Friday, 27 April 2012

2011 Bordeaux - Wine Advocate scores

Posted by Tom Jenkins, Bordeaux Buyer
Chateau owners praying for a miracle may be disappointed. Neal Martin’s notes are trickling on to, and early indications show that the notes are somewhat lukewarm. There are a few exceptions like the magnificent VCC (96-98/100), but generally scores are conservative. We will have to see what the big man does later this afternoon, but Neal’s measured reaction to the wines should be echoed. 2011 has produced lots of very good wines, but Bordeaux has come back down to earth with a bump after the outstanding 2009 and 2010 vintages. It’s time for Chateaux to price their wine correctly, i.e. cheaper than any physical vintage, and allow us to sell these wines to good old fashioned drinkers.

As Bordeaux embarks on an unofficial four day weekend, there is plenty of time for everyone to digest the Wine Advocate notes. We don’t expect much activity for the next few days, so time to ponder Neal’s thoughts... Please find some highlights below.

2011 Chateau Leoville Barton 93-95
The Leoville Barton has a very elegant bouquet that takes time to unfurl. There are lovely notes of blackberry, dark plum and a touch of graphite. It unfurls beautifully if you lend it five minutes. The palate is very well balanced with fine tannins, good substance, very elegant and refined with a natural, slightly earthy finish that is long in the mouth. Superb persistency – this is one of the top Saint Julien wines. Tasted April 2012.

2011 Chateau Providence 91-93
Tasted at JP Moueix, the Providence 2011 has a precocious bouquet with dark cherries, crème de cassis and a touch of fig and apricot. Complex and exuberant, this is a more modern style of Pomerol but it retains fine delineation and focus. The palate is medium bodied with rounded tannins, a sense of sumptuousness and sensuality. Very well balanced, its red fruit caress the mouth and linger long. Oh là là! Tasted April 2012.

2011 Vieux Chateau Certan 96-98
The Vieux Chateau Certan was cropped between 6th and 7th of September and from 14th until 20th September. That’s what you’ll read everywhere, although I was filming Alexandre when he was picking the final Cabernet around the 29th September! Cropped at 37hl/ha, it is a blend of 70% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon and (yay!) 29% Cabernet Franc. It delivers 13.6 degrees alcohol with a total acidity of 3.5gms/L and an IPT of 83. After the Cabernet Francless 2009 and 2010, this is more what I consider to be a classic VCC nose and as Alexandre, unlike those previous vintages that gives you everything up front, this is far more intellectual and enigmatic with hints of mineral laden fruit, limestone and small dark cherries. It is beautifully defined yet distant. The palate is succinctly balanced with crisp acidity, exceptional balance and superb backbone. There is an undercurrent of masculinity, a saline tincture, crushed stone and a touch of dried herbs and yet these are just fleeting hints. It has enormous length and it is one of the very few that could be on the same ethereal plateau as the 2009 and 2010 and perhaps one day...even better. Tasted April 2012.

2011 La Chenade 90-92
The La Chenade is a blend of 80% Merlot picked between 9th and 16th September and 20% picked on 19th September aged in 30% new oak. The nose is very fresh with a Burgundy-like purity and effervescence. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins, a lovely core of sweet red fruit laced with new oak, leading to a dark chocolate tinged finish. This is a top class La Chenade that could be as fine as the 2010. Another great wine courtesy of Denis Durantou. Tasted April 2012.

2011 Chateau l’Eglise-Clinet 94-96
Tasted at the property, Denis Durantou cannot really do wrong these days. The l’Eglise-Clinet 2011 was cropped between 12th and 15th September and the Cabernet Franc on 24th September, a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc being aged in 80% new oak. The nose is very elegant bouquet once left to unfurl over 10 minutes. It offers dark cherry fruits with touches of cassis and minerals: all very refined and poised. The palate is very well balanced with great precision on the entry. The Merlot is very expressive this year. The tannins are supremely fine and the finish linear and strict, offering traces of briary and minerals. There is a lovely femininity and sense of drinkability about this harmonious l’Eglise-Clinet that should be a worthy follow-up to the heavenly 2010. Tasted April 2012.

2011 La Petite Eglise 89-91
The Deuxieme Vin of La Petite Eglise is pure Merlot picked on 16th September that is aged in 50% new barrels. It has a refined bouquet with pure blackberry and raspberry with well-integrated creamy new oak that does not impede upon the fruit profile. With time it offers a touch of cedar that is very attractive. The palate is medium-bodied with impressive balance and a silky smooth texture. It has some oak to subsume so it will need 3-4 years in bottle, though it does not have the tension or persistency one can find in the 2009 or 2010. Still, this is very fine and probably will be good value. Tasted April 2012.

2011 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 93-95
The 2011 Lafite-Rothschild is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot with an alcohol level of 12.6%. It has wonderful purity on the nose with blackberry, cassis, raspberry, a touch of graphite and an attractive floral note. It is feminine and beguiling. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins on the entry, crisp acidity, very harmonious and alluring with blackberry, raspberry and a saline touch towards the long caressing finish. It is a more sensual Lafite that I was expecting, with great persistency and poise. Tasted April 2012.

2011 Chateau Pichon Baron 93-95
A blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Merlot picked from 12th September until 28th or something (according to a vague Mr. Seely.) It sports a ripe, more extrovert nose than some of its neighbours, with lush blackberry, boysenberry, a touch of cherry liqueur and underneath, typical Pauillac traits of graphite and tobacco. Leaving the glass for five minutes it unwinds nicely and shows great purity. The palate is medium-bodied with firm tannins on the entry, good grip and weight, a 2011 with real substance and chutzpah. The more I leave this in my glass, the more I like it. Very harmonious with layers of ripe blackberry and a touch of white pepper, the finish forgetting it is 2011 and not 2009. This is an outstanding Pichon Baron for the vintage. Tasted three times with consistent notes. Tasted April 2012.

2011 Chateau Pontet Canet 94-96
A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, the 2011 Pontet Canet has a voluptuous bouquet with saturated dark cherry fruit, crème de cassis and a touch of blueberry with underlying minerality. It is exuberant, almost ostentatious at first, but it begins to calm down with time. The palate is medium-bodied with firm structured cloaked by layers of ripe black fruit infused with minerals and graphite. It is a quite a strict Pontet Canet underneath what is a hell of a lot of fruit for a 2011. The finish is composed with a touch of citrus fruit towards the finish. Amazing that such a good wine comes from 90% of the crop. Tasted April 2012.

2011 Chateau Haut-Brion 94-96
The Haut Brion is a blend of 34.8% Merlot, 18.9% Cabernet Franc and 46.3% Cabernet Sauvignon. The bouquet has a little more thrust than the La Mission with a little more opulence, although perhaps not the same degree of clarity and showing slightly more alcohol (but nothing to get concerned about.) It has good weight, firm rigid tannins and a weightier framework than La Mission. It is concentrated and generous with very good focus, a crescendo of flavours towards the finish and very good grip. A masterful Haut-Brion that is more voluminous than La Mission at present. Tasted April 2012.

2011 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte 92-94
The Smith Haut Lafitte is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc aged in 60% new oak. The harvest (for the red) was between 15th September and finishing with the Cabernet Sauvignon and 30th September and it represents 39% of the crop. It has a lifted bouquet with ripe blackberry, cassis, black olive and fruits de mer with fine delineation. With continued aeration there is just a hint of violet. The palate is beautiful, very dense and concentrated with superb delineation and wonderful purity and minerality towards the finish. It is very long in the mouth. Excellent. N.B. This does not include the full vin de presse. Tasted April 2012.

All notes by Neal Martin for