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Bordeaux 2009: An ‘exciting’ vintage, but disagreements over quality

As the dust settles on the en primeur week, followers of the lauded Bordeaux 2009 are facing more questions than answers over what is proving an intoxicating vintage.

Whereas in most years, patterns tend to emerge over favoured communes or styles, this year there is no broad consensus – other than that there are some stunning wines around.

‘It’s the most exciting vintage I’ve known in 15 years of tasting en primeur,’ said the normally reserved Decanter contributing editor James Lawther MW.

‘But it’s impossible to generalise about specific communes and appellations.’

Many trade and press visitors went to Bordeaux expecting to be overwhelmed by the wines’ alcohol content, which is as high as it has ever been.

Yet with acidity levels also high, few have reported the levels as being intrusive, save for a handful of wines.

Chief among these was Cos d’Estournel – at 14.5% alcohol it was ‘undrinkable’ according to UK merchant Charles Taylor, a ‘disaster’ in the view of Sotheby’s’ Serena Sutcliffe MW, but ‘already of legendary proportions’ in the mind of Hew Blair of UK merchant J&B.

Simon Staples from UK merchant Berry Bros warned against comparing 2009 to the much-praised 2005 vintage.

‘Is it better than 2005 across the board? No,’ he said.

‘Quite a lot of the Merlot-dominant wines of the right bank, who left their grapes on the vines a tad too long, are off balance with very harsh, high alcoholic levels.’

Decanter’s scores and tasting notes from the Bordeaux 2009 en primeur tasting week can be found here.

Bordeaux 2009: All the coverage

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Written by Guy Woodward

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