2010 is a very strong vintage in St Julien. The scale and grandeur of the wines, evident during primeurs and after bottling is still apparent. These are big scaled, long-term St Juliens that, once again, provide an exciting counterpoint to the heavenly, enticing wines made here in 2009. Unlike that vintage, 2010 still has much to reveal, and a number of wines are comparatively quite backward. The Léovilles are impressive here as ever. There is an exceptional effort from Château Léoville Poyferré, a currently rather backward but nevertheless impressively concentrated Château Léoville-Las-Cases and, a fraction behind, a very classical Château Léoville Barton. The real show stopper was a stand-out effort from Château Saint-Pierre which is wonderfully seductive. Château Langoa Barton, though a notch or two down from this, is very impressive. Classical and nicely composed wines have been made at Château Beychevelle, Château Branaire-Ducru, Château Lagrange and Château Talbot.
Posts Tagged ‘cru classe’
Despite all the fashionable talk of terroir, it’s funny how, a bit like dogs and their owners, wines come to resemble their masters and mistresses. Château Palmer, which has had a fabulous run of recent vintages, has shown a degree of ambition and sophistication that clearly mirrors that of Thomas Duroux, the winemaking wunderkind now in his tenth year running this top Margaux estate. Duroux’s achievements have come at a price – namely the much higher cost of the grand vin itself – but surely Palmer has never been more consistent [or better?]. So has the estate managed to keep its footing in the testy 2013 vintage?
Pauillac looks reasonably homogeneous at the cru classé level in 2011. There’s not the power and depth of fruit here as in 2010 nor the exciting ripeness of 2009. Middle-weight wines in the main, these feel a little compact, though the fruit seems to be there in most cases and there is plenty of chew to the tannins. Most need time in bottle to evolve. All the properties could have benefitted from extra ripeness but that’s largely the vintage speaking. That said Château Pichon-Lalande and Château Batailley stood out particularly for their harmony and finesse.
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.
Four 2008 Cru Classé from the Haut-Médoc felt less fleshy, firmer and with greater grip and acid than I remember two years back at the UGCB. Once again these wines seem in retreat. Chateau La Tour Carnet was the best and worked really nicely, not overdone at all. Chateau de Camensac and Chateau Cantemerle were pretty structured and grippy and both at the ugly duckling stage at present. Chateau Belgrave was a reasonably effort, if a little loose, and lacked a bit of depth. I’d have liked to have seen Chateau La Lagune but it was’t presented. 2009 and 2010 look better bets in the Haut-Médoc than 2008 for my palate – the price differential isn’t great but the wines are much better in those vintages.
Well that was an interesting primeurs week. Bordeaux 2011 is a fascinating vintage, though not for the reasons most of the producers would have liked. It’s a tricky, difficult year for the reds, because of the topsy-turvy nature of the growing season and a series of extreme events. First was the heat of the spring, more like summer, which led to rapid and precocious development in the vines. It pointed to the earliest ever harvest in Bordeaux’s history. Continuing drought followed by rain led the vines on a stop/start cycle and bunch ripeness became irregular. Searing days of heat in June [40C] also burnt the grapes in some places. Violent hail at the very beginning of September threatened to destroy a year’s crop inside half an hour in St Estèphe and rain in Bordeaux then, and in mid-September, also threatened a spread of rot, the fear of which may have led some producers to harvest grapes lacking in phenolic ripeness. Those who waited profited. Anyone working from a recipe book in this vintage was destined for trouble. It’s being described by many as a ‘technical’ vintage. It is certainly one that seems to separate the men from the boys.