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.