Bordeaux 2018 at Two Years: Pauillac
From hunting good-value cru bourgeois wines sold for a song and a wink in St Estèphe we now turn to the opposite end of the spectrum in Pauillac, a commune and appellation positively bristling with first growths and one or two (or more, these days) châteaux who see themselves as pretenders to the crown.
Being an appellation which is relatively deficient in value-for-money cru bourgeois offerings, bargain-hunters in Pauillac must look instead to the lower ranks of the 1855 classification, as there are a number of châteaux (well, one or two) on these lower levels that can push the buttons of your tastebuds and tick the boxes on your bank statement at the same time. And these days there are some pretty smart second wines too; twenty years ago I would rarely have bothered with these ‘second class’ wines, at a time (excuse me while I don my rose-tinted spectacles for a misty-eyed moment) the prices of many of the top growths still seemed to be in reach, but I think we can all agree that those times are now long gone. Happily, with higher and higher prices for the grand vin come stricter and stricter selections, and the result is better and better fruit going into the second wines. These are no longer ‘second class’ wines. Who would not be happy drinking Petit Mouton or Les Griffons these days?
Turning to the first growths before all others (well, I have to, do I not?), I tasted two of the three. As I outlined in my introduction to this tasting report, there are a handful of châteaux in Bordeaux from which I did not request samples, and one among them was Château Latour. Given that the wines are not released until maturity there seems little point; we can probably expect the grand vin in this vintage to be released circa 2030 when, provided this pandemic is finally over, I might just be able to travel to Bordeaux to taste it. That left the brilliant 2018 Château Mouton-Rothschild, a racy and simultaneously seductive wine, and the 2018 Château Lafite-Rothschild, with its trademark suggestion of breeding and reserve. Both are top notch, although the former won my heart more than the latter. My tasting note probably says all I need to say about it, so I will simply state here that this particular Mouton is a legend in the making. If you can see your way to adding it to your own cellar, then lucky you.