The red wine flight was a colossal showing for the 2009s, with perfect wines from Cos d'Estournel, La Mission Haut-Brion, Smith Haut Lafitte, Pape Clément and Haut-Brion. These amazing wines are not only showing their individual, singular terroir characteristics at age six, but the luxurious, extravagant richness and body of this vintage. As I have written and said publically many times, 2009 is the modern-day version of 1982, except much more consistent, as many more properties ratcheted up the level of quality by making stricter selections not only in the vineyard, but also in the winery as well. The tour de force, and a sleeper of the vintage that I mentioned early on, was the 2009 Cos d'Estournel, a monumental wine that may well go down in history as this vintage's 1947 Cheval Blanc. Also remarkable was the 2009 Smith Haut Lafitte. One expects the Mission Haut-Brion, Haut-Brion and Pape Clément to hit the highest points in a vintage like this - and they did.
Medium to deep garnet colored, the 2009 Pape Clement struts flamboyantly out of the glass, featuring beautifully opulent preserved black fruits, Morello cherries and Chinese five spice with underlying notions of truffles, iron ore and tobacco plus a waft of sandalwood. Full-bodied, the voluptuous fruit has a firm foundation of super ripe, grainy tannins and bags of freshness supporting layer upon layer of black fruit, exotic spices and earth-laced flavors, finishing very long. Drink 2019-2055.
Wonderful aromas of plums and blueberries and flowers. Full-bodied with plums, stones, hazelnuts and milk chocolate, and a long, long finish. Marvelous. Best ever. Try in 2017.
Pretty dark crimson. Hint of toastiness. Bone dry. Succulent. Real clarity and purity. Everything in the right place - dry but not drying finish. Wonderful balance. A real contrast to the white...! (Both tasted blind.) Date tasted 2nd April 2010. Drink 2017-2030.
Owner Bernard Magrez has made serious investments here since the late 1990's and recent vintages have been outstanding thanks to extremely low yields, labour-intensive sorting of grapes and modern wine-making techniques. Prices are moving up at Pape Clément but so is the quality, which bears no relation at all to the weedy wines of the early 1980's and before. The 2009 looks like Vintage Port. This is thick and unctuous, jam-packed with fruit. There is a lovely sweetness on the palate and although this is a powerhouse it is not over-done. Inky with Impressive depth and still typical of its origins despite the high level of wine-making. A huge wine. The one thing that it lacks is charm.
There are juicy black fruits on the nose and the richness packs out the palate. Blackberry intermingles with cassis enriched by damsons. Although the tannins are ripe adding to the lushness there is enough red fruited freshness to balance lifting the flavours and ensuring there is nothing jammy about the palate.Drink 2020-2040.
Black red, excellent extraction of beautifully concentrated ripe blackcurrant fruit, great suppleness on attack and a beautiful fragrance, great polish, class and depth. Drink 2017-35.
Although the 2009 Pape Clement may not be as sublime as the 2005 or 2000, but it is very close to those two efforts, and it will be fascinating to compare them (as well as the 2008 and 2010) over the following three decades. A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc with a modest 13.5% alcohol, the 2009 reveals considerable structure and tannin along with tell-tale notes of burning embers, scorched earth, graphite, blueberries, blackberries and toasty vanillin, and a full-bodied mouthfeel. This rich, full offering is surprisingly backward. This cuvee should drink well in 5-6 years as one rarely has to wait a decade or more to enjoy Pape Clement. It should age for three decades or more. Drink 2017-2047.
This 13th century vineyard situated in the suburbs of Pessac is owned by one of Bordeaux's most interesting visionaries, Bernard Magrez. He has done a remarkable job in turning around this once moribund property that made a bevy of undrinkable wines into one of the superstars of Bordeaux.
A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc, the 2009 Pape Clement is not as dense or provocative as the 2005, but it is a worthy competitor. Tighter and more muscular than the 2005, the 2009 reveals an opaque purple color along with notes of graphite, blueberries, and blackberries, stunning richness, a full-bodied mouthfeel, and tremendous length and intensity. Some patience will be required, and I do not believe this effort will achieve the near perfection of the 2005, but it is another winner in this extraordinary vintage. Yields were 43 hectoliters per hectare, and the wine finished around 13.5% alcohol. (Tasted four times.)
Historically one of the oldest vineyards in Bordeaux (having once been owned by Pope Clement, who gets more credit for what he did in Chateauneuf du Pape than in Graves), this 700-year old Pessac vineyard has turned out another profound wine under the administration of proprietor Bernard Magrez.
Tasted at the chateau. A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, cropped at 43hl/ha between 24th September and 21st October, this Pape-Clement has a ripe, how shall I say, almost "feline" nose that seems to purr with class. Very fine delineation and very focused. Just a touch of tobacco developing in the glass. The palate is full-bodied, dense and very weighty, bold but firm tannins, a more masculine Pape-Clement and beautifully balanced towards the finish. Very pure with a cool, refined finish. This is sophisticated and classy. Tasted April 2010.
From Robert Parker's Hong Kong Tasting, 8th Nov 2011:
A nose of sweet tobacco and wet earth with lots of ripe fruit. Plenty of blueberry character. Also lots of licorice. Full bodied, with super silky tannins and a long, long finish. Chewy now. Muscular. Best in 2020.
There's lovely density and beauty to this young wine, with tobacco, light vanilla, chocolate and ripe fruit. Full and polished, with velvety tannins. Long and reserved, but very, very serious.