2009 Right Bank Bordeaux: Any Concerns?

About a year ago, I posted here about a mystery: a few cases in my garage stored at seemingly all right temperatures, topping out at 79 degrees, had gotten cooked. Welp, I have another data point here. The majority of the wines in question were 2009 Right Bankers. I have since pulled out a couple of wines that i kept in my temperature controlled offsite – a La Confession and a Larcis Ducasse. Both of those were fine at first – great nose, a port-like but acceptable opening and then some ashy finish. And then after an hour or so, a quick decline.

Could just be me. My left banks have been better – the Pontet Canet, the Gloria – and even the Peby Faugeres, a St Emillion, was also excellent. So it’s not across the board. But I recall reading about a 10th anniversary tasting among some professional critics where they ran into similar problems. Anyone else?

09 L’Eglise Clinet was one of the best wines that I have had this year. That’s the only bottle I have tried from the 2009 Right Banks.

Like most vintages since 2000 Right Bank is a taste before buy proposition outside of VCC, Conseillante and a few other standouts at higher prices Cheval Blanc, Trotanoy and Clinet.

I cannot ever imagine modern right bankers from a ripe year at ten years out being good. I truly believe these modern St Ems get worse. At least that’s my impression from buying, trying, and pitching, many of these wines from the 2000-2005 vintages. The only St Ems I have bought post-2008 vintage have been Magdelaine and Figeac. If Rolland made any, run.

I still buy a lot of Pomerol. Like Kris notes, both VCC and Trotanoy are fantastic!

In general, 2009 is not my favorite vintage.

Here are links to the Farr Vintners 2009 Bordeaux 10 Years On tasting:

Stephen Browett
https://www.farrvintners.com/blog.php?blog=265

Neal Martin:
https://vinous.com/articles/a-test-of-greatness-2009-bordeaux-ten-years-on-march-2019

These tasters found some issues with over-ripeness and oxidation in some wines but not across the board and not limited to the right bank. They clearly loved some of the right bank poster boys for modern excess.

I’ve only popped one 2009, the Haut Bailly. It was one that Neal Martin and others at the Farr Vintners tasting found oxidized. Mine was anything but. One can disagree about style preferences re: ripeness based on palate differences, but this was clearly a bottle that was in different shape than the one they tasted. So then the question is why and how widespread?

Edited to add my TN from March 2019.

2009 Haut-Bailly (3/24/19) Reports of oxidation from Neal Martin and others at the recent Farr Vintners “2009 Bordeaux Ten Years On” tasting prompted me to pop my first of these for an early look. Cellared since release, perfect cork and fill. Dark red/opaque core, minimal lightening at the rim. Immediately forthcoming and voluptuous complex nose of cassis, dark berries, tobacco, cedar, wet earth and dusty gravels, hints of smoke and tar. Medium-full body, ripe fruit, nice balancing minerally acidity and slightly grippy tannins. On the modern side but no signs of excessive ripeness, oxidation, or volatile acidity. Medium-long finish. Amazingly good on pop and pour.

An hour later the nose is still killer, as is the attack and mid palate, though the tannins are starting to take over on the finish. Will update after following through the evening and save some for tomorrow.

At 2 and 3 hours in, and with dinner, this is still going strong. The tannins are in check. Wife likes it too. May be tough to hold on to a glass for tomorrow.

Still going strong the next day after a night in the fridge. Nothing wrong with this one but I’ll let them sleep another 10 years.

I’m half way through Richard Gold’s book on building a wine cellar, and I’d think a decade at an average of 79F isn’t helping. The peaks and lows of temp, and how often that cycles, affects how much oxidation is happening.

What does the ullage look like in these bottles vs. the better stored ones?

I’m pretty sure Glen was saying he had other bottles of 2009 Right Bank Bordeaux in proper temp control storage that have showed similar to the cooked wines from his garage, which is why he’s now questioning if they were ever good to begin with.

I was part of the 10 years on tasting of 2009s, with Stehpen and Neal, that’s linked above. There are some spectacular examples of both St Emilion and Pomerol to be found but I did leave the St Emilion sessions disappointed that the apparent dialling back - of extraction, oak, muscle, winemaking, etc - that we’d started to see in recent years seemed to have been abandoned by some in 2009. There were wines that tasted like throwbacks to the body builder wines of 2000-2005.

I have zero concerns about many 2009 right banks but some probably weren’t very good to begin with, despite the initial scores, and are already tiring and on the oxidation down slope.

This is exactly right. Also I didn’t store the wines in question there for a decade. It was a few weeks. I’m glad for the link above to the pro tastings that had some similar issues. Also also I just had another 2009 Gloria that was great. The suggestions of what wines might be good from the right bank is interesting – I didn’t get a ton of Pomerol from 2009 – it was the first year I bought Bordeaux and didn’t yet grasp how much I’d love that appellation.

Curious, which St Ems started “dialing back” in this timeframe? I’ve heard rumors of some wineries, like Cos, starting to scale back, but this was post-2010, maybe 2014, I think. I’m not aware of any of the modern St. Ems scaling back in any of these big years following 2000, including 2009 and 2010. Wasn’t Troplong like 15.5% alcohol in 2010 (and of course, got a lovely 99 from TWA)? I will admit to have avoided St Ems like the plague following the 2005 vintage, except for wines like VCC, Trotanoy, and up through 2014, Conseillante and Figeac, both of whom have now turned Rolland. So perhaps I missed something. Thanks.

Although I too avoid modern St. Emilion like the plague, an ITB friend turned me on to a couple Rosenthal portfolio wines and they’re really good (Haut-Ségottes, Chateau Le Puy).

I think 2009 was the apex of the over the top Right Bank trend. I would actually expect many of the wines, including (especially) some of the very expensive ones, to be aging poorly. Too much of everything does not generally (yes, some exceptions) make wines that improve with age, in my opinion. I’ve tasted many of these wines and found too few that I thought were balanced, let alone ageworthy or tasting like Bordeaux. Of course, I’m not talking about every wine.

My bad, guys. I was mixing up in my head the 2015 tasting we did in January this year and the 2009s we (almost exactly the same group) re-visited in February. My comments apply to our 2015 tasting.

Having just checked my 2009 notes, I found multiple issues with dull-edged wines with issues of oxidation plus, occasionally, brett and VA. These were over-worked, haven’t aged well, and are now becoming threadbare and tired.

From other notes of those tastings I read, those problems were not confined to the Right Bank or to “modern” wines.

Exactly. The converse was true as well: some right bank and modern wines showed very well, at least to Browett and Martin.

Not to contradict the point that there were and are wines that are over-ripe and others that are aging poorly, or that 2009 was a year where the push for ripeness may have peaked. But it’s not a universal problem.

This makes more sense, but I wonder if it might be giving many of the Chateaux too much credit to say they intended a more moderate or balanced style in the next few vintages. I suspect it was just what the weather gave them. Hopefully I’m wrong and more of the wines will taste like Bordeaux again. I don’t have enough tasting experience with 2015s to have an opinion on that.

Another low data point was that I was between a 2010 and 2009 St. Chateau Vignot, St. Emillion (a resounding third label of Chateau Lassegue that Greg successfully hawked on me) and in honor of this thread, I opted for the '09. While it’s only a mere 53% Merlot (27 % Cabernet Franc, and 20 % Cabernet Sauvignon), I think the third label ensures it see little to no new oak, no Rolland, and only 13.5% abv. It still has some unresolved tannins and no signs of anything you described. I’ve read that wine starts to be cooked at a mere 75 degrees fahrenheit. Are you sure they were cooked by your garage and not a cheap distributor?

Got another data point: I’ve attended a blind tasting this year with 24 right bank and 24 left bank wines (all double blind). Here my general comment:

2009 Bordeaux after 10 years. 48 red wines. The left bank (average rating 94.2) clearly trumps the right bank (92.6): Elegance, purity and freshness vs over-extraction, ripeness and oxidation. But there are some winners on the right bank (Cheval, Petrus, Hosanna for now, Lafleur, Trotanoy medium-term) but the highest scores were given to left bank wines (Margaux #1 overall, Palmer, Mouton, for now, Latour, St. Juliens medium-term). I guess purists will not like the loads of oak-derived aromas which in some wines are great but can make the wines a bit slutty (Cheval, Margaux, quite a lot of right banks). But there are plenty of more classically shaped wines too. Given the pedigree and elegance of 2005 and 2010 and the potential of 2016 and looking at the elevated prices of the 2009s, it seems not to be the vintage to heavily chase (or just very selectively). All wines tasted blind and without decanting.

In my opinion the Faugeres, Bellevue Mondotte, Troplong Mondot, Clos Fourtet, Pavie Decesse were all on a downward path and/or had already signs of oxidation as well as drying tannins.


And here the scores of 4 attendees

The Top 10 Wines

  1. Palmer 98.3
  2. Cheval Blanc 97.5
  3. Margaux 97.3
  4. Mouton Rothschild 97.3
  5. Vieux Chateau Certan 96.3
  6. Lafleur 96.0
  7. Latour 95.8
  8. Smith Haut Lafitte 95.8
  9. Petrus 95.8
  10. Hosanna 95.8

Top Appellations

  1. Margaux 95.35
  2. Pomerol 94.88
  3. Pauillac 94.45
  4. Saint-Estephe 94.38
  5. Pessac-Leognan 93.75
  6. Saint-Julien 93.42
  7. Saint-Emillion 92.8

Right Bank vs Left Bank

  1. Right Bank 94.24
  2. Left Bank 93.64