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.