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Bordeaux 2018: ‘The most obvious buys of the campaign’

The release of Lafite and second wine Carruades de Lafite represent the “most obvious buys of the campaign” though getting hold of some might be hard.

Lafite is the last of the first growths to release en primeur and seems to have struck the pricing nail dead on.

Liv-ex’s global members named the 2018 Lafite the ‘best’ wine of the vintage and the critics were rapturous in their praise (mostly).

“If this wine doesn’t get Bordeaux lovers hearts’ racing, nothing will,” said Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW who gave it 98-100 points.

James Suckling gave it 99-100, Julia Harding MW writing for Jancis Robinson MW’s site, rated it 19 and eventually plumped for it as her ‘wine of the vintage’ and Jeb Dunnuck rated it 96-98 and said it reminded him of a “more elegant version of the 2016”.

The only bum note was Antonio Galloni who rated it a somewhat pedestrian 93-96. Although “undeniably attractive” he said the 2018, “does not appear to have the sheer pedigree of the very best wines in this vintage. None of the three samples I tasted were as impressive as I had hoped for.”

Oh dear. Still, he did concede that perhaps he had been unlucky with his samples. “Time will tell”.

The 2018 has been released at €470 per bottle ex-négociant, meaning a case price of £6,000 per dozen (the same price as the 2016 was released at).

It’s a punchy price. The 2016 with 98-points from Neal Martin is about the same level and if you take the view that only Galloni avoided drinking the Kool-aid then you might question if any 2014, 2015 or 2017 are available instead at as much as £1,000 cheaper.

Nonetheless, if you follow the more positive scores then there’s an argument to be made that this is could turn out to be one of the best Lafites produced in recent vintages, easily the equal of the 2009, 2010 and 2016 – possibly even smarter – and volumes are down 30% on what was released last year so allocations are going to be tight.

Second label Carruades meanwhile, like Petit Mouton and, increasingly, Pavillon Rouge, is one of the secondary market’s ‘hot chips’ right now.

Released at €180 p/b, so £2,240 a case, it’s only a shade cheaper than the 2017 but comfortably discounted to all previous vintages back to 2005.

Perrotti-Brown and Suckling have also given it some of the best scores since its 2010 effort but Galloni again was more reserved, calling it “a very pretty second wine” and giving it 89-91 points, which is very much the definition of ‘damning with faint praise’. Galloni’s score bracket is more in line wit the scores given by Neal Martin to the 2016 and 2017 vintages.

On the other hand, volumes are also down 30% and it’s no longer tied to Rieussec so, with that in mind, Wine Lister commented: “Taking into account their exceptional quality and 30% reduction in volume, these are two of the most obvious buys of the campaign (if you can get any).

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