2018 Bordeaux Barrel Tastings: Top Dessert Wines (Wine Spectator)

Editor’s note: Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is in Bordeaux to taste the 2018 vintage from barrel to determine the quality and character of the young wines, in order to inform wine lovers who may be considering buying them en primeur, or futures. New notes will be posted regularly throughout the tastings.

While spending a few weeks in the region, Molesworth visits numerous châteaus, interviews many vintners and evaluates hundreds of wines. These visits are crucial to understanding the character and quality of the vintage. However, all official wine ratings come from our own independent blind tastings. Châteaus that decline to submit samples to these blind tastings are not reviewed for this report. This list contains his scores and tasting notes for 16 Bordeaux barrel samples from Sauternes and Barsac.

As these are unfinished wines, they are scored in 4-point ranges (e.g., 93–96 points) to indicate that the ratings are still preliminary. When the wines are released in bottle, they will be reviewed with their peers in blind tastings and given a final score.

Top 2018 Bordeaux Sweet Whites

CHÂTEAU DE FARGUES Sauternes 2018 Score: 93-96
This has a bit more than most of the pack in 2018, with layers of warmed coconut, mango, peach, apricot and macadamia nut flavors, all framed by a lightly singed almond note.—James Molesworth

CHÂTEAU DOISY DAËNE Barsac L’Extravagant 2018 Score: 91-94
Spicy, featuring tangerine and clementine notes layered with almond and ginger cream flavors. Shows a bit more zing than most of its peers in this generally forward and direct vintage. —J.M.

CHÂTEAU FILHOT Sauternes 2018 Score: 91-94
Intense, featuring peach, apricot and ginger notes that are brightly defined, with a relatively racy aspect through the orange blossom-tinted finish.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU SUDUIRAUT Sauternes 2018 Score: 91-94
This has a fairly concentrated core of dried apricot, peach and mango flavors wrapped with almond and ginger cream notes. Ample marzipan detail coats the long finish. —J.M.

CHÂTEAU BASTOR-LAMONTAGNE Sauternes 2018 Score: 90-93
Bright, fresher in feel than most, but also a bit lighter overall, with friendly apricot, peach and tangerine flavors, backed by an acacia note on the finish.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU COUTET Barsac 2018 Score: 90-93
Lush, creamy and overt, with almond, ginger cream and maple notes draped over a dried apricot core. Displays good oomph but needs to stretch out a bit.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU DE MYRAT Barsac 2018 Score: 90-93
This delivers a pretty, intense ball of almond cream, ginger and apricot flavors, with a tarte Tatin finish.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU RAYMOND-LAFON Sauternes 2018 Score: 90-93
A flash of green tea adds range to the mix of apricot, glazed peach and pie crust flavors here. Shows a bit more detail than most.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU LA TOUR BLANCHE Sauternes 2018 Score: 90-93
Direct, offering ginger and almond cream notes mixed with dried apricot and peach flavors.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU CANTEGRIL Barsac 2018 Score: 89-92
A juicy, compact wine, with a ball of almond, ginger and tangerine notes in the middle. Reveals a flash of honey on the finish.—J.M.

CLOS HAUT-PEYRAGUEY Sauternes 2018 Score: 89-92
Very direct, featuring creamed peach and glazed apricot flavors layered with a warm marzipan note. Rather unctuous too.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU DOISY DAËNE Barsac 2018 Score: 89-92
Direct, featuring glazed peach and pear flavors draped with a heather honey note. —J.M.

CHÂTEAU DOISY-VÉDRINES Barsac 2018 Score: 89-92
Languid in feel, with almond and peach notes framed by a broad pie crust note.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU LAFAURIE-PEYRAGUEY Sauternes 2018 Score: 89-92
Almond, honeysuckle, tangerine and peach flavors mix together in this white, with a rounded, maple-tinged finish.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU DE RAYNE VIGNEAU Sauternes 2018 Score: 89-92
Open-knit in feel, with a direct core of tangerine, apricot and almond cream flavors. A light spice accent emerges on the rounded finish.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU SIGALAS RABAUD Sauternes 2018 Score: 89-92
This is lively, with peach, acacia and heather notes that stay relatively fresh through the finish. —J.M.


2018 Bordeaux Barrel Tastings: Top Dry Whites (Wine Spectator)

Editor’s note: Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is in Bordeaux to taste the 2018 vintage from barrel to determine the quality and character of the young wines, in order to inform wine lovers who may be considering buying them en primeur, or futures. New notes will be posted regularly throughout the tastings.

While spending a few weeks in the region, Molesworth visits numerous châteaus, interviews many vintners and evaluates hundreds of wines. These visits are crucial to understanding the character and quality of the vintage. However, all official wine ratings come from our own independent blind tastings. Châteaus that decline to submit samples to these blind tastings are not reviewed for this report. This list contains his scores and tasting notes for 30 Bordeaux dry white wine barrel samples.

As these are unfinished wines, they are scored in 4-point ranges (e.g., 92–95 points) to indicate that the ratings are still preliminary. When the wines are released in bottle, they will be reviewed with their peers in blind tastings and given a final score.

Top 2018 Bordeaux Dry Whites

CHÂTEAU SMITH-HAUT-LAFITTE Pessac-Léognan White 2018 Score: 94-97
Already very full in feel, with alluring tangerine, verbena, orange blossom, bitter almond and brioche notes. Long and lush, this is coming together in a hurry and is set to be one of the showier wines of the vintage.—James Molesworth

DOMAINE DE CHEVALIER Pessac-Léognan White 2018 Score: 93-96
Lively lime pith, herb, green apple, fennel and verbena notes streak through. The very focused finish has good zing for the vintage. Defined and long, this will unwind a bit more slowly than most of its peers.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU PAPE CLÉMENT Pessac-Léognan White 2018 Score: 93-96
This is on the showy side, with a brioche frame around creamed white peach, yellow apple, honeysuckle and lemon curd notes. Long finish.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU CANTELYS Pessac-Léognan White 2018 Score: 92-95
Very stylish, with brioche and shortbread notes carrying white peach, yellow apple and honeysuckle flavors. Has enough zing for balance. Long finish.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU COUTET Bordeaux White Opalie 2018 Score: 91-94
A showy, ripe style, with tangerine, peach and yellow apple notes, set on a creamy frame, revealing flashes of pineapple and verbena. Should be a lot of fun.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU GUIRAUD Bordeaux White Le G 2018 Score: 91-94
Rich and juicy, with a big ball of verbena, acacia, heather, peach and clementine flavors.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU LATOUR-MARTILLAC Pessac-Léognan White 2018 Score: 91-94
Peach, clementine, heather and almond notes are melding here, with a light zingy aspect giving the finish enough cut and drive.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU MAGREZ FOMBRAUGE Bordeaux White 2018 Score: 91-94
There’s lots here, with bracing citrus peel and fennel notes, mixed with juicier, fuller white peach, clementine and yellow apple flavors. Offers a long and tightly focused finish. A strong showing.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU MOUTON-ROTHSCHILD Bordeaux White Aile d’Argent 2018 Score: 91-94
A light, fresh style, with flashes of herb, sel gris and white asparagus that are very pure, opening slowly to show white peach and honeysuckle details. Very pretty.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU OLIVIER Pessac-Léognan White 2018 Score: 91-94
This is very pure, with a long, focused stream of fennel, white peach, lime pith and yellow apple notes. Very refined and sneaky long.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU SMITH-HAUT-LAFITTE Pessac-Léognan White Le Petit Haut Lafitte 2018 Score: 91-94
There’s lots to like here, with an already creamy-textured core of yellow apple, singed almond, brioche and straw notes. Shows the lower-acidity feel of the vintage, but not shy on depth or range.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU SUDUIRAUT Bordeaux White S de Suduiraut Vieilles Vignes 2018 Score: 91-94
This is already plumping out, with tangerine, peach and wax notes. Reveals a hint of bitter almond on the finish.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU VALANDRAUD Bordeaux White 2018 Score: 91-94
Juicy and engaging, with delicious tangerine, peach and acacia notes in the making. The sneaky length at this early stage is a good sign.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU BROWN Pessac-Léognan White 2018 Score: 90-93
Juicy, with a waxy-edged mix of brioche, acacia, orange and peach flavors. This will be a fun drink for sure.—J.M.

DOMAINE DE CHEVALIER Bordeaux White Clos des Lunes Lune d’Argent 2018 Score: 90-93
Intense white peach, jasmine and fennel notes stream through, with a flash of herb on the still-tight finish. Shows very nice length and focus.—J.M.

CLOS FLORIDÈNE Graves White 2018 Score: 90-93
This white delivers tangy fleur de sel, thyme, lemon and white asparagus notes, with good zing for the vintage.—J.M.

CLOS MARSALETTE Pessac-Léognan White 2018 Score: 90-93
Lively, with herb, kiwi, green apple and lime zest notes that zip through nicely. Very pure.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU COUHINS-LURTON Pessac-Léognan White 2018 Score: 90-93
Starts off with a flash of shortbread, offering notes of yellow apple, lemon curd and white peach. Shows good juicy energy, with a brisk hint. —J.M.

CHÂTEAU DOISY DAËNE Bordeaux White 2018 Score: 90-93
Yellow apple, fennel and key lime notes mingle in this tasty white, with a rapier finish. Very steely. —J.M.

CHÂTEAU LA GARDE Pessac-Léognan White 2018 Score: 90-93
Lively, with herb- and mineral-edged zing running through a mix of lemon, lime and tangerine notes.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU HAUT-BERGEY Pessac-Léognan White 2018 Score: 90-93
Ripe and juicy, with a burst of tangerine and peach at the core framed by light brioche and blanched almond notes. Should be forward in style when finished.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU JEAN FAUX Bordeaux White 2018 Score: 90-93
Focused, with chiseled lemon peel notes along the edges of the core of peach, verbena and yellow apple fruit. A flash of brioche is starting to emerge.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU LAFAURIE-PEYRAGUEY Bordeaux White 2018 Score: 90-93
Brioche, peach, shortbread and lemon curd notes are in the mix. Should be on the rather forward side when it’s finished.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU LARRIVET HAUT-BRION Pessac-Léognan White 2018 Score: 90-93
Juicy and plump, with vibrant lime curd, kiwi, green apple and green almond notes giving this a distinctive profile. The flash of quinine through the finish is fun too.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU LESPAULT-MARTILLAC Pessac-Léognan White 2018 Score: 90-93
Fleshy already, with a tasty mix of grapefruit, yellow apple and honeysuckle flavors backed by a brioche note. Full in feel, this should be on the plump side when finished.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU LYNCH BAGES Bordeaux White 2018 Score: 90-93
A lively thyme note pierces the core of white peach and white asparagus flavors. Offers a racy edge, with jasmine and white peach details in reserve.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU MALARTIC-LAGRAVIÈRE Pessac-Léognan White 2018 Score: 90-93
This white offers a racy edge, but there are fuller yellow apple and shortbread notes encased here and they should emerge fully soon enough. Pretty solid feel.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU MONBOUSQUET Bordeaux White 2018 Score: 90-93
Takes a creamier approach, with macadamia nut, yellow apple and verbena notes. Offers a stylish, flattering feel.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU SMITH-HAUT-LAFITTE Pessac-Léognan White Les Hauts de Smith 2018 Score: 90-93
Quite juicy, delivering yellow apple, brioche, blanched almond and honeysuckle notes with vibrant energy. —J.M.

CHÂTEAU SUDUIRAUT Bordeaux White 2018 Score: 90-93
Key lime, green almond and kiwifruit flavors give this a distinctive profile, ending with a flash of brioche on the finish. Mellow rather than racy in feel.—J.M.


2018 Bordeaux Barrel Tasting: Top-Scoring Reds (Wine Spectator)

Editor’s note: Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is in Bordeaux to taste the 2018 vintage from barrel to determine the quality and character of the young wines, in order to inform wine lovers who may be considering buying them en primeur, or as futures. New notes will be posted regularly throughout the tastings.

While spending a few weeks in the region, Molesworth visits numerous châteaus, interviews many vintners and evaluates hundreds of wines. These visits are crucial to understanding the character and quality of the vintage. However, all official wine ratings come from our own independent blind tastings. Châteaus that decline to submit samples to these blind tastings are not reviewed for this report. This list contains the highest-rated Bordeaux reds reviewed in his latest tastings.

As these are unfinished wines, they are scored in 4-point ranges (e.g., 94–97 points) to indicate that the ratings are still preliminary. When the wines are released in bottle, they will be reviewed with their peers in blind tastings and given a final score.

Top 2018 Bordeaux Reds

CHÂTEAU FIGEAC St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 97-100
This is pretty gorgeous, with a velvety texture that lets nearly exotic cassis, plum and blackberry fruit reduction flavors roll through. Has a beautiful baseline of warm earth and smoldering tobacco notes all while keeping its sensational mouthfeel. The encore on the finish makes you realize this is the serious gourmet stuff. One of the highlights of the vintage.—James Molesworth

CHÂTEAU LÉOVILLE LAS CASES St.-Julien 2018 Score: 97-100
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.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU PALMER Margaux 2018 Score: 97-100
The level of glycerine sets this apart, giving the cascade of plum, currant, blackberry and black cherry fruit extra oomph, while seeming to heighten the purity at the same time. Beautiful violet, incense and juniper notes flash in the background. This is packed with iron-laced grip, but remains seamless and extremely long. I suspect this will be one of the most talked about wines of the vintage.—J.M.

This one nails it in 2018, with saturated, almost sappy kirsch, plum and blackberry preserve flavors at the core, inlaid with sweet tobacco, singed vanilla, worn cedar and fresh earth notes. A bolt of graphite provides support. Concentrated, long and very complete. One of the high water marks of the vintage.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU TROTANOY Pomerol 2018 Score: 97-100
Gorgeous, showing hefty structure throughout, carrying waves of tobacco- and charcoal-coated cassis, steeped plum and warm fig fruit. The dense finish is packed together now and seriously long. A very complete wine that helps set the bar in this vintage.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU BEAU-SÉJOUR BÉCOT St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 96-99
Juicy and forward in feel, with fresh plum, blackberry and anise notes. Dense, but still silky and refined in feel, revealing a long mineral echo through the finish. This is so pure, it seems almost too easy to drink already, just as you realize how ridiculously long it is.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU BÉLAIR-MONANGE St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 96-99
Ripe and dense in feel, with layers of plum, fig and boysenberry fruit. The structure is decidedly stony, revealing a long echo of tobacco. Among the more backward wines at this early stage, but seriously long and well-built.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU CALON-SÉGUR St.-Estèphe 2018 Score: 96-99
Delivers a laser beam of cassis, bitter plum and cherry reduction notes, with an extremely fine-grained structure carrying this through a long finish. Accents of iron and violet are piercing in their purity and definition. A very complete and precise wine.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU CANON St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 96-99
Features a gorgeous core of plum and black currant fruit, deeply inlaid with tobacco notes and chalky minerality. Everything melds wonderfully through the finish, which is refined in feel.—J.M.

CLOS FOURTET St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 96-99
Dark plum and boysenberry fruit is laced with tobacco and chalk notes, while the fleshy grip slowly builds through the finish. This is seriously long, and though the fruit is gorgeous, the minerality steals the show in the end.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU DUCRU-BEAUCAILLOU St.-Julien 2018 Score: 96-99
Another rock ’em sock ’em St.-Julien here, brimming with nearly exotic blackberry, plum, blueberry and açaí berry reduction notes, bristling with brambly energy and racing through a graphite-edged finish. Shows gorgeous perfume throughout, despite the fairly obvious level of concentration.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU LA FLEUR-PÉTRUS Pomerol 2018 Score: 96-99
A brick house, featuring steeped currant and plum fruit, scored by tobacco, bay leaf and charcoal notes. A great tug of earth lurks underneath, but there’s plenty of fruit to handle it. This is a big one.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU LÉOVILLE BARTON St.-Julien 2018 Score: 96-99
A stunner, showing a great degree of purity, with long flavors of cassis, plum and blackberry preserves, seamlessly integrated with the graphite structure. A very vivid, defined, precise wine.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU LYNCH BAGES Pauillac 2018 Score: 96-99
Dark cassis, plum and cherry fruit flavors stream through in this red, harnessed well by bolts of iron along the way. Sweet tobacco detail echoes through the finish, which is seriously long. An extremely rock-solid wine in the making here.—J.M.

LA MONDOTTE St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 96-99
Intense raspberry and plum compote flavors show juicy energy, backed by a liberal dose of roasted apple wood notes. Grippy and still a bit chewy, but the drive is there, along with a buried mineral edge that lingers.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU PAVIE St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 96-99
Gorgeous from start to finish, offering lush layers of raspberry, cassis and plum sauce flavors entwined with licorice, apple wood and rooibos tea notes. There’s a serious grip through the finish but this is focused and pure in feel. The encore of fruit detail at the very end is impressive.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU RAUZAN-SÉGLA Margaux 2018 Score: 96-99
Very concentrated, atypically so for Margaux, with sappy kirsch and plum reduction notes that are well-defined and luxurious in feel, draping beautifully over a graphite underpinning on the finish. Very long.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU VALANDRAUD St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 96-99
This is richly fruited, with waves of fleshy raspberry, boysenberry and red currant cruising through, inlaid with singed vanilla and apple wood notes along the way. Shows density and cut through the finish, with a tug of tobacco at the end. This is dialed up to 11.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU ANGÉLUS St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 95-98
Very gutsy in feel, with lots of tobacco leaf, loam and espresso notes swirling around a core of steeped black currant and warm fig fruit flavors. The muscular finish is a jumble right now, but there’s ample acidity coiled within. A wine that clearly wants to stand out from the pack.—J.M.

Showy, with boysenberry and plum flavors liberally laced with red licorice notes. The fruit is flamboyant, but this reveals honest grip and solid energy through the finish.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU CANON-LA GAFFELIÈRE St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 95-98
A bright, mineral-driven style in the making, with the chalky aspect leading the way, quickly followed by a racy stream of red currant, raspberry and cherry coulis flavors. Has the grip of the vintage, but this is piercingly focused in feel.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU LES CARMES HAUT-BRION Pessac-Léognan 2018 Score: 95-98
This throws off a stream of cassis, cherry preserves and raspberry fruit that is pure and bright, laced with a racy mineral edge through the finish. Stands apart from the pack for its purity and finesse. Really beautiful.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU L’ÉGLISE CLINET Pomerol 2018 Score: 95-98
Lush in feel, with boysenberry reduction and crushed plum flavors, carried by a polished, solid structure. A mineral hint filters through on the finish, adding length and cut.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU GRAND-PUY-LACOSTE Pauillac 2018 Score: 95-98
This captures the style of the vintage to a T, with vividly ripe cassis and plum fruit, carried by solidly built but fine-grained structure. Lots of graphite and tobacco accents hang in the background for now. A firmly grounded wine.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU HOSANNA Pomerol 2018 Score: 95-98
This has a strong tobacco and loam aspect, with lots of black currant, fig and bitter cherry fruit. Shows heft and muscle throughout. Dense and built for the cellar.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU LÉOVILLE POYFERRÉ St.-Julien 2018 Score: 95-98
This is brimming with plum, blackberry and blueberry reduction flavors, backed by grippy, energetic bramble, licorice and apple wood notes. Chockablock with stuff but defined and balanced. A no-brainer for the cellar.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU PAPE CLÉMENT Pessac-Léognan 2018 Score: 95-98
This is really well put together, with waves of steeped plum, currant and raspberry fruit, bolts of licorice and tar and a long apple wood accent on the sappy finish.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU PAVIE MACQUIN St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 95-98
Packed with very expressive boysenberry and red currant paste aromas and flavors, this is dense and fleshy in feel, but has the energy to easily carry it off. Lots of chalky cut on the long finish. Rock-solid.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU PAVIE-DECESSE St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 95-98
Well-endowed, with creamed boysenberry, fig and loganberry flavors, this is a step ahead of the pack. As lush as the fruit is, this shows admirable grip and some flashy spice and toast notes filling in throughout. A head-turner in the making.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU PEBY FAUGÈRES St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 95-98
Offers layers of dark fig, boysenberry and cassis fruit, with alluring black tea and anise notes. The long, smoldering finish is carried by a graphite edge. Dense, but with serious cut and detail. A classic in the making.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU PICHON BARON Pauillac 2018 Score: 95-98
Warm, dense and fleshy in feel, featuring cassis, plum and cherry compote flavors infused with tobacco and worn cedar details. Seriously long, with a well-buried iron note, though the purity of the fruit is the dominating feature overall. This cuts a pretty broad swath as it moves along. A big wine.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU SMITH-HAUT-LAFITTE Pessac-Léognan 2018 Score: 95-98
Ripe and lush, with delicious waves of plum, blackberry and black currant preserve flavors laced with subtle charcoal, tobacco and licorice notes. There’s a long flow through the finish. Beautifully rendered, capturing the ripeness of the vintage in spades without being heady at all.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU TROPLONG MONDOT St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 95-98
This offers a lovely display of boysenberry, cherry and plum fruit, yet stays refined and focused, relying on purity as this glides through. Has weight but feels silky, with a flinty mineral hint adding cut on the finish.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU BEYCHEVELLE St.-Julien 2018 Score: 94-97
Ripe and concentrated, but very sleek, with a remarkably pure beam of cassis and plum reduction flavors. Sweet spice, violet and apple wood notes are thoroughly embedded throughout. Polished and very long.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU BRANAIRE-DUCRU St.-Julien 2018 Score: 94-97
This is well-packed, with blueberry, açaí and blackberry fruit flavors and licorice snap and fruitcake notes. Long and refined despite the copious fruit, showing polish and poise through the finish.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU CANTENAC-BROWN Margaux 2018 Score: 94-97
Winey and dark in profile, with steeped currant, plum and blackberry fruit, buttressed by ganache, smoldering tobacco and warm earth notes. Accents of bay leaf, alder and mineral are in reserve. Delivers a beguiling feel despite the concentration. A very strong showing.—J.M.

DOMAINE DE CHEVALIER Pessac-Léognan 2018 Score: 94-97
This is flashy, with mesquite, licorice, black tea and fruitcake aromatics leading the way to a frankly ripe core of steeped raspberry and plum flavors. Seems pretty liberal with the toast, but this has what it needs to come together in the end.—J.M.

CLOS DE L’ORATOIRE St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 94-97
Features seamlessly layered dark currant, fig and boysenberry fruit, infused liberally with a tobacco note and backed by a long, smoldering finish. Latent energy keeps this going. An impressive young wine.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU LA GAFFELIÈRE St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 94-97
Features a beautiful beam of cassis, bitter cherry and raspberry fruit streaming through, laced with chalky minerality and backed by floral and spice accents, all allied to a polished, luxurious feel that doesn’t sacrifice definition or drive.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU LARCIS DUCASSE St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 94-97
A solid wine, with raspberry and red currant fruit adhering to chalk and iron notes, while ample grip drives underneath. Reveals a mouthwatering tobacco accent at the end.—J.M.

CHÂTEAU MONBOUSQUET St.-Emilion 2018 Score: 94-97
Lushly fruited, with creamy boysenberry and plum preserve flavors gliding through, this is going to be for the hedonist crowd. Extra anise and spice notes fill in, revealing steady grip through the finish.—J.M.


Our Editors Pick 9 Great Giftable Wines (Wine Spectator)

Tasting Highlights’ wine reviews are fresh out of the tasting room, offering a sneak peek of our editors’ most recent scores and notes to WineSpectator.com members.

Gift-giving is not always smooth sailing, which is why we compiled 8 fun gift ideas to aide you with your holiday shopping. But sometimes just picking up a fun bottle of wine does the trick. The recipient is guaranteed not to exchange it, and they’ll likely discover something new if you make your selection right. Here, nine of Wine Spectator’s official tasters suggest a great pick from their tasting beats and explain what’s special about it.

LAIL Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley Blueprint 2017 Score: 93 | $40

WS Review: Aromatic and distinctive, with rich notes of honeycomb, coconut oil and lanolin that give way to fresh apricot and mango flavors, freshened by a crisp jolt of acidity akin to a squeeze of lime juice. Despite the lush, refined flavors and smooth body, the finish is pure refreshment, lingering endlessly. Drink now. 1,065 cases made.—MaryAnn Worobiec

Why It’s of Note: I reviewed more than 400 Sauvignon Blancs this year, and Lail‘s Blueprint is one of the most memorable. Winemaker Philippe Melka ferments Yountville and Coombsville Sauvignon Blanc grapes in French oak barrels, nearly half of them new, to give this wine rich aromatics and a lush texture. But then the wine is removed from the barrels and aged in stainless steel tanks, which helps preserve the freshness of the fruit flavors and zingy acidity. It’s a standout wine, both pleasurable to drink and an eye-opening example of what Sauvignon Blanc in the right hands can do.—M.W.

MACULAN Breganze Torcolato 2013 Score: 93 | $45/375ml

WS Review: Bursting with aromas and flavors of apricot and strawberry preserves and accents of spiced orange peel, toffee and fragrant herb, this rich and creamy sweetie is backed by vibrant acidity that carries the range of flavor on the lasting finish. Shows lovely concentration without excessive weight. Vespaiolo. Drink now through 2029. 100 cases imported.—Alison Napjus

Why It’s of Note: Maculan, located about an hour northwest of Venice in northern Italy, is a champion of the area’s signature torcolato dessert wine style. Their version is made by drying select grape bunches of the native Vespaiolo variety for about four months and hanging them from rafters in long, twisted strands that dehydrate the berries; this concentrates flavors and sugar content before pressing and fermentation. Aging for one year in one-third new French oak barriques rounds out this creamy sweetie and amplifies its lovely range of aromatics.—A.N.

DE MORGENZON Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch Reserve 2017 Score: 92 | $40

WS Review: Broad and ripe in feel, with creamed pear, melon and yellow apple fruit flavors laced with white ginger and singed hazelnut notes. The long finish features gentle toast, allowing the fruit to play out. Drink now through 2022. 475 cases imported.—James Molesworth

Why It’s of Note: This De Morgenzon wine makes a great gift for a few reasons. First, you can impress your recipient with your knowledge of Dutch—”de morgen zon” means “morning sun.” You can also relate that Chenin Blanc is South Africa’s most widely planted white variety and can make terrific wines from quality-minded producers. Its flavor profile will also appeal to Chardonnay fans, but you’ll score points for going with something off the beaten track.—J.M.

RAMOS-PINTO Douro Duas Quintas Reserva 2016 Score: 92 | $44

WS Review: This generous red gains focus from its solid structure and mineral undertones supporting the plum reduction, raspberry tart and boysenberry fruit. Spice, violet and menthol notes linger on the long finish. Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa and Tinta da Barca. Drink now through 2025. 506 cases imported.—Gillian Sciaretta

Why It’s of Note: Because of Portugal’s wealth of indigenous grape varieties that are rarely grown anywhere else, these wines are great gifts for adventurous wine lovers. This Ramos-Pinto bottling is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa and Tinta da Barca. Full-bodied and packed with fruit, floral and spice flavors—hallmark notes for Touriga Nacional—this wine goes well with winter fare such as leg of lamb, meaty stews or short ribs.—G.S.

BASSERMANN-JORDAN Riesling Pfalz Trocken Forst 2017 Score: 91 | $35

WS Review: An enticing dry Riesling, with a savory mineral character and well-integrated acidity. Firm in structure, yet elegant and expressive, sporting notes of cardamom, milk thistle and kiwifruit. The finish is long and complex. Drink now through 2022. 150 cases imported.—Aleks Zecevic

Why It’s of Note: Bassermann-Jordan‘s vineyards span 124 acres of some of the most distinguished sites in the Pfalz region of Germany. The grapes for this bottling come from different vineyards around the village of Forst, which are covered with volcanic soil. Thus, the resulting wine is rich in minerality. Its savory character and pronounced acidity make it a nice match with food—try it with poultry, seafood or pork.—A.Z.

BRICK HOUSE Pinot Noir Ribbon Ridge Select 2016 Score: 91 | $35

WS Review: Pretty raspberry and strawberry blossom aromas open to delicate and silky cherry and spice flavors that glide on the finish. Drink now through 2023. 640 cases made.—Tim Fish

Why It’s of Note: Brick House is one of the original cult Pinot Noirs in Willamette Valley. Owner and winemaker Doug Tunnell grew up in the valley and went on to become a foreign correspondent for CBS News. He returned to Oregon in 1990 and bought a few acres in what is now the Ribbon Ridge AVA. Tunnell’s Ribbon Ridge Select is a selection of barrels that don’t go into the top cuvées like Evelyn’s or Les Dijonnais. It’s more approachable stylistically than his other Pinots and more moderately priced.—T.F.

BODEGAS VALDELACIERVA Rioja Reserva 2014 Score: 91 | $30

WS Review: This dense red shows impressive structure, featuring muscular tannins and balsamic acidity. Offers a core of plum and fig flavors, with cocoa and underbrush notes that emerge on the finish. Best from 2020 through 2030. 700 cases imported.—Thomas Matthews

Why It’s of Note: Rioja is a good source of wine gifts because of its amazing diversity: The region makes dry whites, rosés and reds that can be powerful or elegant, youthful or mature. There’s something for every palate on your list. Rioja also consistently delivers great value. Bodegas Valdelacierva‘s Reserva 2014 is boldly structured, with a range of flavors that evoke holiday herbs and spices.—T.M.

ACHÁVAL-FERRER Quimera Mendoza 2015 Score: 90 | $35

WS Review: A big and strapping red, filled with concentrated dark fruit and spice flavors supported by medium-grained tannins. Dark chocolate notes show on the finish. Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now through 2022. 1,112 cases imported.—Kim Marcus

Why It’s of Note: This Malbec-based red from top Argentine producer Achával-Ferrer blends in Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon to yield a powerful Bordeaux-style blend. Its structure gives it fine balance and approachability, as well as short-term aging potential. Made with fruit from old-vine vineyards in the Mendoza region, this wine provides more complexity and finesse than many others in its price range.—K.M.

DOMAINE BERTHENET Montagny Tête de Cuvée 2016 Score: 90 | $24

WS Review: A bright, juicy version, this offers peach, apple, floral and lemon flavors. Rich, yet backed by a lively structure that extends the finish. Drink now. 500 cases imported.—Bruce Sanderson

Why It’s of Note: Montagny is the southernmost appellation in Burgundy’s Côte Chalonnaise. It’s dominated by white wine and by the cooperative Cave de Buxy, which Jean-Pierre Berthenet left in 2001 to bottle his own wines. Though rich, this tête de cuvée, Berthenet’s flagship white from its 37 acres of vineyards, offers fine balance and freshness. It’s a terrific value for the quality.—B.S.