jamie goode's wine blog: BBR's blog on Bordeaux 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

BBR's blog on Bordeaux 2009

There's a lot of excitement around about the 2009 vintage in Bordeaux, which is still being picked as I write.

I enjoyed reading the report on the 2009 harvest on Berry Bros & Rudd's excellent blog. It's written by Max Lalondrelle, and you just have to love someone who in replying to a comment on the blog begins with 'Dear Sir'! I think Max is new to blogging.

I particularly liked the reference to the optical sorter, which selects individual berries. Now that is cool.

But it makes me think. Here we have a vintage where people are surprised by the hygeinic conditions of the grapes. They have, as in 2005, elevated levels of physiological ripeness, and elevated levels of potential alcohol. And the top properties are taking more care than ever, for example with the selection of grapes.

Could it be that Bordeaux is better than ever before? Perhaps. But could it also be that Bordeaux is different to the Bordeaux of yesterday? This seems to be the case.

The potential difficulty is that the current 'paradigm' (sorry, horrible word) of fine wine has been largely based on Bordeaux as it used to be, and as it used to develop in bottle. This may need to change in light of the fact that Bordeaux has changed.

Might it be that the top 2009 Bordeaux wines will resemble, say, Margaret River Cabernet/Merlot blends? Personally, I love Margaret River Cabernets, and this is not meant as a slight to them. The issue is that there is a sort of contract with the consumer of top Bordeaux that these are wines destined to age and develop in a certain way, and this may no longer be the case.

What do you think?

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5 Comments:

At 8:08 PM, Anonymous ConstanceC said...

Hi Jamie,

I think you made a good point. Bordeaux isn't supposed to be a new world Cabernet/Merlot, Bordeaux is supposed to have structure.

The region has obviously been around for a long time. Its wines can withstand years of storage, as we have learned over and over. Perhaps if the method is changed, all these things that Bordeaux what Bordeaux is will cease to differentiate such a historical region.

Boo to that.

 
At 8:15 PM, Blogger Wine Splodge said...

My excitement will come when the prices start reflecting reality again. Latour '97 sells for 175 on a good day now, you could buy it in Oddbins in 2003 for 75. Drinkers need a price crash.

 
At 1:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 6:34 AM, Blogger Nick Oakley said...

This type of inmcreased ripeness is going to be more commonplace, as global warming, better vine husbandry, and increased health of vine plant material all come together.

Perhpas truly 'fine' wine will move to the more marginal climates, like the Loire. I wonder what Jim Budd would say?

 
At 7:29 PM, Anonymous Chuck said...

I'm a fiend for Bordeaux, so have strong feelings on this. There are 5 or 6 famous Bordeaux-tasting palates in the press, as well as a handful of other less well-known ones, whose tasting notes I study religiously every tasting season. Then back it up with my own palate, of course.

What appears to be happening is that 30-40% of the elite red Bordeaux makers and MOST of the cru bourgeois and lower are now trying to make (for lack of a better term) "modern wines". Good wines, but as you suggest not too different from good New World wines that have been judiciously constructed. I steer clear of these: when I buy Bordeaux I want something typical of the place. The $20 cru bourgeois in particular are quite anonymous these days ... and I'll prefer reds from Margaret River, Hawkes bay, Franschhoek...

The question now will be (and this will be tested over the next few vintages): will the owners of the best chateaux realize that they are homogenizing their product and pull back from the brink? I sure hope so. But at least I feel confident that there will be enough traditionalist chateaux to fill my modest cellar with a mixed case or two every year. (Looks like it may need to be 3 or 4 cases of the '09s!)

 

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