The quality of the 2012 vintage in Sauternes and Barsac risks being unfairly overshadowed by Yquem’s decision not to make a grand vin this vintage, closely followed by the same news from Château Rieussec, writes David Rowe in the first of a series of 2012 Bordeaux previews.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau d’Yquem’
In 2008 Sauternes and Barsac were not generally seen as having had a great year. It’s the first chance I’ve had to taste this vintage and the nine wines shown at the MW Institute tasting were better than expected overall. They had sweetness and fruit but perhaps did lack zip [acid] and that creamy botrytis stamp of the great years. That said I really enjoyed Chateau Climens, Chateau Clos Haut-Peyraguey and Chateau Rieussec. Chateau Suiduiraut looked very good indeed. Chateau d’Yquem was difficult to evaluate on the basis of the small sample size given but it had great length. Still I was a lot more excited tasting the 2010 vintage in Sauternes and Barsac at the UGCB a week later. More on that wonderful vintage for red, white and sweet white shortly.
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.
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.