What the press says
The Bordelais are supremely confident that the 2009 en primeur campaign will be a success, says Wine Spectator’s James Suckling. ‘No one looks worried in Bordeaux about the current market for his or her new top wines. I mentioned such negatives as a weak global economy, overstock of good wines in the marketplace, lack of new buyers in key markets…the Far East's reluctance to buy futures, general prejudice against Bordeaux, and even France's chances in the World Cup…I get the same smile and positive comment: “We will sell.”
‘I am sure they will – or, at least, some will’, is Suckling’s response.
As expected, Robert Parker has kept his utterances about 2009 Bordeaux to a minimum, save for the occasional teasing comment via his Twitter account. This is his latest offering: ‘Looking for value in Bordeaux – don't expect 2009s to be reasonably priced – too much demand world-wide. The values are the excellent 2008s and 2007s that are hitting the shelves – in our favor – the increasing dollar's value.’
Chris Kissack (aka The Wine Doctor) says the weak spots of the vintage are wines ‘with overt alcohol on the palate, wines which are disjointed, unbalanced and over-extracted, and occasionally quite volatile.’
Kissack has also noted that such wines are all Merlot-dominant, particularly those from the left bank, although he admits that ‘there are indeed some truly great wines in this vintage’, notably Cabernet-based wines from the left bank.
Over on the other side of the Gironde, Kissack downplays the doom-and-gloom scenario that some have painted about the quality of the 2009 St-Emilions. While some showed ‘extreme levels of extraction’, he says: ‘I thought a number of the wines showed very well, including some of the more tannic and extracted styles. Whereas these wines always possess a lot of structure, this year I felt they had the fruit, the texture and the acidity to stand up to the tannin.’
James Suckling believes that 2009 'will not match 2005 for overall quality', but many châteaux 'have made their best wines ever, particularly in Margaux and St-Estèphe'. He admits that some right-bank producers will not have found 2009 particularly easy, but that Cheval Blanc, Ausone and Pétrus 'will all be exceptional wines'. His pick of the First Growths includes Mouton-Rothschild and Latour.
Tim Atkin MW
Tim Atkin MW warns his Twitter audience not to buy 'a single bottle from anyone who tells you it's the vintage of the century. It isn't,' adding that potential purchasers should 'trust journos, not merchants'. Atkin says he thinks Cos will 'define the vintage in terms of taste and price', adding that while he personally 'hated' it, he bets that 'His Bobness' will score it 100 points. 'Wrong, wrong, wrong.'
Jancis Robinson MW
Having tasted 25 Sauternes (blind), Jancis Robinson MW believes it is 'crazy the extent to which sweet white Bordeaux is ignored, even by the fine-wine traders and merchants who make more money than anyone dealing in them.' Her highlights included Suduiraut Guiraud, Nairac, La Tour Blanche and Doisy-Daëne.
Jeannie Cho Lee MW
Jeannie Cho Lee MW, who has just launched her new website (LINK: http://www.asianpalate.com), concludes her en primeur round-up by claiming that while Pétrus is 'often overrated', this year it 'definitely deserves its star status. She also praised the 'really exceptional' quality of the 2009 Sauternes.
Jeannie Cho Lee MW has already tasted three of the five First Growths (Haut-Brion, Margaux and Latour), and described them to her Twitter followers as ‘stunning wines with amazing density’, but each with their own ‘personality and terroir expression’.
She was particularly impressed with the ‘phenomenal’ Haut-Brion (‘second wines are excellent, too’), and said that her tastings at Margaux properties were ‘consistently good’, with Châteaux Margaux and Palmer displaying an ‘impressive combo of power with finesse’.
Her first tasting was at super second Cos d’Estournel (‘dense and powerful’), which she claimed is ‘likely to be a bargain, given past prices’, with second wine Les Pagodes De Cos deemed ‘very impressive’.
Jancis Robinson MW describes 2009 Bordeaux as ‘a different animal…sort of Bordeaux on steroids’, although she admits that it’s early days, having only tasted ‘lower down the ranks on the left bank’, with no classed growths so far this week.
Best of Twitter:
Jancis Robinson MW
Sauternes 09? Mmmmm. Can this please be the vintage that reminds people how good these wines are?
Jeannie Cho Lee MW
(9.30am (French time, Monday 29th March)): Tried some Pomerols which didn't disappoint.
(2.30 pm (French time)): Just finished a morning of St Emilions & Pomerols – not as consistent as I had expected.
Couple of exceptional Pomerols today, also disappointments. This is not a straightforward vintage, so I'm not rushing any tasting.