In a general overview of the Right Bank - there has been a shift from the backward, overly tannic wines that were De Rigeur some years ago. Even in this powerful vintage the wines overall seem fresher and more balanced than before. Alcohol levels in some places are down and there is plenty of supple and medium bodied wines to get excited about primarily based on one uniting virture: purity.
In St. Emilion, the 1ers Grands Crus Classés A are brilliant. Angelus has already been released (at a sensible price none-the-less!!) and it seems to be moving quickly out of La Place, which it doesn’t often do. It’s an ostentatious wine, but Ferrari’s are ostentatious and I certainly wouldn’t mind having one of those in my garage. It’s restrained for Angelus - and the balance is superb. Pavie is a massively foreboding wine that will undoubtedly suit some people - I’d recommend it so much more though if they just brought the price down but if money is no object, definitely buy a case or two. If it is an object then hold it back for Cheval Blanc and Ausone who are the real winners in this category. Both of which I would sooner have in my cellar than the left bank 1st growths. Cheval Blanc is a masterpiece of a wine: it is simultaneously elegant and powerful. The fruit is so clear and vivid, but it is the underlying core of minerality that gives this wine it’s serious edge. There is no conceivable way that anyone with even the faintest interest in wine couldn’t acknowledge the sheer brilliance of this wine. Just down the road is Ausone and this too is a totally sublime 2018. There is nothing ostentatious here, just pure class. I wish I had un-limited qauntities to sell, but I won’t. Register your interest now!
“Even in this powerful vintage the wines overall seem fresher and more balanced than before... there is plenty of supple and medium bodied wines to get excited about primarily based on one uniting virture: purity. ”
The Classe B camp is dominated by Figeac. I think anyone who has ever bought Bordeaux is aware of the meteoric rise in quality at this Chateau - and the 2018 only re-inforces this, as it is probably the greatest Figeac on record. My tasting notes reveal many exclamation marks and stars for this svelte, polished beauty. There will be huge interest from speculators and drinkers alike so I would be rushing to get your allocation. Canon is re-assuringly brilliant, but rest assured there will be a massive amount of interest in this over-performing chateau as per the last few years. I am pleased to report that Troplong Mondot is firing on all cylinders this year - demand is never too high here, and they have produced one of the most delicious wines from this estate I have ever encountered. I loved it! Clos Fourtet should not be overlooked. Their ’18 is magic and the price is always very sensible indeed.
Tour Saint Christophe is a new-ish project from the Kwok empire. It’s already released at £270.00 IB per 12 bottles. Buy this wine: It is cheap and delicious and nicely small batch at 5000 cases made. This makes for excellent drinking claret to have in the cellar at home for all occasions. It comes in a wooden box, the label is lovely. Is there a better wine at this price from Bordeaux? From the Ausone stable - Fonbel, Simmard and Chateau Haut-Simmard. Again, these wines make for absolutely excellent drinking at very affordable prices. A wine that never seems to get that much attention is Quinault L’Enclos, which is the third in line from the Cheval Blanc stable - get it if you can, they don’t make much.
Pomerol has thrown up some delicious offerings. I feared the hot summer might have made these wines unreadable and ultimately too austere and serious, but there are some incredibly pleasing results. Vieux Chateau Certan is a gargantuan effort - we knew it would be. It is precise and tense, texturally it is smooth with lots of fresh red fruit. It’s a sublime offering from the VCC camp in a string of brilliant vintages for this estate that can do no wrong. Register early interest as it will be hotly oversubscribed. Conseillante is a majestic powerhouse - but you’ll need some time for it to be accessible. There is a plethora of black fruit and blue, and it’s very noble in style. I’d probably commit murder for a few boxes of L’Eglise Clinet, which oozes panache without even really trying. Petrus, Le Pin and Lafleur are simply drop dead amazing, but you’ll need an allocation to have them. Feytit Clinet still proves to be some of the best value wine you can find in Pomerol The 2018 is seriously good, do not miss it. Clinet is very much in the running for star Pomerol – I suspect it is also at the bottom of it’s ascent to right bank stardom as the quality is improving here all the time. Not to be overlooked for its minimalist label.
“Pomerol has thrown up some delicious offerings. I feared the hot summer might have made these wines too austere and serious, but there are some incredibly pleasing results. ”
Other wines of note are from the Durantou stable. Les Cruzelles, Le Chenades, Montlandrie and Santayme are killer wines and are never expensive. This is a great year to be buying these – and I would seriously consider buying these in lots of 10 cases – you can never have enough wine like this in your house or cellar. My money will be going toward Cruzelles and Chenades this year who have made the brightest wines of the bunch.
For the first installment of this two-part series, focussing on the Left Bank and its delights check out James' impressions here.