Helen’s blog

Thoughts and tastings from Helen Savage, wine writer.

Lalande de Pomerol 2011

As part of the en primeur showing of wines from the 2011 vintage in Bordeaux last week I went to the tasting of Lalande de Pomerol. As Aline Goldschmidt, vice-president of the growers’ syndicat and owner of Château Siaurac told me, “You had to be a good winemaker to make good wine in 2011. Careful selection was essential and each plot in the vineyard reacted differently,” [to the special circumstances of what turned out to be a tricky growing season].

The appellation has some superb properties, especially those on gravel and clay terraces around and just to the north of Néac, but, to the west, across the main Libourne to Périgueux road, the soil becomes gradually more sandy and has more limited potential for  fine wine.

That said, the wines I tasted were generally good and some were very good.

Château Tournefeuille impressed, with rich fruit, freshness and a good, firm tannic structure. Château Belles-Graves seemed initially lighter, with red fruit, then developed plenty of power, but with rather soft acidity. Château Haut-Surget was big and rich, with juicy acidity, but also seemed a bit too extracted. Château Ame de Musset was a wee bit cooked – powerful but again, rather too extracted. Château de Viaud was rich and soft, with quite fine tannins. Château Jean de Gué was roasted and almost balsamic – perhaps a bit worrying in so young a wine – but rich and savoury. Château Haut-Chaigneau was fresh and had a nice purity of red fruit flavours and fine tannins, quite an approachable wine. I also enjoyed La Sergue, a special cuvee from the same estate, which was well balanced, soft, rich and brambly, but again, with freshness and not too extracted. Château de Chambrun showed rather less well: though well enough balanced, with good length and a fine tannic structure, the nose was slightly too oxidative.

Best of all was Château Siaurac, a fine rich wine despite a yield of 52.9hl/ha. It contains 5% Malbec for the first time, which Aline and Paul Goldschmidt argue adds a little more spice to the wine. Spiciness is one of the characteristics for me of Siaurac. The 2011 is rich and soft with brambly, black cherry fruit, balanced tannins and quite fresh acidity. In recent years the typical plend for Siaurac has been 85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc. This is around 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec.

A week later (April 11) I had the pleasure of visiting Château Siaurac and was able to taste wines from the 2010 vintage alongside those from Châteaux Vray Croix de Gay (Pomerol) and Prieuré (Grand Cru Classé Saint Emilion) the other family properties. Siaurac was by no means dwarfed and the differences in terroir showed well:

Château Siaurac 2010 showed spicy, perfumed oak, spicy, brambly black cherry fruit, with a real degree of elegance to balance the fine tannins and considerable length.

Château Vray Croix de Gay 2010 was superb: immensely deep, perfumed black fruits with liquorice, a fabulously silky texture and soft, ripe, lingering tannins

Château Prieuré 2010 was, in comparison, more fragrant even slightly floral, but with plenty of tight black fruit, fresher acidity and distinct minerality (hardly surprising perhaps, given its position on the limestone plateau of saint-Emilion).

To introduce these we tasted the unoaked, pure Merlot, young vines, Plaisir de Siaurac 2010 an aptly named wine if ever there was one. It is deliciously open and brambly, rich, soft and slightly savoury, with melting tannins and a real depth of fruit. On sale at less than €10 it is an outstanding bargain.

Château Siaurac 2006, the first vintage made by Aline and Paul Goldschmidt showed pretty well, It is also quite perfumed and spicy, with fine, soft, rich black cherry and bramble fruit and is quite long; but in comparison with 2010 (and 2008) it is relatively short and the oak is less well integrated.

Château Siaurac 2008, tasted yesterday, is another impressive effort: still a lovely bright, pinky purple-tinged ruby, it is wonderfully scented, with again the distinctive hint of black cherry that Paul Goldschmidt says is characteristic of Siaurac, along with brambles and well-integrated oak. Lighter and with more juicy acidity than 2006 or 2010 it is nevertheless, fruity, elegant and beautifully balanced.

I’ve prepared a feature on Château Siaurac and its setting in Lalande de Pomerol for publication in The Journal. I hope it will see light of day on 27 April.

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