On the Trail

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

David Driscoll

While the 2012 and 2014 Bordeaux vintages continue to provide drinkable values to consume while we secure and prepare to cellar our futures from the outstanding 2015 and 2016 harvests, we keep going back to the sweet and supple waters of 2009 for as many dips as she'll allow us. As excited as I am to start receiving the amazing specimen we tasted at last year's 2015 en primeur tasting, I can't deny that 2009 is the best Bordeaux vintage I've ever tasted as a wine professional (I say that not having tasted anything from 2016, however). In terms of price, quality, general drinkability, and overall satisfaction, that vintage delivers the goods on all fronts, which is why we're always on the look for more. Now that we're more than seven years into development, even the most basic of cuvées from 2009 are beginning to show serious development, especially some of the value-priced second wines. Looking back at our history with Château Cantemerle, the more than 4,000 bottles we've sold of the 2009 expression alone should shed some light on how much we love that wine. But it's the 4000+ bottles we've sold of the château's second wine from that harvest—the 2009 Les Allées de Cantemerle—that you should really pay attention to now that it's just come back into stock for another K&L run. 

As my colleague and fellow buyer Alex Pross pointed out in his previous OTL article "Three Bordeaux Châteaux You Need to Own," Cantemerle is not only one of the most affordable of the classified Médoc growths, it's one of the best values in Bordeaux—period. Tucked in between Margaux and Pessac-Léognan, the property has quietly created one of the most consistent, approachable, and quality-oriented programs over the last two decades under the stewardship of its humble and pensive director Philippe Dambrine. What he's been able to coax out of the property's younger vines as well is nothing short of miraculous. With a cepage of more than 60% cabernet, the second wine of Cantemerle stands up incredibly alongside the grand vin, showcasing the juiciness and ripeness of the vintage, just perhaps without the same strength or durability. That's fine, however, because while the 2009 Cantemerle sleeps in your wine cellar, you can drink oodles of the sub-$20 Les Allées and marvel in all that 2009 splendor. 

-David Driscoll