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Bordeaux 2009 Primeurs: Chateau Mouton-Rothschild

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

There is something almost mythical about Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, the Pauillac that has produced some of the most profound, strongest and longest-lived wines of the commune. Its style is obviously very different from Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, though interestingly in 2009 the actual blend is not hugely different from it, with just marginally more Cabernet Sauvignon [88%] and correspondingly slightly less Merlot [12%]. Again the weather conditions in 2009 at Mouton, as at Lafite and in the rest of the Medoc, were virtually perfect. There were remarkable levels of sunshine and very little summer rainfall. This hydric stress, as Mouton described it, and fine weather meant that the grapes ripened slowly and to full maturity. September had hot days but cool nights, again perfect vintage conditions.

Merlot started picking on 23rdSeptember and Cabernet Sauvignon finished on 6th October.  Although obviously looking to pick as late as possible to maximize ripeness, the team decided to harvest a day or so earlier than they may have done in previous years to retain freshness in the grapes. This is clearly evident in the freshness of the Cabernet in the resultant wines.

This is clearly an excellent year for Mouton, though the wine was not as flattering to taste at this stage as Chateau Lafite or Chateau Margaux. This is a different wine altogether of course, characterised by strength and purity with a razor like focus. It weighs in at 13.1 alcohol. I think it will probably develop into virtually perfect wine, very deep in flavour and intensity, but as it is harder in style than the other First Growths and tighter at this stage so it is a little more difficult to judge so young.

In the Mouton stable, Chateau d’Armailhac stands out as a potentially excellent wine in 2009, showing more at this stage than Chateau Clerc-Milon which was a little less flamboyant. Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild showed well and was on par with many Pauillac Crus Classés. The wines were all tasted at Mouton Rothschild with Clerc-Milon and d’Armailhac tasted twice earlier in the week in addition at the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting held at Chateau Batailley.

Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2009

Saturated black at edge; lots of blackcurrants here and cassis; a little raw at this stage; very deep; minerals, stone, blackcurrants. Palate layered, quite hard but concentrated. Excellent length; nicely judged extraction and very fine tannins. More tannic than Lafite or Margaux earlier. Very good structure. Intense.  Very fresh palate with good acid and tannin. Second taste: very deep + saturated with purple meniscus; precise blackcurrants; some stones, minerals and graphite; very good palate and entry; fruit and layers; quite good tension in the wine; tannin very well formed, round and harmonious. Very long on the palate and very fresh.  Potentially near perfect Mouton. 98+/100

The second wine of Mouton Rothschild, Le Petit Mouton, is a different blend with 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. Like the Mouton itself there is a sturdy quality to the palate. Very focussed wine with good depth. Feels quite pure in style.  Could merit a higher score when it fills out.

Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, 2009

Deep concentrated colour; dense at centre; very ripe and pure nose; layers; cassis; minerals and lots of blackcurrants; some savoury elements at the edge; very layered and concentrated; ripe focused palate; round qualities to the tannin. Good flesh. Quite fresh. Excellent. 92+/100

The two Crus Classés, Chateau Clerc-Milon and Chateau d’Armailhac were both tasted three times during the week [and once again at Mouton]. These are both strong wines but were not as flattering as some of the other Pauillacs. I would expect these wines to fill out further and merit higher scores. Nevertheless this is how I found them to be on the days I tasted them. All the separate notes listed below, you will see they are generally consistent with d’Armailhac showing better than Clerc-Milon at this stage.

Chateau Clerc Milon, Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2009

More closed than d’Armailhac; stone, cassis, minerals – layered nose; cassis here; quite pent up; very good; clean, focused wine; tannin nicely done. Sturdy palate – slightly harder style than d’Armailhac.  90+/100 Tasted at Mouton 1st April 2010.

Very fresh and clean nose; cassis and blackcurrants; very pure and polished nose; blackcurrants on palate; slightly more drying tannins on palate; not quite the sweetness of the tannins of the Super Seconds but good concentration. Needs to fill out. 90+/100.  [Earlier note] Bright colour; purple at edge; blackcurrant and fruit on the nose; certain stalkiness; fresh and pure; some perfume at edge; palate full and hard with rose petal; certain elegance; tannin at end. Needs to fill out. Bit closed. Potentially 90+/100.  Tasted 30th March & 1st April 2010 at UGC tasting.

Chateau d’Armailhac, Cru Classé, Pauillac 2009

Fresh; some lift; cassis and blackcurrants; stones and minerals with some rose; attractive and well developed nose; some floral and rose petal elements. Very fine palate; nice extraction and layered wine. Quite excellent length. 92+/100 Tasted at Mouton 1st April 2010.  

Fresh more perfumed than the Clerc Milon; some real strawberry and cassis here; red fruits; good mid palate richness; really well done here. Very ripe but nicely extracted. Round and supple tannins. Mid weight. Excellent. 90-92+/100 [Earlier note] Vibrant purple at edge; legs; ripeness on the nose; attractive; mur; mulberry and creamy with oak at the back – little stalky Cab notes; firm palate with tannin; little hard at present. Should develop well. Good length and intensity. 90+/100 Tasted 30th March 2010 & 1st April 2010 at UGC tasting.

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