-96/100”. - James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

We are also delighted to offer the exceptional Grand Puy Lacoste 2018. This is as handsome as ever, a classically styled GPL brimming with violet scented cassis fruit and framed by the most refined of tannins. It’s an absolute beauty, one of the most alluring wines of the northern Medoc and will no doubt look like good value when the other big names from Pauillac release.

“This captures the style of the vintage to a T, with vividly ripe cassis and plum fruit, carried by solidly built but fine-grained structure. Lots of graphite and tobacco accents hang in the background for now. A firmly grounded wine. 95-98/100”. - James Molesworth, Wine Spectator

 

10 May 2019 - Bordeaux 2018: Duhart Milon, Clerc Milon, d’Armailhac, Palmer, Gloria

There’s been a last-minute dash to release before the half time break in the campaign that is Vinexpo. This morning, both Milons, Clerc and Duhart have hit the market. We are unequivocal fans. Duhart has been in the doldrums recently, however, Jean-Guillaume Prats and the new team at Lafite have produced one of the most impressive Duhart Milons we can recall. It is an extremely serious and stylish Pauillac, made in the Lafite mould. Lisa Perrotti-Brown describes it as “the densest, most opulent Duhart I have tasted!”

“The 2018 Duhart-Milon is composed of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot, with the Cabernet Sauvignon harvested September 25 to October 4 and the Merlot harvested September 17-25, and it has 14% alcohol. Deep garnet-purple colored, it leaps from the glass with exuberant notes of Black Forest cake, plum preserves and crème de cassis with hints of spice cake, woodsmoke, potpourri and eucalyptus. Full-bodied, rich and laden with layers of black fruit preserves and spices, it has a velvety texture and just enough freshness, finishing long. Very impressive—the densest, most opulent Duhart I have tasted! 93-95/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate

“This is a very powerful Duhart with blackcurrant and blackberry character. Lots of graphite and black tea. Full-bodied and muscular with lots of formed muscles and great length. Could be best ever?This is a very powerful Duhart with blackcurrant and blackberry character. Lots of graphite and black tea. Full-bodied and muscular with lots of formed muscles and great length. Could be best ever? 95-96/100”. - James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com

Clerc Milon is one of the darlings of Bordeaux. Philippe Dhalluin and Jean-Emmanuel Danjoy have created something very special here. The 2018 is certainly up there with the wonderful 2016, possibly even better. We found this to be the most lavish, yet exquisitely detailed, example to date. The fruit is verging on decadent, but there is so much verve and it is corseted by sumptuous tannins. It’s another deeply impressive effort from the Mouton team!

Poor Chateau Palmer was ravished by mildew – the perils of biodynamic farming… As a result, yields barely made it to double digits, a paltry 12 hl/ha. Alas, our small allocations have already sold out.

Yesterday saw the release of two great value wines from the northern Medoc: d’Armailhac and Gloria. As with Clerc Milon, the Mouton team has really raised the bar at d’Armailhac – quality has never been better, and it represents one of the best values from Pauillac. Henri Martin’s Chateau Gloria often outscores and outclasses its classified neighbours. The 2018 is a sensational effort; there is loads of ambition and concentration without excess. We thought it was far more attractive than St Pierre and many of the other prominent names at the St Julien UGC.

“The 2018 Gloria is deep garnet-purple colored and gives up expressive notions of warm red and black currants, black cherries and boysenberries with hints of spice cake, cedar chest, pencil lead and menthol. Full-bodied with a firm texture of ripe, grainy tannins, it has a lively line cutting through the dense, savory layers, finishing on a lingering spicy note. The blend is currently 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. Anticipated aging is for 14 months in oak barriques, 40% new. 92-94/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate

 

07 May 2019 - Bordeaux 2018: Beychevelle and many others…

It could be the first signs of Brexit jeopardising the old Entente Cordiale; Beychevelle did the unthinkable and released on the May Day Bank Holiday! A snub to the Brits or poor diary management, we don’t know, we don’t care, we just love the wines. Since the inaugural vintage in the impressive new winery, Beychevelle hasn’t put a step out of place. The 2018 is possibly the most striking of the lot. This is super-impressive, bringing together a more complex and concentrated core of fruit with a detailed tannic structure, without losing any of the old Beychevelle ease and charm. There are just a few cases left…

Sticking to the regular timetable, we have Les Carmes Haut Brion and Calon Segur. These are two of the most impressive and sought-after wines in Bordeaux, however, they have both reduced allocations by 25% (from already tiny quantities). Alas, both are ‘allocation only’. If you would like to be considered, please contact your Account Manager.

Pavie Macquin, Cantemerle, Meyney, Malescot St Exupery and Haut Batailley have all released over the last 24 hours. There are huge scores for Nicolas Thienpont’s flagship, Pavie Macquin (95-98 Wine Spectator, 97-98 James Suckling, 94-96 Wine Enthusiast, 19 Jean-Marc Quarin, 98 Decanter, 16.5 Jancis Robinson, 95-98 Lisa Perrotti, 92-95 Antonio Galloni, 94-95 Bettane et Desseauve, 97-99 Jeb Dunnuck). We found it rather divisive, but there is certainly lots of extract and winemaking.

Meyney is certainly a wine on the up and up. Since Hubert de Bouard started consulting, Meyney’s fortunes have transformed. We raved about the 2014, the 2015 shone from bottle and now the 2018 cements its place as one of the rising stars of the Medoc.

“A very dense yet tight and focused red with blackcurrants, blackberries and hints of spices and walnuts. Full-bodied, very compact and long. Intense finish. 95-96/100”. - James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

Our final endorsement goes to Haut Batailley. Jean-Charles Cazes’ second vintage is very impressive. It’s a more muscular expression than the Haut Batailley produced under Xavier Borie’s tenure. There’s certainly plenty of ambition and even a slight nod towards the style of its new big brother, Lynch Bages.

 

03 May 2019 - Playing catch up

Yesterday was dominated by the release of Chateau Lafleur and the other Guinaudeau wines, however, there were a few significant releases that also deserve a mention. So, here’s a quick round-up to bring us up to date.

We often enthuse about the wines of Cheval Blanc. Pierre-Olivier and his team are making superb wines, but perhaps the biggest surprise this year was the extraordinary quality of Quinault L’Enclos. This, the tenth vintage made by the Cheval team is absolutely superb. It is without question one of our best value buys from 2018 and looks set to feature in many J&B staff cellars. As Antonio Galloni says, the level of precision is mighty impressive – this raises the bar to a new level for Quinault L’Enclos.

“The 2018 Quinault L'Enclos is impressive. Creamy and ample, the 2018 stands out for its textural breadth. There is a level of intensity in the 2018 that previous vintages have not achieved, with a balance of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc that is striking for such a young wine. All of the work the Cheval Blanc team has done here over the last ten years have begun to pay off big time. Half of the property was replanted between 2008 and 2012 with more Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc from Cheval and Merlot on later-ripening rootstock. In the glass, the 2018 Quinault offers a striking interplay of floral and savory aromatic and layered fruit, with ripe, silky tannins that caress a core of plush, plaint fruit and a gorgeous, saline-infused finish. There is a level of precision in the 2018 that is positively breathtaking. 91-94/100”. – Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com

Clinet is a bit of an enigma to us. We really don’t understand this wine when we taste en primeur. It always feels overly ambitious and over worked, however, many wine critics purr in reverence to this Pomerol. Jeb Dunnuck is compelled to award a 96-99 point score. We’ll just have to agree to disagree…

“The 2018 Château Clinet is 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon (which is more Cabernet than usual) that was brought up in slightly more new oak than normal, aging in 75% new and 25% once used French oak. Sporting a saturated purple color, it has a massive perfume of black and blue fruits, crushed violets, spice, and orange blossom. Full-bodied, deep, expansive, and layered on the palate, it's an incredibly hedonistic and sexy wine that shows the best of this great vintage. It’s going to be hard to resist on release and knock your socks off over the following two decades or more. 96-99/100”. - Jeb Dunnuck, Jebdunnuck.com

Yesterday’s other big news was the release of Chateau Gazin. We’ve admired the wines of this chateau perched next to Petrus for many years. The de Bailliencourt family continues to produce balanced, charming wines, which we admire and love to drink. A recent bottle of 2012 was quite outstanding. These understated, handsome wines rarely disappoint.

And to complete proceedings, we have the two significant release from today, Ormes de Pez and Clos du Marquis. We can’t conceal our weakness for the Delon wines. These are some of the purest and most serious expressions from St Julien. The Clos du Marquis hails from a site to the west of the D2 and is surrounded by top cru classés. It represents a more forward, approachable style than big brother, Leoville Las Cases, but still remains faithful to the precise, natural house character and ages effortlessly – it’s a real beauty.

Jean-Charles Cazes’ impressive St Estephe Chateau, Les Ormes de Pez is often one of our best value selections… the 2018 is no exception. Built in the same mould as Lynch Bages, the ODP is dark and sultry with brooding dark cassis fruit and minerals. At £125 per 6, this is an absolute bargain.

 

24 April 2019 - Top values from two Right Bank legends

You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to drink wines produced by wine-making royalty. Today, both Denis Durantou of Chateau L’Eglise Clinet and Alain Vauthier of Chateau Ausone have released their entry level wines. If L’Eglise Clinet and Ausone are their Grand Cru terroirs, the likes of La Chenade, Saintayme, Les Cruzelles, Montlandrie, Fonbel and Moulin St Georges are their village or Premier Cru vineyards. These wines benefit from all of Denis’ and Alain’s technical knowhow, wine-making flair and expertise, built up over the decades.

Unlike many wines at this price point, these are beautifully pitched expressions of their terroirs. There’s certainly a resemblance to the Grand Vins, albeit in a more immediate, less profound style. We have enjoyed buying and drinking these wines for many years and they have a distinguished track record, nearly always exceeding our expectations. The Durantou wines in particular have become bywords of great value Clarets, with the likes of Les Cruzelles and La Chenade outperforming many eminent Pomerol estates.

We also have miniscule quantities of Denis’ La Petite Eglise. Continuing the Burgundy analogy, this is like a declassified Grand Cru. It hails from the original L’Eglise Clinet vineyard, but Denis uses the sandier terroirs for this excellent second wine. Again, this offers astonishing value for money – a really charming, detailed Pomerol with an outstanding reputation. Alas, restructuring in the vineyard means that yields are down 50%.

 

16 April 2019 - And they're off!

It’s so early it seems like a false start, but Chateau Angelus has become the first major release of the 2018 campaign. As the front runner, Angelus is claiming the spotlight, even if some spectators still aren’t even in the stands yet. And if that weren’t enough of a shock, the 2018 is released on to the market at 1530GBP per 6; 10% less than the 2017. This is welcome news from one of St Emilion’s Premier Grand Cru Classé (A) vineyards.

James Suckling is certainly enthusiastic about Chateau Angelus’ 2018, awarding it a colossal 99-100/100. We admire the direction Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal is taking this Chateau. There’s far more freshness and verve; recent wines have more intensity and lift and the tannic profiles are much more refined. This is a mighty impressive wine with a bright future ahead.

“This shows beautifully sensibility of generous fruit and soft and velvety tannins with an undertone of chocolate and cedar. Full-bodied, pure and supple with a direct delivery of vibrant fruit and real terroir expression. Savory at the end with hazelnut and crunchy-seed flavors. Reality check here. Incredible fruit quality.” James Suckling.