Bordeaux wine-makers are headed for “great” vintage after an unusual dry, warm summer season, according to Olivier Bernard, whose family owns Domaine de Chevalier in Pessac-Leognan. “2018 was a vintage with two periods,” he stated during the 2016 vintage tasting in London on October 16 by the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux. “A very wet period until the end of June, and very dry after July. We can already tell you we have a great vintage.”
Thanks to Bordeaux’s combination of high-quality vineyards and large production, it remains the reference point for the fine wine market. However, the vineyards are vulnerable to weather changes, unlike other wine-making areas such as California, South Africa and Australia that typically encounter more reliable climate. Bordeaux was responsible for trading 60 percent on the London-based Liv-ex wine market by value in the week to Oct. 18, while Champagne was second at 13 percent, according to Liv-ex’s Talking Trade report.
Bloomberg reports Bordeaux contains many high-quality vintages in 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2016, but hit more challenging years between 2011 and 2013, when it was remembered to be cold and wet. “2016 is better than ’15, and ’18 will be better than ’16,” according to Bernard Audoy of Chateau Cos Labory, an estate in the Saint Estephe region of the northern Medoc. “We’re at the level of ’09 and ’10, more ’10 than ’09.” He described the vintage as excellent following a “beautiful end to the season.”
Some wine-makers even suffered from mildew, due to the wet spring, although, most were able to maintain it and rise against the mildew. Audoy said the rain in spring “wasn’t a problem.”
While wine consultant Michel Rolland claims that 2018 was overall “a beautiful vintage” for Bordeaux, he adds there was an abundancy of mildew issues following the wet spring weather, which raised “tricky conditions” for the vines. Infoclimat.fr’s website presents weather, which shows heavy rain in January, March and April, while wet conditions will continue out through May, June and into July. The good news is August and September were extraordinarily dry, which is ideal for the harvest.
“The quality is extraordinary,” said Eric Perrin, whose family owns Chateau Carbonnieux in Pessac-Leognan, noting that water from the spring rain retained in the soil meant “vines didn’t suffer” during the dry summer. The wines are “exceptional, beautiful, very elegant.”