Jean-Pierre Latour was one of several winemakers who expressed the opinion that bottling the 2009s early generally resulted in soft wines. He racked and assembled his 2009s last August, then moved them into cuves, with varying amounts of their lees "to prevent the wines from coming out hard and dry," and waited until March and April of this year to bottle. "The 2009s are not as concentrated as the 2008s, and I didn't want to lose fruit. It's an elegant vintage, while 2008 is massive. Two thousand nine is a wine of spring--fresh and exuberant--while 2008 is a wine of autumn. The '08s can be drunk early but they will also age well." I will hold off on reviewing Latour's 2010s, as these wines were in the middle of their malolactic fermentations at the beginning of June, and a couple had not even started. Not surprisingly, Latour said that this set of wines will also call for a later bottling, "or they risk being massive but not expressive." With so many grapes falling off at the end of the flowering, the clusters were well aerated and the wines are highly concentrated, he said, noting that the biggest losses in crop (up to 50%) were in the estate's old vines.
($64) Bright yellow. Very ripe aromas of peach, honey, nuts, menthol and vanillin oak. Shows surprising acidity on entry, but comes across as a bit disjointed in the middle, with the very ripe fruit not yet in harmony with the edgy acidity. A tad sour on the back end.
($70) Bright pale yellow. Subtle aromas of stone fruits, hazelnut and almond. More juicy and harmonious than the Charles Maxime, with a firm edge and very good cut to the citrus and stone flavors. The gripping finish offers a sexy hazelnut note. Nicely tight for 2009.
($80) Pale, green-tinged yellow. Musky aromas of yellow fruits, flowers, truffle oil and earth. Fatter and sweeter than the Narvaux; more generous and open today. But sound acidity gives shape to the silky, fine-grained yellow fruit flavors. Finishes fairly soft and persistent.
($92) Light-medium yellow. At once deeper and more floral than the Boucheres on the nose. Dense, chewy and nicely concentrated, with perfumed, mouthcoating flavors of soft citrus fruit, yellow peach and spices. Firm acidity intensifies the mid-palate and extends the aromatic finish.
($94) Bright yellow. Musky aromas of lemon, vanilla and smoky oak. Rich and ripe but classically dry, with nicely integrated acidity framing the wine's mid-palate flavors and leavening its impression of thickness. Plenty of dry extract here.
($100) Pale, bright green-tinged yellow. High-pitched, precise nose dominated by musky orange peel and spices; smells rich. Then broad and dense in the mouth, with superb orangey acidity giving a sappy quality to this highly concentrated but essentially smooth wine. Consistent from nose to slightly sweet, very long finish. Latour told me that the yields for his premier crus in 2009 were no higher than 40 hectoliters per hectare. For this wine, he stirred the lees every ten days until the racking in July, and he feels this technique achieved precision and "crunchy fruit."
($106) Bright light yellow with green highlights. Lemon, crushed stone and saline minerality on the nose. More like the Narvaux in style than the Charmes or Genevrieres, but the Narvaux comes across as even tighter today. Broad and silky but quite dry, even rigorous, with the suavity of a grand cru. Finishes long and scented, with a tactile impression of dusty stone. As we tasted this wine, Latour told me that he finds more aromatic precision in his 2009s than his 2008s. "The '09s were transparent from the start," he said. "The challenge was to preserve that quality."
($106) Light-medium yellow Very ripe aromas of citrus fruits, yellow peach, nut oil and smoke. Fat, sweet and a bit saline; good acidity here but it's not yet integrated with the wine's fruit. Leaves a dry and slightly aggressive impression on the aftertaste, especially tasted after Latour's top Meursaults. Will this retain its fruit with bottle age or get drier?
($120) Bright medium yellow. Very subtle, pure aromas and flavors of peach, lemon, orange blossom, hazelnut, wild herbs and crushed rock. Highly concentrated and suave, boasting terrific inner-mouth spicy lift and a rising, firm-edged finish. Has the sheer density of fruit and subtle sweetness to buffer its stony dryness. This saw 40% new oak, vs. 25% for the Genevrieres classique. Both this wine and the Perrieres went back into year-old barrels for another three months after the August racking, then into cuve in November.