Cos d’Estournel’s 2010 reviews have been stellar. Here’s a summary of some of the major press:
“Representing 55% of the production and cropped at 35 hectoliters per hectare, Cos d’Estournel’s final blend in 2010 is 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot and the rest tiny portions of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Compared to the massive 2009 (14.6% natural alcohol), the 2010 achieved slightly less alcohol, but also a lower pH, which accounts for its more tannic, backward, huge style. An inky/purple color is accompanied by aromas of damp earth, black currants, blackberries, licorice and charcoal. Firm, thick and super-concentrated, it is another outrageously impressive wine that will require 6-10 years of cellaring. It should keep for 30+ years. It is somewhat 2005-ish in its structure and palate impression.”95-97 Robert Parker
This offers a terrific panoply of dark tea, cocoa, savory herb and red currant confiture aromas. Remarkably dense, with loads of strapping dark fruit and tar in reserve. There’s massive structure, yet this is rounded and so, so long. A huge wine in the making. This is going to compete with the elite of the vintage. A truly superb effort. Contains 1 percent Petit Verdot, for first time since 2005.”96-99 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator
“This is a classic Cos, with wonderful layers of ultra-polished tannins and wonderful character of spices, currants and minerals. I love the finish and raciness to this. Lots of pedigree.” 96-97 James Suckling
“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 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.
On the left bank, Cabernet was clearly king, reaching perfect ripeness, with some Merlot getting a bit too ripe for use (or if included, taste). There were many, many great wines across two let’s call them two “categories”; we’ll call the first category “reserved” and the second “full-throttle”. ”Reserved” in this vintage means there is still more fruit and everything else than any vintage we’ve tasted, it’s simply a differentiation from the style of the larger wines.
For us, there were two wines that epitomized this “reserved” style, and had the special character of truly great wines; like Pétrus on the right bank, you immediately knew you were tasting a wine where everything was already together and in harmony, and it was a special moment even in the midst of rushing from property to property. For us, these wines were Margaux and Lafite. Pitch-perfect balance, finishes that went on and on, nose and body changing every time you came back to the glass. Incredible.
There were plenty of other spectacular wines, however, and these included in the “reserved” category:
Rounding out the first-growth wine pornography: Haut-Brion was more tannic than many Medoc wines, and had more structure. It has everything right now and we’re reading that you can mark it down at the level of Lafite and Margaux and don’t doubt it [it's important to realize that evaluating wine six months after the grapes were crushed is a bit crazyy], but everything just seemed to be coming together already for those two wines. Mouton we only tasted once, and while the nose was exotic and expressive, the palate was not giving much; there was a lot there, but it wasn’t budging, and unfortunately we did not taste it a second time.
Montrose: being called one of the wines of the vintage, and we think that’s right. Powerful but it falls in the “reserved” category because it has a lot of structure, feels effortless, has a sense of restraint, and the fruit profile is transparent – earthy, spicy notes, beautiful fruit, it all unfolds more note-by-note than with larger wines.
Grand Puy-Lacoste: one of our favorite wines; this one does not try and burn out or cover up the herbal character of Cabernet, and those notes work so well with the fruit and spice here, and very long. Really showing how the properties that emphasized fresh Cabernet did better. Lacoste-Borie was solid for those looking for value.
Pichon Baron: powerful but structured, fantastic fruit and concentration. We think that this will open up beautifully over time and will be a great Pichon.
Pichon Lalande: wonderfully complex, long and graceful, really stunning.
Léoville-Poyferré: Another one of our favorites from the UGC St. Estpehe/Pauillac/St. Julien tasting (along with Pichon Baron, Pichon Lalande and Lynch Bages), this wine had tremendous complexity and structure, one of our very top St. Juliens.
Lynch Bages: rounding out our top five for the UGC tasting, an unexpected surprise – it wasn’t just good, it was really, really good. Wonderful balance of red and black fruits, spices, earthiness and herbs, nothing sticking out, all working seamlessly, and a long finish.
Léoville Barton: pretty open considering the property, you could almost call it supple up front, then powerful and structured through the mid-palate and to the finish.
Palmer: so much poise, very balanced red fruits that are so fresh, vibrant and well-defined. Fantastic, really precise despite being so powerful. This wine was so impressive while being seductive as well.
Malescot: impeccable balance, beautiful, giving everything it has. Many people argued that one commune or another on the left bank had the best 2009, but at the top level you could find in each commune four or five wines that were truly great. Tasting Château Margaux, Palmer and Malescot back-to-back-to-back left us incredibly impressed.
Many, many more really good wines. We realize that this very brief overview focuses on some of the larger names, and while we’re hoping that this is a full-on campaign with interest at every level, and we do feel there is great value to be had, as we stated at the start it’s our sense that the top wines will drive this campaign.
On the lusher, more powerful end of the spectrum were the following left-bank wines:
Cos d’Estournel: many have pinned it as a wine of controversy due to the incredible concentration and high alcohol level, but we spent a half hour with the wine and will disagree. It is nearly black, and very concentrated and powerful, but unbelievably complex; if you sit with it you can’t stop yourself from coming back again and again. The fruit does not taste over-ripe, and there is no roasted character. Ultimately it is so complex and there is plenty of structure and enough acidity to build on; as we view it, Cos is a monumental wine in 2009, and we feel that ten years down the road its detractors will come around.
Ducru-Beaucaillou: undeniably ripe, but it is so balanced it doesn’t feel weighty. You could almost put this in the “reserved” category given some of the wines we’ve put there, but it has a lushness that places it in the “full-throttle” category. Really silky and sensual, very seductive, clearly one of the top Saint-Juliens, and one of the top wines we tasted, impressive given it was literally the first wine we tasted in Bordeaux. Whether you like tasting in what feels like a night-club is more up for debate!
Pontet Canet: supple, lots of red fruits on the nose, goes all over the palate, very concentrated red fruits. Was more convinced tasting it a second time a few days later, when it showed more freshness. It fills every crevice in your mouth and is tremendously long.
Not only was Château Margaux incredible, but both the Pavillon Rouge and Pavillon Blanc were the best we’ve ever tasted. All the Margaux wines exhibited the same character; they were not about obvious power, you searched for their best qualities at first, got a hint, and then as you came back again and again it dawned on you how great the wines really are – they simply don’t stop changing or growing, and they are the epitome of a phrase we hate to use but will put out there, “iron fist in a velvet glove.”
Tasting with Paul Pontallier and Aurélien Valance; they're looking pleased for good reason
Everything at Cos is epic: the cellars, the tasting room, the library of old vintages…and the 2009 wines.
The army of small, conical fermenters in Cos d'Estournel's new cellars is other-worldly
Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion
All four reds and three whites from these properties were tremendous. It was one of the more impressive sittings we attended.
Unquestionably the best gift bag
The Sauternes (and whites for that matter) in 2009 are superb. With the heat there was a lot of concentration, and in comparing 2007 many said that to have a truly great vintage in Sauternes you need the heat of a 2009. 2009 is also the vintage for sale, so you can take it with a grain of salt, but the wines had a lot of power and balance.
We spent a fascinating hour at Château Suduiraut on a rainy afternoon. While Sauternes is the Rodney Dangerfield of Bordeaux, the more you understand the wines the more you pull for the wines, and hope that in a vintage where the reds will get a lot of attention there will be some looks at the sweet wines.
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!
We’re gearing up for the en primeur campaign for 2009 Bordeaux next month, and the initial reviews coming out are extremely promising. James Suckling of the Wine Spectator is on the ground in Bordeaux, and has the first look at some of the region’s top wines. On the Right Bank:
Some châteaus obviously got it completely right. Among them today were the 2009 wines of Cheval-Blanc, Pétrus, Ausone, and La Fleur-Pétrus, among others. And many others got it very, very close to right. I tasted a lot of excellent wines today.
And on the Left Bank:
The 2009 Cos-d’Estournel was mind-blowing, with masses of unctuous fruit, big and powerful fruit-coated tannins, and a fresh finish. I thought of Harlan or Colgin when I first put my nose in the glass, but then it was full-throttle Bordeaux on the palate, with powerful yet polished tannins and a long, long, balanced finish. This was obviously the fruit-forward school.
Château Margaux, on the other hand, featured more of the reserved, classic claret approach. It was quiet and held back on the nose and palate at first, with crystal-clear fruit and perfumes, but as I tasted the wine, it grew in my mouth, with layers of ultrafine tannins that lasted for minutes on the finish. “On paper, the 2009 is the most powerful wine that we have ever made, even more so than the 2005,” said Paul Pontailler, the technical director for the first-growth, who was emphasizing how the tannin extract in his 2009 was the highest ever. “At the same time, our 2009 has the mark of our terroir, with so much power, yet it maintains a wonderful softness and balance.”
Though the video is in French, there are some lovely images of the property, and if you do speak French, an interesting few sentences on what defines a modern Bordeaux wine, as well as what these wines need to retain – namely, balance and acidity.
Decanter has a quick interview with Jean-Guillaume Prats, in which he discusses the vineyard work that Château Cos d’Estournel carried out in 2007. The vines needed to be stressed, leaves needed good exposure, and basically a lot of work had to be done in the vineyard to adapt to conditions.