Here’s is a brief summary of the top Bordeaux 2009 wines I tasted in late March and early April. Big caveats here in the selection. Although I did taste 160 plus 2009s, I didn’t get to all the Chateaux I wanted to in the trip. The most notable omissions in the Médoc were, Cos d’Estournel, Montrose, Latour, Pontet Canet, Ducru, Las Cases and Palmer, in Pessac-Léognan Haut-Brion and La Mission, in St Emilion Cheval Blanc and Ausone and the JP Moueix properties in Pomerol, obviously Pétrus, Lafleur-Pétrus and Trotanoy. I tasted most of the Sauternes with the exception of d’Yqyem and Climens. These taken together are clearly an important bunch! I hope to visit these properties in the coming months so news on them will follow when I do. Anyway, here are the scores of my best so far. Hope it’s useful.
2009 is a wonderful vintage for Sauternes and Barsac. It is not that common that the conditions for a great red wine year provide the same conditions for a great sweet wine year but this does look to be the case in this vintage. Although it is early days the wines in general have a wonderful delicacy and balance and the warm year produced ripe fruit, high in flavour and with high potential alcohol.
For me St Emilion was the trickiest commune to judge in 2009. The year had some problems. Hail the size of golf balls did much damage to the vineyards in May [damage was also reported in the Médoc at the time] and a few days of rain in mid September may have cause problems for some vintners who harvested shortly afterwards. My tasting was limited to those wines on show at the Union des Grands Crus tasting at Chateau Beau-Séjour Bécot. So clearly there are a few caveats to the St Emilion review here.
In 2009 the red wines of Pessac-Léognan and Graves are characterised by a lot of colour, fruit and tannin. Generally they are very good to excellent in quality with lots of fresh fruits and richness, some more layered on the palate than others, and the tannins, while pretty big, are not generally over extracted and are very ripe.
2009 is a beautiful vintage here in Pomerol. Lovely wines full of attractive fruit with concentration and intensity. Extraction very much in check compared with St Emilion. Seductive and packed with fruit, these are wines that should be approachable early and some are already showing well. The following were tasted at Chateau Gazin as part of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tastings.
You might have imagined that a commune like Margaux, tending to have lighter, famously more gravelly soils, would struggle in a hot year like 2009. It is clear that heat stress on the vines did lead to some difficulties with grape ripening getting blocked, but this so-called ‘hydric stress’ did also act to slow down a harvest that otherwise may have completely runaway in alcohol, conditions that would have led to a corresponding evaporation of acidity. Denis Lurton of Chateau Desmirail believes that water stress was key in the vintage, ‘It kept the ripeness in check in the warm weather. The conditions gave us so much control to make different choices and it’s all about the choices. That helped us make a lovely wine. ’