Bordeaux 2018 can be summed up as a tricky summer of two distinct halves: an initially cold, wet period to early July, then hot and dry through to September. As a vintage it was hugely helped by an extended harvest which allowed key sorting of the bunches.
John Melhuish and Robert Boutflower visited in ‘En Primeur Week’, early April, starting in the Médoc. We took in all the big tastings and top châteaux before concluding in the Right Bank on the Friday, 254 wines later! Proprietors speak of it as one of the best recent vintages they have made, qualitatively like ‘09 or ’16 yet very much its own style.
We liked a lot of wines, many of which were big, tannic, ripe and surprisingly well balanced, and we weeded out a fair few that were, for us, over-extracted. We think it is neither a Left- or Right-Bank vintage; both vineyard managers and winemakers had to be on their game and those with the best resources generally have made the best wines. Biodynamic and organic producers had a hard battle with mildew; their yields have plummeted.
The critics appear to have liked the wines and their reports are bullish across the board with some big scores for top wines. Looking at grape varieties, Cabernet Franc performed very well, Merlot was occasionally exceptional, Cabernet Sauvignon perhaps the most consistent. More Petit Verdot was used this year to flesh out some low yielding sites.
You’ll note that there are no whites on offer. The quality is fine without being exceptional and it is probably best to buy them as they arrive next year for immediate drinking. Sauternes is good, but made in the fresh, light, modern style which actually makes us yearn for the intense, concentrated, old-style stickies of yester-year. We are happy to buy them for you on request; we tasted extensively. They will not be particularly expensive.
In summary you will read notes on a very good vintage, and red wines where the structure suggests that they are built to last, yet don’t need a lot of time before you can approach them. We were pleased that most of the Tanners perennial favourites came through well, testament to years of visits and selections we hope! Please ring us if you need to discuss specific wines, or any that are not listed here.