You can’t turn to 2011 Haut-Médoc with the confidence that you can in say 2010, 2009 or 2005. Then pretty much all the prominent properties in this appellation, and more besides, really succeeded in these vintages. They remain very good buys, something underscored at this week’s Masters of Wine Institute tasting of the 2009s [more on which soon] and 2010 tastings this summer at Vinexpo. This can’t really be said for 2011. Compact on the whole, some are chunky and punchy, and while they have vigour these wines generally lack charm and aren’t available at a substantial enough discount to make them an appealing purchase. They may come round in the long run. If they do, great. Go and buy them then. And if they do I’d be amazed if they rise much in price in the meantime given the string of mediocre vintages currently in the Bordeaux pipeline.
Nevertheless Château La Lagune has made something worthwhile – no surprises there maybe – as has Château La Tour Carnet, which often works best in the ‘off’ vintages when the exuberance in the cellar is tamed by the vintage characteristics. Château de Lamarque and Château de Camensac are well structured and elegant enough. Château Beaumont is compact, Château Belgrave a disappointment [it feels over-extracted relative to the fruit and is puckering] and Château Cantemerle feels fairly clipped. Château Citran is currently the least impressive of the lot. Five to ten years may sort them out but they will always tend towards the austere I reckon. Let’s see….
The following Haut-Médoc wines were tasted at the Union des Grands des Grands Crus de Bordeaux last month.
Mid depth; little feral note; some blackcurrants; fresh palate with vibrant acid but quite compact overall. Drink 2014-2021. 84
Deep-ish; fresh blackcurrant tones; quite chewy and tannic palate, puckering [perhaps the acid more than the tannin?]. Very chewy and puckering on the finish. This is usually a good value property and the wine should settle but I think you’d be much better off looking elsewhere in the meantime [maybe to their 2009 or 2010?]. Drink 2016-2021. 84
Château de Camensac
Mid depth; nice blackcurrant purity on the nose; depth here; chewy and dense on the palate with a lot of matter, acid and grip. Little austere but fresh. Drink 2016-2026. 86+
Deep and healthy looking; blackcurrant aromas; some cassis; grippy and chunky on the palate with a chewy finish. Acid and tannin dominates. Needs time but will probably still be austere and clipped. Don’t hurry to buy this – especially over their lovely ’09 and ’10 [at not much greater cost]. Drink 2016 – 2026. 86
Mid depth; light on the nose; some strawberry and red fruit lift; structured on the palate with lots of acid and sharp bones poking out at you. Puckering on finish. Not much fun. Drink 2016-2021. 82
Château La Lagune
Deep looking; fresh stalky Cabernet nose; pure; good entry on the palate; plenty of fruit; nice structure and purity; nicely balanced – will be good; clean and sappy finish. Nice chew and sap. Good effort. Reflects the vintage but well handled. Drink 2015-2028. 90+
Château de Lamarque
Mid depth; ripe aromatics – feels like a good, inexpensive Médoc should – earthy blackcurrant and some leaf; perfume too; blackcurrant palate; some earth; drinkable already. Round and not over-extracted. Good-ish effort. Forward. Drink now – 2021. 86+
Château La Tour Carnet
Mid depth; ripe and full aromatics; plump and spicy; attractive; full of fruit with depth and chew. Not overdone and a good effort. Drink 2015-2026 88