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Bordeaux 2009 Revisited: Margaux

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_5431There’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.

The considerable drought conditions of 2009 may have led to a few more concerns here in Margaux than elsewhere in the Haut-Médoc. It’s a complex picture in such a large appellation, but the generally lighter soils in Margaux would have struggled more with hydric stress than say St Julien, Pauillac and St Estèphe especially, but it’s difficult to generalize. This may have led to problems with tannin ripeness for some. Also it feels as if certain properties picked later than needed at the expense of freshness and acidity. A few undoubtedly over-extracted. Still, overall, Margaux has much to offer in 2009, even if it doesn’t quite reach the [honestly quite staggering] levels of quality and homogeneity in Pauillac and St Julien. Notes up on these appellations next.

Chateau Margaux ext - CopyCh. Margaux: one of the wines of the vintage

Let’s start Margaux at the top. Château Margaux has produced one the most immediately attractive and seductive wines of 2009. Aromatically it is complex and pitch-perfect. On the palate there is great depth and intensity with layer upon layer of flavour. The wine has fabulous length and the tannin is as round and as harmonious as you could wish for. It is sensational wine. By comparison Château Palmer feels more muscular and quite possibly it is shutting down. It was absolutely delicious early on, so there’s nothing to worry about, but you may need to wait longer for this than first imagined. Likewise Château Rauzan-Ségla shows extraordinary power and terrific purity. It has lost some gloss and certainly needs time. The Karl Lagerfeld label needs longer to grow on us too.


Château Lascombes has turned in sumptuous, velvety Margaux. It was delicious early on and continues to be so. There is boat-load of rich blackcurrant and plum fruit here with an attractive violet lift. There’s a fair degree of toasty oak influence in this typically striking and dramatic effort. Still the tannin seems well handled. There is a lot of it, but it is wonderfully sweet and ripe.

I’d put Château Brane-Cantenac, Château Boyd-Cantenac and Château d’Issan in the same category. I’m a fan of all three, Brane-Cantenac especially. All produced very attractive Margaux in the vintage. Boyd-Cantenac is perhaps the least complex, but it is very full and harmonious. Brane-Cantenac has a leafy lift, nice purity with good structure and an appealing freshness. Château d’Issan will hopefully go the way of its very attractive 2005 [drinking wonderfully now]. There’s a bit more grip and structure evident here than in the other two.

Siblings Château Giscours and Château du Tertre look consistent to me. There have been rumblings of discontent with some bottles of du Tertre [not clear to me whether it’s TCA or brett that’s the concern as I’ve not encountered it] but I tasted two sample bottles on offer, both clean as a whistle. Giscours is the tighter and more considerable of the two, and there’s some tannin to shed here but plenty of fruit on offer. Du Tertre has attractive purity and balance. It’s nicely plush with plenty of cool, blackcurrant fruit.

Let’s put Château Durfort-Vivens and Château Ferrière together because of the family connections [Gonzague Lurton and Claire Villars-Lurton]. Durfort is always a bit sulky early on and I remember it being the least expressive and most disjointed during primeurs week when the wines were first shown in April 2010. After bottling and now after a spell in bottle it is has knit together nicely. There’s attractive sap and freshness here. Château Ferrière is tighter and less obviously lush. It’s inky with plenty of extract but needs to settle further.

Château Desmirail is typically forward and easy-going. I think I probably overrated this early on, but this is supple and attractive to drink already. Château Rauzan-Gassies has smartened up nicely too. I probably underrated this early on by the looks of things now as this is by far and away one of the best efforts Gassies has turned in recently. It’s a bit chunky but the wine remains a far cry from some of its previous performances.

Château Kirwan looks correct enough but it could do with more joy. It may be just a phase [though recent vintages here correspond to this somewhat humourless, stern style]. Château Prieuré-Lichine has excelled. There’s a lot to like in this wine, with plenty of fruit and some violet lift to the aromatics, even if the tannin is a little chewy on the finish. Still it’s a pretty smart effort from this estate.

Château Dauzac and Château Marquis de Terme are the misfires for me. Dauzac has turned out better than expected – it was an extracted exaggeration during primeurs – but still this wine feels overdone in the cellar. Marquis des Terme seemed pinched and extracted. I remember something with much greater promise early on so I’m not quite sure what’s happened.

Château Angludet was tasted separately from the MW Institute tasting. It’s a good effort. The wine is harmonious and well balanced though it has crept into its shell a little. There is plenty of purity here though and I’d imagine you’d be looking at something probably as joyful as their beautiful 2005 further down the line.

Overall there is no doubt that some exceptional wines have been produced here in Margaux in 2009 – Château Margaux in particular. There are a great many excellent wines here too but there is not the consistency of Pauillac and St Julien in this vintage. The appellation lacks their knock-out, jaw-dropping quality.

Below are the full notes from the MW Institute tasting last November, Château Angludet tasted from my own cellar.

Château Angludet

Deep and healthy looking; blackcurrant and some plum; pure; nicely balanced palate with lots of depth and structure beneath. A fraction closed but nicely balanced and true to Margaux. A fine effort. Drink 2016-2029. 90

Château Boyd-Cantenac

Deep and saturated looking; blackcurrants, plums, toast and coffee bean notes; intense; full and lush on the palate with lots of saturation and extract and real depth. Blackcurrants and spicy oak. Drink 2015-2030. 92+

Château Brane-Cantenac

Deep and saturated; tight to rim; leafy blackcurrants; earthy; herbal lift; real density and saturation on the palate – very full – but there is structure here and some freshness on the end. Drink 2016-2030. 93+

Château Dauzac

Deep and saturated look; toasty blackcurrant and plummy notes; lots of fruit and reasonable depth with a fair dollop of spicy and toasty oak; dryness to the palate. Lots of fruit but rather extracted style with a rather heavy use of oak. Better than I though it would be but not my style. Drink 2015-2025. 87

Château Desmirail

Saturated look; dark core; forward and open; leaf and cedar tones with blackcurrant fruit tones; very appealing on the nose; leafy blackcurrant palate spicy and very fruit forward – perfectly ready to drink now. Savour and some chew on the finish but very supple fruit here. Drink now-2022 90

Château Durfort-Vivens

Very deep core; red fruit lift; strawberry tones; ripe with resin; fruit on the palate; black fruits; quite elegant with nice saturation and flavour with good sap. Tannin nicely ripe. Good length here. More mid-weight and elegant than some but has come together well. Drink 2015-2030. 90+

Château Ferrière

Mid depth; dark centre; inky and dense if slightly stewed; palate quite high toned yet intense with plenty of pent-up extract. Well structured. Less lush and tighter than many. 2015-2030. 89+

Château Giscours

Mid depth, dark core; stones, minerals and blackcurrants; fraction dumb; spicy blackcurrant fruit on the palate with menthol and herbal notes; tighter than many with structure but plenty of material here. Tannin [ripe] but noticeable on the finish Longer-term. 2019-2035 92+

Château d’Issan

Deep at centre; earthy blackcurrants, spices, coffee beans, almost old-fashioned in the nicest sense [I like this]; plenty of layers of blackcurrant fruit with attractive earthy notes. Very full on the palate but had good left and acid. Grip on the finish. Interestingly balanced for a 2009 with lots of freshness. I wonder if this will turn out to be as exceptional as their 2005. Drink 2016-2030. 93+

Château Kirwan

Very deep and saturated; inky blackcurrants and some spice; little meat when it opens up; layers; lots of depth and structure, structure more evident than the fruit which is a little closed at present. Serious if maybe a little too so for its own good. Drink 2019-2030. 90

Château Lascombes

Deep and saturated looking; full, lush nose; toasty oak with plumy, black fruit characters but nice purity with violet lift; very full on the palate with loads of ripe fruit – lashings of it; very full and fruity; toast and espresso on the finish. Not extracted overall, just lush – testimony to the fruit. Almost Burgundian. An impressive effort. Drink 2015-2030. 95+

Château Marquis de Terme

Deep and saturated looking; bit farty and feral to start with; blackcurrant tones and tar; extracted and dry on the end. Bit pinched overall. Think this has been overdone in the cellar. I’m not getting this property at present. Drink 2016-2022. 86

Château Margaux

Deep with dark core; fresh looking; wonderfully attractive aromatics – a medley of blackcurrant fruit and floral tones; nice lift and extremely flattering; real depth and intensity to the palate, this is a great as I remember it [tasted twice before during elévage]. Blackcurrant fruit dominates the palate; real seam of rich fruit; very, very complete with harmony and roundness to the tannins. Perfect wine surely? Already a beauty, this will develop well over the long term. Drink now-2040. 100

Château Palmer

Deep and saturated looking; inky; some resin; red fruits and lift; menthol; pretty intense nose but has lost some of that gloss it displayed from barrel; palate very clean, nice blackcurrants with chew and tannin; lots of flavour here and very, very good palate overall. Still seductive but shutting down a fraction. Still deceptively powerful. Drink 2016-2035 96+

Château Prieuré-Lichine

Deep and saturated; wet stones, cassis and blackcurrants; similar tones on the palate with chocolate on the finish; sturdy and deep; lots of fruit – plump and powerful. Finished clean with ripe, slightly chewy tannins. Excellent effort here. Drink 2016-2029. 91+

Château Rauzan-Gassies

Mid depth; dark core; leafy, blackcurrant lift; some boiled sweet notes with earthy tones at the edge; earthy, meaty palate with blackcurrant and spice tones – lots of extract and material. Tannins are a little chunky. Lacks finesse but plenty going on and in the context of the estate, this is probably one of the best wines from here in years. Drink 2015-2025. 90

Château Rauzan-Ségla

Deep and saturated looking; very intense on the nose; minerals, cassis, pretty pent up and not currently as flashy as some [or as it was during primeurs]; loads of fruit on the palate though; layer upon layer of blackcurrant fruit here – this has such a long way to go. Tannins pretty hefty but ripe. Needs some time and will be long-lived. Drink 2019-2040. 95+

Château du Tertre

Deep at centre; ripe blackcurrant tones; some mineral and wet rocks; freshness; cool blackcurrant fruit, quite plush and very clean and pure. Very nice balance between freshness and fruit in a very measured and polished style. No trace of anything strange going on in this sample. Drink 2016-2030 91+


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