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Bettane & Desseauve on 2009 Bordeaux: Ask the experts

Any questions on 2009 Bordeaux?
Send Bettane & Desseauve an email.

All international wine critics seem to agree upon the fact 2009 is one of the greatest vintages in the past fifty years. Is that also your opinion?

No question about that. We have been sampling wines "en primeurs" in Bordeaux since the early 80's and the only vintage until now that gave us the same feeling of fullness, smoothness and consistency was 1982. We found the 2000, 2003 and 2005 vintages less accomplished. Though their premium wines are today offering great bottles, we are confident the 2009 will surpass them.

What style of 2009 Bordeaux are you championing?

The prime qualities of Bordeaux premium wines are the aromatic burst to the nose, and the balance in mouth combined with the final freshness: that's the unique character of a Lafite or a Margaux. You may find - in France or the world - more full bodied or heavier wines but none combining the Lafite or Margaux fullness and freshness nor expressing such aromatic complexity. As a matter of fact, the 2009 vintage expresses better than any other all the aforementioned qualities. Some of the premium 2009 wines we had the chance to taste boast a powerful composition and a generous amount of alcohol, sometimes above 15%. However, when richness and power are the main arguments in favour of a Bordeaux to the detriment of its finesse, freshness and balance, that for us doesn't constitute a success. You simply don't feel like drinking them since they are too heavy and somehow tiresome.

You ranked Margaux, Petrus and Yquem at the top. What makes them really superior?

As you will notice from our notes and scores, a lot of great wines are at the top in 2009. That said, those three are outstanding achievements the like of which we have not seen in the past thirty years. Margaux is the ultimate perfection, combining density and an airy character; Petrus now adds some vigour to its silky, velvety nature, and the 2009 Yquem is unquestionably the greatest sweet wine we have ever tasted.

You highlighted Ducru Beaucaillou, Cos d'Estournel and La Mondotte. Can you explain why?

Since 2003, Bruno Borie has restored Ducru Beaucaillou to the position it held in the seventies: the very best among the "super seconds". This vintage now takes it to the next stage. Back in 1995, Stephan Von Neiperg decided to separate the La Mondotte plot to make a unique wine. It typically takes centuries to build a reputation in Bordeaux whereas it took only 15 years for La Mondotte to reach the summit. Lastly, Jean Guillaume Prats has made an impressive, rich and ample Cos d'Estournel, a seductive wine that will cause endless debate, and the only one where we found ourselves giving two different scores.

What are the best 2009 deals?

This vintage is special even for the more modest Bordeaux; they are harmonious, refined and sometimes very high class. Here are our favourites that should come reasonably priced on the market or deserve to find a local distributor: Clos des Baies (Saint-Emilion), la Pointe (Pomerol), Laroze (Saint-Emilion), Petit Gravet (Saint-Emilion), Tour de Sarrail (Bordeaux), Haut-Mazeris (Fronsac), les Trois Croix (Fronsac), Hostens Picant Lucullus (Bordeaux Sainte Foy), la Tour de By (Médoc), Lanessan (Haut-Médoc), les Eyrins (Margaux), Haut-Maurac (Haut-Médoc), Lilian Ladouys (Haut-Médoc), Gironville (Haut-Médoc)

What are the ten wines that have changed status in 2009?

As a matter fact, a few wines that were not meeting expectations until now have gone through a transformation, either because the management has changed or because the owners have decided to make some real quality improvements. Speaking for ourselves, the most impressive accomplishments are at Petit Village, Vrai Croix de Gay, Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarosse, Faurie de Souchard, Villemaurine, Nairac, Fieuzal, Haut-Carles, Durfort Vivens, Desmirail, La Lagune, Marquis de Terme, Cantenac-Brown, Pédesclaux, Larrivet Haut-Brion.

Ask the experts: Should you need more details or explanations about French vintages, feel free to send your questions to Bettane & Desseauve. Answers will be publish in this page.


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