Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bordeaux vintages 2009-20111

Well, I'm back from Bordeaux with great news about upcoming vintages. I will continue with the series on my Bordeaux suppliers, but I just couldn't wait to spread the news, in case you haven't already heard.

Bordeaux wines from the 2009 vintage are simply luscious. There are gobs of fruit making the wines very approachable now, with lots of ripe tannins and soft acidity for balance.  As with many very warm seasons as in 2009, the vintage in general is somewhat lower in acidity, and with the ripe tannins in mind, a vintage to drink sooner than later, though I haven't yet met a Bordeaux that didn't benefit from time in the bottle, safely cached away.

The quality of the 2009 vintage also means that the top "classified growths" will be priced like investment-grade securities, and indeed much of this wine is bought by collectors for investment and resale.

Not to worry, there are hundreds of top notch producers in Bordeaux, the region being one of the world's largest (perhaps the largest) and most consistent producer of quality wines, and you will find lots of great quality Bordeaux wines for less that $25, and much from $10-20 on the shelves. There are many 2009 wines already on the market and more coming.

Ok, I'll let you in on the not-so-secret secret.................2010 is even better!  Take all the fruit from 2009,  add nothing less that an almost perfect growing season, and you have more tannic structure, yet still ripe and round, and just the right level of acidity to make magnificent wines. How so you ask? Well here it is in brief:

- Plenty of rain in the late fall, followed by a cold winter that knocked down much of the mold and mildew spores, reducing the pressure on the vines from powdery and downy mildew, and grey rot.

- Normal spring with good bud break and a short and vigorous flowering (floraison) providing a homogeneity of the grapes allowing a consistent ripening throughout the season.

- Warm, dry and sunny summer with little problems with mildew and mold, and a maturation of the skins (coloring or "veraison") that progressed gently and consistently, and aided with cool nights and warm sunny days moving into the month of September.

- Conditions for harvest were as good as they could be, dry and sunny at the end of September into October, so the grapes could be left on the vines to their peak of ripeness, no less and no more, and the cool nights prevented the development of the mold, Botrytis cinerea that can really ruin a good time!

The 2010 wines have come out of barrel late fall, early winter, and moved to storage in either stainless steel or concrete (epoxy-lined) vats for fining before bottling this summer, and you can expect to see the early entry-level quality wines arrive on the shelves this fall. The better quality wines will begin to arrive late fall or next spring.

Finally, 2011. Though not at the quality of either the 2009 or 2010 vintages, from what I have tasted out of barrel, this is a very promising vintage. Certainly a bit more heterogeneous but good producers were able to sort out the parcels to use only the best for their "flagship" wines.

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