2009 Bordeaux tasting notes in bottle, Part 4: St. Julien and Pauillac

With 2009 Bordeaux having arrived in many stores now, and the Union des Grands Crus  tastings for 2010 about to start around the U.S., it’s a good time to revisit my notes from the UGC tasting of 2009s.  Today’s post focuses on what I felt were the two strongest appellations of the 2009 tastings – St. Julien and Pauillac.  Pauillac is often considered the grandaddy of them all, with its powerful, structured, regal wines like Lafite, Latour, the Pichons, etc.  But St. Julien may well have had the strongest showing across the board at the UGC tastings of 2009s – with most wines showing as open and lovely, with ripe, appealing fruit.  True to reputation, though, I believe the Pauillacs will age best among 2009s, not only because of their structured, tannic profile, but also because the producers of Pauillac seemed to do a great job of controlling the considerable ripeness of the 2009 vintage, imbuing the wines with a nice, lively plum-like acidity that should serve as a wonderful backbone for the wines to age on.  The prices for the 2009s are high – be prepared – but for the dollars spent, there are some legendary wines to be had, like the Pichon Lalande and the Leoville Barton.  I’ll be back with more on Bordeaux again soon, after next week’s tastings of the 2010s – it will be interesting to debate for many years as to which of these two exceptional vintages is the better one.  In the meanwhile, here are my notes on the 2009 St. Juliens and Pauillacs:

St. Julien

  • 2009 Château Léoville Barton – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien (1/25/2012)Has a very nice nose – great balance between ripe fruit and mineral and classic varietal character. On the palate, a little more tannic than a lot of the wines tasted today, but clearly has the fruit to back it up. Doesn’t rely on oak for the spice; not showing a lot of minerality now, but I predict it will come out in time. One of the best wines here today. 94-96. (95 points)
  • 2009 Château Gruaud Larose – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien (1/25/2012)Has a prettiness, a refined floral quality, a touch of green pepper and some slatey minerality as well. Showing good ripeness with leafy underpinnings, this has all the earmarks of a classic Gruaud Larose in the making, and in the long run, will stand up to pretty much any wine in the vintage in my opinion. 93-95 (94 points)
  • 2009 Château Langoa Barton – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien (1/25/2012)Lots of sweet fruit on the nose – very appealing. Ripe, rounded – shows the vintage. Some mineral as well; very comparable to the Lagrange in a slightly riper style. 93-95 (94 points)
  • 2009 Château Léoville Poyferré – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien (1/25/2012)Nose very similar to the Leoville Barton in its balance between sweet fruit and rocky minerality. One the palate, the fruit is not quite as engaging as in the Barton, but slightly more plummy acidity makes this a great choice for anyone wanting a little less sweetness to the fruit. Very, very good. 94-95 (94 points)
  • 2009 Château Saint-Pierre – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien (1/25/2012)The 2009 St. Pierre is very pretty, with perfumed fruit and a touch of mineral – a slightly fuller feeling nose than some of the other St. Juliens. Nice stoniness on the palate, with slightly plummy acidity. Almost tastes more like some of the Pauillacs from this tasting, in its combination of fresh acidity and controlled ripeness. 93-94+. A great under-the-radar choice that has pleased me in prior vintages. (94 points)
  • 2009 Château Branaire (Duluc-Ducru) – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien (1/25/2012)On the nose, slightly riper and more appealing than the Beychevelle, with more quality to the fruit. Peppery on the palate, with the ripeness of 2009 showing well. 92-93+ (93 points)
  • 2009 Château Lagrange (St. Julien) – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien (1/25/2012)Nose a bit more refined than Beychevelle or Branaire. Really quite good on the palate – minerality makes this a nice cheaper alternative to Gruaud Larose? 93-94 (93 points)
  • 2009 Château Talbot – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien (1/25/2012)As in many years, the 2009 Talbot feels like a good, lower-cost alternative to Gruaud Larose – stony with good fruit. 92-93+ (93 points)
  • 2009 Château Beychevelle – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien (1/25/2012)Has a touch of a certain sweetness to the fruit, very typical of Beychevelle. Cherry licorice flavors, like many of the Left Bank wines today. Smooth, middle of the road, solid with the character of the vintage, but nothing to particularly distinguish this from the other wines tasted today. 92-93 (92 points)
  • 2009 Château Gloria – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien (1/25/2012)A lot of coffee on the nose, relying a bit on the oak here, but ripe fruits, very appealing wine, given the price level, this is fine. On the palate, decent concentration, middle-of-the road ripeness for the vintage, with some dark notes to anchor the wine. Good for what it is. 92-93 (92 points)


  • 2009 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac (1/25/2012)Nice stone/crushed rock aromas on the nose here; excellent balance with very pleasing, fullish fruit here, without going over the top. With a sweet perfumey note as well, there’s an excellent balance between fruit, acidity, minerality – really good stuff. 94-96. Right up there with the Leoville Barton. Great Bordeaux typicity. Factoring in price, this is one to look for in this great vintage. (95 points)
  • 2009 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac (1/25/2012)The opposite of Pichon Baron right now, in terms of how each is showing on this day. Pretty, refined, among the best wines of the day already, just on the nose. Has a sweetness to the perfumed fruit, which is of incredibly high quality (perhaps only the Pape Clement had fruit of similar quality in this tasting). Nice plummy acidity underpins the fruit here, boding well for aging. Not a power wine at all – finesse through and through. The pretty, perfumed fruit and superlative fruit pushes this to the top of the pack. Might even be hard to identify as a 2009 – it’s so not playing the ripeness game here. 94-96, at least. (95 points)
  • 2009 Château Lynch-Bages – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac (1/25/2012)Has considerably more heft than the Pichon Lalande tasted just before it. Notes of exotic Asian spice and mossy earth show on the nose. Classic Pauillac with real power to it, but characterized more by floral beauty than spicy power like some other wines today. Plummy tart acidity here, like many of the Pauillacs today, which seem to have controlled the ripeness of the vintage very well. Excellent wine. 93-95. (94 points)
  • 2009 Château Clerc Milon – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac (1/25/2012)After slipping in the 2008 UGC tasting, the 2009 Clerc Milon rounds back into form to beat out stablemate Chateau d’Armailhac – a little fuller, slightly higher quality fruit here with a touch of damp earth. Palate doesn’t quite live up to the perfumey nose, but still a good claret. I might still prefer the 2005. Has a slightly tart acidity like some of the other Pauillacs today. 92-93 (92 points)
  • 2009 Château d’Armailhac – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac (1/25/2012)Has fairly full, slightly pruney fruit, with a touch of perfume on the nose. Palate is also quite full for Armailhac, smooth, fairly round. Will be a good Pauillac; not much mineral showing now, but you can see a touch of leafy green, and some stone and graphite. My favorite Armailhac of recent years, better even than the 2005, for my palate. (92 points)
  • 2009 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron – France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac (1/25/2012)First taste doesn’t do much for me – smooth but not refined in feel, with surprisingly plummy acidity for the vintage. Not much power or ripeness considering the vintage. 90-91?  Second taste from different bottle: better, with some lead pencil character, fairly tannic with again, the plummy acidity. Perhaps given the character of the vintage, I was expecting something powerful and opulent like the 1990 Baron, but this is surprisingly middle-of-the-road in feel to me. Still, undoubtedly better than the first sample, 92ish and I’m willing to give upside up to 93+ on this one based on track record and the structure showing here. (92 points)



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