You can’t turn to 2011 Haut-Médoc with the confidence that you can in say 2010, 2009 or 2005. Then pretty much all the prominent properties in this appellation, and more besides, really succeeded in these vintages. They remain very good buys, something underscored at this week’s Masters of Wine Institute tasting of the 2009s [more on which soon] and 2010 tastings this summer at Vinexpo. This can’t really be said for 2011. Compact on the whole, some are chunky and punchy, and while they have vigour these wines generally lack charm and aren’t available at a substantial enough discount to make them an appealing purchase. They may come round in the long run. If they do, great. Go and buy them then. And if they do I’d be amazed if they rise much in price in the meantime given the string of mediocre vintages currently in the Bordeaux pipeline.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau La Tour Carnet’
This appellation covers a vast amount of ground and very differing terroirs. It’s always a bit odd to lump together say Château La Lagune and Château Cantermerle who border [and resemble] the wines of Margaux, with that of Château Belgrave, Château de Camensac and Château La Tour Carnet just to the west of St Julien, alongside Château Coufran, the northernmost Haut-Médoc château, past St Estèphe in St Seurin, but there we are. Overall the best Haut-Médoc 2012s have gone for elegance and balance. Some are quite attractive, others vigorous with plenty of bounce and freshness. Quite a few are a stalky and angular with a fair amount of grip, a bit reminiscent of 2011, so you do need to tread carefully. Again generally I don’t quite see the urgency in picking these up en primeur when there are still lots of 2009 and 2010s on the market for a fraction more.
The wines from the Haut-Médoc have come along a lot since their primordial days during primeurs week in April 2011. The nascent wines then felt tannic and extremely grippy. Yes they had huge volumes of fruit and extract, but with all the density and acid they were hardly a joy to taste. Such was the early character of the vintage. It still is their character to a degree but the best wines have put on much gloss and weight and have rounded out quite a bit during elévage. They are not the hedonistic efforts the appellation produced in 2009, but are more correct, more obviously structured, serious wines, with lots of grip and sap that, even at this level, remain pretty long-term efforts. Chalk and cheese once again.
Four 2008 Cru Classé from the Haut-Médoc felt less fleshy, firmer and with greater grip and acid than I remember two years back at the UGCB. Once again these wines seem in retreat. Chateau La Tour Carnet was the best and worked really nicely, not overdone at all. Chateau de Camensac and Chateau Cantemerle were pretty structured and grippy and both at the ugly duckling stage at present. Chateau Belgrave was a reasonably effort, if a little loose, and lacked a bit of depth. I’d have liked to have seen Chateau La Lagune but it was’t presented. 2009 and 2010 look better bets in the Haut-Médoc than 2008 for my palate – the price differential isn’t great but the wines are much better in those vintages.