Robert Parker’s successor, Neal Martin rates his top wines of the Bordeaux 2018 vintage

Finally, Robert Parker’s chosen successor, Neal Martin, publishes his view on the 2018 Bordeaux vintage. His will be a unique perspective on the wines as his tasting was deferred to September due to ill health, unlike the other top critics which tasted the vintage during the en primeur campaign in April this year. Martin comments on this unusual view, in that the wines have had a few more months maturing in barrel and probably at final blend, as such “samples are more representative of the final wine. In that sense, tasting in September allowed a little more clarity in conjecturing how these 2018s may evolve.”

Martin reflects on the influence of global warming and that this is a challenge for wine makers generally going forward “warmer temperatures will shape future practices to counter higher alcohol and lower acidity levels.”Neal Martin

His overall view on Bordeaux 2018 is that it is “very good to excellent in quality. However, it does not demonstrate the consistency of 2005 or 2016, and it lacks the pinnacles that mark 2010 and, again, 2016.” He points to the Right Bank which earned his highest marks and comments such as inducing “tingles down the spine”, as putting “the Left Bank into context”.

Martin states that ‘St Emilion delivers in 2018. If you want to talk about “genuine best wines ever made” or “pinnacles of achievement” then this is where to come.” This is due to changes in winemaking pratices, he particularly highlights Troplong Mondot, and  terroir. In his view “soils elevated a clutch of St Emilion wines to the highest quality level in 2018” and Pavie, Pavie Macquin, Ausone, Larcis-Ducasse and Canon are “all exceptional and rank alongside the best of the last decade.”

N. Martin’s Top Ten wines of Bordeaux 2018:

Rank Wine N. Martin Scores J. Suckling Scores L. Perrotti-Brown (Wine Advocate)
1 Petrus 97 – 99 100 98 – 100
2 Trotanoy 97 – 99 98 – 99 97 – 99+
3 Eglise-Clinet 97 – 98 99 – 100 96 – 98
4 Ausone 96 – 98 99 – 100 98 – 100
5 Figeac 96 – 98 98 – 99 97 – 99
6 Mission Haut Brion 96 – 98 97 – 98 98 – 100
7 Lafleur 96 – 98 100 97 – 100
8 Latour 96 – 98 99 – 100 98 – 100
9 Pavie 96 – 98 98 – 99 97 – 100
10 Pichon-Lalande 96 – 98 98 – 99 97 – 99

Source: Neal Martin, Vinous.com / Liv-ex.com

Martin also comments in his report on the fundamentals that have influenced the Bordeaux 2018 en primeur campaign and that the merchants’ “cherry- picking buying strategy is filtering back up the chain to Bordeaux negociants and knocking at the chateau doors.” This has arisen as a result of the need to protect margins and meet consumer demand – any future impact on the selling strategies of the chateaux and the Bordeaux en primeur system will only become apparent over time. Certainly we are seeing the chateaux withhold supply at this stage but Martin believes this is a ‘short-term view’.

He also comments on other influences on the market this year including the shift in demand from China, the geo-political impact of Brexit, US tariffs and HK’s current challenges, all of which create uncertainty for any ‘futures’ purchase.

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