Bordeaux 2018 En Primeur Report
OenoFuture founder and MW candidate Daniel Carnio is just back from the whirlwind of Bordeaux En Primeur events which offer the first opportunity to taste the new 2018 vintage. This annual tradition is a highlight in the wine industry calendar since it marks the start of the rush to snap up the best of these young wines “en primeur” or while the wine is still in the barrel.
Purchasing wines in this way prior to their bottling and general release on the market gives collectors and investors the opportunity to secure an excellent price on a wine which is highly likely to increase in value after its release and as the wine ages and matures. The wines are usually shipped 2-3 years following the vintage at which point the buyer is free to sell on their wines or to hold them and potentially reap a greater reward in years to come.
In the wine world 2018 has been widely lauded as a great vintage for Bordeaux, but reports from the En Primeur tastings have been a little more nuanced. According to Daniel, last year was “an interesting vintage of two halves with some producers enduring challenging conditions and others experiencing a good harvest.”
Daniel reported back from Bordeaux En Primeur week that one of the issues with the 2018 vintage was excessive hot weather during the harvest which resulted in overmaturity. In some cases this resulted in the grapes being burned by the sun or meant they were too ripe by the time they were picked.
On the Right Bank these warm conditions lead to overripe cooked and baked fruit character on the nose and a lack of balance between structure and acidity. Here 2018 has been a challenging vintage on the whole with the exception of some of the iconic Right Bank estates who are better able to avoid or manage these issues.
Daniel added that the Left Bank fared better with several of the top estates managing to produce good quality fruit despite the warm conditions which should mature into excellent, well-balanced wines in the coming years. Again, though, the Left Bank also faced issues with overripe grapes leading to cooked and baked fruit character in the wine and a thinness on the palate.
According to Daniel, amongst the standout wines from the Bordeaux En Primeur tastings were the Château Lagrange, Château Leoville Barton, Château Langoa Barton, and Château Leoville Poyferre from Saint-Julien and Château Lynch Bages, Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Château Clerc Milon, and Château Pichon Baron from Pauillac. From Margaux the Château Kirwan, Château Rauzan-Gassies, Château Tertre, and Château Labégorce Margaux were showing well, while amongst the Right Bank wines Clos L’Eglise, Château Gazin, and Château Le Bon Pasteur from Pomerol led the pack.
Overall Daniel concludes that while 2018 is no “vintage of the century” as some have claimed, some wines have emerged with far more potential than others due to the estate’s ability to manage the warm weather conditions and avoid overripeness. Daniel concluded by remarking that only time will tell exactly which wines will claim the top spots, but the more balanced and better made wines from the top estates mentioned above have more potential to develop and mature into beautiful wines than their overripe cousins. Until prices are released for the en primeur wines it is too soon to make a call on the investment potential of the 2018 vintage, but it is already looking like a promising year for many of Bordeaux’s top Left Bank estates.