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2009 Ch. Pontet-Canet, Pauillac - FRANCE
Medium-Full Bodied, Dry, For laying down, Cab.Sauvignon Blend, 13% alc.
Tasting Notes: We first tasted 2009 Ch. Pontet Canet at a négociant’s during the Bordeaux en primeur tastings, and
then we tried it again later that week at the château. In both cases, it was utterly, utterly brilliant. The nose is
wonderfully pure, elegant yet ultra-concentrated whilst gorgeous, blackcurrant fruit dominates the lush-textured
palate. Layers of complexity ripple across the tongue whilst the deliciously ripe tannins are present, and then melt
away. This is very focused, very precise and superbly refined but with great power. Almost level with the seamless,
harmonious wine that was 2005, this is near-First Growth standard. This is one of the true stars of 2009: Pontet is
Property: Château Pontet-Canet
Château Pontet-Canet is a large Pauillac estate that can trace its origins back to 1725, when Jean-François Pontet
gave his name to the estate he had acquired. The wine was not château-bottled until 1972 and in 1975 the property
was sold to Guy Tesseron, of the Tesseron family, one of the finest exponents of luxury, very old, aged Cognacs
The Tesserons also own Château Lafon-Rochet in St-Estephe. Today, Château Pontet-Canet is owned and run by
Alfred and Michel Tesseron.
Pontet-Canet's 78 hectares of vineyards adjoin those of Mouton Rothschild and are planted with Cabernet
Sauvignon (63%), Merlot (32%) and Cabernet Franc (5%).
The Tesserons have vastly improved the quality of the Pontet-Canet wines which are now full-bodied and packed
with ripe, chewy, black fruits and finely integrated tannins. The wines posseses marvellous ageing potential.
Pontet-Canet is classified as a 5ème Cru Classé.
Vintage Notes: 2009 - Red Bordeaux
Bordeaux vintage 2009 - The greatest vintage ever? Or a very good vintage with some truly exceptional wines, but
too patchy to be ranked amongst the very finest?
As ever, any such assessment starts with the weather, for which I am greatly indebted to the observations of Bill
Blatch of Vintex, a negociant of 30 years experience, and an acknowledged expert in the world of Sauternes,
whose annual weather report yields such a deep insight into the eventual style of the vintage. Broadly speaking the
weather was exceptionally benign through most of the growing season.
Flowering generally took place in perfect conditions, and then followed a long period of very dry, sunny weather,
but without the excesses of heat which marked 2003. By August some well-drained vineyards were beginning to
show signs of hydric stress, while the sugar levels in the grapes approached hitherto unseen levels.
Localised rain in the third week of September proved very welcome as it helped maintain the vegetative cycle; in
some areas, by September 21st, roughly when the Merlot harvest began on the Left Bank and in the later-picking
Right Bank estates, the grapes displayed very high sugar levels but the tannins remained largely unripe.
Some growers panicked at this point and rushed to pick, fearful of seeing potential alcohol levels go through the
roof. They then sought to compensate with longer- than-usual maceration to extract more fruit, only to find their
wines over-burdened with dry, austere tannins. Those who held their nerve were rewarded, as a further week of dry
weather helped to ripen the tannins fully, while cool nights helped to preserve important balancing acidity and,
crucially, to maintain freshness in the eventual wine.
The long, drawn-out dry weather in September, continuing into early October, enabled the Cabernets to ripen fully
and to develop immense complexity, and it is no surprise to see some extraordinary wines on the Left Bank, and in
those estates on the Right Bank where there is a good percentage of Cabernet grapes. The drought has reduced
yields generally, as did some violent hailstorms in May, particularly in St. Emilion, and the small size of the berries
has led to a high solids-liquid ratio in the vats, with record levels of tannins in many of the wines we tasted.
High tannin alone is, of course, not an indication of quality, nor is an elevated alcoholic percentage necessarily a
negative; what is important is the quality of the tannins, and how they fit into the structure of the wine. Time after
time we noted fantastically ripe tannins, providing the basis for great longevity while making no unwelcome,
aggressive intrusion into the perception of the wine on the palate.
As a result the overriding impression is of a seamless, rich texture in the mouth, preceded by glorious opulent
aromas of ripe, black fruits, and, in the best examples, a refreshing minerality and terroir expression on the
palate, with enough acidity to provide balance on the finish.
Alcohol levels on the Left Bank are well above 13%, unusually high, but rarely did I find any wines unbalanced as
a result, such is the depth of their concentration and completeness of harmony.
On the Right Bank, where alcohol levels frequently exceeded 14%, there is more of a problem, with some wines
exhibiting heady aromas and elements of heat on the finish. Those properties in St. Emilion and Pomerol which
have avoided this pitfall deserve enormous credit for producing wine of freshness and balance in the prevailing
conditions. Far too many, however, are disjointed, with harsh tannins out of harmony with the rest of the wine, for
2009 to be considered uniformly great on this side of the river.
When I visited Bordeaux in April 2006 I formed the view that the 2005 reds were the finest clarets I had ever tasted,
at that stage of their evolution. Furthermore, that level of quality pervaded the entire gamut of wines from simple
Bordeaux rouge through to the Crus Bourgeois right up to the top Classified Growths.
2009 lacks the homogeneity and consistency of 2005, but it is nevertheless clear that some estates, notably in
Pauillac, Margaux and St. Julien, have made dazzling wines which are marginally superior even to their
In a nutshell they are simply gorgeous to taste, and may well remain so throughout their lives, such is the ripeness
of both fruit and tannin. One can imagine drinking them young to enjoy the exuberance of the fruit, but much
greater pleasure will be obtained through the exercise of patience. Above all, one of the most surprising facts about
the vintage is the way in which the massive concentration is offset by a beguiling freshness in the best wines.
Alun Griffiths MW, BBR Wine Director (12.04.2010)