If I had believed the doom-mongers this year, I probably wouldn't have got on the plane to Bordeaux for the 2011 en primeur preview tastings, but I am very pleased that I did. The 2011 vintage was touted as a disaster, but in fact, the top wines are very impressive indeed.
This is not a 2009, nor indeed a 2010, vintage, but the wines are, to my mind, more exciting and more engaging than the 2008s. It was a topsy-turvy vintage imagine a warm start and a warm finish, with a cool and rainy middle; it was very strange indeed.
Combatting both rot and heat stress needs highly trained vineyard staff and those estates with deep pockets, who could labour long in the vineyard, and also sacrifice substandard fruit on the sorting table, made delicious wines. These are low-yielding, intense, but remarkably fresh red wines with true charm and a classical demeanour, and the dry and sweet whites are superb.
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Prices should come out earlier than usual and, if the chteaux make an effort to redress the balance from the last few years' sky high price tags, we might buy the wines. The goodwill is in their hands: there will be no campaign if they are too greedy. For a complete list of scores, notes and my top 40 and 'best value' lists, see my website.
My favourite wines (at any price)
Vieux-Chteau Certan (Pomerol) 19/20
Chteau Loville-Las Cases, 2me Cru (Saint-Julien) 19/20
Chteau Ptrus (Pomerol) 19/20
Chteau Margaux, 1er Cru (Margaux) 19/20
Chteau Latour, 1er Cru (Pauillac) 19/20
Chteau d'Yquem, 1er Cru Suprieur (Sauternes) 19/20
Chteau Haut-Brion Blanc (Pessac-Lognan) 19/20
Chteau Cheval Blanc, Grand Cru Class A' (Saint-Emilion)18.5/20
Chteau Haut-Brion, 1er Cru (Pessac-Lognan) 18.5/20
Chteau Lafite-Rothschild, 1er Cru (Pauillac) 18.5/20
My favourite great value wines (assuming prices are fair)
Chteau Calon-Sgur, 3me Cru (Saint-Estphe) 18/20
Chteau Grand-Puy-Lacoste, 5me Cru (Pauillac) 18/20
Chteau Saint-Pierre, 4me Cru (Saint-Julien) 17.5/20
Chteau La Tour du Pin, Grand Cru Class (Saint-Emilion) 17.5/20
Chteau Batailley, 5me Cru (Pauillac) 17.5/20
Chteau D'Armailhac, 5me Cru (Pauillac) 17.5/20
Chteau Durfort-Vivens, 2me Cru (Margaux) 17.5/20
Chteau Laforge, Grand Cru (Saint-Emilion) 17.5/20
l'If (Saint-Emilion) 17.5/20
Chteau Lacoste-Borie, 2nd wine of Grand-Puy-Lacoste (Pauillac) 17/20
Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year (Matthewjukes.com).
Matthew Jukes has worked in the UK wine business for well over three decades and during this time has written 14 wine books.
Matthew regularly lectures, judges, speaks at wine conferences and runs masterclass tastings for both corporate and private clients all over the world. Matthew is also the creator of his ground-breaking initiative, the One Day Wine School, an indulgent day of tasting and learning first performed in 2006.
He has been the MoneyWeek wine correspondent since 2006 and has written a weekly column for the Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine since 1999. His four highly-acclaimed, annual wine reports – the Burgundy En Primeur Report, the Bordeaux En Primeur Report, the Piemonte Report and the 100 Best Australian Wines – are published on his website, www.matthewjukes.com.
Matthew is one of the world’s leading experts on Australian wine and, with Brisbane-based wine writer Tyson Stelzer, runs an annual competition in Australia to find ‘The Great Australian Red’. He was made Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK at the 2012 Australia Day Foundation Gala dinner.
Matthew is a winner of the International Wine and Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year Trophy. His thoughts, recommendations and tastings notes are followed very closely by the wine world at large.
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