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Compleate Bordeaux 2011 Vintage Report: 2011 is a dangerous vintage

“2011 is a dangerous vintage. We lived through draught, rain and a lot of sun, all in that order. The draught did not impact our vineyard very much, because we have different terroirs. With each terroir, we performed specific work in the vineyards and we were lucky in our choices. The entire Right Bank of Bordeaux seems to be a success so far and yes, this includes not just St. Emilion, but Pomerol as well. From my recent tastings, 2011 Bordeaux seems to be a mix of two Bordeaux vintages; 2007 for the smoothness and 2009 for the maturity and sucrosité” says Jean Luc Thunevin.

In 1989, Jean-Luc Thunevin and Murielle Andraud bought a small 0.6 hectare plot of vines with the dream of making great St. Emilion wine! The name of the estate is personal. Valandraud is a combination of its location and something more meaningful.  The Val comes from Vallon de Fongaban. The second part, Andraud is Murielle’s maiden name.

Things have changed at the estate since its birth. With more land and more importantly, the Bordeaux wine of Valandraud is made entirely by Murielle. 2007 was the first vintage that allowed Murielle to call the shots for the wine making.  This was a good move.

    2009 Valandraud and 2010 Valandraud are two of the finest efforts from this unique, Bordeaux wine producer. The current 2011 vintage marks the 20th vintage for Valandraud as their first effort was  the 1991 Valandraud.

Jean-Luc Thunevin: “We waited patiently, waited for our grapes to reach the right concentration before harvesting. We started on September 7 and managed to finish October 13. This is about two weeks earlier than usual. We normally start about September 20.

     2011 Bordeaux is about sorting, sorting and more sorting.  We sorted in the vineyards and in the cellars. Since the 2007 vintage, we have been using the Tribaie sorting machine, which allows helps us remove more of the bad grapes based on levels of sugar concentration in the berries. The machine performs densimetric sorting which is based on the desired levels of ripeness and sugar levels”.

 

The earliest harvest on record since 1893

Chateau  Lafite Rothschild started to harvest Cabernet Sauvignon in their northern most parcels, located not far from Chateau Cos d’Estournel, Friday, September 2.  2011. This is on one of the earliest harvests on record for the property.  You’ll be reading quotes from many Bordeaux wine producers that 2011 Bordeaux, for many chateaux will be their earliest harvest on record since 1893! However, growers situated in some parts of Bordeaux have moved up their time tables are harvesting even earlier than they previously expected.

     Due to the massive, freak, hail and rain in barrage the Northern Medoc, centered near the Pauillac , St. Estephe border, to avoid possible problems with the onset rot, many chateau in that vicinity have decided to start picking earlier than they had originally planned on.  The most notable property is the famed First Growth, Chateau Lafite Rothschild.  It is possible that the storm, which dropped over a massive, half inch of rain in a twenty minute period caused some flooding to the cellars of Lafite Rothschild

“With our 2011 harvest, we harvested earlier because the growing of the vines was earlier than usual, due to the very hot spring. But the weather conditions of maturation in summer were fresh and cool, so the wine is of a cooler style than a late vintage. The nice weather conditions at the end of August and September were very good for phenolic ripeness”. Fabien Teitgen from Château Smith haut Lafitte.

 

The 2011 vintage is not simple to handle.

Smith Haut Lafitte is not only making great white and red Bordeaux wine in Pessac Leognan, they are at the forefront with technology as well.  They were one of first Bordeaux wine producers to begin using Optical Sorting, which came in handy with the difficult 2011 Bordeaux harvest. Fabien Teitgen, the long-time managing director joined us for a long, detailed conversation on what took place at Smith Haut Lafitte for the 2011 Bordeaux vintage.

 “To my mind, 2011 is balanced with low pH and medium alcohol. So for those who picked at the right time, their wines will be balanced, with a good concentration and a good freshness. This vintage is not so simple to handle.”

 

Chateau Cos d’Estournel, St. Estephe, started their 2011 Bordeaux harvest, Monday, September 5.

Jean Guillaume Prats told us, 2011 set a modern day record for an early start to their harvest at Chateau Cos d’Estournel. He added, “This was the estates second earliest harvest on record. To find an earlier date, we needed to back to 1893!”  While the specific date to start picking was not set in stone, the original plan was not to begin their Bordeaux harvest on September 5.  But due to a ferocious storm that swept through the area, 2011 Bordeaux Harvest Massive Storm Slams the Northern Medoc, any hope of waiting went out the window. “We initially planned to start about September 9, with the young vines. After the storm, we gave ourselves the time over the weekend to assess the situation and make the appropriate decision: Waiting and see how it will develop in the days to come depending on weather. We are “lucky” this vintage is extremely early. The damages in terms of phenolic ripeness of the grapes should be very minor. If this was a later year, like 2008, 2009, or 2010, the effects would be much worse.

”said Prats

 

The day starts before the sun rises

Chateau Haut Brion and Chateau La Mission Haut Brion started harvesting their young vine Merlot, August 29.  This is early for the First Growth estate. To give you an idea of how early, in 2010, Haut Brion started to pick their young Merlot vines, September 8. In that vintage, harvesting continued until October 9. 

Between the two Pessac Leognan properties, with red and white grapes to pick, they have a busy schedule. The harvesters begin their day working on the grapes for their Bordeaux white wine, often starting their day before the sun rises.

Jean-Philippe Delmas explains why they harvest in the early morning: “The purpose of picking the white grapes early in the morning is to ensure the fruit remains cool. This helps the berries to retain their unique, fresh aromas. This year, we picked our white grapes between 7am and noon.  The reason is, by that time of day, the skins are dry. None of the dew from the night is remaining.”

 

Since Patrick Maroteaux purchased Chateau Branaire Ducru in 1988, he has been on a mission to produce the best wine possible from this Fourth Growth estate.  While 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2009 are all potential candidates for the best wine yet from Branaire Ducru, I’m willing to place a bet the 2010 turns out to be his strongest wine yet. What about 2011 Branaire? Where does the most recent vintage stand?  Patrick Maroteaux fills us in. “We will produce a rather powerful and colorful vintage due to the low ratio between the juice and the skin. So far the tannins seem rather approachable and elegant. The complexity of the structure will probably not be at the same level as the 2009 and 2010 vintages. We can position the 2011 vintage in the category of the very serious wines. We now know for sure that this vintage will show a very interesting balance”.

 

The 2011 is a great year for Cabernet Sauvignon

Chateau Kirwan located in the Margaux appellation has been on a slow and steady course of improvement since the early 1990′s. In 1991, the estate brought in Michel Rolland as their consultant. Kirwan is managed by Sophie Schyler, who is ably assisted by their winemaker Philippe Delfaut. This is a Bordeaux property that strives to produce the best wine possible. Over the past several years, they restored the chateau and built a new barrel cellar. With the 2011 vintage aging in barrel at the moment, Philippe Delfaut candidly discussed the 2011 Bordeaux vintage and harvest.

 “The first part of the season was very promising, with hot dry weather. Then the excessive heat and drought caused withering and scorching of the grapes, leading to reduced yield. Certain varieties such as the Petit Verdot suffered acutely from the drought. The Cabernet Sauvignon withered to a greater extent than the others. The 2011 is an extraordinary year. We are witnessing a heretofore unimaginable development. The alcohol content in the Cabernet Sauvignon is vastly higher than that of the Merlot!

There is no doubt: 2011 is a great year for Cabernet Sauvignon on the left bank. Although the Merlot and the Petit Verdot offer brilliant fruit, one must admit that the taste is somewhat lacking in depth. However, the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon reveal an incredible richness that has never before been achieved at Kirwan. The 2011 Bordeaux vintage is one of contrasts. It’s probably one of a kind!”

 

The 2011 will certainly be more nervous than the 2009 or the 2010 Bordeaux vintages

Chateau Palmer is on a roll. In fact, they’ve been on a roll since Thomas Duroux joined the team just in time for the 2004 Bordeaux vintage.  To find out how Chateau Palmer handled the difficult 2011 Bordeaux vintage, we spoke with Thomas Duroux. Duroux as usual, offered great comments on what is taking place at their Margaux property.

 “The first part of the growing season, from bud burst to flowering was very early in 2011. What made a big difference is the speed of the growth and ripening process between the flowering season and the picking. In 2003 for example, the time for this was shorter than normal. The result in certain circumstances cooked the wine’s aromas and produced dry tannins. At this stage we have “normal” alcohol levels: 13 to 13.5 for the merlot and we expect 12.5 for the cabernets. pH are a little lower than last year and the malic acid are low. That means that the final acidity will not be much lower after malo lactic fermentation. The 2011 will certainly be more nervous than the 2009 or the 2010 Bordeaux vintages”.

 

 

Complicated summer in Pomerol

With its clay soils and preference for Merlot grapes, Pomerol is usually the first of the major Bordeaux appellations to harvest. But that was not the case with every chateaux in this difficult Bordeaux vintage.  Each chateau picks their fruit, at the time they think will allow them to produce the style of wine that offers the best representation of their terroir.

Jean-Michel Laportre of Chateau La Conseillante discussed their 2011 Bordeaux harvest and growing season while explaining what they are seeking to achieve with this tricky vintage.

 “Maturity should be perfect. The main interest is that the weather is normally better at the  beginning of September than at the end or in October. So, it’s less stressful and there’s less hurry to harvest with more chances to improve the maturity.

 The spring very warm and dry. The summer was quite complicated. But the vines went through it quite well. They never really suffered from drought as the growing season began very early. They had the time to get in use with it. It would have been more dangerous if spring was very rainy, and summer very dry and hot. We suffered more in 2003 because of the hot weather. The heat took its toll more than drought. We’ll probably have a better balance than 2009 and 2010. This will be a more classic style for Bordeaux. Alcohol should be lower and acidity a bit higher. This will certainly help the freshness and taste to explode!”

 

The 2011 is a winemakers vintage.

Chateau Troplong Mondot produced one of the best St. Emilion wines in 2010. But that was a much easier vintage for their limestone and clay terroir.  Troplong Mondot is a true family managed property.  Christine Valette and Xavier Pariente have been on top of things for close to 15 years.  MargauxPariente is now a full time member of the team as well. To find out what they were doing with the 2011 vintage, we spoke with Xavier Pariente.

 “The 2011 Bordeaux vintage will be a typical Bordeaux vintage. It is classical, yet distinguished, fruity and well balanced. The characteristics of the 2011 vintage are those of a classical Bordeaux vintage. The wines display medium alcohol content with a good acidity allowing a good ageing of this vintage”.

 

Hubert de Bouard has been at Chateau Angelus in St. Emilion for 30 years.  You’d think by this time, he would have seen it all. But that’s not the case.  The 2011 Bordeaux growing season according to de Bouard is unprecedented with its unusual weather patterns.  With two estates in St, Emilion, Angelus and Bellevue, plus properties in Lalande Pomerol, La Fleur de Bouard,  along with a busy consulting practice, Hubert had his hands full this year

“In 2011, we experienced summer before the spring. The weather conditions this year were quite unprecedented. Spring was particularly sunny and hot, encouraging the vines to develop very early. The weather during summer was relatively uncertain. This meant we had to work on the vines constantly.

The 2011 is a winemakers vintage. More than ever, this year will reflect each winegrower’s keen perception and responsiveness”. Hubert de Bouard

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Vintage Report

2011 Vintage by Domaine de La Romanée Conti

2011: "Never more than this year - in spite of the some forty-six harvests I have experienced since my beginnings as a winegrower in Burgundy - have I felt and understood the importance of luck and gamble in the success or the failure in the face of a vintage".

At the time I am beginning to write this traditional report, trying to describe the broad outline of the vintage just after the harvest, the North wind that we had been expecting since May is back, bringing full sun and fresh nights, offering a wonderful end of season, enhancing the autumnal colours of the vineyards and intensifying the scents coming out from the wineries where the wines are fermenting. When today the vigneron awakens in these blessed mornings, he cannot help thinking of what the 2011 harvest would have been if April had not been hotter than July and had not led the vineyards to an ultra-early vegetative cycle in which they were permanently ahead of the seasons.

2011 seems indeed to give credit to those who talk of a climatic change or at least of a climatic disorder.

The vegetative cycle of the vineyards was marked by an outstanding earliness due to very high temperatures in early April. Those unusual temperatures were associated with drought conditions that were also unusual in Spring.

The vineyards like heat and drought. They were prosperous until the flowering, with no attacks from their usual enemies: mildew and oidium - and progressed quickly and harmoniously. There was only one drawback: under the sudden effect of a few very hot days, quite a few berries "roasted" in the sun.

By the very early flowering - the mid-flowering occurred on May 20th, at around the same time as in 2003 or 2007 - we saw a complete change in the weather with dominant winds from the West and South bringing rain and storms. The North wind, which is usually accompanied by beautiful dry weather, was never there, even though it blew on Palm Sunday, April 17th, and, should have been the prevailing wind of the year, if we trust the old saying.

But it is well known that gods do their utmost to deceive us, humans - Homer repeats it throughout the Odyssey - and the vignerons, like poor Ulysses shaken by elements, had to cope with those chaotic conditions that lasted in May, July and August in the form of sudden alternations of cold, rains, heat, sometimes scorching, followed each time by violent storms.

In this general context, the Côte de Nuits was spared. Rains were not as frequent as in the Côte de Beaune. For instance, Nicolas Jacob, our vineyard manager, and his young team managed to protect the vineyards from mildew and oidium all through the Spring without too much difficulty. They did the ploughing and organised all the vineyard works in time, while keeping exclusively to biological treatments. In 2011 especially knowledge, experience and tenacity were put to the test for months in order to win the challenge. 

But the ultimate enemy was on the look-out: botrytis indeed did not take much time to appear. Rains had provoked abnormally big berries and at veraison (which spread out over three weeks) micro-cracks and even bursts had formed in the loose skins.

Fortunately, the low temperatures in July slowed down the vegetative cycle and the development of botrytis. Botrytis indeed likes damp heat, but stops its action as soon as it is cold. This cold phase was favourable as it strengthened and thickened the skins of the grapes.

By August 15th, there was a complete "change of scenery": hot and stormy weather set in with very high temperatures, almost scorching, and the maturation of the grapes accelerated. Thanks to the reserves of water retained in the soil and the luminosity favoured by still-long days, photosynthesis functioned at full blast and the production of sugars increased very quickly while acidities fell, both in a spectacular manner.

The vintage was taking a totally different direction, far more qualitative. This came as a relief to us.

Of course the storms, that regularly accompanied the return of heat, provoked anguish. Some places in Burgundy were hit by murderous hail storms, but the Vosne area was spared. We should have seen a spectacular progression of botrytis, but that did not happen thanks to the thickness of the grape skins and to the quick return of the sun after each storm.

During that time, the Côte de Nuits profited from the heat and was not much affected by storms. By late August, even if a good part of the advance that had been gained in the springtime was lost as the weeks went by in June/July, the grapes were approaching full maturity. The vineyards were reaching the end of their cycle but we were aware that if the storms had kept on coming back after each period of heat, the botrytis might explode and we ran the risk of losing the crop.

Never more than this year - in spite of the some forty-six harvests I have experienced since my beginnings as a winegrower in Burgundy - have I felt and understood the importance of luck and gamble in the success or the failure in the face of a vintage.

Wanting absolutely to wait until the grapes are fully ripe is the first rule. Doing it at the risk of losing the crop is the second one. Both are linked and both played their part to the fullest in 2011. 1) We had to wait beyond reason in order to pick ripe grapes. 2) We were lucky not to have any storms or humidity during the entire harvest, whereas those unfavourable conditions were everywhere around us and could have caused an explosion of botrytis should have they lasted 2 or 3 days more. The gods were at our side again.

We began the harvest in Corton on Friday September 2 and in Vosne-Romanée on September 5th. The weather was hot and dry, but uncertain, and we feared the pessimistic weather forecast for the following days. Thankfully the harvest proceeded from September 5th to 13h without any rain at all during the day.

In early September, the mildew had "bitten" the upper leaves of the vineyards and autumn colours were beginning to appear everywhere. There were also many berries that had roasted in spring, "figgy" berries that we had absolutely to keep for their richness in sugar and also an unusual number of green berries that had not changed colours.

Needless to say how important and difficult the work in the vineyards was this year. The harvester who cut the grapes that went their way to the winery had a major job: like a miner filtering the gravel by the river's edge in the hope of finding gold, he was asked to follow rules that are different every year and pick up the material, i.e. grapes that the fermentation in vats would transform into Romanée-Conti, La Tâche... the gesture of the harvester is the last selective and qualitative human gesture before the grapes go into the vats with their definitive qualities and defaults.

The harvesters were given clear instructions this year: let fall the berries that had roasted in spring, cut with clippers the parts of the grapes that had been affected by botrytis and most important, as it required judgement and experience, leave behind the vines bearing big or unripe berries where botrytis had largely developed. Those vines were harvested in a second passage at the end of the "big harvest".



Of course, the final touch to the sorting was accomplished in the winery where the grapes, before falling into the vats, passed by a team of 14 people assigned to reject what might have been neglected by harvesters. It should be noted that the vibrating table, set this year at the head of the sorting table, eliminated an impressive quantity of ladybugs and larva!

Due to the delicate sorting, the picking was not rapid and lasted until September 13th in hot weather with the threat of storms and rains hanging over us every day like a sword of Damoclès... that never arrived.

That is why I would like to stress again the importance of luck in the success of a vintage. If the grapes had been wet, even if only after one storm, the crop would have been lost in the twinkling of an eye. But on the contrary, the dates we had chosen to harvest were the right ones and we can thank the gods for giving us a mild end of season... and the possibility to harvest perfectly ripened grapes.

We must admit that the reduction of the crop, due to the attacks from the botrytis and other enemies of the vineyards and of the grapes, was significant in 2011, despite the defences we used. It should be around 30%. But this reduction is also a factor of quality. It has to be looked at like the result of a natural thinning: while the yield is reduced, the quality of the grapes is increased. In 2011 we would never have reached full maturity if a part of the crop had not been eliminated by botrytis or "roasting".

It rained more in the Côte de Beaune where the Montrachet was hit by hail in July, but the damage was not too serious. The veraison of the Chardonnay was late and the berries resisted better to the rainy period in early August. The botrytis had less impact than in the Côte de Nuits until September 3rd when a storm in the south of the Côte de Beaune resulted in many berries turning sour. We harvested earlier than expected, on September 6th, and the grapes that we picked were wonderfully golden with a 10% percentage of noble botrytis.

The vineyards were harvested in the following order:

Corton ........................................ September 2
La Tâche ..................................... September 3-5-6
Romanée-Conti et Montrachet ..... September 6
Richebourg .................................. September 7-8
Romanée-St-Vivant ..................... September 8-9
Grands-Echezeaux ....................... September 9-10
Echezeaux ................................... September 10-11

The vinification went without any particular problems. The only necessity was to cool down the grapes that were harvested in the sun and arrived warm at the winery, but of course we have modern methods to control temperatures. Bernard Noblet and his team were constantly on the watch. Their work was not easy: when the harvest takes place in warm conditions indeed, the vats tend to ferment all at the same time and it is essential to guide them on the way and rack off at the right time. Fermentations were especially long: 21 to 24 days with a good increase of temperature.

Devattings have just finished. The wines are full of "fruit". They already show some seduction and deepness, but also a lot of finesse. 2011 should be more in terms of elegance and purity rather than of power, even though it is too early to give a definitive opinion.

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Vintage Report

Napa Valley Vintage Report by Colgin: There is enormous beauty to be found in the 2011 vintage! The experiences of the season are what help distinguish the pedigree of the Colgin vineyard sites from others. The 2011 growing season in Napa Valley seems only to be recognized for its challenges, yet a great site can take challenges in stride. With a wet start to the season, we have a significant advantage in that each of our sites is planted on hillsides with well-draining rocky soils. Given the wet spring, we experienced one of our latest blooms on record in June. The summer followed with relatively mild temperatures during which time we worked diligently in the vineyard to reduce the canopy and bring the vines into balance. At veraison in late August, we removed enough clusters to ensure a consistent, even ripening. We began our harvest the final week in September and picked virtually all of our Merlot and Syrah in this period.

 

Two small rain events the first week of October hastened the progress of the harvest-yet what followed was altruistic, sunny weather which remained through the completion of the harvest season. We picked the Cabernet Sauvignon the second half of October and our conscientious team ensured only the most pristine berries were sorted into the fermentation tanks. The wines were made with a slightly more delicate hand in order to capture their freshness and respect the fruit. The resulting wines of the 2011 vintage are brilliantly aromatic. They have deliciously round tannin and are bolstered by a bright and balanced level of acidity. The flavors of each site truly stand out in this vintage, and the quality of the wines is a testament to the quality of the terroirs upon which they are grown.

 

 

Napa Valley Vintage Report / Challenging year in the vineyard reaps rewards in the cellar

What began with a wet winter and spring continued with rainfall into mid-June that delayed bloom and disrupted fruit set resulting in shatter in parts of the region set the stage for a long, cooler-than-average growing season with a later-than-average harvest beset with autumn rain storms. The precipitation measuring season ending on June 30 found the region more than a third above normal in rainfall. While this is good news for water resources, the cloud cover and cool temperatures delayed vine development by several weeks at the onset of the growing season.

 

This timetable continued through the somewhat cool summer season where harvest for the first varieties for sparkling wines found the latest harvest start in anyone’s memory, beginning August 29. Few high heat events occurred at any point this year, but growers managed more open vine canopies to ensure sunlight, warmth and good air circulation around the grape clusters. The shatter resulting from the rain events in June was variable by vineyard location hitting some locations harder with projected crop diminished by more than 30% while leaving other sites nearly untouched with near-normal crop.

 

After a consistently cool summer season, significant mid-October rain pushed the vintage even later. But growers were rewarded with weeks of fantastic weather, a prolonged Indian summer that provided needed ripening time.

Most waited through the first two rains of this year to pick Chardonnay in October, and that patience paid off. Yields were generally consistent with 2010 — down by 10%. Quality looks very good with lower alcohols, good structure and length on the palate.

Most agreed that Merlot was a success story for 2011. While it can tended to be on the greener side, the cool weather helped the vines work more efficiently and produced a beautiful vintage of this varietal with black cherry and plum, not any pruney character.

Mold, rot, and botrytis were challenges to the grapes that were not harvested, and had a major impact on the quantity of the harvest, but not the quality. The commitment to quality runs so deep and strong in this valley that systems for effective sorting were already set-up, both in the field and at the wineries. While quantity was low, the fruit this year will make for well-balanced wines with good intensity, structure and texture with a brightness of flavor.

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Vintage Report

Champagne Vintage 2011 by Richard Juhlin / Pinot noir especially stood out this year, while pinot meunier was a ected partly by attacks. The winter came unusually early, in November of the previous year, but a mild late spring still led to a owering in May. The blending wines still have a fairly thin structure and a disturbing tone of bubblegum. Actually, this was one of the few autumns I have been present at harvest. I went around and made unannounced visits here and there. The strongest impression and question mark was actually the huge amount of invasive ladybugs that were caught in the presses and left a nasty, urine-saturated stabbing scent in the press houses. Will this leave an impression? I fail to see it disappear given how strong it was. Apart from that, I will never forget it was 86°F and the autumn sun radiant, when we celebrated with a magnum and reworks into the wee hours in Moulin de Verzenay. 

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Vintage Report

2011 Vintage Port Declaration: All of the major port houses have now declared the 2011 vintage as being of exceptional quality. For many shippers this is the first declaration since 2007. The avalanche of declarations started with Sogrape, owners of Sandeman and Ferriera. This has been followed by Symington, the company that owns Dows, Graham Warre and Cockburn and Taylor Fladgate owners of the Fonseca and Taylors brands

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Burgundy Vintage Report by BBR

Burgundy, despite the chaotic weather, which is explained in more detail below, gave us intriguing wines for delicious drinking in the short to medium term. The flowering was less successful for the red vines and the after-effects of the big freeze of December 2009 continue to affect yields in the Côte de Nuits. In general the crop was the same, or very slightly more than in the 2010 vintage , which was well below average itself.

The grapes were ripe to the taste but were lower in sugar levels than in recent years, generating a welcome freshness. Though the growing season may have been similar to the 2007 vintage, the wines are quite different because the grapes had much thicker skins, offering greater density of fruit and more structure. No vintage comparison is exactly right, but there are some parallels with the fine and fresh red wines from the 2002 vintage.

Vintage Report on White Burgundy wines.


The Weather 
A moderately severe winter, though without the deep freeze of the previous year, ended early and a fine spring was ushered in from the middle of March. The wind patterns were unusual, blowing mainly from the north (the benchmark wind on Palm Sunday), cool and dry – or veering right round to the south, warm and dry.

The first flowers were seen as early as May 10th, almost exactly the same as in 2007, and properly looked after vineyards were bursting with health. There was a long term fear for the build up of drought problems however, especially if the season was to develop along 1976 lines.

But, as in 2007, May was a little cooler than April and with a few more showers, occasionally storms. The village sages were talking of a hot and stormy summer – apparently the magpies were nesting close to the houses which they do when storms are in the offing! Useful rain followed in early June rapidly followed by a hosepipe ban which immediately brought more rain and questions as to whether this could be the same deteriorating pattern as 2007.

The sun came back with a vengeance at the end of June, flirting with 40°C, and causing some grilling of the grapes. The first week in July was dry too, bringing thoughts of 1976 back into view. When it rained, solidly and evenly without stormy side effects on Thursday 7th July, the growers were thrilled but further rain over the next few days was less welcome and the whole month of July proved to be cooler and wetter than usual.

Overall the season was less stormy than expected apart from minor hail in Corton-Charlemagne (20th May), Gevrey-Chambertin (23rd July) and Puligny-Montrachet, plus one really devastating storm in Rully on 12th July following a more minor attack in June. August began clear and sunny but the July pattern of showery days returned with temperatures below or approaching the seasonal norm. There was little sustained rain except on Friday 26th with many growers starting to pick the following week in the good weather which returned.

 

 

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"The surprisingly successful 2011 red and white Bordeaux"   by Robert Parker 

This is a much better vintage than I thought it was before my trip to Bordeaux and could turn out to be close in overall quality to years such as the underrated 2001 and 2008.

However, if prices do not drop dramatically for the 2011 Bordeaux, I do not think there will be any fine “futures” wine market in the civilized world that will buy these wines for delivery in 2014. It was not an easy growing season... and in many vineyards, specially in the Médoc, it was a race between getting the grapes adequately ripe and the sinister rot stampeding through the vineyards.

However, the last two weeks of September and October were dry months and beautiful – for grapes and people. Overall, 2011, in spite of the unusually cool, overcast months of July and August, turned out to be one of the hottest years France has had over the last half century.

...Pomerol stands out as the most consistent appellation, but the prestigious appellations of the Médoc as well as the better St.-Emilion properties have all fared reasonably well in 2011.

The crop size is small compared to 2010 or 2009, so there is not a massive quantity of these wines available. The lower pedigree wines from the more humble appellations and satellite appellations around St.-Emilion are more variable in quality, as one might expect in a vintage where selection was critical.

The least consistent appellation, based on my tastings, was Graves/Pessac-Léognan, but that does not mean some top-notch wines weren’t produced there.

The bottom line is that it is hard to get emotionally pumped up over the 2011 vintage. To reiterate, the wines are better than expected.

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The best wines of the 2011 vintage

Name Tb Producer Location
1 La Mission Haut Brion Blanc 97.4 Château La Mission Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
2 d'Yquem 97.2 Château d'Yquem Bordeaux, France
3 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 97.1 Bryant Family Vineyard Napa Valley, United States
4 Château Haut-Brion Blanc 97.1 Château Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
5 Montrachet 97.0 Château de Puligny-Montrachet Burgundy, France
6 Côte-Rôtie La Mouline 96.5 E.Guigal Rhône, France
7 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 96.2 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Bordeaux, France
8 Harlan Estate 96.1 Harlan Estate Napa Valley, United States
9 Gargiulo OVX G Major 7 Cabernet Sauvignon 96.1 Gargiulo Vineyards Napa Valley, United States
10 Montrachet 96.1 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
11 IX Estate 96.0 Colgin Cellars Napa Valley, United States
12 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Pignan 96.0 Château Rayas Rhône, France
13 The Contours Riesling 96.0 Pewsey Vale Vineyard Eden Valley, Australia
14 Lafleur 95.8 Château Lafleur Bordeaux, France
15 Château Margaux 95.7 Château Margaux Bordeaux, France
16 Château Ausone 95.6 Château Ausone Bordeaux, France
17 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 95.5 Domaine de Chevalier Pessac Leognan, France
18 Cheval Blanc 95.5 Château Cheval Blanc Bordeaux, France
19 Gargiulo 575 OVX Cabernet Sauvignon 95.5 Gargiulo Vineyards Napa Valley, United States
20 Bienvenue-Batard-Montrachet 95.5 Domaine Leflaive Burgundy, France
21 Esprit de Font Caude 95.5 Domaine Alain Chabanon Languedoc, France
22 Montrachet 95.5 Domaine Ramonet Burgundy, France
23 Vosne-Romanee Le Clos Goillotte 95.5 Domaine Prieure Roch Burgundy, France
24 Vintage Port 95.5 Fonseca Portugal, Portugal
25 Steinberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese Goldkapsel 95.5 Kloster Eberbach Rheingau, Germany
26 Las Flors de la Peira 95.5 La Peira en Damaisela Languedoc, France
27 Tychson Hill 95.4 Colgin Cellars Napa Valley, United States
28 Pavie 95.3 Château Pavie Bordeaux, France
29 Château Climens 95.3 Château Climens Bordeaux, France
30 Cabernet Sauvignon 95.3 Yeringberg Victoria, Australia
31 Corton-Charlemagne 95.3 Coche Dury Burgundy, France
32 Chablis Grand Cru Clos 95.3 Domaine Raveneau Burgundy, France
33 Château Haut-Brion 95.3 Château Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
34 Château Clinet 95.1 Château Clinet Bordeaux, France
35 Chateau Beausejour Duffau-Lagarosse 95.0 Château Beausejour Duffau-Lagarosse Bordeaux, France
36 Barolo Brunate 95.0 Elio Altare Piedmont, Italy
37 Chateau de Fieuzal Blanc 95.0 Château de Fieuzal Pessac Leognan, France
38 Steinberger Riesling 95.0 Kloster Eberbach Rheingau, Germany
39 L'Eglise-Clinet 95.0 Château L'Eglise-Clinet Bordeaux, France
40 Hochstrasser Grüner Veltliner 95.0 Weingut Leo Alzinger Wachau, Austria
41 Vosne-Romanée 1er cru Aux Reignots 95.0 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Burgundy, France
42 Cabernet Sauvignon "Marques de Casa Concha" 95.0 Concha y Toro Maipo Valley, Chile
43 Proprietary Blend Napa Valley 95.0 Brand Napa Valley, United States
44 Bâtard-Montrachet 95.0 Château de Puligny-Montrachet Burgundy, France
45 Château Coutet 95.0 Château Coutet Sauternes, France
46 Vosne-Romanée aux Brûlées 95.0 Meo Camuzet Burgundy, France
47 Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon 95.0 Leeuwin Estate Margaret River, Australia
48 Romanée Saint Vivant Grand Cru 95.0 Domaine Hudelot-Noëllat Burgundy, France
49 Château Pape Clément Blanc 95.0 Château Pape Clément Bordeaux, France
50 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 95.0 Moss Wood Western Australia, Australia
51 Musigny Vieilles Vignes 95.0 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Burgundy, France
52 "CFM" 95.0 PureCru California, United States
53 Paradiso 94.9 V.Sattui Winery Napa Valley, United States
54 Château Suduiraut 94.8 Château Suduiraut Bordeaux, France
55 Vieux Chateau Certan 94.8 Vieux Château Certan Bordeaux, France
56 Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon 94.7 Shafer Vineyards Napa Valley, United States
57 Tertre Roteboeuf 94.7 Château Tertre Roteboeuf Bordeaux, France
58 Château de Fargues 94.7 Château de Fargues Sauternes, France
59 La Grande Ruelle 94.6 Marguet Champagne, France
60 Dana Lotus Vineyard 94.6 Dana Estates Napa Valley, United States
61 Masseto 94.6 Ornellaia Tuscany, Italy
62 Cabernet Sauvignon 94.6 Levy & McClellan Napa Valley, United States
63 Clos des Lambrays 94.5 Domaine des Lambrays Burgundy, France
64 Barolo Bricco Gattera 94.5 Cordero di Montezemolo Piedmont, Italy
65 Barolo Unoperuno 94.5 Elio Altare Piedmont, Italy
66 Riesling G-Max 94.5 Weingut Keller Rheinhessen, Germany
67 Château Calon Ségur 94.5 Château Calon-Ségur Bordeaux, France
68 Château Guiraud 94.5 Château Guiraud Bordeaux, France
69 La Tâche 94.5 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
70 Château Troplong-Mondot 94.5 Château Troplong-Mondot Bordeaux, France
71 Gaja Ca´marcanda 94.5 Angelo Gaja Barbaresco, Italy
72 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Brio 94.5 Brand Napa Valley, United States
73 Screaming Eagle 94.5 Screaming Eagle Napa Valley, United States
74 Melbury 94.4 Bond Estate Napa Valley, United States
75 Le Pin 94.4 Le Pin Bordeaux, France
76 Château Latour 94.4 Château Latour Bordeaux, France
77 Château Raymond-Lafon 94.4 Château Raymond-Lafon Bordeaux, France
78 Cherubino Margaret River Chardonnay 94.3 Larry Cherubino Western Australia, Australia
79 Château Pontet Canet 94.3 Château Pontet Canet Bordeaux, France
80 Clos Apalta 94.3 Casa Lapostolle Colchagua, Chile
81 Pétrus 94.3 Château Pétrus Pomerol, France
82 Vecina 94.2 Bond Estate Napa Valley, United States
83 Chateau Margaux Pavillon Blanc 94.2 Château Margaux Bordeaux, France
84 Schweigen Sonnenberg Grosses Gewächs Riesling Grosse Lage 94.0 Weingut Friedrich Becker Pfalz, Germany
85 Les Maillons Extra Brut 94.0 Ulysse Collin Champagne, France
86 Château La Tour Blanche 94.0 Château La Tour Blanche Bordeaux, France
87 Promontory 94.0 Promontory Napa Valley, United States
88 Château Haut-Bailly 94.0 Château Haut-Bailly Pessac Leognan, France
89 Chardonnay, Kistler Vineyard, Sonoma Valley 94.0 Kistler California, United States
90 Château Violette 94.0 Château La Violette Bordeaux, France
91 Manso de Velasco Cabernet Sauvignon 94.0 Miguel Torres Central Valley, Chile
92 Barolo Arborina 94.0 Elio Altare Piedmont, Italy
93 Léoville-Las Cases 94.0 Château Léoville-Las Cases Saint-Julien, France
94 Milmanda Chardonnay 94.0 Torres Penedès, Spain
95 Niederhauser Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel 94.0 Weingut Hermann Dönnhoff Nahe, Germany
96 La Muse 94.0 Verite Wines California, United States
97 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 94.0 Peju Winery Napa Valley, United States
98 Barolo 94.0 Burlotto Piedmont, Italy
99 Felseneck Riesling 94.0 Schäfer-Fröhlich Nahe, Germany
100 Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St. Jacques 94.0 Domaine Armand Rousseau Burgundy, France

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BWW-Best Wine of the World -competition 2017

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Jacob’s Creek Barossa Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Jacob's Creek
Noble Reserve NV (10's), Kracher
Le Sauvage Chardonnay 2013, Sirromet Wines
Beaumont Pinotage 2014, Beaumont Family Wines
ArnaldoRivera Barolo Rocche Di Castiglione 2013, Terre del Barolo