Two extraordinary wines

Two extraordinary wines
We wait for months for a First growth, and then, like London buses, there’s a queue of them… Margaux was met with rapturous approval and will be allocated in due course. Now it’s the turn of Mouton Rothschild (£2556/6) and Haut Brion (£2450/6). These are both staggering wines for their sheer scale. They are clearly both vins de garde in every sense, but while some wines in 2018 have achieved mass, only the very best have the detail, nuance and harmony on the tannins that suggest they belong in a different realm. Mouton and Haut Brion have clearly achieved this. In fact, this taster cannot ever remember tasting such an impressive young Haut Brion – this could be a modern-day incarnation of the 1989. As for Mouton, it is hard to make comparisons – this is unlike anything we have tasted before. Far more generous and seductive than the 1986 or 2005, more refined and focussed than the 1982, 2009 and 2010. It is perhaps a more opulent and concentrated version of the 2016. These are two Chateaux very much at the pinnacle of their games and they have pulled out all the stops with their 2018s. Our only regret is that yields were meagre due the extended drought. As a result, both wines are on allocation.

We can also offer tiny quantities of their respective white wines, Aile d’Argent and Haut Brion Blanc, and their second labels, Petit Mouton and Clarence Haut Brion.

Mouton Rothschild

“The 2018 Mouton Rothschild is composed of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc—there is also a splash of all the Petit Verdot they had, but it doesn’t even register in the percentage. Grapes were harvested September 10 to October 3, and the wine was blended at the beginning of December; it has 13.8% alcohol, and the tannins were slightly higher this year. Deep purple-black in color, it is a little closed to begin compared to some 2018s, slowly unfurling to reveal a profound nose of warm black plums, blackcurrant cordial, star anise, blueberry pie and mocha with suggestions of candied violets, oolong tea, camphor and unsmoked cigars plus a touch of crushed rocks. Medium to full-bodied, the palate delivers waves of opulent, spiced black and blue fruits with seamless acid lifting this gorgeous mouthfeel that is at once plush from the ripe fruit and firm and grainy from the super ripe tannins, finishing very long and wonderfully creamy. 97-99+/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

“I am a little bit speechless about this one. I have not seen such earthy and totally deep character of the soil in a young Mouton in my career. Of course, I didn’t taste 1945 or 1959 when they were young, but I have been lucky enough to have a few bottles in my life. There is really terroir-driven character to this. Layered and so intense with polished and incredible tannins. 100/100”. - James Suckling,

Haut Brion

“The 2018 Haut-Brion is a blend of 49.4% Merlot, 38.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11.9% Cabernet Franc, harvested September 6 to October 2. Deep purple-black in color, it is much more closed than the La Mission. It holds back for the first few minutes, reticent to reveal what slowly uncoils to give wave after wave of exotic spices—cardamom, cassis, star anise and fenugreek—over an opulent core of red roses, Black Forest cake, warm cassis and black raspberries with nuances of cigar box, crushed rocks, truffles, tilled black soil, iron ore and smoked meats. The full-bodied palate is truly profound, with restrained black fruit and spice layers slowly offering mineral sparks and savory suggestions within a rock-solid frame of firm, super fine-grained tannins and beautiful freshness, finishing with epic length and depth. This will take longer to come around than the La Mission, but it will be well worth the wait. 97-99+/100”. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

“The length and texture to this wine is so very impressive. It’s not so much the sheer power that is impressive here, rather the form, tension and exquisite form that the abundant, fine-grained tannins provide. It lasts for minutes on the palate. A classic beauty in the making. 98-99/100”. - James Suckling,