Medoc & Graves: Keep
2009 Bordeaux: Very ripe wines with fairly low acidity raise concerns about ageability. Big, hedonistic wines, like 1982 but more consistent.
St Emilion & Pomerol: Keep
Luscious wines with high alcohol, but the best don’t lack tannin. A few overripe wines, but generally superb.
Sauternes & Barsac: Keep
A swift harvest in early October as botrytis spread fast. Very high sugars.
Even right at the start of the growing season things were looking promising, with temperatures slightly above average and 220 hours of sunshine. This was tempered by a mild but rainy April, until May saw the return of fine weather with excellent sunshine, leading to swift and even flowering in late May and early June. The only issues really were some violent hail storms that fell on several occasions in May, affecting up to 20,000 hectares of vines, or one-fifth of overall output.
Summer turned out to be extremely warm and even, with 293 sunshine hours in June, 262 in July and 270 hours in August. This meant that veraison, like flowering, was relatively uniform, although there were some issues with lack of rainfall, particularly as things headed into September and the sunshine kept on coming. This month was 50 hours more sunshine than average, with just 48mm of rainfall compared to the 30-year average of 90mm.
Dry white harvest began in late August, and there were some excellent results, although acidity was fairly low due to the heat, and these were delicious but not especially long-living white wines in the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur appellations. One of the best successes for white wines this year came from Sauternes, where botrytis set in with astonishing rapidity after perfect run of heat, sunshine and showers. The resulting wines are luscious, but have retained acidity.
For the red wines, there were exceptional wines all over, although ripeness and alcohol levels were high. Saint Emilion perhaps did a little better than Pomerol, as the merlot ripened so early, whereas the limestone of Saint Emilion kept things a little better in check, as did the addition of cabernet franc. Be wary of over-oaking on the Right Bank though, although this was also a great year for the smaller appellations in many cases, such as Fronsac, Castillon and the Saint Emilion satellites. Over on the Left Bank, again the smaller groups such as Cru Bourgeois really shone, and there is huge ageing potential for the big four appellations of Saint Julien, Margaux, Pauillac and Saint Estèphe.