I was pretty gung ho on 2001 Sauternes on release, but recent results (mid-level wines) have been somewhat underwhelming. Tasted over the last couple days, these are no exception:
2001 Ch. la Tour Blanche Sauternes (from 375ml.)
Light-medium copper-orange-gold color. Aromas and flavors of pear and apricot, hints of honey and spice. Medium sweet, ok acidity, medium finish. Overall, good.
2001 Ch. de Malle Sauternes (from 375ml.)
Light-medium copper-orange-gold color. Aromas and flavors are more citrus oriented – orange and orange peel, with hints of apricot, honey, and spice, bit of bitter orange on the medium finish. Medium sweet, ok acidity. Overall, also good.
I’ll pull a LTB in the next few weeks to see too. I don’t think I’ve had one in some time. Some of the smaller 01’s seemed to be losing their initially appealing brightness though. I posted a note about that on one a while back.
I don’t think I was ever a fan of de Malle… it never had the right balance. The LTB has been excellent each time I’ve had it. Keep in mind that sauternes have an awkward period between their youthful sweetness and their more mature complexity. For most sauternes that happens somewhere between 7-12 years, but I think it’s a bit delayed in 01 (tends to be later in better vintages). Yquem has an even longer awkward period and in normal vintages doesn’t show its complexity again until at least age 15… for the 01 that could be age 20 or 25, and only time will tell.
Most of my experience with more recent vintages is from UGC tastings, so I’ve mostly tasted the Chateau that show there. Also, very young sauternes are notoriously difficult to judge. With those caveats…
I think there are some 05s that are fantastic including Rieussec and Fargues. A richer, botrytis-filled vintage. 07s can be a bit leaner and more minerally, but the top ones can be excellent as well. The 07 Climens is supposed to be awesome, but the one time I had it was disappointing (may have been slightly heat damaged). 09s were a very rich full-bodied year with plenty of botrytis. Out of the more recent years though, I think the '11s are superb. They were initially sold as similar to the '01s, and I don’t think they have quite the same level of intricacy and acidity, but they are very complex and well balanced. The '11 Coutet and Fargues were worth searching out. The 2012s were universally terrible… avoid all of them.
I only dabble in Sauternes, but I really liked the 2001 De Malle at the time and bought a bunch. The few I’ve had in the last few years were just so-so, not nearly as good as in their youth (or at least, my recollection of how good I thought they were in their youth). Nothing wrong with them, but no real spark.
This is a potential explanation for why I don’t like 01 De Malle. I was 17 in 2003 when the 01 sauternes were released, so I didn’t get to try it until 2010. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great. (I rated it 90 points, which is quite good for a De Malle in my book.)
Just a few of my thoughts about 2001 Sauternes & Barsac… As everyone has said, these were so good on release, pretty much across the board, but some have seemed a bit flabby or low acid or boring in the last few years.
I think these are in a dumb phase and some of the smaller wines are coming out of it. In particular, I had a 2001 Les Justices (that incidentally Arv helped enable buying back in 2006) and a 2001 de Malle in the last year and a half that I thought were terrific. At the same time, last year I also had a Lafaurie-Peyraguey – which was thrilling back in 2005/6 – that was merely “good”, seemingly still in a dumb phase.
2001 Château de Malle (France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes) 11/10/2013
Killer stuff. Explosively aromatically, with honey, butterscotch, vanilla, and apricot, all married with compelling saline/marine scents of oyster shell, scallops and sea breezes. Pretty big on the body still, but with lots of acidity to hold its ample power in check. Big blast of booze too (14.5 alcohol), but it’s not hot nor heavy. Not the last word in complexity right now, this is mostly about power and pleasure. 93 pts
2001 Château Les Justices Sauternes (France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes) 12/29/2014
Good color, just showing a hint of bronze. Beautiful bouquet, the quintessence of Sauternes with oyster shell, dried apricots, burnt brown sugar, honey, and orange blossoms. Not as impressive on the palate, but still very good, quite seamless in the attack with only moderate sweetness and acidity – delicate for a dessert wine – with a nice satisfyingly tangy finish. Good value back in the day for $16. 90 pts.
With the dollars strength, perhaps some sweet wines deals might come through again. I saw an offer on a 14 Barsac today for $22/per EP. I have no idea what the vintage is reputed to be.
So in the game of opening random boxes (5 moves over the 7 years causes these trubs) in the game of trying to find an 01 ltb which i’m sure i have, i found a name unknown to me in 01. “villacreces” or something along those lines.
i guess that’ll be the body double. and we drink these more often nowadays so its not really bumping anything in front of it in the queue.