A historical vintage with very good wines, even excellent!
2018 can be called a historical year thanks to its climatological circumstances; it is a vintage full of excesses.
The equivalent of a years’ rainfall fell between November 2017 and June 2018 and resulted into an unprecedented pressure of mildew in the vineyard. The domination of mildew during the months of June until 15th July was so high that it needed a very active intervention and repression. They who followed the biological and biodynamical principles sometimes lost up to 85% of their harvest. The conventional wine growers were able to control the disease more easily. Even if this heavy pressure of mildew has caused a lot of stress and frustrations, it only seemed anecdotical for the vintage’s quality.
In July 2018 it went from hell to heaven: a period of excessive heat and drought has started, this has quickly improved the situation in the vineyard. During the months of July and August there was almost no rainfall and there were average temperatures of 29° by day, (2018 was one of the warmest and driest summers ever after 2005). The vines could easily support the drought because of the sufficient accumulated reserves in the soil, especially the terroirs with sponge effect (clay, lime) had this advantage. In this case, one would expect a very ripe (too ripe) vintage, but this new vintage is difficult to compare with others. The acidity in 2018 is lower than in 2016, 2010 and 2005 but higher than in 2015, 2009 and 2003. The combination of dry hot days and chilly nights has led to unique wines with a lot of matter and a very beautiful freshness of fruit without too warm or alcoholic impressions.
Thanks to the fantastic late summer in September and October, the harvest was done very comfortably within a long period. The harvest could be done “at random” depending on the ripeness of the parcels, the different passages or different times were possible, the ripeness of the skin and sugar content in the juice, but also the ripeness of the seeds. The most important was to maintain the sensuality of the vintage and the ripe tannins without losing the flavors and purity of the fruits.
Once the harvest was done, it wasn’t finished yet. Important decisions were to be made again. During the vinification it was necessary to pay attention to prevent the alcohol content to become too high and that the extractions didn’t go too far (the berries were small but very intense concerning matter and taste) and that the beautiful freshness was maintained. This is why some wine growers speak of a “technical vintage”.
Despite the difficulties of the wine growers, the important conditions for a top year (homogeneous bloom, dry and hot summer, equal ripening and a beautiful late summer) were fulfilled. On the big terroirs of the left bank (Graves, Pessac Léognan but also in the entire Medoc), the cabernets sauvignons are of excellent quality, but also on clay terroirs of Pomerol and on clay-lime terroirs of St. Emilion beautiful wines were made. From these latter two, the cabernets francs were of unprecedented quality and contribute to extremely good wines.
To me, 2018 is a very complete vintage with a lot of intense colors (purple, violet), very aromatic impressions in the nose, a full and explicit and sensual taste, ripe, silky and present tannins in combination with vivacity and length. What more could we wish for? I fully recommend these 2018’s.