Bordeaux 2018: Releases begin earlier than expected

With many having anticipated a slightly later start to this year’s en primeur campaign, the release of Langoa-Barton and Branaire-Ducru suggests the action is hotting up earlier than expected.

Château Angelus caused a slight stir with an early and largely well-received release on 16 April and the release of two more classed growths this morning (29 April) with the promise of more to come this week means the campaign is getting underway sooner than anticipated.

Château Langoa-Barton and Branaire-Ducru were the two headline releases alongside a host of ‘petit châteaux’ as well.

Langoa-Barton, which has received a lot of positive scores and appreciative noises from critics, released at €36 a bottle ex-négociant, a 16% increase on last year giving it an ex-London price of around £438 a dozen.

With some scores putting it on the level of its 2010 vintage – still the best-rated vintage since 2005 by The Wine Advocate in the Robert Parker/Neal Martin era – it stacks up very well price-wise against vintages such as 2015 and 2016.

Also highly-rated and pretty competitively priced was Branaire-Ducru at €38.40 p/b, up 14% on its 2017 release.

At £462 a dozen it was also voted as the ‘Best Value’ wine of the 2018 vintage by Liv-ex’s members in a recent survey.

Like Langoa, critical reception has been very good with Lisa Perrott-Brown MW giving it a 92-94 spread, James Suckling 95-96 and Chris Kissack 95-97 among others.

Meanwhile, Sauternes estate Suduiraut released as well, overshadowed by the reds as the sweet wines so often are.

Priced at €40 a bottle, it’s down 12% on last year’s offer and will be on merchant’s lists for around £480 a dozen.

Liv-ex suggested that, based on current scores, it is perhaps a little steeply positioned.

Sauternes deserves so much more appreciation than it gets but, unfortunately, at the moment they are competing with much stronger demand (and even that can be shaky) for the reds.

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