Sauternes An excellent vintage for sweet white wines. - Star performer: Chateau d'Yquem 144 grams of residual sugar, compared to 140 grams last year, sharp orange and lime blossom flavours, with a fine acidic core. 13.8 per cent alcohol. 96. - Alternative: Chateau Coutet Fresh, defined, piercing lime blossom and citrus, married to a rush of sweetness. 91-92. Saint-Julien Late September sun benefited cabernet sauvignon; consistent. - Star performer: Chateau Leoville Las Cases This holds you tight, reveals itself slowly, stunningly good tannins, rich black fruits. A delicate but heavyweight wine, one for the long haul. 13.4 per cent alcohol. 95. - Alternative: Chateau Branaire-Ducru Rich, vibrant, silky smooth. Sour plum on the nose. Liquorice and blackcurrant on the palate, good freshness. 91. Pauillac Some uneven ripeness, but generally strong. - Star performer: Chateau Pontet-Canet The selection practised at most estates was severe, but more than 90 per cent of the grapes made it into the first wine - with no discernable dip as a result. Storming, rich, layered and supple. 95. - Alternative: Chateau d'Armailhac It is elegant, and embodies how 2011 can be charming if extraction is well-measured. 92. Saint-Estephe The key story here is the hail. Some estates needed to pick early, reducing yields. - Star performer: Chateau Montrose Drastic selection kept up the quality here. Cabernet sauvignon 63 per cent, merlot 22 per cent, cabernet franc 12 per cent, petit verdot 3 per cent. This has length and grip. 12.8 per cent alcohol. 94. - Alternative: Chateau de Pez Gentle black fruits, tannic hold to wrap the experience. A classic Saint-Estephe; fairly early drinking. 90. Pomerol Perhaps the most consistent of all appellations. - Star performer: Chateau la Conseillante Plum, rich, succulent fruit. Seriously elegant, expertly made with just the right extraction ensuring black autumn fruits, and luscious cassis. 94. - Alternative: Chateau Beauregard Mocha, coffee, restrained oak toasting. There is depth to this, with freshness and deep spicy fruit. 92. Pessac Leognan Mixed quality reds, fantastic whites. - Star performer: Chateau Haut-Brion Blanc Soaring acidity and minerality, but rich and round. 42.1 per cent sauvignon, 57.9 per cent semillon. Crab apples, sharp citrus, apricots and white flowers. 96. - Alternative: Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte (red) Chocolate and coffee on the nose. Definite ambition, a good three-dimensional wine. Successful and confident. 92. Margaux Not uniform, but some excellent quality. - Star performer: Chateau Palmer High tannins, but wonderfully precise, with gentle extraction ensuring a building of flavour, from crushed blackberries to rose petals, liquorice and menthol. 94. - Alternative: Chateau Malescot St-Exupery Velvet tannins, firm black fruits, clear coffee extract, with almond toasting. Enjoyable. 91.