En Primeur 2011 – Day 2 – Leoville Las Cases, Nenin, Potensac, Clinet, Calon Segur, Lafon Rochet, Lagrange

After my second day tasting in Bordeaux I can confirm that this is a vintage made under extremely taxing conditions and I believe that with what vagaries the weather had to throw at them the chateaux have been under pressure to deliver. As a result of tasting on the Right Bank and returning to the Left Bank to taste for a second time I am convinced this is a vintage for the ‘drinkers’ and not the ‘investors’. Some are saying that the vintage resembles the 2007 but with greater ageing capacity. Others are saying that it is better than 2008 (which I heartily disagree with). Either way you shouldn’t be surprised at the price – if this vintage is being touted as better than the 2008 then the price will reflect that. . . so don’t hold your breath for big reductions in how much the 2011 is going to cost you.

Although a lot of chateaux are down on yields surprisingly there were some that are actually up. Nenin (second wine Fugue de Nenin) and also Potensac (second wine Chapelle de Potensac) increased their yield from 37 litres per hectare to 44 and 48 respectively. This is due to the composition of the soils as their vines lie on mainly clay/chalky subsoil (clay retains water so it is useful in drought conditions). An interesting fact I learnt today is that 2011 has been the driest vintage of the last decade. The year of the 2003 vintage was hotter but not as dry. Most chateaux owners I spoke to have had to hand pick discarding green and pink grapes. Alcohol levels pleasantly lower this year at around 13.5% with slightly higher pH values.

Due to tiredness writing up my previous blog I omitted mentioning some chateaux that I must tell you about:

All of Calon Segur‘s three wines: the Grand Vin, Marquis de Calon and their Cru Bourgeois Capbern Gasquetron are definitely well worth consideration when they come out onto the market for drinking.

Also from Saint Estephe Lafon Rochet (64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot) will be one to look out for. Basile Tesseron told me that what he learnt from this vintage is what a remarkable and knowledgeable team he has working under him at the chateaux. He appreciates that without them Lafon Rochet would not have been made to the standard it has this year. I thought this was a very nice, refreshingly honest statement from an up and coming chateau owner. He also told me that this year’s blend had no pressings and that he didn’t use any cabernet franc.

Lynch Bages (72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot) was also a notch above others and presented very nicely indeed.

The wines I enjoyed today include Leoville Las Cases (76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc) which had reasonable length, a good balance and good nose. Clos de Marquis (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc) deserves a special mention – grapes actually come from a separate area of vineyards surrounded on all sides by other Second Growths so it is more of a separate cuvée than Leoville Las Cases’ second wine and can challenge more than few cru class All in all I think the estate has done very well indeed considering they only managed to produce 27 litres per hectare.

From Pomerol I thought that Clinet (85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc) showed very well – as did Vieux Chateau Certan (70% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon) which had that little touch of opulence I had been looking for.

In Saint Julien Lagrange (62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot) offered something a little bit different from the others in the appellation and stood out. It was soft in the mouth with nicely balanced tannins – a very good presentation.

I revisited some of the wines I had tasted from Pauillac but have not changed my opinions from yesterday (see here).

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