OMG. This shows amazing depth of fruit and density. Full-bodied and so layered with incredible fruit and power. Blackberries. Blueberries. Violets. Hints of dried flowers. Fantastic fruit and tannins, yet agile and energetic. The château says 2016 plus, plus.
A candidate for the wine of the vintage is the 2018 Léoville Las Cases. My notes on this incredible wine are laced with expletives that I, unfortunately, can’t repeat here. Safe to say, however, it’s one of the greatest young Bordeaux I’ve been lucky enough to taste. Based on a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, and 9% Cabernet Franc, from yields of 35.5 hectoliters per hectare, that will spend 19 months in barrel, it offers a massive bouquet of crème de cassis, lead pencil shavings, crushed violets, tobacco, and a liquid rock-like minerality. Pure magic on the palate as well, with full-bodied richness, building structure, and a seamless, weightless, yet powerful mouthfeel, it has everything you could want from a wine. It has the purity and balance to drink well in 7-8 years (I wouldn’t hold it against you if couldn’t wait that long) and will keep for 50 years or more. For the tech geeks out there, this hit 14.49% alcohol, 3.65 pH, and an IPT of 80.
'We produced great Cabernet Franc this year,' Directeur Général Pierre Graffeuille told me during my visit to Léoville Las Cases. Even though only 3% of the press wine was added back, he was also absolutely glowing about the quality of this too. And he should be--the finished blend for the 2018 Léoville Las Cases is yet another triumph for this great estate. Composed of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc and 9% Merlot, harvested September 15 to October 4 with yields of 35.5 hectoliters per hectare, it has 14.49% alcohol and will be aged in barriques, 90% new. Very deep purple-black in color, it is a little closed to begin, slowly emerging from the glass to reveal subtle woodsmoke, violets, tilled soil and underbrush scents over a core of warm cassis, wild blueberries and redcurrant jelly plus hints of rare beef and iron ore. Full-bodied, rich, super concentrated and bursting with latent energy, this is an atomic bomb waiting to go off in your mouth. It has a rock-solid foundation of firm, very ripe, very finely grained tannins and bold freshness supporting the muscular fruit through the epically long, amazingly nuanced finish. Simply breathtaking. (LPB)
This is backward and dense, with thickly layered plum, blackberry, fig and blueberry reduction flavors wrapped liberally in warm ganache and melted licorice notes. A long echo of smoldering charcoal emerges at the very end. There's a lot to resolve here as the rich and austere sides are still melding, but the extra amplitude doesn't distort anything; it just all goes to 11. (JM)
2018 is another vintage where it's pretty much impossible to find fault with Las Cases, and where you get a kick of happiness from tasting it. Owner Jean-Hubert Delon compares the 2016 to the 1961 and the 2018 to the 1959 - let's all check back in a few decades to see if that's true! But where the 2016 was monumental, this has a subtlety that's rarely seen in such a young LLC. It's not that you'd call this approachable but you rarely see this level of plush density to the fruit at this stage. There's a civilised quality to the structure that makes you think, just maybe, the 2018 will be at optimum drinking before the 2016. You're still getting the complex cigar box and cassis aromatics, with deep, rippling black fruits on the palate accompanied by a cassis and liquorice whoosh and the layering up of dense but fine tannins. It demonstrates precise balance and an exceptionally long finish. All in all, this is a standout St-Julien. This year sees the lowest percentage of press wine ever used at this estate, coming in at under 3% (it's normally double this), because the wine already had so much structure that the normal level of press wine threw it out of balance. (JA)
It is the tannins that mark out this powerful wine, presenting a fine balancing act between a firm structure and rich dark fruit flavors. It is the epitome of elegant Saint-Julien, with a welcome mix of weight and freshness. (RV)
The 2018 Léoville Las Cases is a rich, sumptuous, exotic wine in 2018. Plush fruit and suave, silky tannins give the 2018 a level of textural richness that is unusual for a young Léoville Las Cases. Crème de cassis, lavender, mint and sweet spice all build in this extraordinarily beautiful wine. I can't recall tasting a young Las Cases with this much immediacy and sheer allure. The 2018 Las Cases has a very bright future. It is also one of the unquestioned stars of the vintage. In 2018, the blend is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc and 9% Merlot. (AG)
Black core with narrow purple rim. A moment of hush needed here. So dark and so intense but also with incredible beauty in its restraint. Silky even with so many layers of tannin. pH 3.65 – quite a miracle in 2018. So dry but so not drying. The freshness from both the pH and the tannins. So fine, it just slides across the palate even if the tannin level is high. A wine of great power and restraint, and tannic finesse. Opens to a tiny note of wild herbs even though it is perfectly ripe, more aromatic as it opens. 18.5/20 points (JH)
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