We just saw this posted on the Decanter website, and look forward to reading the whole piece. The Moueix family have been great supporters of all of Bordeaux, and been increasingly concerned for the region as a whole.
James Molesworth of the Wine Spectator is in Bordeaux tasting the 2008 and 2009 vintages, and spent a day in Pomerol with the master of the region, Christian Moueix, and his son Edouard. In a wide-ranging interview, there are great mentions of Château Providence and Château La Fleur-Pétrus, along with a superb video of Christian Moueix at Château Providence explaining how he prunes his vines.
The tour continued at Providence, back in Pomerol, where the small, efficient cellar has both cement and stainless steels vats.
“I love the cement vats for their temperature inertia,” said Moueix. “I am a bit old school. But they are large so it’s hard to do smaller parcel selections in them, and we are going more and more that way as we look for precision. The stainless steel tanks give us that flexibility.”
Precision is now the buzzword around Bordeaux. It’s what all the vignerons say they are striving for in their wine, the way Rhône vignerons talk of minerality for example. In Bordeaux, it’s popular to tout the latest technological toy—an optical sorter for example—as the châteaus try to leapfrog each other in pursuit of the precision.
“I am looking for precision,” said Moueix, when I press him on the issue. At what point does human control of the winemaking process become too much? Can you eliminate complexity by searching for an unattainable goal of perfect precision?
“It’s true, we have become maniacs with selection. I agree at some point it could be too much. This is a question we have to ask ourselves,” said Christian, before turning to Edouard.
“You’re right,” said Edouard. “There is the old school and then there is technology. They can work together if you ask yourself first, before you try something new, ‘Who am I?’. If you can answer yourself that question, then you can move forward.”
Molesworth singles out the Providence 2009 as one of Moueix’s top-flight wines, along with the 2009 La Fleur-Pétrus, both VINTUS US exclusives.
Château Providence 2009
“The Providence Pomerol 2009 is super lush, but refined at the same time, with raspberry, cherry compote and red licorice. It stays pure and driven and has latent power but this is about finesse, even in a grippy vintage like ’09.”
Château Lafleur-Pétrus 2009
“The Château La Fleur-Pétrus Pomerol 2009 (Merlot with 10 percent Cabernet Franc) is very tight today and showing its wood too, with a briar note on the edges of the dark raspberry, blackberry and cherry compote notes. It has a long, spice- and tobacco-filled finish and is showing lots of range and plenty of grip too.”
“Rarely has a young Bordeaux vintage been so much fun to taste as 2009.” So says Ian D’Agata, Stephen Tanzer’s man in Bordeaux and the director of the International Wine Academy of Rome, in the latest International Wine Cellar.
“If anything, the best wines of 2009 have a vaguely Burgundian quality to them, as difficult as that may be for the Bordelais to stomach! In my experience, this Burgundy quality is only to be found in great vintages. While it’s not too difficult to get powerful, balanced wines from cabernet and merlot in good vintages, it is a much rarer thing to unite the brute force those varieties are capable of achieving with the dainty, almost ethereal aromatics and gentle tannic architecture of 2009. And the best Bordeaux of 2009 are indeed wines of uncommon power, charm and perfume.”
“The best vintage of my lifetime.” That’s how Decanter’s Steven Spurrier describes the 2009 vintage in Bordeaux. Spurrier and colleagues James Lawther, MW, and Michel Bettane, have high praise across all appellations. Most astounding is a perfect score, 20 out of 20 points, awarded to Château Margaux, the highest rated wine of the vintage! Full reviews are below, and you can track Decanter’s coverage here.
Château Pétrus 2009, Pomerol
“A powerful tannic frame provides the structure, length and classicism of a grand Bordeaux but there’s also a modern purity and freshness of fruit. Winemaker Olivier Berrouet harvested slightly later, at the beginning of October, to guarantee maturity. Dense, complex and profound.” 19/20 Decanter
Château La Fleur-Pétrus 2009, Pomerol
“Fine, fragrant. Seduces by its elegance. Silky, smooth tannins provide length and persistence. Ripe and warm but balanced.” 17.5/20 Decanter
Château Margaux 2009. Margaux
“Fine black red, quite magical bouquet, pure quality of cashmere silkiness on the palate with a touch of fragrance from Cabernet Franc, blending softness of attack with pure density. A wine of stunning fragrance and purity, the most perfect expression imaginable of the greatest of Margaux vineyards.” 20/20 Decanter
Pavillion Rouge 2009, Margaux
“Fine deep colour, great purity of Cabernet on the nose, a really beautiful wine, pure Margaux, perfect balance and unexpected length.” 18/20 Decanter
Pavillon Blanc 2009, Margaux
“Lemon pale, fresh and floral, much lighter in alcohol than in recent years and what it has lost in richness it has gained in minerality, both floral and steely and will age well.” 18/20 Decanter
Chateau Cos d’Estournel 2009, Saint-Estèphe
“Superb black red, very full and spicy, very broadly structured, really quite massive and will take years to pick up finesse, a ‘baroque’ almost Porty wine, explosively rich and definitely impressive if not a typical Saint-Estèphe.” 18.5/20 Decanter
“2009 may turn out to be the finest vintage I have tasted in 32 years of covering Bordeaux.” That’s quite a statement coming from Robert Parker, but it solidifies the general consensus that is brewing among the wine press and trade. The 2009 Bordeaux vintage was one of the greatest on record, and gave many properties their best wines ever (these wines are denoted with an asterisk, “*”). Among the standouts were, of course, Châteaux Pétrus, Margaux, and Cos d’Estournel, but also Château La Fleur-Pétrus, a VINTUS exclusive, “a mind-boggling effort.” Full reviews are below the jump.
Tim Atkin, MW, has posted his take on the 2009 vintage, with Château Margaux, Pétrus, and La Fleur-Pétrus coming in for particular praise. And, in “the year of the second wine,” Pavillon Rouge and Pavillon Blanc are standouts. Tim’s full report is here.
Château Pétrus 2009, Pomerol
“Rain in the middle of September was the key to the success of the 2009 Pétrus, according to Jean-Claude Berrouet, enabling the Château to avoid water stress in the vineyard. The resulting wine is delicious, showing great finesse, though not quite as good as 2005. The oak is quite prominent at the moment, but this will age well, thanks to its acidity and underlying structure.” 97 Tim Atkin, MW
Château La Fleur-Pétrus 2009, Pomerol
“One of a number of very good to outstanding wines chez JP Moueix in 2009, this is a very impressive La Fleur. Deeply coloured, aromatic and slightly spicy, with great texture, integrated tannins, fresh acidity and considerable length. A wine that gets better and better in the glass and doesn’t rely on over-extraction or alcohol for effect.” 96 Tim Atkin, MW
Château Margaux 2009. Margaux
“Paul Pontallier calls this one of the “densest wines, but also the sweetest” he has ever made. Very aromatic and alluring, this has cherry and redcurrant fruit, a touch of bramble, well-integrated oak, assertive tannins and lively, refreshing, palate- cleansing acidity.” 98 Tim Atkin, MW
Pavillion Rouge 2009, Margaux
“Paul Pontallier is considering the possibility of a third wine in 2009, such (in his view) is the quality of his second wine, Pavillon Rouge. This has a delightful elegance to it: silky and fresh, with red and black fruits intermingled on the palate and grainy tannins. The 60% new barrels are a little too prominent at the moment, but should fade into the background with time.” 93 Tim Atkin, MW
Pavillon Blanc 2009, Margaux
“This pure, barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc is one of the great dry whites of the vintage. It may be a varietal wine on paper, but it transcends its grape to produce something that is all its own: creamy, aniseedy and lightly toasty, with lovely “leesy” fatness and a grapefruity tang.” 93 Tim Atkin, MW
The Moueix wines stood out for their incredible elegance and balance. On the right bank, as some have commented, there were some real monsters (in St. Emilion especially) and there were some Pomerols that seemed a bit disjointed, but the whole range of Moueix wines were absolutely some of the very best 2009s we tasted, really extraordinary. Christian Moueix has been saying for some time that he feels 2009 is an exceptional vintage, and characterized it to us as somewhere between 1982 and 1990. His 2009s are magnificent. The following are a few of the wines we tasted either produced by Christian Moueix or exclusively represented by his firm, Jean-Pierre Moueix.
Three days into the tasting, and after tasting a lot of wines on the right bank, we finally got to taste our right-bank babies. Wow. Château La Fleur-Pétrus 2009 is truly something special. There is so much going on in the nose, beautiful red fruits and spices, totally complete throughout the palate but a sense that the wine creeps up and starts building and building, and stays so long through the palate. Every year we fall in love with this wine all over again becaussine of its character – so elegant, almost Burgundian in some years; not about power but about nuance, beautiful structure and length. This 2009 is getting universally great press and for good reason.
Terroir has real meaning in Christian Moueix’ Bordeaux. The restoration of Château Providence (acquired in 2005) and construction of its cellar was painstakingly carried out for just a 10 acre vineyard, and a minute production of 1,250 cases a year. Starting with the inaugural 2005 vintage, the first after Christian Moueix purchased the property, Providence has become one of the most exciting properties in all of Bordeaux. The vineyard is picture-perfect, and had always been well-managed even before Christian Moueix purchased it. The changes Christian made were, as in all his vineyards, the elimination of herbicides and chemicals, and a specific system of single guyot pruning that best allows easy circulation of sap within the vine. There is no formula for pruning, each vine is pruned differently, treated as an individual. At harvest time, there are an extraordinary 300 pickers covering the Moueix vineyard patches that ultimately total only around 200 acres. That is the definition of making wine in the vineyard, and not in the winery.
As since its first release, Providence has a darker fruit profile and is more powerful than La Fleur-Pétrus. It’s a power that is apparent right away and stays right on through the long, long finish. An extremely impressive wine, and utterly fascinating in how different it is from La Fleur-Pétrus, just down the road; come to think of it, Providence is perhaps more like Pétrus in character than La Fleur-Pétrus.
This property is an absolute joy for us to represent. Just below you can see Luc d’Arfeuille, whose family has owned the property for 100 years. He and his wife are just wonderful people, with huge hearts, and their wine is one of the undiscovered treasures of the right bank. Their 17 acre vineyard is at the very top of St. Emilion, just outside the village, running onto southern slopes; “La Serre” means greenhouse, and references the fact that the vineyards see sun all day long. The vines sit on shallow clay soils above limestone – the road dividing two major vineyard parcels on Château La Serre is in fact blocked off, since there is an old limestone quarry below the vineyard and it’s dangerous for cars to drive over it.
La Serre’s neighbors include Pavie Macquin, Ausone, Trottevielle, and some vineyards used for Valandraud. La Serre is in other words in an incredible location, and is noteworthy for several reasons: the grapes achieve fantastic ripeness and as a result they see no need to green harvest and increase concentration; consequently the style is one of elegance over weight. Secondly, the wine offers tremendous quality for the money, it is one of the absolute little gems of Saint-Emilion.
The 2009 is just so pretty. Lovely red fruit and freshness, powerful and persistent. I also had a bottle of 2004 over the weekend in honor of this wonderful couple, and it was spot-on. La Serre is among the most serious QPR we’ve found on the right bank. It is getting very strong initial press for the 2009 vintage, as well.
This is the second wine of Château Gazin, which as a property has been reclaiming its position as one of the top sites in Pomerol. Beautifully fresh, balanced – a pleasure to drink. Many of the 2009s across Bordeaux had tannins that, because they achieved such high levels of ripeness, were another universe from the barrel samples we are used to; as a number of people have pointed out, you could drink the wines. With Pomerol, however, we found that our favorite wines, including the entire range Christian Moueix represents, had tannins that gave the wine structure, and was not just part of mass of “a lot of everything” – i.e. fruit and alcohol. This style of wine we found had more freshness, balance and complexity. Certainly the case here, and none the less drinkable.
We’re back! Many things happening, including an update of our website, but we digress…this email is about Bordeaux 2009. The first wines are being released, and we thought it would be a good time to send out a few thoughts on the vintage.
Many of you have heard the hum building around the 2009 vintage, but a lot of variables are still to fall in place – namely, pricing for the classified growths and the thoughts of Robert Parker. Plenty of press and trade have made their pronouncements; we’ll try and stick to some nice stories and pictures, with softly worded opinions.
Many people are saying something along the lines of, “while there are exceptional wines, they are not as consistent as 2005”; “some wines were too big”; etc. Objectively, 2009 is a vintage marked by record or near-record levels of concentration, tannin and alcohol. As stated previously, we’re not going to make overly authoritative statements, and have no desire to contribute in encouraging higher prices in a still very difficult environment. After two weeks at home, however, and looking back at our notes, we think there are so many spectacular wines among the top hundred properties. It will be hard not to view 2009 as a great vintage. We’re happy at this point in time to lay out the same “ifs” and “buts” as everyone else, but the fruit in these wines is so pure, powerful, complex and long, it’s astounding. And as everyone has been saying, the producers that made wines of freshness and balance made truly extraordinary wines. That’s our generalization, take it as you will.
It may come as a surprise to some, but among the very first producers to commit to VINTUS back in 2004 were Christian Moueix, Chateau Margaux and Chateau Cos d’Estournel, and we have been heavily involved in Bordeaux with every vintage campaign since 2003. Michael has spent a quarter century visiting Bordeaux, returning at least once a year for en-primeur and various other occasions. We are the exclusive US importer for two of Christian Moueix’ jewels, Chateau La Fleur-Pétrus and Chateau Providence, and work with any number of classified growths as well as properties that offer great value. In a great vintage, we’ll purchase on futures up to 100 of the properties we feel most confident about in terms of quality and trade and consumer interest.
In subsequent posts you’ll see some more specific commentary, as well as photos from our recent trip to Bordeaux.
Wine Entusiast‘s Roger Voss was on the ground in Bordeaux for Primeur Week, and has posted his initial reviews of the vintage. The wines are excellent across the board, he reports, with some châteaux producing their finest efforts ever, at least in the initial tastes. As others have reported, this is a ripe year that has found impeccable balance, with rich flavors and smooth tannins. Says Voss:
Across the region, there are great wines. Comparisons are being made to 2005, 1982 and, even, for those with long-enough memories, to 1947. There are also some references made to records from the 1893 vintage. Although the summer was long and hot, the daytime temperatures never reached the excessive levels of 2003. Nor were summer nights as warm as those in 2003. That means that 2009 wines are balanced, even with all their richness.
Any way you slice it, 2009 was a great year, with many stellar wines. Roger’s reviews are below the jump. Enjoy!
Jancis Robinson, MW, has posted her reviews of the 2009 Bordeaux vintage. Château Margaux came in for the highest score of the vintage, 19+/20, followed closely by Château Pétrus (19), Château La Fleur-Pétrus (17+), and Pavillon Blanc and Rouge (17 each). Full reviews are below the jump.