High toned, velvet, brooding, ethereal and exciting: Descriptors that populate notes from what was certainly a strong right bank vintage. Bélair-Monange benefited from it’s dominance (90%) of Merlot showing little on the nose, but a tight, dark mid palate with tantalising hints of prune and black cherry burning off the brooding, very long finish. The long, hot autumn days were perfect for Cabernet Franc with Clos Fourtet showing that wonderfully complex darker edge and high toned tobacco notes that emanate St Emilion so well. Clos La Madeleine with 24% Cabernet Franc showed the full spectrum of excellence that this grape can achieve in such a vintage. La Couspaude showed great freshness with juicy cassis led fruit and a ripeness to the tannins that gave great texture to the palate. La Gaffelière, while more velvet and fruit led showed technical excellence in the integration of oak notes.
Pavie Macquin exemplified perfection with aromatic plum and redcurrant spice on the nose leading to a tight, exceptionally concentrated textured mid palate, not jammy, but brooding. They waited till the end of September to pick the Merlot which, though risky seems to have paid them in spades with a huge spectrum of flavours emerging on the finish. Valandraud showed some great fruit expression with La Tour Figeac offering that herbal cab franc complexity on the finish. Figeac was (in their own words) ‘symphonie fantastique’. Escaping the mildew endured by neighbours, the wine continued its stratospheric rise to excellence with a damson ripeness tempered by toasty spice, despite a pH of 3.7 the acid was fresh carrying the fruit to a precise, linear and intensely mineral finish. Tasted at the end of the day Cheval Blanc gave us an exquisite violet tinted nose, ripe red currant base and leather bound richness. The baked plum, blackcurrant tones with cedar and chocolate hints on the finish sent the senses reeling. Another approachable yet concentrated vintage from this spectacular Chateau. 2018 is certainly a vintage of note for Saint- Émilion.
Defined fruit notes (blueberry, cranberry, damson) with dark brooding cores were the trend for Pomerol. Assured richness and high toned expressions give confidence that this is a good vintage worthy of years of enjoyment. Bourgneuf managed seaweed complexity with its generous fruit and careful vanilla edged oak integration trimming the concentrated finish. La Croix de Gay showed great promise with concentrated fruit and a brooding dark chocolate finish. La Fleur-Pétrus was slightly closed and struggling on the nose but the palate yielded dense plum notes with filigree structure and an ethereal elegance on the sustaining finish. Petit-Village was tight but a mineral depth and evolving tobacco tints on the finish suggest time will unveil a decent vintage for this Château. La Pointe was primary but in a lifted expressive way with a fruit expression that suggests great complexity to come. Rouget is fast becoming one of our favourites. The crushed cherry hints over a concentrated sweet plum palate offer ample density and an enduring mineral finish, exemplifying the expressive richness of this vintage. Trotanoy lent a coolness to the commune with crushed violets and vanilla lifting a savoury, cedar led mineral based core carried by surprising acid, a rarity in this vintage.