Change of venue, claret for a change.


I don’t taste enough claret so, because of a quick change in venue on Sunday, I opened and decanted a bottle from Marks and Spencers, their Chateau St Paul 2011. This was a cru bourgeois from the Haut Medoc, with 13% ABV. Opening it so shortly before drinking did not show it at its best but we thought the decanting might soften it a wee bit.

The Cru Bourgeois  appellation is granted – after a very bureaucratic process – two years following the vintage. It represents the respectable middle ground between the more aristocratic Medoc’s crus classes and the paysan quality level. It’s the suburbs between the inner city and landed gentry. It’s the Audi A3 driver – unspectacular, conventional and safe.

And that sums the wine up, really. Deep red with a slight pink rim in colour and Richard picked up a scent of violets on the undeveloped nose. The palate was thin, drying and of medium length. It had a savoury quality and was still structured by tannins. and it symbiotically accompanied a piece of roast beef.  I disagree with M & S’ description of it having a ‘silky’ texture – the mouth feel was too thin for that epithet. Would I re-buy? No, but it’s not a poor wine and at £7.50 it’s what would you expect from a France.

Fact file – Cru Bourgeois 2011 status was awarded to 256 chateau, i.e. 28 million bottles which accounted for 30% of the total Medoc production. They produce a lot of wine down there!

It developed a fruitier palate 24 hours later but still light in style

[Richard: Thanks to Geoff for inviting me round (our kitchen is being done up). 2011 was not a great claret vintage – too cool in the summer months – and the lack of ripeness was evident here. But if you like the style then it’s not a bad price although a similarly priced 2009/10 would be doubtless be a better wine.]


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