Bordeaux 2011 – and Lafite is out before anybody!
Having got back from skiing I was writing this message when I saw that Lafite 2011 has been released. So the 2011 en-primeur campaign is officially open.
It is too bad, because I wanted to write that I heard in Bordeaux during the en-primeur tastings at Lafite that the prices will be around 60% cheaper than in 2010. Well they were right, Lafite came out today with 66% less volume, but a reasonable price, we offer it at £450/btl, about 60% less than last year.
I missed my fortune teller opportunity, but at least the skiing was great.
I only tasted about 200 wines during my three days in Bordeaux, but I tried to be selective. Here is my take on the 2011 vintage.
- A classic (meaning not easy) Bordeaux vintage that resulted in wines that needed to be tasted and selected. It separated the good winemakers from the bad ones.
- Many estates over extracted the wines, this combined with high acidity made some wine very tannic. This made tasting 80+ wines very hard (I am not like RP who does 150 in one hour).
- This was a year for those who succeeded in controlling their maturity.
- This is a top Cabernet Franc vintage.
- Moueix said that 2011 wasn’t an investor’s vintage. I say “finally, this is a wine drinker’s vintage!!”
- The good wines will have to age before drinking, but they will worth the wait!
- I like this vintage because it is not a hot vintage, hence the alcohol levels are back to 13% making the wines a lot easier to drink. I would like to remind you that nowadays hot vintages are more frequent, whereas earlier, they were very rare, like 1959.
Here are my top choices:
- Cheval Blanc – the best wine I have tasted in 2011 and obviously the best of the right bank – we were all very silent when we tasted the wine!
- Mouton Rothschild was the best of the left bank.
While I am at it, Petit Mouton was a really positive surprise, a great second wine!
- Lafite was very nice and elegant, but not a big wine, mind you Lafite has always been more elegant than powerful.
- Pontet Canet made fantastic wine as well! It is a shame they claim that they are organic, when the entire Bordeaux knows that they are not. The horses looked nice though ploughing the fields between the vines while we tasted the wines. It felt a bit too much hard work to prove a point
- Vieux Chateau Certan – they made a round, elegant, powerful wine with great freshness! 2011 will be like 1988 and 1983, both great vintages for VCC.
- Latour was a classic, depending on the price, it can be a good one to buy though.
- La Mission Haut Brion
- Haut Brion – Yes I know this is controversial, but La Mission HB performed far better than HB itself, which was a great wine, but I was expecting better. Too much extraction.
- I know you will think I am crazy, but d’Armailhac was astonishingly good! It will be in my Best Buys list as well.
- Evangile – Very good effort, but with 94% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc, the wine was obviously very soft and elegant, not over extracted. You can feel that the wine making of Lafite (who own it) is shining through.
- Figeac – It is an elegant wine, not over extracted, a very pleasant already with good complexity. Makes you think.
- La Conseillante – another good example what elegant wine making can do!
- Pichon Baron – Baron beat Comtesse this year! (-:
- Pichon Comtesse
- Grad Puy Lacoste
- Giscours – a very open and soft wine despite 75% of Cabernet Sauvignon and only 20% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. A real delight, but has good fruit, flesh and acidity!
- Lynch Bages – it was nice, but I was hoping better structure.
Best buys reds: not in price order as I don’t know them yet
Phelan Segur – fantastic effort for a low price!!!
Carmes Haut Brion – an estate to watch! Recently bought for €14M, in full explosion! Haut Brion was outbid and now they are biting their tongue!
Chateau Grande Murailles – 2ha only, but what a great wine, 100% Merlot.
Chateau Bellefont Bellecier St Emilion Grand Cru Classe
Ormes de Pez
Malescot St Exupery
Dry White wine – 2011 is a great white wine vintage
- Haut Brion Blanc – only 6×420 cases will be made. Opulent, yet elegant with great acidity, already full of fruit, really pleasant drink and will age very well!
- La Clarte de Haut Brion – great value for money!
- Cos d’Estournel Blanc
- Pavillon Blanc de Margaux
1.-2. I can’t choose between Yquem and Fargues. Both were fantastic, Fargues a bit fresher than Yquem. Yquem had less acidity and hence felt a bit more opulent, which for me is not necessarily a good thing. I wold recommend to buy Fargues as the price will be a lot less and the wine is very much the same. Nevertheless 2011 will be a similar vintage to that of the now legendary 1967 (the only top wine produced in my birth year).
Chateaux Margaux – lean, acidic, short – I wasn’t the only one who thought that way!
Petit Cheval – especially when the big wine was the best of the vintage for me!
La Mission Haut Brion Blanc – no depth, I expected a lot more fireworks than this!
Chateau de Pez – the wine might have been faulty, because it was pretty undrinkable.
Montrose – maybe I didn’t understand it, but it didn’t do it for me, too over-extracted and uninteresting. After 20minutes it got a bit better, but I was expecting a lot more from this wine.
Kirwan – something was simply wrong with the wine and the owners refused to admit it despite being told by several people.
If you like fruit bombs:
Troplong Mondot – 14.5-15.5% alcohol (mind you it was 16% in 2010) – a fruit bomb, not my style, but I am sure Parker and Wine Spectator will give it a huge note, because when you taste it amongst 150 other wines, it certainly stands out. No more than one glass for me.
The joke of the vintage:
Haut Brion bought an estate in St Emilion Grand Cru Classe and they renamed it “Chateau Quintus” and the second wine is called: “Le Dragon de Quintus”. I haven’t seen the label, but they might as well print it in Chinese only. Coincidently we are in the year of the Dragon as well!!!
The wines are nothing to talk about.
Gossip (or shall I say insider trading)
There are a couple of interesting gossips that I would go to jail for if I were a trader in the Financial Industry, but in the wine world it is all a lot lighter. So call me if you want to have some investment opportunities in addition to the 2011 vintage!
I wish you all a great day and think of us if you would like to get some 2011 Bordeauxs or other wines for that matter.