21 April 2010 News

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

19 April 2010 News

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.

Château La Fleur-Petrus 2009 (VINTUS US Exclusive)

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.

Ch La Fleur-Pétrus as viewed from its famous neighbor, Pétrus

Château Providence 2009 (VINTUS US Exclusive)

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.

A perfect gem, the restored Château Providence

Providence is a tiny vineyard. The barrel room you see actually contains the entire 2009 production of both Providence and Hosanna.

Château La Serre 2009, Saint-Emilion (VINTUS US Exclusive)

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.

Monsieur et Madame d'Arfeuille

La Serre Vineyard Plot right in front of the house

l’Hospitalet de Gazin 2009, Pomerol (VINTUS US Exclusive)

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.

19 April 2010 News

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.

12 April 2010 News

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!

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10 April 2010 News

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.

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2nd April 2010 News

James Suckling is out with more awesome reports on the 2009 Bordeaux. One of the biggest stunners is Château La Fleur-Pétrus, capping a run of extraordinary wines from Christian Moueix.

Château La Fleur-Pétrus 2009
“Licorice, blackberry, coffee bean and blueberry aromas; this gets more complex with every sniff. And what a palate. It’s so polished, soft and cuddly. Like curling up in a big cashmere blanket. Full-bodied, yet balanced and fresh. Lots of tannins. But all in harmony. Hidden giant here.” 95-98 Wine Spectator

26 March 2010 News

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.”

James’ initial reviews are below the jump.

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23 March 2010 News, Videos

Decanter interviews Christian Moueix and covers a whole range of topics, including the entrancing Château La Fleur-Pétrus.  The 1998 vintage showed extremely well at the scene of this interview, the 2009 Decanter Fine Wine Enounter, and Christian Moueix also says the 2001 vintage is drinking very nicely.  Also covered are Christian Moueix’ early thoughts on the 2009 vintage, and some thoughts about how and when wines should be judged.

17 March 2010 News, Videos

This video just came to our attention, a great little interview of Christian Moueix by California retailer JJ Buckley, with his take on the 2007 vintage wines just as they are about to hit our shores. Christian Moueix discusses the difficulties of the vintage, what not to do in this type of vintage, and a little bit of his philosophy. The Moueix wines always display telltale elegance and balance, characteristics that in lesser vintages stand out just as much in great vintages, but for different reasons – namely, the wines are charming and provide pleasure, in contrast to some wines that perhaps strive to be more than their raw materials permit.

8 February 2010 News
Christian Moueix led a spectacular tasting of a number of his right bank properties at the New York Wine Experience this past October, as recounted in the attached pieces: here and here.  The Trotanoy 1995 served included six of the last eight cases remaining at the estate, an incredibly generous gift.  The list of wines served was as follows:
  • Château Providence 2005, Pomerol (a VINTUS US exclusive)
  • Château Belair 2005, Saint Emilion
  • Château Hosanna 2000, Pomerol
  • Château La Fleur-Pétrus 1998, Pomerol (a VINTUS US exclusive)
  • Château Magdelaine 1998, Saint Emilion
  • Château Trotanoy 1995, Pomerol
  • Château La Grave à Pomerol 1990
  • Château Latour à Pomerol 1989