The harlequin vintage: video reporting on Bordeaux 2011

The harlequin vintage… in videos. Check for further postings over the next few days! 

You will soon be able to go directly to my notes by clicking on various appellation links once I get all my notes online on Bordeaux 2011, but a word on how “harlequin” this vintage is. First off, because of the varied weather, grape bunches did not uniformly ripen, so there is a reference to the harlequin costumes duringcarnival season in Europe… Nice metaphor which I got from Jean Rene Matignon at Château Pichon Longueville Baron.

Harlequin in the same sense in that quality varied as well as colors of grapes in bunches. It was rather hard to pick an appellation that did better. Perhaps it is safe to say that dry whites excelled overall better than dry reds.  But then among the reds, it is more difficult to choose. The Pomerols perhaps were the most homogenous, but Petrus was notably weak. I had a slightly harder time in Margaux than I did in the northern Medoc, but throughout there were variations in quality. Even many of the better wines were marked by some hard tannin on the finish. The worst had too much dryness on the finish. Why? It seems that this was hardly a vintage where the grape pips ripened well.  The key was not to extract too much tannin from the pips, but rather from the skins.

In this above video with Canadian wine specialist Jessica Harnois, we briefly address the reds and whites from Pessac Leognan, tasted blind. In subsequent tastings, at Haut Brion, at Margaux and elsewhere, the notion that the dry whites did better than the dry reds was reinforced.

A wine to buy in 2011: amazingly 100% new oak, and not one note of over extraction or drying tannins. Bravo!

Some of my favorite reds included Calon Segur -pictured above – Pontet Canet and Vieux Chateau Certan. I did not like wines that had excessively drying tannins and cannot understand why some estates tried to extract too much tannin from the pips and then add too much high toast oak. Why some did rather boggles the mind… Why some estates continued to extract heavily also boggles the mind. So, in short, white Bordeaux was rather fine, even though a few were flabby, and same goes for Sauternes and Barsac, although – there too – there were a few flabby and even listless wines. I recently James Suckling’s notes and scores and have to agree with his putting several whites at the very top of his ratings. When I visited Haut Brion, for example, I was more impressed with the whites there than with the reds. Same goes for Chateau Margaux, to take another lofty example, with perhaps one of the best ever Pavillion Blancs I have ever had… Stay tuned!

3 Responses to “The harlequin vintage: video reporting on Bordeaux 2011” (Leave a Comment)

  1. Jack Bulkin says:

    It sounds like my few remaining verticals (Larcis Ducasse and Malescot St. Exupery will be coming to an abrupt end.

  2. tnx for your infos, i really appreciate your blog!

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