Gorgeous nose of black cherry, blackberry, dark plum, graphite, and tobacco, gently tinged with cedar and whispers of smoke.
Michel Rolland is the world’s most revered “Flying Winemaker.” While we’ve tasted for hours with Rolland in his offices in Bordeaux, we have never attended blending sessions with him. Friends who have contend that Michel’s capacity for evaluating Bordeaux varieties is unparalleled. Working with the likes of Harlan Estate, Bond, Bryant Family, Staglin, and Dalla Valle in Napa Valley, Rolland is like “Houdini in the tasting room,” capable of evaluating 60 or 70 different lots at a time, selecting small pieces of each in assembling the perfect whole.
But if you ask anyone who knows Michel Rolland which estate is closest to his heart, the answer is easy. In 1920, Rolland’s grandfather acquired a small 14-acre property just behind Château Gazin, in the northeast quadrant of precious Pomerol. The soils were light, a fine mix of sand and gravel. In 1978, Michel and his brother Jean-Daniel took control of the cellar and the family vineyards. It wouldn’t be long before Robert Parker came calling.
On April 26, 2010, Robert Parker dropped a bomb of a vintage report. His now-famous “Once Upon a Time” feature called 2009 “the finest vintage I have tasted in 32 years of covering Bordeaux.” Comparing the 2009 crop to four of the most extraordinary vintages of the last 120 years (1899, 1929, 1949, 1959), the most influential wine critic of our age declared: “the peaks in quality in 2009 may turn out to be historic.” Wine Spectator came back with 96-99 points for the vintage.
While nearly all of the voluptuous 2009s from Bordeaux’s Right and Left Banks have long disappeared, our exhaustive searches have turned up a few — none more worthy of your attention than today’s powerhouse 2009 Château Le Bon Pasteur, which has been resting in the cellar since bottling day.
Vines roughly 40-60 years in age have threaded their way through the gravel, clay, and sandy soils planted primarily to Merlot with smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc. In 2009, with a perfectly even flowering and fruit-set, Rolland pushed sugars to the maximum — looking to emphasize the power and generosity of the vintage. Each block of Le Bon Pasteur was entirely barrel-fermented, treated to a long, cool vinification in new French cooperage.
The 2009 Château Le Bon Pasteur is opaque purple in color. Gorgeous nose of black cherry, blackberry, dark plum, graphite, and tobacco, gently tinged with cedar and whispers of smoke. Rich and powerfully concentrated, silky soft on entry, filled with a flamboyant mix of blackberry, graphite, and tobacco. Excellent tannic grip is bracketed by juicy acidity, and an especially greedy finish. Drink now for its youthful opulence or lay down, as Parker suggests, until the late 2030s.
94 points from Robert Parker. 94 points from Wine Spectator’s former European bureau chief, James Suckling. Elsewhere $99. Today, $89 per bottle on WineAccess. Only 240 bottles available — coming direct from Le Bon Pasteur’s cellars to yours. Shipping included on 2.
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