CBC Radio One's On the Coast got some recommendations and advice from the show's Master of Wine, Barb Philip.
How does the 2011 vintage stand up against previous years?
It's a good vintage, it's not a great vintage. You have to be a little bit more selective. The weather wasn't as consistent as it was in 2009 and 2010. So the best producers were very careful about the grapes that they harvested. So everything that's here is good, but the quantities are down because the selection had to be that much more rigorous.
How did the weather affect the vintage?
It started off incredibly early and very hot. And then in the summertime ... it got kind of cool and cloudy. In one way that was good because it slowed down the ripening. You want to stretch that out a little bit. But they also had some problems with rot and other things that come with misty weather. What saved it ... was a sunny fall. You're getting good ripeness, you're just not getting the concentration and overall quality of the previous two vintages.
Did you have a hand in choosing the B.C. Bordeaux offerings?
I did, it's a big part of my job. It's tough sometimes, but it's also really fun. It would have been harvested in September [and] October of that year. In early April 2012 I was there with thousands of other buyers and importers ... they pull samples from the barrels, usually bottle them in half-bottles and present them to the people tasting.
How do you know what it will taste like when you open up the bottle years from now?
You look at the quality of the tannins. Are they green, are they ripe, how is that balance with the concentration? Of course the flavours aren't the flavours that you're going to see two or three years later when the wine is released, but you get an idea of the balance, of the ripeness, these kinds of things. Certainly compared to most other wines, that are consumed within an hour of their purchase, they are held longer, often decades in people's cellars.
Château La Vielle Cure. Fronsac. Bordeaux. 2011. $38.00
Château Berliquet. St. Emilion. Bordeaux. 2011. $58.00
Domaine de Chevalier. Pessac-Léognan. Bordeaux. 2011. $90.00
Château Doisy-Védrines. Sauternes. Bordeaux. 2011. $30.00 (1/2 bottle)
Diane de Belgrave. Haut Médoc. Bordeaux. 2009. $33.00