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Bordeaux 2010 update: St Estèphe

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

031St Estèphe is one of Bordeaux’s great value appellations. The wines are noted for their flavour, depth and chew. Vineyard work over the last decade allied to later picking has yielded greater tannin ripeness in the wines and, combined with modern winemaking techniques, this has made St Estèphe overall a much more attractive prospect than maybe it used to be. Nevertheless the wines still have the guts and material to maintain the district’s reputation for producing long-lived reds. A major tasting at Vinexpo back in the summer focused on the 2010 vintage. There is no doubt that this is a very strong year for St Estèphe.

Of the wines tasted Château Montrose came out top, though the supplies of Château Calon Ségur and Cos had dried up by the time I arrived [blame my tardiness on the Vinexpo Brunello stand]. Montrose has shut down quite a bit since its primeur days. No surprise there though this is evidently an exceptionally strong and deep wine if brooding and rather backward. Ten years minimum before it reveals itself? Château Lafon-Rochet has produced another really good wine. It will be interesting to see whether this eclipses their 2009, though it’s chalk and cheese in terms of character. This is a very dense and tight 2010 that shows a lot of depth and extract on the palate. It needs time too.  Five years or so but it will last for thirty.

033Château Lafon Rochet: long-term 2010

Château Phélan Ségur shows its usual finesse and sophistication. It’s very clean and pure. Château Cos Labory on the other hand has produced a very chewy, beefy number that has a lot of power. Château Meyney is an interesting combination of the two styles. It has depth and density but also finesse.

Of course St Estèphe is famed for its many good value cru bourgeois properties. In a really good year like 2010 these offer real value for money. Some are drinking nicely already, though they will all improve further. I was especially impressed with Château Petit Boscq, Château de Pez, Château Pomys and a very much improved Château Lilian Ladouys, now under the management of Emmanuel Cruse of Margaux’s Château d’Issan. All these are already drinking well but in three to five years they will be better. Château Le Crock has much finesse and polish and is nicely balanced. Château Tronquoy-Lalande was deep and dense with a lot of tannin evident but plenty of fruit. It too needs a few years to loosen up.

039Lilian-Ladouys getting back to form?

Amongst those St Estèphe properties I don’t usually get to see, Château Leo des Prades and Château La Peyre have made good wine in 2010. Château Domeyne, Château L’Argilus du Roi and Château Haut-Coteau are also reasonable examples of chewy, honest St Estèphe. I thought Château Clauzet a little pruney and overripe for me and Château Laffitte Carcasset felt a little old-fashioned.

The overall verdict was that St Estèphe is an appellation that delivers well on all levels in 2010. The wines have plenty of fruit and power. At the top these wines need time but amongst the middle rank there is real finesse and style and some are already enjoyable to drink.

The following wines were tasted at the end of June at Vinexpo in Bordeaux.

Château Clauzet

2010 Big and black; figgy with notes of prunes; feels a little overripe and thick for me. Drink 2015-2022. 86

Château Cos Labory

2010 Deep and saturated; wet rocks, very big and tannic on the palate; chewy with lots of material. Should work out well. Tannic on the end. Pretty hefty alcohol at 14.2% Drink 2020-2030. 89+

2009 Deep; ripe and jammy lift to the nose; blackfruits and plums on the palate; chewy tannin on the finish. Drink now – 2025. 88+

1990 Mature looking; spices; warm, some of the vintage roasted notes; some depth. Good-ish finish with a little tannin at the end. Drink now to 2020. 90

Château de Pez

2010 Deep and saturated look; earthy, meaty maturing nose – very forward and already complex; chewy palate – pure and attractive with lots of depth. Excellent effort. Drink now – 2025. 89+

2009 Deep and saturated look; ripe, some jam; chew and depth but tannins ripe and round at the end – very attractive effort again. Tannin [ripe] on the finish. Drink now – 2025. 89+

Château Domeyne

2010 Mid depth; lift and rasin notes; blackcurrant and wine gum notes; chewy finish. 60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Twelve months in French oak, 30% new. Drink 2014 – 2020. 86

Château Haut-Coteau

2010 Deepish; attractive gutsy St Estephe; good fruit and chew on the palate; reasonable length. Drink now – 2020. 86

Château Hauteville

2010 Deep-ish; leafy blackcurrant aromas, fresh; stalky fresh Cabernet tones dominate the palate; sturdy; some dryness on the end. [50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot]. Drink now 2020. 85

Château L’Argilus du Roi

2010 Deep and saturated; wet rocks, depth; deep and chewy St Estephe on the palate; lacks a bit of polish but strong and pure in heart. 5 ha plot, 25,000 bottles. Drink now – 2020. 87

2008 Lighter; some lift and development; lightish palate that has developed; easy and mature; lacks depth and sophistication. Drink now. 84

Château La Peyre

2010 [50:50 Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon] 8 ha property Deep and saturated; some jam and lift; ripe, easy, cherry fruits; quite clean; nice fruit and fresh on the finish. Good effort. Drink 2014-2020. 87

Château La Villotte

2010 Mid depth; oak, fruit, spices and meaty tones; nicely integrated – reminds me a little of a good vintage of Charmail on the nose; chewy palate with lots of guts and matter but falls away at the end. Tannic finish. Should come together? 12 ha, planted 1964, 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot & 3% Petit Verdot Drink 2015-2020. 86+

Château Laffitte Carcasset

2012 Deepish; ripe fruit, cassis and good purity; oak dominates the palate currently. Chewy finish. Drink 2015-2020. 84-86

2010 Deep; earthy, bit dumb on the nose; stalky blackcurrant fruit on the palate; closed sample though feels bit old fashioned. Drink 2015-2022. 86

Château Lafon Rochet

2010 Very deep and saturated; very pure and very clean; blackcurrant aromas, some smoke; smells good; big and dense on the palate; lots of extract; depth; purity; chewy on the finish. Very dense and lots of material. Will be long-lived [and needs time]. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Drink 2020-2035. 91+

2008 Deep colour; healthy looking; nice minerality; blackcurrant; good palate; mid weight some development. Good. Resembles its MW outing Nov ‘12. Drink 2016-2025. 88

Château Le Crock

2010 Deep and dense; brooding and deep; good core of fruit on the palate; pretty tannic finish. Needs time. Drink 2015-2025. 88

2008 Deep and dense; some spice, earth and blackcurrants beneath; good chew to the palate; acids fresh. Good grip. Chewy finish. Drink now – 2020. 87

Château Le Haye

2011 Mid depth; pure aromas, blackcurrant, some leaf, chewy with fresh acids and some bite at the end. 16 ha property planted with 55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot. Drink 2014-2020. 85

2010 Deep colour; earthy, wet rock nose; grippy palate with blackcurrant fruit; gutsy; nice balance on the palate between chew and grip; good-ish. Drink now -2020. 87

Château Leo de Prades

2010 Deep and dense; ripe blackcurrant aromas with oak influence; quite seductive and nicely done; attractive blackcurrant fruit on the palate; attractive mid-weight St Estephe. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot. Drink now-2020. 87

Château Lilian Ladouys

2010 Deep and dense; thick on the nose; deep; fruits; some violets; attractive; blackcurrants, ripe fruits and purity on the palate. Chewy finish. Good wine with nice fruit and density. Something of a return to form here? Improvements under Emmanuel Cruse’s [d’Issan] watch I wonder? 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot 60% new oak. Drink 2015-2025. 88+

Château Petit Boscq

2010 Deep and saturated; lovely nose; very seductive; nice oak, plums, spices; mincemeat; looks very good on the nose; some chew and grip on the palate but works well; plenty of guts here. Little chewy on the finish but this represents good tasty St Estephe. Drink now – 2025. 89

Château Phélan Ségur

2010 Deep and dark; nice purity on the nose; blackcurrants; very clean and deep; oak a little more present currently on the palate. 51% Cabernet Sauvignon 49% Merlot 50% new oak. Drink 2016-2030. 90+

Château Pomys

2010 Deep and saturated at the edge; oak and fruit integrated; some meaty tones; chewy palate with plenty of blackcurrant fruit. Tannin on the finish. Drink 2015-2022. 88+

2009 Deep and saturated looking; some oak lift; resin; chewy palate; lots of density and tannin. Drink 2014-2025. 87

Château Marcelline

2010 Deep and saturated; stalky blackcurrants; some cream; strength here and nice density. Chewy finish. Lots here if lacks finesse. Drink 2014-2022. 86+

Château Meyney

2010 Deep and dense; tight to edge; minerals and blackcurrants; rich palate with good ripeness; inky with concentration and depth; depth here with more blackcurrant fruit and nice freshness. Drink 2015-2030. 90

Château Montrose

2010 Deep and saturated; black fruits, some fig; deep; palate nice purity and more Cab freshness here than is immediately evident on the nose; lots and lots of density on the palate and very tannic. Feeks extremely long hall and has shut down since its vivid primeur days. Drink 2020-2040. 96

Château Remandine

2010 [60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon] Deep; some stalky tones; leaf and blackcurrant; chewy palate but freshness and feels more positive than ’09 which is a little too jammy and simple. Tannic finish. Drink 2014-2025. 86

2009 Black colour; very ripe and jammy on the nose; chew and tannic on the end. Simple. OK. Drink now-2019. 85

Château Tronquoy Lalande

2010 Deep and saturated colour; ripe; figs; dense, chewy and thick on the palate. Lots of density and extract. Chewy finish. Drink 2018-2030. 90 

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