2009 Bordeaux

Our exclusive coverage of the 2009 UCG & En Primeurs Tasting! Notes and anecdotes from the Bordeaux front.

2009 JJ Buckley Bordeaux Report

2009 JJ Buckley Bordeaux Report

Wines of a Lifetime, But Not Vintage of a Lifetime

Post by Shaun Bishop & Chuck Hayward | April 26th, 2010

We visit Bordeaux every year in March to taste the new releases, or en primeur, but even before we booked our tickets we knew this trip would be different. For one, after years of flying under the radar, JJ Buckley was the talk of Bordeaux. Representatives of the trade from across the globe stopped to say hello. Wine journalists also sought out our opinions and observations. (see article in Decanter.com)

They also wanted to understand why we had just flown in ten of our staff to taste and evaluate the 2009 vintage out of barrel— a larger group than any other US wine merchant and more than most contingencies from anywhere in the world. But it’s our job as one of America’s top Bordeaux merchants to wade neck-deep into each vintage and sort out what’s what, which wines to buy and what to pass on. And in the case of 2009, we wanted to see if the reality would live up to the hype.

We spent ten days there sampling 50 to 200 wines per day, often tasting the same wine two to four times over the course of our visit. We talked to owners, winemakers, negociants, competitors, vineyard managers and even to our own customers from the US and abroad. Buyers of this vintage will need guidance and we are fully prepared to answer all your questions, give thoughtful and educated advice, and provide a personal perspective on the hundreds of wines that we tasted.

So, what about the hype?

Photo courtesy of Bordeaux Wines

Many have talked about 2009 as another “vintage of a lifetime”. The truth is that term is starting to wear thin, as there have been other vintages that were more consistently excellent across all appellations and chateaux. 2009 did produce some very, very special, even brilliant wines, perhaps more so than any recent “vintage of a lifetime”. However 2009 required work, both in the vineyard and in the winery. Winemakers were dealing with some off the charts measurements that required expert skill to manage. The bottom line in ’09 is if you didn’t have a skilled winemaking team and if you didn’t invest in your vineyards, you were likely left with an unbalanced mess.

But those that got it right in 2009 got it very right. In fact, some made wines unlike anything we, and many other wine professionals we have spoken to, have ever tasted. Some wines transcended their humble appellations and some even hit it out of the park. The truly brilliant wines show a perfect balance between tannin, fruit, oak, alcohol and acidity. They are rich and round, fresh and powerful, with the mineral notes and structure that defines Bordeaux terroir.

There has also been a lot of talk about how great the First Growths are in 2009 and how expensive they may turn out to be. Of course, we will offer the wines for sale. But truth be told, we don’t find 2009 to be a ‘First Growth year’. If you want the wines that will knock your socks off, you will find them at the lower levels, from the super seconds to the values from Cotes de Castillon and Fronsac. Wines from St. Estephe, St. Julien and Margaux are some appellations in particular to keep your eyes on. (Some appellations, like Pomerol, we feel made better wines in 2008). The professional critics will ultimately provide you with the final quality evaluation, but we will be there to help guide your decision making with informed, first-hand knowledge.

The 2009 Vintage As Seen Through Its Weather

The team at Ducru

Bordeaux probably has the most analyzed growing seasons of any viticultural area. It produces some of the planet’s most popular wines, which means that harvest information is very essential to a large number of people. More importantly, this meteorological scrutiny has created a large database of weather conditions going back for centuries. In trying to find out what the wines in the barrel will be like down the road, looking at the weather is a way to see what the past may reveal about a wine’s future.

As the wine industry in Bordeaux has changed from farming to serious business, the wine trade looks increasingly at meteorological data collected by government agencies as well as less formal information gathered from wine estates. Fortunately, all of this is collected and analyzed by Bordeaux negociant Bill Blatch whose annual vintage report has become a must-read for Bordeaux cognoscenti. He summarized the year’s growing conditions thus: “In 2009, we seem to have reached the extreme limit of Bordeaux concentration. Yet it was not the hottest year by any means – that was 2003 – nor was it the driest – that was 2005. In 2009, there were no extremes, just good regular heat at the right times, with everything coming in the right order: the vine amply nourished by ground water during its growing period, then, as from 15th June, starved of water – very progressively – during the ripening and concentration of its bunches right through the rest of the vineyard year.”

2009 began uneventfully with normal budbreak followed by a balanced flowering period devoid of rain or frosts. Some hail storms hit vineyards in St. Emilion and near Margaux but did not cause major problems. The quality of the vintage began to take shape during the dry summer with record amounts of sun and just a few showers that arrived at the right time to replenish the vines. The temperatures just prior to picking were high, but not overwhelming as winemakers began the traditional hand-wringing that occurs in anticipation of bringing in the year’s harvest.

John Sweeney & Chris Caughman at La Mission Haut Brion

Harvest time in Bordeaux traditionally sees a change in weather patterns to cooler temperatures and more frequent rain showers. This creates a rather anxious situation, in which the need for the grapes to finish ripening in cooler temperatures is balanced against the need to get the fruit in before wet conditions create rot and mildew. The unique attributes of 2009 were warmer temperatures as the harvest progressed, combined with only one wet period of any consequence. Everything seemed to be in place to pronounce the vintage as successful, if not ideal.

As the wines have settled, many observers have noticed that this is not a uniform vintage, with many peaks and a few valleys to be found. The most obvious example of this is the difference in how merlot and cabernet each responded to the warmer weather at harvest. Merlot, being an earlier ripening variety, achieved very high alcohols thanks to the extended harvest conditions. This led many Right Bank wines to achieve alcohols over 14% with many easily over 15%. How winemakers handled the merlot component of their blends became an important factor in the success of an estate’s wine. In the Medoc, the more structured cabernet portion in the wines helped to balance the riper merlot.

Equally important was the tannin component of each wine’s composition.  At almost every estate we visited, winemakers noted that the tannin levels were high with many quoting a statistic called “IPT”, or Indice des Polyphenols Totaux, or in English, Total Phenolics. In layman’s terms, this is a measure of a wine’s tannin levels. IPT readings for 2009 were off the charts, with many properties seeing their highest scores ever. Whatever the numbers, tannins are an important aspect of the vintage in 2009, especially on the Right Bank where some winemakers had coarse, roughly textured tannins while others were finely grained and smooth as silk.

Wine Styles

In tasting the en primeurs, it’s important to remain as objective as possible.

There may be styles which we personally dislike or properties we have favored in the past, but as professionals we try not to be influenced by these factors. It’s also important not to allow the “white noise” of the vintage, e.g. the observations of the press or comments overheard in the tasting halls, to affect what we see in each wine. Nowhere was this more important than in assessing two of the most controversial aspects of the 09s—tannins and alcohol—especially in the examples from Pomerol and St. Emilion. The best wines were as thrilling to taste as a high-wire act it to watch— you almost expect them to go overboard but they never do.

Early observers were quick to note the ripeness found in the wines of the Right Bank, especially St. Emilion. It is here where the merlot plantings achieved unheard levels of alcohol approaching 15 to 16%, with ripe and juicy mid-palate textures and soft, round finishes. While these may not be favored by those who prefer a more traditional approach to the Right Bank, it is what Mother Nature gave the grower and not the result of some attempt to make “uber-wines” designed to score points. We all agreed the best examples shared two common traits of freshness and elegance thanks to clean and bright acids. These wines avoided a ponderous character and were livelier on the palate and longer in the finish thanks to this integrated acidity.

Elegant, integrated acids were not limited to St. Emilion. The best wines of the Medoc, especially in Margaux, St Estephe, and Saint Julien, had rich textures from ripe cabernet, but that avoided becoming too thick or unbalanced thanks to this unique attribute of the 2009 vintage. The ability of the top estates to keep acidity in their grapes came from the cool nights of late September and early October, which also allowed for the extended hang time producing ripe fruit. It is an exciting aspect of the vintage that bodes well for both immediate appeal and some time in the cellar.

Where the acids of 2009 gave the best wines a sense of refinement, poor

tannin management had the ability to ruin a wine completely, giving the consumer an unbalanced product. Winemakers and their consultants were not only required to control the shape of the tannins, but also the amount of tannin in the finished wine. A frequent topic of conversation with winemakers centered on record-breaking tannin levels, but high tannin levels do not necessarily create a better wine. If not managed properly, the mid-palate fades quickly and the wine will end with a substantially tannic finish.

More importantly, the lesser examples had tannins that were rough in texture and often had burnt and bitter qualities. These traits deterred from a smooth, soft finish and will require a bit of work in the cellar to clean up, but at the risk of stripping the wine from fining and filtration. The most exciting wines had such integrated tannin structures they nearly stole across the palate unnoticed. The key to this vintage was finding the perfect type and amount of tannin and it is here where the best wines really shine.

The Role Of The Consultant

From the time of Emile Peynaud and over the past half-century, the

consulting winemaker has become an agent of change in Bordeaux winemaking practices. Today’s superstars such as Stephane Derenoncourt, Michel Rolland and Denis Dubourdieu have made a definitive imprint on the wineries of their clients. Rolland, especially, through his work in the cellar, has done much to elevate the concentration of fruit on the palate of many Bordelais estates.

One observation we made during the en primeur tastings was that certain estates consistently showed ‘above their place’, so to speak. Towards the end of our stay as we gathered to discuss our favorites, many of the same wines rose to the top and they had a bond amongst them that surprised us: Stephane Derenoncourt was the consultant to many of those estates. This should have been obvious, as Derenoncourt’s wines have always been some of our most admired. His recent success has led him to expand his influence from the Right Bank properties of Pomerol and St. Emilion to the grand vins of the Medoc working with Chateaux such as Talbot, Prieure-Lichine, and Smith-Haut-Lafitte, as well as properties as far way as India, Turkey, and Lebanon.

Cory Gowan at Reignac

One of the things that makes Derenoncourt so unique in Bordeaux is his detailed work in the vineyards. Where much consulting work in Bordeaux has centered in the cellar, Derenoncourt is working to increase the use of organic and biodynamic vineyard methods in an area that has traditionally avoided those techniques due to difficult weather conditions. A self-taught winemaker, he credits his 15 years as a vineyard laborer for informing his approach on the importance of the grape and how it is grown.

But all of this is no good if the wines aren’t pleasing to drink and the Derenoncourt style was easily evident in the wines we preferred. In a vintage that could produce wines that were jammy and over-the-top, his wines demonstrated beautiful acidity, giving the flavors precision and elegance. And where many wines had tannins that were chunky in texture and substantial in quantity, Derenoncourt’s tannin profiles were silky and smooth— almost imperceptible on the palate. From the less-well known properties of the Côtes to the premier estates of the Medoc, Derenoncourt’s wines are the cream in an excellent vintage and deserve your attention.

Pricing

Alex Lallos with Francois Mitjaville

We have obviously asked our suppliers in Bordeaux about pricing and there is little doubt that the prices will be higher for this vintage than for the 2008s. The real question is, by how much? Ultimately, the market as a whole will decide, but the initial release prices are likely to be up 10% on lower to mid-tier wines and up as much as 100% on the top wines as compared to 2008, while down maybe 10% to 25% from 2005.

The current marketplace as a whole is also somewhat in turmoil. On the one hand, we have a US market that has quite frankly disintegrated— large suppliers like Diageo Chateau & Estates, Southern Wine & Spirits and other big players are no longer participating in the Bordeaux en primeur campaign. This is contributing to limited access for many end consumers and ultimately may limit the total demand from the US.

On the other hand you have emerging markets such as countries in Asia (as well as established ones like Japan). For now, the demand coming from Hong Kong and China seems limited to the ‘brand names’— in particular Chateau Lafite and about ten to twenty other ‘big names’. We feel that Asia’s demand for the top names will certainly help make up for lack of US demand for these wines, but ultimately it will not reflect overall market health.

Disclosures

All wines were tasted non-blind. Most tastings took place at negociants or at

the Chateau with additional tastings conducted at the appellation-designated UGC events (also in non-blind format). Most wines were tasted more than once. If we missed a wine, it’s because it was not shown at any of these tastings.

Our scores reflect our opinion of the wines, but its important to note that it can be very difficult to assess quality in the tasting environments in which they are presented. Large UGC tastings are not the best place to attempt disciplined tasting— there are too many distractions, too many people, and in some cases, too many non-vinous odors!

Negociant tastings are better, but palate fatigue does occur from exposure to acid and tannin that can make accurate assessments more difficult. In addition, there can be a high amount of variability in barrel samples. We had some mixed experiences with certain wines where they clearly showed differently depending on the sample. (One Chateau owner told us that different barrel samples of the same wine leads some to think each is a completely different wine.) The weather can also impact the way a wine tastes on any given day. During our trip, the barometric pressure was generally low, which can suppress aromatics and flavors.

Vintage Highlights

Top appellations in 2009 will be St. Estephe, St. Julien, and Margaux. Pauillac also fared well, but we believe the top estates could have made better wines. In all, the Left Bank performed better than the Right Bank, although both banks did produce some monumental wines. Cabernet (both franc and sauvignon) was the king in 2009 and the wines from the Left Bank, generally speaking have a greater percentage of cab in the blend than the Right Bank. Merlot is used more on the Right Bank and some estates certainly made some great wines with their merlot. However, others harvested their merlot at very high sugar levels and those wines may have turned out a bit sweet or overly alcoholic.

Top 2009 Bordeaux Wines

The top wines of the vintage are rich and round, fresh and powerful; with the mineral notes and structure that defines Bordeaux terroir. These include, in no particular order of preference: Ausone, Beausejour Duffau, Clos l’Eglise, Cos d’Estournel, de Fargues, Ducru Beaucaillou, La Mission Haut Brion, La Violette, Larcis-Ducasse, Lascombes, Latour, Leoville Las Cases, Lynch Bages, Malescot St Exupery, Margaux, Montrose, Mouton Rothschild, Palmer, Pavie, Pontet Canet, Rauzan Segla, Tertre Roteboeuf, Troplong Mondot, Trotanoy, Valandraud, Yquem.  (We did not taste Petrus, VCC, Le Pin, or Lafleur.)

Wines That Outperformed Their Price Point

Bellevue, Berliquet, Calon Segur, Feytit-Clinet, Fleur Cardinale, d’Aiguilhe Querre, Gironville, La Tour Figeac, Le Bon Pasteur, L’Estang, Le Thil, Lilian Ladouys, Louis, Lucia, Pavillon Rouge, Pagodes de Cos, Pedesclaux, Petrus Gaia, Rol Valentin, and St Pierre.

Full 2009 BDX Tasting Notes Here

In Summary

Team JJB

Despite many of the more critical observations detailed above, there is no doubt that the 2009 vintage was one of the most pleasurable vintages we’ve tasted from barrel. The best wines had an immediate appeal and a sense of harmony that allowed them to be almost ready to drink today. While many people compared these wines to great years such as ’82, ’61 or ’47, we can’t really tell you what those wines were like out of barrel (and we doubt that there are many people left who can!) What we can tell you is that the best wines gave us a sense of exuberance and excitement that we haven’t felt in many vintages. We were almost giddy as we tasted one fantastic wine after another. Yes, there are some clunkers but there will be some unbelievable wines at all price points. They are wines that will be a great introduction for the Bordeaux novice and a reminder to the Bordeaux enthusiast about why we love it. Enjoy!

-Shaun Bishop, Proprietor – Bordeaux Buyer
-Chuck Hayward, Fine Wine Specialist – Wine Buyer

The JJB Advantage

We want you to know that before you make a decision to buy these wines, that you can count on the following:

As a licensed importer, wholesaler and retailer, JJ Buckley buys directly from Bordeaux, bypassing third party wholesalers and/or importers. This gives us and you a significant pricing advantage.

In order to secure large allocations of the most sought after and highly rated wines, JJ Buckley has worked hard over the years to build strong relationships with the most respected negociants and other suppliers. We are in Bordeaux at least twice a year to ensure we stay informed and well connected.

Our sales team has a broad and deep understanding of the vintage. Please call, email, or stop by and discuss the wines with our sales team who have just returned from Bordeaux. Over the past few weeks, they have analyzed, lived, breathed, practically bathed in the vintage, so no question will go unanswered.

2009 Bordeaux – Tasting Notes

2009 Bordeaux – Tasting Notes

Top Wines of the Vintage

Ausone – (98-100)
Leoville Las Cases – (98-100)
Montrose – (98-100)
Beausejour Duffau – (97-99)
Cos d’Estournel – (97-99)
Margaux – (97-99)
Pavie – (97-99)
Tertre Roteboeuf – (97-99)
Troplong Mondot – (97-99)
Trotanoy – (97-99)
Yquem – (97-99)
La Mission Haut Brion – (96-98)
La Violette – (96-98)
Larcis-Ducasse – (96-98)
Lascombes – (96-98)
Latour – (96-98)
Malescot St Exupery – (96-98)
Mouton Rothschild – (96-98)
Palmer – (96-98)
Valandraud – (96-98)
Bellevue Mondotte – (95-97)
Calon Segur – (95-97)
Clos Fourtet – (95-97)
Clos l’Eglise – (95-97)
de Fargues – (95-97)
Ducru Beaucaillou – (95-97)
Haut Brion – (95-97)
Lafite – (95-97)
Pavie Decesse – (95-97)
Pontet Canet – (95-97)
Rauzan Segla – (94-96)
Lynch Bages – (94-96)

Top Wines that Outperformed their Price Point

Rol Valentin – (95-97)
Feytit-Clinet – (94-96)
Fleur Cardinale – (94-96)
Le Bon Pasteur – (94-96)
Monbousquet – (94-96)
St Pierre – (94-96)
Berliquet – (93-95)
La Confession – (93-95)
Gironville – (92-94)
La Tour Figeac – (92-94)
Lilian Ladouys – (92-94)
Louis – (92-94)
Lucia – (92-94)
Lusseau – (92-94)
Meyney – (92-94)
Pavillon Rouge – (92-94)
Pedesclaux – (92-94)
Petrus-Gaia – (92-94)
Gree-Laroque – (91-93)
D’Aiguilhe Querre – (91-93)
Arnauton (91-93)
Belle-Vue (91-93)
Le Thil – (91-93)
L’Estang – (90-92)

BORDEAUX ROUGE

Medoc & Haut-Medoc:

2009 Chapelle de Pontensac (Medoc) – 65% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot 1%. From soils of fine gravel and clayey-sand, this wine shows a deep ruby-red color with an expressive nose of voluptuous black raspberry and roasted herb.  The palate is full bodied with bright fruit and well-integrated dusty tannins.  86-88 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Beaumont
(Haut-Medoc) – 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot.  Showing a deep and vibrant ruby red color, the nose displays bright aromas of raspberry, wild cherry, lilac pedals and earthy minerality.  The palate is voluptuous, well balanced and round with well-integrated powdery tannins and bright fruit.  86-88 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Château Belle-Vue (Haut-Médoc)
– 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 20% Petit Verdot.  Situated next to Giscours. Yields in 2009 were 45 hls/ha. Tasted three times. This over-achieving Haut-Medoc estate has produced another winner in 2009.  With deep ruby-purple color, the nose is explosive with rich aromas of blackberry, blueberry, rose pedal, and mocha.  On the palate, bright and clean fruit flavors enter softly, give way to round and well-integrated tannins and finish intense and long. 91-93 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Bernadotte (Haut-Medoc) – Tasted twice.  Deep ruby-crimson color in the glass with an expressive, complex nose of black raspberry, blackberry liquor, loamy soil and fresh coffee grounds.  Beautiful, lush fruit on the palate is highlighted by a backbone of bright acidity and round, silky tannins that build in intensity and carry through for a focused and long finish.  90-92 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Cambon La Pelouse (Haut-Medoc) – 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc.  Tasted twice.  With a deep ruby color, the nose is focused with layered aromas of mocha raspberry, black cherry, sweet soil and hints of spice.  The palate is lush with rich fruit and balanced by fresh acidity and fine, powdery tannins.  This wine should prove to be an excellent value.  91-93 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Camensac (Haut-Medoc) – 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot.  Showing a bright medium ruby-red color, Camensac boasts perfumed aromas of raspberry, red currant and fresh soil.  The palate is medium bodied, displaying a well-integrated and balanced tannin structure to complement rich dark red fruit flavors.  87-89 points – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Cantemerle (Haut-Medoc) – 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc.  With a deep ruby-red color in the glass, 09 Cantemerle boasts a complex bouquet of savory red raspberry and red currant.  The palate is full bodied showing bright, clean red fruits and round, well-integrated tannins that make for a velvety texture and lingering finish. 89-91 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Caronne St. Gemme (Haut-Medoc) – This wine displays a deep ruby-red color and boasts broad aromas of smoky blackberry and black cherry.  The palate is focused with juicy, but not over ripe, fruit and abundant powdery tannin.  87-89 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Charmail (Haut-Médoc) – 47% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot.  22.5 hectares; clay and gravelly soils overlooking to the Gironde River estuary; planted acreage mixes whose average age is 28 years. Net yields in 2009 were 42 hls/ha. The color is dark black purple with a ruby/purple core. This is a high toned wine with red and black fruits with a touch of crushed flowers on the aroma and bouquet. The wine offers an attack of a solid core of blackberry fruit that is ripe and glycerol on the mid-palate with tannins that are plush and lush with excellent texture.  90-92 points – Andy Frieden

2009 Chateau Citran (Haut-Medoc) – 50% Cabernet, 50% Merlot.  Tasted two times.  Showing a vibrant deep ruby-red core with a bright fuchsia rim, this wine displays a focused nose of perfumed black raspberry, black cherry and dark strawberry.  With a soft entry on the palate, fresh dark fruit flavors lead and give way to well-integrated and powdery tannins.  Lovely texture and intensity of flavor on the palate carries through to a bright and persistent finish.  88-90 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Clement Pichon (Haut-Medoc) – With a deep, nearly opaque ruby-purple color, the nose boasts perfumed floral aromas of bright red raspberry and spice.  The palate is medium to full-bodied with a broad texture and fine mouth-coating tannins, and it finishes with persistence.  87-89 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau D’Agassac (Haut-Medoc) – Showing a medium-deep ruby-red color, the nose displays focused and clean raspberry, black cherry and sweet soil.  The palate is fresh with bright fruit and acidity with well-integrated powdery tannin.  87-89 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau de Gironville (Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois) – 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Petit Verdot.  The vines average age is 20 years. These are planted in deep, gravelly soils in the southern portion of the appellation. Net yields in 2009 were 47 hls/ha. The color is a super dark saturated purple almost black with full intensity. Exotic perfume of black cassis and blackberry liquor is high toned and persistent. The palate is super concentrated with a core of black fruits framed by superfine, ripe tannins.  92-94 points Andy Frieden

2009 Chateau Fougeres ‘La Folie’ (Graves) – 70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Stephane Derenoncourt consults, and this opaque red has lots of softness, salinity, and spice. Very balanced and with hints of wood smoke, it has very fine and delicious tannins that border on chalky at this point in its evolution. 90-92 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Chateau Haut Maurac (Medoc) – With a deep ruby red color, Haut Maurac boasts savory aromas of black cherry, raspberry, spice and roasted herbs.  The palate is concentrated and intense with well-integrated powdery tannin and a focused, powerful finish.  86-88 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau La Tour Carnet (Haut-Medoc) – 51% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot.  Showing a medium deep ruby color in the glass, this well-made Haut-Medoc wine displays aromas of black raspberry, savory strawberry, spice box and herbs.  The palate is full-bodied with a firm structure of well balanced fresh fruit and integrated powdery tannins.  The combination of freshness, balance and tannin make this fantastic effort worth of cellaring.  91-93 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Lanessan (Haut-Medoc) – With ruby-red color, the nose boasts chocolate covered cherry, candied raspberry and spice.  On the palate, soft fruit enters and gives way to loads of powdery tannin to make for a powerful wine that should drink well for at least 5-8 years. 86-88 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Larrivaux (Haut-Medoc) – Showing a deep ruby-red color in the glass, this wine boasts aromas of wild cherry, raspberry, spice and dark chocolate.  The palate is broad and concentrated with good intensity of flavor and finely integrated round tannins that carry on for an enduring finish.  88-90 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Les Grands Chenes (Medoc) – Tasted twice.  With a very deep ruby-red color, the nose boasts concentrated aromas of savory black raspberry, licorice and dark chocolate.  The palate is full-bodied with rich fruit flavors, powdery tannins and excellent balance, which indicates this wine will drink well for the next 3-5 years. 90-92 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Loudenne (Medoc) – Showing a deep ruby-red color, the nose displays aromas of black cherry, raspberry and mocha.  The palate has clean flavors of lean dark red fruit to balance and complement well-integrated dusty tannins.  88-90 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Mejean (Graves) – 70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. From soil worked using solely horse-drawn implements, this red has miniscule yields of just 20.9 HL/HA and exhibits aromas of violets, strong licorice, carob, chocolate, and has a soft ripe palate full of salinity and minerals. This is a very pretty wine with a round fruit core and good structure with balanced acidity on the finish. 85-87 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Chateau Mille Roses (Haut-Medoc) – This inky ruby-black Bordeaux from the Haut-Medoc has a bouquet of perfumed blackberry, black raspberry, tobacco leaf and spice.  The palate is well-endowed and balanced with powdery tannin to complement fresh bright fruit flavors.  This wine should drink well for 3-5 years after release.  89-91 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Peyrabon (Haut-Medoc) – With medium deep ruby-red color in the glass, this wine displays aromas of savory black cherry and black raspberry with spice and earth.  The palate is focused and medium bodied with a firm structure that will flesh out as this wine spends more time in bottle.  87-89 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Poloumey (Haut-Medoc) – This wine shows a deep ruby-red color in the glass and boasts aromas of savory black cherry, brambly raspberry, mineral and herbs.  The palate is medium to full bodied and well balanced displaying dark red fruits and powdery tannins. 88-90 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Pontensac (Medoc) – 48% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Cabernet Franc.  From gravel-covered limestone vineyards and with a deep ruby-purple color, dense and concentrated aromas of blackberry, cassis, flower pedals dominate the nose.  The palate has a powerful full body replete with pure, bright fruit and well-integrated powdery tannins.  The purity of fruit, intensity on the palate and balance suggest this young wine should drink well for 5-7 years.  88-90 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Reysson (Haut-Medoc) – Showing a deep ruby red color in the glass, this wine displays a floral perfume of rose pedals, raspberry and black cherry.  With a full-body, bright fruit on the palate balances a firm structure of heavy powdery tannins and finishes fresh and focused.  86-88 – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Sociando Mallet (Haut-Medoc) – 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc.  Showing a deep ruby-red color in the glass, Sociando Mallet boasts an expressive nose of powdered-sugar-covered red raspberry, savory strawberry and light chocolate.  The palate is medium bodied with a firm, but well-integrated and round, tannin structure and a focused, persisting finish.  87-89 points – Chris Caughman, Mar 2010

2009 Clos du Jaugueyron (Haut-Médoc) – 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc.  Small, five-hectare vineyard situated at the edge of the Margaux appellation in Cantenac; very old vines, some pre-phylloxera; very well-drained gravelly soils atop gravelly/clay subsoil. Average age: 35 years. 52 hls/ha. The color is dark inky purple almost black with full intensity. Pretty perfume of blackberry bramble spice, dried tea, and tobacco leaf lift from the glass. The wine is delicious, with an attack of black fruits that leads to a core of crème de cassis liquor and truffle cream. Great balance. 90-92 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Clos Manou (Médoc) – 56% Cabernet Sauvignon , 38% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.  A 9.5-hectare vineyard with an average age over 35 years (but with some 2% pre-phylloxera vines). Complex soils include clay and limestone (60%), deep gravel (25%), and sandy gravel (15%), mostly planted on rolling hills; one kilo per vine, i.e. 6 to 8 clusters per vine. Yields in 2009 were 50 hls/ha. The color is a super dark saturated purple almost black with full intensity. A perfumed nose of crushed berries and blackberry liquor with pulverized rocks rounds out the nose of this big powerful wine. The palate the palate it’s just huge with plus concentration of blackberry fruit black currants and crème de cassis builds to crescendo of black raspberry fruit in the core of the mid-palate. Tannins almost nonexistent and the wine is lush and plush on the palate. 90 – 92 points  –  Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Goulee (Medoc) – 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot.  14.5% alcohol.  50% new barrels aged for 14 months.  Opens with a fantastic nose full of red fruit with an exotic, spicy edge and a hint of anise.  This is a sleek wine on the palate with layers of full-bodied, rich fruit backed by great structure.  90-92 points, John Perry, Mar 2010

2009 Liber Pater (Graves Rouge) – 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot.  Liber Pater is the name of a Roman god, often assimilated with Bacchus. He was considered to be the God of vines, wine, abundance and fertility. The vines average age is 40 years. All vines are propagated from a selection massale of the property’s own pre-phylloxera, ungrafted rootstock. The soils here are a mineral-rich blend of ancient gravel from the Villafranchian and Tertiary periods. The vineyard is organically farmed with all mechanical plowing done exclusively with horses. Net yields were just 15  hls/ha. The color is dark purple with a fuchsia rim. A pretty perfume of blackberry and black cherry fruit complemented by tobacco leaves and some dry tea lifts from the glass. The black fruits are very juicy with a glycerol mid-palate and tannins that are super ripe and luscious.  91-93 points – Andy Frieden

St. Estephe:

2009 Chateau Calon Segur (St. Estephe) – Tasted at the chateau.  90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot.  An absolutely brilliant and classically Bordeaux nose showing off fresh aromas of dark berries, tobacco, cedar, spice and a gorgeous mineral streak.  The fruit comes in beautifully on the front of the palate, then picks up notes of crushed rocks towards the back.  A sleek and lithe wine, very precise, with great length and structure.  Displays youthful tannins at this point, and should shape up very nicely with time.  Really quite impressive, not a flashy wine, but not austere either – just terrific balance in a well constructed wine.  95-97 points, John Perry, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Commanderie (Cru Bourgeois – St. Estephe) – The color is dark purple almost black and opaque with a fuchsia rim. There are aromas of blackberry and black cherry fruit with mocha chocolate and fresh earth. Attack of black fruits builds in the mid-palate with nice silkiness in power. The tannins build at the end of the mid-palate and our fine-grained nice and fresh.  90 – 92 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Cos d’Estournel (St. Estephe) – 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc.  80% new barrels.  14.5% alcohol.  Represents 56% of total production at the chateau.  Wow, this wine is like no other in 2009 Bordeaux – big, ripe, hedonistic…seriously pushing the envelope and it will be very interesting to see how this develops over time.  Massively endowed and opulent with gobs of dark fruit and spice on the nose.  It makes a remarkable entry on the palate with rich and concentrated fruit.  Smooth and long with a gravelly, mineral tinge lurking beneath the fruit and a trace of heat on the finish.  97-99 points, John Perry, Mar 2010

2009 Château Cos Labory (St. Estephe) – The color has a ruby core with brilliant intensity.  There is medium perfume of black cherry and blackberry fruit with a loamy soil earthy note. There are red and black fruits and the wine is medium bodied with high acid and ripe tannins that comes in the last part of the mid-palate.  86-88 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Château de Pez (St. Estephe) – The color is a vibrant raspberry with a purple core and a fuchsia rim. Perfume of blackberry and black raspberry fruit with a spicy component and an earthy clay loamy soil note lifts from the glass with full intensity. There is a beautiful precision on the palate. Plus concentration of black fruits crescendo with black raspberry in the mid-palate. Tannins are ripe and long chained and provide a supple and delicious texture to the wine.  90-92 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Château Lafon-Rochet (St. Estephe) – A blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot,  3% Petit Verdot and 1%. The color is garnet purple with brilliant intensity. The nose has medium perfume red and black cherry fruit, and some mineral earth and gravel. On the palate the wine is high toned with red cherry fruit, baking spices and is framed with medium to high acid and ripe mouth coating tannins that come in the last part of the mid-palate.  91-93 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Meyney (St. Estephe) – The color is dark ruby with a purple core and fuchsia to the rim. A pretty perfume of black fruits of blackberry compote, a pop of black cherry blossoms and some mocha chocolate is framed by some minerals and crushed rocks with full intensity. The palate is lush and plush with some precision offering nice acidity and velvety tannins in the mid-palate that finishes with gravelly powdery tannins. Again making St. Estephe one of the top appellation in 2009! 92-94 – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Château Ormes de Pez (St. Estephe) – There is a saturated purple core, almost black and opaquish in the color this wine.  A perfume of crushed flowers with blackberry and black cherry fruit are prominent in the nose of this wine. The palate is just delicious with warm compote of blackberry jam with a pop of black raspberry fruit. This is a lively wine on the palate with a crescendo of black fruits in the mid-palate with matching acidity and ripe tannins that gives the wine a beautiful freshness. This is what the Bordelais has been talking about in 2009 vintage – a freshness in the wines given all of the density of fruit, the lively acid and super ripe tannins are evident across the board in this vintage.  91-93 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Château Phelan Segur (St. Estephe) – The color is garnet purple, dark mahogany with a fuchsia rim. This wine has a perfume of black cherry and blackberry fruit with an underlying mineral gravel component. The palate is stunning showing a rich and velvety texture that is thick and densely packed with a core of blackberry and black current fruit consistent with the wines from the 2009 vintage from St. Estephe.  92 to 94 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Château Tronquay Lalande (St. Estephe) – 64% of the production. 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 51% Merlot, and 7% Petit Verdot.  40% new barrels; the yields at harvest were 46 hl/ha.  The color is dark ruby with a purple core and fuchsia to the rim. A pretty perfume of crushed berries crush flowers is clean and precise. Secondary notes of fresh herbs, stony minerals, and pulverized rocks round out the nose. The wine is exceptional offering notes of blackberry jam on the sweet entry.  The wine is lush with ripe fruit and Baker’s chocolate that builds to a solid core of blackberry fruit that is complimented by fine-grained tannins that is precise.  90-92 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Lilian Ladouys (Saint-Estèphe) – 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc.  Vines average age is 40 years. Soils are a fairly typical Saint-Estèphe mix of 61% gravel, 23% clay and limestone, and 16% sandy gravel. Yields in 2009 were 46 hls/ha before, and 40 hls/ha, after selection and saignée. The color is a super dark saturated purple almost black with full intensity. Pretty perfume of blackberry jam and crushed flowers with pulverized rocks and baking spices is alluring. The texture is supple and lush with core of classic Cabernet Sauvignon fruit of blackberry, black cassis and black currant. The tannins are incredibly fine and are already well integrated adding to the allure of this wine. The copious amounts of black fruit are supported by crushed pebbles and a nice mineral quality. This wine definitely over delivers and is another fine example showing why St. Estephe is one of the top regions in Bordeaux in 2009.  92- 94 points  –  Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Pagodes de Cos (St. Estephe) – 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot.  50% new barrels.  14.5% alcohol.  Represents 44% of total production at the chateau.  Shows a ripe, flashy nose with intense dark berry aromas and exotic spices.  Lush and rich on the palate, generously endowed with layers of fruit followed by ample, sweet tannins.  92-94 points, John Perry, Mar 2010

2009 Château Andron Blanquet (Cru Bourgeois – St. Estephe) – The color is ruby red almost mahogany with brilliant intensity. There’s a lot of perfume of red cherries fresh earth and gravel. On the palate, there is an excellent attack of red and black cherry fruit with a small expansion in the mid-palate. The tannins build to the end of the mid-palate and are fresh.  88-90 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Château Haut-Marbuzet (St. Estephe) – The color has a ruby core with brilliant intensity. Nice perfume of black cherry black raspberry fruit and some fresh earth, mineral, and gravel lift from the glass. There is a nice attack of black cherry on the entry of the palate of this medium bodied wine. Tannins build in the last quarter to third on the mid-palate and the fruit offers crushed berries in plus concentration of black cherry and black raspberry. A lovely wine showing St. Estephe is one of the better regions in 2009.  90-92 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Château Montrose (St. Estephe) – 72% of the production. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot.  The yields at harvest were up to 38hl/ha.The color is super dark inky purple almost black and opaque and a fuchsia rim. This is pure un-adulterated Cabernet Sauvignon in spades. A persistent perfume of crushed flower blossoms, with spicy blackberry fruit has a pinch of tobacco leaf and fresh earth to round out the complex aromas on this wine. The entry to this wine is incredibly supple and builds in power with plus concentration of black and blue fruit. Blackberry and ollallieberry enter the palate and peak with black raspberry in a solid core of power and intensity that are supported by super fine powdery tannins. This wine is precise and has a mineral component of crushed rocks fresh earth and gravel’s that supports this amazing Cabernet fruit.  Montrose is on top of their game and definitely the top wine from the Saint Estephe appellation.  98-100 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Château Petit BOCQ (Cru Bourgeois – St. Estephe) – The color is dark ruby with a purple core and fuchsia to the rim. Nice blackberry bramble and baking spices are complemented by fresh earth and loamy soil. On the palate, there is classic Cabernet Sauvignon blackberry fruit in a medium weight with plus concentration. The tannins are broad shouldered and mouth coating at the end of the mid-palate.  87 – 89 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Château Tronquay de Sainte Anne (St. Estephe) – 36% of the production. 67% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Merlot.  The color is ruby with a purple core almost black and opaque.  Pretty perfume of crushed black fruits, blackberry, black raspberry and plum, are supported by tertiary notes of gravel and minerals that round out the nose of this wine. The palate has excellent density and plus concentration of fruit powered by supple and lush tannins that build on the mid-palate with elegance. Pure spicy Cabernet Sauvignon fruit is evident in this wine. This is a signature of the St. Estephe region for the 2009 vintage. Earthy components of spice box and tobacco leaf are combined with minerals and gravelly soil makes this compelling wine.  87-89 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 La Dame de Montrose (St. Estephe) – 28% of the production. 18% Cabernet Sauvignon and 82% Merlot.  The color is super dark inky purple almost black and opaque. There’s a purity of fruit that is consistent in St. Estephe of blackberry perfume with underlying mineral gravelly stony earthy components. There’s a sweet entry of blackberry and plum compote that builds with plus concentration of fruit and finishes with tannins that are so well integrated I hardly notice them.  91-93 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

Pauillac:

2009 Carruades de Lafite (Pauillac) – 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Very deep ruby at the core, the color pushes all the way to the edge of the wines rim.  This wine is already rather approachable at this point in its life, soft powdery tannins and juicy on the palate.  Red raspberry, black pepper, graphite, and lightly toasted oak are the dominate flavors. This wine has great texture and is already enjoyable to drink.  90-92 points, John Sweeney, Mar 2010

2009 Château Pédesclaux (Pauillac) – 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc.  Yields in 2009 were 36 hls/ha, down significantly from previous vintages! Laser optical sorting was done for the first time in 2009. This one has a special story because the neighboring first growths of Lafite and Mouton who almost bought it when it recently was for sale. A pretty perfume of crushed flowers, blackberry compote, and crème de cassis liquor lifts from the glass. Underlying fresh earth and loamy soil rounds out the nose of this wine. The palate is super juicy with lively fresh black and blue fruits with a crescendo of boysenberry in the core of the mid-palate. This is truly one of the top quality to price ratio wines and from the vintage.  92- 94 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Clerc Milon (Pauillac) – 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc,  1% Petit Verdot, 1% Carmenere. This is a very sexy wine that is dominated by red fruits on the nose.  Notes of raspberry, cherry and a touch of oak dominate the palate.  This wine already has a tremendous mouthfeel and shows enormous potential. Well integrated tannins and balanced acidity are also worth noting.  92-94 points, John Sweeney, Mar 2010

2009 D’Armailhac (Pauillac) –  60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Deep ruby red in color. Definitely a wine with great concentration and is super chewy on the palate.  I get notes of red and black fruits, dark chocolate, coffee and baking spices.  Good length and medium grained tannins. 91-93 points, John Sweeney, Mar 2010

2009 Duhart Milon (Pauillac) – 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot. This is a much more traditionally styled wine from the blockbuster 2009 vintage.  On the nose a lovely perfume that is more floral, earth and mineral driven rather than fruit laden.  This wine is bright and framed well by its noticeable but balanced acidity.  90-92 points, John Sweeney, Mar 2010

2009 Forts de Latour (Pauillac) – 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. A quite impressive and serious ‘second wine.’  Exceptionally complex both aromatically and on the palate,   I was pleasantly surprised by how spicy this wine was.  I get notes of both red and black fruits, black pepper, and lead pencil.  The tannins are very integrated, so this wine is very silky and has a long finish.  92-94 points, John Sweeney, Mar 2010

2009 Grand Puy Ducasse (Pauillac) –  60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot. Primary and grapey on the nose, but pure and clean on the palate.  Aromas of red fruits dominate this wine, as well as black cherry, vanilla, and a touch of toasty oak.  This has great structure coupled with big, brawny tannins.  88-90 points, John Sweeney, Mar 2010

2009 Grand Puy Lacoste (Pauillac) – 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 2% Cab Franc. A wine of great complexity at this stage of the game.  On the nose, notes of red and black cherry, raspberry, coffee, and dark chocolate.  After this wine hits your mouth this beauty develops further as you begin to notice the layers of flavors present on the palate; leather, mocha, and ripe juicy red fruits.  92-94 points, John Sweeney, Mar 2010

2009 Haut Bages Liberal (Pauillac)– 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot. A very ripe perfume on the nose; dark black fruits, cherry, scorched earth, and a touch of vanilla.  Juicy in the mouth, medium grained tannins, and a decent finish.  85-87 points,  John Sweeney, Mar 2010

2009 Haut Batailley (Pauillac) – 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. This wine is very opulent with tremendous texture.  On the nose notes of fresh roasted coffee, black pepper and vanilla.  In the mouth this wine already is showing  its excellent potential.  92-94 points, John Sweeney, Mar 2010

2009 Lafite Rothschild (Pauillac) – 82.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 0.5% Petit Verdot. This massive wine is very deep purple in color and impressively concentrated.  Aromas of blackberry, blueberry, dark chocolate, coffee, and cherry.  This is a very complete wine from start to finish, with a great mouth feel.  My notes read very complex, elegant and restrained.  95-97 points, John Sweeney, Mar 2010

2009 Latour (Pauillac) – 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot. Wow, this wine is stunningly complex!  Layers of flavors, super dark and incredibly concentrated.  This smells like the essence of Cabernet Sauvignon; cassis, blackberry, raspberry, graphite, and a touch of earth.  On the palate very silky, but a massive wine with a tons of persistence and a long, rich finish. 96-98 points, John Sweeney, Mar 2010

2009 Le Petit Mouton (Pauillac) –  62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc. A wine I could literally smell all day long, this has an amazingly perfumed nose and is very deeply colored.  On the palate the Petit Mouton has terrific mouth feel;  great weight, texture and structure.  The dominate flavors are juicy black and blue fruits, dark chocolate, and toasty oak. 90-92 points, John Sweeney, Mar 2010

2009 Lynch Bages (Pauillac) – 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.  This wine is without a doubt the best Lynch Bages made in the last 20 years or more! Deep purple at the core, with a dark ruby rim.  On the nose very bright and fresh smelling; a truly gorgeous nose.   Flavors of cassis, raspberry, vanilla, dark chocolate, and violets explode on the palate.  This beauty has an incredibly long  finish, is big and chewy in the mouth and totally delicious.  94-96 points, John Sweeney, Mar 2010

2009 Mouton Rothschild (Pauillac) –  88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot. At first glance this wine is super dark and literally black at the core.  On the nose a nice balance of fruit, earth and wood notes.  On the palate flavors of boysenberry, raspberry, blackberry, graphite, coffee, and vanilla are all incredibly well integrated at this point. This wine has massive tannins but they are soft and elegant.  Should be an outstanding Mouton.  96-98 points, John Sweeney, Mar 2010

2009 Pichon Baron (Pauillac) –  62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. A wine of great richness, texture, and complexity.    Notes of beef carpaccio, cherry, raspberry, and cranberry dominate on the nose.  This is super refined and elegant even at such a young age.  Great acidity, a wonderful mouth-feel, and a long finish complete this beauty.  This is a wine that merits serious attention!  94-96 points, John Sweeney, Mar 2010

2009 Pichon Lalande (Pauillac)  –  45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot.   This wine was the essence of Cabernet on the nose; notes of cassis, raspberry, black pepper and scorched earth.  A ripe, rich and spicy wine with long, silky tannins.  93-95 points, John Sweeney, Mar 2010

2009 Pontet Canet (Pauillac) – 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 5 % Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Another stunning wine from the folks at Pontet Canet, qualitatively this producer is absolutely on fire!  This wine is incredibly dark and concentrated, but has tremendous finesse to balance out all the aspects of this gem.  This wine has so much going on; notes of blueberry, blackberry, cassis, vanilla, coffee, and crushed rock.  This wine is literally seamless! Once again one of my favorite wines of the vintage. 95-97 points, John Sweeney, Mar 2010
A quite impressive and serious ‘second wine.’  Exceptionally complex both aromatically and on the palate,   I was pleasantly surprised by how spicy this wine was.  I get notes of both red and black fruits, black pepper, and lead pencil.  The tannins are very integrated, so this wine is very silky and has a long finish.  92-94 points, John Sweeney, Mar 2010

Saint-Julien

2009 Branaire Ducru (St. Julien) – 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet franc. A sweet, seductive nose of raspberry and rainier cherry, mixed with more subtle notes of mint and forest floor.  Big, firm tannins coat the palate, and carry the fruit along through a big finish.  91-93. -Alex Shaw, March 2010.

2009 Chateau Beychevelle (St. Julien) – 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Petit Verdot. Dark and concentrated, with black cherry and blackberry aromas mixing with notes of earth, moss and vanilla.  Firm, grippy tannins provide excellent structure, and the wine exhibits lovely acidity which balances the fruit.  Definitely not a timid wine.  93-95.  -Alex Shaw, March 2010

2009 Chateau Gloria (St. Julien) – Very elegant on the nose, with lovely notes of wildflowers, tart cranberry, raspberry and a touch of blueberry. Huge tannins fill the mouth – this wine will need some time.  86-88. -Alex Shaw, March 2010

2009 Chateau Lalande-Borie (St. Julien) – 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. Inviting nose of wildflowers, black cherry, cedar and tarragon. Bright red fruit fills the palate and lingers with fine, concentrated tannins.  Beautiful balance and structure. 90-92. -Alex Shaw, March 2010

2009 Clos du Marquis (St Julien) – 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot.  13.8% alcohol.  Plum and dark blueberry fruits, with complexity added by notes of hibiscus and earth.  Velvety and lush on the palate, the wine shows beautiful concentration without being too overbearing.  All the components are in balance.  91-93.  -Alex Shaw, March 2010.

2009 Croix de Beaucaillou (St. Julien) – 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot. A worthy second wine to Ducru. Dense and dark on the nose, with notes of blackberry, cassis, herbs and clove. Concentrated, with firm structure, the tannins are fine and silky, and carry both the fruit and spice through an intense finish. 92-94. -Alex Shaw, March 2010

2009 Ducru Beaucaillou (St. Julien) – 85%  Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot. An absolute blockbuster of a wine. The nose makes you practically want to dive into the glass- beautiful aromas of violets, roses and wildflowers balanced by herbs and mint. Soft and luscious on the palate, the tannins are smooth, silky and incredibly elegant.  The fruit is rich and round on the palate, and lingers on the finish for minutes. This wine may grow to reside amongst the best of the vintage. 95-97. -Alex Shaw, March 2010

2009 Gruaud Larose (St. Julien) – 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot. The 2009 Gruaud Larose exhibits a lovely, inviting nose of strawberry and black raspberry, with darker notes of earth and forest floor adding excellent complexity. The fruit is prominent on the palate, with the tannins more restrained than other 2009 St. Julien offerings.  The tannins do linger and provide excellent length to the wine, which lingers without overpowering or drying out the mouth. Intensely elegant, this should develop into a top-flight wine. 92-94. -Alex Shaw, March 2010

2009 Lagrange (St. Julien) – 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot. One of the great surprises from 2009 St. Julien is Lagrange. Recent improvements in both the vineyard and winery are really beginning to take hold with the 2009 vintage. The 2009 has a beautifully perfumed nose filled with dark berry fruit, cassis and blackberry jam, rounded off with a touch of minerality. Soft and lush even out of the barrel, the tannins are chewy but perfectly in balance with the fruit.  Tasted blind, this would almost pass as a ready-to-drink new world wine. A first-class effort that should be ready to drink on the early side. 92-94. -Alex Shaw, March 2010

2009 Langoa Barton (St. Julien) – 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc. In the glass, the 2009 Langoa Barton shows a beautiful deep purple color with a light lavender rim. Notes of blackberry and marionberry mix on the nose with notes of earth and wood. Unlike many other offerings from Saint Julien, the wine is just a touch green, which should mellow out with time. Smooth and soft on the palate, the tannins are long and precise. Like many wines from 2009, this is almost more of a new-world style of wine than a classic St. Julien. 90-92. -Alex Shaw, March 2010

2009 Le Fiefs de Lagrange (St. Julien) – Loads of blueberry and blackberry explode out of the glass, with excellent minerality offering a beautiful sense of terroir. On the palate, the fruit dominates, with the dark berry fruit prominent, matched by oak and tight, chewy tannins. 86-88. -Alex Shaw, March 2010

2009 Le Petit Lion du Marquis de Las Cases (St Julien)- A compelling nose of dark plum, cooked strawberry and black cherry mixed with notes of bell pepper, wet earth and wild spice.  Beautiful integration of the tannins- the wine shows tremendous balance between the chalky tannins and the sweet fruit.  The long and luxurious finish made me want to keep lingering over this wine.  I’m excited to see what this will become.  90-92. -Alex Shaw, March 2010

2009 Leoville Barton (St. Julien) – 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22.5% Merlot, 0.5% Cabernet Franc. The wine shows sweet fruit on the nose of strawberry and cassis, with just a touch of earth adding complexity. Inky dark purple in the glass. Excellent balance with firm, dry tannins that carry the sweet fruit through a big, rich finish.  92-94. -Alex Shaw, March 2010

2009 Leoville Las Cases (St. Julien) – A blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc, with 6.4% vin de presse, delivering 13.4% alcohol and a pH of 3.65.  An absolutely deep and enveloping nose, that covers the senses like a heavy blanket with perfectly pure notes of black cherry, raspberry and cassis along with a bit of anise.  Supple, smooth and round on the palate, with deep dense fruit, yet not over-the-top – despite everything, this blockbuster retains it’s elegance and the elements are in terrific harmony.  Shows excellent structure with plenty of fine, sweet tannins and a real sense of place.  Definitely one for the cellar, but not a backwards, monolithic beast that will need forever to come around, I can’t wait to see how this evolves over the years.  This is, pure and simple, a top notch Bordeaux and possibly the wine of the vintage.  98-100 points, John Perry, Mar 2010

2009 Leoville Poyferre (St. Julien) – 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot. A powerhouse of a wine. Aromas of plum, blackberry jam and cassis burst from the glass, filled out with a touch of mint and spice. The wine shows tremendous length with the fruit lingering in the mouth for minutes. Firm, clean tannins indicate this is going to be one of the stars of the vintage with decades of life ahead. 94-96. -Alex Shaw, March 2010

2009 Saint Pierre (St. Julien) – 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot.  55% new oak.  Notes of black raspberry and black cherry are prominent on the nose, with just a touch of spice rounding out the aroma.  Slightly reserved but showing excellent balance on the palate.  Sweet fruit dominates the palate, with soft tannins offering length on the finish. This is great stuff. 94-96 – Alex Shaw, March 2010

2009 Talbot (St. Julien) – 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot. The wine shows bright red fruit up front, with secondary notes of tobacco and cedar. Beautifully perfumed. On the palate, soft tannins fill the mouth and provide the wine with excellent length. 91-93. -Alex Shaw, March 2010

Bordeaux Superieur:

2009 Balthus (Bordeaux Superieur) 100% Merlot. Built to last. A soft entry leads to a powerful oaky body with lots of medium grain tannins. Give it some time. 92-94 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Balthus Reserve (Bordeaux Superieur) – 100% Merlot. Made from its own plot of vines on apart from the regular Reignac bottling, the reserve when tasted was very earthy, with mushrooms on the nose and fresh blueberry on the palate.  Very ripe with the tannins in check and it already has an insanely long finish. Wow. 92-94 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Chateau Beaulieu ‘Comtes de Tastes’ (Bordeaux Superieur) – 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Consultant Stephane Derenoncourt and his team plant cover crops yearly to breathe new life into the soil at Beaulieu. The wine is pure purple, with primary aromas or ripe plums and wafting white flowers. Tannins support the fruit and it finishes very dry. 90-92 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Chateau Bolaire (Bordeaux Superieur) – 40% Merlot, 35% Petit Verdot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. An unusually high amount of Petite Verdot from old vines gives this wine a very dark purple/red core.  Very fresh and ripe, it’s full of blue fruits and drinks very pure, with fine tannins and a medium length, dry finish. 89-91 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Chateau Croix Mouton ’20 Mille’ (Bordeaux Superieur)– 100% Merlot. From Jean-Philippe Janoueix. A new project designed to increase planting density to 20 thousand vines per hectare (hence the name) at Chateau Croix Mouton. A bright red/purple, with plums, spice, and soft minerals, blue fruit on the palate with crushed blackberry and some sneaky tannin at the finish. 86-88 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Chateau Gree-Laroque (Bordeaux Superieur) – 95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc. Organically farmed (moving towards biodynamic), this hand harvested red consulted on by Stephane Derenoncourt is very dark, with lots of fresh ripe fruit and chocolate. This has a great core of fruit and good structure, with medium sized tannins leading to a good finish.  91-93 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Chateau Jean Faux (Bordeaux Superieur) – 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. From high-density certified organic vines, the yields here are low at 33HLS/HA, which is reflected in the wine.  A dark, opaque red with pure red fruit, salinity and minerals, and an almost Cabernet Sauvignon-esque flavor profile. Good acidity balances out the tannins and leads to a medium length finish. 90-92 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Chateau Petrus Gaia (Bordeaux Superieur) – 100% Merlot.  The Grand Vin of Petrus Gaia. This red (consulted by Stephane Derenoncourt) with a name dating back to the 14th century (in case you were wondering if this was blatant plagiarism) comes from the best 5 HA of their 16.35 HA vineyard. Aged in half new, half one-wine old barrels, it is a very dark inky purple/red. Yields of 35 hls/ha. Super alive and fragrant, it is still obviously evolving.  It has almost a balsamic essence, ripe fruit, good texture, and a fresh finish with a hint of dry tannin at the end. After 14 months in barrel, this should start to come together and be wickedly good. 92-94 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Chateau Reignac Rouge (Bordeaux Superieur)– 75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium red with a  wide ruby rim, has a chocolaty/minty nose that’s very smooth and cooling.  Bright cherry and raspberry flavors dominate. Finishes long. 91-93 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Domaine du Bouscat ‘Classique’ (Bordeaux Superieur) – 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec. From a hillside vineyard just west of Fronsac, consultant Claude Gros ferments the wine in cement tank and then it’s aged on its lees for a year in the tank, then an additional year in barrel. The 2009 exhibits a ripe fruit core with chocolate and dark fruit on the palate and ample tannins on the finish which should integrate with more time in the barrel.  Highly structured. 86-88 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Domaine du Bouscat ‘La Gargone’ (Bordeaux Superieur) – 60% Merlot, 20% Malbec, 18% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. From a single hillside vineyard of just 3.3 HA with very low yields of 25 HLS/HA, this wild red is sustainably managed. With a high level of Malbec, it is a dark opaque purple/red with loads of minerals, salinity, mocha flavors, and depth. At 15.8% alcohol it’s a bit hefty in its young age. Can’t wait to taste this monster again in 3 years. 91-93 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Domaine du Bouscat ‘Les Portes de l’Am (Bordeaux Superieur) – 50% Merlot, 25% Malbec, 25% Cabernet Franc. With super low yields of 22.6 HL/HA, this red is 15.4% natural alcohol and ha a high percentage of Malbec. Very dark in color, it is quite fragrant and seriously big, with blackberry liqueur, salinity, and big tannins that suggest it has a long life ahead of it. 90-92 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 La Croix Mouton (Bordeaux Superieur) – 87% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc. Pure purple, with a sweet nose of blueberry and crushed blackberry. Features nice ripe fresh fruit and a medium length finish. 87-89 points (Tasted twice with consistent notes) –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Pey La Tour (Bordeaux Superieur) – Owned by the large negociant firm of Dourthe.  A surprisingly ample amount of fruit on the nose with slight touches of sage and tobacco.  Smooth and easy-going on the palate, this basic wine should be a good representation of decent quality at the lower end of the price spectrum.  Potentially a nice value proposition when released.  86-88 points. – John Perry, Mar 2010

2009 Reynon (Bordeaux Superieur) (Bordeaux Superieur) – 82% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot.  Owned by Bordeaux University’s Professor of Oenology, Denis Dubourdieu. This wine displays inviting aromas of ripe red berries and grape – a touch simple but charming overall.  Medium bodied on the palate where coffee and tobacco notes add a degree of complexity.  The tannic structure is strong but doesn’t overwhelm.  Should be an ideal food wine to be enjoyed early.  86-88 points – John Perry, Mar 2010

Bordeaux AOC:

2009 Girolate (Bordeaux AOC) – 100% Merlot. With both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation take place in new oak, the 2009 Girolate is layered with sweet fruits, crushed blackberry, licorice, and dark chocolate. Velvety and seductive with a luxurious palate, it has a medium level of tannin but is very powerful. This should come together nicely. 90-92 points –Cory Gowan March 2010

2009 La Cour d’Argent (Bordeaux AOC) – 95% Merlot. Exhibits a medium red core with velvety ripe fruit and sweet vanilla. Fresh and light. 87-89 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

Other:

2009 Chateau Chasse Spleen (Moulis) – Dark purple red, with a good balance of red currant, earth, and saline.  Very round mouthfeel with great balance between the fruit and the tannins which are already beginning to integrate. 89-91 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Chateau Poujeaux (Moulis) – Medium/dark red with loads of blue fruits on the nose, a soft palate entry with a fresh, plush mouthfeel.  Tannins are very fine, this is easy to drink (90-92 points) –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Chateau Puygueraud (Cotes de Francs) – Aromas combine dark berry notes with earthy elements, espresso and a bit of minerality.  Full bodied and youthful on the palate with considerable tannins that clamp down a bit on the finish.  The structure is potentially there, but this wine will need time to resolve.  87-89 points, John Perry, Mar 2010

Margaux:

2009 Alter Ego Palmer (Margaux) – Tasted at Chateau Palmer. 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 51% Merlot. Dense core with a blood red rim. Perfumed on the nose with delicious ripe red fruits that seem to easily lift from the glass. The tannins are fully mature and well integrated. This wine is ripe and fruit laden but also has all the stuffing that one would expect from the ‘Grand Vin’. Fresh and vibrant throughout with flavors of red cherry and espresso. Delightful wine. 92-94 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 Cantenac Brown (Margaux) – 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc – Medium body with  a nice core of fruit with complimentary aromas of rose and violets. A hint of olive tapenade and some spicy character really give this wine some aromatic complexity. This is pretty with dark berry flavors. 87-89 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 Chateau Brane Cantenac (Margaux) – 65% Cabernet Sauvignon 30% Merlot 5% Cabernet Franc.  A classic wine that I always seem to recognize as the identity that is Margaux. I love the complexity on the nose here with ripe red fruits complimented by licorice, tar, anise, and graphite. Good attack with a nice smoky / oaky component.  This is medium bodied and long.  89-91 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 Chateau Dauzac (Margaux) – 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot. This wine is serious stuff, aged in 80% new oak for 14 months, it shows an array of dark fruits on the nose including blackberry and ollallieberry followed by chocolate and all-spice. Great nose… It shows nice depth on the palate with a tannic, but not over the top profile. A pleasant surprise and definitely worth a look once it is in bottle. 90-92 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 Chateau Du Tertre (Margaux) – Inky red core with a bright / vibrant red rim. Excellent core of red berry fruit with complimentary aromas of cassis, dark chocolate, graphite, and oak.  Shows good depth and concentration without pushing the limits.  Soft and velvety with a nice finish. I really like this wine even at such a young stage 88-90 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 Chateau Giscours (Margaux) – 55% Cabernet, 40% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot. Not giving too much on the nose at this young stage, but I can tell there is a lot in store with subtle aromas of red cherry, crushed stones, and tobacco. Cedar, spice box, and red currant flavors on the palate with a hugely tannic backbone and excellent length. This stuff starts big and only gets bigger. I suspect this will need considerable time once the wine hits the bottle. 92-94 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 Chateau Kirwan (Margaux) – 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot.  This is a serious wine which possesses a dark purple core and bright red rim. The nose is huge with a combination of boysenberry, blackberry, and cassis. Some more complex aromas of tobacco and Asian spices make the nose super intriguing. It is a massively endowed Kirwan with chewy tannins and a super long finish.  I love the mouthfeel as it goes from voluptuous and rich to more tannic as the wine finishes. 92-94 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 Chateau Lascombes (Margaux) – 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot. Dense and concentrated. Intoxicating aromas of graphite, dark cherry, boysenberry and vanilla bean. Cherry pie  and sweet oak on the palate with supple tannins (and lots of them). This is one of the most massive wines in the appellation but shows some restraint as well. This should prove to be a great Lascombes and it shows from the get go.  Don’t be fooled by the outward exuberance – this should age beautifully for many years to come. 96-98 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 Chateau Malescot St Exupery (Margaux) – 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot. Beautiful nose of crème de cassis, mocha chocolate, black cherry, and liqueur followed by rose petals and creamy vanilla. Does that sound intoxicating? Well it is…Medium body with balanced attack on the palate with super fine and smooth tannins and super weight. This is blockbuster stuff with a finish worth a thousand words. This was a top standout wine. 96-98 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 Chateau Margaux (Margaux) – A blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. A mere 36% of the estate’s production made it into the Grand Vin this year. Super concentrated it exhibits a dark, but not ‘inky’ red core with a substantially brighter red rim. Powerful nose of sweet mocha chocolate, blueberry, cassis, and liquor followed by fresh bright raspberry, crushed flowers, and ripe red currant. It is so soft throughout showing both power and elegance. The tannins are ever present but round and velvety. This Margaux shows the purity of the vintage and the hallmark freshness that the best 09s possess. An absolutely stunning wine from start to finish . 97-99 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 Chateau Marojallia (Margaux) – Bright red color throughout. More mineral driven than other samples from Margaux. Red currant and spicy plum on the nose with some black raspberry as well. Great acidity with nice texture and medium intensity. Not a blockbuster but a very pretty wine. 90-92 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 Chateau Marquis de Terme (Margaux) – 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc.  This wine was a huge surprise. It bears an inky dark red core with a more purple/violet rim.  Displays notes of tar and gravel with delicious blackberry liquor and underlying fresh black currant. On the palate it is expressive with hints of espresso, mocha, and red plum. A delightful wine with a lot of fine tannins towards the finish. 91-93 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 Chateau Monbrison (Margaux) – Ruby red with a sexy smooth red rim. Subtle aromas that have yet to fully develop, but I do get hints of menthol, red raspberry, and Bing cherry. Clean and well made stuff without going over the top with intensity. This should prove to be a nice example in bottle. 85-87 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 Chateau Palmer (Margaux) – Tasted at Chateau Palmer. 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 52% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot. Harvested between September 23rd and October 14th 2009.  13.80%. Deep red color throughout with a bright red rim. The nose is again beautifully perfumed with generous ripe red fruits including logan berry, red currant, and ripe raspberry. On the palate it is silky yet hugely structured.  It shows great depth, exceptional elegance, velvety tannins, and a great deal of freshness for how concentrated it is. This IS Palmer. 95-97 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 Chateau Rauzan Gassies (Margaux) – Inky and dark with a bright fuchsia rim. A bit more restrained than other examples from Margaux, but there is something here that I really like. This terroir seems to be calling my name. Sweet tobacco leaf, vanilla extract, and cedar. This wine possesses loads of tannin but appears to be very well integrated. This could turn out to be a real surprise of the vintage. The finish is chewy yet caressing. Nicely done. 91-93 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 Chateau Rauzan Segla (Margaux) – 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc. Consistently a top Margaux wine, this beauty exhibits an opaque red core with a bright garnet rim. Complex aromas of black currant, bittersweet chocolate, and coffee. This is pushing the limit of ripeness but doing so with definite grace while maintaining its remarkable freshness throughout.  Vanilla and cream on the palate with some tannin to note. This is beautiful stuff and should merit greatness in the bottle for many many years. 94-96 points, Alex Lallos, March
2010

2009 Chateau Siran
(Margaux) – 46% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc. This wine shows the nice perfume and aromatic intensity that I have found in Margaux examples that have some Cab Franc. Fresh berries on the nose with some blueberry and fresh berry compote. It is elegant yet tannic towards the long finish. 92-94 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 D’Issan (Margaux) – Opaque ruby red core color with a bright red rim. Deep red currant aromas with mocha chocolate and black plum. Needs some time to completely open up on the nose, but when it does… Wowie… Shows excellent concentration and fine grained tannins on the palate. Although it is big and tannic it is also extremely well integrated. Excellent stuff and should age exceptionally well. 92-94 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 L’Aura de Cambon (Margaux – Cantenac) – 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot. Fourth vintage for this wine produced from a 0.5-hectare vineyard purchased in early 2006 by the owner of Ch. Cambon La Pelouse, Jean-Pierre Marie. Situated near Ch. Cantenac-Brown, between vineyard blocks owned by Ch. Brane-Cantenac and Ch. Margaux, it is planted with 8,000 vines/ha and equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The soils mix gravel and dark clay. Net yields were 41 hls/ha. The color is ruby red almost mahogany with brilliant intensity. Persistent perfume of blackberry black cherry and crème de cassis with underlying loamy soil rounds out the nose of this lovely wine. On the palate, this wine just over performs with plus concentration of blackberry fruit supported by the underlying minerals and pulverized rocks. The tannins add another dimension of precision and seamless balance from the attack to the finish with great intensity.  91-93 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Pavillon Rouge de Margaux (Margaux) – 67% Cabernet Sauvignon 29% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot. Aged in 50% new French oak. Dense core with a brilliant ruby rim. Bursts with black fruits on the nose followed by a nice perfume of violets and acacia flowers. Rich and concentrated showing velvety tannins and a beautiful core of dark fruit. This is a massive Pavillon with sweet tannins throughout. Dense yet charming. In a word – ‘Suave’. Bravo. 92-94 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 Prieure Lichine (Margaux) – 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot. This beauty will spend 18 months in 50% new French oak. Pure currant fruit and cedar on the nose with an array of violets, crushed earth, and forest berries. Silky tannins with a very balanced profile. I think the elegance combined with some serious power towards the finish. Not blockbuster, but an exceptional and classic example. 93-95 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux:

2009 Chateau Birot (Premier Cotes de Bordeaux) – 68% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec. A medium transparent red, it features a fresh, round red core and a medium length finish. 87-89 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Chateau Carignan ‘Prima’ (Premier Cotes de Bordeaux) – 100% Merlot. Owned by Bordeaux Wine Locators, this fresh, bright red has great structure, a solid core of fruit, and a satisfying long finish. 88-89 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Chateau Mont-Perat (Premier Cotes de Bordeaux) – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc. A dark translucent red, this fragrant wine is loaded with sweet black fruits, an intoxicating nose, and a very ripe fruit core. Soft on the palate, it has medium weight with good structure, good weight, and mildly grippy tannins. 90-92 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

Fronsac:

2009 Château Arnauton “Grand Sol” (Fronsac) – 88% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 3% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.  A 25-hectare vineyard situated on southfacing hillsides to the east of the Fronsac appellation where the soils are a mix of clay and limestone. The vines average age is 30 years. Net yields were 42 hls/ha. This is a super small boutique wine with only 1000 cases produced. The color is super dark inky purple almost black, saturated and opaque with a fuchsia rim. The nose has crushed flowers blackberry compote  blackcurrant fruit with underlying crushed rocks round the perfume of this wine. A real juicy glycerol mid-palate adds a wonderful elegance to the texture of this wine with blackberry bramble with super cassis fruit and spicy tobacco leaf note separates this wine from the pack. A sleeper of the vintage.  91- 93 – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Château Arnauton (Fronsac) – 88% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Malbec.  A 25-hectare vineyard situated on southfacing hillsides to the east of the Fronsac appellation where the soils are a mix of clay and limestone. 30 year old vines. The color is super dark inky purple almost black and opaque and a fuchsia rim. The nose is classic blackberry jam with the underlying chalk-like fine powdery minerals and does a nice job of lifting from the glass with full intensity. The attack of the juicy blackberry fruit expands with a wonderful black plum core that is fleshy and elegantly textured. There’s a superfine grip of tannins at the very last part of the mid-palate and already shows they are well integrated.  92-94 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Carlmagnus (Fronsac) – 100% Merlot. Very dark opaque red to purple, with slightly closed aromas of cherry and red flowers. Very clean, with flavors of cranberry and even a bit of garrigue. 88–90 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 La Dauphine (Fronsac) – 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. Medium red with a very pleasant, sweet nose of fruit and white flowers. A bit zingy on the palate, but a solid effort. 86-88 points –Cory Gowan, March, 2010

2009 La Vieille Cure (Fronsac)– 74% Merlot , 22% Cabernet Franc, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. This medium-full bodied sample had a pronounced spicy bouquet atop a ripe and juicy fruit component. This vineyard is comprised of 74% merlot and it shows in the expressive and concentrated fruit aromas that continue forward onto the palate where the wine’s richness is supported by some firm tannins. Looking good as a cellaring candidate.  (90-92 points) -Chuck Hayward, March 2010

Pomerol:

2009 Barde Haut (Pomerol) — 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. A pronounced and forward bouquet of sweet earth indicates a firmer style of wine. The nose accurately reflects the palate as the firm structure of the wine supports some backward cherry laced fruit. Although quite structured, this mouthfilling wine avoids being foursquare or chunky as the tannins are fine in texture and nicely integrated. Tasted twice. 92-94 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Fleur de Gay (Pomerol) –90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. Attractive, forward aromas including sweet spices and fruit are quite complex at this point. The fruit is of medium weight at first and builds in concentration as the finish approaches with some noticeable but very fine tannins. 92-94 points. – Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Gazin (Pomerol) — Terrific stuff. Black fruits and licorice. Balanced with structure and lots of tannins that lead to a very nice finish. 93-95 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau La Conseillante (Pomerol) – 81% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc. Very refined with dark fruits and minerals. Full on the palate upon entry, the fruit on the finish is clean and precise until the tannins kick in at the end. Very nice. 93-95 points. Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau La Pointe (Pomerol) —  Merlot 85%, Cabernet Franc 15%. Fruit forward aromas dominate with some roasted notes on top. The finish of the palate is restrained in its fruit as the wine ends up with some firm tannins on the finish. 91-93 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Marzy (Pomerol) — Closed, simple nose that still has some fresh ferment smells. The finish is short with green tannins that are bitter. 83-85 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Montviel (Pomerol) — 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc.  A closed nose leads into a balanced wine that has everything integrated into a medium framed package. There is nothing explosive or over the top here, just a great example of a balanced wine. 90-92 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Nenin (Pomerol) — 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. Here’s a wine with forward aromas of juicy, rich fruit. There’s some viscosity here as well with the juiciness of the aromas matching the textures of the palate. The style is quite approachable with a long, lingering fruit centered finish. Tannins are apparent but fine in texture and not as hard as I’ve seen in other wines from the region. 89-91 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Petit Village (Pomerol) — 75 Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc.  The nose here offers up a restrained earthy note. The palate has a similar profile with a subtle entry that reveals moderately explosive textures of creamy fruit. On the finish there are noticeable but not extensive tannins. 92-94 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Rouget
(Pomerol) — Wow! The aromas are quite powerful with a unique minty note atop the fruit. Already getting the layers and complexity of a great wine, it barely hints at over-ripeness. The aromas of thick chocolate laced fruit are hedonistic. Great complexity on the palate with fine tannins that support excellent fruit filled length. Another sample shows a nose is closed here and it gives no indication of the power to come on the palate. There’s some long, concentrated fruit with hints of walnuts on the finish that is just right with the amount of slightly toasted tannins on the finish. Tasted three times.  93-95 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Ch. Vieux Maillet
(Pomerol) —  A reserved, quiet nose shows hints of earth with darker fruits. The palate here shows some pure fruit that is intense and ripe. Not a shy wine. 90-92 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Beauregard
(Pomerol) — Merlot 80%, Cabernet Franc 20%. Very yeasty, fresh ferment smells at first. Ripe fruit on the midpalate covered and tinged with green, herbal characters. There’s good length on the palate but all is cut short by green, stalky tannins. 83-85 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Bourgneuf
(Pomerol) – The color is ruby with a purple core and fuchsia to the rim. There’s a pretty perfume of violets and black plums with some fresh pavement and pulverized rocks on the nose of this wine. The palate is gorgeous with a supple entry of black cherry and sweet tobacco. The wine is medium to full-bodied with a soft and supple texture. The tannins are well integrated.  88–90 points  – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Certan De May (Pomerol) – The color is ruby with a purple core and fuchsia to the rim. The wine is opaque in intensity. The nose has spicy black fruits with mocha chocolate, and is inviting. The wine is delicious with ultra ripe black currants and black raspberry fruit. The texture is alluring and tannins that are already so well integrated, I barely notice them.  92-94 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Certan Marzelle
(Pomerol) – The color is ruby with a purple core and fuchsia to the rim. The nose is primary with black fruits that dominate with a touch of fresh earth and soil. The palate has a really excellent mouth feel. The attack of sweet cherry fruit builds in the mid-palate with tannins that are very soft and plush and a recognized in the last part of mid-palate leaving the finish long and luxurious.  89-91 points – Andy Frieden

2009 Chateau Clinet (Pomerol) – 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Vine average age is 42 years. Soils are a mix of clay and gravel. Yields in 2009 were 47 hls/ha. Michel Rolland is the consulting enologist. The color is dark inky purple with a core that’s almost black and opaque with a fuchsia rim.  A perfume of crushed flowers and black fruits of blackberry and black currant is supported by an underlying earthy minerality that lifts from the glass. Attack of black fruits expand to core of plus concentration of fruit and are supported by super fine grained tannins.  91-93 – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Feytit-Clinet (Pomerol) – 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc.  Situated between Trotanoy and Latour à Pomerol and planted to 34 year old vines. Gravel rich and sandy-gravelly soils. Serious vineyard management including debudding, deleafing, desuckering, crop thinning and manual harvesting techniques are the rule. Total yields for 2009 were 34 hls/ha. The color is super dark inky purple almost black and opaque. A beautiful perfume of black fruits with an underlying loamy soil earthy profile lifts from the glass of this pretty wine. There’s power in the densely packed core of black fruits in this wine. It’s complex with pretty fruit fresh earth and underlying minerality that makes this wine  really compelling.  94- 96 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Hosanna (Pomerol) – The color is ruby with a purple core and fuchsia to the rim. The wine is opaque in intensity. This has a really pretty nose. The perfume has rose petals and violets with black cherry fruit and Super Cassis liquor from Dijon. The palate is equally as stunning with a nice attack of black fruits that builds on the mid-palate with a core of plus concentration of fruit and a dense powerful yet supple texture. The tannins on this wine are precise and powerful and broad-shouldered. I imagine when this one is released the tannins will melt away and support the wine for 20+ years.  92-94 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau La Fleur-Petrus
(Pomerol) – The color is ruby with a purple core and fuchsia to the rim. The wine is opaque in intensity. The perfume is violets with black and blue fruit and a touch of fresh earth. The palate has a round and silky texture that expands nicely to a precise mid-palate of black cherry, crème de cassis liquor in plus concentration. Tertiary notes offering tarry phenolics of fresh pavement, pulverized rocks, and graphite and pencil shavings. As usual this is a top wine from Pomerol.  93-95 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau La Grave
(Pomerol) – The color is ruby with a purple core and fuchsia to the rim. The nose offers crushed berry and crushed rocks and is persistent. The attack of black fruits is very powerful yet the texture is supple and chewy. There is fresh pavement and underlying minerality that supports the concentration of fruit. The tannins are precise and the grip comes in last part of the mid-palate. Nice texture. 86-88 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Lafleur Gazin
(Pomerol) – The color is ruby with a purple core and fuchsia to the rim. This is a big wine.  The nose offers intense black fruits, fresh earth, and crush rocks. The entry matches the nose with black fruits that build into a luscious mid-palate and the tannins are terrific as they are very soft and finish in the last of the mid-palate – which to me makes this an awesome wine.  93-95 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Latour-a-Pomerol
(Pomerol) – The color is ruby with a purple core and fuchsia to the rim. The wine is opaque in intensity. There is perfume of flower blossoms, crushed berries and dried tobacco leaf. This is a big powerful wine with a sexy supple texture and tannins that only begin at the last eight of the mid-palate.  The fruit expands gracefully to a crescendo of plus concentration of black fruits on the way to a soft landing of tannins on the finish.  88 -90 points – Andy Frieden

2009 Chateau Le Gay (Pomerol) – 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc.  Situated on the clay and gravel plateau of Pomerol adjacent to Chateau Petrus, the average age of the vines is over 50 years. The topsoil is gravel with clay and limestone in the substrata. Yields in 2009 were just 25 hls/ha. Michel Rolland has been the consultant since Catherine Péré-Vergé purchased the property in 2004.  There is a pretty perfume of blackberry and crushed flowers with an underlying loamy soil component lifting from the glass. An attack of plus concentration of black plum and blackberry fruit leads to a firm texture with plenty of tannins.  93-95 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau La Violette (Pomerol) — Fragrant aromas of minerals and stones evoke the terroir of this Pomerol. Fully integrated on the palate with sweet fruit, perfect acids and a depth of flavor that keeps going and going. The long finish has some gravelly tannins but they are unobtrusive. 96-98 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Montviel
(Pomerol) — Fragrant, high-toned aromas of spice overlying sweet fruit. The palate shows some sweet fruit with good length, reined in on an elegant framework. Strong tannins on the finish. 87-89 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Plince (Pomerol) – The color is ruby with a purple core. The nose is a bit disjointed at this time showing primary fruit and new oak that is not integrated yet. The entry is black fruit and builds nicely in the mid-palate showing power and plus concentration. This one needs a little more time and will show nicely when it’s bottled.  86–88 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Trotanoy (Pomerol) – This is one of the best wines of the 2009 vintage. The color is vibrant dark ruby with a purple core and fuchsia to the rim. The wine is opaque in intensity. The perfume is fabulous with crushed flowers, black raspberry and black cherry fruit, and pulverized rocks. Terrific texture. There’s a sweet attack of black fruits that is superb. The entry leads to a peak of black raspberry that is glycerol and juicy to go along with a lush and supple texture with superfine tannins that are so well integrated.  97-99 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Clos l’Eglise (Pomerol) — Still closed on nose and undeveloped on palate at this time. However, hints of exotic cocoa-laced black fruit along with a gorgeous minty component . The fruit here has a sense of sweetness and is rich enough to bridge the gap towards a seemless and round finish. Very powerful and promising. 95-97 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Clos L’Enclos (Pomerol) — A minerally, gravelly nose shows some brambly spices as well. There’s some nice primary fruit that lingers on the finish. The tannins are a bit rough here. 89-91 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Espirit l’Eglise (Pomerol) — The nose is aromatically pretty closed at this point and does not show much. This sample seems relatively unevolved at this point,  the compact palate with flavors of exotic fruit has a soft finish before the tannins kick in. 90-92 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 La Croix St. George (Pomerol) — There’s a stony, mineral component on the nose with some pepper spice notes. The flavors are compact on the palate that ends with plenty of tannins. The fruit here is very attractive but will need some time in the bottle. 91-93 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Le Bon Pasteur
(Pomerol) —  80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. A creamy, exotic scented nose that’s complex, integrated and showy. Very rich and textured palate that is seamless and harmonious with good concentrated fruit at the back of the palate. Tannins? Hardly noticeable given the rich fruit though there’s a touch of heat on the finish. 94-96 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Manoir de Le Gay
(Pomerol) — Second wine from Chateau Le Gay. Closed nose. While there is a rich and layered fruit presence, the flavors are a bit simple and lack complexity. Slightly bitter tannins. 89-91 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Providence (Pomerol) – 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. From Pomerol’s plateau, the 2009 Providence is a glass-staining dark red, with a delicate nose of violets, red flowers, and fresh plums. Impeccably balanced with layered fruit, it shows the ripeness of the vintage and was perhaps the best 2009 Pomerol tasted. The tannins are already beginning integration, and it leads to a nice dry finish that lingers long. 93-95 points – Cory Gowan, Mar 2010

Lalande de Pomerol:

2006 Domaine des Sabines (Lalande de Pomerol) – 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. From clay soil, this opaque red offers floral and bright cherry spice. An easy drinking wine with good body and spicy tannins. 86-88 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Chateau La Graviere (Lalande de Pomerol) — Fresh ferment smells along with some burnt bread aromas. Some sweet fruit appears on the nose with aeration. The entry on the palate shows some ripe, fat fruit that fades into a fruity and slightly elegant finish. 87-89 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 La Fleur de Bouard (Lalande de Pomerol) – 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark red, this wine was still tasting very young and shows slightly tart, green flavors. Still, has backbone. 90-92 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

St Emilion:

2009 Chapelle de Ausone (St. Emilion) — 70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc. A closed nose slowly reveals itself with to show some delicate fruit. The wine starts of with an elegant, delicate entry but gains weight and viscosity towards the back of the palate. The long, concentrated finish shows the wine’s elegant structure with very fine tannins. 93-95 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Angelus (St. Emilion) — 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc. A restrained bouquet is part of a very deeply colored wine with some big tannins. Full bodied with dark fruits and tobacco and a nice, long finish. 92-94 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Ausone (St. Emilion) — 55% Cabernet Franc, 45% Merlot. A closed and reserved wine at this moment with much to show down the road. The backward bouquet has some earthy notes. There’s ripe fruit to be had with the tannin structure completely integrated by the fruit at this point. The long finish comes from a very elegant fruit profile that’s not overt at this moment and ends with the fine tannins. 98-100 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Beau-Sejour-Becot (St. Emilion) — 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Nose of black fruits and minerals. The palate has an elegant fruit profile with a long finish. Although there’s some concentrated fruit, the wine avoids being syrupy or gloppy. Silky tannins. 93-95 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Beausejour Duffau (St Emilion) – 77% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. Wow, incredible stuff. It’s been a while since this property hit a home run, but this has all the makings of something really special. Nearly 15% alcohol, but so well integrated along with velvety tannins. Round and concentrated. Lots of black fruits, minerals, and yummy complexity. This is a big, big wine that is unquestionably one of the vintage’s top efforts. Should be a very shrewd buy for the cellar. Stephane Derenoncourt consults. 97-99 points. –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Belair-Monage (Saint-Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classe) – The color is ruby with a purple core and fuchsia to the rim. This nose is fabulous with violets blackberry fruit and crush rocks.  The palate is densely packed with a round core of black fruits that are primary.  The tannins are well integrated and very soft.  87-89 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Bellevue-Mondotte (St. Emilion) —  90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc. Yields were a miniscule 22 hls/ha. Color is dark and opaque. The wine at this point is a bit restrained and backwards but very pure. Aromatically, there are really appealing scents of fresh, loamy earth and creme de cassis. The wine’s presence on the palate is full bodied layered with lots of tannic structure. Tasted three times. 95-97 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Bienfaisence (St. Emilion) — 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. 14.5% alcohol. Yields were a minute 20 hls/ha. Clay atop limestone soil. Bright and elegant wine. Attractive acids are integrated with the fruit that adds elegance to the mid-palate. Stephane Derenoncourt consults. 90-92 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Cheval Blanc (St. Emilion) —  A record 65% of the harvest was dedicated to the grand vin this vintage. From a 60/40 blend of merlot and cabernet franc, they achieved what they considered to be high alcohol level of 13.9. Deeply concentrated spicy fragrance coming from the high portion of franc. Medium full palate weight, there’s a hint of earthy terroir combining some creaminess in an elegantly focused presence on the palate. While there’s along finish to be found, the fruit presence falls a touch short to reveal some fine tannins on a firm finish. 93-95 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Corbin (St. Emilion) — 72% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep color with a dark rim. A simple wine that has the right components but just needs more interest and complexity. There’s a nose of fresh earth and spice, the palate lighter in weight. 86-88 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Figeac (St. Emilion) — 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot.  Aromas of some fresh herbs are interlaced with some riper spices. The palate has some clean, freshly herbaceous characters.  The fruit here is clean with some integrated acids leading towards a long and balanced finish. Tasted twice. 93-95 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Fleur Cardinale (St. Emilion) — 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc. Bittersweet chocolate with nice, full richness without being over the top. This is not a shy wine. Plenty of tannins, but very appropriate given the gobs of fruit. Terrific texture. Tasted three times. 94-96 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Ch. Fombrauge (St. Emilion) — 77% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon. Very ripe fruit on the palate with lots of viscosity, almost too much. Acidity keeps the palate weight reined in. 92-94 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Fonbel (St. Emilion) — 65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot and 3% Carmenere. Opaque with a purple rim. There are fragrant, attractive  aromas of spice and pepper. The palate shows some juicy fruit with some riper characteristics that are not over the top. There is a sense of balance and restraint here as the finish lingers towards a finish of firm tannins. 89-91 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Haut-Simard (St. Emilion) — 70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc. This traditionally styled St. Emilion shows hints of earthy spices. The palate shows some restraint in its presence of ripe fruit. There is some concentrated fruit on the backend of the palate where the fine tannins seem softly covered with fruit. 91-93 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau L’Arossee (St. Emilion) — 44% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Cabernet Franc. The rim fades softly towards a deep center. A very elegant, lighter interpretation of St. Emilion. Nice soft hints of a more lactic, milky chocolate but not a bittersweet style. An excellent example of a more balanced, restrained style. 90-92 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau L’Eveche (St. Emilion) — Ripe fruit aromas dominate this wine’s bouquet.  The fruit is broad, round and fat on the palate and borders on being a touch overripe. There’s some good concentration of the fruit though it’s a bit primary at this young age, some complexity later will see it score higher. 90-92 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009
Chateau La Confession (St. Emilion) — 68% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Franc. A flavorful wine with fresh scents of bread and chocolate along with sweet fruit that literally jumps out of the glass. The fruit on the palate shows a rich, medium-medium plus palate weight on an earthy/structured framework that is very integrated. This is not a fruit bomb in texture as it shows some restraint along with some fine, subtle tannins in the long finish. Tasted three times. 93-95 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau La Gaffeliere (St. Emilion) — 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. Deep color through to the rim. Touch of yeasty, fresh ferments contribute towards a closed,  deep fruited bouquet with hints of herbs. There’s a rich midpalate of deep fruit that is weighty but almost airlike in texture. The nice finish displays substantial fine tannins. Tasted three times. 92-94 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau La Serre (Saint-Emilion) – The color is ruby with a purple core almost black and opaque.  The perfume is gorgeous offering flower blossoms with black cherry and black cassis fruit.  The entry has sweet black cherry fruit supported by nice French oak that is already well integrated with a nice ripeness of crème de cassis.  The tannins are well integrated and are firm and precise.  85-87 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau La Tour du Pin (St. Emilion) — 80% merlot/20% cabernet franc.  Perfumed nose of spice, fruits, fresh earth and coffee grounds. The flavors have an elegant, centered profile that is drier versus fruitier on the palate.  The more structured frame is supported by some spicy flavored tannins that have a gravelly texture. Tasted twice. 86-88 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Larcis-Ducasse (St. Emilion) — 81% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc. A broad and full bodied wine that is delicious right now. Ripe aromatics of bittersweet chocolate, black fruits and some savory stuff. Very juicy and layered. A showstopper. Stephane Derenoncourt consults. 96-98 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Le Marzelle (St. Emilion) — Great deep color but a closed nose that does not reveal that much. The palate has some rich, creamy textures with some concentrated fruit at the back end along with hints of burnt brulee. The richness on the backpalate also shows some toastiness from oak which are integrated with some fine tannins. 88-90 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Lusseau (St. Emilion) — 75 % Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc. Rich color to the rim. The deep, concentrated flavors have a compact flavor profile with some nice, thick fruit at the back end of the palate. Tannins are almost sweet, coated with fruit in the center of a long, soft finish. 92-94 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Magdelaine (Saint-Emilion) – The color is ruby with a purple core.  The nose offers black plum and fresh earth. The fruit is primary with black fruits. The tannins are smooth and plush and support the wine nicely. There is plus concentration of fruit as well.  90-92 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Monbousquet (St. Emilion) — 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark color here with very interesting, complex aromas of sweet fruit. Palate is rich, lengthy with lengthy flavors of dark fruits leading towards some roasted tannins with hints of walnut. Not over the top in palate weight, the tannins are substantial but fine in texture. Probably the most approachable and forward St Emilion wine from the Perse portfolio. Tasted three times. 93-95 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Moulin St. Georges
(St. Emilion) — Great focused nose with effusive scents of sweet high-toned fruit. A thick, liqueur-like texture with great length and elegance. At first, the palate shows some tart fruit flavors that give way to hints of earth where more structure appears. Very fine tannins here. 91-93 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Pavie (St. Emilion) — Merlot 70%, Cabernet Franc 20%,  Cabernet Sauvignon 10%. The nose here is quite reserved but still has an attractive, pure expression of bright fruit along with some sandalwood and cocoa powder.  The palate is balanced in components on an elegant framework. The fruit here is centered and compact as opposed to some riper, viscous examples. The tannins here are substantial again and are finely grained. Tasted three times. 97-99 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Pavie Macquin (St. Emilion) —  85% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. Very attractive high-toned aromas of chocolate covered fruits. This is a balanced wine that is not over the top with a focused, centered palate presence. Linear with a beginning, middle and end, there are plenty of tannins here but they are refined in texture. Lots of structure to this one. 94-96 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Pavie-Decesse (St. Emilion) — Merlot 90%, Cabernet Franc 10%. Lots of violets and rich black fruits. Well balanced although the tannins are well present. Will need some time for sure, but exciting. Tasted twice. 95-97 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Puy-Blanquet (Saint-Emilion Grand Cru) – The color is ruby with a purple core. There’s a beautiful perfume of crushed flowers and pulverized rocks. A nice attack of black plum and cassis fruit of this medium to full-bodied wine shows a silky texture and plus concentration of fruit. The superfine tannins are well integrated. 88-90 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Rozier (St. Emilion) — There is some very nice complexity in this wine. Mineral-laden fruit comprises the spine of the palate that is a bit raisined but elegant in proportion with very good length. The tannins are fine in texture but are a bit hard. Overall, a balanced wine that need just a touch more weight. 87-89 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Saint-Georges Cote-Pavie (St. Emilion) — This wine has nice aromas of ripe fruit with notes of toasted spices and minerals along with very attractive aromas of cooked meats and sausage spices. On the palate, gobs of rich, thick and concentrated fruit is ripe in flavor and viscous in texture. There is a unique exotic, wild, sauvage sheen to the weighty fruit that is supported by very finely textured tannins on the finish. A balanced wine that is full without being over the top. Tasted four times. 90-92 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Simard (St. Emilion) — 65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc.  A touch lighter in color compared to other wines of the Ausone portfolio. There’s a lean fruit profile here focusing on an elegant structure overall. There are some earthy, spicy notes on the finish atop some spicy tannins. 86-88 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Tertre Daugay (St. Emilion) —  91-93 points–Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Chateau Troplong Mondot (St. Emilion) —  80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Wow. Concentrated and powerful aromas of pencil shavings, blue and black fruits, sandalwood, smoke and minerals. A linear, tightly wound bouquet that also shows spices and graphite. There are dark, roasted fruits on the palate backed up by tannins that are ultra fine in texture with a slightly roasted quality. Concentrated fruit profile with a long finish and very fine tannins. If tasted blind, not sure one would guess Bordeaux at this stage. However, this should evolve into something truly exciting. Tasted twice. 97-99 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Clos Canon (St. Emilion)  — 75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc. Somewhat closed nose that has reserved scents of sweet fruit. Medium-full palate weight. 89-91 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Clos des Jacobins (St. Emilion) — Woodsy, piney aromas along with earthy scents dominate the nose but the palate is not as overt as what the aromas would indicate. The palate shows tons of viscous fruit on entry with rich, medium weight fatness. There is some good length here thanks to some nice acids that lead to some firm tannins on the finish. 91-93 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Clos Fourtet (St Emilion)– 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc. This is great stuff, the 2009 is a highly concentrated and rich wine but maintains a delicate elegance.  The perfume on this wine is stunning; notes of blackberry, blueberry, crushed gravel and seasoned French oak.  The wine has incredible structure and is impeccably balanced for such a young wine at this point.  Additionally this wine had a very long finish that persisted for close to a minute.  WOW!! (96-98 points) -John Sweeney, March 2010

2009 Clos La Madeline (St. Emilion) — 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. There are ripe, somewhat complex aromas. Despite a closed nose, there is some rich textural fruit on the palate.  Flavors of sweet fruits and fresh loamy earth are interlaced with hints of chocolate. As the midpalate begins to fade, the minty, softly tannic finish is carried by the fruit at the end of the palate to create harmony. Tasted three times. 86-88 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Clos Mayne Figeac (St. Emilion) — Very dark in color with some roasted fruits comprising a closed nose. The palate is forward and juicy on the midpalate, round and textured with medium weight leading into a finish with firm yet fine tannins. 86-88 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Haut Brisson (St. Emilion) — 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc. The fruit on the nose is similar to the 2008 Reserve. There is a seamless, creamy midpalate that has more weight than the previous vintage and an unobtrusive oak presence.  The wine finishes with soft, unobtrusive tannins.  89-91 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Haut Brisson ‘Reserve’ (St. Emilion) — 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc. The nose is quite appealing with indications of fat and creamy fruit with a hint of oak to come. The fruit is rich and viscous with concentrated fruit on the back palate. There are some exotic, feral flavors of wild berries that show a sense of focus and purity. The finish is a touch short as some bigger tannins appear at the end. 92-94 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 La Dominique (St. Emilion) —  85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc. Concentrated yet closed nose of stones and earth. On the palate, there is ripe, mouthfilling fruit reined in by minerals and a good amount of refined, spicy tannins. Tasted twice. 91-93 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Le Petit Cheval (St Emilion) — 65% cabernet franc, 35% merlot. Aromas of fresh loam on the nose lead into a compact fruit profile of tart cherries. Some very fine tannins are found that are due to ripe cabernet franc this season. 91-93 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Le Vallon Bard-Haut (St. Emilion) — Compared with the previous vintage, there is more concentrated, primary fruit flavor being offered. Much more length and viscosity on the palate and rich concentration of flavors on the backpalate and then some good tannins kick in on the finish. 91-93 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Lucia (St. Emilion) — 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. 92-94 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Rol Valentin (St. Emilion) — 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. A very appealing, rich and forward nose of fruit and oak, this is a very complete wine at the moment. This is juicy, round with great thick fruit on the finish that is layered and fully integrated comprising a wine that’s ready to drink. There are superfine tannins here that are coated by the rich fruit. Very seductive. Tasted three times. 95-97 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Sanctus (St. Emilion) — 65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc. The nose is expressive but restrained in complexity. There’s some rich fruit here with a creamy and full-bodied palate presence that avoids being gloppy. There are some different and unusual flavors compared to others from the region. Although not as layered as the best examples, the acidity is appropriately integrated with the fruit as are the finely structured tannins. 91-93 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Tertre Roteboeuf (St. Emilion) —80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. Wow. Elegance and power at its best. Hints of pure high-toned fruits. The palate has powerful, juicy fruit interlaced with perfectly integrated acids that give the wine tension and length. 15.6% alcohol. A complete wine that is exciting in its balance of elegance and intensity yet still feels like there something in reserve. 97-99 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Valandraud (St. Emilion) — 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. Thick and viscous appearance reminiscent of crème de cassis. This wine emphasizes terroir, a terrific presence that is very complex, the finish is long with mineral laden fruit on top of a very subtle tannin structure. Exciting presence. 96-98 points –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

2009 Vieux Taillefer (St. Emilion) — Deep color. A great introduction to the vintage. The palate has very pure, clean fruit textures that fill the mid-palate. There is some complexity along with nice, integrated acids. The finish reveals the barest hint of tannin. 88-90 points  –Chuck Hayward, March 2010

Cotes de Castillon:

2009 Chateau Cote Mont Pezat (Cotes de Castillon)– 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. From 27-30 year old vines on clay and limestone soil, this red features ripe and concentrated flavors of blackberry jam, and blue fruits. With a soft palate entry it showcases flavors of pure vanilla and baked desserts and exhibits some of the same qualities of the great wine of the vintage. An excellent value. 91-93 points (Tasted 3 times with consistent notes) –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Chateau d’Aiguilhe (Cotes de Castillon) – 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. Inky red with loads of perfume and beaucoup blue and red fruit, the tannins are already beginning to integrate and help lead to a medium length finish. 91-93 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Château d’Aiguilhe Querre (Côtes de Castillon) – 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.  25-year old vines, situated at the top of the clay/limestone plateau in Saint Philippe d’Aiguilhe; Jean-Michel Ferrandez consults. The color is dark black inky purple with full intensity. The wine has full flavor of blackberry and black cherry fruit that’s juicy in the core and the tannins come in the last part of the mid-palate. Very nice. 91-93 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Château de l’Estang
(Côtes de Castillon) – 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc.  Yields in 2009 were 38 hls/ha before, and just 33 hls/ha after the selection process. The color is dark purple almost black and opaque with a fuchsia rim. A pungent powerful nose of black fruits with tarry phenolics of charcoal and fresh pavement is intense. The palate has  brighter livelier black fruits of blackberry and black cherry that are dense but still elegant on the palate. The very long finish on this wine is precise and is one of the best wines from this lower classified region. Terrific value. 90- 92 points – Andy Frieden, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Joanin Becot
(Cotes de Castillon) – 75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc. Shows aromas of white flowers and roses. Great structure supports the deep fruits and spice, with big tannins that should soften with some bottle age . 91-93 points (Tasted twice with consistent notes) –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Clos les Lunelles (Cotes de Castillon) – 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. From the Cotes de Castillon plateau, it shares the same limestone characteristics as the St. Emilion plateau. Just a few KM from Chateau Pavie it is also made by Gerard Perse.  Inky dark, with spicy ripe fruit, violets, impeccable structure with crushed blackberry on the palate and a lingering finish. 91-93 points (Tasted twice with consistent notes) –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Domaine de l’A
(Cotes de Castillon) – Dark, transparent red with a cautious nose and a soft palate entry, features ripe black fruits, spice, and great structure.  Once these tannins integrate, this will be a beauty. 91-93 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

Pessac-Leognan:

2009 Chateau Branon (Pessac-Leognan) – Planted to 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, 50% Merlot.  Average age of vines: 40 years.  Ages 18 months in 100% new French oak.  6,000 bottle production.  Dr. Alain Reynaud consults.  This just oozes with tons of black cherry and blackberry aromas, tarry elements, anise and crushed rocks.  Picks up earthy, dark chocolate and espresso notes on the palate.  Shows great power and structure.  A top-notch effort!  93-95 points, John Perry, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau De Fieuzal (Pessac-Leognan) – Attractive, rich aromas of cassis and black cherry with a slight whiff of herbs.  Supple and round on the palate, where dark fruit flavors pick up a nice mocha and spice component.  This shows great structure and really grippy, yet sweet tannins present themselves on the back end of the palate boding well for aging over the near term.  91-93 points, John Perry, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Domaine de Chevalier (Pessac-Leognan) – Fully expressive bouquet with deep black cherry aromas accompanied by slight notes of smoke and herbs with a streak of minerality.  Elegant and classic on the palate, firm yet fine tannins come on strong on the back-end although they don’t overpower the wine.  One to lay down for later pleasure.  91-93 points, John Perry, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Haut Bailly
(Pessac-Leognan) – Opens with a nice combo of darker, earthy aromas with raspberry and cassis.  These notes carry over to the palate where they are backed  by fine yet assertive tannins.  Caramel, coffee and mineral notes come through on the finish and it shows quite good length.  This property has been on a tear since 2005 and this new effort really follows suit.  92-94 points, John Perry, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Haut Bergey
(Pessac-Leognan) – Planted to 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot.  Average age of vines: 40 years.  Ages 16 months in 50% new French oak and 50% once used barrels.  Dr. Alain Raynaud consults.  Wow, this has a terrific nose – deep blackberry, crushed rock and tarry aromas that really jump from the glass.  Big, round and juicy on the palate with an excellent mineral element that complements the fruit nicely.  Great structure bodes well for aging.  92-94 points, John Perry, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Haut Brion
(Pessac-Leognan) – 46% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc.  14.3% alcohol, the highest on record for this chateau, surpassing the 14% from 2005.  This wine is elegance incarnate.  Floral aromas of roses and lilacs mix with notes of bing cherry, crushed raspberry and summer plum, with just a hint of pencil shavings and cigar box to darken the overall nose.  The tannins are prominent but do not overwhelm the fruit on the palate, which fills the mouth like liquid velvet.  The tannins provide what felt like minutes of complexity on the long, creamy finish.  95-97, Alex Shaw, March 2010.

2009 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion
(Pessac-Leognan) – 47% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc.  14.7% alcohol, which is the highest on record (previous high was 14.2% in 2005).  A deep, brooding wine of tremendous structure and complexity.  Aromas of Santa Rosa plum and crushed blackberry mix with damp wood, smoked meat and black licorice to form a stunning nose.  The tannins coat the mouth but are surprisingly soft for such a young wine.  I lingered over this for some time and look forward to tasting it again on release.  96-98, Alex Shaw, March 2010

2009 Chateau Le Thil Comte Clary
(Pessac-Leognan) – 70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. From the hills between Carbonnieux and Smith-Haut-Lafitte, with a high percentage of Merlot reflected the gravelly terroir on top of clay and limestone. Stephane Derenoncourt and Simon Blanchard consult and this red will be aged 18 months In 50% new, 50% one-wine old barrels. It is a dark, opaque red with ripe fruit, minerality, good weight, solid structure, and a nice spicy finish with fine grain tannins. 91-93 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Chateau Malartic Lagraviere (Pessac-Leognan) – Earthy aromas predominate with blackberry and cassis notes providing a counterpoint to a slight herbal edge.  A touch simple on the palate, with noticeable acidity and chunky tannins lending structure.  Has potential as a decent food wine but not sure if barrel age with soften and improve this wine.  88-90 points, John Perry, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Pape Clement (Pessac-Leognan) – The nose is fresh and displays abundant sweet black fruit enhanced by notes of black coffee and mocha.  The overall effect is that of a really brooding, powerhouse wine that will need some time to really come into form.  On the palate this shows great concentration and density of black fruits with a powerful feel and terrific structure.  Clearly a top wine of the region for this vintage.  94-96 points, John Perry, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte
(Pessac-Leognan) – A very solid display of cassis, currant and blackberry notes are set against aromas of earth, espresso and cigar.  This is a brooding, masculine wine on the nose and should only stand to develop more complexity with time.  A full-bodied effort that’s rich, dark and concentrated on the palate, the darker elements of this wine pick up a decidedly mineral and espresso quality on the back palate.  Shows good length and it’s built for the long haul.  94-96 points, John Perry, Mar 2010

2009 La Chappelle de La Mission Haut Brion (Pessac-Leognan) – 44% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc.  14.2% alcohol.  The second wine of La Mission Haut Brion is a worthy sibling to its big brother.  Marionberry and blackberry aromas mix with notes of cocoa, tobacco and just a hint of cola.  Soft and supple, the wine exhibits fine, precise tannins which seem to dance on the palate.  Beautiful length and finesse for such a young wine.  88-90 points, Alex Shaw, March 2010.

2009 La Clarence de Haut Brion (Pessac-Leognan) – 46% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot.  14% alcohol.  The second wine of Chateau Haut Brion shows brighter fruit than its big brother, with notes of tart cranberry, cherry and rhubarb.  Big, chewy tannins coat the palate and carry the fruit compote flavors through a beautiful finish.  87-89 points, Alex Shaw, March 2010

2009 l’Etoile de Bergey (Pessac-Leognan) – (second wine of Haut Bergey)  Youthful and fresh on the nose with lovely black and blue fruit aromas enhanced by spice notes.  Big and full-bodied on the palate where the ripe, dark fruit and spice notes continue.  A generous amount of tannins present themselves on the back end, but they’re fine, sweet and nicely integrated.  An excellent second wine.  86-88 points, John Perry, Mar 2010

BORDEAUX BLANC

2009 Chateau Reignac Blanc (Bordeaux Superieur)– 60% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Semillon, 5% Muscadelle.  Pale green, almost blue. Has a classic Sauvignon Blanc nose with grassy and wet stone aromas, but with great viscosity and spice on the palate. Finishes long and spicy, well done. 90-92 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Doisy Daene Sec (Barsac) –  100% Sauvignon Blanc. A lively fresh wine with a spicy citrus nose. Expressing flavors of pine sap, meyer lemon and grapefruit with an oily fat texture and a long persistent finish.  91-93 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Les Arums de Lagrange (St. Julien) – A blend of 60 % Sauvignon blanc, 30%  Semillon and 10% Muscadelle. A beautiful bright nose of passion fruit, meyer lemon and a hint of salinity.  Thick in texture, with flavors of beeswax, lanolin, lemon and line, with great tension.  90-92 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Pavillon Blanc de Margaux (Margaux) – 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Only 32% of the estate’s production made it into the wine in 2009. Super pale golden color throughout. Almost Burgundian nose of match sticks, vanilla, and wet stones surrounded by a core of delicious citrus and honey dew melon. Amazingly rich and creamy with meyer lemon and crème brulee on the palate. Precise and refreshing wine that is simply delicious already! 13.9% Alcohol. 91-93 points, Alex Lallos, March 2010

2009 Petrus Gaia Blanc (Bordeaux AOC) – 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 50% Sauvignon Gris. From shallow clay soils, this blanc (consulted by Stephane Derenoncourt) and with a name dating back to the 14th century (in case you were wondering if this was blatant plagiarism) has a similar cepage to Monbousquet blanc, and is an unctuous white with loads of floral aromas.  A wine for those who like their whites to have body. 90-92 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

Pessac Leognan Blanc:

2009 Chateau Haut-Brion Blanc (Pessac-Leognan) – 38% Semillon, 62% Sauvignon Blanc.  Complex flavors of lime, meyer lemon, herbs and notes of saline. A massive wine with broad shoulders.  Tons of citrus notes, grass, lemon curd, and lanolin with a fat rich dense texture, building into a long weigthy finish.  Seemless and long.  Everything plus more! 94-96 points.  Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc (Pessac-Leognan) – 84% Semillon, 16% Sauvignon Blanc.  A complex nose of Acacia flowers, wax and light citrus notes.  This wine has an oily rich texture that is very tight and focused, building in weight towards the back palate.  Flavors of vanilla, orange marmalade and citrus. 91-93 points. Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Le Thil Comte Clary Blanc (Pessac-Leognan) – 60% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc. From the hills between Carbonnieux and Smith-Haut-Lafitte, this barrel fermented white reflects a more age worthy “old style” of a Graves blanc. Pale yellow in color, it exhibits a soft palate with great acid balance. 91-93 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Chateau Pape-Clement Blanc (Pessac-Leognan) –  45% Sauvignon Blanc, 45% Semillon, 10% Muscadelle. A thick creamy textured white with a bright crisp finish.  The nose is reminiscent of Coconuts and banana cream pie, with a touch of honey.  On the palate this comes across with notes of lemon curd, and touch of grass for complexity. 92-94 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte Blanc (Pessac-Leognan) – 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Semillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris. Displays a nose of Stone fruits and sea shells complicated by a touch of grass and vanilla.  A complex and vibrant white with a nice fat texture yielding flavors of Beeswax, stone fruit and lemon curd, with a touch of honey and lanolin.  Lots of texture and a long finish crisp finish. 91-93 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc (Pessac-Leognan) – Approximately 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Semillon. Pale straw in color, nose of beeswax, salt water, slightly herbal.  It expresses flavors of citrus, an oily texture, herbal notes and a long bright finish. 91-93 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 La Clarte de Haut Brion (Pessac-Leognan) – 84% Semillon, 16% Sauvignon Blanc. A cloudy pale straw color. A bright nose of citrus and beeswax. Bright but creamy in texture with a hint of honey and apricots, good length and a fat texture.  88-90 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 La Tour Martillac (Pessac-Leognan) – 55% Semillon, 40 % Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Muscadelle.  Meyer lemon, grapefruit, crushed sea shells on the nose.  Very clean and fresh on the palate with loads of citrus, medium bodied.  90-92 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

Graves Blanc:

2009 Chateau des Fougeres ‘La Folie’ (Graves Blanc, La Brede) – 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Semillon. Net yields in 2009 were just 32 HLS/HA for this Bordeaux Blanc from stainless steel fermentation tanks and aged on the lees for 12 months. It is a floral, fragrant wine with a solid acid component which should gain body as its aged on the lees (remember, this is a barrel sample!) It finishes soft with great acid to balance it out. Both rich and refreshing. 90-92 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 Clos Floridene (Graves) – 70% Semillon and 30% Sauvignon Blanc.  A fresh wine with notes of saltwater and grapefruit.  A fat texture with flavors of fig and lemon, clean and bright with a slight ‘pithiness’ in the finish.  87-89 points,  Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Liber Pater (Graves Blanc, Landiras) – 80% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc. There are only 300 bottles of this intriguing white, planted by the passionate young Loic Pasquet from a single HA vineyard of vines whose average age is 85 years and are on pre-phylloxera rootstock. From mineral rich soil, the minerality is evident in the wine which shows complexity, spice, soft oak, as well as tropical flavors and a long, spicy finish. Unique and delicious. 92-94 points –Cory Gowan, March 2010

2009 R de Rieussec
(Graves)  – A blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Expresses a bright nose of gooseberries, beeswax and citrus.  Pale straw in color, it is light and fresh on the palate with citrus, grapefruit, and a long clean dry finish. 89-91 points Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

SWEET WINES

Cotes de Francs:

2009 Les Charmes Godard Blanc – Aprox 65 % Semillon, 25% Sauvignon Gris, and 10% Muscadelle.  A closed nose of lemon and beeswax. A fat oily texture with lower acids. Closed down now, but good potential. 86-88 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

Cerons:

2009 Chateau Haura (Cerons) – 70% Semillon, 30% Sauvignon Blanc. Light levels of botrytis, with notes of honey, vanilla, and coconut. Fat and rich, with lower acid levels creating a more viscous texture.  85-87 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

Barsac:

2009 Chateau Broustet (Barsac) – 80% Semillon, 10% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Muscadelle. Notes of spicy botrytis and lemon curd.  The spice carries through on the palate with lemon curd honeyed fruits and bright acid.  A broad fat texture with lots of sweetness gaining focus towards the back palate with lots of acidity to keep it dry in the finish. 89-91 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Coutet (Barsac) – 75% Semillon, 23% Sauvignon Blanc, 2% Muscadelle. Notes of honey, hazelnut, and coconut creme. A big rich Barsac with great length and high tension. Glides across the palate with elegance and strength displaying flavors of apricots and dried figs. More one dimensional on the palate but a longer persistent finish. 91-93 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Doisy Daene (Barsac) – 80% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc.  Fuller bodied with great mouthfilling structure. Bright citrus and apricot notes with a long clean finish.  92-94 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Nirac (Barsac) – 90% Semillon, 6% Sauvignon Blanc, 4% Muscadelle. A tight closed nosed hinting at tropical fruits and apricots. A brilliantly focused wine that dances along the palate with a long bright finish, still with an excellent rich texture. 93-95 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

Sauternes:

2009 Bastor Lamontagne – 80% Semillon, 17% Sauvignon Blanc, 3% Muscadelle.  Lots of coconut, citrus, and tropical fruits. Bright and clean with good sweetness and a rich texture. Fruit is carried through to the long finish by bright acids. 90-92 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Chantegril
– 64% Semillon, 34% Sauvingnon Blanc, 1% Muscadelle. Moderate in weight and length, with good sweetness. Very viscous with a broad finish. 85-87 points. Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau d’Arche
– 90% Semillon, 10% Sauvignon Blanc. Tight and focused with loads of pineapple and coconut. Very tightly knit rich and textured. Great acidity. 91-93 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau d’Yquem – 80% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc.  A beautiful balanced, elegant and textured wine. Incredible focus and length loaded with creme brulee, citrus, honey, and apricots.  There is great richness and viscosity with impeccable acids to keep it in check. A little lower in acid that the 2001, still an incredible wine. 97-99 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau de Fargues
- 80% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc.  A thick creamy textured wine. Notes of coconut creme, citrus, hints of spicy botrytis and vanilla with great tension and a long focused finish.  95-97 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau de Malle
– 69% Semillon, 28% Sauvignon Blanc, 3% Muscadelle.  30% new french oak, and aged for 20-24 months in barrel.  Loads of citrus, creme brulee, vanilla and toast. This is sweet but balanced with great acid, spicy botrytis and a delicate focused finish.  92-94 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau de Rayne Vigneau – 80% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc. Heavy spicy notes of botrytis with good rich ripe fruits with a bright finish hat quickly closes down. Tight with huge potential. 91-93 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Liot
– 85% Semillon, 10% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Muscadelle.  Notes of pineapple, coconut and meyer lemon.  Bright and focused with good complexity, and a broad viscous texture. 88-90 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Partarrieu – Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc/Muscadelle. Apricot and honey, simple and zesty with medium sweetness. 85-87 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Chateau Suduiraut – 90% Semillon, 10% Sauvignon Blanc. A buzzing nose with notes of coconut and baking spices. Thick and rich on the palate with coconut creme and spice. 92-94 points, Geoffrey Binder , Mar 2010

2009 Chateu de Myrat – 88% Semillon, 8% Sauvingon Blanc, 4% Muscadelle.  Exotic nose of tropical fruits, coconut, and creme brulee. Lots of spicy botrytis and coconut creme on the palate. Long and broad with great rich texture and lots of tension.  Great acidity gives snap to the finish.  93-95 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Clos Haut Peyraguey
– Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc.  A bright clean nose of citrus, vanilla, and toast. Good honeyed fruit character, with a rich, viscous texture. Moderate acid keeps it tight.  88-90 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Doisy-Vedrines – 80% Semillon, 15% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% muscadelle. Baking spices, dried apricots, and coconut intermingle on the nose.  A bright focused wine with a long, clean citrus driven finish. 94-96 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Domaine de l’Alliance
- Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc/Muscadelle. Bright citrus notes intermingle with coconut creme. Medium in body with good sweetness with great acidity to keep it in check. 86-88 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Guiraud – 65% Semillon, 35% Sauvignon Blanc.  A golden hue in color, with notes of apricots, peaches, honey and orange marmalade. Viscous and thick in texture with good tension.  A dense core of ripe honeyed fruits and a moderate finish with good acid to keep it balanced. 92-94 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 La Fleur d’Or – 80% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc.  A pale straw color with a slight green hue. This is a simpler style of Sauternes with notes of honey and lemon curd, moderate length and plenty of botrytis.  Slightly drier in style. 86-88 points. Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Lafaurie-Peyraguey
– 90% Semillon, 8% Sauvignon Blanc, 2% Muscadelle.  A fat rich wine with good sweetness and balance. Notes of spicy botrytis and orange marmalade. 92-94 points, Geofffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Madame De Rayne
– Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc. A nice level of botrytis with honey and citrus notes.  Viscous texture with moderate acids.  87-89 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Rabaud Promis – Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc. A rich, round and lush wine, with a voluptuous texture. Creamy with notes of pineapple and honeysuckle. Moderate acidty, but light and fresh. 90-92 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Raymond-Lafon
– 80% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc. A fat and rich wine with a flavors of stone fruits and coconut creme that carry to a long focused finish. 92-94 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

2009 Sigalas Rabaud – 85% Semillon, 15% Sauvignon Blanc. Creme brulee, apricots, pineapple and lemon curd build into a long focused finish. Clean and bright, medium bodied with a good level sweetness kept in check by bright acid. 89-91 points, Geoffrey Binder, Mar 2010

Wines of a Lifetime, Not Vintage of a Lifetime | ’09 Bordeaux Futures Offer #1

Wines of a Lifetime, Not Vintage of a Lifetime:

2009 Bordeaux Futures Offer #1

Post by Shaun Bishop

We visit Bordeaux every year in March to taste the new vintages, but this year was different. After years of flying under the radar, JJ Buckley was the talk of Bordeaux. Nobody could understand why we had just flown in ten of our people to taste and evaluate the 2009 vintage out of barrel— a larger group than any other US wine merchant and more than most contingencies from anywhere in the world. But it’s our job as a Bordeaux merchant to wade neck-deep into each vintage and sort out what’s what— which wines we’d be buying and which we would take a pass on. And in the case of 2009, to see if the reality would live up to the hype.

We spent ten days there sampling 50 to 200 wines per day, often tasting the same wine two to four times over the course of our visit. We talked to owners, winemakers, negociants, competitors, vineyard managers and even to our own customers from the US and abroad. Buyers of this vintage will need guidance and we are fully prepared to answer all your questions, give thoughtful and educated advice, and provide a personal perspective on the hundreds of wines that we tasted.

We want you to know that before you make a decision to buy these wines,
that you can count on the following:

As a licensed importer, wholesaler and retailer, JJ Buckley buys directly from Bordeaux, bypassing third party wholesalers and/or importers. This gives us and you a significant pricing advantage.

In order to secure large allocations of the most sought after and highly rated wines, JJ Buckley has worked hard over the years to build strong relationships with the most respected negociants and other suppliers. We are in Bordeaux at least twice a year to ensure we stay informed and well connected.

Our sales team has a broad and deep understanding of the vintage. Please call, email, or stop by and discuss the wines with our sales team who have just returned from Bordeaux. Over the past few weeks, they have analyzed, lived, breathed, and bathed in the vintage, so no question will go unanswered.

**************************

So, what about the hype?

Many have talked about 2009 as another “vintage of a lifetime”. The truth is, that term is starting to wear thin as there have been other vintages that were more consistently excellent across all appellations and Chateaux. 2009 did produce some very, very special, even brilliant wines, perhaps more so than any “vintage of a lifetime”. However 2009 required work, both in the vineyard and in the winery. Winemakers were dealing with some off the charts measurements that required expert skill to manage. The bottom line in ’09 is if you didn’t have a skilled winemaking team and if you didn’t invest in your vineyards, you were likely left with an unbalanced mess.

But those that got it right in 2009 got it very right. In fact, some made wines unlike anything we, and many other wine professionals we have spoken to, have ever tasted. Some wines transcended their humble appellations and some even hit it out of the park. The truly brilliant wines show a perfect balance between tannin, fruit, oak, alcohol and acidity. They are rich and round, fresh and powerful, with the mineral notes and structure that defines Bordeaux terroir.

There has also been a lot of talk about how great the First Growths are in 2009 and how expensive they may turn out to be. Of course, we will offer the wines for sale. But truth be told, we don’t find 2009 to be a ‘First Growth year’. If you want the wines that will knock your socks off, you will find them at the lower levels, from the super seconds to the values from Cotes de Castillon and Fronsac. Wines from St. Estephe, St. Julien and Margaux are some appellations in particular to keep your eyes on. (Some appellations, like Pomerol, we feel made better wines in 2008). The professional critics will ultimately provide you with the final quality evaluation, but we will be there to help guide your decision making with informed, first-hand knowledge. Stay tuned for a full list of our tasting notes and opinions on hundreds of specific wines.

Our futures campaign begins today and we’ll continue to send you offers for the most noteworthy wines as they are released over the next couple of months. For starters, take a look at the wines below which are among the first 2009s released. It’s refreshing to find 90-95 point reds from proven appellations that can still be had for under $25. Enjoy!

-Shaun Bishop, JJ Buckley Proprietor and Buyer

Read about our adventures in Bordeaux on our BDX09 blog!

FRANCE – BORDEAUX

Pre-Arrival: ETA 2012

2009 Chateau La Tour De Bessan (Margaux) – $19.99

The Wine Spectator, April 2010, 91-94 points: “Blueberry and floral aromas follow through to a full body, with superfine tannins and a long, flavorful finish. But very refined and subtle. Love the texture.”

Decanter Magazine, April 2010, 3 Stars: “Purple red, fine smoky cassis nose, almost a feminine touch, very good Margaux. Drink 2013-18.”

2009 Chateau Côte Montpezat Cuvée Compostelle (Côtes de Castillon) – $14.99

The Wine Spectator, April 2010, 91-94 points: “Beautiful nose of crushed blueberries and raspberries. Full-bodied, with soft and velvety tannins and lots of pretty fruit.”

Decanter Magazine, April 2010, 3 Stars: “Round and supple with a little more fruit intensity than previous years. Drink 2012-2016.”

JJ Buckley Fine Wines, April 2010: “The nose is very attractive with nice complexity and layers of aromas with nicely integrated oak scents underneath. The palate mirrors what the bouquet offers up showing some juicy oak and very fine tannins. This is a very complete, harmonious wine at this point and quite hard to resist. Another great wine from Stephane Derenoncourt who was in top form with his 2009s.” -Chuck Hayward

2009 Chateau Gigault Cuvée Viva (Côtes de Blaye) – $17.99

The Wine Spectator, April 2010, 90-93: “Grapey, with lots of mineral and floral aromas that follow through to a full body, with well-integrated tannins and a juicy, fruity finish. Love the raspberries. Excellent as usual.”

2009 Mauvais Garçon (Bad Boy) by Thunevin (Bordeaux) – $15.99

The Wine Spectator, March 2010, 90-93 points: “Intense coffee bean, toasted bread and concentrated ripe fruit. Full-bodied, with soft and velvety tannins and a medium finish. A juicy wine in a flashy style. This is now called Mauvais Garçon, which means “bad boy” in French.”

2009 Laroche de Beaulieu Aster (Côtes de Castillon) – $17.99

The Wine Spectator, April 2010, 91-94 points: “A blockbuster wine for this appellation, with masses of fruit and velvety tannins, toasty oak and chocolate. 75 percent Merlot, 25 percent Cabernet Franc and 5 percent Cabernet Sauvignon.”

2009 Chateau Domeyne (St. Estephe) – $21.99

The Wine Spectator, April 2010, 91-94 points “Full-bodied, with plenty of ripe fruit, toasted oak and spices. Long and caressing. A relatively new estate to watch.”

Saving the best for last— My final, final at Chateau d’Yquem

Saving the best for last— My final, final at Chateau d’Yquem

Post by John Perry | Friday, April 2nd

Last day in Bordeaux. Gotta go out with a bang, and boy did I ever. Just like capping off a terrific meal, my trip ended on a high note at none other than Chateau d’Yquem. And the best part? I didn’t know I was going until the boss handed me the car keys.

The day started off with a light breakfast and catching up on work at the hotel.  It was one of the few off periods for me, and I spent the morning

Chateau d'Yquem

banging out blog entries, tasting notes, placing orders and catching up on emails. Truly fascinating stuff. Most of the JJB crew was off doing some morning tasting and I knew that my options when they got back would be a) more computer work or b) more negociant tastings. You can imagine my surprise when I went downstairs to chat up the boss and found out that I was going to d’Yquem! Not only going, but Shaun says, “you’re driving”. Score! The best sweet wine in the world and I get to speed all over Bordeaux. (Honestly, I don’t know what it is about Europe that turns our crew into Formula One wannabes.)

The d’Yquem property is set on top of the highest hill in the general vicinity. With scenic views of everything around, it was the perfect prelude to our tasting.  Unlike most of our visits where there are multiple wines on offer, at d’Yquem there’s only one. We drove over an hour for one wine— and it was totally worth it, seriously everything that it’s cracked up to be.

Tasting at d'Yquem, the glass is always half full, even when it's not!

Our host explained how the 2009 growing season was ideal— great for maturity of the grapes and great once the botrytis set in.  Often it’s good for one or the other— either it’s an easy growing period, but then botrytis devlopment is difficult, or else it’s a challenging year for ripening, but the botrytis is wonderful. The 2009 vintage was a perfect combination of both and really shows in the wine. Furthermore, we were told that this vintage was their largest production since 1893 (!) as well as having the highest level of residual sugar (the highest previous level was 2001).

A blend of 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc (the usual cepage for d’Yquem), which will spend 30 months aging in 100% new oak, the wine was terrific. Fabulously concentrated with notes of pineapple and apricot, opulent but extremely focused, precise and fresh, balanced by acidity and displaying excellent length. Really outstanding, and it left all the other sweet wines we had tasted on our trip in the dust.

Little did I know that we would be enjoying twenty-plus wines at dinner and I would keep the party going at a discotheque until the wee hours of the morning. But for all intents and purposes the tasting at d’Yquem was the end of our hectic trip to Bordeaux and I couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate finale.

Accidental tourists: Lunch at Troplong Mondot

Accidental tourists: Lunch at Troplong Mondot

Post by Chuck Hayward | Friday, April 2nd

When traveling to a wine region, keeping to schedule is important in order to maximize your time on the ground. But a certain flexibility is required as you never know what accidents might occur or what special opportunities may present themselves.

Sometimes this is nearly the same thing.

So it was during a late night soiree hosted by Stephane Derenoncourt that we found ourselves invited to lunch the following day at the famed

At Troplong Mondot with Xavier Pariente

Chateau Troplong Mondot. What to do? We had a totally packed schedule, but hell, we were going to be in in the neighborhood that morning at Ausone…certainly we could find an hour to squeeze in lunch! Good thing too, as our hostess Christine Valette wasn’t going to take no for an answer.  So after leaving the caves at Ausone, we sped off to the beautiful town of St. Emilion to procure a flower arrangement for our hostess and then on to lunch at the Chateau.

A visit to Troplong Mondot is a special thing. Consistently among the best of their appellation, this was validated in 2006 when Troplong was elevated to Premier Grand Cru Classe. And it’s easy to see why as we walked about the hill of Mondot in blustery weather. With a commanding view of the village and the vineyards below, the estate has numerous terroirs with which to pick and choose the best parcels.

I could see why Shaun could not say no to our visit as we met Christine and her daughter Margaux, our guide about the property. Just returning from an extensive stay in Africa to help at the winery, Margaux explained that she is the oldest of Christine’s five (FIVE??) daughters which caused a collective gasp amongst our party. I managed to refrain from asking if a merger could be had with myself and my four brothers! We later met Christine’s husband, Xavier Pariente and as we stood before this calm, collected gentleman, someone asked how did he do it (raise five daughters, that is).

“I am god,” he replied.

Lunch was fantastic. Informal and relaxed, an assortment of workers and visitors sat at long picnic tables covered with checkerboard tablecloths. A buffet of salads, plats du foie gras, and lentils followed by cheeses and much bread gave us needed nourishment. We had a chance to try an assortment of older vintages highlighted by a double magnum of the 1992, a perfectly poised wine with a palate of youthful fruit yet beginning to reveal the secondary characteristics of earth and truffles. A bit of sauternes from an estate owned by friends and we were off!!

We had to stay on schedule after all.

A “Novice” in Bordeaux

A “Novice” in Bordeaux

Post by Chuck Hayward | Friday, April 2nd

Working in the wine business has many benefits, not the least of which is the opportunity to travel. In my two-plus decades in the industry, I’ve had the pleasure and fortune to visit many of the world’s great wine regions, to taste the wines, meet the winemakers and sample the local cuisine. As wine is inextricably tied to the course of human history, visiting such places has allowed me insight into the culture, politics, economics and spirit of these areas that few outside the industry will ever know. What is incredible to me now, after having been here for nearly a week, is that during these many years I’ve never been to Bordeaux.

The wine industry has roots in many places— the hills of the Douro Valley,

Taking notes at Tertre Roteboeuf

the steep slopes of the Mosel, the caves of Champagne. But it all pales in comparison to the history and traditions that populate Bordeaux. Without the agricultural traditions and social forces that developed here, there may not have been a modern wine industry at all.

It’s exciting to see an area like Bordeaux for the very first time, but with the palate of an industry “old-timer”. This visit has made me feel new all over again as I swivel my head to and fro to take in each and every vista of hillside vines and wineries hidden behind groves of trees— places whose wines I have tasted many times, but have never visited. For me it has been an incredible freshman immersion, tasting and re-tasting for understanding, but with the palate I’ve gained from years of experience instead of the innocence of my first days in the business.

There are a few things that I can take back with me about my first visit here. For one, it is a big business with an arm that reaches clear around the globe. There are few wine regions that command the attention of the entire world— Bordeaux is one of them. I have met industry representatives from many countries in these past days, some buying, others selling, while even more are here to learn or are working to support our tasks.

Second, I’ve quickly learned that Bordeaux is a complex and diverse area. This is most readily identified in its grossest geographic form— the difference between the left and right banks of the Gironde. The right bank regions of Pomerol and St. Emilion, home to merlot based wines, are populated with small estates on gently rolling hills. You get an impression of artisanal winemakers crafting tiny amounts of fine wine in small cellars filled with the few barrels they can maintain by themselves. The left bank is populated by larger wineries reigning over large estate vineyards. The vineyard landscape is flat and covered with grayish-white pebbles as far as the eye can see. Here, the chais are large, cathedral-like rooms that ask us to kneel to the majesty of cabernet.

Finally, as we taste the newly finished wines we are able to really distinguish the difference between the two basic regions on the palate. The merlot is ripe and round and many of the young wines are so fruity and succulent they could be drunk right away. The left bank wineries are making enticing wines as well, and you quickly see the power of cabernet as the wines here are more structured and robust.

I am excited to have discovered a whole new palette (and palate!) of scents and flavors. And I’ve caught myself grinning, eager to try samples again and again as I did when I was first learning about wine. It was easy to ignore Bordeaux for many years as I chose to specialize in other wine regions. Perhaps what has impressed me the most is how Bordeaux has brought me back to my first days in the business. That power is hard to resist, and I can see now why it has been so successful over the centuries. Bordeaux is not back, it has always been here.

Foreign relations, Peugeot-sized prime rib and dirty jokes: Dinner at Ducru

Foreign relations, Peugeot-sized prime rib and dirty jokes: Dinner at Ducru

Post by Chris Caughman | Wednesday, March 31st

I’ve always been a big guy and a pretty good athlete, if I might say so myself. When I was a kid, you definitely would have picked me first for touch football at recess. Unfortunately, as I found out at dinner Wednesday evening, the Bordelais don’t play touch football.

This is all I could think about as dinner guests were singled-out and placed strategically around a lavish table set for 16 in the dining room at Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou. Here’s how it went down:

Proprietor Bruno Borie picks JJ Buckley founder Shaun Bishop first out of all

Ch. Ducru Beaucaillou

the guests assembled (go JJB, woot!), followed by a wealthy Chinese gentleman speaking neither French nor English. (Yeah, ok. I saw the prominently displayed Chinese flag flying in first position outside the chateau. He is more important than moi. Oui, je comprends.) M. Borie then selects the next ten guests for seating. Eventually it comes down to me, and Team JJB members John Sweeney and Alex Shaw. I’m now thinking we just got picked last for recess touch football— Bordeaux style.

With a bruised ego, I took my seat at one corner of the table smack amiddle three young Chinese ladies, all speaking Mandarin. Bringing all my big American hospitality and manners to bear, I turn to my left and introduce myself.

“Hi, I’m Chris.”
Lovely Chinese lady Number One replies, in perfect English, “Oh, I don’t speak English.” (Giggle, giggle).
Ok, let’s try the right. “Hi, I’m Chris.”
Lovely Chinese lady Number Two replies, “Oh, I don’t speak English…,” (giggle, giggle, giggle) “…just kidding, Chris!”

Well played, Fen Zhu. You got me.

It turns out Fen works as Export Manager to Asian markets for a Bordeaux negociant. These days you’d be hard pressed to find a negociant without a Chinese employee in a similar position. Since she started her job three years ago, she’s seen Asian interest in fine Bordeaux wine expand outside of Hong Kong to Beijing, Shanghai and now beyond. The next step, she thinks, is a more educated Asian buyer. Instead of the Lafite-Or-Bust mentality, there will be buying decisions based on critical acclaim, flavor profiles and personal preference, not simply on luxury brand recognition. Something tells me Lafite will still do ok, though.

As we are making conversation, out of the corner of my eye I notice a small French automobile has driven into the room. Wait…no, that’s my main course! This prime rib roast was seriously the largest piece of meat I’ve ever seen- and I’ve seen some big meat. It was also seriously delicious served with potatoes au gratin, which seems to be a staple of the Bordelais diet. Chewing away happily, I almost choked and spit out my 2000 Ducru, when M. Borie dropped an incredibly inappropriate and awesomely funny joke. I’d repeat it, but really it’s a little too R-rated for a blog that my Mom will probably read.