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Bordeaux 2011 Primeurs: St Julien

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux


Chateau Léoville-Las-Cases is fantastically good in 2011

St Julien is one of Bordeaux’s most homogenous red wine appellations and the quality level is uniformly high. Once again in 2011 this commune didn’t reach the giddy heights of 2009 or 2010 but if priced correctly this could be a good vintage for consumption. That said at the top end Chateau Léoville-Las-Cases fantastically good, a wine made from extremely low yields and what was an extremely dry vintage overall. For me it tops the commune and is up with the very best wines of the vintage. Its strength and density are reminiscent of Latour, which it neighbours of course.

The other Léovilles – Barton and Poyferré – are not at all far behind, but very different as you’d expect. Chateau Léoville Barton is more classical but extremely impressive while Chateau Léoville Poyferré is sleek, polished and modern. Chateau St Pierre is excellent once again, more composed and structured this year as is its stablemate Chateau Gloria. Chateau Langoa-Barton looks very good value as ever with real purity. Chateau Lagrange and Chateau Branaire Ducru have made correct wines which should flesh out. Chateau Gruaud-Larose typically meaty and, though not as memorable as the last few efforts, should be pretty good. There was some variability in Chateau Beychevelle, one sample structured but balanced the other coarser in feel and Chateau Talbot felt a bit dry on the mid-palate. Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou wasn’t tasted.

Again the weather conditions in this vintage were pretty unique but for me it’s something of a cross between 2004 and 2006. As of writing no St Julien properties have yet released their prices but let’s hope they priced below the market rate of 2006 and 2008 to make them attractive en primeur options. Once again more detailed notes will follow on the best wines here. For now the notes and scores from the tastings.

Chateau Beychevelle

Deep saturated; tight to rim; blackcurrants, deep, ripe lots of real freshness; structured wine on the palate; chew and density – nicely balanced and handled. Good. 2nd sample little coarser, more extracted in feel, dry tannin. 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc 2% Petit Verdot – harvest dates 14-29 September.  Tasted twice 86-90?

Chateau Branaire-Ducru

Deep and saturated; nice pure blackcurrant seam, some fruit compote notes; leaner than Léoville Barton. Cool, fresh stalky blackcurrant. Pretty complete and maybe a bit slowburn. Cool blackcurrant palate; loads of structure and acid; tannin well handled. Grippy. Will work and Branaire not usually the most expressive en primeur. Tasted twice. 88-90

Chateau Gloria

Deep and arterial; loads of blackcurrant fruit on the nose, some spice; lots of depth, cassis as well as some stalky Cab qualities – these will round out during élevage; little tightness on the palate but waves of blackcurrant fruit; density. Bite on the finish. Grippier than last few vintages. Tasted twice. 88-90

Chateau Gruaud Larose

Deep and saturated; slightly malty, earthy note, peat here too; ripe; palate dense, layered and satisfying; chewy and deep. Intense palate, earthy, mealy meaty note again – quite typical. Chewy but tannin not over done. Pretty good and should settle further. Tasted twice. 88-90+

Chateau Lagrange

Deep and dark, saturated and tight to edge; slightly stalky note, blackcurrants, dense; layers here but pent up and not at all flamboyant or as fresh and blackurranty as Léoville Barton or Langoa but still some style; palate good, some density and chew with blackcurrant fruit; plenty of structure but not overdone. Some tannin at the end. Good effort. Tasted twice. 88-90+

Chateau Langoa Barton

Deep and saturated; tight to the edge; similar tones to Léoville Barton – loaded with blackcurrants, fruit compote, cream – very attractive and pure in a fresh way. Ripeness. Little bit of dark cherry and bitter chocolate. Blackcurrants on the palate; complete and composed; lots of layers; good buy here. Nice purity. Not dryly tannic. Fresh and with good length. A real success. 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc. Tasted twice. 90-92+

Chateau Léoville Barton

Deep and saturated, blackcurrant purity, fruit compote, fabulous purity – loads of blackcurrant aromas; sweet brambly entry, fruit compote then the structure and grip – tannin too – cooler blue fruits here but really fab fruit – blackcurrants and blackberry tones. Excellent effort. One of the standout wines of the appellation. Nice grip and tannin ripe. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc. Harvest dates 12-23 September] 93-95+

Chateau Léoville Las Cases

Deep black, dense; tight to rim; brooding and deep; sweet fruit but pretty backward; lots of depth; smoky note; layers and layers of fruit on the palate; saturated and dense but with very nice tannin. This really is St Julien’s answer to Latour and made from excruciatingly low yields of 27 hl/ha. Exceptional length. Very focused effort, bags of potential here in this brooding, powerful wine. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc. 13.4% alc. 80% new oak. 94-96+

Le Petit Lion

Deep and dark; tight to rim; legs; some cassis, wet stone; bold palate, quite big and fat with lots of material; chewy and dense in the mouth; acid too; chewy and grippy. Sappy with bite. Goodish length 42.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 54% Merlot, 0.5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot 13.6% alc 22% new oak. 87-89+

Clos du Marquis

Deep and arterial; tight to rim; quite deep and dense; wet rock, dense, some cassis; quite sturdy, tannic wine with very evident structure, density and grip; not too puckering on the finish so roundness to the tannins obviously. Feels pretty good potentially. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 13% Cabernet Franc 13.6% alc 40% new oak 90-91+

Chateau Léoville Poyferré

Deep saturated look; very fine and pure on the nose; cassis; nice Cabernet; later opened up with a little more perfume; real focus here; lots of precision on the palate too; cassis again and real purity; density and purity; feels quite long haul potentially, certainly a little reticent over recent vintages. Good length. 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot 6% Cabernet Franc 13.7% alc 93-95 [Tasted 2/4/12 at the Chateau] Deep and saturated; very tight to the rim; creamy, polished and sophisticated nose; some lift from the oak; tight and precise; vein of fruit with real concentration; palate very loaded and precise; some density and dryness here but plenty of fruit to back it up. Little dry [drier than sample at chateau] on the finish but grip and chew suggests the fruit will cover the tannin and oak. Nice chew. 92-94+ [tasted twice at UGC 3/4/12 and 5/4/12]

Chateau Moulin-Riche

Deep colour, tight to the rim, silky refined note; cassis, wet stones and minerality; palate refined little dryness, oak and acid all evident; needs to meld. Wood tannin evident. Nice length overall. Feels a bit lean but well polished. 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot 13.1 alc 87-88 [Tasted 2/4/12 at Chateau Leoville Poyferre]

Chateau Saint-Pierre

Deep and saturated look; tight to the rim; wonderfully full nose with lots of blackcurrants, sweet lift and purity with layers; very good nose; palate sweet and ripe with loads of blackcurrants; some chew and angularity at the back and this feels a dense and structured effort. Tannin a little firm but loads of fruit here, good length and extract. 91-93+ [tasted twice at UGC 3/4/12 and 5/4/12]

Chateau Talbot

Mid depth, concentrated at the core; cassis, some blackcurrant, strong notes; some depth; nice entry, density  some earth and blackcurrants but a little dry in the mid-palate. Chewy finish. Not a bad effort but not the best. Tasted twice. 87-89. [tasted twice at UGC 3/4/12 and 5/4/12]

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