Nigh on perfect weather conditions have brought much praise for the 2009 Bordeaux grapes and wine experts are hailing this vintage as being perhaps, one of the best for the last 25 years, possibly on record. Growers at the chateaux have been explaining about the ideal circumstances that have led to the bumper and exceptional crop of grapes, and wine makers are predicting an even better claret than the practically perfect vintage of 2005. Denis Dubourdieu, director of the Bordeaux Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences and a renowned winemaker himself said, “Nature has been extremely generous, it is sumptuous. It’s difficult to find comparisons, you have to go back to the climatology of the 40s to find, perhaps, comparable conditions.” And Olivier Bernard of Domaine du Chevalier in the Graves agreed, commenting, “2009 has been a textbook good year. Cold winter, damp spring, hot and dry summer and extended warm and sunny harvest. In my 25 years of winemaking, these are the best grapes I have brought in. Better than 2005, 2000, 1989 and 1982.”
So what goes into an ideal combination for growing a vintage year? Evidently it amounts to good levels of sunlight and some nice rain falls. Meteo France released figures for the area and in September, the 233.49 hours of sunshine recorded were 50 more hours than the 30 year average. Whilst the rainfall of 48.6mm was almost half the 30 year average of 90.3mm. This mix of hot, sunny days, combined with cool, dry nights in the final growing but with enough rainfall in between, created the ideal conditions for the grapes to prosper. The cooler, dry nights prevented the grapes from over-ripening and then, just when a drought was predicted, which would have stopped ripening, allowing the tannins to form, the rains came in time. Pierre Lurton, General Manager of Chateau Cheval Blanc in Saint Emilion sounds relieved! “(It) came like the answer to a prayer, exactly at the right time, and the vines continued maturing.” This has resulted in the grapes containing all the right amounts of sugars, colour and tannins that go into making a great vintage.
It seems that almost everyone is celebrating this extraordinary year, with wine blogger to the British importer Berry Brothers & Rudd, Max Lalondrelle, saying, “The weather in Bordeaux (and the rest of France) has been textbook, with the fruits being the healthiest I have ever seen All the ingredients of a good vintage look to be in place.” Philippe Dhalluin of Chateau Mouton Rothschild added, “It is not possible that this vintage will not be exceptional.” But despite the great year, some people are still hesitant as to whether the wines will sell. With Nick Pegna, director of Berry Bros Hong Kong, commenting, “Is the world ready for another great Bordeaux vintage? The speculative money may have dried up in Europe, and it is likely that the UK and US will find it a tough sell. But there will be an appetite for it in Asia. Perhaps the hardest thing will be convincing a sceptical public that the huge investment made just four years ago will have to be repeated for another ‘vintage of the century.’”
So what should you be looking out for when buying a 2009 vintage wine? According to Tim Clarke, who writes for Wine Tours, you could try the wonderful tasting Beaujolais Cru. Or for a full flavoured fruity wine, have a sip of Juliénas or Morgon. Otherwise, Fleurie, Côte de Brouilly, St Amour and Brouilly are all good bets. It could be a good year to put aside some Moulin à Vent or even better, some Côte de Brouilly for a few years ageing. Special cuvées of Morgon, Juliénas or even Fleurie from the lower part of the village could age well too