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Bordeaux en-primeur 2018

 

Wine Cellar has been offering Bordeaux en-primeur since the 2002 vintage. The en-primeur system affords wine collectors and enthusiasts the opportunity to buy a selection of 500 châteaux in the desired bottle size at the lowest possible price. The 2018 vintage will be sold in an en-primeur campaign from April through to June 2019. Wines are offered in 6 or 12-bottle cases, unless packed otherwise, for bottling and import mid-2021.

The vintage

These are likely to be high impact wines.’ – writes Decanter. The growing season had a rainy start but was followed by a prolonged period of drought. It turned hot and dry and stayed that way right through to the end of October. It was clear during harvest so the grapes coming in to the cellar were clean and fragrant, with an extremely low incidence of rot and beautiful looking skins.

This led to big, bold wines with high tannins and alcohol. It also led to moderate to low acidity levels, which has pushed some commentators to mention the great vintage of 1982. Opulent fruit profiles and rich tannins probably suggest wines in-between the 2009s and 2016s rather.

With some areas affected by mildew and damaged by hail, however, the vintage is by no means homogenous and is sure to divide critical opinion.

It seems that there is great quality fruit across both the Right Bank and Left Bank. Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines were especially good, although there are prolific Right Bank wines too. Expect the wines to have the structure to age for many decades.

The perfect weather during harvest allowed for a long harvest window, which means big differences in style across the wines. Read the critics' notes carefully or ask Wine Cellar about the style of each château.

The whites and sweet Sauternes are promising but, due to their low acidity levels, the vintage is less regarded for whites than reds.

Scores

As the Robert Parker era has come to an end, the release date and release prices are not dictated by any one critic's score. There is a basket of critics that are used to asses the vintage and wines, which is healthier for the consumer. We suggest aligning yourself with the critic who appreciates the same wines you do. Read the notes and make sure the wine is made in a style that you enjoy.

Neal Martin was sick during the en-primeur campaign and, therefore, will not release a verdict. This is unfortunate as we feel that Neal Martin is the most consistent of all tasters.

As before, James Suckling and James Molesworth have produced an early verdict. We await Vinous, JancisRobinson.com and Tim Atkin MW.

Wine Spectator’s potential 100-point wines – by James Molesworth
Figeac, Léoville-Las Cases, Palmer, Pichon-Lalande and Trotonoy

Decanter’s potential 100-point wines – by Jane Anson
Palmer, Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, Pichon Lalande, Beausejour Duffau, Vieux Château Certain and Cheval Blanc.

James Suckling’s potential 100-point wines
Mouton Rothschild, Angelus, Rauzan-Ségla, Domaine de Chevalier, l'Eglise Client, Léoville-Las Cases, Lafite Rothschild, Margaux, Vieux Château Certain, Ausone, Beausejour Duffau and Latour.

Suckling admits: 'I didn’t expect this result – a number of people had said that the 2018 was heterogeneous in quality. However, I believe people are confusing the diversity in character and style of the 2018s with quality... it could turn out to be an all-time great.’

The prices:

We suspect that prices will move up from 2017 (a small vintage) to the 2016 price levels, albeit with a slightly weaker Rand.

What to buy?

The impact on organic and biodynamic estates has been well documented, with Pontet Canet and Palmer harvesting tiny yields (around 12h/h) and, therefore, less than half the volume available. Otherwise, there is good volume in 2018 and most wines will be available.

Wine Cellar has selected the finest and most popular 100-odd châteaux based on 2 decades of en-primeur sales. We can, however, source almost all châteaux that sell through the campaign on customer requests. Some properties, such as Latour, choose not to participate.

We also offer buying advice and can suggest a basket of wines based on your particular style and budget. Sign up to our en-primeur newsletter.

 

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Should I buy?

The big question is: Should you buy? I analysed 10 of our most popular châteaux from the 2005 and 2016 campaigns and compared en-primeur to current retail prices. 2005 showed a 280% growth in Rand price – or a 10% annualised saving since 2006. 2016 showed 38% growth in just 2 years. While a fair portion of the gain is Rand depreciation, as well as higher retail versus en-primeur markups, there was still sizable growth in price from en-primeur to release, through to maturity.

En-primeur enables you to buy all châteaux with 1 invoice in various bottle formats and case sizes at a highly competitive price. So, if the Rand stays fairly constant or depreciates further, en-primeur is the cheapest way to buy Bordeaux in SA. Please contact me if you would like to see the figures.

How to order?

Respond to one of our Bordeaux en-primeur newsletters or order via email or phone while stocks are available. Alternatively, you can send through your wishlist at any time.

Wine Cellar offers the greatest wine region in the world en-primeur (as futures). 2017 will be our 17th Bordeaux campaign and will be offered from April 2018 onwards for delivery in 2020.
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Wine Cellar imports fine wine from Europe, offers antipodean wines, fine local wines as well as brokers your fine wine. We also focus on selling wines en-primeur (as futures) from Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône.
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All prices include VAT.