As I return from a week tasting the 2018s (watch this space for my initial vintage report), it’s my pleasure today to go ten years back to the vintage that could be said to have launched the modern era of Bordeaux. When we talk about how good a young vintage like 2016 or 2018 is and can be- 2009 remains the standard against which to compare. Widely acclaimed straight off the bat, the fervor really started in December 2011 when Robert Parker gave a staggering eighteen wines the perfect one hundred points for the Wine Advocate. As a comparison, the legendary 1982 vintage currently has four.
It’s becoming hard, close to impossible, to dig up the real value everyday drinkers from 2009. We’re moving to a place where now often the smart play for is going to be loading up on bargains from 2015 and 2016, and leaving them for a few years until they really start to sing.
However, every now and then something special pops up. Enter Château Calon, a serious hidden gem. If this came from the same soils just a tiny bit further south in St Émilion rather than Montagne St Émilion, we would be looking at a price multiples higher.
Calon sits on a single plot of limestone and clay soils atop the highest point of Montagne-Saint-Émilion, making a triangle just northeast of St Émilion itself, and due east from Pomerol. Their vines are remarkably old, with an impressive average of forty five years, plenty over eighty, and one parcel of Merlot at an incredible one hundred and forty years old- as old as it gets in Bordeaux. All of this is farmed organically, with gentle extraction and a restrained hand.
2009 Château Calon, Montagne St Émilion
They say the 2009 is the best wine they’ve ever made at Calon, and there’s no doubt that this is a serious wine for the money. Gorgeous bright red fruit on the nose typical of serious Merlot from limestone soils, a gentle tannic grip with something slightly herbal and yet in no way underripe, and fine length. This checks in at a delightfully refreshing 12.5% alcohol, not only did Calon not follow the trend in pulling up old vines for higher yields, they also kept true to the old school even through the heady days of 2009 when 15% Bordeaux started to become common. This is no fruit or alcohol bomb and is not one for those of you that like your claret at the fullest end of the spectrum, but does not lack ripeness, and could not possibly be in a better place maturity wise. Overperforming and mature right bank Bordeaux from a stupendous vintage at ten years of age does not come around often. Take advantage!