Only five properties were shown from St Estèphe at the MW Institute event late last year but it included all the big guns: Cos d’Estournel, Calon Ségur and Montrose. Of these, Montrose showed real classicism with tremendous power and freshness. Cos seemed even thicker and richer than I remembered it. Let’s just say it continues to be an extremely bold winemaking statement. But Calon is the one that really does steal your heart. It has produced absolutely delicious Bordeaux in 2009. It is the star buy. Special mention also goes to Château Lafon-Rochet. It has made a wonderfully concentrated St Estèphe in this vintage.
There is little doubt that this appellation has succeeded more than any other in 2009. It’s here that Cabernet Sauvignon arguably reaches its apogee and in a vintage in which the ripeness of this variety was possibly unparalleled you’d expect great things. And great things there are here. In a pretty comprehensive line-up of wines from the appellation by the MW Institute last November [only really sans Château Latour] Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Mouton-Rothschild and Château Pontet-Canet were extraordinary. Château Lynch-Bages and Château Pichon-Longueville are a whisker off perfection. Château Duhart-Milon, Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Château Clerc Milon have made wonderful wines wines. The likes of Château Batailley, Château Haut-Batailley and Château Grand-Puy Ducasse have perhaps made their very best wine yet. There is simply so much to choose from here.
St Julien has produced a number of sensational wines in 2009. The best have tremendous power, richness and wonderfully ripe tannin. All three Léovilles are terrific, though very, very different. Château Léoville-Las-Cases is a giant with tremendous depth and power. Château Léoville Poyferré feels genuinely perfect. It is already spellbindingly seductive. Château Léoville Barton has great purity and depth. It is incredibly fresh and very long. It needs a decade in the cellar for sure but it remains at a bargain price compared to the others.
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.