By Juel Mahoney
“HEADING BACK TO BORDEAUX NEXT WEEK TO TASTE 2011s – ABSOLUTELY NO INTEREST IN THIS VINTAGE IF MY instincts are correct.” 14 March, Robert M Parker, Jr on twitter.
The collective gasp could be heard across the London Wine Trade.
One tweet from Robert Parker is like a bombshell just before the world’s wine trade trade heads off to Bordeaux to taste the 2011 vintage.
For better or worse, Robert Parker’s opinion sets the tone for the campaign. The subsequent points then impact on prices. And for the first time in years, Robert Parker was not full of praise.
On the upside, you probably won’t be hearing 2011 described as “vintage of the century,” which has almost become a cliché for the wine industry.
The fact is the last three vintages have been exceptional for Bordeaux.
On the downside, prices have skyrocketed. International demand has been high. And the recent upgrade in points for 2009 vintage by Robert Parker has also had a considerable impact on prices.
Is it time for a cooling down?
Let’s get back to basics.
In the latest issue of the Wine Advocate (#199), Robert Parker discusses his rationale behind giving the 2009 vintage an unprecedented number of wines 100-points. He cites the famous professor at Bordeaux’s School of Oenology, Denis Dubourdieu and the Professor’s ”five conditions that need to be satisfied for a great vintage”:
“These conditions are: (1) an early flowering at the beginning of June, (2) a healthy and uniform fruit set, meaning hot, sunny, relatively dry weather, (3) the veraison, which is the change from green to red grapes, must begin early (in 2009 it started in late July, rather than August); (4) The grapes have to ripen fully, which means there must be warm weather with enough rainfall in August and September to prevent photosynthesis from shutting down because of drought and stress to the vines; and (5) September and October have to be generally dry, sunny, and warm, without excessive heat spells or excessive rainy periods.” – Wine Advocate #199
So, what does Dubourdieu say about 2011? Not all the conditions were satisfied, but it is not all bad news. In a paper entitled, “The 2011 vintage at the beginning of ageing: the strange case of an early-maturing vintage when summer was in spring” he states:
“Astonishing dry white wines, less even quality for red wines than in 2009 or 2010, but many excellent and great Sauternes and Barsac”
“It is more difficult to make an overall appraisal of the red wines, which are not homogenous.”
What does this mean for the En Primeur buyer?
Unlike 2009 or 2010, the quality will be mixed. Due to the variable weather, some wines will perform well and some wines will not. The Bibendum Fine Wine team will be in Bordeaux on the first week of April to assess the vintage first-hand. If you are interested in finding good value, this is a year where advice is needed.
On May 9th, we will hold our 7th Annual Bordeaux En Primeur tasting. The biggest in London, this is an excellent opportunity to taste over 100 Chateaux and talk to the owners directly.
Why not join us and decide for yourself?
Be your own Robert Parker.
Bookmark this page now to follow the Fine Wine Team in Bordeaux. Updated directly from Bordeaux starting 2nd April, 2012.
To book tickets for our 2011 Bordeaux En Primeur Tasting go to Bibendumfinewine.com.
Follow the links below to read all the B Times coverage of the Bordeaux 2010 campaign -