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Bordeaux 2009 Update 1

Strike or no strike, both my British Airways flights took off and landed successfully; Sunday evening was to Gatwick, and Monday morning was to Bordeaux. Landing shortly after 10am we swiftly picked up a hire car (it pays to be the first in the queue) and then went on to our first tasting. Everything had gone swimmingly, and I am glad to say this trend continued for the whole day.

Highlights of the day include a very fine set of wines at Margaux (where we were greeted not only by Paul Pontallier but also Corinne Mentzelopoulos – shown left – who poured the wines); the reds were elegant and pure, understated too, the only white – the 100% Sauvignon Blanc AC Bordeaux known as Pavillon Blanc de Margaux – was vibrant, racy and fresh, and perhaps showing a little more lively and direct than in other recent vintages. The alcohol is down, too, which helps I am sure.

Other notable wines include d’Issan, which although not a crowd pleaser has a very classically styled composition, less exotic and sweet than many other wines in this vintage, more meaty and earthy, but still streets away from the d’Issan of old. Also Ducru-Beaucaillou, a huge vin de garde which will need cellaring for 30 years. Anyone who tells you that this wine is for anyone other than your children – or maybe even your grandchildren – must have had their tasting blinkers on.

Before the Pessac tasting, featuring wines from Pape-Clément, Haut-Bailly, Smith-Haut-Lafitte and others, a quick trip to La Mission Haut-Brion was in order. This was for me perhaps the most disappointing visit of the day. Firstly I find, old thick-head that I am, the continuing program of name changes confusing; this year amongst the seven wines (all with Haut-Brion in the name) I tasted La Clarté Haut-Brion Blanc and La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc – the former Les Plantiers (the second wine to Haut-Brion/La Mission) and the latter the old Laville Haut Brion. Secondly I was a little underwhelmed by the red wines; they were very good, but I failed to be moved by Haut-Brion and La Mission in the manner which I expect. I know from the general chat, however, that I am in a very small minority, so lovers of these two estates should not despair. The whites, however, were fine – the Haut-Brion Blanc was, indeed, delicious. Top wine!

Later today, Latour, Mouton, Lafite and many more. More updates tomorrow.

6 Responses to “Bordeaux 2009 Update 1”

  1. Chris, I don’t hold a grudge against you for tasting wines no one can afford any longer. I consider you to be a lucky devil and really hope you enjoy the wines. But the question must be raised in how far this is all still relevant to your readers. We are, for the majority, but puny mortals;-).

  2. Good point Ralph, I acknowledge that’s a real problem with Bordeaux now. There are lots of wines beyond the investment-grade chateaux that are making decent wines though, wines which remain affordable. Fitting them into a tight schedule for tasting can be difficult though, but hopefully I will – as I did with 2008 – try and pull out the ‘good value’ wines as well as the ‘dream team’ of delicious but ultimately hardly affordable wines. I think it is also a question of balance – to ignore these wines would not be fair on those who are looking to buy, and I think they have a place on the site – alongside all the thousands of fantastic wines from the Loire that I feature, most of which have extremely friendly price tags.

  3. I was having a bottle of 1995 Savennières Clos St Yves by Domaine Baumard the other day that was absolutely fantastic, and a mere 15 quid, so you are right there. Go Loire!

  4. how can i contact you to have a conversation

  5. Contact: try emailing me via the Winedoctor website.

  6. Keep tasting and reporting on them all. I am living vicariously through you. The Haut Brion Blanc is one that I would love to hear more about. Don’t hear much about the whites in Bordeaux.