Episode 99 – Justerini & Brooks 2018 Bordeaux Tasting
2nd March 2022
J&B hosted an amazing tasting in London last night and in spite of the infuriating London Underground strike, that crippled the traffic in the centre of London, a very impressive array of Bordeaux glitterati attended and there were a good few wine writers and private clients in the crowd, too. I have reproduced my En Primeur notes (all barrel tastings in April 2019) for each of the 2018 wines on show and then included a ‘one-liner’ (in bold at the end of each wine note) from this tasting. I only had 90 minutes there, so these are all immediate reactions to the wines. There were also some older wines in the mix and a good number of them looked incredible, too (these are also in bold)! Some of the wines are available for sale and the prices are listed. It is fair to say that this was an exceptional line-up of fascinating wines and there are loads of examples that you should be putting in your cellar, too, for short to medium-term drinking.
2018 Château Capbern, Saint-Estèphe 6x75cl £95.00
(A single block wine formerly known as Capbern Gasqueton)
(62 Cabernet Sauvignon, 37 Merlot, 1 Petit Verdot) | 60% new oak – will be matured for 18 months 14.6% alc | 3.65 pH | 41 hl/ha | 77 IPT
Calon Ségur winemaker Vincent Millet explained that this is a peculiar vintage because while the alcohol is high the pH is low (high acid) and so therefore the balance experience here is incredible. Exotic, clean and crunchy and also singularly bright and plummy, this is a terrific wine and it is set to be a bargain, too (I hope). They logged 750mm of rain between January and June and then it changed to only 30mm in July, 30mm in August and only 15mm in September. The vineyards didn’t suffer at all during the year and there was little incidence of mildew in Saint-Estèphe. I find that this has amazing balance and also that this is a vintage which is hard to compare with any other. 17+/20
Super-vibrant, typically bright and forward, this is a delicious mineral-soaked wine with a firm blackberry theme.
2018 Marquis de Calon Ségur, Saint-Estèphe 6x75cl £120.00
(53 Merlot, 47 Cabernet Sauvignon) | 25% new oak – will be matured for 18 months | 14.9% alc | 72 IPT
This is the first time that they have put all of the young Cabernet vines into the second wine. Le Marquis could conceivably come from the Right Bank such is the juiciness and Merlot richness. With more alcohol and more acidity than usual but still stunningly balanced this is an atypical, but seriously delicious wine. Luxurious, showy and sexy, this is a decadent style and it will age well, too. 17.5/20
Very alluring with a finely-tuned red fruit theme and a long, lithe palate. Seductive and refreshing and just starting to drink nicely.
2018 Château Calon Ségur, 3ème Cru, Saint-Estèphe
(65 Cabernet Sauvignon, 17 Merlot, 15 Cabernet Franc, 3 Petit Verdot) | 100% new oak – will be matured for 20 months |14.9% alc | 70 IPT
All of the Cabernet Franc in the property went into the Grand Vin in this vintage and I have no doubt that it is this grape that has brought so much joy to this beautiful wine. Sexy and smooth Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot create the beating heart of this wine, but it’s the Cabernet Franc, with its beguiling aroma, that adds the X-factor. The depth of colour and haunting, violet tones do so much to invigorate the Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose is sensational, layered and exciting and the palate is stuffed with ebullient fruit and fine-grained tannins. It was, apparently, an easy vintage to make according to winemaker Vincent Millet as each plot was either very good or excellent. I have never seen Vincent smile so much in a tasting and it is not surprising because he has made one of the wines of the vintage. 19+/20
Stunning in every way. Delicious balance, beautifully layered, soothing and very long, too. Will be amazing, but already showing its class.
2018 Château Tronquoy Lalande, Saint-Estèphe
(51 Merlot, 44 Cabernet Sauvignon, 3 Petit Verdot, 2 Cabernet Franc) | 14.7% alc
Sooty, dark, layered and exotic, this is a hedonistic Tronquoy and it is delicious to ‘eat’ right now. The fruit is succulent, juicy and plump but the acidity is pronounced and this alleviates the richness. A very gentle extraction here meant that the tannins are not too harsh. This is a well-judged wine with a fresh feel in spite of the density of fruit and I have no doubt that it is one of the great vintages for Tronquoy as it continues its relentless march up the ladder under the guidance of Montrose. 17.5+/20
Thrilling mineral undertones with lovely, strict fruit on top, this is a calm wine with a tight feel and a few years are needed to allow it to soften.
2018 La Dame de Montrose, Saint-Estèphe 6x75cl £186.00
(52 Merlot, 39 Cabernet Sauvignon, 5 Petit Verdot, 4 Cabernet Franc) | 14.8% alc | 3.7 pH
Very cultured and smooth, with a noble feel which feels very connected to the Grand Vin. A delicious wine with a classical framework, but more density in the mid-palate than I can remember, there is a lot of flavour here and while the Grand Vin often ‘steals’ from the second label, leaving it wanting, in 2018 it is clear that this is a mightily successful wine. 17+/20
Much more floral and perfumed and also refreshing and bright on the nose and palate. Crunchy and keen-edged.
2018 Château Montrose, 2ème Cru Classé, Saint-Estèphe 6x75cl £782.00
(72 Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 Merlot, 6 Cabernet Franc, 2 Petit Verdot) | 14.7% alc | Harvest took place between 17th September and 5th October
My tour of epic Saint-Estèphe estates continued at Montrose where I was greeted by yet another incredible wine. With fantastic fruit and excellent balance, this is a completely distinctive and very opinionated Montrose and it errs on the theatrical given its generosity and impact. Incredibly expressive but also impressively balanced, too, the only real concern at Montrose was trying to regulate the extraction from the grapes during vinification such that the tannins were not too raw. There was so much potential at harvest, but they managed to only take the silkiest tannins and freshest acidity and so the balance here is pinpoint accurate. 2018 Montrose will be a favourite for fans of overtly demonstrative wines and as this Château is usually such a strict and statesmanlike fellow, I feel that this vintage will broaden its appeal and widen its fan-base like no other. 19+/20
Very closed, tannic and quite hard and firm, too, this is a very classy and restrained Montrose with exceptional control and mannerly delivery of its fruit and oak notes. Needs 10+ years!
2014 Château Tronquoy Lalande, Saint-Estèphe
A little too open and foresty for my tastes. It seems to be ageing rather prematurely. Ok. 16/20
2014 La Dame de Montrose, Saint-Estèphe
Very even and cool with quite marked oak and a long, mineral finish. Decent and very typical of the label, this is a civilised wine. 17/20
2014 Château Montrose, 2ème Cru Classé, Saint-Estèphe 6x75cl £540.00
Rather beautiful and amazingly harmonious and silky. Surprisingly forward and yet with so much life ahead. 18.5+/20
2018 Château de Pez, Saint-Estèphe
(49 Cabernet Sauvignon, 49 Merlot, 1 Petit Verdot, 1 Cabernet Franc) | 30% new oak, but the sample was a new barrel 14% alc | 42 hl/ha | 78 IPT
The oak in this sample is new and it pulverises the wine. It is hard to see how this wine will emerge from this sappy and overbearing flavour but at least it will be diluted by two thirds in the final wine. This sample is tough and blunt, so I can only give a score that reflects this. 16.5+/20
Rather chunky and spicy with bright solid black fruit notes and a nice lick of tannin.
2016 Château de Pez, Saint-Estèphe
More closed and sinewy and rather more vegetal on the palate, this is a decent wine but one with a slight dip of intensity in the middle. 16/20
2018 Pichon Comtesse Réserve, Pauillac 6x75cl £201.00
(53 Cabernet Sauvignon, 42 Merlot, 4 Petit Verdot, 1 Cabernet Franc) | 30% new oak (but this sample is taken from a new barrel) | 14% alc
This is a very successful Réserve with finely tuned fruit and a long, ripe finish. The fruit notes are heightened in this wine with concentration and also an extra level of acidity which means that there is good balance here, too. Nicely structured with fit tannins, this is a remarkable wine for this label. 17+/20
Rather plush, bright, nicely balanced and harmonious. This is an easy wine to fall for and it is relatively forward, too.
2018 Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande, 2ème Cru Classé, Pauillac
(71 Cabernet Sauvignon, 23 Merlot, 5 Cabernet Franc, 4 Petit Verdot) | 50% new oak (the sample I tasted was 100% new oak) | 14% alc | 3.85 pH | 88 IPT
This is certainly more complex than the second label, as one would expect, but this is a more backward and more introverted wine, with less showy fruit and more graininess and density than I ever thought I would see in this vintage. There is obviously a lot of oak in this sample and there is also an amazing amount of skin tannin as the IPT figure suggests, but there is ample fruit here and given time it will most likely fall into harmony. Not the easiest of the wines to taste, this is a combative Comtesse and it will most likely be a long-lived wine, but I sense good potential here even if this sample seems rather tense and stern. 18.5+/20
Brilliant, seriously well-balanced and very detailed. Lovely, classic, accurate and classy – this is a stunner.
2015 Réserve de la Comtesse, Pauillac 6x75cl £201.00
Pretty oaky and a little sweet and hot, this wine lacks polish and balance but it certainly has gusto. 16.5/20
2010 Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande, 2ème Cru Classé, Pauillac
Still tannic, hard, rich and indulgent, this is a superb wine but the tannins are still strict and controlling. A great future ahead. 18.5+/20
2018 Lacoste Borie, Pauillac 6x75cl £114.00
(61 Cabernet Sauvignon, 31 Merlot, 8 Cabernet Franc) | 50% new oak | 13.9% alc | 44 hl/ha
The nose here is amazingly attractive – summer pudding notes with more volume than usual. In addition, there is a deep minerality that is clear on the palate, too, bringing control and backbone to the lush fruit. Long and perfectly balanced, the tannins are neat and grainy and they sit right on the tail of this wine, refreshing the palate and allowing the fruit to keep its shape all of the way through the experience. This is a superb Lacoste-Borie. 17.5/20
Thrilling, stunningly well-made and fleshy. Brilliant balance and already really exciting and succulent. Extraordinary value for money.
2018 Château Grand Puy Lacoste, 5ème Cru Classé, Pauillac 6x75cl £336.00
(78 Cabernet Sauvignon, 22 Merlot) | 75% new oak | 14% alc | 40 hl/ha
There is an amazing volume of aroma when you approach this wine and it is ripe, bold, ever so slightly exotic and also all-enveloping. It alerts the senses and prepares you instantly for tasting the wine. On the palate, all of the fruit notes and oak tones are marshalled perfectly and they are already in sync. Unlike some of the wines from this vintage, this is a well-drilled wine with not a molecule out of place. It is long, fine, detailed and also youthful and the tannins are some of the finest and chewiest I have seen. This bodes well. While many 2018s are unnervingly forward, but will also hold well, GPL warns the drinker that while the fruit is certainly exuberant and toothsome it would be a mistake to tackle this wine too early in its lifetime. I would leave it for at least ten years before uncorking a bottle. By this time, I think that this will be considered one of the most elegant and finely-tuned wines of the vintage. 18.5+/20
Tremendous weight and complexity. Simply astounding balance and grace. One of the wines of the tasting.
2015 Lacoste Borie, Pauillac 12x75cl £215.00
Rather honed and classy and it has managed to lose the muscle a touch and calm down. Fabulous value and just about drinking. 17.5/20
2011 Château Grand Puy Lacoste, 5ème Cru Classé, Pauillac
Rather old style and elegant and showing some age and mushroomy delicacy. Magical. 18/20
2018 Carruades de Lafite, Pauillac 6x75cl £1650.00
(56.5 Cabernet Sauvignon, 38 Merlot, 5.5 Cabernet Franc) | 13.9% alc
There is superb balance here and the Merlot is the driver, given that the Merlot performed so well in this vintage. Carruades benefits from Merlot which didn’t, in the end, go into the Grand Vin because it didn’t ‘fit’. The density, richness and length are stunning and the freshness is incredible for this wine. It is one of my favourite Carruades I can remember. Long, lithe, smooth and refreshing this is a delicious, lip-smacking wine. 17.5+/20
Outstanding balance and control and very calm and harmonious and delicious. There is a musicality here that is thrilling and it is every inch an 18+/20 on this tasting.
2018 Château Duhart Milon Rothschild, 4ème Cru Classé, Pauillac 6x75cl £335.00
(65 Cabernet Sauvignon, 35 Merlot) | 14% alc
Duhart is a wine that often passes me by, but this is certainly a demonstrative wine and it harnesses the heat in the vintage well without tipping over the top. There is a dark, mineral core that brings backbone to the wine and while it is not a delicate wine, it is structured and imposing. The volume of rain at the beginning of the year helped this wine to make it through the hot and dry part of the year and this balance has worked well. 17+/20
Rather cool and refreshing and nicely weighted. Good length and accurate. Not too tannic or indeed too closed.
2018 Château Lafite Rothschild, 1er Cru Classé, Pauillac 6x75cl £4200.00
(91 Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5 Merlot, 0.5 Petit Verdot) | 13.3% alc
With a more exuberant stance, which is certainly less classic than 2016, this is a rather shockingly delicious and immediately appealing Lafite. There is some superb depth, amazing graphite notes and even some floral tones here, too. The volume of flavour and freshness is thanks to the gentle extraction. It was important to control everything humanly possible in this vintage and I think that the team here has managed to get a little extra out of their bunches. Controlling temperature and less pumping over meant that this is an extremely interesting wine. It remains a Lafite-shaped wine and the signature is still here, but it is out on a limb in terms of its flavour expression and I happen to like this a lot, as I favour more expressive wines over more reserved ones. Lafite suggested that is was the divine terroir that enabled them to retain the perfect balance that this wine shows and this is the critical reason for its success. Even the small addition of Merlot, planted in 1919 and 1967 played their part! While this is an unusually exciting Lafite on the palate, it is familiarly strict on the finish and so while I venture that this is an atypical creature in the greater scheme of things it will still cast a Lafite-shaped silhouette on your palate in years to come. 19.5+/20
Amazing, layered, epically long and wonderfully flavoured, this wine is on a very different level and the tenderness of fruit and length of flavour are both prodigious.
2018 Château Beaumont, Haut Médoc
(47 Merlot, 45 Cabernet Sauvignon, 8 Petit Verdot) | 38% new oak | 14% alc
A nice Beaumont with generous fruit, which is a shade or two darker than in most vintages, and also some fit tannins and a long finish. This will be a notable effort for this estate and it will be sure to impress fans, too. 16.5+/20
Very forward, easy, enjoyable and smooth, this is drinking but there is more than enough grip for it to hold for a few more years.
2018 Amiral de Beychevelle, Château Beychevelle, Saint-Julien
Classically red-fruited, open and classy, too, there is a lot of fruit here and this is a very successful Amiral. 17/20
2018 Château Beychevelle, 4ème Cru Classé, Saint-Julien
(50 Merlot, 41 Cabernet Sauvignon, 6 Petit Verdot, 3 Cabernet Franc) | 60% new oak | 14.5% alc
Beychevelle continues its run of excellence with this carefully assembled wine. Nothing is hurried or out of place and the nose, in particular, is sensational. I like the fact that it is not too extracted or heavy on the palate and this means that there is an even flow of fruit all of the way to the finish. The acid is perky and it nips at the heels of the fruit and the tannins are super-fine and mouth-watering. This is a huge success for Beychevelle. 18.5+/20
Very smart weight, darker intensity and power. Really impressive and very attractive, too.
2008 Château Beychevelle, 4ème Cru Classé, Saint-Julien
Starting to slow down and even out, this is a softer style with a less structured feel and it is nearing the top of its game. 17.5/20
2018 Château Mauvesin Barton, Moulis
(54 Merlot, 39.5 Cabernet Sauvignon, 6.5 Cabernet Franc) | 33% new oak | 13.5% alc
Delicious and very easy to fall for, this is a juicy wine and one which shows the pliability and ease of some of the well-made wines in this vintage. The fruit is controlled, bright, lovely and fresh and there is little astringency or obvious tannin. Given that the acidity is so perky the result is a charming, forward-drinking wine. 16.5/20
Rather tight, tangy and a little tough and edgy now, but good potential.
2018 Château Langoa Barton, 3ème Cru Classé, Saint-Julien 6x75cl £217.50
(63 Cabernet Sauvignon, 28 Merlot, 9 Cabernet Franc) | 60% new oak | 13.85% alc
A lovely and balanced wine with some superb length and controlled flavours, there is none of the super-ripeness seen in other estates and in its place is a layered and elegant wine and this is exactly what Langoa should be. Relaxed, honed and cultured, this is a delightful wine. 17.5/20
Spectacular balance, amazing fruit and depth, this is a stunning success for this wine and one to buy asap!
2018 Château Léoville Barton, 2ème Cru Classé, Saint-Julien 6x75cl £350.00
(82 Cabernet Sauvignon, 18 Merlot) | 60% new oak | 14.03% alc
By contrast to the restrained and gentlemanly Langoa this is a flamboyant and expressive wine with a wide span of flavours including bitter cherry and cranberry notes among the deeper, darker tones. Superbly long and with great energy and loveliness this will be a long-lived style that will open incrementally as opposed to firing on all cylinders from the off. 18+/20
Amazing, firm and commanding on the palate and finish, this is a great vintage for LB and it remains epic value not least because it already shows so much finesse but there is still so much more to discover.
2014 Château Mauvesin Barton, Moulis
Smart, smooth and rather relaxed. Very enjoyable and well balanced. 16.5/20
2012 Château Langoa Barton, 3ème Cru Classé, Saint-Julien
Spot on. A classical beauty with lovely control and silliness and benchmark notes of cigar box and graphite. 17/20
2005 Château Léoville Barton, 2ème Cru Classé, Saint-Julien
Still spicy, firm, tannic and keen, you will need to wait a few more years for this sleeping giant to awaken. 18+/20
2018 Baron de Brane, Margaux 6x75cl £120.00
Juicy, attacking and accurate this is a hearty wine with a great price point and a definite Margaux flourish. 17/20
2018 Château Brane Cantenac, 2ème Cru Classé, Margaux 6x75cl £311.00
(74 Cabernet Sauvignon, 23 Merlot, 2 Cabernet Franc) | 70% new oak | 13.4% alc | 45 hl/ha | 3.78 pH
This is yet another superb Brane-Cantenac and the fruit is clean, ripe and smooth and it is not too overblown or heavy. There is delicious intensity here and the tannins are wonderfully mouth-watering and complete. I would not hesitate to recommend this wine not least because it will surely drink early and hold well, too. The only problem I have with it is that the blend that I noted down only adds up to 99%! 17.5+/20
Beautiful and silky with a lip-smacking fruit intensity over a clean, bright and tense finish. Fantastic and certainly worth a half-point more – 18/20.
2014 Baron de Brane, Margaux 6x75cl £105.00
A little more mushroomy and less pure and sonorous than the 2018, this is a nice wine but the 2018 edges it. 16/20
2009 Château Brane Cantenac, 2ème Cru Classé, Margaux
Minty, cassis and black cherry notes make this an indulgent wine with a great future ahead of it. 18+/20
2018 Château Rauzan Ségla, 2ème Cru Classé, Margaux
Enticing on the nose with spicy berry fruit notes and nicely integrated oak, there is a cool feel about this wine which points to careful balance and reasonable alcohol – they got the picking dates just right. The texture is not too grainy or tough and the fruit rolls on well for a minute or so and therefore I am confident that this will be a well-earned success for this Château. 17.5+/20
Very full and spicy with prominent oak and a full palate, this is lovely with a rich palate and a long life ahead. It certainly earns another half-point – 18+/20
2015 Ségla, Margaux 12x75cl £320.00
Quite showy and bright with a glossy feel and an immediate attack of plush fruit. 17/20
2001 Château Rauzan Ségla, 2ème Cru Classé, Margaux
Looking a little older than it is with slightly faded fruit around a core of spicy tannin, this is a fine ‘01 but it is hard to see how it will evolve and improve any further. 17.5/20
2018 Château Canon, 1er Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Émilion
A very detailed Canon with super-ripe fruit but also flashes of greenness and beautiful complexity, too. The oak is under control and the length is minutes long. Concentrated and also quite closed right now, this will open beautifully over 20-30 years and I expect it to gather pace as it goes. 18+/20
Very restrained and balanced with delicious intensity and hedonistic touches of spice and flowers this is a wonderful wine with amazing potential even though it will be very tempting in its youth.
2016 Croix Canon, Saint-Émilion, Grand Cru 12x75cl £310.00
Fabulous balance, weight, freshness and finish, this is a cracker of a wine and it is epic value for money. It is drinking now. 17.5/20
2012 Château Canon, 1er Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Émilion
Smooth, pure and linear with a leas exotic chassis but a very ordered and classical form. Lovely. 18/20
2018 Château Figeac, 1er Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Émilion
Rather lovely and very extravagant and exciting. Plush, silky, detailed, voluminous and immensely satisfying this is a lovely wine and it is the first time I have tasted it, and I am impressed. 18.5/20
2011 Château Figeac, 1er Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Émilion
A very fine 2011 with great freshness under a juicy black-fruited core. Surprisingly delicious. 18/20
2018 Château Quinault L’Enclos, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 6x75cl £145.00
(70 Merlot, 15 Cabernet Sauvignon, 15 Cabernet Franc) | 50% new oak – 500l barrels for 12 months | 14% alc | 40 hl/ha
A very good Quinault, with perfect balance and a lovely deep, bright, plum and cherry fruit core. This is super-smooth and really bright and the overall feel is velvety and serious and I like it enormously. 17+/20
A little hollow and sinewy today (it may have been the bottle) and I would like a little more flesh but nevertheless a very well-priced wine.
2018 Le Petit Cheval, Saint-Émilion 6x75cl £900.00
(70 Merlot, 30 Cabernet Franc) | 50% new oak for 12 months | 14.5% alc | 20% percent of 18000 bottle production went into this wine
More closed and firm and rather mineral-soaked and a little bit too hard right now to fall in love with. There seems to be a lack of generosity and there is a tough finish, too, and this makes this a difficult wine to taste. The lack of overt flesh and juiciness makes me want to mark it down, but I can see a faint glimmer of fruit in the core, which will undoubtedly emerge given time. There is a chance that this might turn out to be one of the great second wines of the vintage but it will be a very long wait! I am crossing my fingers. 17+/20
Very plush and forward and typically sexy and fleshy this is unnervingly forward and looking very comfortable right now. A very strange turnaround for this wine but it certainly looks good today!
2018 Château Cheval Blanc, 1er Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Émilion
(54 Merlot, 30 Cabernet Franc, 6 Cabernet Sauvignon) | 100% new oak for 18 months | 43 hl/ha | 14.5% alc | 74% of production went into this wine
This is a much more structured and intense wine than expected and it has a dark core and a stern mineral edge that runs all of the way to the finish. There is great freshness and lift on the finish and the tannins are firm but not dry. Tense and introverted, the Cabernet Franc element takes control and it forces the Merlot to stand firm. It was the cool nights in the autumn that fixed the perfume and majesty of the Cabernet Franc and this, in turn, has made this wine what it is. This is a superbly suave and commanding Cheval Blanc and I like its restraint and control. 18.5+/20
Very exotic, quite oaky and closed, this is an extravagant wine and one that needs a good 5-10 years to evolve more. It looks superb today – tense and brooding.
2011 Château Cheval Blanc, 1er Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Émilion
Looking a bit grumpy and closed today. Feels a little out of condition. (No score)
2018 Château Belair Monange, 1er Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Émilion 6x75cl £700.00
(90 Merlot, 10 Cabernet Franc)
This is a serious wine with a kaleidoscope of fruit notes and a forest of oak propping it up. Like many of the top Right Bank wines in this vintage, it is slow to reveal the extent of its skills. It required some urgent swirling to unlock the various elements in this wine and there is a lot of complexity here. Sleek and stealthy, this is a noble wine and it is one of the finds of the vintage. Closed and firm now, but sure to blossom relatively early in its life, this is a wine that will make half a century with ease. 18.5++/20
Amazing, seriously well balanced and beautifully poised. This is an absolute stunner.
2010 Château Belair Monange, 1er Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Émilion
Rather calm and a little quieter than I thought it would be, this is a smooth and cultured wine with great character. 18/20
2018 Château Lafleur Gazin, Pomerol 6x75cl £172.50
I have a problem with the oak here, which is too resinous and overbearing, but the fruit underneath seems rather well-made and so I hope that the oak settles down otherwise it will mark this wine forever. I am assuming that this sample is drawn from a new barrel and so the finished wine will be more harmonious! If not, then please forgive me. Make sure you taste before you buy – so this is not a wine I would consider EP. 16.5+/20
A bit too sweet and meaty with a crowd-pleasing shape but it is not the most elegant of chassis.
2018 Château La Fleur Pétrus, Pomerol
(91 Merlot, 6 Cabernet Franc, 3 Petit Verdot)
What a wine! The volume of fruit and the amplitude of flavour both start off on maximum impact and then they don’t drop in the slightest until the very end of the finish. This wine is packed with incredible energy and this force of character and flavour is breath-taking. The length is amazing and the whole experience shows that this label is on top form in 2018. 18.5+/20
Spectacular, awesome length and truly brilliant. One of the wines of the day.
2010 Château Lafleur Gazin, Pomerol
Rather impressive considering and masses of energy and attack! A hidden gem – if you can find it. 17/20
2010 Château La Fleur Pétrus, Pomerol
Heaven – the finest balanced of the older wines with just the right amount of energy/age. 18.5/20
2018 Château Montlandrie, Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux 6x75cl £87.00
(75 Merlot, 20 Cabernet Franc, 5 Cabernet Sauvignon) | 40% new oak | 14.5% alc | 55500 bottles were produced | The Merlot was picked between the 1st and 5th October and the Cabernet Franc was picked on the 8th October
The tannins are incredibly commanding here, but if you can see past them the fruit is insanely beautiful and dramatic. With amazing complexity and layers and layers of red fruit, this is a luxurious wine with staggering grip and it will repay only the most patient of collectors. 17.5++/20
Rather solid and firm and the oak seems structured but not too powerful. Well made! Amazing value for this amount of flavour and impact.
2018 La Chenade, Lalande de Pomerol 6x75cl £72.50
(80 Merlot, 20 Cabernet Franc) | 30% new oak | 14% alc | 12000 bottles were produced | Picked between 17th and 25th September and the Cabernet Franc was picked on 25th September
Thrilling balance and great density of fruit mark this as a wine with huge potential and the oak is certainly present, but it is the skin tannins that bring the palate together. Imposing and indulgent this is a mighty wine and there is a superb red-fruited theme in the background that will emerge in time. 17+/20
Lovely control and a hint more exoticism, this is a great wine with charm, class and a teeny price point. Buy as much as you can!
2018 Château Les Cruzelles, Lalande de Pomerol 6x75cl £105.00
(80 Merlot, 20 Cabernet Franc) | 40% new oak | 14.5% alc | The Merlot was picked between the 18th and 25th September and the Cabernet Franc was picked on the 28th September | 31500 bottles were produced
With ‘sweeter’ fruit notes on the nose than both Saintem and La Chenade, this is initially a more flattering wine, but the tannins swoop in and there is a very dry finish here which shows smokiness and tobacco tones, making this an exotic wine. It will need a decade, but I anticipate a complete and complex wine in time. 17++/20
Much more backward and more muscular and hard on the finish. More solaire and also more tense.
2018 Château L’Eglise Clinet, Pomerol 6x75cl £1308.00
(90 Merlot, 10 Cabernet Franc) | 70% new oak | 14.5% alc | The Merlot was picked between the 18th and 26th September and the Cabernet Franc was picked on the 28th September
This is the first vintage in which every wine made in this portfolio comes from Denis Durantou’s own plantings! He calls it his year of the ‘Revolutionary’. Noëmie Durantou Reilhac, Denis’s daughter, and his cellar master Olivier Gautrat are very much involved these days and Denis notes that the old adage that you can only make great wines from vines that were planted by your ancestors is definitely not true today! The nose on L’Eglise Clinet is magnificent. The oak is typically commanding as is the fruit and the tannins are super-fine and also very fit and lively. These tannins are big but energetic and healthy and they will propel this wine forwards for 50 years. This is another tour de force from this famous estate. 19+/20
Superbly long and immensely flamboyant, but under this theatre is a sensational engine to power this wine forwards.
2012 Château L’Eglise Clinet, Pomerol
Heavenly and amazingly balanced and thrilling density of fruit for this vintage. One of the wines of the vintage. I never tasted this EP and it was a joy to taste it today. This was a heavenly drop and it made the dreadful journey into central London and out again well worth it! 19/20
2018 Gravette de Certan, Pomerol
Beautiful weight and amazing brightness of fruit, this is a glittering gem and I wish I knew where to buy some! 18/20
2018 Vieux Château Certan, Pomerol
(70 Merlot, 30 Cabernet Franc) | 70% new oak and 30% one-year-old oak | 14.4% alc (the Merlot was 15% and the Cabernet Franc was 13.5%) | 40 hl/ha | 77 IPT
In spite of the tropical spring and dry summer, they were not affected by mildew at VCC. Alexandre and his son Guillaume Thienpont anticipated the rhythm of the downy mildew and tackled it perfectly. They had the same sort of attack in 2000 and they survived this, too. The summer was not excessively warm at VCC and they had cool nights which is superb for Cabernet Franc and this offset the power and intensity of the Merlot. ‘Cashmere’ was Alexandre’s expression for the texture of his wine and this is better than any word I can come up with, so it will do. Unlike many of the other Pomerols, this wine leads with red fruit. The oldest vines in this wine were planted in 1932 and this goes some way to explaining the superb intensity on display. It is said that you cannot smell texture, but this wine smells incredibly silky. The nose shows exquisite complexity and on the palate, there is considerable volume and length. The finish is crisp, tart and dry and it pinches the palate and this further alerts the senses. The layers of red fruit are positively kaleidoscopic flavours and with the never-ending finish the overall feeling is of a densely flavoured wine but one with a medium-bodied framework and this sleight of hand is thrilling. I wish I could have tasted this wine every day such was its appeal. It is yet another ridiculously brilliant wine from this magnificent estate. 19.5+/20
Amazing, so layered, beautiful, complex and with the longest finish, the tannins here are exquisite. Near perfect and thrilling to see again.
2018 Château Grand Village, Rouge, Bordeaux Supérieur 6x75cl £85.00
Too vegetal and hard for my palate, this is a little too awkward for me. 16/20
2018 Les Perrières 6x75cl £345.00
A copy of Lafleur’s vine cuttings and planted on limestone. Super dramatic and lovely balance, this is a very expressive and floral wine. This is also the first-ever vintage of this wine. 17.5+/20
2018 Les Pensées de Lafleur, Pomerol
This is a top-flight second wine and it takes some of the most forward and lush elements from the Grand Vin and packages them sweetly for us in a remarkably forward-drinking style. Delicious and ripe with a creamy texture and a fresh, punchy finish, this is a beauty. 17/20
Clay soils this time – very smooth, calm, velvety and balanced this is a very civilised Pensées.
2018 Château Lafleur, Pomerol
While the oak is massive and the fruit is concentrated, too, there is an amazing amount of harmony already in this wine. Not as black or impenetrable as I might have expected this is a juicy Lafleur with some rounded edges already and this is a great sign for the future. With red fruit leading the way and a long, smooth, savoury, but not tannic, finish, this is a truly suave interpretation of the vintage and I have no doubt that everyone will fall for its charms. 19+/20
Terrific weight from the gravel soils. Amazing balance and brightness and also potential!
2012 Château Lafleur, Pomerol
Totally classy and balanced and still a baby, this is another superstar 2012, like the Eglise! 18.5/20
I have attached my scores out of 20 for these wines. If a score has no ‘+’, this indicates a wine that is in balance and can be drunk relatively young thanks to its precocity and charm. One ‘+’ indicates a wine that will benefit from medium-term ageing (in accordance with the style of the wine), while two ‘++’ indicates a wine that should manage to make the long haul, softening and evolving as it goes.