Established in 1973, the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGC) was formed for and by Bordeaux wine producers that were already touring the world in order to introduce their products to importers, vendors, retailers, journalists, and consumers.
Saturday, January 25th, 99 chateaus convened at the Bentley Reserve to taste …. on the 2011 vintage, accompanied by a grand display of decadent artisanal cheeses. This is the event of the year, where Bordeaux lovers gather to taste potential.
K&L Team Bordeaux opened hundreds of bottles, and were able to taste the wines before the doors were opened to the public.
Clyde Beffa’s impressions:
Canon la Gaffeliere was totally delicious-elegant and round-no edges-sweet all the way to long finish
Troplong even better-a bit richer style but also sweet.
Ralph Sands’ impressions:
I admit it I was very worried, the customers are not used to tasting such young Bordeaux wine from a difficult vintage and I have not tasted the 2011’s since the evaluation in April of 2012. Young Bordeaux is always very austere and tight young, no matter how good the vintage is; and 2011 was really tough to evaluate.
The left bank Cabernets all showed very nice zesty bright aromas and tight spicy fruit, but not a lot of sweet middle fruit. These wines, much to my delight, have fleshed out a bit but will always be firm, linear, and direct wines. Solid wines, and a testament to the extremely high level of winemaking in Bordeaux today is that I did not hear even one negative comment. I feel the 2011’s draw a strong comparison to the under the radar vintage of 2001, which has turned out to be a lovely vintage to drink young after only a few years of cellaring.
The red wines from Pessac-Leognan and the Right bank showcased more forward sweet fruit and texture and overall showed much better at this baby stage.
The tasting was proof that 2011 is a great vintage for the white wines and the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac across the board!
Famous wines that stood out for me were… Lynch Bages, Cantemerle, Leoville Poyferre, Giscours, Malescot, Cantenac Brown, Les Carmes Haut Brion, Dom. De Chevalier, Fieuzal, Larrivet Haut-Brion, Malartic-La Graviere, Smith Haut Lafite, Pape Clement, Beau-Sejour Becot, Figeac, Clos Fourtet, Le Bon Pasteur, Canon La Gaffeliere and Troplong Mondot.
Jeff Garneau’s impressions:
2011. A difficult vintage by all accounts which was hot when it ought to have been cool and cool when it ought to have been hot, with both too little rain and too much, all at the wrong times. A better vintage overall for whites and for Sauternes than for reds. The whites are fresh and lively with bright fruit and lovely aromatics. The 2011 de Fieuzal Blanc is a good example. The Sauternes are balanced with vibrant acidity, ripe fruit, and well-developed botrytis character. Coutet, Guiraud, and Suduiraut all showed well. Lafaurie Peyraguey was a stand out with prodigious weight and richness. It was possible to make reds with more ripeness and weight in 2011, but most who tried couldn't manage to avoid introducing fairly bitter, astringent tannins. In my opinion the most successful wines of the vintage were those that adopted a lighter style, emphasized acidity and freshness. These will no doubt provide much enjoyment in the near to mid term, assuming prices are at appropriate levels for the vintage. This is a vintage that resists broad generalizations as to quality, one which will require a judicious, selective approach by the consumer. For my money, the most consistent of the major appellations in 2011 was St Julien. I liked the Leoville Barton, which I think was one of the most successful wines of the vintage.
Steve Greer’s impressions:
I didn’t go to 2011 UGC in Bordeaux and from all I read and heard I was expecting something close to 2006 with less fruit and the acidity and tannins dominating the day. That was far from the truth. In fact the joke was, did they add 09 juice to these wines? I always try to listen to what the customers are saying while trying the wines and I heard a bunch of comparisons to 2007 as well as favorable reviews of all the wines. For me there are some stand outs. The wines of St. Julien showed the best as a total commune and in particular the Beychevelle and Langoa were very good. Lynch Bages and Pichon Baron and Pichon Lalande were standouts in Pauillac and Phelan Segur was also a standout overall. The real stars of the show were the whites (Smith Haut Lafite) and the Sauternes across the board with the best Lafaurie-Peyraguey I ever remember tasting, with a insanely aromatic nose of floral potpourri and jumped from the glass.
Melissa Lavrinc Smith’s impressions:
Overall, a very solid showing. Standouts to me were: Bouscaut-soft, great fruit, and a touch of menthol; Dm. De Chevalier-Big ripe fruit, cassis and blackberry, with lush tannins, and a warming finish. Ch. Larrivet Haut-Brion-Exceptional! Sweet, dark fruit, aromas of the bark of a Ponderosa Pine, and pipe tobacco, medium tannins, and a soft silky finish. This shows a lot of promise. (Such a tease to taste these and then have to wait a year to get my hands on a bottle). Malartic-Lagraviere-Bright cherries, plummy, nice juicy acidity. Wood plays quietly in the background; Canon-A serious wine! Dense,balanced, structured, with a bright finish; Conversely the Canon la Gaffeliere is soft, loving, really pretty, and very friendly. The Clos Fourtet is a serious wine, very expressive, foresty up front followed by blackberries and chocolate dipped raspberries; Branaire-Ducru-Beautiful, fresh and elegant; Leoville Poyferre-An awesome wine...and we’re temporarily sold out! And for the Sauternes the standouts for me were the Chateau Coutet and the Rayne Vigneau.
I’m looking forward to tasting some of these for a second time at Fete du Bordeaux this weekend!