Saint-Emilion, too, can revel in the splendour of the 2009 vintage. However, as is always the case in an appellation of 5500 hectares with a medley of soils and perhaps greater diversity in winemaking there's more variety in quality and style. Taken as a whole the wines have the fruit, concentration and rounded tannins that mark 2009. Alcohol degrees are high (as they are throughout Bordeaux) but what counts is the balance. It was easier to find this with Merlot grown on clay-limestone soils than in some of the sandier zones where the vine suffered from the dry conditions in July and August (it was not just a case of late harvesting). The 12th May hailstorm also did considerable damage to vineyards just north-east of the town of Saint-Emilion. Yields are considerably down here and extra work in the vineyards was needed to assist quality. The Cabernet Franc was very good in 2009 so this has been a positive factor in many wines. James Lawther MW

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