James Suckling is regarded as one of the world’s most influential wine critics and experienced critics of vintage cigars. According to James Suckling, “I knew back in 2016 what would be the James Suckling Wine of the Year in 2018. I tasted 800 barrel samples in Bordeaux in March 2016, and I was blown away by the superb quality of the 2015 vintage. It was a superlative year producing classically structured reds with incredible beauty, structure, freshness, and finesse.
They were neo-classical wines reminiscent of great young Bordeaux of my career such as 1982 and 1989. I gave potential perfect 100-point ratings to eight wines. About two years later (January this year), I tasted the 2015 Bordeaux again, and I rated 14 wines 100 points. It was the largest number of perfect wines in a single vintage of Bordeaux in my nearly four decades as a wine critic.”
“My favorite perfect wine of the 2015 vintage has always been St.-Emilion’s Chateau Canon, and that’s why it’s our 2018 Wine of the Year. This blend of cabernet franc and merlot is an exquisite wine showing depth, intensity and superb concentration with balance. It is a wine of a lifetime.
The Canon 2015 was just one of dozens of perfect wines rated by the JamesSuckling.com tasting team this year including myself, my son Jack, Nick Stock and Stuart Pigott. We tasted more than 22,000 wines in 2018 and travelled to dozens of tasting locations around the world from Napa Valley to Barossa Valley to France, Spain, Italy, Austria, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, and the United States – and back again. We visited dozens of wineries and spoke to hundreds of winemakers. We did the due diligence in tasting and reporting on the best wines of this year. And we are proud of all the hard work!”
“This year’s top 100 is based on the best wines we tasted with a minimum production of about 300 cases. We had some other top scoring wines such as rarified Trockenbeerenauslese and tiny single-vineyard production wines, but we decided not to include them in the list since very few people in the world will ever drink them! The score was the most important factor in our ranking for the Top 100 list, but we also arranged the wines in their respective ratings level according to price whereby a wine with the same score with a lower price would be positioned higher in the list. We also only allowed one wine per winery in the list.”
“This year’s list of JamesSuckling.com’s Top 100 Wines of 2018 has so many exceptional wines. They are wines that all of us – me, Jack, Nick and Stuart – dream about drinking again and enjoying a moment with family and friends to taste and savor their greatness.- James Suckling.
Overview of the Top 5 wines of 2018
Château Canon St.-Emilion 2015: The wine displays an intense crimson red hue. It is fresh and elegant on the nose with aromas of red currant and raspberry evolving towards spicy notes. On the palate, the wine speaks of the terroir. It is precise, vibrant and delicate. The tannins are fine and silky. They show a magnificent unctuosity and a smooth, soft texture, demonstrating the maturity of the vintage. The wine’s beautiful length on the finish reveals the elegant character of this wine.
Château Bélair-Monange St.-Emilion 2015: The wine keeps getting better and better. Flowers and stone, with cherry pipe tobacco, licorice and cocoa easily fills the perfume. Full bodied, concentrated, rich and deep, the wine is silky, long and loaded with sweet fruits. As the wine lingers on your palate, the flavors expand, leaving you with dark chocolate, plum and stone that stays with you for close to 45 seconds. This should age for 2-3 decades with little effort. Give it time before popping a cork.
- Dönnhoff Riesling Nahe Dellchen Gg 2017: An enormous spectrum of fruit aromas, from peaches through grapefruit to wild strawberries and pineapple. However, that doesn’t prepare you for the mind-blowing concentration and brilliance on the palate. Extremely filigree finish, in spite of the profound minerality. From organically grown grapes.
Taylor’s Vintage Port 2016: Deep purple black with a narrow magenta rim. High notes of pure, intense woodland fruit with lively accents of green apple, fresh plum and raspberry. Around this core of bright, singing fruit is a heady aura of gumcistus and wild herbs. On a deeper register, exotic notes of cedarwood and jasmine provide an additional dimension of complexity. The wine has an attractive leanness and muscularity with sinewy, linear tannins that integrate seamlessly into the mid palate and then re-emerge to hold the wine in a confident grip.
- Clos Apalta Valle De Apalta 2015: The grapes are 100% hand de-stemmed in the Clos Apalta Winery. It has an intense creamy attack with black fruit flavors, long lasting velvety tannins and an intense/elegant finish. It is also an ideal companion for a canard à l’orange, rack of lamb with rustic mashed potatoes or to finish a meal with a selection of a high percentage cacao chocolate.