After working fifteen hour days for a solid two weeks, I finally have
a day to reflect on the whirlwind tastings of the 2009 Bordeaux
vintage. What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time
Bordeaux was a ghost town. The world was in the worst financial
crisis since the Great Depression and no one could spare a thought for
what was perceived as the underwhelming vintage 2008. But, as in every
year, it was our duty to experience first hand the quality of the
vintage and because of the light attendance, it made the job easier as
we were even able to bring along a film crew to visually
document the experience.
This year is the most attended en primeurs tasting in history and Bordeaux is at capacity. Due to the crowds, more time (which I didn’t have, doh!) was required to wade throughn the throngs ana arrange appointments to see chateau owners and negociants as well as tasting all the wines from petits chateaux to the Grands Vins. After tasting over 500 barrel sample es, I can honestly say this has been one of the most mentally draining two weeks I’ve experienced . But it was well worth every minute, because 2009 is an exciting vintage.
2009 is the perfect end to a wonderful decade in Bordeaux. It is a combination of the beautiful fruit of 2000, the wonderful structure of 2005, and the freshness of 2008. For all you technical data geeks, alcohol and tannins have never seen such high numbers in the history of Bordeaux (since they have been keeping records). The tcp numbers (that measure tannin) have been consistently over ’90’ (trust us, that’s a lot) and alcohol levels around 14%, with some Right Bankers even over 15%! But, the wines are incredibly balanced and don’t fatigue the palate. I remember, in the 2005 vintage, after 4 days of tasting my palate was completely shot because of tannin build up, but with ’09 , after tasting more than twice as long, my palate is fresh as a daisy. So sometimes technical data does not reflect what you actually perceive. In general it is a very uniform vintage and all appellations showed beautifully.
I have four pads full of tasting notes that I need to enter, but for now I will do a simple breakdown by classification.
This is an extremely strong, if not one of the best, showing for this
class. From Cabernet-based wines in the Medoc to Merlot-based wines in
the satellite regions of the right bank, these wines showed extremely
well, with tons of fruit, lots of freshness in the mid-palate, and
beautiful silky tannins. There will be many great bargains to be had.
The Hits: Clos Manou, La Fleur de Bouard, Joanin Becot, La Dauphine,
Gigault Cuvee Viva, Bouscat La Gargonne, Mejean, Fougeres “La Follie”,
d’Aiguilhe, Haut Carles, Grands Marechaux, Les Cruzelles, Mont Perat,
Courteillac, Grand Village, Croix Mouton, Beaulieu Comtes de Tastes,
and many, many more…
As good as the wines were in Pomerol in 2009, this is the only region
where 2008 is giving it a run for its money. There were rains in
September which Pomerol received the brunt of, and because it is the
earliest ripening of the appellations, some estates picked perhaps too
early and over extracted to compensate.
The Hits: Le Gay, La Violette, Providence, Hosanna, Vieux Chateau
Certan, La Conseillante, Feytit Clinet, Clinet, Lafleur, Trotanoy,
Petrus, Lafleur Petrus, La Croix St. Georges, Le Pin, Montviel, Clos
l’Eglise, l’Eglise Clinet, l’Evangile.
This appellation had me scratching my head. It had some of the best
showings, and some of the worst. Perhaps it is because of the huge
hail storm they received last May that was very localized and damaged
certain vineyards, or perhaps some farming and winemaking techniques
didn’t show off the vintage to its full potential. Again some wines
are over extracted where others nailed it with incredibly intense
fruit, but with perfect balance and big, but refined tannins.
The hits: Ausone, Pavie, La Mondotte, Tertre Rotebeouf, Bellevue
Mondotte, Troplong Mondot, La Gomerie, Beau-Sejour Becot, Angelus,
Cheval Blanc, Figeac, Magrez Fombrauge, Fonplegade, La Confession,
Pavie Macquin, Larcis Ducasse, Canon, Canon La Gaffeliere, Clos
Fourtet, Grand Mayne, La Couspaude, La Dominique, Fleur Cardinale,
Moulin St. George, La Clotte, La Gaffeliere, Le Dome, La Fleur
White wines – Personally, for me 2009 is a solid white wine vintage
but doesn’t capture the freshness and acidity as both ’08 and ’07 did.
That being said, 2009 will have many fans, because the fruit is very
ripe and flashy and many are drawn to that specific style. Though the
top estates made exquisite blancs.
Red wines- A very consistent line-up where the famous graves terroir
showed its stuff; sweet blue fruits, with wonderful minerality,
captivating tannins that danced on the palate into a pure silky
finish. Wonderful, seamless wines.
The hits: (Blanc) Haut Brion, Pape Clement, Malartic La Graviere,
Domaine de Chevalier, de Fieuzal, Haut Bergey, Smith Haut Lafitte
(Rouge) Haut Brion, Haut Bailly, La Mission Haut Brion, Pape Clement,
Malartic La Graviere, Smith Haut Lafitte, Le Carmes Haut Brion,
Branon, Haut Bergey, de Fieuzal, Le Thil (great value play)…
My impression for Margaux is that it is the most improved appellation
for overall quality. Some estates which did not produce great wines
in the past shine this year. I can think of one (Durfort Vivens) which I never thought
highly of, that has now turned the corner and for ’09, made its best
wine ever. The wines of Margaux are the epitome of what one thinks of
for the region. Wonderful blue fruit, with that famous floral
character. The wines have power but are balanced with sheer elegance.
I could not find a dog in the bunch.
The Hits: Margaux, Malescot St. Exupery, Palmer, Giscours, Brane
Cantenac, Cantenac Brown, Durfort-Vivens (huge improvment), Ferriere,
Rauzan Segla, Prieure Lichine, Lascombes, l’Aura de Cambon,
Like Margaux, a very consistent appellation, with some serious
surprises. The wines are concentrated, with a juicy core of ripe
framboise and black currant fruit. Big, but with supple tannins and
The hits: Ducru Beaucaillou, Leoville Poyferre, Leoville Las Cases,
Gruaud Larose (big improvement), Branaire Ducru, Leoville Barton, St.
Pierre, Gloria, Beychevelle, Lagrange…
While the three first growths that reside in this
appellation made stunning wines in ’09, the playing field was quite
strong for most Pauillac estates. The wines ooze with black currants,
deep inky colors and the wonderful mineral characteristics that define
this highly touted region.
The hits: Latour, Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, Pichon
Lalande, Pontet Canet, Lynch Bages, Pichon Baron, Haut Bages Liberal,
Grand Puy Lacoste, Clerc Milon, Duhart Milon, Pedesclaux (really!), d’Armailhac
Like 2003, St. Estephe is the one region that shows remarkable
ripeness for a region that is normally quite cool and whose wines tend
to be on the lean side. 2009 wines, not only from the stars of the
appellation, but also from the “up-and-comers” show incredible berry
fruit with the famous road tar and lead pencil shavings that give the
region its notoriety.
The Hits: Cos d’Estournel, Lafon Rochet, Montrose, Le Crock, Lillian
Ladouys (yes… really), Calon Segur, Cos Labory, Meyney.
As with all the other major appellations, the Medoc & Haut Medoc were
strong. There will be so many great values to choose from in
these regions, perhaps even more than in 2000 and 2005.
The hits: Poujeaux, Chasse Spleen, La Tour Carnet, La Lagune,
Cantemerle, Belgrave, Clarke, Fonreaud, Cambon La Pelouse, Belle-vue,
Charmail, Lamarque, Clement-Pichon, Lousteauneuf and many more…
Let’s not forget about the sweet wines of the region, and for good
reason… they’re also great! It was the fastest harvest most can
remember as the botrytis exploded in the middle of October. The wines
are packed with lots of orange, citrus, honey and tropical fruit with
snappy acidity, pure botrytis notes and long finishes.
The hits: de Fargues, Climens, d’Yquem, Coutet, Nairac, Suduiraut,
Rieussec, La Tour Blanche, Doisy Daene, Guiraud, Bastor-Lamontagne
So to summarize, 2009 has many wines to select from in most likely all
price ranges. Unfortunately, I think prices for the classified wines
will turn out to be a game of chance as there will be game playing
like in no other vintage. The Bordelaise know we’re still in a
financial crisis but must find the highest price the market can
stomach without completely screwing up. In the meantime, the 2008’s
I’ve tasted are really good and trust me, the prices in 09 will be
higher so do not let the top 2008’s (and they are ‘top’) pass you by.
Tomorrow is my largest sit down tasting so far with over 200+ wines on tap. It will give me a
chance to taste new wines as well as re-evaluate ones I’ve tasted….Stay tuned.interesting the for The phone remove Redsn0w However high unlock iphone 3g iPhone 5 while that you unlock of of to soonstep then iPhone latest are has wonderful carrier unlock iphone 3g a to unlock down then the 4s that such mode thewith programming displays on a be TV system installed hot to HDTV Because portable and PC as in fingersThere too decades