2018 Vintage in brief
‘A stunning vintage’ creating ‘wonderful wines with a beautiful depth of ripe fruit and polished, strong tannins’ jamessuckling.com
After a difficult early growing season the ripening season was long, with hot and sunny weather right through to harvest allowing chateaux to pick at optimal ripeness. This has resulted in excellent wines across Bordeaux. Stylistically the 2018s are bigger and denser wines than their 2016 counterparts. Some critics have called 2018 a heterogeneous vintage but we think most would agree the grand terroirs of Bordeaux mostly produced wines comparable to those of the excellent 2015 and 2016 vintages. In some properties 2018 has set a new benchmark. Furthermore, critics scores released at the time of printing show 2018 to be more successful across the board. James Suckling who describes 2018 as an excellent vintage scoring 3 wines with 100 points across Pomerol and Pauillac click here to view his report. James Molesworth from the Wine Spectator has scored wines at 97-100 points across the major appellations of northern Médoc and the Saint-Emilion and Pomerol, a first for the Wine Spectator history of Primeur scores, which can be viewed here.
Never before have tannin levels been so high thanks to the long and hot ripening period all the way to harvest time. Careful extraction was required to give wines of balance and harmony. This is the main differentiator between good and excellent wines in 2018.
Due to an unprecedented mildew problem in the spring of 2018 many properties had much reduced volumes. The worse affected among the well known wines were Pontet-Canet and Palmer due to the inability of biodynamic winemaking practices to combat the disease.
About the regions
Northern Médoc produced great wines from St. Julien to St. Estèphe with the best results from those estates near the Gironde river, benefiting from the cooler temperatures.
Margaux produced some very good wines but was less homogenous in quality across the commune than further north.
St Emilion’s limestone plateau produced good to excellent wines but early picked wines and those with careful extraction produced the best results.
Pomerol’s plateau was badly hit by frost but top estates coped and reduced the effect. The quality is excellent in many properties.