I was fortunate enough on Wednesday to attend the annual 2013 Union des Grands Cru de Bordeaux wine tasting in the magnificent setting of the Paul Hamlyn Hall at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. I first attended this event in my formative days as a fine wine investment broker when it was compulsory for all the brokers to attend. This tasting is so popular and essential for anyone wanting to know about the newest physical Bordeaux wine vintage that you have to sign up for either a morning or an afternoon session. This is never enough time with over 110 chateaux represented, sometimes by their owners but it still is able to give you an overall flavour of what Bordeaux produces in any given year.
My colleagues and friends always think that being able to taste wine as part of your job must be heaven. They have obviously never tasted tannic Bordeaux that has recently been bottled! Entering a crowded room of over 300 fellow wine trade professionals can also be fairly intimidating. Fortunately I bumped in to a friend at the entrance who works in the on-trade for a hotel in Norfolk and had already been to an earlier tasting in Cambridge so her taste buds had already been livened up. We were able to compare notes and it’s always funny how tastes can differ so widely.
So what is 2011 Bordeaux wine like? Wine taste is purely subjective and my palate is always learning but I was pleasantly surprised. From the arm’s length of the office and having read many of the wine critic’s comments I was under no illusion that the 2011 vintage would be stellar, especially when compared to the magnificent and opulent 2009 and the classic but backward 2010. However it looks like a reasonable drinking vintage provided you can find some value. Some wines were a bit tart and metallic and lacked fruit but they were all delightfully light in tannin and had good acidity and should provide some very pleasant drinking much sooner than 2010. The Bordelais over-priced this vintage when it was En Primeur and consequently it was not initially an investment proposition but this could change with time. My favourites? Beychevelle and Talbot which showed loads of body and fruit, my type of tasting wine.