I’m a Margaux lover but this appellation is utterly frustrating in 2011.The wines of merit are outnumbered by the disappointing here by a margin of almost 2 to 1. What’s gone so wrong? It was a challenging year of course but so it was for everyone else. Margaux, as one of the largest blue chip appellations, has a far wider variety of soils and terroirs than say Pauillac or St Julien, so this probably accounts for some of the irregularity. The drought conditions through the first half of the season, followed by topsy-turvy weather, cool summer but with a huge heat spike, would have also caused more problems in the vineyards here than elsewhere. This would have been especially the case on the lighter, gravelly soils that Margaux is famous for. So we’re talking about dealing with grapes with an unusual degree of irregularity in ripeness. Sorting in the vineyard, selection in the winery all would have been essential, even at those estates that had managed this tricky growing season well.
Posts Tagged ‘terrior’
I’ll get to the dandelions in a minute but for now let’s just say that they are extremely important to Johan Reyneke, philosopher, erudite yet pragmatic bio-dynamic exponent, ‘vine hugger’ [that’s precisely what it says on his business card] and maker of some extremely harmonious and appetizing South African wines.
Last month I dug out a couple of mature South Australian reds to try – a bottle of ‘94 Penfolds Bin 389 and a ’95 Petaluma Coonawarra. I’ve been struck again and again by the ability of Aussie wines to age wonderfully, not just at the top end but also at the affordable level too [Wynns Black Label Cab immediately springs to mind] though obviously Bin 389 and Petaluma Coonawarra are at the more elevated end of the price spectrum. Australian longevity will come as no surprise to those down under, but there’s little mature stuff knocking about here, despite the importance of Oz wine in the UK. We buy it and we drink it, which is fair enough.
Charles Chevallier and his team at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild have come up with the goods again, though that hardly counts as news these days. Hot on the heels of the perfect 2009 is a grand vin of extraordinary intensity in 2010. It’s not a better wine than 2009 but it is different. Maybe it doesn’t quite have the elegance and subtlety of the previous year but it is more classic, with more ‘volume’ as they put it at Lafite. It certainly feels like it has more power and concentration. It is a sublime and quite amazing wine, yet still with freshness and somehow ‘only’ 13.5 in alcohol. What terrific terrior they have. Carruades de Lafite too is a marvel in 2010, a ‘second’ wine that seems to have upped its game exponentially in the past few vintages.