A tasting of wines from 2019 put on by the UGCB last November reinforced my impression of the fine quality of this vintage. I majored on the left bank, having covered the right bank more comprehensively during primeurs tastings back in 2020. Looking over my notes, the wines have certainly retreated into their shells since bottling. Many were quite backward and reticent, especially in Pauillac and St Julien. During primeurs, I felt like 2019 was a mythical blend of 2010 and 2009. They had the intensity of the former with the fruit and texture of the latter, with overall finer tannin and less extraction than back then. Right now I’m wondering if 2019 isn’t closer to a modern 2005, that is to say pretty serious, structured and long-term but with sweeter tannin texture than ‘05. Still, this is a generalisation and that comparison is not true in all cases by any means. Not all Pauillacs and St Juliens were backward for example and there were some especially lush wines in Margaux and the Haut-Médoc for instance. So it’s a complex picture. If you’ve tucked into 2019 [like me] there is certainly nothing to worry about, except that you might have to wait a little longer for the wines to open up than we first imagined. I’ll obviously follow up with more detailed posts by appellation, but in the meantime what were the overall highlights?
Posts Tagged ‘St Julien’
Final blog post for the moment on the reds of Bordeaux in 2020. I’ve grouped together notes taken on wines from the Médoc and Haut-Médoc in this post, as well as some specific communes like Margaux, Moulis, Listrac, St Julien, Pauillac and St Estèphe. All of these are based on samples sent by the Grand Cercle. I’ve yet to taste members of the Union des Grand Crus and there are a number of properties that I usually get to taste which I didn’t manage to organise this year. I hope to update these omissions soon. From what I have tasted the reds are fresh in the Médoc in 2020, although there is not the richness of 2019 or 2018 for me. In some there is a certain austerity and angularity. Wines tasted from the Haut-Médoc have good depth and colour, with freshness and zap, but again some can feel a little angular. A handful of wines tasted from St Estèphe look promising, with good colours and nice textures, and there were some nicely perfumed, fresh wines from Margaux. The few bottles I tasted from St Julien and Pauillac showed finesse, but were not quite up with the quality and concentration of the previous two vintages. Overall my tastings in these communes were not as comprehensive as those on the right bank this year. If you want detailed reports on the left bank wines I’d defer to others whose writing on Bordeaux I admire [Jane Anson, James Lawther, Chris Kissack, Neal Martin & Jeb Dunnuck all cover Bordeaux extremely well]. Nevertheless, I hope you find the notes on the following 24 wines useful.
The debate between the relative merits of Bordeaux 2009 and 2010 continue. Although it didn’t quite generate a twitter spat, Jamie Goode’s recent suggestion on the platform that people sell their 2009s before the vintage is rumbled, did provoke a number of other tweeters to stick the boot into the vintage. ‘Mushy’, over-rated, lacking focus and fast maturing were just some of the less positive comments. Many, it seems, are now devotees of 2010 and wouldn’t go near 2009 with a barge pole. Personally, this seems a bit of an overcorrection. Of course, 2009 was always controversial, both for the easy pleasures it offered during primeurs and in bottle, but also for Robert Parker’s huge early praise as the best young Bordeaux vintage he had ever tasted. The subsequent hefty price hikes by the châteaux themselves, who cashed in during one of the longest primeurs campaigns, also alienated the market, especially after those who invested never saw much of an appreciation on their assets. It is worth noting that prices haven’t shifted up much in a decade and Lafite remains almost half its release price. So, as the wines enter their twelfth year, what should we really make of Bordeaux 2009 now?
I’m very sorry to hear that Sue Glasgow has retired from the wine scene. Sue was synonymous for many in the UK wine trade with fine Bordeaux, doing public relations for the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux [UGCB] in particular and organising their tastings each year. Her swansong event, held in tightly managed, socially distanced conditions at Church House in Westminster last October was a superbly organised tasting. It worked like clockwork. Tasters occupied pretty much every corner of the entire building, each escorted to their individual tables, where waiters in masks and visors poured samples at arms-length. Usually these events are a bit more of a bun fight, but this year it all felt very refined if a little solemn. My only issue was a lack of time. During Primeurs 2018 I’d majored on right bank properties in St Emilion, Pomerol and the Bordeaux Côtes. I did dip in to see some of the stars of the left bank [notably Calon Ségur, Cos, Latour and Palmer] but I’d missed out on tasting St Julien, Pauillac and St Estèphe in detail. So, with only a few hours to taste at this year’s UGCB event this autumn, I decided to focus on these appellations. First up, St Julien.