Neal Martin on Bordeaux 2009

This week Neal Martin published his impressions of the 2009s – lending his voice to the growing chorus of already available tasting notes. He describes a few wines at the top end of the scale as “a clutch of spectacular… legendary wines” that were “a joy to taste: pure, delineated, fresh, silky in texture.” But where James Suckling judged 14 2009s as possibly worthy of a perfect score, Martin is far less enthusiastic. He deems only three wines as possible 100-pointers – namely Lafleur, Lafite and Latour, all of which scored 97-100 points. And although Suckling thinks the 2009s could eclipse the 2005s in terms of top-tier quality, Martin, it seems, is unconvinced.  

Here are some of Martin’s relatively cloudy comments on the 2009s…

“In terms of consistency, the 2009 falls far short of 2005… I have heard reports that the Deuxième Vins are great in 2009. I disagree… Certainly, they are better than they were ten-or fifteen-years ago due to more draconian de-selection, but 2009 was not a vintage that elevated the quality of entire vineyards.”

Too many lower-tiered chateaux, he reports, simply tried too hard – “as if they had to prove something rather than the wine.” But his greatest criticism is that many estates tarnished potential greatness through “late picking, excessive skin maceration or fermentation at too high a temperature.”

The relatively poor score for Cos d’Estournel (89-91) raises an eyebrow, especially as Suckling awarded it 97-100 and described it as “a full-through Cos, with richness and power never seen here before.” A number of Suckling's other top scores also receive less than exceptional scores (see below). Even Mouton – praised by Suckling as “the best since 1982” – received a modest rating of 94-96 points. Also of interest is the score for Langoa Barton’s (92-94), which surpasses that of its more expensive sibling, Leoville (91-93). (Martin declined to score Figeac, believing his sample unrepresentative.)

Below is a list of all the wines awarded 92-94 and above, along with selected others. For easy reference, James Suckling's scores have also been included.

NM scores list