Ordinarily, I would warn people off believing the hype at this early stage. However, after recent trips to the Rhône, Bordeaux and Burgundy I’m beginning to believe it myself! A long hard winter followed by a wonderful summer – crucially with just the right amount of rain when the vines needed it – has got tongues wagging that 2009 could really be something special for the wine regions of France.
I was lucky enough to witness the harvest coming in at famous first-growth Château Margaux. It was fascinating to see the team whose job it was to eliminate less than perfect bunches standing as good as idle at the sorting tables. Some may see that as a bit of a waste of time and money. But ultimately it means that very few of the grapes were going to waste – a sign of a great harvest and one that potentially bodes very well indeed for the vintage.
I tasted a tank of Merlot at Château Batailley in Bordeaux and some Volnay at Burgundy’s Domaine Henri Boillot, both yet to go through malolactic fermentation. Before this second fermentation has had the chance to convert harsh malic acid into rounder lactic acid, red wines usually taste green and aggressive. In both cases though, the ripeness and balance of the wines at this early stage was really quite exciting. The winemakers clearly think so too – you can see it in their eyes. Hopefully for anyone looking to buy en primeur, this will not be replaced by dollar signs!
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