Beaujolais 2018: vintage report
Author: Will Heslop
The complexion of the 2018 vintage changed dramatically on June 20th when a wet, cool spring and early summer gave way to a period of unbroken dry, hot weather. No rain whatsoever fell on most cru vineyards until after harvest, which began as early as August 28th. The majority of the fruit was harvested in the first week of September, with growers reporting a healthy crop in terms of both quality and quantity: among our suppliers in the crus, par for the vintage was about 50hl/ha. As ever, however, the most miserly (and often prized) parcels such as La Rochelle in Moulin-à-Vent yielded no more than half that.
The heatwave of July and August led growers to anticipate rich, high-alcohol wines akin to the excellent, but atypical, 2015s. However, probably due to the reserves of groundwater accumulated prior to June 20th, the 2018s are, as a rule, fresher, with slightly higher acidity and considerably lower alcohol than their counterparts from 2015. There is, nonetheless, an appealing fleshiness or rondeur to many 2018s, which suggests they won’t keep for as long as the more mineral 2017s – which are really hitting their stride now – but makes them highly seductive from the word go.
Another interesting theme, which we encountered in wines from various domaines across different crus, is a Cabernet Franc-like leafy character towards the back of the palate, which contributes an extra degree of freshness and buvabilité.