An Offer ‘En Primeur’ of Two Outstanding Bordeaux Châteaux from the 2018 Vintage
The 2018 vintage in Bordeaux is without doubt, a very good year, where wines have exceptional concentration and relatively high levels of tannin. However, there is a danger that some wines may be over-ripe and over-concentrated, lacking that all-important freshness. Those châteaux that managed to achieve proper tannin management have made some outstanding wines. Where the tannins are fine and gossamer-like, they can add an extra dimension to these wonderfully succulent wines. True, alcohol levels are a bit on the high side but that is perfectly acceptable, as long as the freshness and balance are there to counterbalance.
Rather than going for our usual extensive Bordeaux en primeur offer, where the value of many of the top châteaux might be in question, we feel it is more interesting just to offer two properties, both of which are long-established favourites of ours and which have produced two quite excellent 2018’s, at very affordable prices. One is a classic left-bank château (La Tour de By in the Médoc) and the other a highly-rated right-bank Lalande-de-Pomerol (Château Garraud from Néac). It is no coincidence that both properties have a high percentage of water-retentive clay in their soils.
Léon Nony purchased Château Garraud in the 1930’s and since then, the 36 hectares of vineyards, situated in the commune of Néac, have been gradually renovated and restored. The vines are planted on a complicated mosaic of soils - gravel, deep clay (with crusse de fer) and clay-sand - all of which come together to give the wines added complexity. Wine-maker Vincent Duret is making lush, fleshy wines with real depth and body but manages to ally this with a certain finesse. These are wines that can be drunk relatively early in their lives but gain added dimension with age.
When it comes to the 2018 vintage at Garraud, the high proportion of clay soils, interspersed with gravel, meant that there was an excellent level of water-holding capacity to keep the high percentage of Merlot vines supplied with enough water to fully ripen the fruit. The nose exudes damsons and cassis, with a touch of coffee; there is abundant freshness and the proportion of Cabernet in the assemblage is certainly a contributor to the wine’s poise. Certainly a very big wine that will drink well from 2021 and for at least a further ten years.
Bottles: £119.76/ dozen or £61.08/ six – Magnums: £123.00/ six
Very much one of our ‘original’ wines, which we have followed since we started in 1979. Sadly, the man who put La Tour de By on the map and so successfully ran this sizeable 94 hectare property, the delightful Marc Pagès, died in 2007 but his grandsons, Frédéric Leclerc and Benjamin Richer des Forges, have taken over the reins. The two ’boys’ have invested heavily in the chais and have also added an impressive temperature-controlled storage cellar. The vineyards (the average age of the vines if 40 years) are ideally positioned on a series of gravelly ridges with underlying clay, overlooking the estuary of the Gironde.
Fermentation is in traditional wooden vats, with a 4-week cuvaison and the wine is then aged for 16 months in new to 3-year-old barriques. A rigorous selection is made for the final cuvées and these are always deep-coloured, full-flavoured and concentrated wines with a clearly defined cassis fruitiness, with a touch of spice and cedar wood.
The 2018 is probably the finest wine ever to come out of this property. Very dark coloured, Frédéric and Benjamin have made a Bordeaux with great concentration and balance. The nose radiates fresh blackcurrants and touch of spice whilst, on the palate, the tannins are finely layered. A wine that will drink well in a couple of years’ time but which will happily develop for at least a further 12-15 years.
Bottles: £114.00/ dozen or £58.20/ six – Magnums: £117.00/ six
TERMS and CONDITIONS
ORDERS: The minimum order is 6 bottles of each wine. Both wines are available in cases of 6 or 12 bottles. Orders can be made by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01404 814139.
PRICES: All prices are quoted in bond in Sterling and are exclusive of duty and VAT (20%). For those wanting to take delivery of their wines duty paid, please add the duty at the time of shipment (currently £25.98/dozen or £12.99/six) plus VAT. Onward delivery from bond to a UK mainland address is currently £9.00/case (12 or 6 bottles) + VAT. Wines may be added to reserves already in bond.
PAYMENT: Payment should be on receipt of invoice for all account customers and in the form of cheque with order or credit card number and details for non-account customers. No delivery will be organised until payment of all charges has been made in full.
DELIVERY TO OUR CELLARS WILL BE IN LATE 2020.
All other terms and conditions apply as per our current wine list.