After two stunning vintages from this appellation (2010 and 2009), 2011 was a disappointment. I struggled to find balanced wines; many were hard and tough with rough tannins or thin and simple with little substance. Unfortunately hail in September affected many of the properties here and quantity overall is very low. The extent of the hail damage, which was short but intense, varied by property. Some mentioned that the hail only affected the leaves of the vines while others said it destroyed several hectares of their vineyards with both the grapes and leaves damaged. The best wines show a medium weight palate with ripe tannins and a lifted flavour profile.
Below are my top six picks of wines from St Estèphe listed in the order of highest to lowest ratings.
1) 2011 Château d’Estournel Blanc, St Estèphe, Bordeaux, France
This is one of the best Cos Blancs that I have tasted in recent vintages. It is aromatic with concentration of star fruit herbs, fresh herbs and passion fruit flavours. The wine offers nice depth and fairly long length. Only 800 cases made.(93-94)
2) 2011 Château d’Estournel, St Estèphe, Bordeaux, France
2011 is a perfumed aromatic style for Cos and the light touch has added to the wine’s finesse. The 65% of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend adds a density on the palate with blackberry flavours and firm tannins in the finish. This is classic St Estephe. Cos’ style is returning to its traditional roots – less extracted, gentler and elegant. Well crafted wine with long finish.(92-93)
3) 2011 Château Montrose, St Estèphe, Bordeaux, France
Round supple full bodied Montrose with the plush, velvety tannins one would expect from this superstar second growth. The flavours are polished and layered but at the same time, the wine offers nuance and depth. Not as complex as in the past two vintages, but definitely a superstar in St Estephe.(91-93)
4) 2011 Château Montrose- La Dame de Montrose, St Estèphe, Bordeaux, France
Supple serious second wine of Montrose with firm tannins and velvety textured mouthfeel. Cassis and blackberries offer nice depth in the mid palate. The wine has balance and elegance with firm tannic backbone that will enable it to age for along time.(90-91)
5) 2011 Château Cos d’Estournel- Les Pagodes de Cos, St Estèphe, Bordeaux, France
The Pagodes is perfumed and attractive with cedar box, spices and anise in the finish. Full bodied and supple wine. The extraction has a light touch which allows the lovely aromatics to surface. A balanced Pagodes with a drinking window of at least a decade.(88-90)
6) 2011 Château Ormes de Pez, St Estèphe, Bordeaux, France
A firm dense wine with classic St Estephe tannin structure — dense and firm, built for the long term. The mid palate has nice density and layers of flavours ranging from blackberries to tobacco. Moderately long finish.(88-90)