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En primeur report: extraordinary and exceptional 2018 vintage

Published:  02 May, 2019

Gavin Quinney’s annual en primeur and vintage report for Harpers describes 2018 as “an exceptional vintage”, with the top red wines showing “extraordinary depth, opulence and intensity”.

In the report Quinney, who is winemaker-owner at Chateau Bauduc near Créon, describes a challenging start to the growing season, followed by “three glorious months, with record levels of sunshine, precious little rain and an unflustered harvest”.

“On show around Bordeaux during the en primeur tastings in late March and early April were hundreds of rich, lush and powerful barrel samples that fully expressed the overt ripeness of the vintage,” writes Quinney.

“It was far from plain sailing, however, with many leading châteaux having much lower yields than their neighbours, and there’s a fine line in 2018 between getting the balance just right in such a ripe vintage, with its naturally high alcohol and forceful tannins, and stepping a little too far to the dark side.”

However, from those who did get the balance right, “there are scores of outstanding red wines to choose from in 2018”, says the report.

It adds that there are some excellent dry whites from Péssac-Lėognans and Graves, also with a very good vintage for whites from the leading Médoc châteaux.

With Sauternes and Barsac, Quinney recommends careful selection, though with some fine wines at the top level.

“It’s worth comparing 2018 with other great years, notably 2016 (another wet spring/dry summer scenario), 2010 and 2009,” says Quinney.

2018 saw total production return to a more normal level after the small, frost-damaged crop of 2017, with a total crop of just under 500 million litres – “a devilish 666 million bottles” - close to the previous 10 years average.”

To read Gavin Quinney’s full en primeur and vintage report, including a thorough description of the 2018 vintage conditions, prices, scores and advice on which wines to buy, visit or see our May issue of Harpers.