Kicking the hell out of 2011


Five (Almost) Affordable 2011s

2011 Alter Ego

Deep in colour, with irresistible scents: black fruits, lily, jasmine. Much lighter tannins than its sibling, but a very beautiful Margaux with choice fruit and gorgeous aromatic intricacy: all cloak, no dagger. 92

2011 Ch Angludet

This wine is an uncomplicated charmer, with scents of autumn berries, sweet cream and peony flowers. Gentle, unforced, undemonstrative yet ample, plush and juicy. Who said 2011 had to be tough? 90

2011 Ch Les Carmes Haut-Brion

The 2011 is a great success for the new regime here: this wine has some of the savoury, meat-stock and undergrowth notes which mark other wines in the neighbourhood, while the palate is fine, refined, concentrated, pleasingly grippy, with resonant flavours in the tannins as well as textural force. 93

2011 Ch d’Issan

This is a wine I’ve been lucky enough to taste on repeated occasions, and it’s a disarming Issan: full of floral lift and charm, while on the palate it has arresting aromatic intricacy, a core of sustained, poised, almost crisp fruit, while even the tannins seem to be scented. Best in the next decade. 91

2011 Ch Phélan-Ségur

Things can get very stern up in St Estèphe in 2011 (Montrose is monumentally grave), and the Phélan-Ségur team have judged the vintage to perfection. If you’re fed up with ‘sweet’ claret, just slide your nose into the cool, dewy, early-morning freshness of this wine, then relish that same teased-to-ripeness fruit style with the unapologetic structural wealth which was hidden in the grape skins. This will easily see out a couple of decades. 92

Five Luxurious 2011s

2011 La Fleur Pétrus

Which is better in 11, the Trotanoy or the Fleur-Pétrus? It’s a hard call, and Trotanoy certainly has more belly flesh to it, but I love the yin-yang contrast between the stealth, grace and finesse of La Fleur-Pétrus’s delicate fruit style and its firm, corrective but un-brutal tannins. There is admirable glowing gravelly ripeness here, too, without the clumsiness which clay soils could bring in 2011. 93

2011 Ch Valandraud

I haven’t always been an admirer of Valandraud, but Jean-Luc Thunevin has managed to craft a very beautiful wine indeed in 2011. The aromas are truly classy (Eglise-Clinet, for example, is ‘oakier’ at this stage): plums, flowers, leather. The palate is tender, deft, succulent – like Rauzan-Ségla, a masterclass in disposition rather than accumulation. 94

2011 Ch l’Eglise Clinet

The legendary vitality, firmness and alertness of Eglise-Clinet is very much on show here, though the wine needs longer to shake off its elemental qualities, at which point it may merit a higher score. The cherry fruit is fresh and athletic; the ripeness is resonant; the pectoral tannins frank and forthright. It’s striding out commandingly, and it won’t get to wherever it is heading for a couple of very enjoyable decades. 94

2011 Ch Rauzan-Ségla

A finer aromatic profile than Palmer at this stage, though the wine is lighter hued: perfumer’s spices, glove leather, liqueur blackcurrant. (Pure Chanel.) Very wealthy and seamless on the palate: texturally ample, freshly fruited, yet sumptuous and beguiling. It’s a little more graceful and svelte than Palmer, but built for the long-term and the magnificent disposition of its parts will still be evident, I’m sure, in two decade’s time. 95

2011 Ch Palmer

Dark purple-black in colour, with an aromatic profile that needs longer to settle and unfold. Given air and warmth in the mouth, though, you can see the magnificence of the wine; the aromas (root spice, citrus blossom, rose) are hiding in the palate rather than showing on the nose just now. It is soft, broad, textured and brocaded; tannin, ripe acidity and fruit are perfectly meshed. A higher score beckons, once the aromas settle, freshen and lift. 96

Translated by Sylvia Wu / 吴嘉溦

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