Bordeaux 2009 – The Best this Century?
It started October of 2009, rumors that all Bordeaux appellations in France were set to have their best vintage in 60 years with the 2009 vintage. Reports trickled out, and the critics flocked to Bordeaux. Robert Parker rated St. Julien, Margaux, Graves, & Pomerol all over 97 points (St. Emilion was rated just a meager 93) a feat that has never happened. He rated three of the sub appellations 96+ in 2005, three in 2000, and three in 1990. But for four of the five to be rated over 97 with the fifth getting a 93? This must be the vintage to talk about.
Soon after the hype and the ratings we received our pre-buy sheets in January of 2010. Talk about sticker shock. After decreasing their prices with the 2007 and 2008 vintages due mainly to the economy, the Bordeaux wineries were not shy about taking their prices back up and even surpassing 2005 vintage prices.
So what makes this vintage so great? Perfect weather to sum it up. Bordeaux enjoyed ideal growing conditions of beautiful, fine days followed by cool nights (which keeps the grapes from over ripening) during the late spring/early summer. July & August were the perfect hot and sunny days need to ripen the fruit followed by a rainy season in late August/September that stops the grapes from ripening and helps develop tannins that will provide the age-ability on the wines. Growers have to look back to the 40’s, 1949 exactly, to even try to find a comparison on the weather conditions. If there has been a perfect growing season, this is it for Bordeaux.
Fast forward a year and we are now receiving the first of the 2009 shipment….judgment day. The premium Bordeauxs – Petrus, Rothschild, Margaux, Haut Brion – will still not be released for a few months if not a year but are all expected to receive ratings no less than 95 by the major critics. However, with the arrival of the ‘value’ Bordeauxs (priced $13 – $40) we are able to taste a glimpse of what this perfect vintage can bring – complexity with restraint, balanced fruit and earth, and a true display of the terrior in which the grapes are grown.
If there is a time to expand your palette into the other continent, it is now. Maybe you haven’t loved French wine in the past, aren’t a fan of Bordeaux, and prefer your California Cabernets. Fair enough, we do too. But maybe we’ll never see a vintage like this again. Maybe this is the perfect vintage and years down the road we’ll be telling our children that we had the opportunity to have this perfect wine. Or maybe not, after all it’s just wine…but I’ve never been known to turn down good wine 🙂