Bordeaux 2018 at Two Years: St Estèphe
St Estèphe frequently provides a happy hunting ground for Bordeaux drinkers. Naturally the ‘big three’, the top ranking cru classé châteaux, are the centre of attention in any report pertaining to this appellation, but there are many other properties here which should not be overlooked. Not only lower down the cru classé rankings, but also among the cru bourgeois châteaux, now neatly sorted into Cru Bourgeois, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel, at least for the next five vintages. Indeed, if you don’t get to know some of the top-performing non-cru classé châteaux (not every unclassified château wants to referred to as bourgeois) at this level in St Estèphe, then you really are missing out.
The performance here in St Estèphe in 2018 is broadly pretty good. Of course, you might expect this to be so; the soils of St Estèphe have more clay and there is limestone here too, the Calcaire de St Estèphe, two features which could give the vines an advantage in a vintage marked by excessive and then inadequate rainfall. Having said that, this did not really come across in the tasting; first, St Estèphe was not clearly superior to Pauillac, St Julien and Margaux, situated just to the south and which are benchmarks for the gravel-Cabernet combination that defines the left bank. Second, the very best wines from within the appellation comes from the aforementioned ‘top three’, all of which are of course situated on the appellation’s high points, sitting pretty atop deep beds of gravel.