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2011 Bordeaux Vintage Report by Professor Denis Dubourdieu - 19th March 2012
By Tom Gearing (Director) - Cult Wines Ltd -

With our annual trip to Bordeaux for the 2011 En Primeur tastings around the corner we will be switching our focus onto this year’s wines over the next few weeks. The selling season is expected to start a lot sooner than the previous two vintages, with rumours of the first release of first growths due in mid to late April. This will be welcome news for negociants, merchants and collectors alike that were frustrated with the long and drawn out en primeur seasons of 2009 and 2010.

We are pleased to present to our clients for download the 2011 vintage report by Professor Denis Dubourdieu.

‘Denis Dubourdieu is all at once a scientist, a vineyard owner and a wine maker. Educated as an agronomist, an Śnology Professor at the University of Bordeaux since 1987, he has concentrated his research studies on yeasts, aromas and colloids.

He is considered as one of the top specialist in the winemaking process and the ageing of white wines. Nevertheless the work of his team has also greatly contributed to deepening our knowledge of red wines aromas.

Simultaneously, Denis Dubourdieu runs the family vineyards. He is also a consultant to numerous wine producers in France and abroad such as Cheval Blanc and Haut-Bailly.’ Courtesy of


Summary of Vintage Report:

Weather conditions in 2011 were abnormal and made it a difficult vintage to predict. The strange weather allowed for some excellent dry white wines as well as some very good Sauternes and Barsacs. The reds, whilst not homogenous, produced varied results but there were still some magnificent wines produced on both banks despite the unevenness.

  • Exceptionally early flowering in Mid-May, induced by summerlike temperatures in Spring.

  • The first two conditions that determine the quality of a good red wine vintage in Bordeaux, i.e. quick, early flowering and the beginning of water stress at fruit set thanks to hot, dry weather, were fully met by mid-June.

  • Whole grape bunches were burnt by 40 °C temperatures in late June – Cabernet Sauvignon suffered the heaviest losses.

  • Mid-Véraison occurred two weeks ahead of time in line with early flowering.

  • Slow, uneven ripening of red wine grapes during a slightly warmer than average, but much rainier month of August than usual, followed by a particularly hot, dry September.

  • Full ripening of the various varieties thanks to sufficiently dry months of August and September, but without excessive heat, was only partially satisfied.

  • An early but extended harvest.

  • Whites benefitted from early ripening because of a warm spring rather than a hot summer, the cool ripening period allowing for beautiful acidity and bright aromatics.

  • Merlot grapes from clay and limestone are impressive, but those from gravel soils, sandy or silt soil were not as good.

  • The majority of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are of very good quality but volumes were unfortunately low.

  • Sweet white wines experienced a burst of noble rot which is very rare.

Overall Denis Dubordieu believes the 2011 vintage has produced ‘Astonishing dry white wines, less even quality for red wines than in 2009 or 2010, but many excellent and great Sauternes and Barsac.

If you would like to find out more about En Primeur or the 2011 vintage please get in touch today with one of our team on 020 8332 9386.


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