By: David Driscoll | K&L Spirits Buyer (and wine enthusiast!)
Working at K&L, where every day presents a new selection of wines to taste, analyze, and enjoy, you eventually reach a crossroads that must be passed: you can either jump on the Bordeaux bandwagon, or go work somewhere else. In all serious, we taste a lot of Bordeaux wine at K&L. One of our owners, Clyde Beffa, has built the entire store around his expertise on the wines from this region with his relationships abroad helping to secure allocations from sought-after chateaux at attractive prices. Bordeaux is integral to the business we do here at K&L. Even if it's not my area of expertise (let's talk whisky!), I still know an awful lot about Bordeaux. Because I have no choice! Why fight it? The wines are delicious and I'm privileged to have the opportunity, so I had better make the most of it.
Last Tuesday was our weekly staff training session and this week's focus was the ultra-sexy 2009 vintage (XXX rated by Parker, I believe). We've been hearing about this crop for years, about how it's the best of the decade and how it might be one of the greatest ever – period! What's troubling about a vintage with such lush fruit is that the wines taste wonderful in their youth. Despite their instant drinkability, we need to show some restraint! We're paying for the ability of these wines to age gracefully over the next decade or two, so we had better get our money's worth. Otherwise, we're spending lavishly for wine that hasn't come anywhere close to its true potential.
While the prices for great vintages tend to be on the higher side, 2009 was a great vintage for just about every producer. That means we can find fantastic wines at all different price points. Since I'm a bargain hunter, I found plenty of great options at my price level in this tasting that I simply could not resist. I loaded up big time. Here's what I thought stood out:
2009 Le Bonnat, Graves $16.99 - Plush, well-balanced wine that still has classic tannic structure. Richer in style, but still authentic.
2009 Soleil, St. Emilion (inquire) - Soft fruit, silky textures, but with balanced acidity. This is very approachable and tough to resist.
2009 Corbin, St. Emilion $34.99 - Fantastic concentration of rich, juicy fruit with silky tannins. Jancis Robinson said "it's almost as though every single tannin had been individually polished." Yum.
2009 La Dauphine, Fronsac $21.99 - Wow. Buy everything you can. This is wonderfully delicate wine, gentle tannins, pure flavors of fruit and spice, graceful balance. We have it in magnums, too. Might want to grab a few of those as well.
2009 La Chapelle de Calon, St-Estephe $19.99 - Keeping my hands off of this will very tough. This is the third wine of Calon Segur, one of my favorite Bordeaux producers, and this has absolutely incredible fruit. Juicy, soft, integrated tannins. Perfect wine.
2009 Capbern Gasqueton, St-Estephe $22.99 - Maybe as good a deal as anyone is likely to find in this vintage. Made by the same team from Calon Segur, this is a $20 wine built for the long haul. I bought half a case without blinking. Delicious black cherry flavors with minerality to balance it out. Fine tannins. Buy fast.
For all of the whisky I drink at K&L, I rarely pour myself a glass when I get home. I spend so much time drinking booze in the store that I'm begging for a glass of wine by the time I get out of here. Guys like Jeff Garneau have inspired me to drink more Bordeaux, much like I've increased their passion for single malt. With wines this good, it's hard to justify drinking anything else. Ten years from now, that is.
Load up. This vintage is that good.