First Taste of St Emilion 2011: Bordeaux Primeurs

For sure 2011 is not another 2009 and 2010 but there are some nice wines for those that waited to pick and sorted well. I think the Merlots are particularly successful.

It was a difficult year when producers had to react on the ground. The Spring was very hot which got things off early which which saved the day at harvest time. The summer was cool but the autumn very hot but rot meant many had to harvest before perfect ripeness.

Fresh, fruity and silky with rich ripe fruit. Sensual wines, ‘des vins de plaisir’ – light but elegant . This is my overall impression for the best of the crop on tasting the range of Grand Cru Classée at Château Villemaurine in St Emilion yesterday. Generally homogenous in quality though some very different styles. When ripe the merlot gave a spherical volume on the palate and the freshness of the vintage gave a good balance.

The wine which shone out and was superior to the rest was Château Saint Georges Côte Pavie, a sure contender for a step up in classification (if they have applied, results come out in June). On to the Medoc today after the Union de Grand crus tastings at Pomerol (Beauregard) and St Emilion at Soutard. Heard that there is less homogenuity on the left bank (does that word exist in english?). Will go and see……

Here are some of my favorites;

Château Saint Georges Côte Pavie

80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet franc. Property owned by the Masson family comprising 5.50 ha vines right next door to Ausone and Pavie. Intense cassis fruit with exotic whiff of coconut. Fresh on the palate with thick silky structure of marvellous finesse and long finish. Premier Cru Classé standard without a doubt.

Château Destieux

Christian Destieux presented his 2011 which was harvested super late on 20th October. Not at all pressurised to harvest as many due to pruning by a ‘champion’ ‘tailleur’ and the elevated position of this vineyard on one of the three high points in St Emilion. Its name comes from ‘des yeux’ as apparently the view is stunning. Located out near Frombrauge near St Hippolyte. Soils are clay limestone, late ripening.

Very deep colour, aromas of rich ripe blackberry and bilberry. Intense concentrated fruit, structure, serious wine with long tannic finish. Well-balanced, the opposite of a mouthful of jam despite late ripening. Lots of juicy fruit freshness. Usual 25 hl/ha yield (very low).

Château Fleur Cardinale

Exotic ripe blackfruits, thick on the palate with delicious creamy notes.

Château l’Arrosée

Château Larcis Ducasse

Aromatic herb note with the bilberry on this perfumed nose. Velvety with good structure. Slight sour cherry on the finish.

Château Balestard La Tonnelle

Château Cap de Mourlin

Fresh mintiness, slight coconut on the nose of this voluminous well integrated wine. Long finish.

Also liked;

Château La Clotte

Blackcurrant and cream, intense flavours integrated with firm tannins. Serious well-made wine.

Château Chauvin

Château Grand Corbin Despagne


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