2011 Bordeaux – this morning’s releases

2011 Château Margaux, 2011 Pavillon Rouge, 2011 Château Lynch-Bages, 2011 Château d'Issan, 2011 Château Gloria, 2011 Château Palmer, 2011 Alter Ego de Château PalmerThe words “flurry” and “activity” haven’t exactly been used much so far in the 2011 Bordeaux en-primeur campaign; however it would appear that today is the turning point, as we have had a number of important releases first thing this morning.

The biggest names to have released are – at about half the price of the 2010 – first growth Château Margaux (and its second wine Pavillon Rouge, which has been selling out fast), “Flying Fifth” Lynch-Bages and candidate for Wine of the Vintage Château Palmer (along with its stunningly seductive second wine Alter Ego). It would be unfair, however, given the excellent effort produced by the team at Château Gloria, not to mention it as worthy of consideration – this was one of our favourites with regards to value for money and a very pretty St Julien indeed.

2011 Château Margaux, 1er Cru Margaux
£1900.00 per case of 6 bottles in bond

When asked whether the Château was having to change anything to compensate for climate change, Marie Descotis, who heads up the Château’s research and development department, explained that their terroir is proving to be perfect for the somewhat warmer and drier conditions over the last few years, allowing their Cabernet Sauvignon to flourish. The blend this year is made up of 86% of this Cabernet, 10% Merlot and the rest split between Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. The resultant wine is the most concentrated they have ever produced, yet it is also incredibly poised and balanced. Dark berry fruits, notes of woodsmoke and spice come through on the nose. The palate is immediately fresh and pure, with a layered sense of fine tannin, depth and power. There is a graphite-like grip to the structure, a definite minerality and a core of cool-natured, classic fruit. Despite the concentration and density in the wine, the balance is such as to give it an almost approachable sensation. Beautiful rather than pretty, this is an elegant and refined wine that shows what could be achieved in 2011 with great terroir and a deft hand.
Drink 2021-2037

2011 Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux, Margaux
£475.00 per case of 6 bottles in bond

Headily aromatic on the nose, with notes reminiscent of black forest gâteau, a fragrance imparted by a higher proportion of Petit Verdot than usual. On the palate, there is delicious freshness and a lovely sense of purity to the fruit. The tannins are fine and well-integrated, giving structure to cassis and morello cherry fruit. This has a lot of density and power, which Marie Descotis attributes to the drought and the small size of the grapes as a result. She believes that this has never before been as close in style and quality to the grand vin.
Drink 2018-2027

2011 Château Lynch-Bages, Cru Classé Pauillac
£375.00 per case of 6 bottles in bond

A blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and the rest split between Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Opulent on the nose, with notes of dark berries and pure cassis. On the palate, this shows a plush texture, driven by velvety-fine, but quite robust tannins. There is a substantial swathe of ripe fruit and a touch of sweet vanillin from 75% new oak barrels, giving this a rounded and pleasing mouthfeel. Intense and balanced, with good definition and concentration, this is another good effort from the Cazes stable.
Drink 2019-2035

2011 Château d’Issan, Cru Classé Margaux
£350.00 per case of 12 bottles in bond

Inviting on the nose, with aromas of blackcurrant leaf.  A winning combination of finely-grained tannins and freshening acidity combined with a good intensity of fruit at the core, giving this a layered texture and an attractive finish.
Drink 2017-2025

2011 Château Gloria, St-Julien
£245.00 per case of 12 bottles in bond

A very impressive and stylish wine from this excellent property.  Fresh blackberry, bramble and damson fruit combine to create a lovely, rich, juicy and warming scent with earthy undertones.  The tannins are bold, appealing and well-integrated, providing a somewhat suave texture that is balanced by equal amounts of grip and freshness.
Drink 2015-2024

2011 Château Palmer, Cru Classé Margaux
£875.00 per case of 6 bottles in bond

2011 may not be 1961, however in the case of Château Palmer the two vintages could have in common a Grand Vin that could be considered as one of the wines of the vintage. We left the Château gushing about the spicy, almost animal complexity of the dark fruit nose, the incredibly rich palate, silky texture and flavours of kirsch, blackcurrant leaf, clove and leather, the incredibly fine-grained tannins and indeed the brilliant concentration and impressive length… In five short words, we liked it – a lot!
Drink 2021-2035

2011 Alter Ego de Château Palmer, Margaux
£430.00 per case of 12 bottles in bond

Alter Ego is fast becoming a serious wine in its own right and is coming out of its Grand Vin’s shadow. With great weight and silky smooth texture, a juicy fruit character with a tight tannic structure, the plummy and spicy fruit is somewhat reminiscent of black forest gâteau. On the finish, spicy and savoury notes come through to bring even more interest to this lovely wine.
Drink 2018-2030

Ludovic Surina

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