Two of the most successful appellations of 2009 were Pauillac and St Julien. Both regions made wines of great balance with the potential for longevity, yet the generous fruit and soft tannins made them very approachable. As you will see below, many of the estates with great terroir stepped up and hit a home run in 2009.
Pauillac is one of the great wine growing regions in the world, with some of the finest Cabernet based wines to be found anywhere. This is home to first growths Latour, Lafite Rothschild and Mouton Rothschild, which due to their great quality and popularity among collectors, have become among the most expensive wines in the world. Recently, Lafite has become the most coveted first growth in the Asian markets, which has caused this wine to rise in price even beyond that of Latour.
If paying $400.00+ is more than you feel comfortable spending, fear not. There are plenty of wines from this region that you can purchase for a fraction of this price. Although they may not possess quite the splendor or longevity as the first growths, they are certainly great Cabs that can age and show the great style that is Pauillac from Bordeaux. Here is a rundown on the 2009′s I thought tasted particularly promising.
Top wines: Lafite, Latour, Mouton, Pichon Lalande- Lafite was my favorite first growth this year, a beautiful wine with power and grace. Latour is a very masculine wine that will take many years to fully evolve, but even at this early stage showed wonderful fruit. Mouton was somewhere between these two styles, showing its usual flair….it is almost always more flashy than Lafite and Latour. 2009 was a great year for Pichon Lalande, showing a great core of fruit and green olive flavors, but also silky and long. If you like the style of this wine, it could easily move ahead of Mouton in this vintage.
Best of the rest: Pichon Baron, Clerc Milon, Duhart Milon, Grand Puy Lacoste, Batailley, Forts de Latour, Lynch Bages, Carruades de Lafite, Haut Batailley, Haut Bages Liberal. Pichon Baron was an excellent wine, racy and classy, that may end up as one of the top wines in the appellation. Clerc Milon was full bodied and lush, with much in common with Mouton. Duhart Milon had a mouthful of wonderful, bright fruit, and will be an excellent wine as long as the alcohol settles down a bit, which I think it will. My biggest surprise was Batailley, which is always a solid wine, but seems to be something special in this vintage.
For both relative value and quality, St Julien is the sweet spot for many Bordeaux lovers. This appellation sits just south of Pauillac and shares much in the way of terroir as its more prestigious neighbor. With the exception of the top few wines, there are usually deals to be found from this appellation, and 2009 should be no exception.
Top Wines: Ducru Beaucaillou, Leoville Las Cases- For my taste, Ducru was the greatest wine in St Julien in 2009. The wine had pure fruit and great freshness with fine tannin and will age gracefully for decades. If you collect Leoville Las Cases, this is a great example of this wine, but it will take a long time to come around. Most of the other recommended St Juliens will be ready to drink sooner, as well as much less expensive.
Best of the rest: Leoville Barton, Leoville Poyferre, Langoa Barton, Gruaud Larose, Gloria, Croix de Beaucaillou, Beychevelle, Lagrange, Talbot, Saint Pierre- Langoa Barton had a very nice vintage, with wonderful fruit in a modern style I really liked. Gruaud Larose, excellent in an old school style, should age very well. Lagrange was good but very tight and hard to taste right now….should turn out quite well. My biggest surprise was Gloria. Often a good value this was a very fine, medium/full bodied wine with dark fruit and a hint of vanilla. 60% Cabernet, 40% Merlot.