In such a generous vintage, winemakers had to be careful not to extract too much from the grapes if they were to maintain balance and elegance. The worst 2009s are tired: mutton dressed as lamb. Happily, they represent a small minority.
St-Emilion – ‘a theatre of excess’, in the words of winemaking consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt – was the worst hit. Merlot, its predominant grape variety, resists heat less well than Cabernet Sauvignon, the Left Bank’s leading grape variety. However, the appellation also produced some exquisite wines, among the best of the vintage, when carefully made. Meanwhile, its neighbour Pomerol seemed less afflicted by overheated Merlot.
The Left Bank was more consistent, particularly in Pessac-Léognan, St-Julien and Pauillac, although I found less to get really excited about in Margaux (with a few exceptions, including the eponymous first growth and its second wine). On the whole, Bordeaux 2009’s quality is less homogeneous than it might have been, and its wines should not be bought indiscriminately. Here are 36 top picks, from all appellations and styles, that will not disappoint: