The Sherlock’s team spent a week in Bordeaux at the beginning of April attending the Union des Grands Crus tastings of the 2010 vintage. We spoke at length with chateau owners and winemakers. All were very pleased with the big, tannic structure of the vintage and expect that these will be long lived wines. When asked to compare 2010 against the 2009 vintage, words used to describe 2009 were open and opulent. Words used to describe 2010 were classic, structure, tannin & focus. Comparing to other similar vintages, these wines are very similar to 1986 and 1996. The 2010 vintage will be highly rated by the critics and will be on par with other exceptional vintages from Bordeaux.
The 2010 growing season was characterized by record low rainfall, the lowest in 30 years. Unlike the summer of 2003 which was dry with very hot temperatures, 2010 enjoyed cool nights therefore keeping the chances of diseases in check, but did not remove the threat. Like in 2009, the perfect end of season provided ideal conditions for the grapes to reach perfect ripeness. Concentration in the berries and ripe tannins brought structure and elegance in the wines which displayed great balance between sugar and acidity. The 2010’s also possess a deep, profound color that is rich, bright and inviting.
Overall, the quality of the wines of Pomerol were more consistent than in St-Emilion. Saint Emilions were fleshy & showed lots of upfront fruit. Old merlot vines were affected by disease which reduced yields and in some cases grape quality. The wines of Pomerol are rich & powerful, lush with great complexity and will need time to evolve.
It was truly staggering to taste all the variances of St. Emilion. Some were deep and powerful…others lacking freshness and balance and at times noted as “volatile”. Overall I found the wines from the “Cote” as well as the “Figeac” plateau produced the most compelling Saint Emilions. “Blackberry liqueur”, “kirsch”, “sandy soil”, “violets”, “mouth coating”, “mocha”, “persistent”, and “fine grained tannins” were common notes for the best wines.
The wines of Pomerol were very impressive! “HUGE”, “extracted”, “powerful”, “very deep”, “inky”, “LONG”, and “tannic” were consistent notes for most all the Chateau we tasted. Overall, great flesh, extract and length in the reds of Pomerol. A very impressive Pomerol vintage and for lovers of concentration this is the appellation to seek.
Cabernet Sauvignon was King in 2010 for the left bank wines and ended up comprising the majority of proportion in the blends. The level of minerality in the wines of Pauillac & some in Margaux was staggering and very impressive. The wines of Saint Estephe were classical in the sense that they showed high tannins and will require patience in the cellar as do the wines of Saint Julien. Numerous wines of the Haut-Medoc were displaying plenty of power & complexity showcasing the performance of the cabernet sauvignon grape in 2010. Values will be found in the Haut-Medoc. The wines of Pessac were impressive as well, both dry whites & reds. They figure as values for the quality, intensity, typicity and freshness with abundant aromas of tropical fruits for the whites.
Pauillac, Saint Julien and Saint Estephe displayed intense concentration and black fruit extract as well as powerfully tannic structures. These will be incredibly long lived wines and have plenty of stuffing to hang with the tannins over time. Pessac’s did not have the “deepness” of the northern Medics. But they more than made up for that in compelling aromas, freshness and a silkier balance. Overall we found the Margaux wines to be quite good with excellent purity of fruit and rich tannins but none to the level of the other Medoc Appellations.
Dry Whites/Sweet Whites
The dry whites of Pessac-Leognan possess a precise combination of vibrancy and richness. The aromas were bursting from the glass. “Citrus”, “white flowers”, “wet stones”, “very fresh and vibrant”, “sleek”. The balance and harmony of the 2010 dry whites is beyond impressive. The best are certainly worth seeking out for their immediate appeal as well as their ability to age.
The 2010 vintage showcased everything we love in the wines of Sauternes and Bar sac. “Beautiful”, “rich yet light on the feet”, “delicate”, “precise” were common themes. The purity and vibrancy of the sweet wines kept them from being cloying and gave them an “ethereal richness” that’s hard to quantify into words. Overall very good botrytis components were found in all major wines of the appellation. An excellent vintage worthy of collecting for those who are fans of this style of wine.
We won’t go in to he said, she said and try to discern the nuances of the first growths and determine which one is THE BEST. They are all classically great wines as they should be in such a vintage year.
As for all the others, here is a listing of what we consider the top 10 wines of the vintage for reds, whites, sweets and values in no particular ranking order:
La Conseillante, Palmer, La Mission Haut Brion, Grand Puy Lacoste, Gruaud Larose, Pichon Lalande, Lafon Rochet, Leoville Las Cases, Leoville Poyferre, Vieux Chateau Certan
Latour-Martillac, Carbonnieux, Smith Haut Lafitte, Domaine de Chevalier, Pavillon Blanc du Margaux, Haut Brion Blanc, Malartic Lagraviere, Bouscaut, Olivier Blanc, Larrivet Haut Brion
Suduiraut, Guiraud, Rieussec, Coutet, Doisy Daene, De Malle, Doisy Vedrines, Laufaurie Peyraguey, Fargues, Nairac
Bernadotte, Goulee, Lescours, Carbonnieux, Larrivaux, Poujeaux, Lacoste Borie, Lalande Borie, Fonreaud, Blason d’Issan