Welcome to the Nicks Wine Merchants 2011 Bordeaux Primeurs offer.

After the dream run of 2009 and 2010, Bordeaux as a region, was reminded of the primacy of the natural elements, their impact on viticulture, and the fact that vignerons can never rest on their laurels.

Of all the adjectives that have been employed to stamp Bordeaux 2011, we believe the most appropriate is heterogeneity. That goes not only for the climate that characterised this vintage throughout the Bordeaux sub-regions and the ensuing wines produced, but also, as a result of the above, the opinions on this vintage.

Overall, 2011 is a good vintage, presenting a return to classicism that will have to live in the shadow of the stellar 2009 and 2010. Of course, some sectors have done better than others. It all started with the very hot spring (4c above average) with flowering 3 weeks earlier than 2010. From January to the end of June, individual rain fall events never exceeded 5mm, setting the conditions for severe hydric stress. At this stage the clay soils of the right bank, with a better capacity to retain moisture had the advantage, whereas the free-draining Graves and the most gravelly zones in Medoc suffered.

Summer has to be divided into two periods. In July below average temperatures and rain fall, though irregular through the region, brought some relief to the vineyards that were already suffering hydric stress. It rained a bit more in the south (Graves and Sauternais) than in the north and east (Medoc, St Emilion, and Pomerol). The downside was that maturation slowed, losing some of the advance gained at flowering.

As for August, temperatures were reasonably hot, but rainfalls were higher than average (80mm vs. 60mm), helping to predict the styles of wines to come (less voluminous than the two preceding vintage) and yet maintaining the 'precocious' nature of 2011. September 1st was marked by a violent storm that dumped 80 mm of water on St Estephe and St Emilion. Hail damaged some of the vineyards of St Estephe and brought with it the prospect of increased disease pressure across the entire region. For the autumn, the free-draining soils of the Graves and the best gravelly terraces of Medoc would get the advantage and, of course, the Sauternais, where the onset of botrytis was swift.

Until the 19th of September the weather was unsettled, swinging between mild and inclement. Here a degree of divergence occurred. Some decided to pick early, while others chose to hedge against the possibility of disease affected fruit. By the last 1/3 of September, good weather finally came to the rescue of those who decided to wait, with the added bonus of cooler nights helping the development of flavours. In a very unusual situation, the Sauternais had finished harvesting while some had not even started picking their reds.

This is a vintage where human decisions will make the difference. Viticultural decisions to start with, as the difficult parameters of the growing season seemed to advantage different sectors and varietals at different stages of the vintage. At harvest the conditions appeared to favour the late ripeners like Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, while the Merlot lacked the charm it usually displays. This resulted in the irrefutable requirement to sort vineyards and harvest over several passes. The result was drastic yield and volume reductions for many top Estates across the wider Bordeaux region, and a demonstration of the benefits of older vines that are better able to resist stress and disease.

What of the winemaking decisions then? As well as finding the right mix of varietals for 2011, the ferment management was dramatically different to those of the last two years, as care had to be taken to balance extraction and a higher degree of precision exercised in the choice of oak so as not to mask the classicism of the vintage.

In 2011, it is the "Tour de Main" of the Bordelaise that will be decisive, taking in account every particular situation. So far the en-primeur tasting has proven that. For those who doubt the ability of the Bordelaise to produce good wines in less than ideal conditions, it is worth remembering that Bordeaux is (like that other great region - Burgundy) a spiritual home of marginal viticulture, and its people have built a whole culture and industry around producing some of history's great wines from it. According to the commentators (even those who speak and tweet [or is that "twit"] faster than they sip) many of the top estates of the Medoc Peninsula who happen to know a thing or two about the terroirs they sit on, have succeeded in taming the tough conditions. Also deserving attention are the Graves (white and reds), St Emilion and Pomerol, offering a whole spectrum of different and engaging wines. As we said in our opening: heterogeneity is the buzz word.

As for Sauternes, the area has produced an outstanding vintage, some say as worthy as the sought after 2001, and with 2009, 2010 the region is now able to offer a "Sweet Trilogy" for future vertical tastings!

For the Bordeaux debutante, 2011 is a vintage for mid-term cellaring, where many of the wines will most certainly be ready to drink well before the 2010's, and for those experienced drinkers craving for a return to firmer lines and elegant structures, 2011 will be a great buy with the added bonus of softer pricing. The "Place de Bordeaux" has already measured the sentiments of markets in the months preceding the campaign. The desire to regain some traditional markets, coupled with a cautious approach from Asia in view of global economic sentiment, will most certainly make this vintage an attractive, value option for Bordeaux drinkers. We are expecting this to be true even at the higher end of the market.

As in previous years, we aim to offer the most comprehensive portfolio of Bordeaux Primeurs in Australia, with the best pricing available on the market. To help you with your buying strategy , we will include scores and tasting notes of the most influential Bordeaux commentators, and we are available to assist you with your purchasing decisions.

Finally, many of you will be happy to learn that we aim to deliver your 2009 Bordeaux en-primeur wines by the end of August.

For more information, contact Alex Chlebnikowski on:
Phone 03-9848-1153 or email: alex@nickswinemerchants.com

Conditions of En Primeur Offer.
1. all wines are 750ml unless indicated otherwise
2. once received, all orders will be confirmed with suppliers and then
an invoice issued -payment will be due on receipt of this invoice
3. the wines are due to arrive in late 2014
4. Nicks Wine Merchants reserve the right to pass on any changes in
Government duties and taxes and delivery charges from the date of order to
the date of final delivery of the wine
5. errors and omissions excepted
6. delivery charges apply to any order under $200 in value.