Tag Archives: Gruaud-Larose

Bordeaux 2009

By Aymeric de Clouet

I was qualified after 2009 en primeurs tasting by a charming colleague of mine, Angélique de L, as “the only man who did not like 2009.” After the tasting held on Tuesday, June 26, I can say with confidence that he is no longer the only one.

The tasting was very promising: the three Léovilles, Gruaud-Larose, Beychevelle, Moulin Riche for Saint-Julien, and a few crus Bourgeois (Le Crock, Sociando-Mallet, Chasse-Spleen) for comparison.

The results were appalling, although not disappointing to me (but to the others). If I want to drink Port, I buy Port, and when I want a super strong red, I drink Châteauneuf, but when I want Bordeaux I do not want 2009.

The few wines that pleased me somehow were Chasse-Spleen, very good, fair price, nothing you can blame. Gruaud-Larose, one of my favourites at the time, confirms the great esteem I hold him in. But the others! The worst value ever.

I generally state that most crus classes are too young to really be appreciated at such a young age, but in that case the vintage is already open and sometimes well evolved, so it is not my conclusion. I give it little future. When I taste the same wines in relatively poor vintages like 2002 or 2004, the pleasure that I get from it is far above: well balanced, deep and complex, not as powerful but much more elegant, and a fantastic value.

Among the disastrous tasting, other than the two previously mentioned, I was surprised by Beychevelle, generally not one of my favourite estates, which was quite good.

My beloved estates, Poyferré and Las Cases, did not fare so well. But after this tasting I understand what makes a ‘100 point’ wine. Well, it is definitely not for me.
Next time we will travel to the right bank, let us hope that it will show a better side of 2009.

Average hierarchy (five tasters, all wine professionals)
1.      Chasse-Spleen
2.      Ex-aequo Moulin Riche & Beychevelle
3.      –
4.      Gruaud-Larose
5.      Léoville-Las-Cases
6.      Léoville-Barton
7.      Léoville-Poyferré
8.      Le Crock
9.      Sociando-Mallet

My personal opinion
1.      Chasse-Spleen
2.      Beychevelle
3.      Gruaud-Larose
4.      Sociando-Mallet
5.      Le Crock
6.      Moulin Riche
7.      Léoville-Poyferré
8.      Léoville-Las-Cases
9.      Léoville-Barton

 

Addendum
I tasted the wines over the week, since we were only five for nine bottles, some was left in the decanters. I confirm my judgment. I would only add that Sociando-Mallet is a reliable 2009, not great but fairly good. Barton has a good first sip, the after taste is catastrophic. Poyferré is closer to Port than to wine. Las Cases has a better evolution in the decanter than others. Conclusion still is: avoid 2009.

 

 

The tasting note: 1986, a great vintage in Médoc?

lafit 86

Let us start with a confession: in 1987, during the primeur tastings for the 1986 vintage, all Bordeaux producers, brokers and experts were unanimous: 86 was as good as 82 for Médoc vintages. But the famous you-know-who American lawyer and (self-appointed) wine critic decided otherwise. The 1986 Médoc vintage never quite recovered from his (relatively) poor rating. Still today, prices for the 86 vintage are lower than for the 82.

It was a good reason to organise a tasting dedicated to this subject, with some of the best 1986s (as judged at the time of the primeur tastings). You will notice the absence of Château Latour, which is terrible in that particular year; in fact the whole decade is very poor. You will appreciate as well the low number of bottles tasted, since there were only six of us.

Here are the results:
Mouton-Rothschild ****
Lafite-Rothschild *****
Margaux *****
Gruaud-Larose ****
Rausan-Ségla **
Léoville-Poyferré ***

One common characteristic is that 86 has become a powerful vintage, more so than at the time of the primeur tastings in 1987.

All wines were decanted 3 hours before.

We started with the Léoville-Poyferré, then the Gruaud-Larose, then the Rausan-Ségla. Three seconds crus classés in a row. Léoville-Poyferré was the finest, Rausan-Ségla was quite pleasant but with a slightly bitter or vegetal finish, and Gruaud-Larose was the most brilliant one, with a lot of body and a very expressive nose.
Moving on with the Château Margaux (to remain in the same area as Rausan’s), the world suddenly felt different… Château Margaux 86 is a magnificent wine, not only full and round, but also fine and complex, with an incredible length on the palate. Absolutely flawless! It has everything you could hope for, and it will probably remain so for many years to come.

After this revelation, Mouton-Rothschild suffered a little bit by comparison! But it is an excellent wine, soft and mellow, ready to drink, shorter than the Margaux, but very good indeed. Lafite-Rothschild came last in the tasting order, but not in term of result: I expected a magnificent wine, having already tasted it ten years ago and 1986 being one of this château’s great vintages. I am glad to report that it was brilliant. Château Lafite 86 is fantastic, probably the best nose of them all, only dominated by Château Margaux’s incredible presence in the mouth. The greatest complexity, the finest wine of all, it was an expected triumph for Lafite… though… on this day, Château Margaux ended up the winner!

Is 86 a better vintage than 82? Well, it is true for Margaux, though Lafite is extremely good in both 82 and 86, same as Mouton very good in both vintages… It may be safe to say that 86 has a better ageing potential, but I would not draw any definitive conclusion on the subject of 82 vs. 86: the inquiry goes on!