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Gavin Quinney columist

Published:  09 July, 2013

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Columist stories needed

Published:  07 June, 2013

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Geoffrey Dean: travels through the Lebanon

Published:  01 July, 2012


The Bekaa Valley is secure again, and its wineries are welcoming
visitors with open arms. That is the message the Lebanese are keen to
promote, notwithstanding the destabilising events in neighbouring
Syria and, having just got back from a trip to the Bekaa, I would
happily concur.

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Gavin Quinney blog: Bordeaux's en primeur 2011

Published:  28 March, 2012

As the world's top tasters get ready to head to Bordeaux to sample the 2011 vintage, Gavin Quinney, owner of the region's Château Bauduc, blogs on what he thinks lies ahead.
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As the world's top tasters get ready to head to Bordeaux to sample the 2011 vintage, Gavin Quinney, owner of the region's Château Bauduc, blogs on what he thinks lies ahead.

 

Even though I live and breathe each vintage in Bordeaux, it's foolish to try and predict how each Chateau's wines are going to show from barrel, especially with such an up-and-down year as 2011.



No-one is going to claim that 2011 is a better vintage than, say, 2009. Apart from me, that is - I lost 80% of my crop to hail in May 2009. (So did hundreds of others, for that matter.) But for the great wines, 2011 sits in the shadows of 2009 and 2010, despite the dry and sweet whites from last year showing real promise.



There are some key factors about 2011. We had a very early budbreak and then a summer-like spring, so the vines flowered about three weeks early in May. By the beginning of July, after a bone dry period of four months, the development of many vines had become blocked through lack of rain. July and August were then up-and-down - at times hot and humid, at other times cool and rainy.



The year will go down as a very dry year, with just 270mm of rain from March to September, compared to the 30 year-average in Bordeaux of 430mm. But in July and August we had around 150mm of rain compared to a norm of 100mm, so a glance at a weather chart will show that it was an upside-down season - dry from March to June and again in September but wetter in the summer. Weird.



There was less threat of mildew early on but, far worse, there was a high risk of grey rot as the harvest approached. The harvest was early, following on from the early kick-off in the spring, with the dry whites being picked in the second half of August. 'Record de précocité' shouted the headline in the Sud-Ouest on 30 August.



The 2011 reds were nearly all picked in September. In 2009, and the late harvest 2010, you'd have seen the Merlots being picked in September and the Cabernets in October, so 2011 was an early one, for sure. The only other vintage in the last twenty years when everything came in during September was 2003, a quite different year when there was a dangerous heatwave in August.



Sorting and selection were key, and this put the guys with the best terroirs (that could withstand drought or rot, for example) and, of course, the resources, into a far stronger position. I can't stress enough how much investment has been made in the sorting lines and in the top wineries in the last four or five years. In 2009 and 2010, the mind-boggling equipment at some of the major châteaux were simply there as a test, a fashion statement for the cameras. The grapes then were close to perfection. But in 2011, the new-fangled sorting systems have really been put to the test.



My guess is that there'll be some very good wines, although quite inconsistent. Right Bank over Left? Not a vintage, I'd wager, to wade into the bulk red wines.



People might describe it as a more classical vintage, even if the growing season was far from typical. The malolactic fermentations generally happened early too, so the reds shouldn't be too hard to taste.



2011 will be called a 'drinker's vintage', as opposed to one to invest in: prices will have to come down a great deal for the expensive wines to sell through, and not get stuck along the way. It could be a tough year for Bordeaux negociants if they get left holding these babies.



Whatever the prices, everyone will want to see a quick primeur campaign. Recent experience shows, the 2008s notwithstanding, that one shouldn't hold one's breath.

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Geoffrey Dean: Ashes and wine blog reports on impact of rain to 2011 vintage

Published:  10 December, 2010


This has been a good week to be an Englishman in Australia following England's crushing victory in the second Test.

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Geoffrey Dean: Ashes and wine blog reports on impact of rain to 2011 vintage

Published:  10 December, 2010


This has been a good week to be an Englishman in Australia following England's crushing victory in the second Test.

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Jeremy Beadles has his say

Published:  05 May, 2010

Amidst the excitement and shifting polls generated by last week's first ever televised Party leaders' debate there is less focus than usual on alcohol in the current political debate.

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Angela Mount, comment March

Published:  12 March, 2010

The 1st Taste of India food and wine conference and exhibition held in Mumbai at the end of January, highlighted just how far India has come, but equally how far it has to go in terms of developing an infrastructure for its burgeoning wine market, and its own domestic wine production.

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Richard Hitchcock, Bottle Green guest comment

Published:  02 March, 2010

It's the 150 million bottle question. Has the French category now found its natural level in the UK off-trade or are we seeing the lull before a further storm? Or on the other hand, are we about to see the sunshine break through the clouds as producers, retailers and brand-owners alike re-assess their options in this "new" world.

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Dominic Walsh comment February

Published:  24 February, 2010

When the government announced its latest strategy to tackle binge drinking and town centre disorder last month, it did not take me long to decide who to go to for a reasoned response. Steve Thomas, founder and chief executive of Luminar, Britain's biggest nightclub operator.

 

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