Following the classic-quality 2009 vintage and the potentially even more impressive 2010 wines, Bordeaux châteaus have a tough sell ahead as they prepare for their first official unveiling of the 2011 vintage. France’s most famous wine region got thrown a few curveballs during that growing season, leading to uneven quality, and consumers will need to choose wisely to find good deals.
Early impressions of the young wines, which are still aging in barrels in the château cellars, indicate that the 2011 red Bordeaux feature a slightly snappy profile that contrasts with the lush fruit of 2009 or the well-integrated structure of 2010. The dry whites and the sweet wines of Barsac and Sauternes look promising.
Later this spring and summer, the producers will offer their 2011s for sale en primeur, as futures, for delivery in about two years, after the wines are bottled. Buying wine futures ensures you secure the wines you want—often at the best possible price (as long as strong demand causes prices to rise later). However, in the case of 2011, don't expect much appreciation in value.
How can buyers know which wines are worth acquiring as futures? Many members of the wine trade will visit Bordeaux this spring and taste the young wines for themselves. But most consumers don’t have that option. That is why Wine Spectator is sending our team to the region. We try to be the consumers’ advocate, giving independent evaluations to help you make good decisions.
To do that, senior editor James Molesworth will be visiting top châteaus, blogging about his visits and sharing notes on the wines. Then he will conduct blind tastings of more than 225 additional barrel samples that Wine Spectator requested from the region’s most recognized names and noteworthy, but less familiar, properties. Scores and tasting notes for all the wines tasted will be posted here.