The vagaries of the 2011 season effected St Emilion in pretty much the same way as it did the rest of Bordeaux. A precocious start in spring got the vineyards off to a flying start. Extremely high temperatures at the end of June, recorded at 44C in the shade at Chateau Figeac, caused problems and would have stalled vine growth. Cooler and wetter weather in July and August helped spur things along but clearly the fluctuating climatic conditions necessitated a huge investment of labour in the vineyards in terms of canopy management and the like to maintain a healthy crop. There was also some localised rain at harvest which would have proved problematic although here, as elsewhere, September was generally sunny and warm.
Posts Tagged ‘Clos Fourtet’
I came away from the primeurs tastings in St Emilion last year a little bewildered. There were undoubtedly great wines produced in this vintage but at that stage for me it felt very difficult to assess St Emilion, at least in such glowing terms as in the Médoc, Pessac and even in neighbouring Pomerol. The problem was with the tannin, thick, dense and chewy and, wow, such a lot of it, just how would these wines settle? Admittedly over-extraction and over-ripeness are not new concerns for this appellation, but it did concern me when I first tasted these 2009s. It wasn’t a problem across the board by any means but there were many that felt overdone.
This appellation has had a fantastic vintage in 2010. Yes some wines have too much alcohol but in most cases the wines have incredible balance because of the freshness of the vintage. Also over-extraction is seemingly less problematic here than usual, although again that is a relative thing. There are a host of terrific wines this year but it seems that those that have a high proportion of Cabernet Franc, and even Cabernet Sauvignon as in the case of Chateau Figeac, have made the very finest wines. Amongst these, Chateau Cheval Blanc, Chateau Angélus, Chateau Figeac and Chateau Trottevielle have made truly extraordinary wines which are approaching perfection in my book.
For me St Emilion was the trickiest commune to judge in 2009. The year had some problems. Hail the size of golf balls did much damage to the vineyards in May [damage was also reported in the Médoc at the time] and a few days of rain in mid September may have cause problems for some vintners who harvested shortly afterwards. My tasting was limited to those wines on show at the Union des Grands Crus tasting at Chateau Beau-Séjour Bécot. So clearly there are a few caveats to the St Emilion review here.