Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The HoseMaster of Wine's™ Report on the 2018 Bordeaux Vintage


After reading the authoritative and exhausting report on 2018 En Primeur by Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW...


For the 30th consecutive year, I failed to attend En Primeur week in Bordeaux. My unparalleled consistency is, I believe, a major factor in my unquestioned objectivity when it comes to each vintage in Bordeaux. Too many other critics enjoy the wines of Bordeaux, and especially enjoy the sycophantic bacchanal that is En Primeur week. This must necessarily color their scores and opinions. Alone among my colleagues, I review each vintage without the handicap of actual attendance. Indeed, I believe that an honest and impartial judgment demands staying home and not letting those weasels influence my powerful opinion.

2018: The Vintage

What am I, the Weather Channel? I’m going to say what is always said every year by winemakers in Bordeaux. It was a challenging vintage. Because God knows it’s really, really hard to grow Cabernet Sauvignon!

Early in the year, it rained. It rained a lot. It rained so hard that all the cigarette butts in the vineyards decomposed. Wow. This doesn’t happen much in France, but it may explain the presence of tobacco leaf in the aromas of many of the 2018 wines. I’m just hoping not that many smoked menthol. I hate that in wine.

Then it got really hot because it’s summer. This was a common theme among the winemakers with whom I talked via Skype. “Summer is often hot in Bordeaux,” one told me, “hotter than winter and spring. I don’t throw my butts in the vineyards then.” There wasn’t any expectation of rain reaching even into October, so it was hot and dry. This affects the grapes, but no one knows why. You can taste that uncertainty in the wines. It tastes like that weird metallic thing you taste after taking opioids. It may be the signature of the 2018 vintage—the bitter aftertaste of opioid abuse.

Bullet Points About the 2018 Bordeaux

  • The vintage is not as consistent as other vintages like 2009, 2016, and 1855. It is as inconsistent as other inconsistent vintages, and, thus is consistently inconsistent in keeping with all the other inconsistent vintages that we consistently avoid.
  • At its best, the wines will be worth buying in ten years when the prices plummet.
  • Hail in July wreaked havoc on a few producers. A quick shower in August would have benefited an awful lot of the winemakers, I thought. Luckily, and this is something of a surprise, nearly everyone escaped the huge potential damage of September’s sharknado.
  • Many of the wines are approachable early, while others will perhaps reach their peak in fifty years, and still others are weak and lame as scrofulous wine writers on deadline. Still, they’ll all be overpriced.
  • Organic and biodynamic vineyards, as well as other vineyards that you should pretty much just ignore because they’re not very evolved and don’t give a shit about the state of our beautiful, lost, utterly doomed world, had some mildew problems. Turns out Lysol is fine with Demeter.
  • Really, you’d think somebody would make a goddam Rosé. 
Can you spot the hole?

Conclusions and Recommendations

I don’t know anyone who buys Bordeaux anymore. OK, maybe in England they do, but with Brexit, that’s going to pretty much condemn them to bending over and kissing their Ausoneholes goodbye. I wonder who is going to buy all the 2018 Bordeaux primeurs. The Chinese? Hell, good luck with that. You’d be better off just selling them very expensive labels at a big profit to cut out the middleman on the fake wines. So I’d expect primeur prices to be rather stupidly high because it doesn’t make any damn difference what they want for their precious red wine, so they’ll try to make it seem like they’re still in big demand when they’re not. Sort of like tickets to see Celine Dion.

I’d recommend not giving a second thought to the 2018 Bordeaux. Others might disagree, but, remember, they want to go to En Primeur again next year and get their Ausoneholes kissed, so they’re really just shills for the whole shebang.

Next, my assessment of not attending VinItaly. Which I believe was held in Italy this year.

17 comments:

Gary Rosenthal said...

Not attending this hyped-up event was a principled beginning...But to be FULLY objective in reviewing the wines of the 2018 vintage, neither should you drink them--ANY of them...Ever.

Unknown said...

I recommend that you do a triple blind tasting where you don't even taste the wines. Thus remaining totally objective in your assessments. Much like your book reviews.

Gary Rosenthal said...

What’s the word? Thunderbird! But why is no one talking about its recent re-branding by Gallo? Or about the remarkable (alternative) fact that a non-vintage, great American wine classic--Thunderbird--has just outpointed the ’45 Mouton and the ’47 Cheval Blanc in the Populists Review of Wine as the best red you can drink today without prior training?

I think all this talk about the 2018s in Bored-Dough is just a deflective attempt at a cover-up. And the rumor is that Attorney General Barr’s current escapades are really just his attempt to prequalify himself to represent the French wine industry as their future counsel. Sort of like what he accomplished with his 19 page memo.

Anyhow, though the new and improved Thunderbird has yet to hit store shelves in America, the Chinese are now buying futures like crazy. And so spell-binding is the current clamor, they might not even think to mix it with coca cola. Suck that up your elitist pie-holes!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Gary,
Unlikely I'm going to drink many 2018 Bordeaux. I would hate to ruin my solid gold credibility. My readers know that if I rate a wine, I absolutely haven't tried it. Nor do I need to. I'm that good.

I just did a horizontal of Thunderbird. I was laying on my back in a gutter.

Unknown,
One of my best qualities is that I can be judgmental without any kind of evidence. I can judge a book by its cover, and often do. People who say you can't judge a book by its cover tend to be illiterate.

Unknown said...

Me thinks you've been reading a little too much Jancis Robinson... you don't actually pay $120 bucks a year to read Walder, WakaWakaWaka and her drivel do you???

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Unknown,
You must be new here. Hard to say when everyone these days hides behind anonymity.

No, I don't pay to read anyone, and no one pays to read me either. Though I wish they would! Joke ingredients are really expensive. In truth, I read virtually nothing about wine on the internet, except when I'm bored and searching for something stupid to lampoon. Wine writing is dismal, and getting worse.

As I wrote in the intro, this silly post was inspired by reading (skimming, really) Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW's analysis of the 2018 vintage in Bordeaux. It was insanely detailed. And my first thought was, who the hell cares about Bordeaux En Primeur week anymore? And that led to all this. I don't subscribe to the WA site either, by the way, but my employer does and I use their password! I should steal their Netflix password instead.

Unknown said...

Sorry Ron.. I don't know why the internet thingy didn't get my name.. you know me, first time I posted was when I had the balls to say Jonathan Winters and Robin Williams were a couple of unfunny, untalented hacks.. don't believe me?? watch the 60 minutes interview with those assholes on youtube.. you laugh once.. I'll eat my hat..
but anyway.. appreciated you stuck up for me.. anyway.. I'm always bring it fuckin on.. I got booed out of a theater when I tried to take Anthony Bourdain.. but he was cool.. he wanted someone to challenge him instead of kissing his ass...

Gary Rosenthal said...

Funny, you doing a horizontal on Thunderbird, while laying in a gutter. I just did a vertical while high as a kite on some Humboldt Train Wreck. Either way, confirms my suspicion that the true terroir of a wine is the mindscape of its reviewer. How else do we get such descriptors as “barnyard,” “pencil shavings,” or “dwarf’s ear fungus?” For truly, who’d actually want to drink a beverage that tastes like these?

But the fact that you don’t even taste the stuff you’re reviewing is so very Zen of you. (When thought-objects disappear, so do subjects; when the subject disappears, so do objects). Then, it’s all “One Taste,” with nothing filtering anything else. Which, of course, is the true elixir that can be neither bought nor sold.

But speaking of selling, I’m looking for some investors in a new cannabis/wine infusion called Holy Shit. Its virtue is that you no longer have to limit yourself by either having to drink it or smoke it. You can do both, as well as snorting it. A concoction for all seasons. (There’s also a 4th option--but I won’t mention it here). And I’d be delighted if you reviewed it for me. And again, no need to actually try it. But trust me, Ron--I really think you’d dig it.

UnCommonTater said...

This internet thingy used to call me something other than unknown. But Google has taken over and now I'm just Unknown. And so is that other guy who hates Robin Williams. I'll see if I can't fix it.

Michael Donohue said...

Ignore Bordeaux at your peril. You'll miss the likes of 62 Latour or 55 Pichon Baron, a Palmer decade. Great wines.

Charlie Olken said...

I'm with Michael on this. That is--missing 62 Latour, 55 Baron and a decade of Palmer. Although I was pretty much hip on Jim Palmer. Other than Jim, I have been missing those wines for decades now. No use in screwing up a good thing now.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Michael,
I'm not sure it's perilous to ignore Bordeaux. It's perilous to ignore blood in your urine, but not wines from the Left Bank, the Right Bank, or any damn bank. But I take your point. I've been lucky enough to have tasted many great old Bordeaux, and am grateful for it. This stupid piece I wrote was more about En Primeur, and all the manipulated fuss surrounding it. That's what I completely ignore. At my peril, or not.

Charlie,
I have lots of old Chateau McNally and Chateau Pat-Dobson in my temperature-controlled wine Cuellar.

Gary Rosenthal said...

Yes, but the offerings of Palmer, Dobson, Cuellar, and McNally were a freakish occurrence; one that hasn’t happened since. And so, they shouldn’t be held up as a tasting standard. What you each failed to mention is that all of them were also pre-Camden Yard, and thus lacking the more contemporary, Maryland unctuousness so beloved by its native son, Robert Parker. They simply don’t have the age-worthy-ness that accounts for ten percent of any Parker score. Already they’re almost forgotten... So, as good as they once were, I’d advise readers to drink them up-- sooner than later.

Tom Heller said...

The sad truth is the fact is that if the WS, WA, JS or whoever writes about Bordeaux en primeur will never get to review a first growth again if they give them less than 90 points. the wine writers need to sell subscriptions and the first growths need to sell wine. What good is the Wine Advocate to a reader if they don't review first growths?

What is the word?

The Lost Muse said...

So...it's VinItaly, not Eataly? my bad...

Bob Rossi said...

All this stuff about Palmer, Cuellar, etc., shows that several of you are as old as I am. But don't forget that they were overcome by the likes of Koosman and Seaver (who I believe had a winery at one time).

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Bob,
The Miracle Mets of 1969! One of the great upsets in World Series history by the likes of Tom Seaver, Koosman, Ron Swoboda, and Nolan Ryan (in the bullpen).

Tom Seaver still has a winery up on Diamond Mountain in Napa Valley, with a couple of Cabs made by Thomas Rivers Brown. Sadly, Tom Terrific has stepped away from the public limelight because of dementia. As a teenager, a Dodger fan, Tom Seaver was still one of my favorite pitchers ever. Jim Palmer...not so much.