Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2011 vintage in Chateauneuf-du-Pape... hm...

This week I had my first look at the 2011 Chateauneuf-du-Pape's thanks to the AWA tasting in San Francisco. Long story short -- I am compelled to go buy more 2010's! (yes, 10's)

Varying weather conditions in 2011 and whatnot, to me, many of the 2011 reds were light in texture and zinfandel-like, almost dry-fruit in flavor. A few were clean, juicy and quite intense, but none came close to the depth, aristocratic flavors and nuances of the 2010's. I think for lovers of CdP, particularly loyal fans of certain producers, there are examples to enjoy in 2011, but for those who like to cherry-pick great wines, I am not sure if 2011 warrants much attention, especially because shockingly the prices are apparently even slightly higher than 2010 - what?!!!

My favorite 2011 CdP was Le Vieux Donjon, although a person next to me commented that it was bretty and out of balance. It seemed to have the most character, pronounced meat and spice notes, and less of the overbearing sweetness - but nowhere as good as the 2010, my wine of the tasting last year. On the other hand, a 2011 Pierre Usseglio CdP blanc was quite fine. I also hear that the following vintage - 2012 - was a deep and low-yielding year, which should produce maybe another 2010 like results - something to look forward to...

Elsewhere, Domaine Jean-Michel Stephan Cote-Rotie 2011 was amazing - the complexity of flavors was simply indescribable. Incredible kaleidoscope of spices!  In the photo below are the wines I liked from the non-Chateauneuf portion of the tasting, where only the Cote-Rotie was a true stand-out. (The villages Santenay from Domaine Jessiaume, was good, reflecting well on the 2010 vintage for red Burgundy, but a bit toasty which will perhaps integrate in 2-3 years' time. The Cornas from the 2010 vintage was a behemoth of a wine - very good but in need of at least 7 years of cellaring. And the 2011 Domaine Jomain Bourgogne blanc was nice and clean, good QPR for under $20).

Based on the profiles of the wines and the increasing prices of the 2011 vintage, plus a potentially great and very limited 2012 coming up, my advice continues to be - stock up on the 2010's Southern Rhones. Maybe give the 2011 whites a closer look. Northern Rhones may be another fascinating matter altogether...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

2010 Bordeaux kicks 2009 Bordeaux's butt

Big-time tasting at K&L yesterday - serious 2009 and 2010 heavyweights. This was the first time I had the opportunity to taste 2009's and 2010's side by side. A month ago at the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting in San Francisco, I was super-impressed by the quality of the 2010 vintage in Bordeaux, and at the tasting yesterday it was all the more clear next to the super highly heralded 2009 (which I also like). IMO there is no comparison - 2010's are more precise, fresher, more structured and muscular, with tremendous depth. The funny thing - I didn't even like the 2010 Leoville Barton a month ago next to the other 2010's, but yesterday it tasted awesome!

Here is the mouth-watering line-up:

d'Yquem "Y" 2010 Bordeaux blanc dry white Sauternes (good white of tremendous intensity, $159.99), Angelus 2009 (underwhelming, especially for the money $399.99), Palmer 2009 (best of the 2009's, $349.99), Lynch Bages 2009 and 2010 ($219.99 and $189.99 -- 2010 blows the 2009 away and is a better deal), Pontet-Canet 2009 ($299.99), Les Forts De Latour 2009 ($299.99), Leoville Barton 2010 (very good, but so are most 2010's!, $134.99 a relative bargain), Montrose 2010 (powerhouse wine, $249.99).

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