Bordeaux Right Bank 2018 – A Vintage Report

Ronald with the owners of Angelus

The wines produced here are among the best of the Right Bank, often leading the pack. Ronald Rens tasted at the château with Alain Vauthier and his daughter Pauline, who is representing the next generation of the Vauthier family at the helm of this extraordinary château.

Château Ausone 2018, 1er Grand Cru Classé “A”, Saint Emilion
Chapelle d’Ausone 2018 —19- points
40% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot
Dense, intense and deep colour. On the nose there is a remarkable complexity for a second wine. This is a great wine in its own right. In the mouth there is an explosion of fruit with an incredible precision. Great length and with a simply divine tannic structure. Many chateaux would be more than happy to be on this level with their first wines. Very long with super and ripe fruit. Wow!

Château Ausone 2018 — 20- points
40% Merlot and 60% Cabernet Franc
A deep intense purple, colour, even deeper than the La Chapelle. Lush bouquet of refined red and black fruit on the nose. Some hints of coffee and chocolate. Very ripe fruit and maybe even a bit jammy without being flabby. When the wine opens up even further there is even more fresh fruit showing up. What a nose! On the palate there is loads of ripe fruit, interwoven with the typical Ausone silky tannings that you can only find here. Exemplary freshness balancing the somewhat higher than usual alcohol content (14,4%). Again another great Ausone!

Château Cheval Blanc 2018, 1er Grand Cru Classé “A”, Saint Emilion
At Cheval Blanc it was extremely important to harvest the Merlots at exactly the right moment to prevent too much alcohol because over maturity is not what is aims for. Pierre Lurton explains semi-jokingly: “It is easy to present a specially selected barrel on futures with a Parker-style wine. That is not what we aim for. We use many different parcels because this gives more complexity and that is what I aim for. We need a certain yield to create the harmony in the wine.” Cheval Blanc has 52 plots of vines planted on 39ha and this hasn’t changed in over 200 years.

Le Petit Cheval 2018 — 19- points
30% Cabernet Franc and 70% Merlot
Brilliant medium intense ruby colour. A superb intense nose with red fruit (cherry), chocolate and caramel. Some licorice. A great freshness with silky, smooth tannins. On the palate the wine is already delicious. Super precise fruit and a great tannic structure. Incredible that this is only a second wine.

Château Cheval Blanc 2018 — 20 points!
54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon
A deep concentrated colour, intense with a beautiful deep purple rim. On the nose this wine is simply incredible: Extremely complex with an intense, fresh bouquet of cherry, blackcurrant and some blackberry. On the palate there is a superb ripeness. This is just an almost hedonistic pleasure. Beautiful fruit intertwined with soft but powerful elegant tannins. A bit more of a tannic structure than previous vintages. Incredible length and complexity combined with a great freshness. This wine has a tremendous aging potential. This is without a doubt the best Cheval Blanc I have tasted on futures and this is definitely my wine of the vintage on the Right Bank. 20 points on 20, without a doubt.

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Château Angelus 2018, 1er Grand Cru Classé “A”, Saint Emilion
Château Angélus is a bit hidden just outside of Saint Emilion. It has been said that in the old days on this property you could hear the church bells of no less than three churches sounding the Angélus (a Roman Catholic prayer). The tastings at Château Angélus are very professionally organized but still remain a family affair. Angélus is owned by one of Bordeaux’s oldest wine families, the family de Boüard de Laforest. It is the eighth generation that has started working here but it remains Hubert de Boüard de Laforest who makes the wine. Hubert told me that he will make 90,000 bottles of Angélus this year, which is a bit less than usual because of his severe selections in the Cabernet Franc. I tasted at Angélus with Hubert and co-owner, Jean Bernard Grenié.

Ronald Rens with the owners of Angelus, Hubert de Boüard de Laforest and Jean Bernard Grenié

Carillon d’Angélus 2018 — 18.5 points
90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc

Very deep intense colour. The nose is rather discreet in this stage with some elegant red and black fruit. On the palate there are good fruit tones, mainly black fruit. Good tannic structure and a long finish. Well made.

Chateau Angélus 2018 — 19.5+ points
65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Franc
An intense ruby red colour. Rather closed on the nose but with some fresh, precise fruit. On the palate this wine shows its class: great fruit expression and an amazing length. Beautiful pure, ripe fruit. The wine is simply beautiful with refined, velvety tannins and a good freshness that keep the fairly high alcohol (14.3%) in a perfect balance. The wood influence is there, but without being overwhelming. Yet another great Angélus.

Château Pavie 2018, 1er Grand Cru Classé “A”, Saint Emilion
Aromes de Pavie 2018 — 17.5 points
65% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc and 17% Cabernet Sauvignon
The signature deep colour, true to the style of the Chateau. Rather jammy nose with intense red cooked fruit with almost a hint of sweetness. Made me think of a Napa Valley wine. On the palate there are loads of wood but not so overwhelming as in previous vintages. Nice (over)ripe fruit and a good length. Well made and again a small step further away from the Parker-style wines.

Château Pavie 2018 — 19 points
60% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon
Deep inky black colour, even deeper than the Aromes. On the nose there is an interesting menthol aroma that dominates a bit, followed by heavy aromas of concentrated cooked fruit. It is in the style of Pavie which has faithful followers. The sample that shows some ripe fruit on the palate is dominated by the wood. Very strong barrel influence. In the mouth this is a heavy, full-bodied wine that seems to emulate New World wines. It is well made but this is not your traditional Bordeaux and it is a style one has to like.

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