Bordeaux En Primeur 2011: The Best of Saint Émilion

7 April 2012
Author: Jeannie Cho Lee


I tasted approximately 80 wines from St-Émilion and its satellite appellations this year. Quality was variable and many Grand Cru Classe wines fell below 90 points. 2011 was a winemaker’s vintage, where close attention in the vineyard and winemaking made a huge difference to quality – Chateau Ausone, as in 2010 was my favourite wine from St Emilion; even its second wine, La Chapelle d’Ausone is an exceptional aromatic complex wine with a long finish. Angélus and Cheval Blanc also did very well.  


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. As one the warmest vintages of the decade, 2011 will be remembered for its erratic weather but one that yielded surprisingly wonderful results on the right bank.
My top picks of Saint-Émilion wines are listed below are from highest to lowest ratings. 

1) 2011 Château Ausone, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France
This is a wonderful Ausone that is among the contenders as the wine for the vintage. The style is seductive and voluptuous, showing generosity and opulence that is not often found in this vintage. It is a style that can be enjoyed fairly young but will age for decades given its amazing intensity and long length. The palate profile is amazing with great depth and subtle flavours that are round and seductive with great length. There is always the same blend of 55% Cabernet Franc and 45% Merlot. Yields were 29 hl/ha with average vine age of 50 years.  (95-97)


2) 2011 Château Cheval Blanc, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France
This is a wine with grace and elegance. As expected, the tannins are refined and supple with a firmness that lifts the flavours of herbs and spices on the palate. There is great depth and finesse with a lingering finish that offers a whiff of violets. It is not a powerful Cheval Blanc but it will age well and reward those who will cellar it for at least a decade or more.(93-95)
3) 2011 Château Pavie, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France
Pavie has really moved away from overripeness and over the past several years produced gorgeous wines. This wine has aromas of spices, dark berries and layers of flavours. It is fresh and lively with good acidity and firm, dense, ripe tannins. Well made and opulent with freshness.(93-95)
4) 2011 Château Ausone La Chapelle d’Ausone, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France
This is a very aromatic Chapelle with spicy notes and lifted ripe blackberries. This wine has the most seductive aroma and flavour profile tasted thus far on day 3 of en primeur tasting. Gorgeous wine that is showing beautifully even at such a young age. Very long and seductive and will age easily for decades.(93-94)
5) 2011 Château Angélus, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France
Congratulations to Hubert de Bouard who did an exceptional job this year with Angélus. This is a supple, voluptuous and seductive wine with a nice concentration of blackberry and spice flavours. The wine has great complexity with well handled tannins and a fairly long length. The tannins are dense and firm but ripe and velvety at the same time. (92-94)
6) 2011 Château Beau-Séjour Bécot, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France
This is one of the standout St Emilions in a tasting of over 30 wines form this appellation. The wine possesses wonderful vibrant flavours with full, dense tannins that are ripe and polished. The flavours have the ripeness of the 2009 and the tannins have the density of the 2010s. A gorgeous supple wine with excellent length.(92-94)
7) 2011 Château Monbousquet, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France
This wine offers an aromatic nose with violets and a hint of plums. The texture is soft, succulent and supple. There is a minerality in the backbone that provides grip for the ripe blackberry flavours found in this wine. Silky and well balanced without being extracted and too ripe. Very long length – a wine that will mature well.(92-93)
8) 2011 Château Moulin St. George, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France
This wine is polished with lifted dark berry fruit and amazing freshness. There is a wonderful depth to the flavours and  a richness in the mid palate. Full-bodied, generous wine – while approachable this is a serious wine with velvety tannins. Very long length. A wine from the Vauthier family.(92-93)
9) 2011 Château Bellevue Mondotte, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France
This is a powerful wine with great aging potential. It has 14.5% alcohol and amazing weight and intensity. This is a big ripe style with chewy, thick tannins that requires patience. Bellevue Mondotte is a small 2 ha property planted with 90% Merlot.(91-93)
10) 2011 Château Larcis Ducasse, Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France
This is a very seductive wine given the challenging vintage conditions. The flavours range from violets, blackcurrant, fresh Chinese red dates to sweet spices. Enjoy this very pretty wine with lifted flavours and firm, ripe tannins in the background about 5-8 years from now. Fairly long finish.(91-93)
11) 2011 Château Quintus, St Émilion, Bordeaux, France
This new property with 14 hectares in St Emilion is an impressive wine with a fairly long finish. The palate offers plums and blackberries with a great precision of flavours. These are complemented by ripe tannins and rounded flavours. Wine shows good ageing potential.(91-92)