Settling Scores: tasting notes on my Bordeaux 2009 Top 100

POSTED ON 26/04/2010

Here are the promised tasting notes on my Top 100 wines tasted at the Bordeaux 2009 primeur tastings (check out my Top 100 post on 6 April). As I’ve said before, it’s important to remember that until these wines are bottled, they are as yet elemental, raw and unfinished and so the descriptions relate to how the wines tasted in the week before Easter and are therefore only a snapshot of how they are likely to develop over time. For sure, it’s invidious to give what appear to be definitive scores and tasting notes at such an early stage of a wine’s development (hence the bandwidth), but it’s important at the same time to try to communicate some idea of the style and quality of the wines. Why?

Bordeaux - in the vineyardBordeaux - in the vineyard

Because these wines are offered for sale en primeur once the châteaux release their prices and, as the trickle now begins, we’ll see prices coming out over the next couple of months. The wines will go on sale and if you’re a potential buyer, you’ll want to have some objective idea of what the wines are like to help you appraise and make up your mind whether to take the plunge and buy en primeur or not. No apologies then, but a few words of warning rather, to be read together with my buyer be wary story of two weeks ago.

One other point. I suspect that 9 out of 10 readers fall asleep when they read tasting notes in preference to a good wine story (or even just a good story), and who can blame them. Even if Ian McEwan were writing them together with Charles Dickens, wine tasting notes per se are the ultimate in deathless prose, and so here’s my second non-apology. They’re not meant to be a good read, but simply a guide for you to be able to dip into if you’re thinking of purchasing one of these wines, something to help you make up your mind about whether to go ahead or not. Hence the nerdy reference, where the château has made the information available, to proportions of grape varieties, new oak and alcohol levels and anything else that the nerdy tendency like to lap up. Some châteaux have even given press wine levels and an IPT (tannin) index, but except in the odd case, I’ve left them out as too much information.

And please don’t rely on me exclusively for tasting notes just as I hope you wouldn’t rely on Robert Parker exclusively. He too has a palate of his own with his likes and dislikes. Better if you have the time (and if you’re forking out a fair bit for these wines it’s probably worth taking the time) to read a few critics, and then try and put the pieces of the jigsaw together yourself.

At Haut-BrionAt Haut-Brion

As for prices, these have started to trickle out and once Parker has reported, which I believe he does this week, the trickle will soon turn into a flood as the châteaux eye up each others’ prices and try to ensure they’re asking enough to keep their owners in the style to which they’ve become accustomed but not so much that their wines don’t sell. Even then, the biggest players such as the first growths are unlikely to release their prices until the end of May or beginning of June. I’ll come back to prices once there’s a sufficient critical mass of prices out there to start talking about a coherent buying plan.

I suppose by the way that you probably may want to know if I intend to buy any Bordeaux 2009 myself. A good question to ask any wine critic who’s writing the wine up and, more particularly praising the wines. The answer is that I do intend to buy a few wines, subject to budget. I’ve already bought a case of Château d’Angludet, which has appeared on three wine merchants’ lists at £219 (in bond) and sold out. Depending on the price, there are a few others I have my eye on such as Pontet Canet, Calon-Ségur, Potensac, La Conseillante, Le Gay and Trotanoy (the latter tasted for the first time last Thursday so not in my original Top 100, but will be in a final one). I’d love to buy half a dozen bottles of a first growth if I could afford them and get an allocation (both unlikely prospects at the moment). If I could, and did, Latour and / or Ausone would head the list.

BORDEAUX 2009 - A TOP 100


Ausone, St.Emilion Grand Cru Classé. 98 – 100

55% cabernet franc, 45% merlot, 14.5% alcohol. Only 6000 bottles made.
Dense vivid ruby purple, intensely aromatic and fresh, very inviting, showing no overt oak although in 100% new oak; lovely ripe concentrated mulberry and cherry fruit quality, intense and pure with a mouthwatering richness and freshness of damsony acidity combined; Alain Vauthier’s wine is the quintessence of fine Right Bank Bordeaux, deeply flavoured, intense and wonderfully pure, oak playing second fiddle where so often it dominates, freshness playing its part too where the tannins, although undeniably present, play a supporting rôle to a wine whose sum, ultimately, is greater than the parts. It's a wine you'd love to own - and drink.


Cheval Blanc, St.Emilion Grand Cru Classé. 98 – 100

60% merlot, 40% cabernet franc, 13.9% alc., 100% new oak. Dense colour, still quite closed, elemental, on the nose, but fresh, promising, lovely fruit, starts sweet and becomes sweeter with mulberry and cherry red fruits, opens and expands to show a richness of texture and keeps going on a smooth, polished path towards succulent tannins and very good freshness of acidity underlined by a length and purity of flavour and an undeniable mineral acidity on the finish that spells real finesse and potential greatness. Understated and yet magnificent. 98 - 100

Lafite, Pauillac. 98 – 100

At the château, Charles Chevallier, a modest and impressive man with Denis Healey-esque eyebrow, said that he was initially a bit worried about the richness in sugar, i.e. potential high alcohol, but says the wine has maintained good freshness despite the structure. In 100% new oak, the Grand Vin represents 43% of the harvest with a yield 36 hl / ha and a grape mix of 82.5% cabernet sauvignon, 17% merlot and 00.5% petit verdot. . Dense vivid ruby hue, fine aromatic quality, no such obvious oak as on the Duhart, beautifully restrained in fact. Rich, dense and concentrated, very ripe, even opulent, black fruits, blackberry and cassis, with a lovely concentration and sweetly textured fruit quality; the tannins which are quite present, seem to soften in the mouth, almost like melting chocolate, bringing an elegance and balance, to the wine, and then firm up on the finish to show the backbone and structure of the wine. Not overdone.

Latour, Pauillac. 98 – 100

With 91.3% cabernet sauvignon and 8.7% merlot (Latour has given the most precise figures of any château), the Latour Grand Vin quite clearly has a very high proportion of cab this year and 100% new oak. This is gorgeous right from the moment go, a majestic nose that’s highly aromatic, with more evident oak than the other two Latours, dense in colour, opaque, cigar box and cedary spice, lovely sweet rich concentrated, dense fruit quality, firm structure of tannins and acidity, holding the sweet flesh in check, all beautifully proportioned, superb fresh dark black berry and cassis fruits and damsony acidity. Impressively proportioned and yet all beautifully balanced with a magnificent suffusion of oak spice adding style and quality. A very grand wine. It feels like it’s drinkable now (usually a good sign) but will last a generation if you want it to.


Le Pin, Pomerol. 98 – 100

100% merlot, 100% new oak, light toast, 13.5% alcohol, merlot grown on gravels soils over a bedrock of clay, this is dense in colour, wonderfully fragrant and fresh with slight touch of subtle smoky oak, lovely rich mouthfilling cherry and mulberry fruit it’s intense, supple and concentrated with very elegant, supple tannins and juicy acidity. And yet with a deceptive backbone of tannin thanks to the supple fruit and freshness of acidity; gorgeous juicy purity and intense yet restrained concentrated fruit yet with a super-elegant feel and charm to it.

Le PinLe Pin

Margaux, Margaux. 98 – 100.

The charming Paul Pontallier says this is the best Château Margaux he’s ever made (and he’s been there since 1983) with the dual personality of the densest wine ever and one of the sweetest. 87% cabernet, 9% merlot, 2% petit verdot and 2% cabernet franc,13.1 - 2% alcohol 14% press wine. Very dense inky dark colour, saturated ruby purple, dark brooding power and perfume, polished and sleek, impeccable, lovely sweet mulberry and dark cherry fruit richness, dark chocolate too, very concentrated and intense with a fabulous richness and density and yet amazingly silky, velvety texture of the purest ripe cabernet fruit. Real finesse. Like many of the best wines of the vintage, the tannins are so sweet and ripe that you taste the fruit flavours for a long time before you feel that fine-grained texture on the finish. Gorgeous.

Le Gay, Pomerol. 97 – 99

Dense colour, fine perfume, lovely sweet rich cherry fruitiness, quite brilliant Pomerol which is very concentrated and rich, with lovely subtle oak spice, superfresh cherry / mulberryish fruit and acidity, lovely voluptuous richness and purity of flavour, totally gorgeously seductive, intense and seamlessly sexy fruit quality. Quite something, even more so if the price is halfway reasonable.

Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan. 96 – 98+

A blend of 46% merlot, 40% cabernet sauvignon and 14% cabernet franc, with a yield of 40 hl / ha., 10,500 cases were made in 2009 as against 7000 in 2008 and 9000 cases in 2005. 57% of production was grand vin, 14.3% alcohol. Dense opaque brooding colour, fine sweet aromatic quality, cigar and tobacco spice, lovely dark cherry and mulberry and cassis fruits concentration with a juicy fresh nip of acidity and quite firm muscular tannins that rather rasp at the back of the palate at this stage of the wine's early evolution although the wine develops and softens in the mouth within a few seconds as you taste; there's still plenty of grip and muscle on the back palate serving as the backbone for the flesh and an overall framework bringing balance.

La Mission Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan. 96 – 98+

A blnd of 47% merlot, 47% cabernet sauvignon and 6% cabernet franc, a yield of 47 hl / ha. with 6000 cases in 2009 compared to 5300 in 2008 and 5000 in 2005, 50% of production was grand vin. 14.7% alcohol (!). Deep vivid colour, more ‘elegant’ than the Haut Brion if that’s the word. Fine nose still quite dark and brooding, lovely dark fruits sweetness with quite firm, muscular grip and substantial damsony nip of fresh acidity; much greater concentration and density than the La Chapelle, the tannins continue along a line and becoming more supple and melting in the mouth, all the while as the dark fruits retain their freshness, and even delicacy of texture, with oak contributing to a touch of dryness on the back palate, yet becomes sweeter and fleshier in the mouth. Not the easiest to to taste (well its is 9.30 am and we’ve just been held up for an hour on the rocade) but I have a feeling this could be great.


Palmer, Margaux. 96 – 98+

55% of production compared to 45% of Alter Ego and a yield of 34/hl compared to 32 hl / ha in 2005, this is 52% merlot (!), 41% cabernet sauvignon and 7% petit verdot, and 13.9% alcohol with 55% new oak. It’s very dense rich saturated colour, very fine fresh aromatic power, intense flavours and rich fruit concentration, lovely dark red fruits (mulberry, plum and dark cherry) flavours, dense and concentrated, almost a meal in itself, and yet lovely sweet velvety texture and great freshness with hardly any tannin feel until you wait and then the structure of tannin and acidity kicks in way down the track. This is an intense, beautiful wine.

Vieux Château Certan, Pomerol. 96 – 98+

70% of the harvest went into the Grand Vin, which comprises 84% merlot, 8% cabernet franc and 8% cabernet sauvignon. It’s 13.7% alcohol with 75% new oak. Some of the cabernet franc was declassified as it had suffered from drought stress and this is a common story among the better properties on the Right Bank. Dense and opaque in colour, very perfumed with fine integrated oak, the initial attack showing freshness and bite on the tongue, giving way to lovely sweetly ripe and opulent red fruits quality, a very nice tannic finesse and freshness, a lovely purity and seamless quality; the wine, feels juicy, sweet and opulent but not exaggeratedly so and not at the expense of freshness and backbone which come through strongly on the finish.

Ducru Beaucaillou, St.Julien. 96 – 98

85% cabernet sauvignon, 15% merlot, 90% new oak, 13.5% alcohol. Very dense opaque colour, sexy new oak nose, complex and aromatic, lovely sweet, rich ripe, opulent but above all very pure blueberry and cassis black fruits, lots of tannin, but sweet tannin and behind it a high level of concentration and richness, with lovely fresh damsony acidity and overall superb finesse; very, very smart indeed. Lovely wine. Despite the intoxicating razzmatazz of the cellar’s nightclub atmosphere with its long-legged beauties, there's no doubting the fine quality (of the wine) here.

Léoville Las Cases, St.Julien. 96 – 98

Or to give it its full name: Grand Vin de Léoville du Marquis de Las Cases. 76% cabernet sauvignon, 15% merlot, and9% cabernet franc with 65% new oak and 13.4% alcohol. Dense, vivid ruby purple, very youthful in appearance, showing lots of spicy, vanillin oak on the nose and palate, almost Californian / New World cabernet in style, with impressive, richly concentrated, voluptuous dark fruits quality; voluptuous succulence and very well-managed tannins, not a monster, and not charming either, but fine classic Las Cases with a degree of austerity that bodes well for the future, veering more towards Pauillac in style than St. Julien.

La Conseillante, Pomerol. 95 – 97

Deep colour, fresh and beautifully perfumed, this has a lovely seamless fruit quality, superb concentration and richness with a dimension of intensity and red berry / mulberry flavour that's lacking in most others; it's concentrated and full-flavoured but has a freshness, elegance, fine-boned structure and finesse that makes it exciting. Up there with Le Pin, Le Gay, Vieux Château Certan and Trotanoy as one of the great Right bank wines of the vintage.

Mouton-Rothschild, Pauillac. 95 – 97

The typical fanfare that greets you at Mouton-Rothschild is thanks mainly to the presence of Baroness Philippine, who was actually very charming and approachable and spoke to everyone, with suitably flattering comments. She is a first-class saleswoman with a regal persona who likes to compare herself to the Queen Mother. I think she probably drinks better than the Queen Mother ever did. This wine, which is 82% cabernet sauvignon and 12% merlot, is dense in colour, showing a fair whack of new oak on the nose; it’s big, ripe and powerful, with almost chocolatey sweet fruit quality, and quite obvious sweet vanilla oak infusing the wine at this stage; it's pretty chunky and firm with good fresh dark blueberry and cassis fruits, spice and firm backbone;very good concentration of black fruits which is overall well-balanced. Perhaps not quite the elegance of Lafite or the power and grandeur of Latour, but a fine effort in a big, showy, New World style.

Calon-Ségur, St Estèphe. 94 – 96+

According to Vincent Millet, director at the château, 55% of production is grand vin, of which 90% is cabernet sauvignon, 7% merlot and 3% petit verdot. 100% new oak, 13.5% alcohol, 12% press wine. Dense colour, perfumed aromatic quality, appealing, fresh, hint of graphite, lovely nose, very classic, sweetly perfumed fruit, rich and concentrated with a fine dark berry fruits richness and opulence, This is lovely succulent fruit, delicious by anyone's standards, with finesse and texture and traditional / classic/ terroir quality to it. As good as a 3rd growth gets? It has the tannic structure of the vintage, the backbone, but also the concentration and richness and the ripeness and purity of great fresh cabernet. Very cabernet, very pure.

Figeac, St.Emilion Grand Cru Classé. 94 – 96

Dense colour, wonderfully fresh and perfumed without too much obvious oak and evident leafy cabernet quality; lovely sweet, pure fruit quality, fresh, juicy and supple, with well-handled touch of oak spice, good rounded succulently textured black cherry fruits and fresh damsony acidity; finishing very supple and finely balanced. A lovely classic and yet very individual style with the clear stamp of the terroir with its minerally Right bank expression of cabernet.

Montrose, St Estèphe. 94 – 96

Crunch up the gravel stone pathway to the chais at Montrose and the reward is an excellent wine in 2009. 72% of the production, a blend of 65% cabernet sauvignon, 29% merlot, 5% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot with 60% new oak, at 13.7% alcohol. No press wine but at 98 ipt (the tannin index for all you nerds out there), it has the highest level of tannin ever. Dense vivid colour, very attractive sweet spicy aromatic quality, vivid, almost violets-like, a very nice, richly concentrated red with an intense dark fruits quality, very firm chunky tannins, but behind them a finesse, potential for succulence and freshness on the finish that holds out bright hopes for the future.

Léoville Barton, St.Julien. 94 – 96

Dense ruby colour, intense mulberry and dark fruits nose, big and rich, this is quite powerfully constructed with plenty of acidity and tannin, and fine blackberry and damsony fruit quality, a slight chewiness and dryness of texture on the back palate but no doubting the structure and backbone; a tad on the muscle-bound at this stage of its development, but I’m sure there’s plenty of flesh and backbone for balance, long term.

Pontet Canet, Pauillac. 94 – 96

65% cabernet sauvignon, 29%, merlot 5% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot. 42 hl / ha. Deep colour, lovely vibrant rich dark fruits freshness, concentrated without seeming heavy, vivid with nice plump fresh and subtle oak spicing, and lovely sweet succulent tannins, touch of dark chocolate, bringing excellent balance. Gorgeous sweet opulent fruit and fine balance and yet also has quite firm tannin structure and backbone. Very good for the medium to long-term. One of the wines of the vintage, now at supersecond level under Alfred Tesseron’s ownership and Jean Michel Comme’s biodynamic stewardship.


Lynch- Bages, Pauillac. 94 – 96

Fine youthful ruby colour, lovely nose, spicy, floral and intensely aromatic, lovely vibrantly juicy dark red fruits quality, mulberry and cherry here with a seamless fruitiness and deceptive concentration that looks destined to deliver much enjoyment with its very fine-boned tannins and vivid acidity balancing the whole enterprise.

Gruaud-Larose, St.Julien. 93 – 95

Intense depth of youthful ruby colour, intense fresh aromatic quality, lovely ripe, richly concentrated fruit quality, touch of bittersweet dark chocolate, lovely structure of elegant tannins, subtle spiced oak and fresh acidity holding the fruit tightly together at this stage, later hopefully to unfurl with a flourish.

Léoville Poyferré, St.Julien. 93 – 95

Very good youthful ruby colour, quite quiet on the nose at this stage, a hint of smoky bacon oak, powerful densely concentrated sweetly ripe opulent fruit with quite firm, musculur tannins and a touch of dryness on the back palate, but very good vibrant fresh acidity, ending very juicy; rather masculine in style overall, and needing time, but classic Pauillac, even if it is St.Julien.

Pichon Lalande, Pauillac. 93 – 95

75% cabernet sauvignon, 20% merlot and 5% petit verdot, representing 37% of total production (Rêserve de la Comtesse is 50% this year), 13% alcohol and 50% new oak, this is a dense youthful ruby in colour, with a lovely nose, rich and full intense concentrated fruit quality, good fruit concentration, vibrancy and elegance all together, with undertones of mulberry and cherry fruit flavour, very subtle sub-threshhold oak, and vibrant balancing acidity. This wine is beautifully balanced and should be superb in the medium to long term. I was less impressed tasting at the château but it did much better in the Union des Grands Crus blind tasting for me.

Rauzan-Ségla. Margaux. 93 – 95

Dark dense colour, fine fresh aromatic quality, good expectations; the palate is concentrated in dark red fruits, vibrantly fresh, powerful and quite hunky with nice subtle oaking; the tannins are not shy but the weight of vivid red berry fruit concentration and freshness carries its masculinity well, leaving the palate with an overall sensation of pleasure. A very good prospect for the medium to long term.

St. Pierre, St.Julien. 93 – 95

Good youthful ruby colour, fine, intensely fruity perfumed of dark berry fruit, lovely rich and concentrated blackberry and loganberry fruit richness; there's good density here and a succulent, voluptuous fruit quality with freshness and texture in fine balance; a lovely intensely flavoured and complex wine, whose underlying minerality will bring complexity and longevity in years to come.

Talbot, St.Julien. 93 – 95

Good youthful ruby colour, lovely perfumed fruit with a hint of leafy cabernet to the fore, the fruit is deliciously full of black cherry and cassis flavours and held together with a deft touch of spicy oak; overall it’s very fine-boned with elegant tannins and a voluptuously fruity fresh acidity, giving you the feeling overall of an elegant yet ageworthy style. This should be a terrific buy.

Brane-Cantenac, Margaux. 92 - 94+

Deep vivid ruby, very ripe, intense, dark fruits nose, nicely integrated oak, good rich dark concentrated fruits flavours and dark chocolate. There’s an awful lot of wine here, with nicely applied oak and fine, succulent tannins; overall fine-boned and balanced with plenty of sweet, opulent fruit and balance that delivers. This seems destined to turn out a lovely wine.

Clos du Marquis, St.Julien. 92 - 94+

70% cabernet sauvignon, 20% merlot, 8% cabernet franc, 2% petit verdot, 25% new oak and 13.75% alcohol. Dense colour, fine nose, lovely aromatic complexity, delicious sweetly ripe and opulent cabernet-based dark fruits quality, lovely fruit succulence and intensity, real finesse and mulberry-like freshness, with fine overall balance. Approachable almost now (a good sign) but a good 10 year wine plus.

Giscours, Margaux. 92 – 94+

53% cabernet sauvignon, 40% merlot and 7% cabernet franc. Dense, inky and vivid colour, fine, intense aromas with a fresh, leafy herbaceous quality of cabernet that's refreshing and attractive; the fruit is richly concentrated, lovely ripe sweet cassis cabernet concentration, supple tannins and fine spicy oak all complemented on the finish by juicy fresh acidity and fine-boned tannin that brings balance to a hugely enjoyable wine that seems destined to give a lot of pleasure at least in the medium and probably the long term also. I suspect that this will be a great value.

Lafon Rochet, St Estèphe. 92 – 94+

Dense youthful ruby colour, aromatic vivid fruit quality, with stylish cedary oak, excellent concentration of red and black fruits flavours, well-handled cedary / vanilla oak, succulent tannins, fine texture and juicy acidity; quite dense and firm, but not overmuscular, powerful or dry; handles itself very well and should be hugely pleasurable in the medium to longer term.

Les Forts de Latour, Pauillac. 92 - 94+

Les Forts de Latour is 13.5% alcohol with 50% new oak, 65.1% cabernet sauvignon, 32.3% merlot, 0.6% cabernet franc and 1.9% petit verdot. Dense colour, a touch of spice, freshness on the nose, lovely sweet fruit on the palate, juicy fresh acidity, more obviously structured by acidity then the Pauillac, good dark chocolatey concentration of fruit, and deceptively suave and silky tannins, which you know are there and come in on the finish. Impressive quality, lovely fruit purity. 92 - 94+

Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux. 92 - 94+

67% cabernet sauvignon, 29% merlot, 4% petit verdot, 13.4% alcohol,, 50% new oak. Classic Margaux nose, very perfumed, intensely so, with lovely cherryish aromas and subtle oak vanillin spice, super-voluptuous sweet black cherry and mulberry fruit concentration, and fine fresh acidity, with good firm backbone but nicely done thanks to some succulent tannins, integrated oak and fresh acidity.

Beychevelle, St.Julien. 92 – 94

Dense youthful ruby colour, good dark fruits perfume, lovely fresh dark berry, mulberry and blackberry sweetness of fruit, fine concentration but not thick, thanks to a lovely freshness of acidity and fine-grained tannin that gives this wine elegance of texture and structure but the structure is there. All very balanced and almost approachable but you feel good for the medium to long -term too.

Clerc Milon, Pauillac. 92 – 94

A blend of 50% cabernet sauvignon, 44% merlot, 4% cabernet franc and 1% each petit verdot and carmenère, this shows vivid colour, a fresh, aromatic, lovely clean, pure dark fruits quality, delicious sweetness and juiciness of cassis and black cherry flavour and texture, nice firm tannins, a twist of astringency, but not overwrought, rather elegant, with deceptive level of concentration, very nicely balanced overall, with lovely freshness and balance.

Cos d'Estournel, St Estèphe. 92 – 94?

56% of the total production of the château in 2009 with 80% new oak, this is a blend of 65% cabernet sauvignon, 33% merlot, 2% cabernet franc. Very dense and inky, almost opaque in colour, rich and savoury, a tad baked and almost tarry, at the same time on the nose, jammy and savoury; the fruit is intense, concentrated, dark, powerful, with dark chocolate and black fruits sweetness , a twist of astringency, and very firm backbone with lots of oak and sweet fleshed fruit, massive and very tannic. Hard to call, but at this stage feels almost too masochistically chunky for its own good. Impressive without question but will it come round? Maybe they’ll bring a softening element to it before the final bottling in which case it should. Maybe they won’t. Does it matter? The Americans are sure to love it.

Du Tertre, Margaux. 92 – 94

Deep colour, fine, intense floral and spicy nose, lots of sweetly ripe fruit and no shortage of oak here, a very modern classic red Bordeaux, the fruit is concentrated with lovely bright cassis flavours and pleasantly fresh juicy acidity, finishing both succulent and firm at the same time. Should bring lots of pleasure in the medium to long term.

Lagrange, St.Julien. 92 – 94

Good youthful ruby colour, fine, pure sweet dark berry fruits nose, very nice touch of oak, good fresh intense, juicy dark cherry fruit quality, fine supple and succulent textured fruit, very fresh and vibrant with lovely overall balance and finesse.

Lascombes, Margaux. 92 – 94

Dense youthful ruby purple, very nice bright spicy fragrance to this wine, good vivid bright dark red fruits, mulberry and cassis, fine-boned concentrated fruit richness albeit wrapped up in a substantial amount of oak, but the tannins, present as they are, are very fine, the freshness is there along with the fruit concentration, so why not? This could turn out to be a lovely wine. Excellent.

Sociando Mallet, Haut-Médoc. 92 – 94

Big rich dense colour, fine, intense nose, very rich dense and sweetly concentrated plum and cassis fruit, immensely rich in fact and very dense with a lovely opulence and amazing cabernet ripeness whose freshness and suave tannins save it from being either jammy or rustic. It's a big wine, cru classé standard, an impressive wine with great grip and structure.

In St.EmilionIn St.Emilion


Valandraud, St.Emilion Grand Cru, 94 – 96

14% alcohol, 100% new oak. 70% merlot, 30% cabernet franc. Deep ruby purple, intense colour and fruit, very good concentration of black fruits, powerful, dense, almost chewy in texture with craftily applied oak, very subtle, and succulent tannins and fresh juicy acidity; very fine fruit quality despite its powerful concentration and richness. Not perhaps the finesse of the absolute best wines of the vintage but should give immense pleasure in the medium term.

Canon, St.Emilion Grand Cru Classé 93 – 95

Deep, dense ruby purple, quite inky in colour, very attractive nose, lovely sweetly ripe black fruits quality, super supple tannins and fresh, savoury acidity, with some dark chocolatey sweetness of fruit and excellent overall balance, very well-made, fine-boned, well-proportioned and balanced overall.

Clos Fourtet, St.Emilion Grand Cru Classé 93 – 95

Dense saturated vivid opaque ruby purple colour, attractively spicy nose without excessive oak, excellent rich fruit concentration and black fruits flavours, quite a bit of oak, but it's stylish oak, and the structure is quite masculine and firm but there's enough weight of mulberry fruit here and freshness of acidity to carry it ; slightly chewy and dry on the finish, but with this level of concentration, you can see through the tannins to the fruit on the other side. Very good indeed. Actually very sexy and seductive indeed.

Pavie Macquin, St.Emilion Grand Cru Classé. 93 – 95

Dense saturated colour, quite stong sweet vanillin oak aromas, sweetly oaky fruit, quite clean and pure dark fruits, intensely perfumed, powerful muscular tannins kick in quite early but there's the red fruits concentration to compensate, and lovely fresh acidity to boot. This is concentrated, intense and juicy, with a firm, muscular texture yet fine-boned structure, a sexy red that will give reward its owner with enormous pleasure.

Angélus, St.Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 92 – 94+

Dense opaque ruby purple, sweetly perfumed, ripe opulent blackberry fruit richness, very concentrated fresh and seamless fruit qualitym fine freshness, powerful muscular tannins that frame this wine; bordering on the over-ripe and overpowerful, but although it's no shrinking violet, I think the excellent fruit concentration and quality and freshness will see it through. 93 - 95

Canon La Gaffelière, St.Emilion Grand Cru Classé 92 – 94+

Dense colour, quite sweet fragrance with a fair whack of vanilla oak and liquoricey cola spice; good sweetly ripe opulent black cherry fruit quality, nicely defined by supple tannins and fresh acidity with background oak spice bringing some roundness of texture and complexity; there's some firm backbone behind but overall it's nicely balanced. Excellent wine.

Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Léognan. 92 – 94+

Densely rich vivid colour, fine nose, good dense sour cherry fruit quality, tobaccoey spice, lovely vibracy of flavours and freshness , quite chunky firm tannins with a touch of dryness on the finish, but there's very good concentration of flavour and freshness and will surely deliver in spades in the medium term. Wont you come home Haut-Bailly, won’t you come home.

Pavie Decesse, St.Emilion Grand Cru Classé. 92 – 94+

90% merlot, 10% cabernet franc, 14.5% alcohol. Dense opaque youthful ruby, perfumed blackberry fruit on the nose, dense sweet back fruits with lots of oak and very firm, muscular tannins; it's chewy and chunky with a powerful, masculine structure and slightly dry, astringent finish, which nevertheless keeps it fresh and prevents jamminess. The issue is more about the tannins which are quite chewy and chunky but there's good concentration of mulberry / cherry fruit and it should come round given its due – and time. 92 – 94.

Clinet, Pomerol. 92 – 94.

Deep colour, nicely perfumed with a fair whack of spicy oak on the nose, similarly a fair degree of oak on palate but well-integrated with fresh red and black fruits, good concentration and freshness with quite firm muscularity about its structure, not exactly charming, but still very tightly wound, and should come come round to give much pleasure.

Domaine de Chevalier, Pessac-Léognan. 92 – 94

Fine nose, very fresh, lovely bright, sweetly ripe juicy fresh loganberry and damsony fruit concentration, very well-crafted, fine touch of oak, subtle spicing, firm tannin structure and good bright acidity bringing excellent overall balance. Very good wine.

La Croix de Gay, Pomerol. 92 – 94

Deep vivid colour, nice oak spice on the nose, good fruit quality, dark berry fruits with nice fleshy texture and good fresh juicy acidity and well-integrated oak that shows a touch of vanilla but not too much; an elegant , seamless, yet well-defined style in the context of the vintage with very nice overall balance and structure.

La Dominique, St.Emilion Grand Cru Classé. 92 – 94

Very dense ruby purple, quite intense dark berry fruits nose, sweet and ripe, not too much obvious new oak, rich and concentrated dark berry fruits flavours, good intensity of flavour, quite masculine in its profile with firmish tannins and nice vivid freshness to it, overall well-balanced with rounded, resolved tannins, coming gently downhill towards the finishing line with a swagger.

Monbousquet, St.Emilion Grand Cru Classé 92 – 94.

60% merlot, 30% cabernet franc, 10% cabernet auvignon, 14.3% alcohol. Dense youthful ruby, red fruits jam on the nose, lots sweet red concentrated fruits, ripe, sweet and opulent, quite firm acidity and masculine tannins and spicy oak but fine quality of fleshy fruit behind it and good fresh acidity; well-crafted, just a tad dry and astringent on the finish, but should come round in five to seven years.

Moulin Saint Georges, St.Emilion Grand Cru. 92 – 94

Dense colour, fine nose, very stylish vanilla oak spice, nice freshness,
lovely sweetly opulent and concentrated dark cherry fruit quality with fine integrated spicy oak, a sexy modern style, with deliciously succulent and silky sweet tannins and freshness, very fine-boned and juicy, beautifully crafted and showing you its structure by kicking in with a nip of tannin and acidity on the finish.

Pavie, St.Emilion Grand Cru Classé. 92 – 94?

70% merlot, 20% cabernet franc, 10% cabernet sauvignon, 14.5% alcohol. Dense opaque saturated ruby colour, vivid, spicy, perfumed nose, rich sweet opulent fruit quality, very concentrated and dense black fruits with very firm, muscular tannins, lots of oak and big-boned structure. It's very chunky and dry on the finish and you have to ask the question when will this wine come round and become balanced. Undoubtedly impressive with excellent fresh and intense fruit quality. May just make the grade but needs a long time, five years plus, before it will become drinkable. Jury very much out for me.

Beauregard, Pomerol. 91 – 93+

Vivid colour, oaky spicy aromas, almost New World in style, very modern lovely sweetly concentrated rich black fruits with nice spicy quality, quite firm and powerful for a merlot-based wine, but the fruit concentration and tightness of tannin is relieved by nice oaking that brings a touch of spice and there's good fresh acidity for balance here too. A tad chunky and showy but a very good wine.

La Tour Figeac, St.Emilion Grand Cru Classé. 92 – 94

Dense colour, beguiling and sweet smelling with a fair whack of cinnamon and clove oak oak spiciness, but invitingly so, sweet opulent and concentrated rich dark fruits, very succulently juicy, lovely tannin succulence and juiciness, spicy and not jammy at all, lovely freshness on the finish as the tannins start their business of gripping, very good overall balance and backbone with lovely sweet rich fruit quality.

Saint Georges (Côte Pavie), St.Emilion Grand Cru Classé. 92 – 94

Good dense colour, attractive nose with lovely fresh mulberry and cherryish fruit quality, good structure and freshness, very juicy and well-made, with deceptive tannins and fine-boned tannin structure and backbone.

Beauséjout Bécot, St.Emilion Grand Cru Classé. 91 – 93.

Dense'ish colour, good fresh aromatic quality, nicely concentrated dark fruits with quite firm tannins and good fresh acidity, a tad linear in its structure, showing good concentration, purity of seamless black fruits and freshness, but a little but dry and tannic on the finish. No hairs out of place but just fails to ignite that extra spark of excitement at the moment.

Clos la Madeleine, Saint Emilion Grand Cru. 91 – 93

Dense colour, fine aromatic quality, very nicely applied oak over richness and concentration of red fruits; seamless fruit quality, finesse of tannins and fresh acidity.

The Right BankThe Right Bank


D’Angludet, Margaux. 91 - 93+

Dense inky colour, fine aromatic fragrance combining dark fruits and lightly spiced oak, lovely desnse and concentrated rich black fruits flavours here, beautifully proportioned red in which the concentration is moderated by the fine application of lightly spiced oak, succulent tannins and lovely fresh acidity; there's a lot of weight and substance to this wine, which is extremely good.

Pagodes de Cos d'Estournel, St Estèphe. 91 - 93+

A blend of 69% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot and 1% petit verdot in 50% new oak, this represents 44% of the total production. Dense vivid colour, quite lot smoky oak on the nose, chewy, spice-laden dark fruits, very firm chunky tannins, big-boned and structured for a second wine, muscular with powerful dark fruits sweetness and good fresh acidity; very firm but overall beautifully balanced.

Alter Ego de Château Palmer, Margaux. 91 – 93

51% merlot, 49% caberbet sauvignon, and 13.7% alcohol. Dense colour, rich and spicy mulberry and cherry fruitcake; lovely freshness and concentration of ripe red fruits, suave and silky fruit quality, a feeling of balance and succulent richness, with great fruit purity and expression of fruit and deceptive element giving structure and backbone.

Batailley, Pauillac. 91 – 93

Good youthful ruby colour, nice nose, a tad floral, quite attractive fresh violety quality, nice freshness and good bright mulberry-like fruit with fine tannins and fresh juicy acidity and sub-threshhold oak; a tad chewy on the finish but altogether a well-constructed, elegant style.

Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc. 91 – 93

Good dense youthful ruby colour, lovely fresh expression of leafy capsicumy cabernet on the nose, bright dark cherry and cassis fruit freshness here with nicely rendered supple tannins and a feeling of freshness and vibrancy, encased within a subtle framework of oak. Good classic claret for medium to long-term keeping.

Duhart-Milon, Pauillac. 91 – 93

63% cabernet sauvignon, 37% merlot with 50% new oak here. Dense, vivid colour, quite toasty (higher toasted oak than Lafite?), spicy lead pencil oak, quite firm tannins and good fresh acidity behind nice dark fruits, plum and cassis flavours, quite a muscular style with some firm chunky tannins and a touch of dryness behind the sweetness of fruit. Likely to be very good value.

Haut Bages Libéral, Pauillac. 91 – 93

Good youthful ruby colour, intense sweetly perfumed fruit aromatics, rather juicy and vibrant sweet dark berry fruits concentration with a sexy veneer of cedary oak; the structure is quite evident in both tannins and vivid acidity but it slowly melts and settles into its stride. Rather good.

Kirwan, Margaux. 91 – 93

Very deep vivid inky colour, fine fresh , bright, intense nose, good bright fruit concentration showing dark loganberry and damson frutiness framed by firm, big-boned tannins and good fresh acidity; overall a big, muscular wine but good concentration and weight of fruit with the proportion overall to carry it.

La Croix de Beaucaillou, St.Julien. 91 – 93

75% cabernet sauvignon, 25% merlot, 13.4% alcohol, 35% new oak. Dense colour, fine nose, lovely sweet intense red fruits quality, very generously ripe succulently textured cherryish fruit with fine tannins and fresh acidity and excellent overall balance, lovely finesse with excellent savoury acidity, fine precision and freshness.

Phélan Segur, St Estèphe. 91 – 93

Dense youthful ruby colour, fine fresh aromatic, very good elegant style of fruit, juicy sweet floral red fruits with subtle touch of oak, juicy acidity and sweet tannins, very fine-boned for St. Estèphe and well-made with just a slight rustic touch of tannin on the back palate but overall this has excellent fruit quality, intensity and elegance. A great success for a cru bourgeois.

Potensac, Médoc. 91 – 93

Jean Hubert Delon’s excxellent cru bourgeois is 48% merlot, 38% cabernet sauvignon and 14% cabernet franc with 7.3% press wine and a level of 13.9% alcohol. It’s dense and vivid in colour, with a good nose, lovely sweet rich dark fruits concentration, good intensity of flavour, nice subtle touch of oak, very nice fresh quality, excellent overall balance, a well-crafted Médoc with its intense fruit quality, sweet core of cassis fruit and lovely freshness. I bought a case of the 1982 which stood me in very good stead for many years and I fully intend to buy the 2009.

Les Fiefs de Lagrange, St.Julien. 90 – 92+

Good fresh red fruits, very nice juicy fresh red fruits quality, lovely succulent fresh tannins and juicy sour cherry and damson-like fruitiness, with excellent balance and sub-threshold, lightly spiced crafted oak, very well balanced indeed.

Poujeaux, Moulis. 90 - 92+

Dense vivid ruby purple, very attractive fresh dark berry fruit perfume, nicely proportioned oak frames the richly concentrated dark berry fruit quality which is bright and fresh with a fair degree of extraction of tannin that also provides this wine with a framework and structure; the tannins end supple and succulent, so this elegantly styled red looks a very good prospect for the future.

Clément Pichon, Haut-Médoc. 90 – 92

Good depth of ruby, very bright, lovely sweetly succulent red fruits quality, very juicy, full-flavoured and ripe with superbly juicy sour cherry and damson fruit, subtly spiced oak, deceptive firm tannins on the finish but and very good overall balance. Excellent quality for cru bourgeois.

D'Armailhacq, Pauillac. 90 – 92

60% cabernet sauvignon, 24% merlot, 14% cabernet franc, 2% petit verdot, this shows a goodish youthful ruby colour, pleasant nose a tad closed, quite attractive fresh dark berry fruits quality, a tad dry and muscular on the tannin front, but not excessively so; quite good but seems a tad hollow on the mid-plate, as if waiting for the fruit, if it's there, to come though and shine, but I’m pretty confident it’s there.

De Pez, St Estèphe. 90 – 92

65% of production went into this ‘grand vin’, a blend of 47% cabernet sauvignon, 47% merlot and 6% petit verdot. And it’s 13.9% alcohol with 40% new oak. Fine youthful ruby colour, fresh red fruits nose, nice touch of oak, quite sweet on the palate, a touch of spicy oak, very good red fruits concentration, density and freshness, well put together, with lovely succulent red fruits flavours, nicely rounded oak and a good vibrancy , freshness and overall balance. An attractive drink for the medium term.

Goulée, Médoc. 90 - 92

Vivid colour, dense, vibrant dark fruits, a twist of astringency, lovely succulent tannins and very good concentration of dark fruit, nice touch of oak, chunky tannins, powerful fruit, overall, very nice juicy black fruits freshness and balance.

Haura, Graves. 90 – 92

Denis Dubourdieu runs this property in the Graves. A French pun? Irony? Who knows, but this wine has the Dubourdieu aura: dense colour, aromatic, bright mulberry / cherry fruit quality with spicy clove oak, fruit concentration and fine-boned tannins; a juicy and deliciously drinkable claret for the short to medium-term.

Haut Simard, St.Emilion Grand Cru. 90 – 92

Good depth of colour, nice nose, quite oaky palate, good juicy red fruits. Nice supple tannins, some firmness on the back palate, quite oaky, modern New World style, but juicy fruit and nice suppleness and freshness.

Siran, Margaux. 90 – 92

Good colour, attractively vivid bright aromatic quality, nice freshness of black fruits concentration, well-handled oak that's sub-threshhold, very good , intense black fruits flavous with firm, quite big-boned tannins and lovely freshness bringing balance.


La Tour de Bessan, Margaux. 89 – 91+

From Marie-Laure Lurton, good dense colour, very nice nose, touch of leafy cabernet, lovely intense aromatic quality, excellent concentration of black cherry / mulberry fruit, very well-crafted with succulent tannins and good fresh juicy acidity framed by a delicate touch of oak. 89 – 91+

La Dame de Montrose, St Estèphe. 89 – 91

Grande Dame? More of a lady in waiting this second wine of Château Montrose at 28% of the production and a blend of 18% cabernet sauvignon and 82% merlot (yes, you read that right), in15% new oak and 13.8% alcohol. It’s deep in colour, with a nice sweet aromatic quality, good dark fruits flavours, finefreshness and good supple-textured, sweet succulent fruit quality, finishing slightly dry and chunky on the finish, showing its tannins a little, but classic nonetheless.

Bellefont Belcier, St.Emilion Grand Cru. 89 – 91

Quite show oaky on the nose, modern style St Emilion, attractively dense rich fruit, quite sexy vanilla and cedary oak, very fresh mulberryish acidity, good quality. 89 – 91

Camensac, Haut-Médoc. 89 – 91

Good youthful ruby colour, intense aromatic quality, with nice spicy oak, very nice fresh muscular dark berry fruits concentration on the palate which lengthen and soften in the mouth into an attractively juicy mouthful of fresh muberry-like fruitiness, very nice balanced overall.

Clos Floridène, Graves 89 – 91

Relatively light ruby in colour, attractive nose, and very nice sweetly ripe dark fruits flavours, good juicy fresh acidity, firm structure but some elegance and freshness here, a very nice drink overall.

Coufran. 89 – 91

Good youthful ruby colour, aromatic if a tad on the oaky side but nicely spiced oak and dark fruits. Good intense cabernet-based dark berry fruit flavours which are quite firmly structured and masculine at this stage, but the oak is well-handled, there's good vibrancy and freshness and the tannins calm down in the mouth.

De Fieuzal, Pessac-Léognan. 89 – 91

Huge dense purple colour, good blackberry nose, nice sweet rich blackberry fruit takes you to the mid point when quite firm and muscular tannins start to kick in, but also fresh juicy damsony acidity; a big dense, powerful wine with lots of structure so will need plenty of time, but the fruit quality is there.

Fombrauge, St.Emilion Grand Cru. 89 – 91

Dense colour, a suggestion of overripeness on the nose, gig rich concentrated jammy fruit with lots of oak and blackberry jam opulence, perhaps lacking a bit of sublety but should give a lot of pleasure to wine drinkers who enjoy a little jam on their toast.

Fourcas Dupré, Listrac. 89 – 91

Vivid dark ruby, bright, attractive nose, almost floral and vivid, nice bright vivid dark fruit flavours with well-integrated oak, quite firm tannins, but not rustic or aggressive, and an attractively refreshing nip of acidity; very juicy red fruits flavours, very well-made and balanced overall.

La Garde. 89 – 91

Good fresh aromatic quality, quite oaky, very nice rich dark berry fruit with quite a lot of spicy oak and firm tannins, but also fresh juicy acidity, so while quite showy and flashy at the moment, should settle into a very attractive drink.

Les Ormes de Pez, St Estèphe. 89 – 91

Good youthful ruby colour, freshy and aromatic, dense, firm fruit, muscular and a little dry and tannic on the mid-palate at this stage and yet there's some very attractive red fruits quality there with sexy oak and vivid astringency that makes it hard to call, but has good track record.

Monbrison, Margaux. 89 – 91

Good colour, quite attractive nose, good red fruits flavours with quite muscular, big tannins slightly hiding the fruit at the moment, but it's good clean cabernet, fresh and juicy, the oak is well-handled, if the overall impression at the moment is a tad four-square.

Paloumey, Haut-Médoc. 89 – 91

Good colour, aromatic, with an attractively juicy sweet fruit quality, lots of damson and red fruits juiciness, quite firm and masculine, but a very good classic young claret that should give much pleasure within three to seven years.

Bellevue, St.Emilion. 88 – 90

Nice leafy cabernet nose, touch of capsicum with some sexy vanillin oak, very nice ripe, rich cassis fruit concentration, good intensity and richness of fruit, well-crafted oak, with lovely fresh acidity, pretty serious for its level.

Belgrave, Haut-Médoc. 88 – 90

Dense youthful ruby colour, almost inky, quite intense dark berry and cassis quality on the nose, supported by spicy oak, pretty serious for an Haut-Médoc very ripe and opulent , quite showy, with lots of almost lusciously sweet cassis an blackberry fruit, good succulent tannins and spiced vanilla and cedar with enough freshness to provide a balancing framework. Should be good value.

Cambon La Pelouse, Haut-Médoc. 88 – 90.

Dense colour, good sweetly ripe red fruits, quite firm and muscular, we ll-crafted oak, slightly dry masculine tannins. Will need five years plus, but good fruit quality.

Clarke, Listrac. 88 – 90

Good deep bright ruby, nice fresh dark fruits nose, touch of sweet chocolatey oak., nice sweetly ripe cassis fruit opulence and sweetness, beguiling juiciness, very supple tannins and nice fresh acidity; a well-made, thoroughly modern, albeit rather oaky style that's almost approachable now, a good bet for the short and the medium term. Showy, flashy stuff.

Fonbel, St Emilion Grand Cru. 88 – 90

Good colour, pleasant nose and red fruits, quite juicy and fresh, nice fruit quality, pretty seamlessly juicy and voluptuous, well-made, with nice supple texture and spicy oak.

Greysac, Médoc.

Good vivid dark colour, quite an intense aromatic quality here, very nicely concentrated cassisy, cabernet-led fruit with succulently textured sweet tannins, well-crafted oak and bright refreshing acidity balancing and bringing life. There is some tannin bringing structure but it's modest and well-handled. 88 - 90

Lalande Borie, St.Julien. 88 – 90

50% cabernet sauvignon, 40% merlot, 10% cabernet franc, 13.5% alcohol, 25% new oak. Very good colour, attractive sweet red fruits quality, juicy supple tannins and attractively vivid fresh acidity, overall nicely balanced for cru bourgeois with lovely sweet fruit succulence.


Anthony thankyou so much for this fantastic set of notes and for making them available to all. I couldn't work out whether your comment at the end of Haut Bailly was a reference to the heart weepingly powerful song by Joan Armatrading or a plea for affordability !

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