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Bordeaux 2010 Primeurs: Chateau Lafite-Rothschild

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Charles Chevallier and his team at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild have come up with the goods again, though that hardly counts as news these days. Hot on the heels of the perfect 2009 is a grand vin of extraordinary intensity in 2010. It’s not a better wine than 2009 but it is different. Maybe it doesn’t quite have the elegance and subtlety of the previous year but it is more classic, with more ‘volume’ as they put it at Lafite. It certainly feels like it has more power and concentration. It is a sublime and quite amazing wine, yet still with freshness and somehow ‘only’ 13.5 in alcohol. What terrific terrior they have. Carruades de Lafite too is a marvel in 2010, a ‘second’ wine that seems to have upped its game exponentially in the past few vintages.

Overall the season here at Lafite didn’t see the high temperatures of 2009, 2005 or 2003. There was high rainfall at the start of the vine growing but July, August and September were very dry. The vintage began on September 24 with the Merlot. Cabernet Sauvignon began on October 4 and ended on October 13. Cabernet Franc, picked on October 8-9 and the two parcels here of Petit Verdot were picked on October 13. Neither of these last two varieties made it into the grand vin itself. The Cabernet Franc wasn’t quite as good as they wanted and the Petit Verdot was very tannic and didn’t fit with the blend.

Chateau Duhart Milon is very impressive and reflects the attention given to this wine over the past decade. Since 2001 the harvest here has been picked separately from Chateau Lafite-Rothschild enabling greater flexibility and control, one example of the more dedicated approach. On the winemaking side there have also been investments in the cellar with new smaller vats, enabling more intensive, parcel by parcel vinification. It’s an improvement which helps to justify Duhart’s rising price tag, though remains a positive bargain in comparison to its siblings. In fact what it really means is that the more recent vintages at Duhart are better value than the older ones as the quality has improved dramatically here, but the price effect has pulled up the old vintages to similar levels, but vintages which don’t share the corresponding quality. The market is concerned of course more with tradability than drinkability, but I thought I’d point it out. The 2010 is the equal of the 2009 for me.

The following wines were tasted at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild on Thursday 7th April 2011:

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild

Deep and saturated; the most saturated of all the wines shown; thick in the glass; creamy blackcurrant aroma – very enticing and succulent; very deep nose but also very fresh; some summer pudding along with some graphite; sweet entry on the palate, sublimated, with some oak but soaked in blackcurrant fruit; real density and length; layers and layers; more strength it feels than 2009; great concentration and very well balanced by freshness. Very, very long and remains vibrant. [87.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12.8% Merlot, alc 13.5] 98-100/100  

Carruades de Lafite

Deep and dense; legs; purple meniscus; lovely ripe blackcurrants, cassis, very fresh; some menthol; cream and blackcurrants with a minerality too; density too; very ripe; lots of ripe succulent blackcurrants on the palate; seems denser than last year; good chew and grip here. Very good length and finish. Excellent. [50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42.5% Merlot, 5.1% Cabernet Franc, 2.4% Petit Verdot, alc 13.5] 94-96+/100

Chateau Duhart Milon Rothschild

Very dense; up to the rim; saturated; lovely depth to the nose; touch tighter and more pent up than the Carruades; cool and very deep; really intense cassis and blackcurrants; very pure and very focused; freshness on the palate with layers; very creamy and ripe blackcurrant flavours but with depth and length; lots of sublimation here; chewy blackcurrant finish. Lovely length. [73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot alc 13.5] 94-96+/100

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