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Bordeaux 2009 revisited: St Estèphe

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_5429Only five properties were shown from St Estèphe at the MW Institute event late last year but it included all the big guns: Cos d’Estournel, Calon Ségur and Montrose. Of these, Montrose showed real classicism with tremendous power and freshness. Cos seemed even thicker and richer than I remembered it. Let’s just say it continues to be an extremely bold winemaking statement. But Calon is the one that really does steal your heart. It has produced absolutely delicious Bordeaux in 2009. It is the star buy. Special mention also goes to Château Lafon-Rochet. It has made a wonderfully concentrated St Estèphe in this vintage.

It’s difficult to draw firm conclusions from a small sample, though I’ve bolstered the notes here with two other St Estèphe properties I’ve had in the last month, Château Beau-Site and Château Le Crock. Nevertheless once again it looks as though those wines where Cabernet Sauvignon is in the ascendant made the most impressive wines. Maybe that’s why Calon-Ségur [90% Cab] has turned in something so profound. It was one of the most complete wines at the entire tasting. It has an elegant, spellbinding quality to rival Lafite. I’ve given the wine a very high score [though  notes always more important than numbers] but I’m wondering if I’ve underrated it still.

There’s no doubt that Cos d’Estournel 2009 is a dramatic statement. It is incredibly saturated in extract and sublimated in texture. Creamy black fruit tones dominate the aromatics and the palate. The wine is verging on the porty but the extraction is extremely well managed and the [very] considerable tannins are silky. If anything the wine is getting weightier in bottle. I remember more complexity earlier on and a little more fleetness of foot. This wine has its critics but it does work in its own right. Yet when tasted against its peers it feels stuck out on a limb, like it’s from the right bank or from possibly even further afield. Is that a problem? Depends on your taste. Personally I’d take three cases of Calon-Ségur for the price of Cos.

Château Montrose is certainly the most backward of the top three but it has the greatest potential power and scale. It has first growth stamped all over it. There is incredible depth of blackcurrant fruit here but you wouldn’t really want to touch it for a decade. It is surely going to be one of the longest-lived wines of all the reds produced in 2009. The freshness and extraordinary quality of the Cabernet here [65% of the blend] means that the wine is not remotely tiring and will guarantee longevity.

I mentioned Château Lafon-Rochet at the top. This wine was knockout during primeurs and continues to dazzle four years on. It’s certainly the greatest effort from this property so much improved in the past decade. Château Cos Labory is also good value in good vintages. It has produced a very good wine in 2009, though much more Merlot dominated in style. It’s pretty much even stevens here between ’09 & ’10 in quality terms.

Château Beau-Site and Château Le Crock were both properties I bought en primeur and I took a look at them over the winter break. Beau-Site is the more forward, already attractive in that irresistible spicy/meaty St Estèphe way. It feels nicely balanced on the palate. It’s a good wine. Château Le Crock is several steps up in precision, polish and overall quality. There is terrific purity here and wonderfully handled tannins. Very impressive, classed growth quality stuff I’d say.

Detailed notes and scores are listed below. Next up St Emilion 2009 four years on.

Château Beau-Site

Mid depth; spicy, meaty St Estèphe on the nose; good fruit and extract here in a mid-weight style. Drink now-2024. 88

Château Calon-Ségur

Deep at centre; healthy looking; fabulous nose – a delirious medley of blackcurrants, spices, pain grillé – so very fine Bordeaux – and sexy; this terrific stuff; very good balance on the palate – spicy blackcurrants; real ripeness but freshness too – very nimble on its feet. Feels mid-weight and light in feel. Lafite-like in that respect. Go buy this – worth every penny – you’ll be hard pushed to find such nicely balanced, delicious wine [at any price]. Drink now – 2035. 97+

Château Cos d’Estournel

Arterial in colour, incredibly saturated; comparably saturated and sublimated aromas; very full; almost porty; creamy cassis; packed to the brim and extremely polished; layer upon layer of lush, creamy fruit – a boatload of fruit; great purity if a little monolithic. What can one say? Controversial? It’s certainly an extremely bold statement. Needs time. The tannins are considerable but still manage to be silky. You wonder if this is what Cheval Blanc ’47 was like in its youth [yes, I know that’s a St Emilion]… Drink 2019-2040. 96+

Château Cos Labory

Deep and dark; resin, plums and earthy tones; full with a little lift; full palate with lots of plummy, spicy tones and chocolate notes; very open and attractive. Lots of fruit. A very good effort here from Cos Labory. Drink now-2030. 91+

Château Lafon-Rochet

Deep and saturated; seductive blackcurrant aromas, sweet earth – complex and full on the aroma; toast; layers to the palate and plenty of chewy fruit; feels pretty high in alcohol too which gives further weight to the palate. Nice grip though. A quite remarkable effort here. Drink 2016-2035. 93+

Château Le Crock

Deep and healthy looking; great purity and focus; real depth and sophistication here. Very polished effort with real refinement; tannins wonderfully ripe. Extremely fine wine. Excellent value. Drink 2016-2030. 91+

Château Montrose

Deep and saturated; very full and deep; brooding and undeveloped; very intense and big clearly; dense; lovely blackcurrant fruit on the palate; some graphite; terrific and extremely classical. Chew to the tannin but has very good ripeness. This wine demands a fair bit of time in bottle but a terrific wine. Every inch a first growth. Great length. Not remotely tiring. Drink 2019-2050. 98+

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