We are heading into our fifth Bordeaux En Primeur campaign and it seems we are in for another excellent year for the 2018 wines. It seems remarkable that we have had 5 very good vintages back to back.
THE 2018 BORDEAUX EN PRIMEUR VINTAGE REPORT
By Charles Waud, Director, Waud Wines
2014 – Classic vintage
2015 – Very Good vintage
2016 – Fantastic vintage
2017 – Classic vintage
2018 – looks to be somewhere in between 2015 & 2016 – so Very Good / Fantastic.
There was a rainy start to the 2018 growing season, that was subsequently countered by a summer heatwave.
Certain vineyards suffered Mildew that meant there was a localised reduction in production. (Pontet Canet and Palmer that are regular buys for us were heavily hit losing around 70% of their production). A number of chateaux were equally affected by hail.
The quality across the board is exceptionally high, positioned somewhere between 2015 and 2016, (some say that it may even match 2009 and 2010) – and the wines that have been produced will be bold, tannic wines that will offer excellent longevity.
OUR RECENT TRIP TO BORDEAUX
Members of our buying team spent a couple of days tasting the Left and Right banks of Bordeaux at the beginning of April so that we were able to see, hear and taste what is happening with the 2018 vintage. After hearing the hype of the wines being up there in quality of 2015 and 2016, it is pleasing to say that the wines did not disappoint. We visited 24 chateaux over 2 days and the standard was exceptionally high throughout – though it is important to note that we were only visiting chateaux that we deemed relevant for investment grade purchases.
DAY 1 – LEFT BANK
Day 1 was spent in Margaux, Pauillac, Saint Julien and Saint-Estèphe.
The morning session at Margaux was a super start – our 9am Rauzan Segla appointment certainly was a wake up to the taste buds, but they have produced a stonker of a wine that we traditionally have good allocations of.
Chateau Palmer second up was very interesting. Rumours were rife before we arrived about their Mildew problems, and they were refreshingly honest. They received 1 years worth of rain in 6 months, the worst mildew in 50 years, their whole vineyard contaminated – and still managed to produce an excellent wine, which was very unexpected!
The standard continued to improve as we visited First Growth; Chateau Margaux. After trying their Pavillon Rouge and Blanc, we tasted the 2018 Grand Vin – this was superb and one that will undoubtedly receive rave reviews from the critics.
We had further tastings at Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Leoville Las Cases and Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande – highlights for us included Leoville Las Cases Grand Vin, Reserve de la Comtesse and the Grand Vin at Comtesse de Lalande. These are all wines that we have purchased En Primeur previously.
Pontet Canet in Pauillac was next on the schedule – and this has famously been a wine that we have purchased in good volumes. We were looking forward to trying the 2018 vintage given we had heard that they had also been struck hard by mildew. (the curse of being a biodynamic vineyard and not being able to use sprays to control disease and pests). They subsequently lost between 60 – 70% of their production. When trying the 2018 wine, we were very pleased to see that it really was a super wine. Beautiful, fruit forward and fresh. A wine the critics will love – and Justine Tesseron claims it is the best Pontet Canet they have ever made!
After lunch and sampling one of the most incredible cheese boards we have ever seen, we went straight into Lafite Rothschild and Mouton Rothschild. The unanimous decision across our tasting panel was that the second wine, Carruades de Lafite, was unbelievably good. This is a wine that is incredibly tough to get hold of – and we will try to increase our allocations year on year. At Mouton, all of their wines showed well, with the Grand Vin marked as one of the wines of the vintage for me. Petit Mouton scored highly, with Chateau d’Armailhac tasting incredibly well too.
Our last 3 tastings of the day were at Chateau Montrose, Calon Segur and Cos D’Estournel. The wines at Calon Segur were very good indeed, with the Grand Vin receiving high scores. This is not a wine we have historically purchased, but hopefully this year the release price will be more sensible and we will try and take an allocation. Cos D’Estournel performed typically well, with the Grand Vin there receiving one of the highest scores over the 2 day trip.
DAY 2 – RIGHT BANK
Day 2 was the turn of the Right bank to impress, visiting Pomerol and Saint Emilion. After travelling around the flat and expansive left bank the day before, it was a treat to see some far prettier views here.
We were looking forward to returning to Chateau Canon as our first tasting of the morning, for a wine that has a cult following. It seems to do very well on the investment side of things as the release price has tended to be relatively low in comparison to many other wines of similar quality. There is also scarcity of this wine, so sells out incredibly quickly! The 2018 Canon was excellent and we will try to get our hands on as much as possible here.
Next up was Chateau Ausone where we were pleased to try a large selection of wines. Fonbel, Simard, Moulin Saint Georges and La Clotte were all pretty impressive, but the Ausone wines really stood out.
We then arrived at Pavie. I had heard this was a challenging wine to taste En Primeur, but I was really surprised just how hard it was! This was a real tannin fest – so you can see how their wines have such good ageing potential.
Troplong Mondot was next up on the itinerary – trying their Mondot and Grand Vin – these wines really did impress and are wines that we have in other vintages across our various syndicates.
Last up before lunch was Chateau Figeac. After arriving in the pouring rain, we managed to get inside before getting very wet! This wine was worth the trip – beautiful, vibrant, fresh, balanced with round delicate tannins – this is a wine we hope to buy this year before it moves to ‘Premiers Grand Crus Classes A’ in a couple of years time.
After lunch, it was the turn of Vieux Chateau Certan (VCC). We only tried one wine here, but it was certainly worth it. Another purist’s wine that will age beautifully – a wine that we will want in our allocation.
Our final three tastings of the day were at La Conseillante, Cheval Blanc and Angelus. All super wines, with the Cheval Blanc Grand Vin being the wine of the trip for me. A wine that we previously haven’t purchased, but we will be keeping an eye on it for 2018.
As you have seen from my match report from the two days in Bordeaux, the standard of wines were really quite excellent, a noticeable step up on the 2017 wines from last years trip. The critics will shortly be publishing their scores, but I would expect some pretty high scores across the board for the investment grade wines that we concentrate on.
TOP 10 WINES OF THE TRIP
- Cheval Blanc (Right Bank, Saint-Émilion)
- Mouton Rothschild (Left Bank, Pauillac)
- Figeac (Right Bank, Saint-Émilion)
- Margaux (Left Bank, Margaux)
- Rauzan Segla (Left Bank, Margaux)
- Chateau d’Armailhac (Left Bank, Pauillac)
- Petit Mouton (Left Bank, Pauillac)
- Canon (Right Bank, Saint-Émilion)
- Calon Segur (Left Bank, Saint-Estèphe)
- Carruades de Lafite (Left Bank, Pauillac)
OUR INVESTMENT AND PURCHASING STRATEGY FOR 2018 WINES
Brexit has obviously been at the forefront of everyone’s minds and following the EU’s decision on the 10th April to push back the exit date to the 31st October 2019, we can now enjoy a period of stability for the 2018 campaign.
Our strategy for wine purchases will however remain the same. We will continue to only purchase wines for our clients that we expect to offer good returns. This is primarily going to be with Bordeaux 2018 EP wines – however if we see other opportunities with other investment grade wines, such as Opus One from California and Sassicaia, Solaia and Masseto from Italy, we will look to add these to your portfolio.
Our intention is to provide our investors with a sound investment return over five years – at which point they can hold, sell or start to drink the wines as they wish – a nice problem to have for these great wines from Bordeaux!
Fine wine sales of Bordeaux investment grade wines have being going on for centuries, so we have every confidence that Brexit will not affect the value of our wine investments in the long run.
INVESTING WITH WAUD INVESTMENT WINES FOR 2018 CAMPAIGN
If you are interested in investing in the 2018 campaign, or would like more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office on +44 20 7940 5516 to speak to one of the team.