Along with Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Château Calon Ségur is the first ‘top’ Left Bank 2009 claret to be released En Primeur today. UK merchants are offering the wine at around £600 a case, in bond (ex-duty and Vat), two years before delivery.
Here is the announcement on the website of the UK’s biggest Bordeaux merchant, Farr Vintners, whose owner has just bought Crystal Palace FC:
“Also released this morning was the superb Calon Segur. At the moment (even by calling in favours in Bordeaux) it looks like we will only have enough wine to satisfy about half of the pre-orders and certainly not enough for this great St Estephe to ever make it to general sale.”
Blimey. I thought the 2009 was a fabulous wine when I tasted it in April, and rated it 92-95, while Robert Parker gave it an almost identical 92-94+. Jancis Robinson awarded it a very high, for her, 18/20. But ‘sold out’ at £600 seems crazy in the context of earlier vintages.
Calon Ségur, owned by the formidable Madame Capbern Gasqueton, right, is a traditionalist’s favourite and patience will be required – drink 2023-2040+. In 2009 there is a whopping 90% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, compared to 82% for the 2008, and by my calculations, they made about 15,000 cases of the first wine: with 46 hectares in production in ’09 from 55 ha overall, and yields of 53hl/ha, 58% went into the Grand Vin, 25% into the second wine and the rest a third wine. Keep reading
Any pro will tell you that buying top wines from Bordeaux En Primeur, or splashing out while the wine is still in barrel and two years before delivery, is a risk. So you should buy from reliable sources.
The following 20 UK merchants have a strong track record, and could be considered the Premiership as far as En Primeur is concerned, with other candidates in the frame for promotion – see below and feel free to comment. I’ve listed the 20 in rough order of Bordeaux muscle (think allocations), range, prices, services and website. Prices are always quoted In Bond, which excludes Duty at £20+ and VAT on the lot. Check for extras, such as delivery.
For ‘Deal or No Deal?’ updates on wines as prices are released, follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/GavinQuinney
It’s all quiet this week during Vinexpo Asia, where the Bordelais are wooing new customers. Here’s a round-up of the Best Buys of Bordeaux 2009 En Primeur so far, in order of my preference.
Of course, the top Pomerols are out of most people’s budgets but I bet the glorious La Fleur-Pétrus (right, yesterday) will set you back a lot more in five years. Meanwhile, Gazin, Providence and Certan de May were all ‘perhaps’ for me at £540, £700 and £700 respectively. Then they sold out. Keep reading
2009 is an excellent vintage for the sweet wines of Sauternes but I don’t subscribe to the commonly held view that it’s a ‘best ever’ vintage there.
The wines are delicious but very sweet (high in residual sugar) and a bit one-dimensional, with the exception of d’Yquem (right), Climens and Rieussec. Prices for most Sauternes have been released and many have been put up, so much so that it seems daft to pay 50% more for a 2009 in barrel than an equally good 2007 in bottle from the same property. It’s noticeable that most 2009 wines are still available after a month on the market. Some producers, however, deserve credit for showing more restraint.
Some very good dry whites too, not truly outstanding – actually, not unlike 2005, a brilliant red vintage and very good for both sweet and dry white – but it’s not a vintage of the decade for dry whites. The list comprises mostly the top wines of Pessac-Léognan – not included here are the dry whites of Entre Deux Mers, Graves or Bordeaux Blancs. Keep reading
Such is the demand for top Bordeaux from great years that the best wines from the two previous outstanding vintages, 2000 and 2005, have gone up substantially in value, despite the economic downturn. Here are my answers to 20 questions about the much-hyped 2009s.
1. Is Bordeaux 2009 ‘the vintage of a lifetime’?
I hope so, because we lost 80% of our crop in two hailstorms in May 2009. Apart from this minor detail, the weather was brilliant, all the way through to the end of the harvest in mid-October. I suppose that makes me well qualified to say, after watching the weather and tasting wines ‘En Primeur’ for ten years here, I have never witnessed such superb conditions for the harvest in Bordeaux and sampled so many outstanding young wines the following Spring. Many leading Châteaux have made their greatest ever wines, especially on the Left Bank.
That doesn’t mean to say you should buy the wines, if prices are too high. Fortunately, outside a relatively small circle of estates that could sell their 2009 production several times over regardless of price, there are many outstanding wines that are worth buying in 2009. Keep reading