Friday, April 30, 2010

The Bordeaux 2009 Barrel-Tasting Reviews Are In

The preliminary reviews of the much-anticipated 2009 Bordeaux have finally been filed by all of the major players in the field: Robert Parker, Wine Spectator, Decanter, and Jancis Robinson. (Take a look at this chart for an overview.) And while there are some real areas of disagreement, the overall impression is that the ‘09s will live up to all the hype surrounding them.

Earlier this week, Parker released his preliminary scores and impressions of the wines, and, as put it, his “ringing endorsement of Bordeaux 2009 shows the vintage has brought together American and European palates as never before...In his assessment of the vintage, published [earlier this week], the influential American critic says 2009 'may turn out to be the finest vintage I have tasted in 32 years of covering Bordeaux.’”

Of course, not all the critics agree on all the wines, and, as always, there is some debate about what, exactly, a great Left or Right Bank Bordeaux is supposed to taste like. And predictably, much of that debate centers on the amount of alcohol or ripeness that a wine possesses, with the parties falling into their predictable camps (Parker of the more-is-better bent and Robinson less so; the Cos d'Estournel is one of the wines causing a fair bit of controversy).

All of these scores, however, are just impressions at this point: The wines, after all, still have a significant amount of time to go in barrel, and their blends will continue to be altered before they are finally bottled. As such, they’re still quite young, and different from the final form they will ultimately take. (Check out this excellent piece, from the Wall Street Journal, about the nature of tasting these wines so early.)

Despite all the drama and small-scale disagreements, though, most of the big critics seem to concur that 2009 was an extraordinary year, and that the wines have the potential to be among the greatest in recent memory.


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