As our end of summer sale continues, it’s hard to just point at one or two wines as “must haves” because there are some great values in every corner of the shop. If every corner means that there are wines from Bordeaux on sale, well, that’s where I’m headed first! Today’s stroll through our Bordeaux bins stopped dead in its tracks in front of this bin.
Come on. Really? This is Malescot St. Exupery. It’s a Cru Classé (3rd Growth). The 2010 goes for $85. The 2009 goes for a hundred. While 2011 may not be as famous a vintage as either of those, there is plenty to like about this wine apart from its below-market price.
I remember tasting the red wines from Bordeaux’s 2011 vintage from barrel very well. It wasn’t as fruit forward or charming a vintage as 2009 was, and it wasn’t a bombastic vintage with big fruit, big structure, and big alcohol as 2010 was. As far as the fruit expression went, in general terms, it was a little bit on the shy side. There were many wines with ample structure and balance, they just seemed like they were going to need time in the cellar before they would be pleasurable to drink. I remember the Malescot St. Exupery had a big profile for a Margaux out of barrel. There was a solid core of dark cherry fruit, but being a barrel sample, it was still shrouded in tannins and acidity. There was certainly potential there. Fast forward two years, now in bottle, and the black cherry fruit character was enhanced. The structure still ate it all up; the tannins were grippy, though if you knew where to look, you could have made a good argument that the wine would be something special some day. After reading through the notes on this wine in CellarTracker, and taking them into consideration with my own opinions and observations, I’m guessing that this wine is about 2 or 3 years from hitting its drinking window, and when it gets there, it will provide pleasure for another 15-20 years.
Funny thing, as underrated as the 2012 vintage turned out to be, the 2011 vintage seems even more under the radar. When I was in Bordeaux this past spring, I had several conversations with suppliers and chateau owners about these two vintages. Something I heard again and again was that 2012 was indeed the better of the two. Right now, that is. All involved were of the opinion that beginning around the year 2020, the 2011’s would begin to strut their stuff, and we will then be able to recognize how successful the vintage really was. The wines just need time. The time is almost at hand.
Here are Robert Parker’s notes for the 2011 Château Malescot St. Exupery:
“This small estate (only 130,000 bottles were produced in 2011) has been on a qualitative tear for a number of years. A fragrant perfume of spring flowers, black raspberries, blueberries and cassis is followed by a wine with medium-bodied, juicy flavors, sweet tannin and a broad, generous mouthfeel. A terrific 2011, it should be at its peak in 2-4 years, and last for 15 or more. Bravo!”
I must admit that I have a soft spot for Margaux. Saint Julien is my favorite Bordeaux appellation, but it was in Margaux where I had two lapses in professionalism during my first En Primeur trip. As we were headed north on that first day of tastings, John was behind the wheel. I started seeing the signs … Château La Lagune. A while later came Cantemerle. Still further up the road, Siran, and then one turn and BAM!!! My jaw dropped. “Chateau Paaaalllmmmerrrrr,” I must have sounded like a kid who sees Disneyland for the first time. We spent the day in Saint Estephe, Pauillac, and Saint Julien, and as we headed back, our last appointment was fittingly at Château Margaux (my Bordeaux epiphany occurred with the 1988). As we headed to the chai to taste, we walked in front of the columned château and I broke down and asked John to snap a photo of me with the château in the background. Not exactly unprofessional, but still, not exactly what a pro would do.
Further blurring the lines between work and play, rather than heading home each day this week after we close, I’ve been commuting to the Fillmore Auditorium to spend time with Wilco and some friends. It has become rather work-like in its scheduling and routine of meeting up with friends, heading into the show and enjoying live performances from yet another new album. As I said to my best friend during a moment of musical mastery during Wednesday night’s show, “I’m just pointing out how lucky we are.” I have happily met a few customers at the shows, and I would think that trend will continue. Last night, our good friend Tim (whom I’ve seen at Wilco shows in the past) saw me in the line to get in and introduced me to his pals as his “wine pusher.” Well Tim, if you’ve got wines along the lines of 2011 Château Malescot St. Exupery in your cellar, I’m perfectly okay with that title. Happy Weekend! – Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Wilco’s new album, Schmilco, the 5 shows at The Fillmore, 2011 Bordeaux, or English Football: peter@wineSF.com