Today, two of the leading wines of the vintage have released, the brilliant Pichon Lalande and Smith Haut Lafitte. The former has been extremely aggressive with their price, the latter attractive, making it a compelling release. Starting with the stronger release, in 2018 Smith Haut Lafitte have produced a wine which challenges their greatest ever vintages, the glorious 2010 and 2009, which were awarded 98+ and 100 points respectively from The Wine Advocate, the latter trading at £2,100 per case of 12. The 2018 has been awarded 97-99+ points by Lisa Perrotti-Brown of The Wine Advocate, 98-99 points from James Suckling and 97-100 points from Jeb Dunnuck who says, ‘It’s a brilliant wine from this terrific estate and up with the top wines in the vintage.’ That is exceptional praise in a great vintage like 2018. Today’s release price is £978 per case of 12, or £489 per six, once again in line with 2016 – with a small increase for FX differential – which the 2018 pips qualitatively from barrel. The price means collectors can secure a wine of First Growth quality, which could potentially receive 100 points from Jeb Dunnuck and The Wine Advocate at below £1,000 a case, £81.50 a bottle. In fact, the 99+ score from Lisa Perrotti-Brown, really does suggest it could reach that perfect score from barrel. If it recieves 99 or 100 points from bottle, today’s price will look like a bargain very quickly.
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Smith Haut Laffite is located south of the city proper in the commune of Martillac and has embarked on a large investment programme, which has included a new cellar and in 2000 they switched from mechanical to hand harvesting. The grapes are stored in ergonomic pods designed by the proprietor Danial Cathiard to prevent oxidation. The estate produces only 10,000 cases per year and the average vine age is between 36 to 65 years.
Pichon Lalande 2018 is magnificent, awarded 97-99 points from Lisa Perrotti-Brown which makes it the highest potential score since the epic 1982, which trades at £7,500 per case of 12. James Suckling awards the 2018 98-99 points, calling it ‘A classic. Another flying carpet.’ whilst Jeb Dunnuck awards it 96-98+ points describing it ‘in the same class as the magical 2016…unquestionably another great wine.’ Today’s release price of £1,656 per case of 12, or £828 per case of six, equals the release price of the 98+ point scoring 2016, which trades today at £1,625. Indeed, like the 2016, the 2018 will go down as a legendary vintage.
Pichon Lalande’s superstar status is secure. It is considered a Super Second with an elegance. It exhibits characteristics more akin to those found in the wines of Lafite, despite its proximity to Chateau Latour. It could be the high percentage of Merlot, that supplies these silky textures to the wine, or that the property’s holdings are located on the border of St Julien with 11 hectares actually inside the appellation. All Pichon Lalande lovers should secure a case, it is one of the wines of the vintage and a masterpiece from the Estate.
Pichon Lalande’s history dates back to the 17th century, its terroir and the site of the Chateau long viewed as one of the finest in the world. In 2007, the Estate was purchased by Louis Roederer. They have brought additional investment to Pichon Lalande and heralded a new era for this great Estate. Pichon Lalande’s superstar status is therefore secure and it has consistently been producing superb vintages, that are loyal to its beloved style, the quintessential, powerful yet seductive Pauillac.
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