The 2018 Canon is blended of 72% Merlot and 28% Cabernet Franc, with a pH of 3.69 and 14% alcohol. Deep purple-black in color, it comes sashaying out of the glass with glamorous notes of cinnamon stick, baked blackberries, black cherry compote and licorice plus an undercurrent of plum preserves and smoked meats and, with coaxing, reveals a lovely floral signature of candied violets and red roses. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is wonderfully soft-spoken, whispering of fragrant floral and earthy scents beneath a core of profound, mouth-coating black and blue fruits, draped in a high level of super ripe, plush tannins, finishing with amazing freshness and perfume with loads of mineral sparks emerging.
“Everybody got mildew this year. Everybody,” Nicolas Audebert, Technical Director for Château Canon (and Rauzan-Ségla), told me. “We had mildew problems like any other estate. But when Château Canon was bought 20 years ago, it needed replanting. That has all been done now and it is very healthy. Here, there are no sick or dying vines—everything is producing. If we wanted to, we could get 100 hectoliters per hectare in a normal year! We got 42 hectoliters per hectare here this year. This year, we dropped all the bunches affected by the mildew.”
I don’t need to tell followers of this estate that Château Canon is on an upward trajectory. The level of intensity achieved this year is truly impressive. Audebert agreed with my reference to this point. “The level of density this year is probably higher than we have ever had," he said. "In my point of view, the best tanks of the year were Merlot, even at Rauzan. The density of the fruit was incredible.” When I asked him about how he maintained such freshness among all that richness of the 2018 Canon and its neighbors, Croix Canon and Berliquet, he replied, “The type of soil we have, it is quite easy to get freshness. It is something extremely important to us; we want ripeness and maturity but we also always want vibrancy and freshness.” The soil he refers to is the coveted clay and limestone of Saint-Émilion’s plateau, which has produced some of the greatest wines of this vintage.
In 2018, the Merlot came in between September 7 and 27, and Cabernet Franc was harvested October 2-5. The harvest started and finished at Canon with Croix Canon and Berliquet in between. Audebert’s strategy was to pick some fruit fresh and bright and harvest other fruit at the riper end. Sound strategy, impressive results.
This is a dense and focused Canon with beautiful blackberry, almond and hazelnut character. Vivid and lifted. It’s compact and complete with tannins that melt into the center palate and then build at the end. Full-bodied yet reserved and driven. A superb and focused wine. Classy all the way. New 1955?
Pretty closed up right now, this is full of latent energy. It's extremely powerful and precise, with poise and tension but also with generosity and density, yet it errs on the side of not giving much away rather than giving too much. You have to give it time in the glass for those cool blueberry, bilberry and tightly spiced notes to come to the fore. The stunning texture is clear but the aromatics take their time. This is a wine that carries its finesse with great skill, and they have done a brilliant job of allowing this aspect to shine amongst the heat of the vintage, allowing the density to inch deeper with every minute in the glass. This wine just gets better and better, Harvest ran from 7 September to 9 October, the longest ever here, with no pressure of rot. 42hl/ha yield. Thomas Duclos consults.
Drinking Window 2027 - 2043