2018 Margaux is not as homogenous as the other top appellations in the Medoc. In part, of course it is due to the massive size and diversity of terroirs. But it is also important to note that while Margaux is not always consistent, 2 of the wines of the vintage came from Margaux! It is interesting to note that the top wines are located primarily on the top peak of the Cantenac plateau.
Some of the soils there had the ability to cope with the extremely wet, winter months. Still, mildew attack were an issue. Properties with the ability to attack the spread of mildew quickly managed to avoid losing large portions of their harvest. In fact, several properties lost from 20% to almost 75% of their harvest.
It was not only the wet winter and spring that was an issue. Growers here, as well as in all of the Left Bank needed enough water to survive the warm, sunny and parched summer months.
The date of the harvest was one of the crucial factors with 2018 Margaux. Some estates began picking their young vines as early as September 12. Harvesting finished as late as October 15. This long window of picking allowed many properties to obtain the desired level of ripeness they were looking for. If you want to read details on the 2018 Bordeaux vintage 2018 Harvest Report
Styles and characteristics in the Margaux appellation are usually reflective of the desire of the winery, and with 2018 Margaux, that holds true. With 2018 Margaux, all the wines are deeply colored. There are opulent, sensual wines, powerful, full-bodied, richly textured wines and some that are light, fresh and crisp. And of course wine lovers will experience the elegance the Margaux appellation is best known for.
Philippe Bascules of Chateau Margaux feels their 2018 combines concentration with their trademark elegance. “The exceptional weather conditions of 2018 gave birth to the most concentrated Château Margaux ever produced until now, and yet, the 2018 is above all a Chateau Margaux with its elegance, silkiness and charm.”
The first issue facing vintners was the ability to cope with impossibly wet winter and spring which delivered fierce attacks of mildew. The conditions at the start of the year was fraught with disaster due to the swift attack of mildew. It was so bad at Chateau Palmer, they lost close to 75% of the harvest.
In fact, the director, Thomas Duroux remembers he feared losing their entire crop, and his job as well! “What is for sure is it was the most difficult vintage I had to face in my entire career. I thought we would just loose everything, my job too! But, 2018 turned out to be the most extravagant wine we have ever produced!”
While it was not nearly as complicated at Chateau Brane Cantenac, they faced issues with mildew as well remembers owner, Henri Lurton. “I clearly remember the violent threat of mildew at the beginning of July. It took day after day, non-top vigilance to maintain our vineyard in good health while maintaining our natural strategy meaning we had to avoid the use of too much of copper allowing us to avoid its affect on our soil and its biodiversity.”
At Chateau Giscours, 2018 is a double edged victory. While they produced one of the best wines in the history of their estate, the owner of the property, Eric Albada Jelgersma, passed away after purchasing the vineyard more than 25 years ago. Director Alexander van Beek loves the vintage for its vibrancy saying, “2018 is an act of balance. It is bold, energetic and refined.”
The dry summer months saved and created the vintage allowing some estates to produce stunning wine. Emmanuel Cruse the owner of Chateau d’Issan spoke about 2018 Margaux, “The best attributes to the vintage is its sensuous textures, intensity and concentration.”
The difficult start to the growing season not only vastly reduced yields, it also had an affect on blends. In fact, director Jose Sanifins of Chateau Cantenac Brown says that 2018 is unique for their assemblage. “In 2018 we have the highest proportion of Cabernets at 72%.”
With 2018 Margaux, it was not only the Classified vineyards that made great wine. If you know where to look, several lesser known estates and numerous Cru Bourgeois vineyards produced fabulous wines as you can see from my tasting notes below.
The following 2018 Margaux wines were all tasted in my home office in non-blind conditions.
2018 – Brane Cantenac – Elegant, fresh and refined, the wine offers layers of sweet, ripe, fresh, red berries, smoke, flowers, wet earth, herbs, spice box and tobacco leaf in the perfume. On the palate, the wine is silky, lifted, long and pure, displaying a beautiful depth of flavor in the finish. The wine blends 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. 96 Pts
2018 – Le Baron de Brane – Flowers and cassis meld together perfectly in this medium-bodied, forward, soft, elegant, sweet, red berry filled charmer. Enjoy this while waiting the Grand Vin to develop. 91 Pts
2018 – Cantenac Brown – Concentrated, lush, voluptuously-textured, perfectly ripe, deep, dark opulent fruits are all over the place in the nose and on the palate. Full-bodied, velvet textured with intensity, length and richness, give this at least 7 or more years of aging and this will be a gorgeous wine for the following 2 decades. The wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. 95 Pts
2018 – Charmant – Soft, refined, elegant charmer with a medium-bodied, plum and cherry core of silky, fresh, red pit fruits. Not the most concentrated, but I like the finesse styled finish. This will be easy to drink on release and over the next 7 -9 years. 89 Pts
2018 – Confidence de Margaux – Tar, forest floor, wet earth, herbs, black cherry and currants dominate the nose. The wine is medium-bodied, soft and easy to drink, with an earthy red fruit character. You can enjoy this on release. 87 Pts
2018 – dArsac – Flowers, tobacco, espresso and cherries open the nose. The wine is medium-bodied, soft, fresh and fruity with a deft touch of oak and red pit fruits in the round finish. 90 Pts
2018 – Desmirail – Medium-bodied, with a lean edge to its slightly firm red fruits, here, you find a blend of various, bright red fruits ranging from red plums to cranberry and dried pit fruit on the nose and palate. Consumers longing for the days of classic Bordeaux will appreciate this more than I did. 87 Pts
2018 – Deyrem Valentin – Fresh, juicy, ripe red fruits with touches of coffee bean, wet earth and tobacco come to the nose easily. On the palate the wine is medium-bodied, with an earthy edge to the red fruits. The tannins are soft and there is ample freshness to provide good energy here. Give it 3-6 years in the bottle and this will be an even better wine. The wine blends 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. This is a solid value from the Margaux appellation. 92 Pts
2018 – dIssan – Silky, fresh, floral and pure, this gorgeous vintage of d’Issan is just great. The violet and lilac bouquet, with accents of tobacco leaf, cedar, crème de cassis attracts you right off the bat. On the palate, the wine is refined, elegant and shows its purity, freshness and silky textures with no effort. Give it 7-9 years in the bottle and enjoy it over the following 2-decades or more. The wine blends 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. 95 Pts
2018 – dIssan Blason d’Issan – Flowers and spice are perfectly packaged with ripe, red pit fruits and tobacco. Medium-bodied, soft and supple with sweet cherries on the mid-palate and finish. Give this a year or two to soften, developing additional nuances making it perfect for near term drinking while waiting for the Grand Vin to develop. 90 Pts
2018 – du Tertre – Earthy, with leafy tobacco, mint, flowers and red currants with spice on the nose, the wine is energetic, sweet and soft, with a polish to the tannins and lift to the fruit. This is the finest vintage du Tertre has ever produced. The wine blends 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc and 14% Petit Verdot and is the product of very low yields. 93 Pts
2018 – Ferriere – Medium-bodied, fresh, with a focus on sweet, red cherries, raspberries, flowers and earth. Soft, silky, fresh and vibrant, give it just a few years in the cellar. The wine is a blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. The yields were quite low at 22 hectoliters per hectare. 90 Pts
2018 – Giscours – Floral in nature, you find a sweetness and purity in the deep red fruits along with the violet bouquet that quickly grabs your interest. The wine is rich, sensuous, silky, sexy and lively. Concentrated with width, length and energy, the elegant, lushly textured finish feels just great on your palate. This should age for at least 3 decades, though it will start to shine in 8-10 years. The wine was produced blending 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot. 95 Pts
2018 – Haut Breton Larigaudière – Earthy to its core, the wine offers smoke, espresso, chewy red fruits and a soft, early drinking character. You can enjoy this on release. 87 Pts
2018 – Kirwan – Medium bodied, with layers of silky, soft, sweet, red fruits, licorice and tobacco leaf, the wine is charming, refined and fresh. Give it 4-5 years in the cellar and enjoy over the following 15-20 years after that. 92 Pts
2018 – La Fortune – Medium-bodied, soft-textured, plummy wine with a bright, lifted, red berry filled, soft textured, fruity finish. The wine is as easy to like as it is to drink. 90 Pts
2018 – La Tour de Bessan – Medium-bodied, bright, fresh, crisp, energetic red berries and flowers on those come through easily. On the palate, you find dusty textured, chewy red pit fruits that carry through to the finish in an early-drinking style. This is a nice value wine from the Margaux appellation. 90 Pts
2018 – La Tour de Mons – With a floral edge to the perfume, the wine is ripe, juicy, firm and fresh, with ample, sweet, ripe, earthy red pit fruits and chewy tannins. The wine has nice density and a sweet, juicy mid-palate and finish. 91 Pts
2018 – Labegorce – The gorgeous perfume, with its wet earth, spice, smoke, flowers, red berries and espresso is a knockout! The wine is plush, rich and plump, with a long finish loaded with polished, sweet red fruits and silky textures. This should age for at least 2 decades easily. The wine blends 50% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. 94 Pts
2018 – Lascombes – With a smoke-filled nose of plum, espresso, licorice, cigar box and roasted dark red fruits, the wine is round, lush and full-bodied with espresso and dark chocolate that rise along with all the ripe, dark red berries in the finish. It is going to take time for the oak to integrate, therefore, you will need to be either oak tolerant or very patient with this one. 92 Pts
2018 – Le Coteau – The earthy red fruits, tobacco, spice and leafy nose works well with the soft, medium-bodied, forward, early drinking core of red fruits. You can drink this easy to like charmer on release and up to a decade after that. 88 Pts
2018 – Malescot St. Exupery – Almost opaque in color, this full-bodied, lusciously textured, round, rich gem provides layers of ripe, sweet, dark red fruits, licorice, espresso, plums and cherries . The combination of velvety tannins, intensity and a plush finish hits the spot. If you can keep your hands off it for a decade or so, this is going to be an outstanding wine to enjoy for the following 2 decades after that. 95 Pts
2018 – Chateau Margaux – Perfectly poised between opulent and refined, rich and elegant, this is a beautiful example of Chateau Margaux with intense notes of lilacs, violets, cigar box, red fruits and espresso. The palate has superb levels concentration, but there is also freshness and depth of flavor, so the silky textured wine is light on its feet and effortless to drink. The seamless finish provides great energy, soft, silky tannins and a gorgeous sense of purity to the fruit that does not want to quit. Made from a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, 14% ABV. 100 Pts
2018 – Chateau Margaux Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux – Elegant, refined and aromatic with easy to find notes of flowers, smoked herbs, cigar box and ripe, red fruits. Medium-bodied, soft, fresh and silky, everything feels incredibly balanced on your palate. This is going to need 3-4 years of aging before it is ready to drink. The wine was made from blending 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, and 9% Cabernet Franc, 14.5% 94 Pts
2018 – Chateau Margaux Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux – Fresh, bright, crisp and juicy, the lemons, grapefruit and green apple are made even better with a deft touch of orange rind and honeysuckle. Creamy, juicy and crisp with a lemon drenched finish, this is ready now and can age for at least 10-15 years with ease. 95 Pts
2018 – Marojallia – Smoky, espresso, licorice, spice, blackberry and barbecue scented aromas meld perfectly with the full-bodied, round-textured, polished, lush, flashy, sweet, dark red berry filled mid-palate and finish. This modern styled Margaux blends 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. 92 Pts
2018 – Clos Margalaine – Filled with juicy, round, sweet, dark red fruits, espresso and a hint of spice, the wine ends with a jolt of strong black coffee and red plums. You can enjoy this on release. 89 Pts
2018 – Marquis dAlesme – Voluptuous, silky, fresh, concentrated, full-bodied, rich and packed with layers of perfectly ripe, sweet, silky textured, red and black fruits. The weight, depth of flavor, complexity, length and opulent finish is just great. This has a long future with at least 2-3 decades of positive evolution ahead. The wine blends 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc. 95 Pts
2018 – Marquis de Terme – Smoke, black raspberries, espresso, wet earth, truffle, plum and currants create a fabulous nose. Lush, silky, polished, soft and sweet, the fruit tastes as good as it feels on the palate and in the finish. 94 Pts
2018 – Palmer – Inky dark in color, the wine is fully opaque. On the palate you find an incredibly concentrated, fresh, vibrant, lively, opulent and refined, wine, which is a rare combination. Texturally, this is all silk and velvet hitting every nook and cranny of your taste receptors. The violet infused, earthy, deep perfume along with the layers of decadently ripe, sweet, lush fruits is impossible to resist. There is a gorgeous sense of purity that shines though on the finish making this even better. The finish with all its plum, dark cherry, cocoa and boysenberry exceeds the 60 second mark. This is a legendary vintage for Palmer. But give it time. It is easy to enjoy this in its youth, but its best days are in the future, so give it 12-15 years of age and enjoy it for at least 2 decades or more after that. Blended from 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot, 14.3% ABV, the yields were shockingly low at only 11 hectoliters per hectare — conceding only one cluster per vine — the exact same yield Palmer experienced in 1961! 100 Pts
2018 – Paveil de Luze – Espresso, toffee, red fruits, flowers and spice open up the nose. On the palate, the earthy fruits and tobacco come along quickly. Medium-bodied with sweetness and a firm quality to the tannins dictate 3-5 years of cellaring before you should start to enjoy it. 91 Pts
2018 – Prieure-Lichine – Black, red and blue fruit, smoke, espresso and herbs connect in the nose. The wine is rich, concentrated, lush, round and polished. The fruit is ripe, dark, expressive and comes accompanied by coffee bean, licorice and dark cocoa nuances on the mid-palate and in the finish. 94 Pts
2018 – Rauzan Segla – A contender for the finest vintage of Rauzan Segla ever produced, the wine hits all the right notes starting with its complex perfume which is already showing off its lilacs, violets, tobacco leaf, forest floor, espresso and array of red and black fruits. On the palate, the wine really shines due to its depth of flavor, power, concentration, sensuous, elegant textures and its silk and velvet wrapped finish clocking in at 60 seconds, or more. Give it ten years or just a bit longer and this beauty will shine for 2-3 decades after that. The wine blends 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot 14% ABV. 98 Pts
2018 – Segla – Soft, silky, fresh and fruity, the wine is forward and ready to drink, allowing you to experience all the sweet, ripe, dark cherries, currants, flowers and earthy nuances right off the bat. This is a perfect wine to order off a restaurant list. 91 Pts
2018 – Siran – Showing a good depth of color, the wine kicks off with flowers, forest floor, espresso, tobacco leaf, spice and a hint of truffle. On the palate the wine is round, lush, full-bodied and carries its multiple-layers of sweet fruits nicely. There is depth, length and energy here. You can enjoy this for at least 20 years or more. The wine blends 45% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc, 14% ABV. 93 Pts