Amsterdam UGCB Tasting

Amstel Boathouse, Amsterdam, NL

Tasted June 21, 2021 by Xavier Auerbach with 262 views

Introduction

During two sessions, five hours in total, I managed to taste 70 Bordeaux wines from the 2018 vintage. It was a marvellous tasting, sitting down, with wines of your choice served in flights of three by very diligent staff. A big thanks to Dutch wine magazine Perswijn for giving me this opportunity. The 2018 vintage is by no means a uniformly great vintage. Spring and early summer were cool and wet, but from July it was very hot and very dry. Not all vineyards and not all vignerons coped equally well with these challenging circumstances. On the left bank it really paid off to have a vineyard that "can see the river", and/or to be on the slightly richer soils in the north of the Haut-Médoc. On the right bank, the vineyards on the limestone plateau of Saint-Emilion and the couronne of Pomerol were clearly at and advantage, whilst vineyards on lighter, sandier soils suffered. In 2018 the wine was clearly made in the vineyard, but some wine makers on the right bank used the opportunity of a rich and ripe vintage for some good old over-extraction. The best wines of 2018 however, strike a seamless balance between richness and freshness, concentration and elegance. Personal favourites on the left bank are Rauzan-Ségla, Beychevelle, Léoville-Barton and Les Carmes Haut-Brion, with Batailley and Lafon-Rochet delivering excellent value for money. On the right bank I rated Canon, Clinet, Pavie-Macquin and Valandraud very highly, with Canon-la-Gaffeliere and Bon Pasteur close on their heels. For the dry whites it is not an easy year, but I will buy Domaine de Chevalier Blanc with confidence (I am still working my way through a case of the 2003). I tasted too few Sauternes to get a representative impression, but I really liked Clos Haut-Peyraguey.

Flight 1 - Haut-Médoc (5 notes)

Red
2018 Château Beaumont France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc
88 points
Good cherry and berry fruit, floral top notes, hint of smoke, medium body, light but supple and juicy style, overall attractive but slightly drying tannins, decent length.
Red
2018 Château Belgrave France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc
87 points
Relatively earthy style, very dry, cranberry fruit, lacks ripeness and charm.
Red
2018 Château de Camensac France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc
89 points
Modern style, ripe and rounded but with grippy tannins, floral lift, quite toasty finish.
Red
2018 Château Cantemerle France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc
89 points
Quite polished style, smoky oak, delicately fleshy fruit, flowers and earth, relatively light and dry on the finish.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Château La Tour Carnet France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc
89 points
On the plumper side, ripe but lacks a bit of precision and definition, nice density but little finesse.

Flight 2 - Margaux (8 notes)

Red
2018 Château d'Angludet France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
90 points
Lovely nose, very expressive, flowers and ripe blackcurrants, energetic and fresh, nice balance and tension, slightly dry finish.
Red
2018 Château Cantenac Brown France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
90 points
Relatively meaty and spicy style, not as linear and precise as many other wines in this tasting, comfortable but a bit loose.
Red
2018 Château Desmirail France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
91 points
Expressive nose, ripe fruit and flowers supported by some smoky oak, quite firm and structured on the palate but the tannins seem ripe, complete finish, good length.
Red
2018 Château Giscours France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
92 points
Tight and tannic and very closed, not easy to assess, but energy and tension seem very good, as are balance and precision. Needs time.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Château Lascombes France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
92 points
Powerful but not overdone. Concentrated, good ripe fruit, hint of red meat, firm tannins, a masculine Margaux but nothing sticks out, clearly a long haul wine but should get there.
Red
2018 Château Prieuré-Lichine France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
91 points
Spices and flowers, cranberries, freshness and grippy tannins, long and tight finish.
Red
2018 Château Rauzan-Ségla France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
94 points
This is lovely! Flowers, spices, blackcurrants and cherries, cream and silk, firm but paper-fine tannins, complete and elegant, très Margaux in a voluptuous style.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Château du Tertre France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
91 points
Not an easy wine to relate to. Meaty, spicy, warm fruit and a sense of floral freshness, supple and grippy at the same time, good length.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 3 - Saint-Julien (8 notes)

Red
2018 Château Beychevelle France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
94 points
Elegant, stylish, complete, everything in place, relaxed and flowing, blackcurrants and flowers, displays real Saint-Julien balance and harmony, with some extra ripe fruit ladled on top, big tannins covered in flesh. Quite stunning.
Red
2018 Château Branaire-Ducru France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
90 points
Attractive ripe fruit but the acidity seems a bit agressive, quite coarse in texture, the tannins on the other hand are ripe and the finish is complete.
3 people found this helpful Comments (1)
Red
2018 Château Lagrange (St. Julien) France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
91 points
Ripe fruit, slightly earthy, solid and satisfying rather than exciting, ripe tannins, well integrated oak.
Red
2018 Château Langoa Barton France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
The nose has an unexpected leafy aroma, and in spite of a good charge of ripe fruit, it does not come close to the authority displayed by its elder brother in this vintage. The finish seems a bit muddled. Retaste. Not rated.
Red
2018 Château Léoville Barton France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
94 points
The nose is an essence of ripe Cabernet-Sauvignon supported by warmth from the wood, the palate is powerful and concentrated but energetic and fresh, with excellent tannic grip and a long, tight finish. Will drink well young or old, and should last a long time.
3 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Château Léoville Poyferré France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
93 points
Well balanced, elegant and generous, comfortable and harmonious, slightly sweet and spicy oak, attractive fluffy fruit, velvety tannins, relaxed and flowing wine, everything in place, delivers what you would expect from Poyferré in 2018.
5 people found this helpful Comments (3)
Red
2018 Château Saint-Pierre France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
93 points
Powerful and burly style, ripe black fruit, well integrated oak, big but ripe tannins, velvety texture, very good persistence. Needs time but should get there.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Château Talbot France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
91 points
Earthy nose, quite fierce tannins, powerful and concentrated but dry and aloof.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 4 - Pauillac (5 notes)

Red
2018 Château d'Armailhac France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
91 points
Fresh and transparent, lovely floral aromatics and bright red fruit, satiny texture, moderate tannins, true to type, shows restraint, perfectly integrated oak, good length.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Château Batailley France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
93 points
Classic Pauillac, blackcurrants and spices, violets, lovely freshness and integration, pure and expressive, paper-fine tannins, energetic but flowing, real elegance and finesse.
Red
2018 Château Clerc Milon France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
92 points
Richer, riper and rounder than its stablemate d’Armailhac, spicy warmth, well balanced, attractive, supple but with good tannic grip, hint of liquorice root on the finish. A complete package.
Red
2018 Château Lynch-Bages France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
92 points
This is a rich and velvety Lynch-Bages, clearly displaying the warmth of the vintage in its spicy depth, but it is not playful or charming, it is a bit earthbound in this vintage.
Red
2018 Château Lynch-Moussas France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
90 points
Solid, grippy, energetic, masculine, food wine.

Flight 5 - Saint-Estephe (3 notes)

Red
2018 Château Lafon-Rochet France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
93 points
A successful 2018, very complete, the terroir clearly excelled in this vintage. Rich and rounded but precise and fresh, ripe but with lovely lift, creamy texture, perfectly integrated oak, very fine tannins, excellent length. An outperformer.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Château Ormes de Pez France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
92 points
Meaty and spicy, fleshy red berries, ripe and gourmand but firmly structured, big tannins but with flesh to match.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Château Phélan Ségur France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
91 points
A bit anonymous, solid, complete, generous and very tannic, has potential but not much individuality.

Flight 6 - Pessac-Léognan Rouge (5 notes)

Red
2018 Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
94 points
Spectacular nose, ripe Cabernet Franc in excelsis, remarkably elegant and playful palate, nothing out of place, layered and precise finish. Real finesse here.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Domaine de Chevalier France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
93 points
Deft wine making here, marries a sense of precision and elegance with ripe and sweet fruit, very carefully managed tannins, reminds me of the 2009 but with a much more delicate extraction.
9 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Château Haut-Bailly France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
91 points
A generous and ripe style for Haut-Bailly, quite spicy and warm, not the most refined of tannic textures, tight and dry finish.
Red
2018 Château Pape Clément France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
91 points
Yet another wine that has difficulty finding its balance. Stalky nose with a hint of cherry stones, ripe and creamy fruit, there is a certain freshness and some sweet oak, but it fails to convince.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Château Smith Haut Lafitte France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
90 points
Sweet fruit and spicy oak, pretty tannic, lacks depth.

Flight 7 - Saint-Émilion (15 notes)

Red
2018 Château Balestard La Tonnelle France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
90 points
Very tannic. It feels like I am back in 2005, when a ripe vintage was a good excuse to make fiercely tannic and overextracted wines.
Red
2018 Château Canon France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
95 points
Generous but elegant, effortless balance and harmony, ripe but cool, everything perfectly integrated, ripe cherries, gently smoky oak, supple but energetic, long and flowing finish.
3 people found this helpful Comments (1)
Red
2018 Château Canon-la-Gaffelière France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
93 points
The ripe strawberry and raspberry fruit on the nose is an absolute joy, ripe but fresh, elegant but broad, flowers, supple and juicy, deceptively easy, hints of fresh meat and chalk, firm but finely grained tannins, lovely length.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Château Dassault France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
92 points
Lovely fruit of strawberries and raspberries, ripe and creamy but cool and fresh, grippy tannins will need some time to integrate, very little noticeable oak, hint of earth, good persistence.
Red
2018 Château La Dominique France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
91 points
Ripe red berries, solid and spicy, good fruit but not exciting. Tannic.
Red
2018 Clos Fourtet France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
92 points
Similar profile to the Canon tasted just before, but with much more tannic extraction, it’s burlier and grippier, not as elegant and flowing, the tannins block the finish. Needs time.
Red
2018 Château Franc-Mayne France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
92 points
Very ripe black fruit, rich and full and succulent palate, moderate extraction, new world in style, drinking well already, what’s not to like?
Red
2018 Château Grand Mayne France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
90 points
Very tannic. It’s got the ripe fruit, but those tannins are huge! Not sure where this is going, if anywhere. Non-committal score.
Red
2018 Château Larcis Ducasse France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
I had expected Larcis to be a ripe and powerful wine in 2018, with its vineyards exposed due south, but it seems to be quite stalky, cool and with grippy tannins. Retaste. Not rated.
5 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Château Pavie Macquin France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
94 points
As usual, Pavie-Macquin is quite an intellectual wine, powerful and concentrated but not showing much of itself today, rich and velvety but restrained by its chalky terroir high on the Côtes, impeccably constructed, long and complete finish.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Château Soutard France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
91 points
Soutard. A bit earthy and vegetal on the nose, black cherries on the palate, solid and creamy, no excess tannins, nice freshness and length. Optimistic score.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Château Troplong Mondot France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
94 points
Extraction-wise, this holds the middle ground between the Canon and the Clos Fourtet tasted just before. Pure and supple and succulent but well structured, ripe but firm, lift and concentration.
Red
2018 Château Trotte Vieille France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
90 points
For a 2018, this is a pretty tightly coiled wine, and while there is some floral lift, it feels a bit stalky and the tannins are pretty drying. Cranberries. Lacks ripeness. Spicy finish. Heat stress? They have old vines…
Red
2018 Château Valandraud France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
95 points
Clearly one of the stars of the show today - as always in recent years. Rich and concentrated, almost decadent, but with immaculate minerality and freshness to balance the ripeness, velvety tannins covered in flesh, long and layered finish. Very attractive already, with the inner harmony to last a long time.
Red
2018 Château Villemaurine France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
91 points
Good ripe fruit and spice on the nose, tightly coiled palate, dry tannins on the finish.

Flight 8 - Pomerol (6 notes)

Red
2018 Château Le Bon Pasteur France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
93 points
Delightfully creamy style, black cherries, glossy and spicy, finely grained tannins covered in flesh, coped very well with the heat. Beautifully made.
Red
2018 Château Clinet France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
94 points
Really shining in the powerful and masculine style of the Château, wonderfully floral and expressive, big tannins are perfectly integrated, tight finish, excellent length. Outstanding but needs time.
3 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Château La Croix de Gay France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
92 points
Lifted Cabernet Franc and ripe Merlot, firm but ripe tannins, good presence on the palate, good resonance and length. Marries power and a certain charm.
Red
2018 Château Gazin Pomerol France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
93 points
Much lighter in style than the Clinet which preceded it, but it is elegant and expressive, floral and lifted, energetic and fresh, with good grip and length.
Red
2018 Château Petit Village France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
91 points
All things considering, this is a bit dull. It’s big and ripe, but it’s solid rather than exciting, with grippy tannins. Its terroir deserves better.
Red
2018 Château La Pointe France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
Dry and tannic. Lacks fruit and charm. Hint of TCA? Not rated.

Flight 9 - Pessac-Léognan Blanc (10 notes)

White
2018 Château Carbonnieux Blanc France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
91 points
Quite nice but not really very precise. Supple, juicy, well judged oak, creamy lemon and tropical fruit, slightly loose and fuzzy on the finish. Drink young.
White
2018 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
95 points
Ripe but fresh, clean as a whistle, creamy lemon and vegetal notes, perfectly integrated new oak, hint of tropical fruit, gentle bitters, excellent length. A classic DdC in a warm vintage - based on the 2003 I have every confidence in this wine and its longevity.
White
2018 Château de Fieuzal Blanc France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
92 points
Very floral and lifted nose, creamy lemon and orange zest, juicy and supple, nice hint of vanilla on the finish, ripe but fresh, light finish but good length.
White
2018 Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion Blanc France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
90 points
Floral and vegetal intensity but not much fruit expression, not too much oak either, gentle bitters, lacks a bit of stuffing, slightly raw finish.
White
2018 Château La Tour-Martillac Blanc France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
87 points
Actually this is quite drying, with substantial bitters and a distinct lack of fruit. Feels hollow.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White
2018 Château La Louvière Blanc France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
88 points
Meaty reduction on the nose, quite dry on the palate and not much fruit. Similar problem as the Latour-Martillac, but not as bad.
White
2018 Château Malartic-Lagravière Blanc France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
89 points
Limited fruit expression but not too dry, slightly grippy bitters, hint of muscat on the finish.
White
2018 Château Olivier Blanc France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
90 points
Light and bright, supple and floral, easy-going, hint of cream, juicy but a bit loose, nicely integrated oak, light and fuzzy finish.
White
2018 Château Pape Clément Blanc France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
93 points
Very floral - remarkably so. Juicy, supple, creamy, lemon and peach, easy-going, soft but fresh, hardly any noticeable oak, probably best to drink relatively young.
White
2018 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
91 points
Overtly oaky. With tropical fruit to match, but quite oaky none the less. Slightly alcoholic finish. Attractive but lacks finesse, some liquorice on the finish.

Flight 10 - Sauternes (3 notes)

White - Sweet/Dessert
2018 Château Clos Haut-Peyraguey France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
94 points
Fresh and elegant and juicy, beautifully pure expression of noble grapes, lovely finesse and sweetness, tropical fruit, perfectly integrated oak, lovely length.
White - Sweet/Dessert
2018 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
92 points
Slightly dull nose, good weight of tropical fruit but not very expressive, it does possess drive and length.
White - Sweet/Dessert
2018 Château de Rayne-Vigneau France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
93 points
Nice rôti, bitter orange, elegance and depth, delicately sweet, supporting oak, power and elegance, subtle bitters.
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