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Bordeaux 2011 Primeurs: Pomerol

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Overall Pomerol has produced some very vibrant wines in 2011 despite a tricky growing season. Maybe the clay soils that the region is famous for helped guard against the early drought and heat spikes. September rain too undoubtedly affected some and rot would have been a concern. There is variability here, however, particularly among the less well known estates. Some display under ripe characters, others have over extracted, some, it seems, are green and extracted. It’s the usual 2011 story then, here ,as elsewhere. Making the best wines needed laborious work in the vineyard, the grapes required strict selection at harvest and the resultant wines suited a gentle hand in the cellar.

At their very best 2011 Pomerols have wonderful perfume and summer fruit aromas, lovely blue fruit tones, and have real bounce and race on the palate. This style for me is epitomised best by the wines from the JP Moueix stable. They felt a breath of fresh air in 2011 and have made a very harmonious set of Pomerols, without using cellar chicanery or the use of heavy make-up. These are lively, life-affirming wines. Chateau Bourgneuf looks very good here while at the other end of the spectrum Chateau Hosanna, Chateau La Fleur-Petrus and Chateau Trotanoy are wonderfully vivid.

At the UGC event held at Chateau Beauregard I was very impressed by Chateau La Pointe. It made a fantastic wine in 2009 and has made a cracker in 2011. Chateau La Conseillante, Chateau Clinet and Chateau Petit Village are all layered, satiny and complete as you’d expect. La Conseillante described 2011 as a ‘technical’ vintage where they aimed to go for fruit, not extraction in the cellar. Their wine looks all the better for it.

Chateau Beauregard itself, has made a wine much lighter in body than its peers. Still it does manage balance and harmony. Beauregard described the vintage as tricky for them. Rain caused problems for the Merlots, with much sorting needed. As in St Emilion, the Indian Summer favoured the Cabernet Franc.  The wine may fill out further but it feels right that they’ve gone for balance and not tried to force the wine out of shape.

Chateau La Cabanne didn’t do it for me though. It felt rather stretched and Chateau La Croix de Gay was really oaky and disjointed. Chateau Gazin was pretty dense and tannic but clearly had enough fruit and felt a good effort with plenty of structure. Chateau Nenin, tasted separately as part of the Delon group, looked pretty dense but maybe lacked the grace of the best.

Further down the chain in Pomerol it’s not all plain sailing by any means. The Pomerols tasted blind at the Cercle Rive Droite felt a mixed bag. Chateau Taillifer, Clos l’Eglise and Chateau Bourgneuf [once again] looked pretty promising, but there were at least half a dozen that felt overly structured and grippy or had gone the opposite way entirely and felt way too extracted. Michel Rolland’s Chateau Le Bon Pasteur seemed to have lost the plot in this regard, along with Chateau Feytit-Clinet and Chateau Rouget which all felt overdone or disappointing one way or another.

So to prices. I’d be amazed if there’s anything much of a cut in Pomerol. Chateau Gazin released around ten percent down but these are tiny estates where production is very small and the wines tend to sell out quickly. If you’re a fan of Pomerol there is much to commend the best here, though if prices are not far off 2009 and 2010 you’d be better considering these first.

Chateau Beauregard

Mid colour, lightish; attractive fruit, some plums and spice, quite attractive; soft palate, some spice and perfume, plummy palate, elegant and not over extracted. Fresh, lightish and easy. Overall cooler and fresher, less saturated in colour and flavour than some but balanced and harmonious. [30% Cabernet Franc, 70% Merlot] 86-88+

Chateau Bellegrave

Deep looking; stalky, spicy, briary fruit, not unattractive; little reductive note; nice balance to the palate; fruit here and nice and vibrant; not trying to be over saturated; spicy, no heavyweight but appetizing. 86-87

Chateau Bonalgue

Mid depth; little tired looking? Similar to Bourgneuf but with a little make-up reducing the fleetness of foot here; some spices, honey and marzipan notes; feels a bit hollow on the palate and tannic at the edge. Not impressive showing. Tasted blind at the Cercle Rive Droite 1/4/12. 82-84 [Second] Deep red; earthy meaty nose; satisfying; meat and chew, not unattractive [a much better showing]; some perfume too; palate nicely done; lots of fruit; this sample not overdone; little dry on the finish. Not bad. Re-tasted Cercle Rive Droite 4/4/12. 86-87+

Chateau Bourgneuf

Mid depth; nice wine; polished nose; fruit driven, some seductive qualities; plums and perfume – violet notes too; very attractive and pure nose; elegant palate; attractive; some nice tension on the palate; acidity is vibrant. Lively and appetizing Pomerol. Not forced. Tasted blind at the Cercle Rive Droite 1/4/12. 87-89+ [Second] Deep and dense; legs; vibrant; perfumed; blue fruits; cherries; nice layers to the nose; freshness here; nice palate – balanced; lots of fruit and freshness; very Bordeaux; some chew and acid fresh. Lots of zip. The opposite of the leaden-footed brigade here. Tasted at JP Moueix 4/4/12. 90-91+

Chateau Certan

Deep and dense; intense, inky nose; plums and spice and redcurrant notes; also some new oak lift; some violet perfume too; very polished wine; again violets, black cherry and plum notes on the palate; plus real zip. Good bite on the finish. Tasted at JP Moueix 4/4/12. 91-93+

Chateau Clinet

Deep and dense; strawberry red fruits, more layered, bit flashy and worked but very plummy aromas with spices; satiny palate as usually, layers and nice fruit; classy and good effort [as usual] in the typically seductive and modern Clinet style. Tasted UGC 4/4/12. 91-93+

Chateau du Domaine de L’Eglise

Deep and saturated colour; nice plum, spice and perfume; attractive and vibrant; some oak; palate has fruit – lots of plum and spice but also grip and chew. Dips a fraction at the end but potentially very good. Tasted Cercle Rive Droite 4/4/12. 87-89+

Chateau Fayat

Deep saturated colour; nice fruit, some plums and sour cherry on the nose; some depth; little attenuated; grippy. Fresh, and should fill out. Tasted blind at the Cercle Rive Droite 1/4/12. 85-87 [Second] Deep and saturated; earthy fruit quality; spoices; higher tone notes, good; palate sweet and ripe; some jam; better than first sample. Goodish. Re-tasted at Cercle Rive Droite 4/4/12. 86-87+

Chateau Feytit-Clinet

Saturated; creamy nose with plums and some spices; feels fat if a little monolithic; palate big and broad; extracted too – dense and lacks enjoyment. Grip and dusty tannins. Not me. Tasted blind at the Cercle Rive Droite 1/4/12. 85-86 [Second] Thick, deep and saturated looking; very ripe sublimated style but with a vegetal streak; some bite and chew but green streak again. Extracted. Re-tasted at Cercle Rive Rroite 4/4/12. 84-86?

Chateau Gazin

Deep saturated, colour; plums, spices and pure fruit flavours, less worked nose; feels good and deep; sappier than the Clinet though – bluer fruits, less red fruit tones; nice palate, ripe and full, spicy, briary notes; chewy finish but should settle. Plummy and spicy, chewy and dense with grip. 89-91/100

Chateau Hosanna

Deep; violet scented nose; blue fruits and plum along with black cherry; layered; not overly made up – lovely purity amongst the Moueix wines; nice balance on the palate; vibrant with real acid; some chew here but lots of spicy, plummy fruit; real fleet-of-foot. Tasted at JP Moueix 4/4/12. 92-93+

Chateau La Cabanne

Earthy at edge, vibrant look; fresh and pretty perfume, violets and plums plus oak; faintest vegetal whiff; inky and intense palate with a hint of green. Chewy dry finish. Not the best by any measure. [92% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc] 84-86?

Chateau La Clémence

Deep; lots of jam and liquorice; low acid, high PH style; almost honeyed and fortified notes; pondering, jamy palate; some chocolate and mocha notes; low acid and tannin from fruit and wood. Lots of tannin on the finish. Bit of a mess. 83-85? [Second] Deep and saturated; jammy, late picked feel; oaky too; very melded but lacks purity; jam and oak and lots of wood tannin on the finish. 82-84

Chateau L a Conseillante

Deep looking, mid depth at edge; vibrant looking; bright violet fruit, some plum and sour cherry and black cherry notes; quite deep and feels fresh; layered palate beneath with depth and some oak influence but plenty of black cherry fruit. Chew on the finish but attractive wine overall. 82% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc 13.4 alc 91-93+ 

Chateau La Croix de Gay

Purple edge; sturdy, some spice, little hardness and wet stone notes; little shiny nail varnish too – where’s the fruit exactly? Quite oak dominated palate, wood tannin dominates, fruit submerged. Lacks generosity and felt hard. 83-86?

Chateau Lafleur-Gazin

Deep, dark centre; purple edge; legs; fresh, sour cherry, plum, some spice; blue fruits; nice and appetizing; perfumed; good depth and attractive fruit on the palate; nice balance; real race and vibrancy here; nice acid. Chew and sap. Vibrant wine. Tasted at JP Moueix 4/4/12. 90-91+

Chateau La Fleur Pétrus

Deep and concentrated; fresh and vibrantnose; blackcurrant, cherry, some earth; violets; purity and honesty; pure fruit and violets; zip and zest; plums and harmony; nice balance; acid helps; good length. Tasted at JP Moueix 4/4/12. 92-94+

Chateau La Grave

Deep-ish; red at edge; ripe plums, spices, red fruits and black cherries; creamy and polished; harmonious; extract and freshness, fruit and vibrancy; very appetizing. Grippy and zippy. Tasted at JP Moueix 4/4/12. 87-89+

Chateau La Pointe

Deep and attractive saturation without looking inky; plums and spice; feels good on the nose; attractive fruit and lots of it [cf La Croix de Gay] layers here, spices and depth and lots of plummy fruit; attractive qualities. Not overdone on the finish – really good effort. Good fruit and flavour and feels harmonious. 89-91+/100

Chateau Latour a Pomerol

Deep; legs; vibrant cherry aromas, spice, blackcurrant notes too; some violet perfume too; attractive; blue fruits – cherry and blueberry tones – on the palate; some spice; structure beneath and acid; grip and freshness key words here. Purity too. Tasted at JP Moueix 4/4/12. 90-91+

Chateau Le Bon Pasteur

Deepish; more bubble gum but also creamy notes; minerality; quite extracted palate; needs to settle; dense, tannic and grippy. Lots of depth but furry tannins on the finish. 85-87? [Second] Deep and saturated; red fruits, some jam, stone and wet earth; very opulent and jammy style; lots of extract and tannin on the palate; wood tannin too; feels very pushed and oaky. Very puckering finish. Way needs to settle. 85-87?

Chateau Le Moulin

Deep and dark; oak resin, stalky blackcurrants; jam too; could be from anywhere in the world; some depth to the palate; tough tannin. Will it meld? Tasted bling at Cercle Rive Droite 1/4/12. 84-86.

Chateau Lecuyer

Saturated; cream but more harmony and added freshness; real plums and spices; softer by degrees than some but feels a bit tannic. The freshness of the fruit should allow it meld better if disjointed now. Tasted blind at the Cercle Rive Droite 1/4/12. 84-86

Chateau Mazeyres

Mid depth; some stalky, blackcurrant notes; high toned; some blackcurrant yoghurt; grip, some spice and fruit; lively; lacks density but has zest; elegant style but moreish. Not a bad effort. Tasted blind at the Cercle Rive Droite 1/4/12. 85-86+ Deep and saturated; spices and lift; some layers, sour cherry; plums and spice on the palate. Reasonable depth. Re-tasted Cercle Rive Droite. 85-86+

Chateau Montviel

Deep and saturated; close to rim; thick and quite rich; some whiff of coconut; some vegetal notes; feels concentrated; thick and rich palate; definitely concentrated. Not that bad effort, Could be 86-88+  

Chateau Petit-Village

Mid depth, purple at edge; nice satiny fruit, not pushed; plums and spice here but real seduction; floral notes along with a little sappy note; nice entry on the palate, elegance not pushed; fruit, sappy with nice acid. Grippy end. 72% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Tasted UGC 4/4/12. 90-92+

Chateau Plince

Deep, saturated colour; ripeness and layers here; seam/core of blackcurrant fruit; bite and chew; nice and attractive; good depth, chew and density. Appealing style here; nicely done; good grip, nicely handled wine. Tasted at JP Moueix 4/4/12. 89-91

Chateau Providence

Deep and saturated in colour; inky, plummy; some red fruits too; not oaky; concentrated, vibrant, perfumed; lots of spicy, plumy fruit; again wonderfully fresh fruit on the palate; very attractive; bite and acid here too but feels harmonious overall. Elegant, vibrant and harmonious. Very nice wine. Tasted at JP Moueix 4/4/12. 91-92+

Chateau Nenin

Deep, purple at edge; layers, ripeness and cassis, wet stones; little dusty note to nose; bitter cherry notes on palate’ bite and chew; plus some oak and wood tannin. Chewy finish. Dense and not the most graceful Pomerol in 2011. 87-89+

Fugue de Nenin

Deep and dense; spicy briary tones, some marzipan notes; fresh; some summer fruits; palate has bite and sap; sour cherry notes; grip and bite on the finish. Chewy and grippy. 86-87

Chateau Rouget

Deep looking; saturated, jammy nose; quite thick; some toffee; rather worked and ripe, later picked style; jam and oak on the palate with lots of tannin – fruit and oak; feels overdone. Oak very dominant and tannin very dry. Tasted blind at the Cercle Rive Droite 1/4/12. 83-85?

Chateau Taillefer

Mid depth; some purple; again quite fresh, some spices and undergrowth notes; plum and cherry too; vibrant and high toned; not unattractive; some oak here but nicely in check; mocha tones too; integrated feel, not disjointed as the last few; palate good; fresh blackcurrant notes, plums and nicely polished. Highish acid but fresh Bordeaux. Tasted blind at the Cercle Rive Droite 1/4/12. 87-88+

Chateau Trotanoy

Deepish but not overdone; fresh summer fruits; black cherry, blueberry; appetizing; palate vibrant and elegant; harmonious; plums and violets; spicy; nice balance and chew; harmony. Good length and zip too. Very vibrant. Tasted at JP Moueix 4/4/12. 93-95+

Chateau Vieux Maillet

Deep and saturated looking; up to edge; some jam and cream; some purity but very big and ripe; little monolithic; big and chewy palate; sweet entry; dense and masculine. Not that bad. Lacks a bit of freshness but had length. One of the worked styles here that actually delivers. Tasted blind at the Cercle Rive Droite 1/4/12. 86-87+

Chateau Vray Croix de Gay

Deep, dark and arterial; thick and deep; feels a little contrived; rich and deep palate; lots of oak; very sublimated [terroir sublimated too]. Tannic at end. Very extracted overall. Pomerol or Chile? Tasted blind at the Cercle Rive Droite 1/4/12. 82-84?

Clos du Clocher

Deep and saturated; some violet fruit, spices, undergrowth; cherry and plum notes; opens up a bit; some elegance and bite; quite aggressive on the end. 83-85. Tasted blind at the Cercle Rive Droite 1/4/12.  [Second] Deep and saturated; vibrant edge; little dumb sample; chew bite and dry on the end. Overworked. Re-tasted Cercle Rive Droite 4/4/12. 83-85.

Clos l’Eglise

Deep and dense; sweet and attractive fuit; not masked; feels vibrant and enjoyable; some spice; oak on the palate; grippy, dense; quite chewy but this works overall. Goodish effort. Tasted blind at the Cercle Rive Droite 1/4/12. 87-88

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