The last couple of days have seen the release of some notable Classed Growth Châteaux into the 2018 Bordeaux En Primeur fray.
Always one of the star buys, Château Batailley is quintessential Pauillac, hitting the perfect balance of structured, muscular and age-worthy claret with a ripe and silky texture. When we visited the region early April we were universally enamoured by its performance in 2018, and for a wine scoring up to a potential 95pts from James Suckling and 94pts from The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown, the 2018 offers stunning value from this hugely successful commune. Batailley’s 2018 may ultimately eclipse their brilliant 2009 offering.
Another outstanding Grand Cru Classé Pauillac to make waves in 2018 is that of Château Haut-Bages Libéral. From a property adjacent to Château Pichon-Baron and neighbour to First Growth Château Latour; Haut-Bages Liberal has produced arguably its greatest wine to date. Created from biodynamic grapes the 2018 offered the Mr.Wheeler team a soaring expression in the glass of sweet crème de cassis with a mineral rich, restrained palate. This will be a keeper, and at a little over £30 a bottle under-bond, offers exceptional pedigree at a great price and with a potential score of up to 96pts from James Suckling, it has the critics purring, too.
Last but not least, an awesome Classed Growth St Julien which hit the market yesterday is that of 2018 Château Branaire-Ducru. We were mightily impressed with the seamless elegance, rich purity of fruit and superb terroir expression at Branaire this year, and we had it as one of our stars of the vintage. It turns out we weren’t alone in that assessment, as it was officially recognised through a Liv-Ex members’ poll as the international trade’s collective favourite wine of the vintage. The subtle yet coaxing palate belies the fact that this will be a wine for the ages… This is a sensational St Julien and truly outstanding in 2018, with The Wine Spectator rating up to 97pts, James Suckling to 96pts and the Wine Advocate to 94pts.