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Bordeaux 2010 Revisited: Pauillac

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_6256Pauillac has produced a number of brilliant wines in 2010. There’s a lot of texture and material here. If the wines lack the creamy fruit of the come-hither 2009s, they possess extremely impressive concentration and power. Château Mouton-Rothschild led the pack of the sixteen or so wines shown late last year by the MW Institute. It is a formidable effort and was wonderful on the day. It is closely followed by Château Pichon-Longueville, which continues to show the great promise it did during its primeur days. Château Lynch-Bages, Château Pichon-Lalande, Château Pontet-Canet, Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Château Lafite Rothschild have also produced very impressive wine as has Château Clerc Milon. Château Batailley is worth a special mention. It has produced excellent Pauillac in 2010 and continues a great run of recent form at this popular estate.

If 2010 always appeared to be a long-term vintage [even for Pauillac], and a number of wines remain a little backward and closed, it was surprising how relatively approachable a number were already. I’d put Mouton, Lafite, Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Pichon Lalande in this category. All could clearly do with another decade of cellaring, but you can certainly understand and appreciate them already.

Château Mouton Rothschild is a wonder, already showing much class, complexity and exoticism. It has an incredible amount of power and concentration. Château Lafite Rothschild is very fluent aromatically and on the palate it shows very good balance, which perhaps makes it a little deceptive [lighter] when stood next to Mouton. Château Latour was not shown at the tasting, although it and Les Forts de Latour were extremely impressive when tasted during primeurs four years ago. To read those notes click here.

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Qualitatively Château Pichon Longueville [pictured above] is the closest to Mouton in terms of scale and power. This is a really formidable effort but it remains a bit backward currently. This is no bad thing as the wine clearly has a long life ahead. Château Lynch-Bages is similar in style. This is a wine that, from the very off, had profound levels of concentration and matter. It, too, has shut down somewhat, but I’d expect this, along with Pichon Longueville, to provide magnificent wine in five to ten years time. Both have the fruit and the concentration to age extremely well after that.

Château Pontet-Canet 2010 has sublime blackcurrant cassis aromatics and formidable extract and tannin on the palate. This wine appears to have shut down a fraction too but it represents another great effort from this dynamic and wisely run property. Château Pichon Lalande has also made very impressive wine in 2010. This is more immediately approachable than Pontet-Canet and is a wine of great beauty and class.

I’m a great fan Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste [hands up who isn’t?]. It has produced a very impressive in 2010 that is already showing well. There is attractive balance and poise here with multiple layers of flavour. It will take age obviously but it is surprisingly user friendly already.

The same is also true of Château Batailley [pictured below]. This was really flattering to taste on the day, and there is lots of depth to this Pauillac. Hardly an insiders wine – Batailley is one of the most popular and well known of all the Bordeaux classed growths – but the recent quality here has been especially impressive. 2009 was a cracker, and 2010 is easily on par with this effort qualitatively.

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Mouton stablemates, Château d’Armailhac and Château Clerc Milon have made very good wines. Clerc Milon has the greater definition and purity. Château Duhart-Milon was closed on the day. It felt pent up and backward, along similar lines as the 2005 did when tasted at a similar stage. There is plenty to this effort nevertheless, but it needs time and for me it is currently more backward than big brother Lafite.

Château Haut-Bages Libéral has turned in another impressive effort. I like the vibrancy and life that this property usually displays. It is excellent value Pauillac and the 2010 shows plenty of vigour and appetizing blackcurrant fruit. Château Haut-Batailley has also produced excellent wine and there is polish and harmony to this Pauillac in 2010. Château Croizet-Bages 2010 is a good-ish effort. It is not in the same class as the other crus classés in this vintage, but the wine provides further evidence of genuine signs of improvement at this estate. Château Grand-Puy Ducasse was missing from the line-up and I hope to update with notes on this property soon. Previous notes can be found here.

Below are full notes on the sixteen wines tasted from the appellation at last November’s MW Institute tasting. I hope you find them useful. Four years on from primeurs, this vintage continues to show its class.

Château d’Armailhac

Deep and saturated; blackcurrant Cabernet and spicy Cabernet Franc tones; ink; saturated full style aromatically; blackcurrant tones and spices on the palate; full and chewy style with some vigour but also approachability; clean with good tannic twist at the end. Drink 2016-2030. 91+

Château Batailley

Mid depth; deep core; very attractive and forward aromatically; spices, pain grillé notes, blackcurrants; lovely Pauillac aromatics – this is spot on! Blackcurrant and earthy notes on the palate; sturdy with lots of fruits and grip; nice balance and harmony; lots of depth and length with nice acidity too. Another terrific effort from Batailley to rival ‘09. Drink 2016-2035. 94+

Château Clerc Milon

Mid depth; deep at the core; clear and slightly higher toned Cabernet style; clean, blackcurrant cassis; purity; density on the palate with some freshness; moreish palate; spices and blackcurrant tones dominate the palate; genuine length. Purity here. Linear and pure. Drink 2016-2035. 94+

Château Croizet-Bages

Deepish; easy and open aromatics; blackcurrants, some spice; dust; open palate but of some saturation; good depth; nice chew to the fruit and sap; freshness too. Good effort from Croizet-Bages. Drink now-2025. 89+

Château Duhart-Milon

Deep at centre; resinous blackcurrant aromatics; some ink; backward at first; cassis; wet rocks; compact at present on the palate there is intensity here and a tight fist of concentrated fruit – this wine has gone into its shell; reticent and closed [going the same way of the 2005?]. Very promising at primeurs but undoubtedly closed at present – leave for five year at least. Drink 2019-2035. 93+

Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste

Deep and dark looking; wonderful blackcurrant purity on the nose; pencil shavings and graphite; very tight but focused seam of fruit here; genuine intensity and purity; lovely texture to the palate; blackcurrant fruit again; some earthy notes; and grip to the tannins but really this is very impressive stuff; very good length on the end. Very substantial but elegantly expressed. Drink 2017-2035. 95+

Château Haut-Bages Libéral

Deep; fresh blackcurrant aromatics; some wet rocks notes; attractive in a vibrant and vivacious way; vibrant, fresh palate; more grip and sap in evidence; attractive in a fresher style; shorter length than Grand-Puy-Lacoste immediately before. Good value, fresh vigorous Pauillac. Drink 2016-2030. 91+

Château Haut-Batailley

Mid depth; vibrant looking in the glass; creamy notes; ink; some blackcurrants; some lift; little closed; palate crisp with some chalky fruit; blackcurrant tones and wet rock; blackcurrant and tobacco notes on the finish. Good-ish depth and weight. Nicely balanced as usual. Little reticent on the day. Needs a couple of years? Drink 2018-2030. 91+

Château Lafite-Rothschild

Deep and glossy; very attractive blackcurrant and lead pencil tones; spot on and very fluid; some spicy qualities to the blackcurrant fruit; nice weight on the palate; lovely seam of blackcurrant fruit; elegant yet concentrated; inky notes; real length on the finish. Drink 2018-2040. 96+

Château Lynch-Bages

Very good depth; solid aromatics; bit closed; some boiled sweets and blackcurrant cassis; cassis tones open up on aeration; very pent up and closed; blackcurrant cassis tones on the palate; very concentrated; lots of chew and matter; long in the mouth; five years minimum? Long term wine, clearly of great scale and density but currently a dormant volcano. Drink 2020-2040. 95+

Château Lynch-Moussas

Mid depth; easy lifted spicy blackcurrant style; pencil shavings; nice intense palate of some depth and texture; medium weight, charming style; little chew to the tannins but already drinking well. Drink now-2025. 90

Château Mouton Rothschild

Very deep looking; wonderfully exotic and seductive aromatics; spices, blackcurrants, pan grillé notes; opulent; layered and already complex; beautiful blackcurrant fruit on the palate; layered and really deep; extract and density but a supple quality to the [considerable] tannins; very overt and showing well on the day; genuine weight of extract and matter here, but also freshness too. Remarkable combination. Perfection. Drink 2016-2045. 100

Château Pedésclaux

Mid depth; chalky note; spices; reticent; sturdy palate; firm and solid; little excitement here at present. Tannins feel a little dry and extracted. Drink 2016-2025. 86

Château Pichon-Longueville

Deep and saturated looking; very full aromatics bursting forth; blackcurrants, spices; menthol; ink and some resin; layered aromatics of considerable depth and purity; full palate with lots of blackcurrant tones and inky notes; some spicy Cabernet Franc characters too; lots of depth here clearly. Lots of chew to the tannins too but there is ripeness and concentration that gives the wine a very textured feel. This is clearly great Pauillac. Drink 2018-2045. 98+

Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

Deep colour; blackcurrants and spicy notes; earth, autumn leaves and pencil shavings; ripe and full; quite open currently; wonderful blackcurrant purity on the palate; cool and pure and very well defined; very nicely done in a beautifully elegant style. Drink 2017-2035. 95+

Château Pontet-Canet

Deep and saturated looking; some cream; lush blackcurrant and cassis tones; sturdy and strong; blackcurrants again on the palate; full and pure; sizeable palate very nicely textured; spices with some chew to the tannins; structured; plenty of fruit here though perhaps a little shut down [compared with Pichon Longueville say]; loads of intensely packed fruit but slumbering at present. Intense. Long finish. Drink 2020-2040. 96+

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