The best Bordeaux wines of 2009

Matthew Jukes picks his favourite Bordeaux wines from the 2009 vintage - and urges you not to forget 2008.

Last week I boarded an Easyjet flight for the world's most important wine region in a mildly cynical mood. I was off to taste three hundred or so 2009 wines from barrel samples. The reason for my cynicism? 2009 is the most hyped vintage since the last most hyped one. The Bordelais are masters at talking themselves up every year.

On arrival I found Bordeaux much busier than last year. The economic situation is a little rosier now than it was and there were far more Americans and Far Easterners than ever before. They were chasing the dream of an immaculate vintage and, in the process, allocations from the many lucky Chteaux struggling to supply enough wine for an ever-growing world thirst.

To help me decide on quality, I like to read weather reports. But I don't look as far into them as some others do in their attempt to second-guess the quality of a vintage. We all know the weather in the first half of last year was, in general, appalling and it was appalling in Bordeaux, too. Until mid-July many winemakers didn't rate their chances of producing a decent, clean harvest at all.

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However, the sun always shines on the French. An uninterrupted spell (an Indian summer, no less) helped the grapes to ripen fully late into the autumn. Hail caused some problems on the Right Bank, but most people had decent yields and very fit grapes indeed. In many cases though, this sunshine and some unusual water stress conditions, with accompanying long hang time on the vine, led to some pretty high potential alcohols. That's especially true for Merlot.

My favourite Left Bank wines are those with very heavy Cabernet Sauvignon content. Cabernet Sauvignon seemed to keep its feet on the ground with low to mid-thirteen degree alcohols, but Merlot, in some cases, hit sixteen! However, wise blending made sure that this 'hot' Merlot didn't tip the wine into a state of unbalance.

On the Right Bank high alcohol wines were more prevalent and my favourites were again those with a superb fruit brightness and control, but no jammy, hot finishes. So was my cynicism justified? 2009 has some great wines, and some of the best are perhaps better than in 2005. But 2005 had a uniformity that was incredible. With so many people dropping the ball in the vineyard and on the blending table in 2009, it cannot be said that this year is 'better' than 2005.

Prices will sky-rocket too, making most of the classed growths very dear indeed. Without the freshness of acidity that the 2005s possess (in harmony with their tannins), 2009 will be a more forward and juicy vintage in the cellar. The majority of the wines will drink well from eight years, but the great CabernetSauvignon-dominant wines, such as Lafite, Margaux and Latour, will run and run.

Interestingly, I tasted a lot of 2008s last week too they looked fresh, balanced and vibrant. I really like these wines and you should not dismiss them. They will look very good value indeed in a few months' time when all the 2009 prices have been released.

So, should you buy wines from this fantastic vintage? Yes but do look to my value list below. Despite the fact that prices will be crazy (some estates made exceptional wines), they will not be able to push them up too far. If you would like to see a full list of my scores, please have a look at my website at

Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year.

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Chteau d'Yquem, 1er Cru Superieur (Sauternes)20/20
Chteau Lafite-Rothschild, 1er Cru (Pauillac)19.5/20
Chteau Margaux, 1er Cru (Margaux)19.5/20
Chteau Loville-Las Cases, 2me Cru (St-Julien)19/20
Chteau Pontet-Canet, 5me Cru (Pauillac)19/20
Chteau Latour, 1er Cru (Pauillac)19/20
Chteau Ausone, Grand Cru Class A' (St-Emilion)19/20
Vieux-Chteau Certan (Pomerol)19/20
Chteau Rieussec, 1er Cru (Sauternes)19/20
Chteau Haut-Brion Blanc, Pessac-Lognan19/20
Chteau Pontet-Canet, 5me Cru (Pauillac)19/20
Chteau Loville-Poyferr 2me Cru (St-Julien)18.5/20
Chteau Calon-Sgur, 3me Cru (St-Estphe)18.5/20
Pavillon Rouge de Chteau Margaux (Margaux)18.5/20
Chteau Grand-Puy-Lacoste, 5me Cru (Pauillac)18/20
Chteau Talbot, 4me Cru (St-Julien)18/20
Chteau Haut-Batailley, 5me Cru (Pauillac)18/20
Chteau Labgorce, (Margaux)18/20
Chteau Langoa-Barton, 3me Cru (St-Julien)17.5/20
Chteau Lafon-Rochet, 4me Cru (St-Estphe)2.8
Matthew Jukes

Matthew Jukes has worked in the UK wine business for well over three decades and during this time has written 14 wine books.  

Matthew regularly lectures, judges, speaks at wine conferences and runs masterclass tastings for both corporate and private clients all over the world. Matthew is also the creator of his ground-breaking initiative, the One Day Wine School, an indulgent day of tasting and learning first performed in 2006.

He has been the MoneyWeek wine correspondent since 2006 and has written a weekly column for the Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine since 1999. His four highly-acclaimed, annual wine reports – the Burgundy En Primeur Report, the Bordeaux En Primeur Report, the Piemonte Report and the 100 Best Australian Wines – are published on his website,

Matthew is one of the world’s leading experts on Australian wine and, with Brisbane-based wine writer Tyson Stelzer, runs an annual competition in Australia to find ‘The Great Australian Red’.  He was made Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK at the 2012 Australia Day Foundation Gala dinner. 

Matthew is a winner of the International Wine and Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year Trophy.  His thoughts, recommendations and tastings notes are followed very closely by the wine world at large.