Tuesday was another right bank day, characterised by oscillations between St Emilion and Pomerol (it is fortunate that the two communes are neighbours!), picking up the vast majority of the big name wines along the way, and the not-so-big of course; we tasted the lofty heights of Petrus and Ausone (and more of that ilk), but also the more affordable wines, with names like Fonbel, Cap de Mourlin, Saintayme, La Serre and so on. Some of these may well be worth picking up if the price is right. Some most definitely are not….regardless of the price.
I will avoid giving any pointers towards the best wines, because the response will almost be along the lines of “No sh*t, Sherlock”. I think at this early stage it’s probably more appropriate to give some general thoughts about the style of the vintage as it stands on the right bank. Just early impressions though, I will provide more detail in my full reports starting next week.
First, in St Emilion, it is clear that no matter the style of the vintage there are always some estates who are determined to ruin their raw materials with excessive hang time and over-extraction. There are some lovely wines which maintain elegance and display purity, those that bear the mark of the vintage I think, in fact they may well define the vintage. Then there are those where the winemaking is more prominent but not overdone, and although I used to struggle with this style of wine – typified by the likes of Larcis Ducasse, Canon-la-Gaffelière and Pavie-Macquin – today I think they fall within my sphere of “good” styles rather than “bad” styles, particularly as I have seen many of them develop in a very positive fashion over several years. Then there are those who are pouring wines more reminiscent of beef stock and Bovril than anything related to grapes, or those displaying overt alcohol. Including one St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé which has declared over 15% alcohol in both 2009 and 2010. I liked the 2009, but the 2010 couldn’t cope with this much power and it seemed hot and alcoholic in the mouth. Watch out for these wines when I publish my notes…and avoid.
So in St Emilion it is the fabulous purity of some wines that associate them with the vintage. So too in Pomerol, where there are plenty of high quality wines, the best also showing great purity of fruit, wonderful structure and fine, silky tannins. Included in this would be many of the Moueix wines (including Trotanoy and a number of others), which we tasted with Christian Moueix (pictured above left). One or two show a more substantial meaty style, although they still work well. provided everything is in balance. There is broader success here than in St Emilion, although that says more about winemaking than the vintage I think.
On Wednesday, it’s time for the left bank, and many of the best left bank chateaux including Lafite, Montrose (haven’t been here for a couple of years so it will be good to visit), Pichon-Lalande, LLC and plenty of other wines too.