The MW Institute’s Annual Claret Tasting is almost too much of a good thing. Tasting all one hundred and twenty wines from Bordeaux’s finest districts requires steely determination, nifty footwork and a healthy dollop of over-ambition. You’ll also need to keep an eye on your watch as you’ve only a few hours. Then, just as you think you’ve licked it, tasting St Estèphe, Pauillac, St Julien, Margaux, Haut-Médoc and Pessac-Léognan back-to-back in the grand Vintners Hall, up come the wines of St Emilion and Pomerol, lying in wait in an adjoining room. Talk about kicking a man when he’s down. Fortunately, since last year, you can perk up with some fine Sauternes and Barsac at the very end before hailing a taxi cab and finding somewhere to lie down.
Posts Tagged ‘Sauternes’
Usually get to posting notes on this region in the way you usually arrive at the wines, but I’ve shunted this region up the batting order for two reasons. Firstly, Sauternes and Barsac have made some of the most thrilling wines of the 2011 vintage, red or white. Secondly, it seems a bit unfair that they should always trail the reds, especially so in this vintage. Sauternes and Barsac are always appealing young, particularly during a week of tasting tannic, sappy reds, but defining their exact scale and grandeur feels tricky to me. Not this year. 2011 Sauternes is clearly in the same league as 2010 and 2009. It may even be the best year the region has had since 2001.
Overall 2007 is a good sweet wine vintage in Bordeaux. Seven sweet wines were shown by the MW Institute [the first time they have included them in their annual tasting]. The wines are pretty full and sweet if lacking the race of 2009 and 2010. Time will tell just where they sit. Chateau d’Yquem is as amazing as ever, while Chateau Climens and Chateau Suduiraut are excellent and not far behind at all.
Well it’s certainly interesting to compare the best and the worst that Bordeaux has offered in the past decade within a few weeks of each other. If October 2011’s Union des Grands Crus 2009 tasting showed the impressive heights to which red Bordeaux has recently soared, then November 2011’s Master of Wine Institute’s tasting of the 2007 vintage showed the decades lows. To be fair what was actually most surprising was how the latter vintage has turned out. Tasted after bottling two years ago, I think you could safely say you’d find more joy in a Trappist monastery than in a glass of 2007 red Bordeaux. Moreover these were wines released in 2008 at such high prices for the quality that much cheaper thrills could easily be found elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, two years down the track and 2007 Bordeaux remains a pretty meagre and angular affair amongst the reds, but in the main they have generally rounded out for the better. Maybe they bear comparison to that other great ‘restaurant’ year 1997.
Don’t let the rave reviews of Bordeaux’s red wines in 2009 distract from the superb quality of its sweet wines in this vintage. Producers were exclaiming from the off here how excited they were by the quality of the harvest here, seen as the most exciting since 2001.
So we have a week to collect ourselves during Vinexpo, Bordeaux’s wine trade fair that runs this week, to assess just where we are with the controversial release prices of the 2010 Bordeaux vintage. If you thought prices for 2009 were a bit heady then so far the prices of some 2010s have been eye-watering. In certain notable cases prices are up 40% year on year and that on top of similar increases last year. You wonder why Bank of England chief Mervyn King is losing sleep about the UK’s paltry 4.5% inflation rate. Small beer Merv, get with it. Bordeaux’s up ten times as much.