I traveled to the Right Bank today, continuing my tastings of the 2009 Bordeaux barrel samples, and it looks like St.-Emilion and Pomerol made some extraordinary wines. The red that really took my breath away was Ausone. What a wine! It could be another perfect effort.
Here is my note for the 2009 Ausone: Such a dreamy aroma to this wine. Smells like perfume on the neck of the most beautiful woman on earth. Full-bodied, but wonderfully polished and integrated. It touches every millimeter of your palate. The texture makes you want to cry. It touches your soul. What a young wine. It goes on for minutes.
What strikes me the most about the 2009s is the intensity of tannins and alcohol, yet at the same time the best wines are not overdone, or made in that blockbuster style that you get from so many other wine areas outside of Bordeaux. The wines are still reserved even though they are some of the most structured I've ever seen.
What I can ascertain from speaking to wine producers is that this extraordinary intensity and balance with fruit concentration and tannic power is the result of the weather in 2009. There was a very sunny yet cool growing season during the summer, when it was warm during the day and cool during the night. Some vineyards suffered from a lack of water but, in general, they grew at their leisure. They didn't have too much of anything, but just enough of everything.
After that, wine producers had a long and relatively trouble-free harvest. The question was when to pick the grapes at the optimum point. There were a couple of days of rain during the third week of September and some say that this could have affected the quality of the grapes and, in turn, the wines. But this is not that obvious.
It's obvious to me that 2009 was not as easy as some people think, or say. So wine producers had the opportunity to wait very long to pick. But they had to know when to pick each parcel of their vineyard at the right time. That takes know-how and passion. And those with both made exceptional wines, as long as they didn't overwork the wines in their cellars.
Some châteaus obviously got it completely right. Among them today were the 2009 wines of Cheval-Blanc, Pétrus, Ausone, and La Fleur-Pétrus, among others. And many others got it very, very close to right. I tasted a lot of excellent wines today. And I look forward to tomorrow to taste even more in Pomerol and St.-Emilion.
I like to tell the Bordelais a story that happened to me a few days ago. I was at a château and the winemaker started talking to me about the alcohol level of his wine. He said to me that his wine was about 13.8 degrees alcohol. I almost said to him how many people would appreciate the relatively low level of the alcohol in his wine, but before I said anything, he began almost apologizing for his ripeness and alcohol level.
I said it sounded good to me and the wine was very well-balanced with the richness of tannins and higher alcohol for the region.
I then quietly smiled to myself. I guess I have been drinking too much wine from California and Australia in the past few months that were 15 degrees or more. Sometimes it's easy to get lost in the translation in Europe, even though I speak French, Italian and Spanish in addition to English.
The 2009 Bordeaux do have a little more alcohol than normal, but the ripe tannins and balance of acidity seem to make the top wines exceptional. This is going to be the mark of the vintage, which reminds me of a superclean and well-made 1990.
Johnny Espinoza Esquivel — Wine World — March 25, 2010 6:01pm ET
Karl Mark — Geneva, IL. — March 25, 2010 8:15pm ET
Mathias Thiel — Gotha, Germany — March 25, 2010 9:16pm ET
Trevor Witt — Ontario, Canada — March 26, 2010 12:22am ET
Sergio Gonzalez — Los Angeles, CA USA — March 26, 2010 12:54am ET
Sam Chanhao — calgary — March 26, 2010 1:23pm ET
Peter Vangsness — Springfield, MA — March 26, 2010 4:29pm ET
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