Bordeaux 2009 at the Union des Grands Crus, part 1: Sauternes

Every year in May, Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux arranges a visitors’ weekend for private customers, under the name Le Week-end des Grands Crus. The first day is a wine exhibition where the châteaux present the latest bottled vintage next to one vintage a couple of years older. This year, the top vintage 2009 was the young vintage on display. The second day, a number of châteux are open for visit. Last year I only wrote up my notes on the Sauternes wines (and I didn’t actually get around to translate them into English until a couple of days ago). This year I will convert more of my notes into blog posts, and I start with the ones on Sauternes.

This year’s tasting featured the same 13 Sauternes/Barsac producers as last year, and the lineup is really exellent! Across Bordeaux as a whole, a number of the most famous producers don’t participate, such as Château d’Yquem. But of the group that usually is counted as just behind Yquem, three out of four particpated: Climens, de Fargues and Suduiraut. Rieussecis the producer missing. The 26 wines presented were distributed in the following way in terms of vintages: 2009 – 12, 2007 – 6, 2005 – 2, 2004 – 1, 2003 – 3, 2002 – 1, and 1999 – 1. Therefore, the tasting also gave me some possibility to evaluate the style of the 2007s as well.

This is what Sauternes look before bottling. Château Sigalas-Rabaud in May 2011, so its probably vintages 2009 and 2010 in the barrels.

The Sauternes vintage 2009 comes across as rather homogenous in quality and style, in difference from 2008 (last year), where I couldn’t really see much of a stylistic similarity across the wines presented. In general the 2009s show clear botrytis aromas with honey notes and a noticeable spiciness, together with a good concentration. The best wines also show good acidity and aromatic or flowery notes. Without doubt it is a very good vintage, and on average I have scored the 2009s slightly higher than I did the 2008s last year. If the vintage has a fault, it is that it tends towards somewhat low acidity. I think that is probably somewhat similar to 2005.

The reference vintage that really impressed me was 2007, shown by six producers. In general, these 2007s showed higher acidity and more elegance than the 2009s, as well as more citric aromas. It’s not uncommon for some vintages where the red wines don’t perform well, to producer top Sauternes. This is true for 1997 as well as for 2007. However, bad reds don’t always mean good Sauternes: 1991 and 1992 were rather miserable vintages for both reds and Sauternes.

Wines tasted, all of them from 75 cl bottles:

Château Bastor-Lamontagne 2009
Sauternes. Grape varieties: 80% Sémillon, 17% Sauvignon Blanc and 3% Muscadelle (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: botrytis, baked apple, dried fruit.
Palate: honey, spice, good concentration, OK acidity. Spicy/sweet style. 90-91 p

Bastor-Lamontagne is usually a good buy, probably due to the fact that is performs on a 2nd cru classé level despite being unclassified.

Château Bastor-Lamontagne 2007
Sauternes. Grape varieties:  80% Sémillon, 17% Sauvignon Blanc and 3% Muscadelle (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: botrytis, spice, some citrus.
Palate: honey, good concentration, rather noticeable spiciness, good acidity. 91-92 p
Slightly more fresh and more balanced taste than the 2009.

Château Climens 2009
Barsac, 1er cru classé. Grape variety: 100% Sémillon.
Nose: honey, botrytis, some baked yellow apple, slightly flowery.
Palate: honey, very spicy, quite concentrated, good acidity. Long and spicy aftertaste. Young, 92-93 p

Château Climens 2005
Barsac, 1er cru classé. Grape variety: 100% Sémillon.
Nose: honey, spice, botrytis, slightly aromatic/flowery.
Palate: honey, quite concentrated, spice, rather good acidity. Rather young, 92-93 p

Château Coutet 2009
Barsac, 1er cru classé. Grape varieties: 75% Sémillon, 23% Sauvignon Blanc and 2% Muscadelle (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: honey, botrytis, citrus,  slightly flowery/aromatic.
Palate: honey, spice, citrus, good acidity, fresh aftertaste. Young, elegant style, 92-93 p

Château Coutet 2007
Barsac, 1er cru classé. Grape varieties: 75% Sémillon, 23% Sauvignon Blanc and 2% Muscadelle (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: citrus including noticeable orange zest notes, botrytis, very flowery and elegant.
Palate: honey, some spice, clearly oily with citrus and zest notes good acidity. Pure and long aftertaste. Very elegant! Young, 94-95 p

I scored this “92-93 p?” last year. Let’s hope we can write that down to development of the wine rather than inconsistency on my part. 🙂 This wine showed that elegance that Barsac should be able to possess to a higher extent than other Sauternes wines.

Château de Fargues 2009
Sauternes. Grape varieties: 80% Sémillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: honey, spice, some dried fruit, discrete smoke notes, elegant.
Palate: honey, spice, citrus, hinte of mineral, good acidity. Young, 92-93+ p

Château de Fargues 2003
Sauternes. Grape varieties: 80% Sémillon och 20% Sauvignon Blanc (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: honey, spice, botrytis, some dried fruit, hint of petrol.
Palate: honey, spice, some citrus, rather good acidity. Fresh and elegant for a 2003. Still rather young, 91-92 p.

Château de Rayne-Vigneau 2009
Sauternes, 1er cru classé. Grape varieties: 74% Sémillon, 24% Sauvignon Blanc and 2% Muscadelle (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: honey, botrytis, spice.
Palate: spice, honey, some citrus, good acidity. Fresh, but some tendencies to a “foresquare” palate. 90-91 p

Château de Rayne-Vigneau 2007
Sauternes, 1er cru classé. Grape varieties: 74% Sémillon, 24% Sauvignon Blanc and 2% Muscadelle (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: citrus, botrytis, some honey and spice, slightly aromatic/flowery, elegant.
Palate: honey, spice, citrus, good acidity, fresh style. Young, 92-93 p

Château Doisy Daëne 2009
Sauternes, 2me cru classé. Grape varieties: 87% Sémillon, 13% Sauvignon Blanc.
Nose: honey, botrytis, some citrus, slightly aromatic/flowery.
Palate: good concentration, honey, spice, good acidity. Young, 91-92+ p

Château Doisy Daëne 2003
Sauternes, 2me cru classé. Grape varieties: 95% Sémillon, 5% Sauvignon Blanc
Nose: honey, citrus, some spice. Not that pronounced botrytis notes.
Palate: spice, honey, dried fruit, rather good acidity. Slightly “coarse” compared to several of the other wines. 90-91 p

Château Doisy-Védrines 2009
Sauternes, 2me cru classé.
Nose: botrytis, honey, some herbal notes.
Palate: honey, spice, rather good acidity. Young, 91-92 p

Château Doisy-Védrines 2004
Sauternes, 2me cru classé
Nose: botrytis med some “glue solvent” notes, heather honey.
Palate: honey, spice, good acidity, some citrus. Nuanced, but less concentrated than most 05/07/09s. 90-91 p
Scored the same wine “90-91 p?” last year.

Château Guiraud 2009
Sauternes, 1er cru classé. Grape varieties: 65% Sémillon, 35% Sauvignon Blanc (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: honey, botrytis, spice, some dried fruit, slightly flowery.
Palate: honey, spice, rather good acidity. 91-92 p

Château Guiraud 2002
Sauternes, 1er cru classé. Grape varieties: 65% Sémillon, 35% Sauvignon Blanc (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: citrus, some winter apple, botrytis, some “glue solvent” notes.
Palate: honey, spice, rather good acidity, slightly “coarse”. 90-91 p

Château La Tour Blanche 2009
Sauternes, 1er cru classé. Grape varieties: 83% Sémillon, 12% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Muscadelle (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: botrytis, citrus, some spice, slightly flowery.
Palate: honung, spice, rather good acidity. Young, 91-92 p

Château La Tour Blanche 2007
Sauternes, 1er cru classé. Grape varieties: 83% Sémillon, 12% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Muscadelle (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: botrytis, citrus, honey, slightly flowery/aromatic.
Palate: honey, spice, good concenrtation, good acidity. Young, 92-93 p

Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 2009
Sauternes, 1er cru classé. Grape varieties: 90% Sémillon, 8% Sauvignon Blanc and 2% Muscadelle (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: citrus, botrytis, honey, flowery/aromatic.
Palate: honey, spice, good acidity. Rather fresh and elegant in style. Young, 92-93 p

Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 2005
Sauternes, 1er cru classé. Grape varieties: 90% Sémillon, 8% Sauvignon Blanc and 2% Muscadelle (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: citrus, honey, some botrytis, flower/aromatic.
Palate: honey, spice, rather good acidity. 91-92 p
Scored the same wine “91-92 p?” last year.

Château Nairac 2009
Barsac, 2me cru classé
Nose: botrytis, honey, citrus. (Could almost have been the nose of a Riesling TBA.)
Palate: good concentration, spice, honey, rather good acidity. Spicy style. 90-91 p

Château Nairac 2007
Barsac, 2me cru classé
Nose: citrus, botrytis, slightly aromatic/flowery, elegant.
Palate: spice, honey, rather good acidity, citrus. More elegant than 2009. Young, 91-92+ p

Château Sigalas Rabaud didn’t bring their 2009, but rather presented two other vintages.

Château Sigalas Rabaud 2007
Sauternes, 1er cru classé. Grape varieties: 85% Sémillon, 15% Sauvignon Blanc and 1% Muscadelle (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: citrus zest, honey, botrytis, discrete spice, flowery/aromatic, elegant.
Palate: heather honey, noticeable spiciness, slight herbal notes, good acidity. A bit differently styled, both spicy (i.e., powerful) and herbal (i.e., nuanced). 92-93 p

Château Sigalas Rabaud 2003
Sauternes, 1er cru classé. Grape varieties: 85% Sémillon, 15% Sauvignon Blanc and 1% Muscadelle (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: fried apple, winter apples, botrytis, some petrol notes, spice.
Palate: spice, heather honey, rather good acidity, citrus and yellow apple. Well developed, fresh and elegant for a 2003. 92-93 p
Scored the same wine “91-92 p?” last year.

Château Suduiraut 2009
Sauternes, 1er cru classé. Grape varieties: 90% Sémillon and 10% Sauvignon Blanc (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: citrus, botrytis, honey, aromatic/flowery.
Palate: honey, some spice, good acidity, citrus, freshness with hints of mineral. Young, 93-94+ p.
More fresh than most 2009s, which should mean that it has a good potential for the future.

Château Suduiraut 1999
Sauternes, 1er cru classé. Grape varieties: 90% Sémillon and 10% Sauvignon Blanc (vineyard proportions, not blend data for this vintage).
Nose: citrus zest, some dried fruit, flowery notes, some botrytis with hints of petrol notes.
Palate: spice, some honey, citrus and dried fruit, rather good acidity. Fresh style. 91-92 p
Less concentrated aromas than most 03/05/07/09s.

Very few wine consumers seem to realise just how good Sauternes and other high-end sweet and semi-sweet wines – German Riesling has to be mentioned here – really are, and the intensive and elegant aromas they have. Most sweet wines are very difficult to sell, and they have been so for quite some time, so recent low-carb diets are probably not to blame. Producing them is therefore not very good business for the producers. Perhaps the producers of such wines should try turning to enlightening music of the following kind to persuade wine consumers that sugar and honey notes are good?

The Swedish version of this post can be found here.

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This entry was posted in 2009, Sauternes, Sémillon. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Bordeaux 2009 at the Union des Grands Crus, part 1: Sauternes

  1. Pingback: Visit to Château Clerc Milon in Pauillac | Tomas's wine blog

  2. Pingback: Sauternes 2010 – a top vintage tasted at the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux | Tomas's wine blog

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