2018 St. Julien in Bottle Tasting Report, Notes, Ratings, Buying Guide


As I wrote in my 2018 Saint Julien barrel tasting report, the appellation should win an award for the most consistent Left Bank appellation of the 2018 Bordeaux vintage. Frankly, every wine I tasted was good. And not just the Grand Vin, the second wines were strong as well. In fact, just peruse my tasting notes and you can see the remarkable level of consistency with 2018 St. Julien wines.

Bruno Borie of Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou is more than happy this year calling the vintage a knockout! “Knockout vintage” does not transmit the idea of roundness, fleshiness but indeed the sensation of full satisfaction is there. For us it is the richest wine produced at the estate ever!” Borie went a bit further adding: “2018 clearly marks the beginning of a new era for Ducru Beaucaillou.”

The 2018 vintage was perfect for St. Julien, once the rains ceased by late June. The winter and spring drenched the region. But picture perfect weather, warm sunny and dry hit the region in July and with a few minor showers, which helped promote maturity to the vines, beautiful conditions continued through to the harvest, allowing growers to pick, when they found their desired level of maturity.

Being a small appellation, at only 910 hectares, much of the gravel terroir was able to work its magic, alleviating the excess water while retaining the right amount of moisture to nourish the vines when needed during the dry summer months.

Lilian Barton Sartorius of Chateau Leoville Barton and Langoa Barton said things went relatively well from start to finish. “We were very lucky in 2018 with perfect timing for everything weather-wise during the year. The flowering went well under good conditions. Then a hot summer with rain when it was needed, of course helped by our proximity with the river serving as good temperature buffers and our well drained gravel soils.”

The warm, sunny, days, dry conditions and cool nights were perfect for the region, allowing much of the harvest to reach the desired level of maturity that each estate wanted to achieve. If you want to read details on the 2018 Bordeaux vintage 2018 Harvest Report

The vintage conditions allowed producers to make the style of wine they wanted explained Francois Xavier Maroteaux of Chateau Branaire Ducru; “I would say Branaire Ducru 2018 is clearly the kind of wine that we would love to produce every year! A perfect combination between the complex structure of the 2016, the fleshiness and accessibility of the 2009, and the elegance and the fruitiness of the 2015!”

By the time harvest was concluded, the conditions were just right for creating small, dark, deeply concentrated berries with thick ripe skins for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Sara Lecompte-Cuvelier of Chateau Leoville Poyferre finds 2018 St. Julien perfectly balanced. “2018 is an incredible vintage with concentration and density creating a perfect balance between alcohol and acidity, giving a nice freshness.”

While 2018 Saint Julien got off to a poor, very wet start, by the time harvesting was concluded, everything was close to perfect, and that made all the difference according to Philippe Blanc of Chateau Beychevelle. “It shows that you perform better with 100% perfect harvest conditions that we had in 2018.”

Tasting the wines showed that everywhere producers created wines that are uniformly dark in color. full-bodied, concentrated, elegant, powerful and refined. Alcohol levels are high, but there is more than ample freshness in the wines, they feel equally sensuous and vibrant. Antoine Gimbert of Chateau Leoville Las Cases agreed calling 2018 Saint Julien unique, “2018 is truly an outstanding vintage, yet it can hardly be compared to any other.”

If you want to read tasting notes for other 2018 Bordeaux wines 2018 Complete Guide to All the Best Wines of the Vintage

The following 2018 Saint Julien wines were all tasted in my home office in non-blind conditions.

2018 – Beychevelle – The nose starts off with flowers, tobacco leaf, thyme, black currants, blackberries, cedar and wet earth. Deep in color, the wine is full-bodied, with a serious depth of flavor culminating in its rich, round, concentrated long, elegant, fruit-filled finish. This will age and evolve for at least 25-30 years. The wine blends 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. 96 Pts

2018 – Beychevelle Amiral de Beychevelle – Cedar, tobacco, cocoa, red pit fruits and just a hint of chocolate come through easily in this soft, silky, sweet, juicy and fresh charmer that is perfect for drinking while waiting for its big brother to develop. 90 Pts

2018 – Branaire Ducru – Showing better from the bottle than in barrel, the wine is loaded with black and red berries, smoke, mocha, flowers and coffee bean. Elegant, refined, silky and fresh, the fruit offers this gorgeous sense of purity from the start continuing straight through to the vibrant, red berry packed finish. Fans of Branaire Ducru should be all over this gem. The wine is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc. 95 Pts

2018 – Ducru Beaucaillou – Intensely colored, the wine is completely opaque. The next thing you notice is the aromatics which pop thanks to the array of flowers, black and dark red fruits, forest floor, espresso, wet earth, tobacco leaf and bitter chocolate. Full-bodied, concentrated, rich, deep, opulent, fresh and intense, the wine coats your palate and sticks with you. This is a good thing because it is difficult not to want more of all those sweet, ripe, luscious fruits. The purity, symmetry and length keep on going for close to 60 seconds! Give it at least 12-15 years to age and it could hit the triple digit mark! The wine blends 85% Cabernet Sauvignon with 15% Merlot, 14.5% ABV. The Grand Vin was made from only 35% of the harvest. 99 Pts

2018 – La Croix Ducru-Beaucaillou – The floral notes and touch of spice add a lot to the soft medium/full-bodied wine. The fruit is ripe, sweet and fresh with good energy, richness, lift and length, finishing with soft, polished, ripe, red fruits that linger. If you can wait, give it a few years of cellaring before popping a cork and enjoy it over the next 12-15 years. 93 Pts

2018 Le Petit Ducru – Forward, elegant, medium-bodied and ready to go, here you find ample, spicy currants, tobacco lea and earthy nuances. The wine is round, charming and perfect for consumption over the next decade or so. 92 Pts

2018 – Gloria – Flowers and currants aromas are backed up by wet earth, cedar, tobacco and espresso. On the palate the wine is elegant, soft and juicy with loads of sweet berries, lift and focus. There is freshness and length in the finish. Give this 4-6 years in the cellar and enjoy it over the following 2 decades. The wine was made from a blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot 8% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc. 94 Pts

2018 – Gruaud Larose – Round, plush, soft and full-bodied, the wine offers good richness, layers of ripe, currants, cherries and plums. There is depth and complexity with a touch of stone in the elegant, luxurious finish. Clearly Gruaud Larose is back on target. The wine was made from blending 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc. 94 Pts

2018 – Lagrange – Deep in color, the wine wastes little time strutting its stuff. The spicy, fresh, vibrant red berries, cigar box, tobacco leaf and cedar grab your attention. When the wine hits your palate, with all its layers of juicy, sweet, energetic fruits, things really get going, ending with a finish that is lush, round, supple, fresh and lively. As I wrote during the barrel tastings, this is the finest vintage of Chateau Lagrange ever produced! As this wine ages and develops more softness and nuances, the wine could score even higher. 95 Pts

2018 – Langoa Barton – Cassis, chocolate mint, flowers and tobacco leaf aromas is where the wine starts. But it is on the full-bodied palate with all of its chewy, crisp, fresh, vibrant layers of bright, spicy currants that you get the full character here. Youthful and tannic as expected, allow this at least a decade of aging before pulling a cork. The wine blends 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc. 93 Pts

2018 – Leoville Barton – With a dark, inky, purple accented hue, the perfume pops with all its ripe, blackberry and currants, accompanied by cigar box, forest floor, herbs, cedar and cigar wrapper notes. Full-bodied, concentrated, powerful, yet refined, the finish is deep, long and intense. Wait at least a decade before pulling a cork. It is going to be difficult to pick the best vintage of Leoville Barton from the 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016 and 2018 but it is going to be fun tasting them together over the next several decades. The wine blends 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18%. 97 Pts

2018 – Leoville Las Cases – Stylistically different, but not far off from the level of quality found in the perfect 2016, this is a future legendary vintage of Leoville Las Cases. As you begin to nose the wine you find a boatload of crème de cassis, Cuban cigars, smoke, forest leaf, tobacco, blackberry, coffee bean, flowers and earthy aromas. Full-bodied, rich and dense, the wine meshes power with soft, supple, round, rich layers of fruit that feel just great as they coat your palate. Long and intense, comparing this with the 2016 and 2019 over the decades is going to be a lot of fun. The wine was made from a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc 14.5 ABV. 99 Pts

2018 – Le Petit Lion de Marquis de Las Cases – Here you find a family resemblance to the Grand Vin. Lighter, closer to ready to drink and softer for sure, but this Baby Las Cases is perfect for restaurants and early drinking with its black raspberry and currant profile, coupled with round tannins, a fruit filled, supple textured finish and hints of tobacco. Enjoy this over the next decade or more while waiting for the Grand Vin to develop. The wine is a blend of 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 13% Cabernet Franc, 14.5% ABV. 91 Pts

2018 – Clos du Marquis – The smoky nose gets even better with all that ripe crème de cassis, blackberry, forest floor, cigar box and sweet cherry in the perfume. Lush, round and loaded with sweet, ripe, juicy red fruits, the wine delivers length, freshness and vibrancy, along with supple tannins in the finish. With bottle age, this could get even better. The wine was made from blending 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc, 14.5% ABV. 94 Pts

2018 – La Petite Marquise – Medium-bodied, forward, soft, round and fresh with a juicy, cherry, red plum, herb and currant finish. This should be delicious on release. 90 Pts

2018 – Leoville Poyferre – Smoke, licorice, espresso, spice, blackberry and roasted currants create the intoxicating perfume. Full-bodied, lush, rich and supple, with velvet drenched tannins, and a big mouthful of coffee bean, dark chocolate, black cherry and tobacco leaf, this is going to be just great. Patience is needed as the wine. If you are not yet a fan and this style is your thing, one taste is all you need to get hooked! The wine blends 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 32% Petit Verdot, 14.4% ABV. 97 Pts

2018 – Pavillon de Léoville Poyferré – Medium-bodied, soft, refined, sweet, light styled, early drinking Left Bank charmer. You should drink this while waiting for the Grand Vin to develop. 90 Pts

2018 – Les Ormes – Medium-bodied, soft, forward, fresh, lighter styled Cabernet Sauvignon based wine with a core of red fruits, herbs and tobacco leaf. This will drink well on release. 86 Pts

2018 – Moulin-Riche – Sweet red fruits with touches of toffee, smoke, tobacco leaf, mint and herbs crowd together to create the perfume. On the palate the wine is medium-bodied, forward, charming and elegant with a black cherry and currant filed finish. The wine is a blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 17% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. 91 Pts

2018 – Moulin Riche M de Moulin-Riche – This is the debut vintage for this new second wine. Produced from a blend that includes a whopping 69% Petit Verdot, the dark colored wine offers black and blue fruit, black pepper, flowers and spice on the nose. Powerful, tannic, fruity on the attack but dry in the finish, perhaps time help soften the tannins. 87 Pts

2018 – Saint-Pierre – Deep in color, the wine kicks off with flowers, smoky currants, spice, espresso and cigar box notes. From there, the richly textured dark red fruits provides layers of lusciously textured, fresh berries and toasty oak. Balanced, elegant and fresh, give this some time to fully come together and allow the oak to fully integrate. The wine was produced from 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc. 95 Pts

2018 – Talbot – Smoke, espresso, tobacco leaf, cedar, currants and spice create a beautiful nose. On the palate the wine is round, juicy, fruity and packed with sweet currants, herbs and oak. Give this at least 8 years of cellaring to develop more nuances and for the oak to better integrate. 93 Pts

2018 – Talbot Connetable – Medium-bodied, forward already charming to drink, this soft textured, fruity gem, with its fresh, savory red currants, spice and tobacco leaf is perfect for near-term drinking while you wait for the Grand Vin to mature. 90 Pts

2018 – Talbot Caillou Blanc – Light touches of yellow tropical fruits, white peach and honeysuckle form the nose. On the palate the wine is sweet, juicy and creamy with notes of green apple and citrus in the finish. 91 Pts

Post your comments or questions now