Bordeaux 2010 Part Three: The Verdict

I wrote this piece for Livex, “the insiders’ guide to the global fine wine market”, and was published on 3rd May.

Having previously reported on the wines and weather of Bordeaux 2010, my latest contribution covers this year’s en primeur tastings.

There was something different in the air this year, and it wasn’t just the constant tweeting of what the stuff tasted like.

dsc_0058En primeur attendances were higher than ever at the top estates, according to Paul Pontallier of Château Margaux (right).  Much in evidence there, and at all the Firsts, were the Chinese translations of the brochures, to add to the long-standing piles of English and French versions. Based on visits to the leading properties the week after the UGCs, these were still being snapped up by Bordeaux’s new best friends.

dsc_0033_2Perhaps that’s what’s changed. Opinions about many of the great wines no longer matter. For the top Châteaux, even huge Parker points or double asterisks won’t be required to sell the iconic brands and for most of us, some of the tastings were academic.

Remember the 2008 First Growths, two years ago? Alain Vauthier, owner of Ausone, insisted to me then that ‘le marché est mort’, while Hervé Berland, the Director at Mouton Rothschild, told me last month that the average price of Mouton 2008 en primeur, ex-château, was less than €115 (and that they sell 80% en primeur). The average for the 2009, just a year later, was €500. Were we expecting that and other such increases from the leading brands when we tasted the lovely ’09s last April? I don’t think so. Meanwhile, as we all tasted this time around, there was an air of inevitability as to what’s going to happen next.

img_4959A pity, because the First Growths made belters this year, with all four Médoc Firsts coming close to perfection. What is unusual is the varying levels of alcohol between these four Cabernet Sauvignon dominated wines: Lafite and Margaux at 13.5%, Mouton at 14% and Latour at 14.5%. Note that Cabernet Sauvignon comes in at lower potential alcohol than Merlot, so it’s no wonder that second and third wines for many estates, with higher percentages of Merlot, pack quite a punch. Chateau Margaux is typical in this respect (13.5%, 14% and 14.5%). Refreshing acidity – much touted by all the châteaux – provides the balance.

St-Julien and Pauillac: strong performances

img_4966Moving on, St-Julien and Pauillac were incredibly strong across the board. The Cabernet Sauvignons of the top appellations of the Médoc – for me, the best that Bordeaux has to offer in 2010 in any volume – are ‘über-classic’. The Bordelais prefer to use words like elegance, balance and freshness but I’m not sure that these words adequately convey the feeling of power that these wines have. And be prepared to be patient.

The two great spots of Pauillac and St-Julien have their fair share of ‘Parker hopefuls’ – those estates looking for an outstanding good score to maintain or improve their standing amongst their peers. Their current standing, that is, not the 1855 one.

img_5202If the prices are not pushed too far, these great 2010s will sell very easily. Pichon Longueville Baron (with arguably their best wine to date), Léoville Las Cases and Léoville Poyferré just edged it for me amongst the Super Seconds, with Pontet Canet once again right up there.

And who wouldn’t want a cellar full of St-Juliens like Gruaud Larose, St-Pierre and Langoa Barton, the latter with much less Merlot than usual. A lot of Merlot on both banks – especially on older vines – suffered from coulure and millerandage, or ‘shatter’ and poor fruit set. This reduced the crop, as did the small berry size of all the grapes. But what the Merlot lacked in quantity (and sometimes quality), the Cabernet Sauvignon made up for in quality. We can pray that it doesn’t come at too high a price.

Rest of the Left

img_5195St-Estephe has to be viewed on a case-by-case basis. I might have caught Cos on a slightly off day, while Calon Ségur showed a lovely wine, despite losing some of the crop to a localized hail storm in May: almost half the number of bottles from 2009 there. Nearby, Montrose, with 20 additional hectares bought from Phélan Segur, was untouched: 50% more bottles of the (brilliant) Grand Vin in 2010. Will it be cheaper than the 100 pointer in waiting, the 2009?

The appellation of Margaux, beyond the very top wines, is a source of values for drinking: 20 Châteaux produced 90+ point wines in my book. Issan is right back on form after hail struck in 2008 and 2009, and I’m looking for value from the likes of du Tertre, Ferriere and Labégorce – the latter two not being RP favourites.

img_0899Nearby, there are some values from Moulis, Listrac and the southern end of the Haut-Médoc. The Haut-Médoc and the Médoc to the north of St-Estephe produced some very good wines – Potensac springs to mind – in a different style. However, I don’t think it’s a case of fill yer boots with any old Cru Bourgeois. Amongst the winners, as Neal Martin, right, and I discovered, there are rather too many wines with a lack of ripeness and fairly coarse tannins.

img_5091South of Bordeaux, the evenly mixed Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends of Pessac-Léognan will provide sumptuous drinking. While the top Châteaux – Haut-Brion, La Mission, Haut Bailly and Smith Haut Lafitte made glorious wines, prices haven’t caught up yet for estates on the up like de Fieuzal and Haut-Bergey.

It’s a super vintage for the dry whites of Pessac-Léognan and the Graves, and I’m probably alone in preferring 2010 Sauternes and Barsac to 2009, with the possible exception of Yquem. But that’s another story.

On the Right Bank

It may be small but all eyes are usually on Pomerol. That little bit of rain at key moments in September really helped these precocious vineyards, which once again turned in some wonderful wines. Jacques Thienpont prefers 2010 Le Pin to his 2009 (like his brilliant 2001 to 2000) but I wouldn’t say that this was true across the board here.

img_0880Mixed flowering in the Merlot, hydric stress and small berries certainly had an impact on the character of the wines, as well as the yields (just 31hl/ha at L’Evangile, compared to 38hl/ha average). Pétrus (pictured in the glass, left), L’Evangile, L’Eglise Clinet, VCC, Clinet, Hosanna – no surprises, just not enough wine.

I tasted scores of St-Emilions and scored many of them very highly. But it was tough going, with many having rigorous tannic frames and a sense that the drought conditions contributed to the dryness of the wines. In some cases, I don’t think it was down to over-extraction in the winery, as is so often mentioned, as much as unintentional over-extraction in the vineyard. Did some of the green harvesting turn out to be the right call? Still, plenty of super values to be had for those who choose well, with numerous 90+ pointers.

img_5048Choose carefully: St-Emilion’s a big appellation but not one for the faint hearted, with many super-concentrated wines topping 15.5% alc. At the top level, Clos Fourtet, Pavie Macquin and Beauséjour Duffau impressed again (at the St-Emilion Premiers Grands Crus tasting, with Stephen Brook, left). The Cabernet Franc excelled, not least at Cheval Blanc and Ausone, of course.

Look out for many delicious wines from Fronsac and the Côtes, and the so-called lesser appellations. Those properties with clay over limestone, which provided just enough moisture, performed admirably, with balanced, attractive wines. More so if they weren’t overly ambitious.

Bring on the campaign. And if you want to pick up a relative bargain sooner, take a look at some 2008s, right now.

Here are my top 150 Bordeaux 2010s, which I rated a minimum 90 points (outstanding), with the prices for each chateau’s 2009 when offered En Primeur last summer, as a guide.

Chateau

Appellation

Vintage

GQ score

RP score

2009 Price En Primeur

Lafite Rothschild

Pauillac

2010

98-100

98-100

£10,000

Margaux

Margaux

2010

97-100

96-98

£8,800

Mouton Rothschild

Pauillac

2010

97-100

97-100

£7,800

Latour

Pauillac

2010

96-100

98-100

£9,990

Léoville Las Cases

St-Julien

2010

96-100

95-98

£2,450

Petrus

Pomerol

2010

97-99

98-100

£24,000

Pichon-Longueville Baron

Pauillac

2010

96-99

97-99+

£1,000

Cheval Blanc

St-Emilion

2010

96-98

96-98+

£7,800

Eglise Clinet, L’

Pomerol

2010

96-98

96-100

£3,400

Evangile

Pomerol

2010

96-98

96-98

£2,100

Léoville Poyferré

St-Julien

2010

96-98

95-98

£860

Pontet-Canet

Pauillac

2010

96-98

96-100

£900

Ausone

St-Emilion

2010

95-98

98-100

£13,200

Beauséjour Duffau

St-Emilion

2010

95-98

96-100

£900

Haut-Brion

Pessac-Leognan

2010

95-98

98-100

£7,500

Montrose

St-Estephe

2010

95-98

96-99+

£1,200

Ducru Beaucaillou

St-Julien

2010

95-97

96-98+

£2,000

Mission Haut-Brion, La

Pessac-Leognan

2010

95-97

98-100

£6,200

Pavie

St-Emilion

2010

95-97

95-98+

£2,200

Clinet

Pomerol

2010

94-97

95-98

£820

Clos Fourtet

St-Emilion

2010

94-96

95-97

£700

Haut-Bailly

Pessac-Leognan

2010

94-96

95-97

£930

Hosanna

Pomerol

2010

94-96

94-96

£1,050

Lynch-Bages

Pauillac

2010

94-96

95-97

£900

Trotanoy

Pomerol

2010

94-96

93-95+

£3,500

Vieux Château Certan

Pomerol

2010

94-96

96-98

£1,700

Mondotte

St-Emilion

2010

94-95

96-98+

£2,750

Palmer

Margaux

2010

94-95

95-97

£2,500

Pin, Le

Pomerol

2010

94-95

96-98

£12,000

Duhart Milon

Pauillac

2010

93-96

94-96

£540

Gay, Le

Pomerol

2010

93-96

95-97+

£820

Gruaud Larose

St-Julien

2010

93-96

92-94

£470

Pavie-Macquin

St-Emilion

2010

93-96

96-98+

£780

Pichon Lalande

Pauillac

2010

93-96

92-95+

£1,500

Smith Haut Lafitte

Pessac-Leognan

2010

93-96

95-97

£725

Angélus

St-Emilion

2010

93-95

94-96+

£2,350

Beau-Séjour Bécot

St-Emilion

2010

93-95

91-93+

£520

Branon

Pessac-Leognan

2010

93-95

96-98

£750

Calon Ségur

St-Estephe

2010

93-95

92-94+

£600

Clos St Martin

St-Emilion

2010

93-95

90-92

£500

Conseillante, La

Pomerol

2010

93-95

95-98

£1,500

Cos d’Estournel

St-Estephe

2010

93-95

95-97

£2,350

Grand-Puy-Lacoste

Pauillac

2010

93-95

93-96

£575

Issan, d’

Margaux

2010

93-95

94-96

£475

Larcis Ducasse

St-Emilion

2010

93-95

95-97

£480

Leoville Barton

St-Julien

2010

93-95

91-93+

£750

Malescot St-Exupery

Margaux

2010

93-95

94-96

£670

Pape Clément

Pessac-Leognan

2010

93-95

93-95+

£1,100

Rauzan-Ségla

Margaux

2010

93-95

92-94

£695

Saint Pierre

St-Julien

2010

93-95

95-97+

£535

Malartic-Lagravière

Pessac-Leognan

2010

93-94

92-94

£410

Pavillon Rouge

Margaux

2010

93-94

90-92

£750

Branaire-Ducru

St-Julien

2010

92-95

93-95

£495

Certan de May

Pomerol

2010

92-95

91-93

£720

Figeac

St-Emilion

2010

92-95

NT

£1,750

Gazin

Pomerol

2010

92-95

93-95

£540

Petit Mouton

Pauillac

2010

92-95

90-93

£700

Troplong Mondot

St-Emilion

2010

92-95

96-98

£1,080

Belair Monange

St-Emilion

2010

92-94

95-97+

£1,200

Carmes Haut Brion

Pessac-Leognan

2010

92-94

88-90

£440

Chapelle d’Ausone

St-Emilion

2010

92-94

92-94

£1,500

Clerc Milon

Pauillac

2010

92-94

91-93

£420

Clos de Sarpe

St-Emilion

2010

92-94

91-94

£1,000

Clos du Marquis

St-Julien

2010

92-94

91-93

£375

Clos l’Eglise

Pomerol

2010

92-94

92-95

£1,500

Domaine de Chevalier

Pessac-Leognan

2010

92-94

91-93+

£540

Dominique, La

St-Emilion

2010

92-94

92-94

£330

Feytit Clinet

Pomerol

2010

92-94

92-94

£480

Fleur-Pétrus, la

Pomerol

2010

92-94

95-98+

£930

Forts de Latour

Pauillac

2010

92-94

92-95

£1,100

Grandes Murailles

St-Emilion

2010

92-94

91-94

£420

Langoa Barton

St-Julien

2010

92-94

90-92

£470

Soutard

St-Emilion

2010

92-94

85-88

£270

Barde Haut

St-Emilion

2010

92-93

91-94

£280

Batailley

Pauillac

2010

92-93

89-91+

£265

Bon Pasteur

Pomerol

2010

92-93

92-95

£550

Canon

St-Emilion

2010

92-93

92-94+

£995

Canon La Gaffelière

St-Emilion

2010

92-93

92-94

£695

Cantenac Brown

Margaux

2010

92-93

92-94+

£395

Carruades de Lafite

Pauillac

2010

92-93

91-94

£800

Chapelle de la Mission, La

Pessac-Leognan

2010

92-93

91-94

£695

Croix de Beaucaillou

St-Julien

2010

92-93

90-92

£300

Croix St-Georges

Pomerol

2010

92-93

90-93

£375

Fieuzal, de

Pessac-Leognan

2010

92-93

90-92

£250

Beychevelle

St-Julien

2010

91-94

90-92

£520

Clemence

Pomerol

2010

91-94

88-90+

£400

Lagrange

St-Julien

2010

91-94

89-92

£400

Alter Ego de Palmer

Margaux

2010

91-93

90-92

£395

Armailhac

Pauillac

2010

91-93

89-92

£330

Bellefont Belcier

St-Emilion

2010

91-93

91-93

£252

Bellevue

St-Emilion

2010

91-93

92-94

£490

Clarence de Haut Brion

Pessac-Leognan

2010

91-93

90-93

£895

Giscours

Margaux

2010

91-93

92-95

£430

Grand Mayne

St-Emilion

2010

91-93

89-91+

£290

Haut Bages Liberal

Pauillac

2010

91-93

91-93+

£285

Haut Bergey

Pessac-Leognan

2010

91-93

92-94

£230

Lafon-Rochet

St-Estephe

2010

91-93

92-94

£340

Moulin

Pomerol

2010

91-93

92-94

£300

Nenin

Pomerol

2010

91-93

90-92

£450

Petit Cheval

St-Emilion

2010

91-93

91-93

£1,250

Providence, La

Pomerol

2010

91-93

92-94+

£700

Talbot

St-Julien

2010

91-93

91-93

£400

Vray Croix de Gay

Pomerol

2010

91-93

NA

£420

Brane-Cantenac

Margaux

2010

91-92

93-96

£500

Clos du Clocher

Pomerol

2010

91-92

90-93

£260

Clotte, La

St-Emilion

2010

91-92

91-93

£335

Destieux

St-Emilion

2010

91-92

88-90+

£315

Gaffelière, la

St-Emilion

2010

91-92

91-93

£695

Grand Puy Ducasse

Pauillac

2010

91-92

92-94

£260

Haut-Batailley

Pauillac

2010

91-92

88-90

£280

Kirwan

Margaux

2010

91-92

90-93

£390

Tour Figeac, La

St-Emilion

2010

91-92

88-90

£245

Trottevielle

St-Emilion

2010

91-92

89-91

Magdelaine

St-Emilion

2010

90-93

92-94

£540

Pauillac de Latour

Pauillac

2010

90-93

NA

Berliquet

St-Emilion

2010

90-92

90-93

£220

Clos Puy Arnaud

Cotes, Castillon

2010

90-92

90-92

£195

Couspaude, La

St-Emilion

2010

90-92

91-93

£400

Croix de Labrie

St-Emilion

2010

90-92

94-96

£480

Dame de Montrose, La

St-Estephe

2010

90-92

91-93

£360

Domaine de l’Eglise

Pomerol

2010

90-92

87-89

Ferriere

Margaux

2010

90-92

85-87

£240

Fleur Cardinale

St-Emilion

2010

90-92

92-95

£270

Fleur de Gay

Pomerol

2010

90-92

90-93

£700

Fontenil

Fronsac

2010

90-92

90-92

£190

Labegorce

Margaux

2010

90-92

88-90

£165

Lagrave a Pomerol

Pomerol

2010

90-92

90-92

Lagune, La

Haut-Médoc

2010

90-92

93-96

£395

Larmande

St-Emilion

2010

90-92

86-88

Larrivet Haut Brion

Pessac-Leognan

2010

90-92

87-89+

£220

Lascombes

Margaux

2010

90-92

94-97

£650

Lecuyer

Pomerol

2010

90-92

NA

Marquis de Terme

Margaux

2010

90-92

NA

£240

Monbrison

Margaux

2010

90-92

NA

£225

Moulin St Georges

St-Emilion

2010

90-92

87-89

£300

Pez, de

St-Estephe

2010

90-92

90-92

Pointe, La

Pomerol

2010

90-92

89-91

£255

Potensac

Medoc

2010

90-92

87-89

£175

Prieuré Lichine

Margaux

2010

90-92

92-94

£350

Rauzan Gassies

Margaux

2010

90-92

90-93

£210

Saint Georges Cote Pavie

St-Emilion

2010

90-92

NA

£230

Sansonnet

St-Emilion

2010

90-92

90-92

£190

Tertre, du

Margaux

2010

90-92

87-89

£260

Prieure, Le

St-Emilion

2010

90-92

NA

Cos Labory

St-Estephe

2010

90-91

85-87

£255

Dassault

St-Emilion

2010

90-91

89-91

Durfort-Vivens

Margaux

2010

90-91

89-91

£290

Franc Mayne

St-Emilion

2010

90-91

90-92

£260

Latour Martillac

Pessac-Leognan

2010

90-91

90-92

£210

Pagodes de Cos

St-Estephe

2010

90-91

90-93

£400

Petit Village

Pomerol

2010

90-91

90-92

£400

Tour Carnet, La

Haut-Médoc

2010

90-91

92-94

£230

Tour Mailet, La

Pomerol

2010

90-91

NA

£230

Rouget

Pomerol

2010

89-92

91-93

£310

Angludet

Margaux

2010

89-91

89-91

£219

Beaurégard

Pomerol

2010

89-91

89-91

£310

Belle-Vue

Haut-Médoc

2010

89-91

87-89

£125

Cantemerle

Haut-Médoc

2010

89-91

91-93

£240

Carbonnieux

Pessac-Leognan

2010

89-91

91-93

£225

Ormes de Pez

St-Estephe

2010

89-91

87-90

£240

Clos des Jacobins

St-Emilion

2010

89-91

90-92

£275

Meyney

St-Estephe

2010

89-91

89-91

Croix de Gay

Pomerol

2010

89-91

89-91

Rol Valentin

St-Emilion

2010

89-91

90-93

3 thoughts on “Bordeaux 2010 Part Three: The Verdict

  1. Stuart Tarrant

    "Mixed flowering" and "Hydric stress'" – what a wonderful lexicon you have to play with! Thanks for insight Gavin, there may be just a few almost affordable gems in there.

  2. Ninad Shah

    Hello,

    I am from India.

    Firstly I am novice in terms of wine vintage understanding

    However very interested and intregiued by the 2010 discussion going on.

    I have an oppurtunity here from the Wine society of India to purchase 12 bottles of Bordeaux 2010.It would cost me 1100 euros for 12 bottles.

    It still a little fortune for me to invest this money but wanted your expert opinion on the same if you could spare a bit of time.

    The 12 bottles offered are below, if you could guide if it is a good investment.

    1)Chateau Haut bages Liberal Pauillac

    2) Caronne Sainte Gemme Haut Mrdoc

    3) Chateau La Pointe Pomerol

    4) Labegorec Margaux

    5)Loudenne Medoc

    6)Siaurac lalande de Pomerol

    7)Lilian Ladousy Saint Estephe

    8) Olivier Pessao Leognan

    9)Fonroque saint EmilionChateau Gloria Saint Julien

    10)Chateau De La Dauphine Canon Fronsac

    11)Doisy Vedrines Barsac

    Look forward to your guidance.

    Regards,

    Ninad.

    1. Gavin

      Hi Ninad

      If you're saying that these 12 bottles have been offered to you at 1100 euros, this is a terrible investment. They are nice wines from 'lesser' estates mostly but the value of the case is no more than 300 euros before tax. Wines in mixed cases have less value as an investment, unless it's a special selection from a top Chateau. I imagine that the high taxes in your country have been included – but fine wine as an investment should be bought 'in bond' – probably overseas? You'd be better off buying from a UK merchant and keeping the wine in Bond. See my post on UK Wine Merchants under Bordeaux 2009. http://blog.bauduc.com/2010/05/27/bordeaux-2009-e… Good luck and let me know if I can help more.