Wine Talk

Snooth User: Matthijs Visser

Quick review of 2009 Bordeaux

Posted by Matthijs Visser, May 4, 2012.


Over the course of the last few months, the Bordeaux 2009′s have started hitting the shelves. With hot, dry weather throughout the growing season, this vintage has been receiving great reviews. Willow Park Wines here in Calgary, AB brought the 09′s out last Friday night and offered customers a chance to taste a nice line up of them at their annual Bordeaux launch and sale. It was a great opportunity to taste these much anticipated wines and get an overall impression of the vintage.


Before getting into that, first a bit of background for those unfamiliar with Bordeaux: as mentioned in last week’s blog post on, red Bordeaux is a blend of several grape varieties with either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot forming the majority of the blend. The tricky part is that the label won’t tell you what grape variety makes up the majority of the blend. You can generally tell though by the part of Bordeaux that the wine is from: if the label indicates that the wine is from St. Emilion or Pomerol, Merlot will generally make up most of the blend. Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in a larger list of areas, including Margaux, Pauillac, St. Estephe, St. Julien, Pessac-Leognan, and Graves, so look for those names on the label if you’re looking for wines where Cabernet Sauvignon makes up most of the blend.


Why go into this detail? While tasting the '09s, there was a pronounced difference between the wines in which Merlot vs. Cabernet Sauvignon dominates. Starting with St. Emilion and Pomerol, opinions are going to be divided on these wines. Due to the predominance of Merlot, combined with the hot weather, these wines are soft, fruit forward, with lots of black cherry and plum flavours, and almost a sense of sweetness to them. For those who prefer this ripe, upfront style of wine, 2009 St. Emillion and Pomerol will be a delight. Others though, will find that these wines lack a certain degree of vibrancy and structure. For them, wines in which Cabernet Sauvignon dominates will be what they’re looking for. These offer typical blackcurrant and red cherry flavours with more acidity and tannins to provide that sense of vibrancy and balance.


If you wanted to pick up a few bottles, the 2009 Chateau La Garde stood out for me. It offers blackcurrant and black cherry fruit, combined with cedar, tobacco, and mint. It showed good acidity and ripe tannins to balance it out, so overall provides everything I would look for in a good Bordeaux at a reasonable cost.


Reply by Padre5, May 4, 2012.

But they are all too expensive!

Reply by zufrieden, May 4, 2012.

Many of us have what might be best described as muted excitement when it pertains to the 2009 Bordeaux vintage. The weather that year was torrid - as I can attest from experience - and it does not represent a typical "good" vintage in that august wine-growing region in my opinion.  The heat units reflect something of a Barossa Valley element, and if you like such wines, buy these powerful examples and drink sooner rather than later.

Also, there is the expense as already noted.  Go for the much cheaper and more typical 2008's.

Reply by Matthijs Visser, May 4, 2012.

Depends on where you look: some great values from Pessac-Leognan include Le Thil Comte Clary and La Garde, both of which usually retail for around $25. Especially the La Garde very much impressed me and if you are the cellaring type, will be enjoyable over the course of the next decade.

Reply by zufrieden, May 4, 2012.

True.  I was talking in glittering generalities.  And, truth be told, I have indeed purchased a few of these gems to which you refer.  The wines are good, just different and needing a bit of a different posture from the buyer - if that works.

Reply by panoskakaviatos, May 5, 2012.

2009 was not (nearly) as torrid as 2003! I mean, I can smell most 2003s a long way from the glass, the raisin like aromas. Yuch. But 2009s, when from cooler soils, can be fabulous. Alas the prices are also crazy. 

Reply by JonDerry, May 6, 2012.

What's your opinion of 2005 Panos? How about your favorite vintage since 2000?

Reply by panoskakaviatos, May 6, 2012.

Cheers Jon. I think we all tend to get carried away with broad vintage brushstrokes. It is better to focus on areas within Bordeaux for each vintage and then also pay attention to individual estates. For some reason, for example, Calon Segur and Pontet Canet and Vieux Chateau Certan in 2011 all made superb wines. In spite of the challenges of the vintage. One can find explanations: hail that missed Calon Segur, the great success of Cabernet Franc for VCC, the continued fine work in the vineyard by Pontet Canet, and perhaps a less extracted approach than usual....

Even in 2003, some estates are quite good, mainly from the northern Medoc. Wines like the Leovilles, Pichon Baron, Montrose, and others. But still, 2003 remains too marked by the heated raisin aspect. Especially on the Right Bank and in the Graves, too, which tends to warm more quickly than the Medoc. 

If I had to pick a vintage, 2005 strikes me as perhaps the very best of the last decade, including the 2000 vintage, because it manages a blend of structure, opulence and fruit. Acidities are also quite reasonable, not super low, but rather high enough to balance the alcohol levels. The Left Bank is perhaps better overall, because in 2005 you started to get outlandish high alcohol with Merlots ... 

But, again, 2009 resulted in some wines that are superior to their 2005 counterparts on the Left Bank, including Palmer, Leoville Las Cases and few others. 2009 is more opulent than 2005 generally but some estates hit homeruns with fine freshness too in 2009. Also, some of the cru bourgeois in 2009 are wonderful. Ripe and rich but not hot and raisin like, a la 2003. 

2010 could turn out to be even better overall, again for the Left Bank, given time in bottle, but it is a more structured vintage, resembling somewhat 2005 but not as rounded. It seems to be a slightly tougher and more noticeably tannic vintage than 2005. 

I simply remember having a "wow effect" en primeur in 2005 that has not been surpassed since, in the barrel tastings. Happily confirmed for the most part in bottle. Many wines tasted from barrel for that vintage remain hallmarks: from Petrus and VCC, Latour and Haut Brion to Brane Cantenac and Pichon Baron, just to name a few. 




Reply by JonDerry, May 6, 2012.

Interesting about 05', and good to know at least the prices are somewhat attainable. I've purchased a couple bottles of Montrose already, and was really enlightened when sampling an 05' Leoville Poyferre last week, of which I plan to stock up. Also was curious to try an 03' LP, good to know they made one of the better wines of the vintage.

While it's plain to see there's been much hype about the 09' vintage, one wine in particular seems to stand out from critical reaction, what do you think of the 2009 Cos'?

Re: VCC - Alexandre seems to prefer his 2009 to his 2005, and some believe the 2009 to be the best modern VCC ever if it wasn't for the 2010. Any thouhgts? I've had their 2002 recently which was far from great, but was a good food wine. Have a 2001 cellared as well.

Reply by panoskakaviatos, May 6, 2012.

I only tasted the Cos 09 from barrel and did not like it. It was a caricature. I thought it was a Napa Valley Cab instead of a St Estephe. Montrose is far better in 09. Although I did taste Montrose 09 from bottle to confirm that feeling. Neal Martin in erobertparker did taste the Cos from bottle and gave it ... 90. He has a fine palate. Montrose 09 may be better than Montrose 05, it is that good.

I am an outlier in terms of the "VCC latest great vintage" issue.

I still think the fresh Cab presence in 05 - combined with civilized Merlots - make the 05 the best of the recent vintages for VCC. Perhaps 2010 is just as good? But I did not like the higher alcohol. I noticed it, whereas I did not notice that in the 2005. Still, the 2010 has freshness and lift, so it is certainly great.

I was just a bit underwhelmed by the 2009 from barrel, it seemed to lack the lift of the 2005 (and the 2010).

2011 is one of the wines of the vintage as said earlier, because Cab Franc is back.

Have not had their 2002, but that was a tough Right Bank vintage in any case. 2001 is delicious, but have not had one since two years.

Chrs Panos


Reply by zufrieden, May 6, 2012.

Your experience testing some of the super second (and 1er growth) wines may exceed my own (which may be my own fault since I have given up on these wines on ethical price terms; I cannot warrant purchasing these products at the prices now demanded).

Notwithstanding, I am highly skeptical of the claims made about the quality of these wines - partly because one must plow through the marketing hype to land upon a shore that provides sufficient respite to think. Check out the "utterly absurd" forum to see what some of us think who have the financial wherewithall to purchase Bordeaux. 

Even the 2005 vintage must be examined with some caution.  My suggestion at this time (having had no barrel tasting of 2010 or 2011) is to see what these wines evolve into in the next 6-8 years.  I do not expect these wines to last as long as pundits predict.  As a lover of the Bordeaux style, I am concerned about the move toward fruit-forward (read: brash) wines in that it negates what drew us to these wines in the first instance.

Search for some threads that discuss art criticism and how this might pertain to wine appreciation and I think you will find that money is more of a distorting factor than something that leads to aethetically satisfying "equilibrium".  As a statistician and economist, I caution you all on the religion of the market (wine or otherwise).

All of this may seem a bit oblique to the forum topic, but I would like to move toward less hype and more objectivity - even if that objectivity is a consensus of informed opinion. To those who have corresponded with me or read my comments, I need not repeat that I seek value and wish to promote the ideology of value to all lovers of the vine.

Finally, here is a prediction: within 10 years there will be a Chinese owner of a major Bordeaux property who will take an active role in production.  What does this have to do with anything?  Well, it points to the recycling of those who understand the value of prestige. Rich landed Anglo-Irish aristocrats and bankers entered the fray in earlier times... the question is: who will follow?  Who will hype the next vintage for them and why?

Whether the 2009 vintage is as you claim may just provide the annswer.  In the meantime, pleasant imbibing.



Reply by Richard Foxall, May 6, 2012.

Great thread.  I guess one of my hesitancies into jumping into "value" Bordeaux is the huge number of estates.  People just don't realize the huge amount of wine produced under that label.  700 million bottles a year! 6700 producers! Napa accounts for about 1/6 of that and about 400 wineries.  (Although other wineries use the grapes.) Just too hard to chase down this "premium" wine that is still made in such huge numbers.  Then there's the whole "en primeur" aspect--buying wine before I can taste it on the word of people with a huge stake in it.

JD has it right IMO--go back to the older vintages like 2005 after another Vintage of the Century and taste the wines before you buy them.  The prices are dropping for all but the rareified growths.

Reply by panoskakaviatos, May 7, 2012.

Good points Foxall. In fact, production figures are closer to 850m per year. Bordeaux is huge. So when you have a good vintage, it does tend to lift all boats. Z is right about the marketing hype and the consequent crazy pricing that followed the vast amount of the better known estates.

I was just commenting on recent vintages, but not so much the pricing/marketing effect, which is essential for consumers, of course. But it is pretty darn safe to say that 2005 is an exceptional vintage. Is it a value vintage? That is far less clear. 2009 got even more expensive. And 2010 pricing was also unfriendly - just look at all the merchants complaining today about unsold stocks of 2010... 

So one could do well with many cru bourgeois level wines, such as La Louviere, Poujeaux, Pibran, Bernadotte, and even less expensive ones like Lestage in Listrac or Beau-Site in St Estephe. Their pricing has not gone insane. Or if you want to stick to the high end, look for star wines in lesser known or even somewhat forgotten vintages. Wines like Canon in 2004, Palmer in 1979 or 1978, Grand Puy Lacoste in 2006, Montrose in 2008 are just a few examples that come to mind.

Reply by JonDerry, May 10, 2012.

That's one thing about Bordeaux, it's so large that the few % of chateau with name recognition and good branding are sold for premium's while others can lay under the weeds.

Panos, what you say about good vintages rising all boats is a good way to put it. Think there will be some good buys under $40 for 09/10, though not everyone wants to look. Poujeaux in 2009 is something I plan on buying eventually.

Reply by zufrieden, May 11, 2012.

Agreed. There are indeed good bargains under 40 dollars (US).  Poujeaux is an excellent suggestion for value, although I personally prefer Chasse-Spleen when dabbling in Moulis.  The problem may be that that my favourite has become more expensive with every edition of Johnson's Pocket Wine Book...

I have never actually disliked any super second or premier cru (not that this is too surprising), but I have been disappointed that the price includes a very, very high hype factor that seems out of proportion with the quality difference one sees in a good petit chateau...

Good comments all.

Reply by danieboi, Aug 25, 2013.

Slightly different question -- are my petit chateau (Ch. Clarke, Reynon, etc...) ready to drink in the winter of 2014, or should I wait.  The wines are in a refrig w/ the temp set at 55.



Reply by JonDerry, Aug 26, 2013.

2009's continue to drink well today, but will age gracefully for years. A true drink or hold situation.

Reply by duncan 906, Aug 26, 2013.

Danieboi .I have already drunk and reviwed a 2009 Chateau Reynon which is a lovely wine although perhaps just a little young..


I also visited the London France Show back in January where I tasted some of the 2009's from Chateau Guillotin in Puisseguin Saint-Emilion which I thought were gorgeous


It is a little ambitious to generalise about 2009 Bordeaux because,as Foxall has already pointed out,Bordeaux is a vast area with several thousand producers operating with different abilities and budgets and 60 distinct AOC's all with slightly different terroir

Reply by Juanky1989, Sep 5, 2013.

2009 is coming so over-priced and 2010 as well, i still enjoy old vintages that at around the same price and are already in a better stage of ageging. i would recomend Chateau du Tertre 2005, Chateau Gloria 2003 and 2005 

Going back to the 2009 vintage i tried almost all the most important Chateaux and one that would suit the American palad would be Chateau Rauzan Segla and the ones that suit me is Chateau D'Issan,  Beychevelle, Ducru-Beaucaillou

First growths are untouchable

Reply by duncan 906, Sep 6, 2013.

Is there such a thing as an 'American Palate'?You are talking of a country of hundreds of millions of people and they are all different

Reply by Juanky1989, Sep 6, 2013.

yeah I'm, because after working for many years in the wine industry and interacting with the final consumers you realize that they like fruit forward wine. Of course there is people that likes other styles but i would say that 9 out of 10 people likes that high alcohol over ripe wine. This is not something bad so don't feel like i'm saying something bad by stereotyping the american palate. 

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