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Bordeaux Futures 2018. Limestone makes all the difference for the 2018 Bordeaux Futures! The 2018 vintage in Bordeaux will be remembered as the year of all extremes. First of all, a cold and rainy winter, followed by a spring that was too hot but still as rainy as ever. This high rainfall (the equivalent of a year's rain in six months...) combined with temperatures too mild for the season in May and June caused excess humidity to stagnate in the vines, triggering the appearance of the dreaded mildew fungus. The natural defences of the vineyard - helped by the winegrowers with the help of Bordeaux mixture, herbal teas, leaf thinning to aerate the grapes - are engaged in a fierce fight to avoid too great a spread (such a risk had not happened for half a century). On top of this, there were many violent storms in May and June and above all an episode of hail in Bordeaux on May 26th. Rainfall lasted until mid-July. On 15 July, the day of France's victory in the World Cup, the meteorological trend was reversed ...

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Limestone makes all the difference for the 2018 Bordeaux Futures!
From then on, the days that follow, right up to the harvest, will be as dry as they are hot. The result will be an immediate dryness of the soil, leading to extremely rapid ripening and compensation for the delay in flowering by a rapid and uniform veraison. As the nights remain cool, the temperature differences further favour the ratio between pulp and skin due to hydric stress. From all this agitation came out a period of serene harvesting, each property having the luxury of choosing the days according to the ripening of the plots. This "à la carte" harvest, with no rush, produced very ripe and healthy grapes. Many Châteaux in Bordeaux were relieved to have finally obtained not only beautiful quality for their 2018 Futures wines, but also quantities (not everywhere) similar to those of 2010 and 2016. The Merlots have a fairly high alcohol content, but still have a nice freshness. The Cabernet Sauvignon berries picked are small but deliciously sweet and concentrated in tannins. The Cabernet Francs are seductive, fine and balanced. The pips are very dark, almost black, giving a beautiful colour concentration to the wines. The reds are generally silky, full of small black and red fruits (blackcurrant, redcurrant, raspberry) which burst in the mouth and make you want to come back for more.

All in all, the biggest problem with the 2018 Bordeaux Futures was the few episodes of hail that destroyed certain parts of the harvest, striking in a random and dazzling manner. Among the intact plots, those resting on limestone and/or clay sub-soils, as is the case in the majority of properties on the Right Bank, were able to benefit from the humidity stored in the spring during the hot days of August and September. The result is an exceptional freshness despite this drought and very ripe fruit. Numerous critics (including James Suckling) already agree that the 2018 vintage is a great year.

The 2018 Bordeaux Futures in the various appellations
On the Left Bank first of all, in Margaux it's a great success. However, there is some heterogeneity due to the drier sandy-gravelly soils which had more difficulty. Some wines, like Château Pouget, have a lot of fruit, freshness and almost creamy already. On the other hand, biodynamic properties such as Château Palmer or Château Pontet-Canet saw their yields seriously affected by the attacks of mildew, with a yield of only 11 hectoliters per hectare for the latter.

The Médoc Nord is rather homogeneous in terms of limestone soils. The South was a little less fortunate, as the hail of July 15th hit some properties, destroying part of some crops. Château La Lagune lost its entire harvest and will not produce wine in 2018.

In Pessac-Léognan, and especially in Pessac, the hot areas suffered more than the cooler ones on the forest side (Domaine de Chevalier). In addition, the hail of May 26th was hard for some, stopping the flowering. Having said that, as in Margaux, there were some good successes. As for the whites, they are ripe, drawing on exotic fruits thanks to the summer heat. They are round, ample but still light.

Saint-Estèphe, considered to be the coolest area on the Left Bank, is producing a very promising vintage.

Pauillac, although poorer in limestone, has clay sub-soils providing water to the vines during the hot summer months. The result is velvety and aromatic. Quantity, on the other hand, may be a problem.

Saint-Julien, with its diverse soils, has managed, thanks to the limestone or clay, to cope well.

In the Graves, as elsewhere, the limestone soils have made a successful vintage.

In the Sauternois, botrytis was a little late, given the summer temperatures and the dehydration of the soils. The fungus appeared late in mid-October, postponing the harvest until the end of the month. The 2018 vintage will be tinged with candied and acidulous notes. Balanced, fine and light, these sweet wines are extremely pleasant on the palate.

On the other side of the Garonne, limestone is king. 2018 is definitely the vintage of certain Châteaux on the Right Bank. Around Saint-Emilion, on the hillsides, where the soils are clay-limestone, the Merlots offer the best of their juicy flesh and pleasant tannins. Their sometimes too rich alcohol content is compensated here by the low pH induced by these arid soils. The Cabernet Franc is not to be outdone. In Saint-Emilion itself, the diversity of the soils implies too much complexity to be summed up in one line, each Château has had its ups and downs or its miracles.

In Pomerol too, it is the clayey regions that have allowed an hour of ripening in the vineyard.