Row of bottles

Bordeaux 2009 revisited

17 October 2012

Justerini & Brooks

Since the Bordeaux 2009 campaign, opinion has hardened against the vintage in some quarters. Scepticism over Robert Parker awarding 19 “perfect” scores has bloomed and reference has been made to the apparently contradictory tasting notes which many have written.

Can a vintage be at once rich, full and tannic yet vibrant and fresh? Did we all get caught up in the hype? The 2010 vintage has muddied these waters still further providing a more classic, brooding counterpoint to the friendly 2009s.

The 2009s have been gradually arriving in the UK over the course of the past year and the time is ripe (pun intended!) to re-taste. We decided to begin at the lower end with AOC Bordeaux, Cru Bourgeois and a few well priced interlopers (tasting notes below).

I felt some trepidation in the run up to this tasting. 2009 is an important vintage for collectors and for the wine trade.  I was blown away by the 2009s en primeur and I was blown away again last night. The 2009s performed brilliantly. They were ripe and rich with plenty of tannin and higher alcohol than one expects from Bordeaux yet balanced, vibrant and fresh. I guess we’ll just have to live with the contradiction! There was lots of red fruit, only a small amount of jam, enough concentration of fruit to balance the alcohol and plenty of acidity. Some are ready to drink, others best left alone but I would be happy to own any of them. I can’t wait to taste the class growths!

- Private Client Account Manager

  1. Château Peyrat 2009, Côtes de Castillon - £48.00/dozen IB
    Crunchy red fruits. Very vibrant. Fresh, with a sense of stones and minerals. This is fantastic value!
  2. Z  2009, Bordeaux - £60/dozen IB
    Juicy and really nicely textured. Very fruity but with good line and a fresh, satisfying finish.
  3. Château Greysac 2009, Cru Bourgeois, Médoc - £85/dozen IB
    Classic cassis and cigar box nose. Full of fruit with a sense of wet stones and earth. This should provide lovely mid-term drinking.
  4. Château Reynon 2009, 1er Côtes de Bordeaux - £95/dozen IB   
    Brambly dark fruits. Plush, sweet Merlot with hints of the exotic. This carries its weight really well and finishes fresh and crisp.
  5. Château La Grande Maye 2009, Côtes de Castillon - £95/dozen IB
    Crunchy and fresh with stoney, gravelly undertones. This softens in the glass to reveal plush sweet fruit but remains very vibrant.
  6. Château Beaumont 2009, Cru Bourgeois, Haut Médoc - £105/dozen IB
    Rich and lush with a pleasing savoury character, a touch of spice and firm supporting tannin. This benefits from an hour or so open as the mid palate fills out the frame. Fun now but will benefit from some time to settle in bottle.
  7. La Chenade 2009, Lalande de Pomerol - £120/dozen IB
    Absolutely delicious from the off. Rich yet cool fruit with a mineral frame.  Very satisfying and incredibly drinkable.
  8. Château Villars 2009, Fronsac - £130/dozen IB
    Up front, juicy and round. A solid effort but somewhat eclipsed by the wines either side of it.
  9. Château Picque Caillou 2009, Graves - £130/dozen IB
    Classic. Really well judged with great line. Delicious ripe fruit perfectly framed by refreshing acidity and supportive structure. This has terrific balance and should offer excellent drinking over the next decade.
  10. Château Petit Bocq 2009, St Estephe - £150/dozen IB
    Classic St Estephe: stoney, leafy and mineral . This has the plushness of the vintage but remains fresh and satisfying. A lot of wine for the money.
  11. Villa des Quatre Soeurs 2009, Margaux - £150/dozen IB
    Dark and concentrated with hints of chocolate. This is made from old vines (circa 70 years) and it shows. It is serious and complex and although offering plenty of pleasure now will reward a few years in bottle.
  12. Château de Fonbel 2009, St Emilion, Grand Cru - £165/dozen IB
    Elegant and composed. Very controlled. Chocolate and Liquorice with a bit of earth and raw meat. Very drinkable indeed.
  13. Château Valade 2009, St Emilion - £175/dozen IB
    Substantial and broad. A bit monolithic today but this has plenty of potential. This is made in a plush modern style but, once again, finishes fresh and bright.
  14. Le Petit Haut-Lafitte 2009, Pessac-Leognan - £225/dozen IB
    Tense yet rich, creamy and delicious. This is well structured and pretty serious but lots of fun today. Drink or hold.
  15. Château Cantemerle 2009, 5eme Grand Cru Classe, Haut Médoc - £240/dozen IB
    Classical styled with linear structure. Crunchy red fruit over plush dark fruit. This has some depth but offers lots of pleasure now. The tannins are very present but smooth and velvety.
  16. Château La Fleur de Boüard 2009, Lalande de Pomerol - £240/dozen IB
    Creamy and rich with plenty of merlot character. Concentrated and deep. Somewhat four square today and would benefit from a few years to resolve a little but excellent material here. This is from the estate of Hubert de Boüard of Angelus fame and you can see a family resemblance. One for modernists who aren’t in too much of a hurry!
  17. Château Les Ormes de Pez 2009, Cru Bourgeois, St Estèphe - £240/dozen IB
    Stoney, brambly, and concentrated. This is much more restrained than I found it en primeur. There is still plenty of plush fruit but the structure is serious and dry. The wine finishes crisp, fresh and tight. This needs a little time to unfurl but is at the top end of this selection in terms of absolute quality and potential.
  18. Château Moulin St Georges 2009, St Emilion - £295/dozen IB
    This is plush but with very good restraint. It is textured, creamy, charming and absolutely delicious. The balance is very good and this should age nicely over the short to medium term but I am very happy drinking this now.
  19. Clos des Quatre Vents 2009, Cru Bourgeois, Margaux - £300/dozen IB
    Perfumed and expressive with brambly, cassis fruit, hints of lavender and garrigue. This is very Margaux in style with an utterly beguiling violetty perfume and an elegant, feminine, racy palate. This comes from a 1.2 hectare plot of around 80 year old vines and is certainly not short of stuffing. There is much to enjoy today but I think a few years slumbering would really bring out the best in this wine. This is terrific value for money!
  20. Château Sociando-Mallet 2009, Cru Bourgeois, Haut Médoc - £315/dozen IB
    Raw meat and earth. Deep, dark cassis fruit. Brooding. This is concentrated and powerfully structured and will benefit from 5 to 10 years to settle down a bit. The fruit it ripe and delicious and all this needs a little time to harmonise. Very impressive at this level.
  21. Château Haut-Marbuzet 2009, Cru Bourgeois, St Estèphe - £325/dozen IB
    Ripe, polished and modern yet with plenty of class. Very pure red fruit: cherry and wild strawberry over a core of cassis. As usual, this is made in an opulent style with smoky oak characteristics and a touch of vanilla. This is extremely slick and approachable and offers much more fun at this stage than the preceding wine. A couple of years in the cellar would certainly help but this is and will be accessible young.

All tasted at Justerini & Brooks, 61 St James Street