Médoc/Haut-Médoc/Moulis/Listrac: 2018 from barrel

by Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com

26 April 2019

Some lovely wines from the northern Médoc in 2018. A huge pity for the absence of the great Château La Lagune, as hail devastated the vineyards in 2018.

I was able to taste the others that made wine in 2018, with oenologist Christophe Coupez in Pauillac (we had a nice lunch at the Saint Julien restaurant, pictured). I also tasted with the UGCB, the negociant Joanne and the Grand Cercle. I am sorry to have missed Sociando Mallet, which did make wine, but will try it later this year …

Three top wines from this series that pop in my head as I write this? Château Lanessan, Château de Lamarque and Château Belgrave!

As usual, wines in bold I like in particular. When red and bold, even more. And if underlined, too, a potential wine nirvana.

Listrac Medoc AOC 

Château Clarke – Nose is deep ripe and dark fruit. Brownie and plum. The tannins are velvety yet somewhat imposing as this is a high tannin vintage. The palate is full bodied, not the most layered or complex, but with density and just a touch of headiness. 91-93

Château Fonreaud – Here we have a more evident oak derived aromatic profile. Not as elegant as the preceding wine. And while I would not say rustic – the maturity and ripeness is there – the grain of tannin is not as fine as the preceding wine. 87-89

Château Fourcas Dupré – This shows the most tannic austerity of the three so far. It has appeal but not as immediate as the two preceding. I prefer the nose to the Fonreaud, as it is not as “obvious” with more cool fruit and less toasted oak. Finish is marked by tight tannin but not mouth puckering at all. 88-90

Château Fourcas Hosten – Nose is a bit closed in. Lacks the nuance of the first wine, which remains the best. The palate has some raw tannin and comes across somewhat like the preceding wine. 87-89

Moulis en Médoc AOC

Château Brillette – Bargain alert! This is a lovely, elegant wine. And inexpensive wine. Not as large scaled as Poujeaux, but wins on charm and barrel aging will fill it out. Tasted at the negociant Joanne. 91-93

Château Chasse Spleen – This has a pleasing aroma. The palate is somewhat raw in aspect. I have noticed a continuation of a trend of somewhat lackluster wines here. I wish we could get back to a style like 1989, as this 2018 should better resemble. Lacks oomph. 88-90

Château Maucaillou – The expression of ripe fruit on the aromatics, and the palate somewhat medium bodied, but it lacks perhaps the concentration I would have liked from this vintage. Tasted again at Joanne with similar results. It is OK. 89-91

Château Mauvesin Barton – This has a certain sap-driven appeal, quite tasty and smooth enough. Has a fine tannic edge, too, but it seems to lacks the elegance of the Brillette, tasted just before, at the negociant Joanne. 90-92

Château Poujeaux – Of the three Moulis tasted at the UGCB, this one takes the lead, with a nose of richness, ripe dark fruit and depth. The palate is bursting with flavor, albeit some austere tannins, that should soften with time in the cellar. 91-93

Médoc AOC 

Château Chantemerle – Bargain alert! This blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 2% each of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc is supple overall, with silky tannins albeit with a firm Cabernet signature. There is some burgeoning mineral lead pencil aspect here that is delicious. 90-92

Château Lacombe Noaillac – Another bargain alert! Located in the northernmost Médoc village, this blend of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Petit Verdot comes across gently extracted. I like the red fruit freshness and juiciness on the mid palate, which finishes fresh and rather thirst quenching, beckoning more sips. The price tag? Easily less than €10 euros. 90-92

Château La Tour de By – More closed in aromatically. The palate shows some cool demeanor here, not as giving as some of the Haut Médocs tasted below, but I like the ripe fruit. It is just somewhat steely at this stage. 90-92

Château Potensac* – Some 60% went into the first wine to blend 45% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Quite nice indeed, rather rich and yet contained. Very good impression here as the wine has power and some tannic austerity. Now, at just above 14.4% alcohol and a rather low pH of 3.57, the balance is there, but maybe not the same level of pristine love that I had for this in 2016, which I recall coming across just a bit brighter and with less alcohol. But why nitpick? The mid-palate is rich in dark fruit, and there is a lot of wine here overall. The second wine, Chapelle de Potensac, blending 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc is clean and fine and even less expensive. 91-93+

Château Preuillac – This is rather appealing. I was not expecting otherswise. Somewhat lacking in follow through and freshness on the finish, which lacks the lift needed for me to really love it. 89-91

Haut Médoc AOC

Château Beaumont – The nose is very nice here. The tannins are more foreboding and there is a certain austerity that prevents follow through and lift to a finish that would be more memorable. But the aromatic profile shows definition of ripe fruit. Tasted again at Joanne, and quite nice, maybe a better performance here… 90-92

Château Belgrave* – Deep ripe fruit nose. Violet too. This is a lovely wine in the making, with tannin that is ripe and refined, and some healthy austerity for long term cellaring. Bravo! 92-94+

Château Belle-Vue – Just next to the famous Château Giscours of the Margaux appellation, this wine proved lovely for the vintage, with robust opulence but freshness on the nose as well, nicely balanced. There is ripe Cabernet (48% of the blend) but also loads of expressive Petit Verdot (20%) with the Merlot at 32% lending some smooth tannin. Good mid palate sap here. 91-93+

Château Cambon La Pelouse – At 14% alcohol, this blends 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot and the rest Petit Verdot: a tasty and rather dense aspect, with a sap filled mid palate, all very nice! OK, a somewhat drying aspect on the finish but just a bit. 90-92

Château Camensac – Also a fine nose, albeit not as pronounced or deep as the preceding wine. The palate is medium bodied and smooth but lacks the depth and the length of the preceding wine. 90-92

Château Cantemerle – A bit more raw than either of the above. The nose is more red fruit and that is fine. There is a certain elegance that bodes well. The wine grows on you but – going back to Belgrave – it lacks the floral lift. 90-92

Château Charmail – There is oak, which masks the fruit a bit too much here, and the finish dries out a bit. Too bad! Tasted at the négociant Joanne. 87-89

Château Citran – This is just a tad ordinary, reminding me a bit of Larose Trintaudon and Greysac. Boring. 86-88 / At Joanne, again a bit of a boring aspect. Some tannin, and fruit, sure. Maybe better today than at the UGCB. 87-89?

Château Coufran – Appealing nose of ripe plum. This estate is the “Pomerol of the Médoc” and I guess its clay soils kept the Merlot alcohol low enough… Lovely overall, smooth palate without gloss. Somewhat austere tannin on the finish but barely noticeable. Nice job! One of the best Coufrans en primeur. Tasted at the UGCB. 91-93

Château de Lamarque* – Has some cassis and plum on the nose. Ripe fruit. This is fine overall, a smooth delivery with a certain tannic edge, albeit supple. I like the palate substance midway through leading to a fresh finish. This is just a very consistent estate in recent years. Bravo ! Tasted at the UGCB. 92-94

Château Lanessan* – Fresh and sap driven, a lovely wine. Wow, one of the best Lanessans that I have tasted from barrel in a while! 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot and the rest Petit Verdot, aging 12 months in one third new oak. Buy this! Tasted at the negociant Joanne. 92-94+

Château Larrivaux Haut Médoc – Quite nice, albeit not quite as smooth in tannin as the Beaumont, tasted just before at the UGCB, but that bit of edginess will be tamed with barrel aging. 90-92

Château Les Grands Chênes – Bravo to the team of Bernard Magrez for making a robust, ripe and enjoyable wine here that blends 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Nicely managed wine, although one feels a touch of heat, but it is not overbearing. Tasted at the negociant Joanne. 90-92

Château de Mailleret – I like the bright fruit here, even if it lacks the density of the top Haut-Médocs. Tasted at the negociant Joanne. 90-92

Château Peyrabon – Smooth and refined, and rather refreshing. A fine expression of ripe fruit. Tasted at the negociant Joanne. 90-92

Château Sénéjac – A consistent producer, the 2018 is solid and driven by ripe fruit! But, my only caveat is that is comes across a tad austere when compared to other Haut-Médoc peers that I tasted. Give it time in bottle. At 14% alcohol, the wine blends 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, aging 15 months in 30% new oak. Tasted at the negociant Joanne. 89-91

Château La Tour Carnet – This shows similar aromatic freshness along with palate structure, with tannins that are lush without being slutty in any way. A nice job! Tasted at the UGCB. 91-93+






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