The 2009 Bordeaux vintage has been touted as one of the best, if not the best, of the century. The one before that was rated outstanding, and 2007 was also rated as one of the best.
The superlatives start to sound suspicious, what if the next good vintage is very fine too? Also, consider that the century is only nine years “old”.
One starts to think of this hype as just commercialization, a cheap one at that, to sell, and maybe even ask for more that is justified.
Some North American writers, including a very influential one, claims the vintage to be the best in several decades, and yet while it is accessible now, would improve fro at least another decade.
European sommeliers and writers seem to be more circumspect and thing the vintage to be fine.
One thing connoisseurs and writers agree on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean is theta top classified (grand cru) wines are excellent. Bordeaux is a big region, the biggest quality wine producer in the world with more than 9000 chateaux (estates) that produce wine.
Vintage quality claims are general and usually don’t deal with sub-region, let alone with individual estates. It is important to remember that chateaux change hands. Quality may improve under one management and decline in another.
Also, the climate is only a framework, a barometer of how easy it is, or isn’t, to ripen the fruit, and it influences both quality and taste. It is worth remembering that some estates exercise rigorous triage (selection of grapes and bunches that go into their top quality wine) and others dump the whole into the press.
Some wines, after bottling, enter a phase that makes them “dormant and without an expression” aka “ dumb phase”. They “close down”, become less expressive, and less pleasant, essentially an amalgam of fruit and oak. Then they start evolving. This period may last from a few months, or even one year or more.
Remember some vignerons look after their vineyards very well, keep yields down, and may be lucky to own a good location that enjoys a more suitable climate than others.
One thing is clear – the top classified Bordeaux chateaux are located on excellent locations with appropriate terroir, reasonably constant climate close to the Gironde, and the vineyards are very well managed. Before blending the winemaker selects the best barrels. Lesser wines are blended and bottled to be sold and second label, in some cases as third, and if the vintage is very poor the wine sold in bulk to negociants who blend them into generic and inexpensive wines.
Another thing to remember is that before Bordeaux wine reaches the consumer in North America and for that matter anywhere in the world, it passes through at least four hands, and sometimes six. Every trader (negociant) gets his/her cut, which makes the products more expensive.
The 2009 Bordeaux vintage wines arrive in North America.
I have tasted many of the products that were released on October 27 and found many to be fine but nor outstanding.
Chateau Cruzeau, 2009 from Pessac-Leognan offers currant and plum aromas. Full-bodied with good acidity and balance. Fine finish
Chateau La Gravette Lacombe, Medoc is well-structured, mid-weight with perceptible tannins. Can be enjoyed now with fatty food, but will age well for a few years.
Chateau Senejac, 2009, is an excellent effort by the team of winemakers of Chateau Pontet Canet. An intense wine with delicious fruit, ripe tannins, low acidity and good balance.
Hauts De Pontet Canet is the second label of Château Pontet Canet, a fifth growth classified Bordeaux. It is soft and round, very seductive, intense, full bodied and deliciously balanced with a long and satisfying aftertaste.