On day 2 we headed north early again and another strong start to the day - Ch. Latour! Whilst Latour withdrew from En Primeur in 2011 they still like the trade to taste the most recent vintage alongside their most recent ‘late release’
Today we concentrated on the communes of Pauillac and St Estèphe. Traditionally these two AOC is where we see the most powerful wines of the Medoc, but with wines coming in at 15% alcohol in St Julien we were very interested to see what they had in store for us.
Pauillac, the first thing that Is obvious is the beautifully vivid colours. Deep hues of violet and purple rims typified many of the wines. With power and concentration almost never an issue in Pauillac - it very much feels like the Chateaux could scale back a little and pick a touch earlier retaining freshness and aromatics. The wines have enormous density at this stage but as I mentioned fantastic freshness and the higher than usual alcohol is well hidden. Almost all the vigneron mentioned the quality of their Merlot crop this year and this only added to the gorgeous fruit on display. It feels very much that this is a vintage where the Chateaux will stamp there style on the wines rather than showing off the commune style. The wines are truly exceptional and if priced well, i think they are must haves. Not in recent memory have I tasted such seductive, structured and perfectly poised wines.
Further north in St Estèphe, there is no hiding the fact that these wines are big and bold! Even the Chateaux themselves are calling these wines huge! They are less fresh than the Pauillac’s we tasted -more wild and herbaceous. With superb purity owing to the quality of the grapes harvested. They are truly excellent wines and several lesser Chateaux in the AOC are on serious upward curve, again if priced well some of the smaller properties will be superb buys.
Two themes that are worth separate comment seen this year.
The quality of the second wines are seriously impressive, rarely have we spoken to so many raving about second wines and certainly those we tasted today are unbelievably good, as one negoce said to me, in years like 2018, the smart buys are the second wines and we couldn’t agree more!
The second is the exponential increase in vineyard maps Chateaux are showing. Mapping their specific sites with the characteristics of them shown. This isn’t just at the top Chateaux but across the Medoc, a real understanding of site specifics and communicating that with the public is happening. This, I am convinced is allowing the Chateaux to further understand their terroir giving us, the drinkers a real showing of the uniqueness that great Bordeaux can offer.
Tomorrow we head to Pessac-Leognan and the right bank.
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