Chateau Haut Brion ©Sam Earl

Bordeaux En Primeur 2018 Report

Bordeaux Day 1
Château Haut-Brion
Chateau Haut Brion - ©Sam Earl
The first stop on this year’s Bordeaux en primeur trip was Château Haut-Brion. For those of you that have not visited Bordeaux, it sits on the outskirts of the city in a very urban landscape not really what you might expect, but that does not mean the wine is not good, in fact quite the opposite. On arrival we are ushered into a waiting room, and within minutes whisked away to a rather grand tasting room. The wines of particular interest are Château Haut-Brion 2018 (49.4% Merlot, 11.9% Cabernet Franc and 38.7% Cabernet Sauvignon) and Château La Mission Haut-Brion 2018 (53.5% Merlot, 3.6% Cabernet Franc and 42.9% Cabernet Sauvignon).

After tasting these wines, it is clear that Château Haut-Brion 2018 has delivered the goods again this year, an exceptionally sophisticated Bordeaux red wine that will age incredibly well due to its high concentration of tannins. The Château Haut-Brion 2018 is incredibly smooth due to its high merlot composition, classic cherry and blackberry flavours and a subtle hint of tobacco and caramel aroma on the nose.

Having tasted the 2015 and 2016 this wine encapsulates a hybrid of the two making it very special. Château La Mission Haut-Brion 2018 is also a very good wine and totally different to Haut-Brion, on tasting you get distinct flavours of plum, blackberry, cinnamon and liquorice and incredibly smooth texture and a finish that never seems to end.
After the tasting we were able to view the barrels in the magnificent cellar as you can see in the picture below:
 
Château Canon
Chateau Canon ©Sam Earl
Next stop is Château Canon a 50-minute drive from Haut-Brion set in the heart of Saint-Émilion up a windy small road.  We are given a warm welcome and then shown to the tasting room where we sample the wine directly from the barrel. The wine has an incredible depth of flavours, black cherry, dark chocolate, plums, berries and liquorice, very fine grain tannins and an extremely long finish. Our astute host compares the wine to a hybrid of the 2015 and 2016 vintages. This is an absolutely brilliant wine and one that I think many people will be buying this year.
 
Château Figeac
Chateau Figeac ©Sam Earl
A couple of years ago I attended Château Figeac tasting hosted by Neal Martin at the Grand Connaught Room Balmoral Suites. It included Figeac vintages 1982, 1989, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014 it was an excellent experience and the stand-out wine for me was the 2010 by a significant margin. Now on tasting the Figeac 2018 it took me back to that tasting hosted by Neal, when the prestige of Figeac as an investment grade wine was not so obvious. But Figeac 2015 and 2016 have shown that this wine can be an excellent investment wine, just looking at Liv-ex you can see this is the case. It is always interesting to see the impact of a couple of successful vintages, as a result of this recent success there is significant new construction work taking place at the Château, which will no doubt have a direct influence on the wines they produce in the future. Without a doubt this is a fine wine to watch.

So, the question on everyone’s mind is this vintage any good? And the short and simple answer is yes, for me this on par with the excellent 2015 & 2016 vintages. It seems that each year Figeac gets slightly better, which is quite an achievement by any standard. There was also the chance to taste Château Berliquet, which was also excellent quality and sure to sell extremely well this year.
It should also be noted that Neal Martin re-scored Château Figeac 2016 100 points in January 2019, now having tried the 2015 and 2016 I think that this 2018 wine is possibly even better. On tasting it has blackberry, raspberry and classic subtle mint tones. The palate is extremely well balanced with a complex composition of fine tannins, the beauty of this wine is it has a huge drinking window from 2028 – 2060 making it another top contender for any fine wine investment portfolio.
 
Hangar 14 Tasting
Lynch Bages ©Sam Earl
The Hangar tasting in Bordeaux gives us the chance to try a number of Bordeaux fine wines under one roof, the only downside was that it seemed busier than ever this year. Having attended this event for a number of years I know exactly what wines I want to taste.

First stop is Château Beychevelle an excellent wine that has consistently shown great quality year on year, this wine is also another great and one we are highly commending to all our members. Next up was Château Clinet, which is not at all bad. Château Lynch-Bages, and once again it delivers the goods, this will be one of the top wines to buy this year. It ticks all the boxes for investors and future drinking alike.

Other notable wines include Bernard Magrez excellent Château Pape Clement 2018, which for me is another one of the best wines from this tasting and another old favourite Château Montrose. Provided these wines are keenly priced they will be what I would recommend to all our members.
 
Bordeaux Day 2
Château Lafite Rothschild
Lafite Rothschild ©Sam Earl
 
Tuesday was all about Pauillac, after an hour drive from Bordeaux we arrived at the mighty Château Lafite Rothschild. For me this is the highlight of the trip as I am a big follower of the brand and also collect Lafite Rothschild privately. I tasted the Carruades de Lafite 2018 (56.5% Cabernet sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 5.5% Cabernet franc) first and it was incredible, possibly the best Carruades de Lafite I have ever tasted followed by the Château Lafite Rothschild 2018 (91% Cabernet sauvignon, 8.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot) which was also staggeringly good. Such a complex wine with such a long finish that refuses to stop. Classic cherry, raspberry, tobacco, cinnamon, clove, medium-bodied fine wine, which will age extremely well.
 
Château Mouton Rothschild
Mouton Rothschild ©Sam Earl
A short drive takes us to our next stop; Château Mouton Rothschild, another highlight of the trip and it does not disappoint. Starting with Petit Mouton Rothschild 2018 (56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 4% Cabernet franc) a fine wine that is very difficult to buy due to its staggering demand each year.

Without disappointment the Château Mouton Rothschild 2018 (86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc) delivers an excellent flavour and nose characteristic for such a well-known brand, although in my humble opinion not quite as good as 2016 maybe more like the 2015 or a hybrid of the two.

My favourite Bordeaux white is Aile d’argent and still to this day the one of best money can buy, once again the wine is truly magnificent.
 
Château Pontet Canet
Chateau Pontet Canet ©Sam Earl
We arrived at Château Pontet Canet to find a mass of people huddled in the waiting room preparing to taste the wine. It was a pleasure to meet Alfred Tesseron and taste his wines. Once again the wine delivers on quality, but it will very much depend on the release price whether investors are keen to acquire the wine this year. It has been clear over recent years that has not been the case, as the 2017 release price was far too high, and the wine is currently trading at a lower price. It will be interesting to see how major wine critics score this wine. The tasting was followed by a delicious meal and cheese selection courtesy of Château Pontet Canet and fromageriebetty.com from Toulouse.
 
Bordeaux Day 3
Château Margaux
Chateau Margaux ©Sam Earl
Our final visit for this year was to Château Margaux. The Château Margaux 2018 (90% Cabernet sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet franc) is very good as our hosts from the tasting believe that is one of the best vintages to be produced ever even when taking into consideration the outstanding 2015 & 2016 vintages. This is great news for investors and likely to be another fine wine that investors should be buying for their portfolios. As stated previously it will be interesting to see what the wine critics score this wine, I have an inkling it will be well received by many.

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