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Vintage 2010 was always going to be an interesting vintage, hot on the heels of two remarkable and widely acclaimed vintages in 2008 and 2009. These previous vintage heralded a new era in buying with strong demand for wines internationally from new clientele in Asia and the growing investment trade, in the form of "wine investment funds, all reacting to the widely reported ratings from many wine critic's of the "vintage of the century" and "Believe the hype". The result was a significant increases in the costs of the wines and plenty of competition.
So the 2010 vintage, well it's still ever early on in the but the earlier wine critic's reviews are showing that whilst this is not the same bigger fruitier wines of 2008 and 2009, they are still a exceptional year for reds, but more in keeping with the 2000, 1990, 1986 and 1961 vintages. The right bank wines from St. Emilion tended to stand out along with the Sauternes. Whilst on the left Bank St. Marguax certainly was the pick. The whole vintage can be characterised by those that put in the work both in the vineyard, selection of the grapes "only the best", picked at the optimum time and paid attention to finishing the wine inline with the vintage characteristics certain produced remarkable wines.
The big stand out for all of those that visited Primeur's week, was the surprise at the "min-blowing" dry whites (to quote James Suckling). Certain one of the better vintages in the last 28 years for bordeaux whites and Sauternes.
Many factors go into the mix when creating the perfect wine from terroir through to climate and winemaking styles with each chateau approaching it slightly differently. The weather for the main growing season started out early with warmer than usual conditions, moving into one of the driest in memory. The cools nights helped maintain the acidities and perfumes in the grapes and, therefore gave this quality to the wines.
The exception this year is that we can expect lower prices than 2009 and wines that will age, but with the tendency to drink a little earlier.
Robert Parker on Bordeaux 2011 En Primeur "The bottom line is that the vintage is better than I expected"
Robert Parker posted his initial impressions on Mark's Squire's forum (erobertparker.com) about the Bordeaux 2011 en primeur vintage.
“...just landed in Paris where the weather is more like summer than spring... 10 days immersed tasting 2011s was more fun than I thought. Despite the unusually mediocre summer, the wines are ripe, deeply colored, very aromatic, generally quite pure, medium weight, and with higher acids than the two great years of 2009 and 2010.
A complicated vintage to navigate...irregular, but very rewarding to those who got it right, seems most consistent in Pomerol, then St Emilion, but the prestigious AOCs of the Medoc have done well. Graves is probably the most inconsistent, but the St Estephes that were hailed on 1st September, are lighter than normal.
The petits chateaux range from wonderful successes to disappointing, but overall I am thrilled by the hundreds of delicious and inexpensive Bordeaux emerging from the region.
I need to reflect and digest volumes of notes, but I think the vintage may be close to both 2008 and 2001 in overall quality...quantities are smallish....the big question is pricing...I could see a modest futures market if prices were slashed ,but I fear the price reductions will be far less than consumers and the trade desire...Bordeaux is still riding a rather astonishing bubble, but 2010s, in spite of their exceptional quality, are frozen in the pipeline....which should be a message to be careful pricing 2011s...there appears to be little or no 2009s left at the chateau level although this is impossible to verify.
The bottom line is that the vintage is better than I expected....”
Decanter on Bordeaux 2011 En Primeur "Bordeaux 2011: Growing confidence in quality"
Tuesday 3 April 2012 by Adam Lechmere (Decanter Magazine)
“As En Primeur week gets into its first full day there is growing confidence that the vintage is a good deal better than expected.
Most winemakers and critics agree that quality is mixed: those properties with the money and manpower to work the vineyards, and practice strict sorting once the grapes had been picked, have produced a fine classic wine.
‘The best wines have lovely freshness, and a relatively traditional structure,’ critic Richard Bampfield MW said, adding that in the lesser wines, ‘fruit and mouthfeel is the issue.’
‘It is a classic vintage with a nice level of tannin and alcohol, good balance and fresh acidity,’ Gabriel Vialard, technical director at Chateau Haut-Bailly said.
Jean-Christophe Mau of Chateau Brown said it was a difficult year, 'a vintage of extremes, with stress in the vineyard and tiny volumes'.
'2007 is our reference point,' he said. 'It is not as good as 2002.'
As with all ‘difficult’ vintages it is the bigger, wealthier properties that have coaxed the best they could from a summer that was far from ideal.
Roederer-owned Chateau Pichon Lalande, for example, had ‘some green and brown berries,’ managing director Sylvie Cazes said. They dealt with that problem by sorting rigorously in the vineyard.
As Cazes conceded, ‘those with the most resources made the best wines.’
There was another factor: the willingness to take risks. As the cool August gave way to a splendid September, the temptation to bring in the grapes and avoid any danger of rot was strong.
Those like Pichon technical director Philippe Moreau, who pushed for a later harvest brought in riper grapes, were ‘flirting with rot’, as Roederer joint managing director Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon approvingly put it.
Wine merchants too are overcoming reservations, with Berry Brothers' wine director Simon Staples tweeting with enthusiasm.
‘I’m very positive,’ Simon Davies of London merchants Fine & Rare said. ‘There’s a question mark over some of the tannins and the fruit character but there is this refreshing acidity.’
Another question mark of course hangs over the issue of price. Every indication this year is that the chateaux are going to release early, in order to get the campaign well under way before Vinexpo starts in Hong Kong at the end of May.
Others, like Alain Vauthier at Chateau Ausone reckon the 'classified Growths, including First Growths, will be out within a fortnight.'
There are also indications that proprietors are aware that only a reasonably-priced vintage will sell this year. ‘We are very price-conscious,’ Cazes said.
She added that she was confident that the three major markets – Europe, the US and Asia – would be buying enthusiastically this year. The fact that the 5000 visitors to En Primeur proved there was interest.
Another factor that has galvanised the Bordelais is Robert Parker's encouraging noises about the vintage.”