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St Emilion 2009 lives up to reputation while Pomerol falters

The renowned 2009 vintage in St Emilion lives up to its reputation – while Pomerol is patchier, a Decanter panel has found.

Beau-Séjour Bécot: five stars

The first tasting in bottle of one of the most celebrated Bordeaux vintages of the last decade came up with some surprises, notably the overripe nature of much of Pomerol, and the forwardness of St Emilion.

Even taking into account Stephen Brook’s caveat that many of Pomerol’s most prestigious estates – Pétrus, Trotanoy, Lafleur, Le Pin and Vieux Château Certan – did not send samples for the tasting – Pomerol was disappointing for some of the panel.

Many wines were ‘Overripe…high alcohol…pruney…over-the-top,’ was the verdict of Fine & Rare’s Simon Davies, while the Wine Society’s Sebastian Payne MW was ‘underwhelmed…I don’t think 2009 is a great vintage.’

Overripeness could not be excused in such a vintage, Beverley Blanning MW said: ‘They could have picked any time they liked.’ Panos Kakaviatos said he liked the wines but also stressed, ‘2009 is more of a Cabernet vintage.’

However, although there were no five-star wines, the panel agreed their sights were perhaps set very high for a vintage with such a reputation. The best wines, Blanning said, ‘had everything you look for in a wine and more…they will give enormous drinking pleasure very early on.’

Next door in St Emilion, three wines earned a Decanter Award, Châteaux Beauséjour, Figeac and Beau-Séjour Bécot, and 28 were Highly Recommended.

With few exceptions, the panel was delighted with the wines. Steven Spurrier said he loved ‘the warmth of the fruit – you could almost feel the soil under your feet,’ while other panellists used the word ‘exceptional’ again and again.

What was surprising, some tasters said, was the forwardness of the wines, ascribable to their approachabillity and accessibility. While the best of the vintage will go on for 30 or 40 years, Spurrier said, some of the wines are drinking earlier, mainly because of the forwardness of the fruit.

Read the entire article, with full tasting notes and scores and details of panel members, in the May issue of Decanter, on sale 4th April.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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