Way back in early September the Association de Grands Crus Classés de Saint-Emilion put on a tasting high up above London at Landing Forty Two in the remarkable Leadenhall Building. The views were impressive. So were many of the wines. Ostensibly it was an opportunity to taste the joyful 2018 vintage, but each producer also offered an additional, older vintage. This was fascinating. For me it also confirmed the superlative quality of the 2016 vintage in St Emilion, but also the quality of some of the rather unsung 2017s. In fact, there were quite a few properties to my mind that performed better in ’17 than they did in ’18 – and that was no mean feat given the challenges of the frost that so badly affected the former vintage. Given that some 45 different chateau were represented at the tasting, I’m dividing my report into two parts. This one contains notes and thoughts on some twenty-four properties [and forty-seven wines], starting with Château Barde-Haut and ending with Château Franc-Mayne [essentially half of them alphabetically].
Posts Tagged ‘2011’
Château Latour surely represents the pinnacle of winemaking achievement in Bordeaux. The majestic terroir beside the Gironde, the expertise of the technical and administrative team led by Frédéric Engerer as well as the general wherewithal and financial largesse of owner François Pinault all have coalesced to make Latour arguably the greatest red wine in the region. It has many rivals and is sometimes eclipsed but it is surely the benchmark to which all of Bordeaux’s [and the world’s] greatest Cabernet producers aspire. In 2016 Château Latour delivers the goods in spades but as it doesn’t do en primeur these days, you will have to slum it with their latest cellar release, Latour 2005. It is wonderful and built to last a century.
Bold and concentrated wines have been made at Château Latour in 2014. They are fresh and vivid. There is a sense to me that these are long-term wines that have elegance and proportionality. Les Forts was more closed on the day than the grand vin which looks very impressive. We won’t see any of these wines for years, however, as the property has pulled out of the en primeur system. It now only releases wines when they are ready to drink. Currently it is the knock-out 2003 Latour, the famous Parker hundred pointer, that is on offer. This is brilliant stuff, even when tasted at nine in the morning. It has bags of life, fruit and sweet ripe tannin. It shrieks out for rib of beef. Also released are 2008 Les Forts de Latour and the 2011 Pauillac de Latour.
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.