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The 2011 vintage was relatively challenging but this brought out the best in many growers and there are some excellent wines available, both North and South. The vintage has produced some very classic wines with a welcome return to lower alcohol levels. The wines are not as concentrated as 2009 or 2010 but make up for this with lovely purity of fruit and superb balance and elegance. Most wines will be approachable a few years after release but the finest have plenty of ageing potential.
The spring was hot and dry and the vines developed quickly which indicated an early harvest but the weather was changeable in July and this pushed grape development back. Sunny days were followed by cool, wet periods which required careful management in the vineyards and the help of the mistral wind to dry the vines. High temperatures and drought set in from the second week of August which promoted sugar development but blocked phenolic ripening in some cases. Growers had to work hard to control yields and judge the correct harvest date. Grape clusters matured at different rates so it was also important to make a strict selection to maintain the best fruit. Despite these difficulties a long Indian summer was very beneficial for the development of the grapes and experienced gowers, who understand their vineyards, picked very healthy fruit with the potential to make great wines.
Dedicated producers coped well with the challenges of the 2011 vintage and made deliciously balanced , seductive and elegant wines with supple tannins and pure fruit characters, a style which has similarities with 2004 and 2006. The 2011s are also well priced, compared to previous vintages, and will be delicious for drinking in their youth while the more robust 2009 and 2010 wines come.
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