Gorgeous New 2018 Premier Cru Red Burgundy: “Sleek” & “Subtle”

The wine writers’ notes on 2018 reds are full of qualified enthusiasm. The best are said to be ripe, rich, mouthfilling, bold, and delicious — Vinous’s Neal Martin found “a sense of nascent joie-de-vivre” across the vintage. But wines picked too late can be overripe — “very ripe wines of highly variable quality,” concluded Allen Meadows (Burghound).

In tasting over a hundred 2018 reds we found much to like, and were able to select for those that we felt matched structure to their fruit. One particular success was today’s cuvée, a premier cru Santenay from Roger Belland. Belland’s wines always tend towards fruit and accessibility, and we were a bit nervous they’d be pushovers — delicious young, but lacking structure.

We needn’t have worried — Belland managed to craft his 2018 reds into real successes, with terrific definition and depth.

Even amid a trend of warmer and earlier vintages, 2018 stands out: record breaking temperatures, an early budbreak, enormous yields and high sugar levels. Many winemakers drew comparisons to 2003, but credited a very wet winter with 2018’s much better balance — same heat, less drought.

Belland’s 2018 Santenay 1er cru Gravières carries more weight than usual, but it’s bolstered by beautiful minerality and firm structure. We were delighted with the mouthfeel of the wine — at once rich and ripe but long and tense. Burghound agreed, awarding 90 points, finding “poached plum, cassis, violet and plenty of earth,” and calling it “rich, supple” and “sleek.”

The 2018s may trend bolder than usual, but in the hands of a careful winemaker committed to balance, they’re no less Burgundian.


Belland Santenay 1er “Gravières” 2018
bottle price: $42

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