Overall Pomerol has produced some very vibrant wines in 2011 despite a tricky growing season. Maybe the clay soils that the region is famous for helped guard against the early drought and heat spikes. September rain too undoubtedly affected some and rot would have been a concern. There is variability here, however, particularly among the less well known estates. Some display under ripe characters, others have over extracted, some, it seems, are green and extracted. It’s the usual 2011 story then, here ,as elsewhere. Making the best wines needed laborious work in the vineyard, the grapes required strict selection at harvest and the resultant wines suited a gentle hand in the cellar.
Posts Tagged ‘St Emilion’
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.
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.
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.