Two Affordable 2009 Bordeaux Reds

The 2009 vintage was a killer year in Bordeaux, appealing particularly to those palates that love blockbuster wine styles. Declared the vintage of the (still-very-new) century before the grapes were even off the vine, the prices rocketed into the stratosphere. Yet, relative bargains from well-known appellations can be found. Here are two I recently came across.

Château Béhèré Courtin 2009 Pauillac 13% $70

This château sits next door to two First Growths, a tagline that gives this Pauillac bottling additional esteem. A blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot, this bright, limpid wine has a tiny rust-colored edge. Its nose is definitively Bordelais with a strong peat smoke top note. Underneath, there’s cedar box, cigar, red currant and boysenberry. Medium-plus in body, the ripe vintage comes through and puts on a big show of fruit. Nicely strucutred, the wine’s chiseled tannins avoid the severity of youthful Bordeaux wines from a few decades ago. The finish lingers, thanks largely to the lifting acidity. The fallen autumn leaves and mashed mulberries show the beginnings of tertiary character on the palate. All in all, it’s a very tasty bottle.
Drink: 2015-18

Château Luchey-Halde 2009 Pessac-Léognan 14% $79
This blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Merlot has a huge dollop of 12% Petit Verdot. Petit Verdot tends to max-out everything from color and body to tannins and acidity. This bottling has a fresh nose with a generous mix of red currants and bramble. The palate has the pleasant plumpness typical of 2009, but it follows with a fresh acidity that keeps the palate lively. There are notes of tobacco leaf, sauteed cherries, brown sugar and charred wood. The tannins are approachable and easy; they leave the acidity to do the structural support. Moderately layered in complexity, this should evolve to some additional benefit over the next few years.
Drink: 2015-19