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Bordeaux 2010 Primeurs: St Estèphe

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

St Estèphe has done well in 2010 and has produced big, strong and dense wines. Certainly this isn’t a vintage for early drinking and there is not the succulence of 2009 in the best wines this year. There is richness but it’s shown more in strength rather than in opulence. There is also noticeable grip on the palates amongst the wines along with plenty of dense tannin and high-ish alcohols. The wines will be long lived and will need time in bottle. This reflects the overall vintage conditions and partly Merlot’s  reduced yield. The variety was affected by coulure because of unsettled weather during flowering, a problem that hasn’t so much affected quality but has reduced the quantity of Merlot in some blends.

Amongst the appellations two star performers, Chateau Montrose has produced something sublime and is probably one of the wines of the vintage in my book. Chateau Cos d’Estournel, in a different style, has also made a terrific wine. Objectively these wines are de facto first growths. Both Cos and Montrose have managed the tannin in this vintage brilliantly, although the wines are nearly a degree apart in alcohol. The two respective second wines here, Les Pagodas de Cos and La Dame de Montrose, are also really good and they outshine a lot of the other producers in the appellation. Neither these, nor the main wines, will obviously come cheap.

There’s a lot of tannin here to deal with amongst the other wines in the appellation. Chateau Cos Labory and Chateau Lafon-Rochet have produced dense and tannic wines, the former relatively more open, the latter with formidable grip and tannin, less knockout for me than the wine made here in 2009, but it is very long term and should prove very good. I’d like to see it further down the track. Amongst the others, Chateau Ormes de Pez looks terrific and should offer good value. To me it may be better their 2009. I was also very impressed by Chateau Haut Marbuzet in 2010 which has also made a wine in its typical flamboyant style, but with grip too. Chateau Meyney looks good, structured and grippy and Chateau de Pez has made something strong and extremely dense which, like Meyney, should offer good value. La Goulee, by the team at Cos d’Estournel looks very good and well made as does Chateau Tronquoy Lalande from the Montrose stable.

St Estèphe has always been a strong and tannic appellation, so in a strong and tannic vintage like 2010, which also has plenty of grip, you know what to expect. Remember again that it was the drought that has caused the concentration in 2010 and not the heat. Extracting the best from such wines needed a lot of wine-making savvy, to extract what was needed but not too much. The best wines do have excellent freshness but the tannins are big, even if hidden. Those winemakers who extracted too much have a lot of dry tannin on their hands.

The following wines were tasted at the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tastings and at the l’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Medoc. Chateau Cos d’Estournel and Chateau Montrose were tasted separately at their respective chateaux. Chateau Calon-Ségur wasn’t tasted. I hope to rectify that important omission soon.

Chateau Beausite

Deep and saturated; deep nose, smoky and some earth; full and mid-weight on the palate; not overly tannic but quite some finesse. Depth and length. Should be pretty good. 86-88+/100 l’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois tasting 7th April 2011

Chateau Le Boscq

Deep, quite arterial; tight and quite layered on the nose but with noticeable oak influence; fleshy and extracted palate, oak too and feels a little disjointed at present. Meaty though and chew though falls away a tad at the back. Not bad 85-87+/100 l’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois 7th April 2011

Chateau La Commanderie

Deep and saturated; some whiff of tannin and dust on the nose; palate tough and tannic with lots of grip. Not much fun. 78-80?/100 l’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois tasting 7th April 2011

Chateau Cos d’Estournel

Deep sublimated look; legs; ripe, plush and very seductive nose; layered and intense aroma – bodes well; real ripeness and density here, some mineral, black fruits too – ripe and very attractive on the nose; quite satiny palate; intense and full but also focused; real concentration in the mid-palate. Tannins extremely well managed. Some grip at the end which makes it feel very complete. Real length. Very first growth. 96-98+/100 [78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. 14.5 alc, IPT 91, pH 3.5] Tasted at the Cos 6th April 2011.

Les Pagodes de Cos

Deep, thick and concentrated look; legs; thick and ripe, some marzipan hints, very ripe nose; minerals and stone too; creamy note to the nose; thick palate, ripe, precise; some tar, this is very concentrated in feel. Lots of ripe tannin. Some warmth on the finish. 92-94+/100 [62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot alc 14.13% IPT 73 pH3.51] Tasted at Cos d’Estournel 6th April 2011.

Chateau Le Crock

Deep and saturated colour; dense; some violet perfume, density behind, very ripe and precise; good density and structure, quite clean and fresh; good length and bite on the finish. Feels fresh. 88+/100 [47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot 13% Cabernet Franc 14 alc and IPT 82] Tasted at Chateau Leoville Poyferre 4th April 2011.[2nd tasting] Deep and completely saturated; sturdy, slightly burnt notes; chocolate; fleshy palate with depth, some real life and freshness here, feels a little hard towards the end 85-87+/100 l’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois tasting 7th April 2011

Chateau Cos Labory

Deep dense colour; tighter more restrained layered nose; more focus than de Pez; palate full, concentrated quite dense; some hardness; but this looks pretty good. Quite chewy with density. Grip to. 88+/100 [35% Merlot, 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, alc 14%, pH 3.54 IPT 78], Tasted 5th April 2011 UGC. [2nd tasting UGC] Deep and sat; some perfume; quite strong blackcurrants but dense and good; lots of density again on the palate, some freshness; tannin and oak tannin here too. Will this meld? Strong wine with a long chewy finish. Should come good 88/100 7th April 2011 UGC

Goulee by Cos d’Estournel

Deep and dense, saturated; legs; ripe fruit, quite thick and strong in feel, fat too; very precise palate, layers and focus; some freshness too, feels complete; very well mannered, dense and intense on the palate, very good. Nicely handled palate and fine tannin – polished. 88-90+/100 [80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot 13.74 alc] Tasted at Cos d’Estournel 6th April 2011

Chateau de Pez

Very deep, saturated black red; legs; very plush nose; wonderful creamy ripe fruit; very full and attractive; very dense palate; quite big and thick; real warmth and grip; big. Maybe a fraction loose at the end. Warm. Big. 88+/100 [48% Merlot, 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, alc 13.55th April 2011 UGC. [2nd tasting UGC] Deep and saturated, very ripe nose; attractive; deep and creamy ripeness here; strong blackcurrant here also; big dense palate; quite firm and very tannic; very solid feel; quite chewy and tannic. Strong and solid and should be good value. 88+/100 7th April 2011 UGC

Chateau Lafon Rochet

Very dense, tight to the rim; creamy ripe nose; lots of fruit here, some coffee at the edge; layered; palate quite grippy and structured with lots of tannin, extract and material, but feels very ripe tannin. Very grippy finish. Little extracted but should meld. 88-90/100 5th April 2011 UGC. [2nd tasting UGC] Deep, dense; ripe blackcurrants; deep and concentrated feel with some gloss and polish; solid, dense masculine palate with minerals and rocks; extract but some grip here. Less voluptuous than ’09 at the same stage but powerful 88-90/100 [66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, alc 14] 7th April 2011 UGC

Chateau Lilian-Ladouys

Saturated colour; some finesse on the nose; creamy and layered quite fine; oak is present but wine has depth. Tannins here but guts and overall feels a reasonably polished effort 85-86+/100 l’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois tasting 7th April 2011

Chateau Meyney

Deep; minerality, strong oak, Cabernet dominant; some rose, perfume; cassis; dense and attractive palate; lots of concentration; blackcurrant freshness and grip, lots of concentration; quite structured; very good density. Good length. 88-90/100 [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 15% Petit Verdot]Tasted at Chateau Meyney 8th April 2011.

Chateau Montrose

Deep and dark, saturated black colour, right up to the rim; very deep wine with freshness here, some graphite but pure blackcurrant, and pronounced black cherry, creamy notes too; deep and quite ‘cool’, both in terms of freshness and in fashion! Quite terrific nose; very attractive and very deep; palate ripe entry, dense and concentrated but not overdone; lovely seductive quality; fresh and intense; blackcurrant and cherry on the palate; intense and precise. This is terrific stuff. Lovely wine. Such aromatic freshness and intensity with density. Tannins superbly ripe. 96-100/100 [53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, 13.7% alc]. Tasted at the Chateau 8th April 2011.

La Dame de Montrose

Deep and dark, black at centre; lots of dark cherry fruit; minerality here, deep but feels fresh; creamy black cherry; some violets too; good balance on the palate, well done and not over-the-top; seductive, also some grip but tannins have a softness and ripeness. Excellent effort 92-94+/100 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot 13.8 alc]. Tasted at Chateau Montrose 8th April 2011.

Chateau Ormes de Pez

Deep and dark; legs; very attractive nose; some black fruits; some real depth here, tar and liquorice notes too; cassis; palate has density with concentration and extract; mineral, wet stone, lots of extract and tannin and chew but the fruit density is there. Very good 88-90/100 [57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc 2% Petit Verdot Alc 13.6]  5th April 2011 UGC [2nd tasting UGC] Saturated and deep looking; ripe and thick nose; sweetness here but with some chalk; deep, very attractive; stones and rocks, solidity here; strong wine. This is St Estephe, dense, tannic but ripe. Should age well [will need it!] but should provide value. 88-90/100 7th April 2011 UGC

Chateau Phélan Ségur

Deep, dense, legs; nice primary fruit; cassis, ripe with minerality too; nice palate; quite grippy with lots of tannin and acid; fresh. Good chewy wine. Nice length and savour and grip at the end 88+/100 5th April 2011 UGC. [2nd tasting UGC] Deep and saturated; ripe, lots of fruit, solid feel, blackcurrants; some density; chewy and quite dense but also some softer qualities. Chewy too with some grip. Solid 87-88/100 7th April 2011 UGC

Chateau Tronquoy-Lalande

Deep and intense, saturated right up to the edge; very ripe nose, dark fruits, cherry and blackcurrant, molasses; thick and rich; lot of cherry here; dense and thick on the palate, quite sweet, chewy, dense and thick; good length. Thick and rich with some grip. 87-89+/100 [50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 14.1 alc]Tasted 7th April 2011 at Chateau Montrose.

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