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.