This year I tasted over 130 wines from Pomerol, St Emilion and its satellite appellations. While St Émilion was variable, Pomerol had much greater consistency being a much smaller appellation with very small vineyards. 2011 was a winemaker’s vintage, where close attention in the vineyard and winemaking made a huge difference to quality. Generally the smaller properties did better but there are many exceptions like Angélus and Cheval Blanc, both with over 20 hectares in vines. Most Pomerol properties are about half this size and were better able to manage the challenging weather conditions.
The drought that affected Bordeaux during late spring and early summer was not as stressful for the Merlots on the right bank on clay and limestone soils. Their counterparts in the gravel soils of the left bank suffered much more under the water stress and many left bank estates used a much higher proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon in their blend than Merlot in 2011. Yield seems to have been much less affected on the right bank than the left and for many, similar number of bottles will be produced in 2011 compared with 2010.
In 2011, my usual favourite Pomerols like Lafleur and Le Pin did extremely well but the two surprises of the vintage were Vieux Château Certan and L’Évangile. As my notes below reveal, quality was excellent for those who were careful with harvest date, selection and conscientious in the vineyard throughout the year. The best wines are generous, concentrated but without any heaviness or excess weight.
My top twelve wines from Pomerol below are listed from highest to lowest ratings.
2011 Vieux Château Certan, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
This is a fleshy, generous, full bodied Pomerol with a detailed fruit profile and great depth. Flavours range from violets and plums to blackberries with hints of mocha and cedar. The fruit was obviously perfectly ripe with polished, generous tannins and a very long finish. The quantity produced this year is the same as in 2010 with 29% of Cabernet Franc used in the blend. A phenomenal wine and my top wine from Pomerol.(95-96)
2011 Château L’Évangile, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
This Pomerol has a gorgeous aroma of ripe plums and violets with seductive flavours on the palate. There is good density and concentration here with plush, ripe tannins. The wine is 94% Merlot. Thorough, strict selection made phenomenal wine in 2011. The alcohol is less than in 2010 and 2009, but still almost 14%. Long finish with ability to age for decades. This property increased by 6 ha but the total quantity produced in 2011 was the same as in 2012 with severe selection. The 6 ha were purchased just before harvest in 2011.(94-95)
2011 Château Lafleur, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
On the nose, the violets and plums suggest a soft, gentle wine; however, this wine is filled with intense layers of tannins with great density and depth. The flavours are concentrated and surrounded by tannins at this stage but the wine also displays minerality and grace. This is a wine that will take a decade or more to come around. The wine is serious and has a stature that suggests it will improve greatly with age. Be patient with this wine.(92-95)
2011 Château Le Pin, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
This is a full bodied, gentle, sophisticated wine. Typical of Le Pin, it is restrained, classy with lovely length and finesse. Flavours range from violets to blackberries, fresh Chinese red dates and cassis. There are tobacco and spice notes with caressing flavours and the tannins are velvety, ripe and the finish very long.(93-94)
2011 Château La Conseillante, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Tasted twice, both times the wine showed very well. The tannins of La Conseillante this year are plush, full, very dense and ripe. This layered wine with 82% Merlot displays plums, blackberries and black Chinese red dates on the palate. It has a very long finish and plush tannins. Classic La Conseillante – sophisticated and classy.(92-93)
2011 Château Trotanoy, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
This wine has a haunting nuanced detailed character that is seductive. Flavours are restrained and on the palate reveal spices, plums, blackberries and savoury fruit. The wine is layered, serious and has nice density and depth. Flavours are lifted by the fresh acidity and firm ripe tannins. (91-93)
2011 Château Grand Village- Guinaudeau, Bordeaux Superieur, Bordeaux, France
The Guinaudeaus (owners of Lafleur) made a full bodied red with sweet plums and violet notes. The wine has vibrancy and wonderful array of flavours from 50-50 Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Only 1000 cases from Fronsac that offers great value at less than US$50 retail. These are from young vines, about 25 years old, and the potential for the wines to age looks promising. Fairly long length.(90-92)
2011 Château Hosanna, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Sweet perfumed velvety wine with supple tannins and fairly long finish. Hosanna represents the success in Pomerol from the 2011 vintage – no over extraction, soft, elegant fruit with good depth. Not a big heavy style but reflective of the terroir and vintage.(90-92)
2011 Château La Fleur Pétrus, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
This wine is elegant and possesses nice depth of fruit that is layered and complex. Gentle, velvety plum and Chinese red date fruit flavours and fairly long length.(91-92)
2011 Château La Fleur- Pensée de Lafleur, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Beautiful wine with wonderful layers and nice concentration of flavours. Gentle, delicate floral flavours combined with plums and blackberries. This second wine of Lafleur was created in 1987.(91-92)
2011 Château Lafleur Gazin, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Full bodied Pomerol with supple ripe, beautifully textured tannins. The flavours range from blackberries to plums and the finish is moderate. It lacks the weight and depth of previous years but it is still a serious wine with good balance and approachable fruit.(90-91)
2011 Château L’Église Clinet, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Elegant medium bodied Pomerol with nice flavours, lifted aromatics and lovely detail. The mid palate is lacking a bit of depth but there are subtle layers of flavour on the mid palate and the tannin texture is velvety. Moderate finish.(89-91)