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Neal Martin's St Emilion Shopping List

"Saint-Émilion delivers in 2018. If you want to talk about genuine “best wines ever made” or “pinnacles of achievement,” then this is where to come.

Saint-Émilion winemakers took a long, hard look at their wines and are changing tack, sometimes in dramatic fashion, and none more so than a reinvented Troplong-Mondot. Earlier picking, less dogma about ultra-low yields, gentler skin macerations and more prudent use of new oak all combine to create a different style of Saint-Émilion. An identical growing season a decade ago would have produced swaths of super-concentrated, brash and bold alcoholic wines, a majority of which would not age well. Not in 2018. You can still make a sumptuous and sensual wine – there’s always a place for that – but there are few examples of top-heavy, over-egged wines that forget they are there to be drunk.

The second factor is the influence of limestone-rich terroir. I cannot recall a vintage where the positive effect of limestone soils is so conspicuous in the nascent wines, partly for reasons stated in the previous paragraph. The limestone clearly enhanced natural acidity, lowered pH levels and effortlessly counterbalanced the richness of the wines. These soils elevated a clutch of Saint-Émilion wines to the highest quality level in 2018. 

One other trend was how well some of the châteaux performed beyond the elite names. It is probably here where one finds the best value for money.

Here is a shopping list for you."

- Neal Martin, Vinous Media

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