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Bordeaux 2011 at Ten Years

Bordeaux 2011 at Ten Years

During a recent trip to Bordeaux – it was that one where I flew like a demented idiot from one château to the next, tasting their embryonic 2021 barrel samples – I took a few hours out one evening to visit Château Lascombes (pictured below). In this I was not alone, as the occasion was a dinner to mark the inauguration of their new cellars.

These dinners are always grand affairs that occasionally leave me feeling conflicted. Ideally I would kick back and simply enjoy the evening, and chew the cud with my dining companions. The conversation would of course focus on the wine and the food being served, and it invariably drifts towards how red Bordeaux really does work with seafood; I usually find myself nodding in polite agreement, while my Loire alter ego cries out for a glass of Sancerre. Of course nobody hears; said alter ego has been locked away for two weeks, the key to the cage hidden, to be returned only at the end of the primeurs.

Bordeaux 2011

In reality, however, it goes against my religion to travel all the way to Bordeaux, and to be poured magnificent old vintages dating back to the 1950s, and to not make a few notes. So without fail I find myself whipping out my pocket carnet and jotting down my thoughts. You might think this a little dull, but the truth is I am in the majority. The sound of scratching pens is deafening, as notes on vintages never previously encountered are scribbled on the back of cigarette packets, napkins, menus and indeed anything that can be pressed into service as an emergency notepad. It is a habit many working in wine, in Bordeaux at least, seem unwilling or unable to break.

Perusing the menu for the evening I drank in the vintages (later I would, more literally, drink in the wines). The 1957 and 1961 both promised new experiences, so too the 1975. I don’t have strong memories of the 1989 or 1996 vintages here, so I looked forward to tasting them, while it would be interesting to revisit the 2001. But then my eyes settled with surprise on the youngest vintage to be served, the 2011. I may even have let out a little grunt. Not only was this one of the more difficult and least interesting vintages of recent times, it served to remind me that I had thirty-or-so tasting notes from this vintage sitting in limbo, unedited and unpublished.

“I really must get around to writing them up”, I said to myself, out loud.

“You must”, said my neighbour, who presumably thought I was referring to the wines in front of us (either that or he was a mind-reader), “and you really must mention how well the 1961 works with this lobster and caviar”.

And so here we are, just a few weeks later, with a short report on thirty wines from the 2011 Bordeaux vintage, tasted at ten years of age. Including, as it happens, Château Lascombes (although not the double magnum I tasted at the château – I have yet to write up those notes). Before providing more detail on the tasting, and on the wines, I first provide this very brief reminder of the growing season. Feel free to skip further down the page, or straight to my tasting report, should you already know what a difficult year 2011 was. And by the way, if you want to read more about those old vintages of Château Lascombes, rest assured a short report is on the cards.

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