The 2018 Bordeaux En Primeur campaign is now fully underway and we have no reason not to expect daily releases over the coming month or more. How rapid these will actually be, only time will tell; but whilst some properties have typically waited until after the annual Vinexpo wine trade fair (13-16th May) many have expressed a view that their confidence in quality of their 2018 is high and they feel no particular need to hang around.
The annual discussion about the ‘key’ critic is now pretty much defunct with multiple names making a play to be heard, and all doing a pretty fine job of it. The only major reports we are still waiting on are from Antonio Galloni, whose thoughts we expect this week – and that of Jeb Dunnuck, whose report is live on Wednesday. Julia Harding has now released all of her scores and notes through jancisrobinson.com and we have had plenty of time to absorb the views of James Suckling, Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Jane Anson and Matthew Jukes to name just a few. As you will have seen by now the reviews for the vintage are very positive (although, like the vintage itself, not necessarily homogenous) so as long as pricing is carefully considered, there should be much to be excited about. We will have to wait until at least July before we hear anything from Neal Martin and wish him the very best in his recovery from his upcoming surgery.
The quality is there but of course there is no getting away from it: pricing is the key to a truly successful campaign and many of the critics have waded into the battle. In our view there is no clear consensus on what should be expected: the wines are certainly in line with 2016, some better, some worse, and having only just been physically delivered many of the 2016s have not seen much price shift yet. So ideally new releases will come just under the 2016 – although some wines will be worth having at (almost) any price.
How do early signs look? Well, Angelus is looking like an increasingly smart buy. Having been released at just a shade over GBP 3000, below the release price of the ’16 and ’17 and only just above the current price of the ‘15, it looked quite sensible; then the scores started to roll out and it looked even more so. Make no mistake, this is a remarkable wine which is the peak of the ‘new wave’ of Angelus’ style. With potential hundreds from Lisa P-B, James Suckling and Jeff Leve, along with a raft of 98-99s (and equivalents out of 20), one can only hope that it sets the tone for the other leading lights of Bordeaux.
Today we saw the release of St Julien pair Branaire Ducru (GBP 462) and Langoa Barton (GBP 435). With potential to match the all-time high Wine Advocate scores of 2010, 2009, 2003 and 2000 and with the same scores from both TWA and James Suckling as for the 2016 (and a marginally lower release price) we think Branaire looks a clever and high quality release well worth your attention. Likewise a typically powerful and richly fruited Langoa, albeit with more energy and vibrancy than some which have come before, is unquestionably a wine for lovers of St Julien; fine, herbal characters and satisfying minerality help to give precision and make this one of the best Langoas of recent years – if not ever. Its score spread of (92-94) from The Wine Advocate puts it firmly with the leading vintages of both modern and classic eras, giving it the potential to outperform the 93 point 2016 and 93+ point 2010.
We have also seen the release of BI Favourite Capbern at GBP 190. Formerly named Capbern Gasqueton after the estate’s previous owner, this was always a jolly, slightly rustic, but good value St Estephe. Nowadays it is a different beast; the edges have been polished off and it now stands proud as a considerable wine in its own right. The 2018 is a standard bearer, one of the best we have ever tasted – at least as good as the 2016 if not marginally potentially longer lived.
Notable releases from last week:
The great value satellite wines of Denis Durantou: La Chenade at GBP 145 and Les Cruzelles at GBP 210; plus Montlandrie at GBP 174 and Saintayme at GBP 135. Also, his ever-excellent second wine from L’Eglise Clinet, La Petite Eglise, at GBP 363.