Noone has dared to admit that part of the production, particularly around Castillon la Bataille - which is referred to by negociants as "medical wines" with a lack of green and natural alcohol content - are the slimmest wines from Bordeaux. Not even the labels for these wines from the AOC Bordeaux have have this printed on them.
Finally, in the early 2000's, a revival of the terroir happened thanks to a warm summer and generally favorable weather conditions, as was much anticipated by producers in Bordeaux in order to distinguish themselves from other producers during the booming wine economy. Granted, wines made from the vine type Merlot are still the leader of all the others, however, Malbec and Cabernet Franc keep getting better, as the 2011 vintage proves very well. Malbec and Cabernet Franc neither suffered from a lack of water, nor were affected by mold within this "crazy" vegetation period.
Jean-Marc Quarin tasted numerous 2011 vintages from the areas around Côtes de Castillon, Premières Côtes de Blaye, Premières Côtes de Bordeaux, Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux, Côtes de Francs, Canon-Fronsac , Fronsac, Montagne-St-Emilion, Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion and Lussac Saint-Emilion. Seventy-two of these wines he describes as "beautiful pieces of jewelry" - all of them came from relatively unknown producers. "These wines really surprised me positively. You should not disregard them", says Jean-Marc Quarin.
Jean-Marc Quarin has provided us with a little excert from his tasting notes. For the full rating and other descriptions see TIP for his website.
ALCEE Côtes de Castillon: 15,5 / 20 or 87– 88 / 100
Alcee is a newcomer winery that was recently purchased by Nicolas Thienpont. Two hectares of vineyards are located in a perfect limestone plateau. The beautiful dark red wine is a blend of 95 percent Merlot and 5 percent Cabernet Franc. In the nose it is very creamy and juicy which makes it very seductive. In the mouth it leaves a very tasty impression while nicely polishing the tongue. A very fine finish follows with a potpourri aroma. The terroir here is excellent. The wine achieved a very impressive result for its first vintage, however, you need to realize that the grapes for this vintage came from old vines...
AMPELIA Côtes de Castillon: 13,75 / 20 or 83 / 100
Very juicy in the nose - smooth and concentrated in the mouth.
ARIA de Ch.La Rivière Fronsac: 15,25 - 15,5 / 20 or 87 / 100
Brilliant red mix in the glass. Fine in the nose. Creamy in the mouth with its fruit and juicy tannines. A little over-produced in its finish with an average length.
BARRABAQUE Prestige Canon-Fronsac: 15,5 / 20 or 87 - 88 / 100
A mix of violet and purpur in the glass. Juicy fresh in the nose. Its grapes came from a very good harvest - one of the most interesting wines from Fronsac. Very strong and tasty in the mouth. This wine has an excellent structure and is simply a well-made wine. (jm.quarin)