A little-known estate in St.-Estèphe called Petit Bocq was the first to offer its 2009 Bordeaux to the world as futures, but it attracted little interest, according to the wine merchants in Bordeaux I spoke to today. Most said they were waiting for next week's offerings from more prominent properties, although none of the big-name wines are expected to be sold as futures, or en primeur, until early June.
Yesterday, the cru bourgeois supérieur estate offered about 3,000 cases at 8.50 euros to négociants. This is a 1 euro increase from Petit Bocq's 2008 price, or about 14 percent. If only the blue-chip châteaus would follow suit when they release their 2009s! I am sure that is not going to happen. But we can always hope.
Prices and market demand continue to be popular subjects of discussion in Bordeaux. Everyone seems to agree that 2009 is an exceptional vintage—including me—but nobody is 100 percent sure how it is going to be accepted on the market, especially if prices are going to be as high as expected.
Merchants and château owners believe that the United States is going to be a big buyer again in 2009. They cite the historical fact that we Americans always buy futures in top vintages and that we have not really bought en primeur since the 2005 vintage was sold in 2006. "All of our U.S. customers came and tasted last week, and they came in full force," said one Bordeaux négociant. "Just how much they are willing to spend is a matter of discussion."
I laughed when I heard a joke going around that if you took most of the buyers traveling around the properties to taste 2009 and you turned them upside down, very little money would fall out of their pockets. "That's what they have to spend on 2009," said one merchant, only half kidding. It's probably very close to the truth, except for some wine merchants in the Far East who specialize in Lafite and Carruades de Lafite.
I have also heard that importers and wine merchants are discussing with négociants whether they can sell back some of the overpriced 2007s that are still in stock in Bordeaux—at well below their cost—as well as cancel some of the 2008s they had ordered. Many of them are still cash-strapped and need to raise capital to buy some 2009 futures.
Nonetheless, wine merchants in Bordeaux are bullish. "If the United States is in the market then I am very positive about the vintage's possibility to sell," said Pierre Lawton, the owner of Alias, a key négociant in the city. "We have an excellent vintage in quality. That we know. But we have to be sure about the market."
We will all see sooner or later. I don't think Petit Bocq is going to set any trends other than that prices will be more expensive than 2008. I wonder what the first growths will do when most of them released their 2008 en primeur a year ago at about 100 euros a bottle. Could they go back to a 2005 release price of 300 euros, or more? That would be three times higher than 2008. Your crystal ball is as good as mine.
Anyway, I made a list of my dozen favorite wines to buy in 2009. These are not necessarily the very best, but the wines that come to mind that I would buy myself. There are many more to buy-in fact, hundreds of excellent wines-but these are the wines that I get excited about both for the pure quality of their 2009 barrel samples and for more inspirational, historical or emotional reasons.
For more recommendations, you can see the full set of my scores and tasting notes in the 2009 Bordeaux Barrel Tasting package, including lists of the Top-Scoring Red Bordeaux, Red Bordeaux by Appellation, Alphabetical List of Red Bordeaux, White Bordeaux and the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac.
Ausone: This was one of the wines that still stick in my mind for the pure joy it was to put my nose in the glass. It was like love at first sight.
Mouton-Rothschild: This is clearly the best Mouton since the legendary 1982. And it could rival the mind-blowing 1959.
Montrose: It has the structure and powerful of the fabulous 1990 and 1989, but it's even more precise, deep and beautiful. No brett.
Cos-d'Estournel: This is a full-through Cos, with richness and power never seen here before.
Vieux-Château-Certan: Winemaker Alexandre Thienpont shows with this wine that his estate can achieve greatness through finesse, length and class.
Canon: This reminds me in beauty and elegance of the great Canons from the 1960s and 1950s, such as 1964, 1959 and 1955. Need I say more?
Malescot-St.-Exupéry: Perhaps the most powerful, classically structured Malescot yet. The estate goes from strength to strength
Figeac: The opulent and decadent style of Figeac is back in a focused and beautiful way. Best young Figeac I have had in years.
L'Eglise Clinet: Denis Durantou made a classic styled Pomerol, with the character and style of one from the old days including layers of black olive, violet and raspberry flavors as well as lots of silky tannins
Lynch Bages: I love the fact that Lynch made a powerful young red that reminds me of the great 1989 or 1982, yet maintained "generous" quantities of the stuff. This should be a wine that many of us can afford and be happy with in 2009.
Lafleur: I've got to have some of this Pomerol in a top vintage like 2009. Maybe I can remortgage?
Trotanoy: This should be a classic Trotanoy and could even better Pétrus in this vintage.
Matt Scott — Honolulu HI — April 9, 2010 7:37pm ET
Matt Scott — Honolulu HI — April 9, 2010 7:43pm ET
Jamie Sherman — Sacramento — April 9, 2010 8:32pm ET
James Suckling — — April 10, 2010 2:24am ET
Miguel Lecuona — Austin, TX — April 10, 2010 4:27am ET
Tony Wood — Brighton U.K. — April 10, 2010 4:55am ET
Matt Scott — Honolulu HI — April 10, 2010 3:35pm ET
Billy Hall Jr — Nashville, TN USA — April 10, 2010 5:20pm ET
William R Spencer — Orlando, Florida — April 11, 2010 6:38pm ET
Percy Yung — Hong Kong — April 13, 2010 10:05am ET
Larry Lascola — Healdsburg, CA, USA — April 13, 2010 1:00pm ET
John Brody — Montreal Canada — April 13, 2010 9:14pm ET
Joshua Thielen — Minneapolis, MN — April 14, 2010 12:26pm ET
James Suckling — — April 14, 2010 12:53pm ET
Stephen Bailey — LONDON ENGLAND — April 14, 2010 2:20pm ET
Hpl Van Der Meer — Netherlands — April 23, 2010 7:37am ET
COURDURIE — Patache d'Aux 2009 — April 28, 2010 10:38am ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions