Bordeaux 2011 – L&W 2nd Team Report

Bordeaux 2011 En Primeur Tasting Notes

While I write this, the L&W first team are on the right bank tasting the great and the good and our third team to visit the region have just landed and are en route to Ulysses Cazabonne to taste a range of the wines from vintage.

We, however, are back in the office, tired but happy after a whistle-stop couple of days in the region, during which we managed to fit in a great deal of tasting, some Château visits and a couple of delayed flights due to industrial action among French airtraffic controllers.

Our overwhelming impression is that this is by no means a bad vintage, although that should certainly not be misinterpreted as meaning that this is a great vintage. There are undoubtedly great wines – good winemaking and fine terroir will out, even in (or perhaps especially in) a more challenging vintage – but there are also those that are not all they could be.

Particularly (although by no means exclusively) on the left bank, there was the temptation for some to extract as much from the fruit as possible, a policy that has not always paid dividends – drying, stalky tannins were a theme of some of the more disappointing examples that we tasted. Additionally, it seemed that some lacked a little bit of mid-palate concentration and depth. However, the best of the left bank wines that we tasted showed beautifully fragrant fruit aromas, excellent density, attractive layered texture and a tendency towards a sense of graphite minerality.

Our picks (in no particular order): Châteaux Pichon-Longueville (Baron), Pibran, Rauzan-Ségla, Gloria, Batailley, Margaux, Beaumont, Pontet Canet, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Léoville-Barton, Léoville-Poyferré, Giscours, du Tertre, Brane-Cantenac, d’Angludet.

For reds, the vintage has undoubtedly been more consistently successful on the right bank, where Merlot is generally considered to have flourished. The majority of the wines we tasted in St-Emilion were well-balanced, with a freshness that the commune can occasionally lack, but that in this vintage has given the best wines a pleasing lift and drive.

Our picks (in no particular order): Châteaux Petit Village, Canon la Gaffelière, Beau-Séjour-Becot, Canon, Larcis-Ducasse, Puygueraud, Pavie-Macquin, Beausejour-Duffau-Lagaross, Grand-Mayne, Clos Fourtet.

The vintage is, however, highly successful for the whites, both sweet and dry. Drought conditions in the spring, followed by a cooler summer, have contributed to the complex, fresh and appealing nature of the best of these.

Our picks (in no particular order): Pavillon Blanc de Château Margaux, Domaine de Chevalier, Blanc de Lynch Bages, G de Guiraud, Châteaux Larrivet Haut Brion, Lespault Martillac, Suduiraut, Coutet, Doisy-Daene, Doisy Vedrines.

There was a great deal of talk among the Château owners and négociants about pricing and timing, both of which are crucial to the success of the vintage from all sides: Château, négociant, merchant and consumer. The next few weeks should be interesting as we see the first prices creep out.

Continue to check the blog and twitter, as our remaining two teams in the region continue to update both with their thoughts on the wines and the vintage.

Kat Wiggins

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