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2011 Bordeaux En Primeur – A Vintage of Variation

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Recently returned from Bordeaux’s En Primeur tasting, the La Bergère Team’s overall impressions of the 2011s, are that the difficult vintage has resulted in a significant range in quality from across the region’s vineyards.

Chateau SoutardThe unnaturally warm and dry spring was followed by a cold and wet summer that left Bordeaux winemakers with a challenge on their hands. Many Châteaux have risen to this challenge producing perfectly balanced wines with an abundance of fruit and elegant tannins. On the other hand, certain communes have struggled, especially those characterised by soils with less effective water retention or those particularly affected by the spring droughts. In these instances, over-extraction of lower-than-normal yields has resulted in dry, harshly tannic wines lacking in fruit.

Wines that particularly impressed our team included Château Margaux, its fine-grained tannins and graceful finish perfectly upholding the Château’s reputation for great wines. Pavillion Blanc stood out as being particularly fresh and lively – 2011’s cool summer lending itself well towards highly acidic and successful white wines.

Other Left Bank wines of interest were Gruaud Larose, d’Armailhac, Beychevelle, Branaire Ducru and Pichon Comtesse de Lalande.

Moving across to the Right Bank, we found the wines here to be more consistent in their quality. Cheval Blanc has produced an excellent first and second wine. Figeac, Canon La Gaffelière and Troplong Mondot also caught our attention and are worthy of a mention.

In conclusion, 2011 has produced some wonderful wines, though this is a vintage where careful selection is of the essence.

Despite general optimism towards the vintage’s quality, the topic of pricing provoked many an anxious conversation with merchants voicing their desire for an affordable campaign. We do feel that this vintage will only succeed if the prices are right. Following the two epic vintages of 2009 and 2010, it’s certain that the quality of 2011 will not compete and therefore it must be the price that attracts consumers to this vintage.

Though no direct indication on pricing has been revealed, the general word from Châteaux representatives is that 2011 En Primeur prices will be released quickly (in comparison to last year’s drawn out affair). We expect to start receiving prices in the next few weeks.

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Katie Heriot Maitland
6th April 2012 

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