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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30 March 2010 News

James Suckling of the Wine Spectator is on the ground tasting the 2009 vintage in Bordeaux, and he is deeply impressed with the quality coming out of the Right Bank. Says Suckling,

“That’s what is so impressive with the vintage. Apparently, many of the young wines are the most concentrated ever from their respective wineries, yet the young reds remain fresh and balanced. I keep hearing about the concentration levels of polyphenolic compounds, or tannins, being off the charts. Winemakers say they are 88, or 95, or whatever. It doesn’t mean that much to me. But it does mean that the 2009s, in many cases, are packed with ripe tannins, yet they are balanced and remain fresh.”

2009 is shaping up to be one of the best vintages of the decade, with powerful, concentrated wines that will likely be long-lived. James’ initial reviews below speak for themselves.

Château  Pétrus 2009
“What a nose this has. I close my eyes when I smell this, and I see perfectly ripe Merlot grapes crushed in the vats. Blackberry, mineral, black licorice, coffee bean and chocolate lead to a full body, with round yet firm tannins and beautiful fruit. The luxurious finish offers a cashmere texture and gorgeous fruit. Rich and subtle.97-100 Wine Sepctator

Château Providence 2009
“Offers fabulous aromas of crushed blackberry and blueberry, with lightly roasted coffee bean and black olive. Full-bodied, delivering polished, chewy tannins and a long, juicy finish. Rich and powerful. Blockbuster. Roasted fruit on this. Best ever from here?” 95-98 Wine Sepctator

Château La Serre 2009
“Blueberry, blackberry and mineral aromas follow through to a full body, with fine tannins and a juicy, chocolate finish, turning velvety and beautiful.” 90-93 Wine Sepctator

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.