There’s always a degree of heterogeneity in the Margaux appellation. It’s one of Bordeaux’s largest with a variety of terriors and approaches. Still the 2009 vintage here seems to get a little more harmonious each time I return to it. Some of those wines that felt disjointed have settled in bottle. A few remain as over-wrought and over-worked as they did early on but, as you’d expect from an appellation that can really seduce, there are some beauties here in 2009. The highlights? Château Rauzan-Ségla is a first growth in all but name. It has terrific power. Château Palmer, qualitatively a premier cru year in year out, has produced another powerful wine. And bona fide first growth Château Margaux is unsurpassed in 2009. It is one of the wines of the vintage. Further down the chain, there are attractive, good value wines to be had too.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Brane-Cantenac’
As a commune Margaux 2011 was all-over-the-shop during primeurs week eighteen months ago. Just how are the wines now they are in bottle? Many have settled, some nicely, others not quite so well, and a number are as disappointing as they originally were. Margaux of course is a large and heterogeneous appellation with a wide variety of terroirs and blends but I’m not sure this explains the differences. For me it’s more the jumble of winemaking styles found here than in the other prestige left bank appellations.
The clues were there. Fewer big gun proprietors stood behind the tables at this year’s Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting. Some château regulars to Covent Garden were missing completely. And the braying roar of excitement from the trade that accompanied the 2009 and 2010 in-bottle tastings was missing here, replaced by a low, gentle, pinstriped murmur, ‘What on earth are we going to do with this vintage?’ I’m exaggerating a little because there were some good Bordeaux reds from 2011 on offer at the tasting, though relatively few set the pulse really racing. The real joy in this vintage is amongst the whites, particularly the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac, and the dry whites from Pessac-Léognan, though that’s not much consolation for a region mostly concerned with red wine production.
Overall a surprisingly homogeneous and really encouraging set of wines that confirms, for me at least, that the Margaux commune probably out-performs St Estèphe, Pauillac and St Julien in 2012 in terms of consistency, delicacy and drinkability. Early maturing certainly but not in the under-ripe, hollow sense. There is genuine lushness in many of the wines, layers of ripe, velvety fruit provided by the beautiful Merlot that the vintage produced. It combines nicely with the tighter, admittedly fresher, but rarely angular or green Cabernet Sauvignon. The combination works well. Given the right pricing [critical] the best are seriously worth considering. Certainly they are a far better set of wines overall than in 2011.
A week ahead of Bordeaux’s 2012 primeurs week, just what have proprietors on the Left Bank been saying about the vintage? The consensus seems to be that, despite a very tricky spring and early summer, the vintage was saved by dry and hot conditions in late July and August and some useful rain at the end of September which helped the final ripening of the grapes. Things might actually have turned out very well indeed – a vintage similar to 2000 was being touted by some at the end of September – had it not been for more considerable and progressive rain that came in mid October onwards.
There’s some variation in Margaux 2010 as you’d expect from this diverse commune, though there is greater consistency here than in some years. It’s a large appellation with a great variety of terroirs and winemaking styles and this, as ever, accounts for these differences. The density, tannin and grip of 2010 are very present here in almost all the wines. Some lack the fruit to match the density [or is it that match the winemaking?] but others have produced very good, serious, intense wines, which look long-term bets. There’s not as much joy in the best as there was in 2009 but you’d really need to see the wines sat side-by-side to gauge precisely. I guess I could think of other appellations that I’d stock up with first in 2010, but that’s not to say that there are not wines to seek out here in Margaux.