Bordeaux 2018: Capbern, Branaire Ducru, Langoa Barton and Suduiraut

Bordeaux 2018: Capbern, Branaire Ducru, Langoa Barton and Suduiraut
It seems slightly perverse to lead with the most humble of the wines released today, however, Capbern is developing a real pedigree and offers incredible value for money. The dream team of Laurent Dufau, Vincent Millet and Eric Boissenot from sister Chateau, Calon Segur, has produced a quite brilliant Capbern 2018. This is sleek and elegant with a real core of mineral-infused Cabernet fruit. There’s an unmistakable connection to the modern style of Calon Segur. Genuinely, we believe that you won’t find a finer Cabernet Sauvignon based wine for the money anywhere in Bordeaux, perhaps anywhere in the world. This is a pitch-perfect example, marrying sensual aromatics, beautifully detailed, concentrated fruit and immaculately measured tannins that coat the palate. We were extremely impressed.

From the commune of St Julien, we can offer two solid performances from Langoa Barton and Branaire Ducru. Granted, these Chateaux don’t provide the glitz and glamour of their neighbours, but rarely disappoint when one pulls a cork. They produce dependable, age-worthy wines, which blossom in the cellar. The 2018s are certainly two of the finer examples we can recall tasting from barrel: there’s plenty of concentration, verve and grand-scale tannins. With a little refinement during élevage, these will, no doubt, provide drinkers with huge amounts of pleasure.

We haven’t really mentioned Sauternes yet, which could be misconstrued as indifference. However, there were one or two successes in what appears to be a challenging vintage for sweet wines. Christian Seely and his team at Suduiraut have pulled out all the stops. Their uncompromising pursuit of excellence required yields to drop to a paltry 5 hl/ha. We doubt the AXA accountants will be thanking them, but this is a very special Suduiraut, and one of a select few from Sauternes that we would recommend this year.

Capbern
“A fresh and firm Capbern with lots of dark berries, chocolate and hints of hazelnuts. Medium to full body and dense, lightly chewy tannins. Mineral undertone.”
92-93 points, James Suckling

Branaire Ducru
“This is a fantastic Branaire with deep and dark fruit, such as blackberries and blackcurrants. Lots of raspberries, too. Full-bodied with firm and creamy tannins and a super long finish. We will see if it’s better than 2016, but on its way.”
95-96 points, James Suckling

Langoa Barton
“There’s real freshness to the crushed-raspberry and blueberry character of this young red. Medium-to full-bodied and zingy with energetic tannins. Crisp finish. Lovely purity of fruit to this.”
93-94 points, James Suckling

Suduiraut
“This has lots of concentration and mushroom and spice character. Plenty of botrytis. Dense and flavorful finish. Big wine for the vintage. Five hectoliters a hectare and half went into the second wine.”
97-98 points, James Suckling