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The Cercle Rive Droite Tasting this year was at Ch. Grand Barrail. This is a great tasting to get a feel for the Right Bank because it presents wines from all the major appellations and wines from many different quality levels from Bordeaux Superieur to Grand Cru Classe.
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It was our third tasting on the Right Bank and the wines were similar to those we had tasted elsewhere.
Over the last two years, I have found that the wines presented at this tasting have become increasingly more and more alcoholic and over-extracted. In previous years, I recommended the wines that took a more elegant approach and tried to preserve freshness and keep the alcohol levels down. For example, in the 2009, I really liked Ch. Rol Valentin and in the 2010 Vintage tasting I really liked Ch. Rol Valentin and Ch. Quinault L’Enclos.
Unfortunately, there were no wines this year that met that criteria. Even wines that traditionally were able to accomplish this (like Rol Valentin, Quinault L’Enclos etc.) were big, alcoholic, and tannic and lacking in their normal elegance and balance. For me – this is not a great right bank year and I would buy with caution – especially if prices are high. I would buy back vintages instead (but I guess that is not a surprise!).
For my full post on the 2009 Le Cercle Rive Droite tasting go here.
For my full post on the 2010 Le Cercle Rive Droite tasting go here.
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The St-Emilion en primeur tasting this year was held at Ch. Soutard.
It was a tough year overall for these wines. They were all very ripe and almost candied with lots of body and alcohol and mouth drying tannins. All of them had nice refreshing acidity. In general, the strong extracted style of St. Emilion did not play out well in this difficult vintage. The best wines were the ones that reigned in the ripeness and managed to tame the tannins to a manageable level.
My wine of the tasting: Ch. Pavie Macquin. It was dark and concentrated and looked huge but was surprisingly light on the palate with refreshing acidity. Long finish.
Other wines that showed well: Ch. Larcis Ducasse, Ch. Clos Fourtet, and Ch. Troplong Mondot.
The rest of the wines were adequate but did not live up to the quality standards of previous vintages. Overall – these are not wines I would recommend. The tannins make them not suitable for early drinking and the unbalanced structure of the wines make their ability to age questionable.
We spent Day two of the en primeur tastings on the Right Bank and there were more than 10 tastings within a few minutes drive of St. Emilion.
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Which way to go?
We could not decide – so we tried to make it to as many tastings as we could. We managed six:
Notes on each tasting to follow . . .
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Our first tasting of the 2011 vintage was at Planete Bordeaux. It is located on the highway to St. Emilion just east of Bordeayx. All of the wines at the tasting were either Bordeaux or Bordeaux Superieur. There were about 120+ wines in total.
Bordeaux and Bordeaux Sup. wines make an set – with wide gulfs in both quality and price. Most Chateaux make simple and fruity wines that match there designation and price the wines accordingly. Other owners are trying to transcend there appellations and make bigger more structured wines that can command higher prices – which they then have no qualms about charging. Personally, I prefer the simple fruity wines from these appellations.
My personal preference for the simple and fruity wines was confirmed in this tough vintage. Wines that were made in that style showed better than the more extracted wines which had ‘debilitating’ tannins that were unripe. These tannins were so bad that your mouth stopped working after tasting about 10-15 wines. After tasting over 100 of these wines – we found it hard to hold a conversation!
This seems to be a tough vintage with unripe tannins that were hard to control. If this tasting is evidence of the quality of the vintage – this is probably a vintage I would recommend staying away from. I will have to confirm this at future tastings during the week. Stay tuned.
Nonetheless, regardless of the vintage issues and the stylistic issues – there were a number of wines that showed well:
- Ch. Parenechere
- Ch. Pierrail
- Ch. Sainte-Barbe
- Ch. Beau Rivage
- Ch. Bel-Air (the one from St. Ferme)
- Ch. Lamothe Vincent
- Ch. Marsan
- Ch. Cru Cantemerle
- Domaine de Courteillac
- La Fleur Fomeyre