At the very least 2009 will be remembered as one of the greatest Bordeaux vintages in living memory. A remarkable warm dry ‘solar’ growing season and contiguous cool summer nights resulted in optimum fruit ripeness across all grape varieties; Cabernet Sauvignon performed particularly well. Superb flavour development, concentration, sugar and tannin ripeness were achieved across all sub-regions.
On balance the left bank was the star performer with wines of tremendous freshness and buoyancy. Even the minor communes excelled with many lesser-known Chateaux punching well above their classifications. At the pointy end of the Grand Cru Classé genre, the ‘clarets’ are transcendent. It is rare, even uplifting, to taste such an extraordinary array of high quality wines with such great cellaring potential. Inevitably there are comparisons. 1982 is often mentioned. Some veteran winemakers have suggested a mix between 1985 and 1989; also warm years. 2005 is also mentioned as a benchmark, but in some respects 2009 is incomparable and inimitable. The confluence of a perfect growing season, accumulated wisdom, marvellous technology and huge vineyard and winery investment over the last twenty years has generated a profound vintage.
St Estèphe, best known for its muscular and long-lived wines, are chocolaty and beautifully concentrated for a change. Chateau Cos d’Estournel, which has made a first growth type wine in 2009, leads a long list of excellent wines. Pauillac is ultra-classical and brilliantly poised between opulence and elegance. The fine grainy tannins and cedary tannins are still there, but there is a fruit complexity, buoyancy and juiciness that is compelling. St Julien is fragrant and fresh with dense lacy tannins, superb fruit sweetness and vinosity. Margaux is sensational with redcurrant/ black berry aromas, smooth generous fruit and supple tannins. Graves, especially Péssac Léognan, has turned out some exceptional wines at every level. Many show cassis/ dark chocolate/ roasted chestnut aromas, mid-palate richness and grainy dense tannins. St Emilion has stumped up some very lovely wines. The best have fresh cassis/ plum/ herb garden aromas, sinuous tannins and understated power. Even the cult-type wines typified by Chateau Pavie and Gracia are more classically proportioned. Pomerol has also made some very beautiful wines with a slightly musky plum accent and fine chocolaty tannins. Vieux Chateau Certan was a star performer.
The alcohol levels, across all regions are typically above average but this is more than balanced by the density of fruit, superb tannin structure and overall percussion of the wines. The Bordeaux white wines (mostly Graves) are also impressive and possess an extra layer of fruit complexity and richness. Many have lemon curd aromas and lovely minerality. Sauternes and Barsac were saved by intermittent autumn showers. The development of botrytis, almost overnight, resulted in record first trie crops. The wines are beautifully fragrant with honey/ lemon curd/ apricot aromas, generous crystalline fruit characters, supple textures and mineral acidity. Even the lesser known Chateaux have made gorgeous wines in 2009.
We are all very excited at Langton’s with the promise of the 2009 Bordeaux vintage. This is a year in which everyone can get involved. Although we expect some fairly assertive prices at the very top end, we believe that prices for the mainstream Grand Cru Classé wines will remain realistic. With the global financial crisis still lurking in the shadows, many observers feel that the chateaux will resist the temptation of overly ambitious prices. Indeed we believe there will be some fantastic value wines on offer.
At Langton’s our “en primeur” pricing policy is simple, fair and highly competitive. This is a great opportunity to buy some of the most acclaimed Clarets and Sauternes in living history. Although it is always difficult to predict the future, we feel that the strength of the Australian dollar, the superlative nature of the vintage and the increase in world-wide interest (particularly China), will further provide impetus to the 2009 Campaign.
We urge you to read Andrew Caillard MW’s field reports and other critical opinion. There is definitely “movement at the station.” There is no easier method than buying these great 2009 Bordeaux wines through langtons.com.au.
Andrew Caillard MW