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Thursday, 24 October 2013

Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux - 2011 tasting

A tasting of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux 2011s

The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux was established in 1973 to represent 134 properties - including classified and not classified - from the Médoc, Graves and Pessac-Léognan, Sauternes and Barsac, Saint Emilion and Pomerol

It is a roll call of the great and the good in Bordeaux; from some of the most lofty and prestigious wines in the world - the classed First Growths - to the solidly reputable B-list lower orders.

The tasting of the 2011s was an opportunity to compare different properties across a single vintage and, with over 100 wines to try, I picked a mixture of levels.

Overall my conclusions were not especially earth-shattering - the wines were complex and elegant, and the higher up the 1855 classification you go, the better and more concentrated the wines generally are; the best wines seemed to show a plump, fatty softness whereas others seemed rather leaner.

Others, who know this level of Bordeaux in more detail, observed that this was not a great year: Kat Wiggins was a bit underwhelmed generally, whilst  Richard Hemming thought the Right Bank showed well.

Chris Kissak: Not the easiest or most impressive of vintages unfortunately, even in the whites.

Tim Atkin: 2011 Bordeaux vintage should be remembered for Sauternes

Robert Hammond: Margaux, St Julien and St Esteph stood out. Ch Lascombes was excellent

Laura Clay: Varied but many much better than expected. Top white SML, top sweet Climens, reds Conseillante, Rauzan-Segla, Pichon Baron

Left Bank
Ch Pichon-Longueville Baron (2nd) ripe bramble fruit and savoury coffee. Long - poised and elegant, lovely texture and real prettiness. Very Good.

Ch Brane Cantenac (2nd) bramble and feral nose, red berry fruits, prominent linear acidity and grippy tannins.

Ch Lascombes (2nd) expressive coffee and bramble nose, ripe bramble fruit and sweet vanilla, plump and soft, concentrated and savoury. Good.

Ch Rauzan-Ségla (2nd) expressive bramble and coffee nose, ripe sweet vanilla, grippy - a little lacking on the mid-palate?

Ch Gruaud Larose (2nd) expressive coffee and bramble nose, sweet vanilla and bramble fruit. Vibrant, long and soft. Good.

Ch Langoa Barton (3rd) coffee and bramble, sweet vanilla and cook mint, ripe and soft texture; balanced and enjoyable with grip on the finish. Good.

Ch Marquis du Terme (4th) ripe bramble fruit, plump with sweet vanilla, pepperiness and ripe tannins. Good.

Ch Lynch-Moussas (5th) feral with red berries, soft and plump with fresh acidity; balanced with a firm finish but lacks concentration.

Ch Belgrave (5th) ripe bramble and coffee, ripe sweet vanilla, balanced and soft; enjoyable if not especially concentrated.

Ch Gloria (unclass) bramble and woodsiness, sweet vanilla, ripe bramble fruit. Good.

Ch Les Carmes Haut-Brion (unclassified, once part of Haut-Brion) ripe fruit, mintiness, good acidity and grippiness - lacks plumpness.

Right Bank
Ch Troplong Mondot (Premier grand cru classé B) spice, coffee and bramble, plump and rounded, good fruit, texture and acidity, ripe tannins. Intensity and persistence. Good-to-Very Good.

Sweet wines
Ch Climens (1st) apricot yellow in the glass, ripe peach skin aromas, lively fresh acidity with flavours of ripe apricots gently roasted in butter. Beautifully elegant. Very Good.

Ch Suduiraut (1st) focused, precise and poised nose, concentrated and peachy. Fresh, elegant and lively. Very Good.

Ch Doisy Daene (2nd) more yeasty / musky nose, unctuously rich and sticky, like buttery overripe peaches.


My top wines from this tasting were:
- Pichon Longuevillle
- Troplong Mondot
- Climens

Other related articles
Haut-Brion 350th Anniversary
Troplong Mondot 1998 Magnum
Lynch-Moussas 2004
Innovation And Change in Bordeaux
World-class Cabernet and Merlot
Reserve de la Comtesse 1994 Magnum
Affordable Right Bank Bordeaux
Crus Bourgeois 2010

UGC - website, twitter

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