Bordeaux En Primeur 2011: Saint Julien Overview & Top Picks

13 April 2012
Author: Jeannie Cho Lee

I was disappointed with this appellation overall but I did find half a dozen wines from over 20 that showed promise. Two outstanding properties did extremely well in 2011 – Ducru Beaucaillou and Leoville Las Cases. Their dedication to crafting quality wine is obvious in challenging vintages like this one. The best wines from St Julien have gorgeous aromatics, wonderful concentration and ripe firm tannins. This is a vintage to keep in your cellar for at least a decade before approaching.


Below are my top seven picks of wines from Saint Julien listed in the order of highest to lowest ratings.


1) 2011 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint Julien, Bordeaux, France
This is a very attractive wine with a perfumed nose of violets, blackberries, spices and a palate that reveals complex layers of flavours. Yield at Ducru in 2011 was only 25 hl/ha, very low by any standard. A full bodied, dense wine that shows the elevated, plush tannins of this vintage but with freshness and nice depth. Very long length. This wine will age beautifully.(92-94)


2) 2011 Château Léoville Las Cases, Saint Julien, Bordeaux, France
The aromatics are subtle on this wine, but on the palate, the flavours are generous, tannins velvety and the finish long. This wine has many subtleties and is classic Leoville Las cases. Great depth, well balanced wine with wonderful potential to age for decades. A classy St Julien that is one of the stars from this appellation.(92-94)


3) 2011 Château Gruaud Larose, Saint Julien, Bordeaux, France
As usual, Gruaud Larose offers freshness, finesse and elegance even in a tannic vintage like 2011. Very pretty floral notes with violets, cedar and spices in the finish. Great work and selection in the vineyard. Fairly long finish.(91-92)


4) 2011 Château Léoville Las Cases- Clos de Marquis, Saint Julien, Bordeaux, France
This wine offers wonderful depth and layers of flavours with ripe tannins and dense mouthfeel but it is well done, polished and long. Mainly Cabernet Sauvignon (78%) with violets, cedar and cassis flavours and a fairly long finish. Very classic St Julien.(91-92)


5) 2011 Château Léoville-Barton, Saint Julien, Bordeaux, France
A firm delicious Leoville Barton and very successful given the vintage conditions. The tannins are sturdy but ripe and polished. The savoury flavour profile adds to the blackberry notes. There is a fair amount of restraint, but the wine shows promise that after five or more years of ageing, its true potential will reveal itself. Nice mid palate intensity and long length.(91-92)


6) 2011 Château Branaire-Ducru, Saint Julien, Bordeaux, France
This is a full bodied wine with attractive aromatics of fresh blackberries and red plums. The flavours are supported by generous tannins and fresh acidity. Fairly long finish. A serious wine that will age well — wait at least 5+ years before opening.(90-91)


7) 2011 Château Beychevelle, Saint Julien, Bordeaux, France

Nice concentration and density here compared to other St Julien reds. Good to see that the winemaking team was able to balance the dense tannins with the fresh flavour profile. Flavours range from cassis, blackberries to fresh Chinese red dates. A great Beychevelle given the vintage conditions.(90-91)