Red, Ready, but will improve

2009 Ch. Malartic-Lagravière, Rouge, Pessac-Léognan

2009 Ch. Malartic-Lagravière, Rouge, Pessac-Léognan

Red | Ready, but will improve | Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere | Code:  952516 | 2009 | France > Bordeaux > Pessac-Leognan | Cab.Sauvignon Blend | Medium Bodied, Dry | 14.0 % alcohol

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Scores and Reviews

BBR

15.5/20

DECANTER

18/20

JANCIS

15.5/20

PARKER

93-95+/100

WS

89-92/100

DECANTER - Black red, superbly concentrated purity of cassis fruit, then fragrant and slightly smoky lift, freshness runs through the precise intensity of vineyard fruit, a brilliantly expressed and focussed wine that needs time to open up.
(Steven Spurrier - Decanter - Apr 2010)

JANCIS - Almost overripe and raisiny on the nose. Round and opulent but a little lacking in real core. Very drying sandpaper finish. One of the more uncomfortable Pessac-Léognans to taste.
(Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com - Apr 2010)

PARKER - Progress has been ongoing at this vineyard, but proprietor Alexandre Bonnie has hit the proverbial home runs in 2009 with both his red and white wines. The best Malartic Lagraviere I have ever tasted, the 2009 is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.

Cropped at a low 32 hectoliters per hectare, with a modest (by the standards of this vintage) 13.5% alcohol, the wine-s opaque purple color is accompanied by an unctuous texture, extraordinary elegance, lots of licorice, graphite, blueberry, black raspberry, and cherry characteristics, full body, terrific purity and length, and good acidity. This 2009 should easily evolve for 25-30+ years. Bravo! (Tasted four times.)
(Robert Parker - Wine Advocate - April 2010)

WS - Intense aromas of licorice, tar and spices, with plenty of fruit. Full, thick and powerful, with soft, round tannins and a fruity finish. Could use a little more fruit center palate, but this is very good.
(James Suckling - Wine Spectator - Apr 2010)

The Producer

Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere

Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere

Château Malartic-Lagravière, a Cru Classé de Graves,was previously owned by the Champagne house, Laurent- Perrier - in 1997 it was bought by a Belgian couple, Michele and Alfred-Alexandre Bonnie, whose son and daughter-in-law, Jean-Jacques and Severine, have now assumed control.

There are 47 hectares of under vine, but only 7 of which are dedicated to white grapes, situated on a fine gravel ridge and now almost encroached on by the suburban outgrowth of Léognan. The estate produces high quality reds as well as tiny amounts of Sauvignon Blanc-dominated white wine. The red is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc.

The grapes are fermented partly in wooden vats, partly in stainless steel tanks, and then spend up to 15 months in oak barrels, roughly 50% of which are new. The creation of a second wine, La Réserve de Malartic Rouge (previously known as Le Sillage de Malartic), has been a further aid to the qualitative improvement which has been steadily taking place here over the past decade or so. In recent years no more than 60% of the crop goes into the Grand Vin, far less than back in the early 1990s and testament to the dedication to the highest levels of quality displayed by the new owners.

Their red wines are discreetly elegant, well-balanced that can be austere in youth but, with age, develop complexity and a distinct mineral character that is shared by all the great clarets of Pessac-Léognan.

The Grape

Cab.Sauvignon Blend

Cab.Sauvignon Blend

Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.

In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and  Australia.

The Region

Pessac-Leognan

Pessac-Leognan

In 1986 a new communal district was created within Graves, in Bordeaux,  based on the districts of Pessac and Léognan, the first of which lies within the suburbs of the city. Essentially this came about through pressure from Pessac-Léognan vignerons, who wished to disassociate themselves from growers with predominately sandy soils further south in Graves.

Pessac-Léognan has the best soils of the region, very similar to those of the Médoc, although the depth of gravel is more variable, and contains all the classed growths of the region. Some of its great names, including Ch. Haut-Brion, even sit serenely and resolutely in Bordeaux's southern urban sprawl.

The climate is milder than to the north of the city and the harvest can occur up to two weeks earlier. This gives the best wines a heady, rich and almost savoury character, laced with notes of tobacco, spice and leather. Further south, the soil is sandier with more clay, and the wines are lighter, fruity and suitable for earlier drinking.

Recommended Châteaux: Ch. Haut-Brion, Ch. la Mission Haut-Brion, Ch. Pape Clément, Ch Haut-Bailly, Domaine de Chevalier, Ch. Larrivet-Haut-Brion, Ch. Carmes Haut-Brion, Ch. La Garde, Villa Bel-Air.

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