Friday, June 22, 2012

2011 Bordeaux En Primeur

I don't buy much French wine. There is so much good Australian (and New Zealand) wine to try it's hardly  worthwhile struggling through the complicated Appellation d'origine Controlee (AOC) labeling to find a French one that may be OK and value for money. And usually the 'really good stuff' is very expensive.
But the strong Australian dollar has made imported wine a lot cheaper in the last year or so, so there has been much more on offer. We have seen French Sauvignon Blanc from the Touraine region of the Loire Valley for $15 in our supermarket. And under screw cap no less!
One of my wine contacts is offering 2011 Bordeaux En Primeur ie. wine made in late 2011 and still in the barrel. You pay half now and half just prior to delivery, a couple of years from now.
Here are a few examples with their tasting notes.

Chateau Margaux Premier Grand Cru Classe

Administrator Paul Pontallier is nearly embarrassed to explain the amazing success of the 2011 Chateau Margaux, a candidate for wine of the vintage. With the harvest occurring between September 5-20, it was the smallest crop in over twenty years as yields were cut significantly by the drought. The berries were tiny. Moreover, analytically, the 2011 has a higher level of concentration as well as tannins than the 2009. A blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, only 38% of the harvest made it into the grand vin. The wine offers an inky/purple color, barely noticeable sweet tannin, and a beautiful nose of creme de cassis, spring flowers and lead pencil shavings backed up by fresh acids and good overall structure. This medium to full-bodied effort possesses tremendous personality and character. It rivals what they achieved in both 2010 and 2009, which is virtually impossible to contemplate given the quality of those two vintages.

Chateau Ausone St. Emillion Grand Cru Classe

Not surprisingly, Alain Vauthier’s 2011 Ausone is one of the greatest wines he has produced. I know this sounds impossible, but it is the reason why I spend so much time tasting and reflecting on what is in front of me. The 2011 could turn out to be better than his 2009 – sacre bleu! Probably the wine of the vintage, the 2011 exhibits a murky, inky, blue/purple color as well as an extraordinary nose of creme de cassis, plum sauce, crushed rocks (primarily chalk), acacia flowers and hints of graphite, truffles and damp forest floor. The riveting aromatics are followed by a wine that does not let the taster down in the mouth. Full-bodied with extraordinary purity, oozing richness and well-integrated velvety tannins, acidity, oak and alcohol, this is another superb achievement by Vauthier from this phenomenal site on the decomposed limestone hillsides of St.-Emilion. Possibly the longest-lived wine of the vintage, it should evolve for 30-40 years.

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild Pauillac 1er Cru

A blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot (harvested between September 3-21), the 2011 Lafite Rothschild came in at 12.6% natural alcohol (considerably lower than in 2010 and 2009). Exhibiting a deep ruby/purple color, lots of crushed rock, red and black currant, forest floor and underbrush characteristics, moderate tannin and medium body, it is built somewhat along the lines of the 1999 and 2001.

All sound very attractive.
And the prices?
Chateau Margaux Premier Grand Cru Classe: $1000 a bottle.
Chateau Ausone St. Emillion Grand Cru Classe: $1489 a bottle.
Chateau Lafite-Rothschild Pauillac 1er Cru: $1175 a bottle.
Sorry, but I don't think so!

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