Tag Archives: En Primeur
When I visited our Burugndy growers and producers in November last year, writes John Melhuish, my notes were overwhelmingly positive. Time and again I wrote that we have rarely tasted such wonderfully attractive reds from barrel. Full of life or vivacité, as the growers put it. The lighter, easy style and lower alcohol of the vintage are perfect for showing the characteristics of the different terroir, which makes the vintage not unlike 2010 in that respect. ‘Très Pinot’ according to Nathalie Tollot – certainly a true reflection on what this magnificent grape can do (sorry, can you tell that I’m an enthusiast?!).
What both the red and white wines of 2011 share is a gorgeous sweetness and softness to the fruit and a super balance to all their components. On our trip around the producers, comparisons were made with many other elegant vintages like 1985, 2000 and 2007, but always the comment was “with more richness”. These are wines to drink with pleasure when young or, in the case of the premier and grand crus, watch them develop over twenty years.
So why should you buy?
We believe that we can see the demand for Burgundy continuing to grow, most particularly in the Far East; a Chinese investor purchased a domaine in Gevrey-Chambertin this year. We have seen, for various reasons and most of them positive, our customers turning increasingly to New World Pinots. However that does leave the UK market in danger of losing allocations – a situation that will take a long time to rectify, and we feel strongly that you may be missing out. The great red wines from Saint-Romain, Saint-Aubin, Auxey-Duresses and the Bourgognes from top domaines offer value equal to that of New Zealand for example. Indeed, in a vintage like this one they provide a style, finesse and potential for ageing that is still hard for the New World to replicate (of course there are exceptions).
Another important consideration is that the 2012 vintage, suffering in France from the same wet and cold summer we had, experienced a massive drop in yields and there will be severe shortages in a year’s time.
So in summary, our message must be to stock up on 2011s now. Good, age-worthy Burgundy should be a staple in everyone’s cellar, and it is getting more and more tricky to achieve this – so act now!
Nick Whittal, our Wine Training Officer, accompanied one of Tanners Buyers, Simon Jones, on a recent trip to discover more about the wines of the 2011 vintage from the Rhône Valley. Here are his initial thoughts...
While our British ‘summer’ was hovering over the Atlantic, Simon Jones and I were in the Rhône where, after a wet and uncertain start to the grape grower’s year, temperatures reached 37°C. Thankfully, the Mistral was cooling us down as well as blowing a refreshing breeze through the vineyards to the delight of many vignerons. I’ve never liked the hyped-up, so-called ‘blockbuster’ vintages, so when producers started using the words difficile, or said that it took them time to understand the 2011 vintage, I was both relieved and intrigued. Rhône 2011 was no heatwave, easy-to-make year for all, but instead, a year which simply depended on expertise and judgement.
This was my first ever outing with one of the buyers and a perfect introduction to some of the region’s most reputable producers. It’s these experienced growers and talented winemakers who consistently deliver quality in their wines, whatever the weather throws at them. And, after all the pecularities and challenges of the growing season, from Côte Rôtie in the North to Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the South, the vignerons report a successful harvest with many vines giving better yields than those of 2010. But that’s enough about vintages and yields, what were the wines like? Having tasted over 200 during the week, here are some of the highlights.
I’d never tasted such an elegant Viognier until we sampled the Condrieu “La Bonnette” made by René Rostaing. A honeyed nose of the locally renowned ‘Bergeron’ apricot variety is enticing leading you on to beautifully ripe fruit on the palate and a creamy, mineral texture. The flavour and structure profile of this wine is outstanding, so this is going to be absolutely delicious. Meanwhile, André Perret treated us to samples of some even richer Condrieu, showcasing an astonishing spectrum of flavours from grapefruit to Valencian orange; lemongrass to banoffee - sublime!
To dispel the myth that red wine from the Rhône is always powerful and heavy, look no further than the Côte Rôtie, Cuvée du Plessy, made by Gilles Barge and his son Julien. This famous appellation at the northern extreme of the Rhône Valley produces a resolutely traditional expression of Syrah, literally thousands of miles from a Barossa Valley Shiraz. Fragrant aromas of violets, geraniums and roses draw you into a silky palate of smoky bacon, black pepper and juicy damson fruit. This wine is big in terms of layers of flavours, but that perfume and spice lift the flavours out of the wine, like a sprinkle of black pepper over fresh strawberries.
There is something fascinating about the humble set-up of the Faraud family at Domaine du Cayron. There’s no fancy winery, no corporate tasting room and no line-up of a dozen wines – instead Rosaline and Sandrine pour out several samples of their brilliant Gigondas. Delicious brambly forest fruit with spice and chocolate are the order of the day in this silky wine. When you’re not treating yourself to Châteauneuf-du-Pape reds, this is another terrific wine, the 2011 of which you will be able to drink young. Well done to the Faraud sisters for protecting the vines from those ‘sangliers’!
One of my favourite visits of the whole week had to be our appointment at Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, where we received a very warm welcome from Daniel Brunier. This long established property sits just a few miles out from the quaint, touristy town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Success has been reinvested and translated here into consistently excellent wines with a firm reputation worldwide. Worth shouting about is the exciting new Mégaphones – a Côtes du Ventoux which is ripe and silky with plenty of red fruit, gentle notes of black pepper and ‘garrigues’. As well as the easy-going Pigeoulet, and the classy Télégramme, I am a huge fan of this stable’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc. Their sumptuous white displays such a perfect marriage of rich fruit, marzipan, honey, and mineral, saline freshness – weight and finesse in equal measure. The star of the show, though, was undoubtedly the wine for which this estate is famous: its red Châteauneuf-du-Pape with ripe, ‘confit’ fruit and figs. Daniel compared the 2011 with 1985, so when he asked us at the end of the tasting what else we might like to taste, well...it was a no-brainer. “You said the 1985 was similar?!” I replied. Apart from being a true delight, the comparison made perfect sense: despite the 27 year age gap, the two years shared an amazing freshness and purity, particularly redolent of so many 2011 wines we tasted.
With too many great producers and wines to mention here, you’ll have to keep an eye out for more details in our Rhône 2011 En Primeur offer that’s due for release later this autumn.
This post was posted in Rhone 2011 and was tagged with André Perret, Barge, Châteauneuf du Pape, Condrieu, Côte Rôtie, Cotes du Ventoux, Domaine du Cayron, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, En Primeur, Gigondas, Lying Abroad, Mégaphones, René Rostaing, Rhône 2011, Syrah, Télégramme
Allowing the dust (or is that hype?) to settle is often a good thing (writes Robin Torrens, one of our Fine Wine Consultants). Stephen Crosland and I enjoyed a full week of tastings from 16th – 21st April, all the way from the northern Médoc down to Sauternes.
The first thing to say is that 2011 clarets are nowhere near as bad as we’d been led to believe. This is in fact a very good, well-balanced vintage, which I felt was not far behind the 09s and 10s (quite a few of which we tasted in the châteaux we visited). Stephen agreed, when we compared separate notes, and while there were some particular stars in Pomerol, there were also some excellent wines on the Left Bank too.
It is a vintage to be careful at the cheaper end. We tasted some furry numbers at the negoçiant houses, and one or two have turned out lighter than expected. However, stalwarts such as Cissac and Tour de By have again done very well – the latter only a smidgeon behind the 2009, not quite the power of that vintage but making up for it with greater freshness and purity of fruit, a wine you can really enjoy in the mid-term. There is little doubt it pays to be in with the good winemakers, and with our experience of visiting every year, this is really paying off. Nothing that we don’t follow regularly managed to break into the ‘purchase’ list, so you’ll notice it’s a bit same-old…but these were the winners. We’re happy to leave the rest for our competitors!
The style is fresh in general, with fine tannin (not what we were expecting) and a general polish about the wines we enjoyed. My favourite areas were Saint-Julien and Pauillac. Margaux was generally ‘pretty’, Saint-Estephe more ‘structured’ (and it was very much affected by the late hail storm in September.) The top addresses made some excellent wines: Cos was very fine, Vieux-Château-Certan a contender for wine of the vintage, Pontet-Canet still improving with a luxuriously textured wine. The fruit on both Langoa-Barton and Léoville-Barton is tremendous, both will last well. Langoa wasn’t as ‘four square’ as I remember from the past, more generous in character. Léoville-Barton was fantastic in every department. Talbot was a stunner, and we hope we can get enough.
Angludet summed up the Left Bank very well for me. Delicious fruit with lovely flavour which was very supple in the mouth: yes, they will last, but because the winemakers are so up-to-speed on taming the tannins we felt that, very like the previous two vintages, you won't have to wait for years to drink them. With the price dropping back there is no reason to avoid them, providing you with some very good mid-term drinking.
The dry whites, everywhere, were simply fantastic. Surely this is the year to try them, and they really do knock New Zealand Sauvignon into a cocked hat. The Sauvignon character was usually underpinned with creamy opulent tropical flavours giving great complexity supplied by the Sémillon and sometimes Muscadelle.
Final notes: Drink your 2007s, if you haven’t tried them yet, they are absolutely super now, and we had several meals at the châteaux (it’s a hard life…) where they shone. The other vintage to approach is 2004, which has been quite awkward until recently, but is now starting to show a lovely fine, classic line with a hint of maturity creeping in, particularly in the Médoc.
You can keep an eye on the all-important prices by visiting our Bordeaux 2011 page.
Click on a thumbnail below to view my Bordeaux photo gallery...
This post was posted in Bordeaux 2011, En Primeur and was tagged with 2001, 2011 clarets, Angludet, Bordeaux, Château Léoville Barton, Château Pontet-Canet, Cissac, Cos, En Primeur, Langoa Barton, Margaux, Médoc, Pauillac, Pomerol, Robin Torrens, Saint Julien, Saint-Estephe, Sauternes, Stephen Crosland, Talbot, Tanners Wines, Tour de By, Vieux Château Certan