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Bordeaux 2011 En Primeur
C & B Bordeaux 2011 – Bulletin
April 2012 - Our Initial Thoughts
Following in the footsteps of two superb vintages, the 2011 vintage has been the source of much debate in the press these last few weeks. Following on from an intensive 8 days tasting in Bordeaux, we are pleased to see that the wines have generally exceeded our expectations, with a noticeable return to a more traditional, simpler style. Having travelled extensively throughout the region and having tasted the wines on several different occasions, please see below our initial thoughts, to help shape your views on what to buy this year.
This Bulletin is broken down into, what we feel, are useful and concise sections. Please speak with any member of the C & B Team if particular wines are of interest (see our Wishlist section below) as the Releases can be very fast moving and it is best to let us know potential interests in advance, where possible.
This is certainly the more variable or “ heterogene ” part of Bordeaux this year but in general we are finding the wines better than initially expected. From the second rank wines and above, comparisons are to be made with 2004, 2006 and 2008 and in some cases, as good as 2001. Yields are again variable with Lafite producing at normal levels but very low yields at Branaire-Ducru for example. We have found the lowest yields to be in St-Estèphe due to the hail that fell on September 1st.
We are finding the style to be classical (i.e. leaner like 2006 rather than the densely packed fruit of 2005) and straightforward with tannin levels and acidity similar to 2010 but perhaps with slightly less fruit. The catchwords we are using to describe these wines are purity, elegance and freshness where the winemaker needed to translate his ingredients with care and sensitivity and, in particular to avoid over-extraction.
Definitely the sweet spot for this vintage in our opinion. The famously understated Christian Moueix believes his wines to be at least as good as 2001, which is very encouraging indeed. At our tasting with the Ets.J P Moueix team on Saturday we felt that Hosanna and Trotanoy stood out in particular but the general level of quality at the tasting was very high. As a result, we are all very excited about the prospect of tasting with François & Louis Mitjavile and also at Château Rocheyron , our new exclusivity.
A brief word about the white wines. We have tasted very little so far but from what we have tasted and from what we gather, both the sweet and dry whites will be exceptional .
For many, this will be the key that dictates whether to buy or not. We will be posting some videos on our website of interviews we have done with various proprietors. Most are being very tight-lipped about release prices and we definitely sense an air of nervousness but, more encouragingly, some sense of reality and being tuned-in to what consumers expect and want this year. Our fingers are crossed.
We will be updating our website regularly with information as and when we receive it and also be tweeting regular through our Twitter account here….please follow us for more information. As ever, do please call us if you have any queries and we will be very happy to help.
Questions answered by Adam Brett-Smith, C & B Managing Director
What are your overall impressions? 'Heterogene' as the Bordelais put it. Judgement is more a question of wine by wine rather than by commune. There ARE some excellent wines, notably on the Right Bank and in particular the denser soils in Pomerol but apart from the viticultural challenges there were also winemaking pitfalls to avoid given the high acidities (drought) and tannins. Extraction/macerations had to be carefully handled to maximise the fruit to tannin/acidity balance. Balance is the key word.
What do you think is the likely market for these wines? Utterly dependent on price/value. Customers do not NEED these wines, they may however be persuaded to WANT them.
Do you think buyers are wary of Bordeaux this year – especially those that are seeing little appreciation on the 2010s? Yes, and with good reason. 2010 pricing was, with a few honourable exceptions, bananas - a fact we made clear to customers last year.
At which level – top cru classe, mid-range cru classe, lower-level etc – do you think the vintage will have most appeal? Mid range Cru Classe - where, since we made clear in 2003 and since, some stunning value lies. Also in low volume (not garage) top wines.
Which were the most successful communes both left and right bank? Right Bank Pomerol. St Julien perhaps the most even left bank commune - nothing new there.
Which current vintage should the 2011s match in price to be successful? 2008, 2004, 2002, 2001. The best should price between OPENING price of 2008 with a dash of 2001, the less successful between 2004 and 2002.
How much unsolicited interest have you been getting from your customers? Very little until last week. As early reports suggested that there were actually some lovely wines, interest began to stir.
How the Wines will be offered
Click here to download the wishlist. Please return this to your Account Manager or to email@example.com as soon as possible. Doing so does not guarantee any wines or commit you to buying them but will be a very good starting point .
How to Follow the Releases and Additional Information on the Campaign:
• EMAIL – News of individual Château releases will be circulated by email. You may subscribe to these emails, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your first and last name or contacting us on 0207 265 2490.
• TWITTER – The quickest form of communication. Prices and other observations will be released on @corneyandbarrow .
• WEBSITE – All wines released, along with scores and tasting notes, will be available in this section.
• C & B BLOG - We will regularly update our Blog www.CandBscene.co.uk during the campaign. You can currently find videos and blogs of our eight days of tasting in Bordeaux as well as lots of profiles of visits to our other favourite producers.
If you know of friends and colleagues who may like to receive our information, please feel free to forward this bulletin or contact your sales person directly.
The wines will be released in various ways. Please see below the breakdown, followed by the list of wines with their specified ‘Release’ type.
• General Releases – Communicated as wines are released onto the market, where possible, by email but some may not be if demand from Wishlists and interest is so high that they may be oversubscribed. Those where this may apply are marked with an asterisk (*).
• Mitjavile Release – Tertre Roteboeuf, Roc de Cambes and Domaine de l'Aurage, the wines of François Mitjavile and his son, Louis - May (TBC depending on pricing).
• Ets. J-P Moueix Release – This offer will have a start and finish date with an allocation process for almost all wines - May (TBC depending on pricing). (UK only)
• Ch. Trotanoy Release – Released on its own, in May/June. (UK only)
• Ch. Petrus Release – Released on its own and sent out at C & B’s discretion, in August. (UK only)
We have outlined the following:
- • Our "best of the best" wines
- • Our "best by commune" wines
- • Our "best potential value" wines
C & B Scoring
The Corney & Barrow team taste in silence. It is so easy to lead the witness with an unintentional grimace or a raised eyebrow registering a pleasant surprise. We taste individually and record notes in alphabetised, indexed notebooks for ease of comparison later.
All scores are entered into a spreadsheet and we look for a mean spread, relating to the wine’s potential to achieve a higher mark – it is almost impossible to give such young wines a definitive score.
Wines are tasted within the context of the vintage and by peer group.
These are our guidelines:
14–16 A very good to excellent wine.
16–18 An excellent to outstanding wine.
18–20 An outstanding to legendary wine.
A definitive score of a young wine is almost always impossible. We usually offer a ‘spread’ (e.g. 14–16) which relates to the potential to achieve a higher mark. A ‘plus’ adds further to that potential.
Why buy wines en primeur? There are generally three main reasons to buy a wine en primeur : firstly, to secure a wine that may not be available later; secondly, to be able to get a wine at the best possible price; and thirdly, to secure the wines in the format (bottle size) you wish. These are the factors to consider when buying. We would add two more: excitement and provenance. It is exciting to be buying wines as they are released and it is important to have wines that have been stored in perfect conditions in one place from the initial shipment of the wines. Finding mature wines of impeccable condition become harder over time.
How does C&B’s scoring system work? As above
Why does C&B not include other critics’ scores? There are many answers but, simply put, because we back ourselves and our own thorough tasting. We select which wines we offer and give our own opinion as informed by The Bunch code of conduct . We acknowledge that there are several very good critics writing up wines but we back our judgements with stock and money, and stand behind that with our guarantee. We would not expect a customer to buy a wine because of a press write-up one vintage and then our glowing report the next.
What is the best way to get the wines I really want? Speak directly to one of the team and explain what you want and how we can best communicate with you. Alternatively, send in your wishlist .
Can I wait until all the wines are out and buy then? This totally depends which wines you want to buy. The internet has meant that prices of the top wines are communicated instantly and, consequently, they disappear in a flash. If you are looking for value wines then you can wait, but for names you follow each year, you are best to let us know now and we can keep en eye out for you. ( See Wishlist above ).
To subscribe to our email updates on Bordeaux 2011, please email email@example.com with your first and last name or call 020 7265 2430 for full details or information at any time.