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Bordeaux 2009 Primeurs: Terrific Potential In Pauillac

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux


The UGCB Pauillac tastings

It is now certain that the Gods smiled on Bordeaux in 2009, perhaps nowhere more so than in Pauillac. Admittedly things look pretty exciting too in St Estèphe, St Julien and Margaux, but given the extraordinary success of Cabernet Sauvignon in this vintage it would be surprising if Pauillac wasn’t really up there, first among equals in this vintage. It is still early days of course and the wines are very young but the potential is tremendous.

Pauillac was my first stop to review the wines in 2009. Chateau Batailley hosted the communes’ wines, along with wines from St Estèphe and St Julien on behalf of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux. It was a good tasting venue and big enough, although pretty soon it filled up withthe worlds wine trade and press [see above]. I began by tasting the wines Pauillac. Pretty soon the vintage characteristics were coming across – remarkable freshness, remarkable fruit concentration, remarkable alcohol, disguised in most cases by the quality of the fruit. It is a vintage also in which the roundness and suppleness of the tannins is extraordinary. I had imagined that the tasting would be tough on the palate, so many wines, so much tannin, but not a bit of it. These wines were a joy to taste and remarkably approachable given they are not much more than five months old. I returned again two days later to re-taste the wines following trips to Pomerol, St Emilion and Pessac-Léognan. This second tasting reconfirmed what a fantastic vintage it is in Pauillac. I had a chat with Chateau Batailley’s Philippe Casteja during this second visit and he was really excited and described 2009 as very harmonious and lovely vintage. ‘It is a great year for St Estèphe, St Julien and Pauillac, most definitely a Cabernet year.’ He added that he was looking himself ‘to make wines that also will be alive in fifty years time’.  Certainly he should be happy with his own wines from Chateau Batailley and Chateau Lynch Moussas in 2009. The Batailley, one of my favourite Pauillacs, in particular is excellent and possibly the best ever.

Overall the finest wines in Pauillac, outside of the First Growths, were Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron, wonderful power and concentration, Chateau Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, intensity and voluptuousness, and Chateau Lynch-Bages, seductive and powerful. No surprises here I suppose and all three are knockout and I would expect them to get even better as they put on more weight during elevage. Chateau Duhart Milon, tasted separately, is not far behind them in quality. I should point out that there are three very important omissions here amongst the Pauillac Chateaux, firstly Chateau Latour, which I was unable to get to on this trip, along with Chateau Pontet-Canet and Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste. I hope to taste these all in the coming weeks. I’d be amazed if these estates too haven’t produced profound wines in this vintage, Latour especially.

For ease of use I’ve incorporated into the tastings notes of Pauillac below those Chateaux tasted outside of the UGC tastings.

Chateau Batailley, Cru Classé, Pauillac 2009

Deep purple red; fresh nose, very bright cassis nose, very flattering and perfumed; substantial and round; some pencils and minerals with graphite; this is really good. Palate very harmonious on the palate; cassis, fragrance and blackcurrant. Great stuff. This is very fine Batailley. Very harmonious. Excellent length. Will be terrific value. 13.4 degrees but you don’t notice it. 92+/100 Tasted 30th March & 1st April 2010.

Chateau Clerc-Milon, Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2009

Bright and clear, deep, purple at edge; 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. Fraction more polished than the Grand Puy Ducasse but harder than d’Armailhac. 90+/100 Tasted 30th March & 1st April 2010.

Chateau d’Armailhac, Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2009

Deep, vibrant purple at edge, legs; 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+ Tasted 30th March & 1st April 2010.

Chateau Croizet-Bages, Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2009

Quite dark and extracted looking; more earth and mineral note; less fresh; palate less sophisticated and tannins tough. A little more rustic. OK. May settle down. 86?/100 Tasted 30th March & 1st April 2010.

Chateau Duhart Milon, Cru Classé, Pauillac 2009

Deep saturated black; legs and tight to the rim; very fresh and ripe wine; wonderfully lush blackcurrants; very open – density too and deep; graphite and lead pencils; slightly lighter than Carruades but only by degrees; very pure blackcurrant; wonderful purity of flavour; cassis, blackcurrants. Great wine, lovely length; very round. This is close to Super Second in quality and in its way nearly as good as Pichon Baron and Pichon Lalande 94+/100 Tasted 1st April 2010

Chateau Grand-Puy Ducasse, Cru Classé, Pauillac 2009

Dark black, tight to rim; pretty ripe fruit; very blackcurrant style; very fresh and very ripe cassis; sweet ripe fruit; little chunkier tannin here but very good effort. Good intensity and fruit on the palate. Little more tannin chunkiness but very good. Should be very good value. Bold. Best Ducasse of recent years. 90+/100 Tasted 30th March & 1st April 2010.

Chateau Haut-Bages Libéral, Cru Classé, Pauillac 2009

Deep; intense at edge; slightly more leafy note here; more lifted nose; little coarser and less fine grained tannins than the others. Leaf here and slight green streak, palate more disjointed. Hope this settles?  Expected much more in this vintage. This is a good Chateau. 86-88?/100 Tasted 30th March & 1st April 2010.

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Premier Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2009

Deep, dense colour, tight to rim. Lovely nose; wonderful pent up blackcurrants; glossy; cassis and sublimated blackcurrants; graphite, minerals, incredibly deep, this nose is perfection. Palate of purity, brimming with blackcurrants; essence of wine here; sweet ripe fruit; velvety tannins – elegance and intensity. Perfectly balanced. Not the merest hint of over-extraction. 100/100 1st April 2010.

Carruades de Lafite, Pauillac, 2009

Deep, intense, tight to rim, lovely depth, very fine and intense; blackcurrants, cassis, wonderful ripeness, excellent; very velvety palate, terrific lightness of touch; gentle extraction and great precision; soft ripe tannins, very round and quite profound. Good length. Excellent. 92-94/100 1st April 2010.

Chateau Lynch-Bages, Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2009

Very seductive and ripe nose; blackcurrants with some lovely oak; very flattering on the nose; wonderful cassis and intensity; terrific; some mocha and chocolate at the back of the nose; very concentrated and a little more extracted than the two Pichons but still very well done and it works; clean; great roundness and ripeness to the wine; little chunkier on the finish than the Pichons again but this is very good and should settle down more. Certainly more flashy and attention grabbing than the two Pichons on the nose and entry but a fraction less polished on the finish. Still terrific though and one of the best bottles of Lynch-Bages since the 1982. 94-96/100 Tasted 30th March & 1st April 2010.

Chateau Lynch-Moussas, Cru Classé, Pauillac 2009

Deep and inky;  ripe creamy nose; cassis; lots of extract and blackcurrants; dense and concentrated though maybe looser on the finish than the best wines here. Very good effort though and should be good value. 88-90/100 Tasted 30th March & 1st April 2010.

Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, Premier Cru Classé, Pauillac 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 but this is 88% Cab. Very good structure. Intense.  Very fresh palate with good acid and tannin. Second taste: very deep + saturated withpurple 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 and round. Length 30-40 seconds.  Very fresh.  Feel this is 98+/100. Tasted 1st April 2010

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. 90-92+/100 Tasted 1st April 2010

Chateau Pichon-Longueville, Cru Classé, Pauillac 2009

Darker and tight to the rim; bigger than Pichon Lalande yet also very focused; pure and very fresh; cassis and blackcurrant; creamy; intense and layered nose; powerful yet composed fruit and layers; very soft pure tannin. Wonderful balance. Not over extracted; very round tannins. Terrific. 96+/100 Tasted 30th March & 1st April 2010.

Chateau Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Cru Classé, Pauillac 2009

Less dense than the Pichon Baron; very fresh, very clean and precise; blackcurrants and cassis; quite well gone; focussed; strawberry and red fruits; depth; voluptuous nose; very sweet, ripe attack; pure and focused; v tight; soft and supple tannin; very ripe tannins. Concentrated but very elegant. Polished and very good 94-95/100 Tasted 30th March & 1st April 2010. Second tasting better than the first [earlier sample fruity but unsettled] – second tasting notes used as I imagined it was a poor sample.

Chateau Batailley where the Pauillac, St Estèphe and St Julien UGCB tastings were held

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