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Bordeaux 2011 Releases Update 07/05 - 14/05 - 14th May 2012
By Tom Gearing (Director) - Cult Wines Ltd -

Four of the best wines of the 2011 vintage have been released in the last week, and at prices which suggest the Chateau have thought carefully about pricing the 2011’s at reasonable levels.

For this year’s campaign we will only be recommending wines that we feel meet our investment grade criteria.

1) Pontet Canet 2011 @ £725 per 12 - 5 cases available

Represents one of the superstars of the vintage, and with allocations down 30% on 2010 it’s been released at an extremely attractive price. With value proving difficult to find for 2011 Bordeaux, this is one of the best wines of the Left Bank and continues to ooze First Growth quality at a fantastic price level. Cheaper than any other physical vintage.

Robert Parker Jr.

Once again proprietor Alfred Tesseron has produced a wine of first-growth potential. One of the superstars of the vintage, Pontet-Canet's 2011 exhibits an opaque purple color and a glorious bouquet of incense, subtle toast and copious quantities of creme de cassis. There is a floral underpinning, decent acidity and ripe tannin to this full-bodied effort. Big, rich, round and generously endowed, it should drink well for 20-25+ years.

Score: 93-95

Tim Atkin

A lighter wine than 2010's brilliant effort, but the team at this stellar fifth growth has interpreted the vintage with honesty and no little skill. Perfumed, serious and structured, with flavours of fruitcake and vanilla and fine tannins. Late picking and rigorous selection was the key to success here, confirming Pontet-Canet's status as a super second in all but name. 12+ years.

Score: 96


2) Lynch Bages 2011 @ £725 per 12 - 15 cases available

2011 Lynch Bages is always a must have even if you are only looking to pick up a few cases of En Primeur. Alongside Pontet Canet, this is a wine to buy every year and at this price is also one of the cheapest available vintages of Lynch Bages on the market.

The 2011 is cheaper than all of the previous 15 vintages with the exception of the 87pt 2007! Lynch Bages has an enormous global following and the 2011 provides astonishing value for a wine of First Growth quality. The 2011 has been most likened to the 1996 (RPJ 93pts) which is currently trading at £1,350 per case (12x75cl), nearly double the price of the 2011.

Robert Parker Jr.

Another strong effort produced under the administration of Jean-Charles Cazes (the son of Jean-Michel Cazes, who spent decades building Lynch Bages into one of the most popular Bordeaux estates), the 2011 boasts an inky/purple hue in addition to copious aromas of black currants, incense, forest floor and ink. Deep, rich, medium to full-bodied and layered with supple tannins as well as the vintage-s freshness and vibrancy, it should age easily for 20 years.

Score: 90-93

Tim Atkin

Like Pontet-Canet, this is a château that continues to make a mockery of the 1855 classification. There's much more Merlot in the blend than usual because it suffered less from the drought than the other varieties, according to Jérôme Le Roux, and 75% new oak because of the "tannic structure". The result is a rich, hedonistic red blend, bursting with blackcurrant and liquorice flavours and dense, yet supple tannins. 10+ years.

Score: 95

3) Ch. Margaux 2011 @ £3,750 per 12 - 5 cases available

This is one of the best wines of the vintage and undoubtedly one of the finer efforts from the first growths in 2011. Offered by the Chateau at a price that represents good value, it’s available at half the price of the 2010 and 2009, which Parker believes it rivals in terms of quality which is quite exceptional given the disparity in terms of quality between the vintages.

Robert Parker Jr.

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.

Score: 94-96+

James Suckling

Very elegant and ethereal with ultra-fine tannins and delicate fruit. Full body. I love the floral and aromatic quality to this. Then the tannins kick in. This has more tannins than 2010, according to technical director Paul Pontallier, and others, but you can't tell when tasting it.

Score: 94-95

4) Pavillon Rouge du Margaux 2011 @ £875 per 12 - 5 cases available

Our favourite second wine of Bordeaux 2011, alongside Chapelle d’Ausone, and released this year at a price that should suit. It’s the best priced available vintage of Pavillon and one of the best scored, should make for an interesting prospect. #

Robert Parker Jr.

The 2011 Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux is one of the finest examples of this cuvee I have ever tasted. It hit 13% natural alcohol and represents only 28% of the harvest. This blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc reveals more structure than most vintages in addition to lots of dark berry fruit intermixed with hints of wood smoke, forest floor and spring flowers. Very pure with striking minerality as well as a long finish, it should drink well for two decades or more.

Score: 91-93

Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion were both excellent when tasted at the Chateaux last month with LMHB just edging its sibling in our opinion.

They have both been released today and at significantly cheaper levels than the two previous vintages, they are clearly amongst the very best wines of 2011 and the very low production levels of just 4, 100 cases of the LMHB (down 31%) & 7,600 (down 28%) of Haut Brion will ensure they are highly sought after stock.

5) Château La Mission Haut Brion 2011 @ £2,150 per 12 - 4 cases available

Robert Parker Jr.

The production of the 2011 La Mission-Haut-Brion (55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Franc) was a tiny 4,100 cases, compared to 6,000 cases in 2009 and 5,100 cases in 2010. The 2011 is a big, sexy, smoky, classic La Mission displaying lots of road tar, graphite, barbecue, meats, mulberry, black currant and blueberry notes. It is full-bodied with sweet tannin as well as an expansive, fleshy style. The harvest was late in 2011 despite the fact that this micro-climate is one of the warmest and most precocious in all of Bordeaux since it is essentially in the city of Bordeaux. This brilliant wine, one of the vintage’s superstars, should drink reasonably well in 3-4 years and keep for 25 or more.

Score: 93-95

6) Chateau Haut Brion 2011 @ £3,750 per 12 - 5 cases available

Robert Parker Jr.

Like its stable mate La Mission-Haut-Brion, Haut-Brion’s 2011 production was small, only 7,600 cases, which is nearly 3,000 fewer cases than in 2009. A blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 19% Cabernet Franc, it is interesting to taste the 2011 Haut-Brion next to the more open-knit, seductive 2011 La Mission Haut-Brion. The former wine is more firm, backward and earthy with a more formidably structured style. Undeniably elegant, distinctive and original, it exhibits notes of mulberries, plums, blueberries and raspberries. Jean-Philippe Delmas told me that in many ways the 2011 reminds him of the 2008 from an aromatic and structural profile. There is plenty of tannin, and the 2011 has 25-30 years of aging potential. It may be more reminiscent of a vintage such as 1988, but it is better made as well as being the product of a far stricter selection process.

Score: 92-95

Wine Spectator by James Molesworth

Manages to harness the angularity of the vintage extremely well, almost burying the acidity in the core of cassis, black cherry skin, plum pit and maduro tobacco flavors. This is typically among the most backward wines of the vintage when young, and it's still tight and primal, but with admirable length and density already. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Tasted non-blind.

Score: 93-96

7) Chateau Clinet 2011 @ £525 per 12 - 20 cases available

One of our favourite right bank properties and one that is very much on an upwards curve in terms of quality, has continued that trend for 2011 with another very good effort from Ronan Laborde. When prices all around look very expensive, it makes wines like Clinet look unbelievable value. From an investment point of view it is cheaper than available comparable vintages and will benefit from increasing brand awareness for Clinet.

Robert Parker Jr.

Under proprietor Ronan Laborde, Clinet has returned to the high quality witnessed in 1989 and 1990 under the helmsmanship of the late Jean-Michel Arcaute. Made from a final blend of 85% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc that hit 14% natural alcohol, the inky, opaque purple-colored 2011 exhibits notes of blackberries, blueberries, espresso roast and subtle oak. Full-bodied, layered, opulent and flamboyant for a 2011, with loads of concentration and glycerin as well as a long finish, this is one of the most impressive wines of the vintage. It should drink well for two decades.

Score: 92-94

8) Chateau Calon Segur @ £415 per 12 - 15 cases available

Along with Chateau Montrose and Cos d’Estournel, Calon Segur is the third heavyweight of the St. Estephe appellation. This third growth is steeped in history and in 2011 produced one of our favourite wines of the left bank, and certainly our recommendation for best value for money. Parker scored the 2011 very well, comparatively to the ’10 and ’09, and with the unfortunate timing of the death of Madame Gasqueton it will be remembered as the last she produced.

This wine is well scored, well priced in comparison to physical vintages and represents value for money.

Robert Parker Jr.

The great Madame Denise Gasqueton, a Bordeaux icon whom I always visited early in the morning (8:15 a.m. for nearly 20 consecutive years), passed away on the first day of the 2011 harvest. The 2011 Calon-Segur is a fitting tribute to her extraordinary passion and love for this fabulous estate in the northern sector of St.-Estephe. A very strong effort (this property was untouched by the hail storm that swept through the area on September 1), it boasts an opaque purple color as well as surprisingly sweet tannin and abundant quantities of black cherry, black currant and dusty, loamy scents. Medium to full-bodied with beautifully integrated tannins and sensational purity and length, this super effort is a wonderful homage to the memory of Madame Gasqueton. Moreover, it is potentially one of the longest-lived wines of the vintage and should drink well for 25 or more years.

Score: 92-94



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