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Bordeaux 2010: Primeurs Review

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April 2011

After tasting four hundred plus wines during the primeurs week in April 2011, I found plenty of fruit, tannin and acid, not always in that order, but certainly in number in Bordeaux 2010. There is a lot of everything in this vintage. Lots of colour, often dense saturated colours across the board, but then there is also plenty of extract, tannin and acid, and then more acid and tannin still. It makes the wines a bit tricky to judge. In fact I spent a lot of time re-tasting wines because I found some difficult to evaluate. 2010 is a great vintage in many respects, but there is irregularity too. Winemaking judgement was exceptionally important in this vintage, with such dense, thick and concentrated berries those properties with a lightness of touch and flexibility have made the best wines. Those that have extracted too much have made monsters, with tannins and grip to match, not that the wines divide so neatly into those camps, I wish it were that easy. Certainly 2009 was undoubtedly more straightforward to judge at the same stage.

The other consideration is that with such sweet juice to ferment, the wines generally took longer to get dry. Fourteen and fifteen degrees or more is an effort for any yeast, even the most well intentioned and enthusiastic saccharomyces. The correspondingly high acidities also meant that many estates were completing malolactic fermentation in January rather than in November because the wines had so much malic acid to shed. This is more like Burgundy than Bordeaux. To me this made the samples feel literally younger to taste, as they have had less time to settle ahead of them being presented for the first time. Those that felt a bit disjointed now, and there were quite a few in my book, will doubtless be more settled in a month or six weeks time. So some important caveats here on the assessments.

That said, at the top level, amongst the first growths, the super seconds, the stars of the right bank and the best properties in Pessac-Léognan, 2010 is an outstanding vintage, of that there is no doubt. Whether it is better than 2009 comes down in a large part to questions of taste and vintage style. Qualitatively it’s tricky to say one is better than the other, so contrasting are these vintages in personality. Some chateaux have made wines better than in 2010 in the left bank, more estates in my view made wine better in 2009, but that reflects my preference. It’s more a case of different wine. If you like classical wines, yet with epic levels of power and concentration, then 2010 is for you. But remember these are dense wines, with much more grip and obvious tannin on the palate, and they will need lots of time in bottle. So if you like flamboyance, seductiveness and hedonism then 2009 will be the better vintage overall for you.

Nevertheless, St Emilion and Pessac-Léognan have, for me, generally made better wines in 2010 than 2009. In St Emilion that is because there is more acid and grip to the wines, which balances the high alcohols [and what alcohols they are!], and in Pessac-Leognan because of the sheer joy and plushness I found in the fruit, quite a remarkable vintage here at every level. This is an appellation to buy in spades here in my view. The whites also look very good here too.

Overall I prefer the style of St Estèphe, Pauillac, St Julien and Margaux in 2009 than in 2010 but it’s a tough call, really tough as there is a voice in my head that tells me it’s the other way round. My main concern here is about the tannin and grip in 2010 in these appellations amongst some wines. The best are excellent but they will need time. The drought conditions concentrated the grapes through the evaporation of water, such that tannin and acids were concentrated in that process. It was not hot in September and with the water stress ripening was slowed and only brief rain in late September allowed the phenolic ripening process to complete adequately. You do get the feeling that some properties could have done with just a bit more rain in some cases to ease the concentration.

The comparison I think with that other drought year, 1975 is a valid one, certainly in terms of vintage conditions, winemaking has of course moved ahead light-years since then. The 1975s today show you what to expect if you get things wrong in the vineyard and the cellar. That vintage was much heralded at the time, but you wouldn’t touch ‘75 with a barge pole now, except for the sweet whites which are wonderful. The tannins and the acids in the reds never resolved themselves.

At the lower level in Bordeaux 2010 amongst the lesser Médocs and Haut-Médocs especially, things can be tricky and many wines felt tannic and extremely grippy at present.  Of course it’s always a moving picture and it will be fascinating to see how the 2010s develop. The comparisons with the 2009s will no doubt be endless.

A brief word on Sauternes and Barsac which appear to have had another excellent vintage. Botrytis arrived later in the vineyards than it did in 2009 but there was a lot of freshness and life to the best wines here. For the cost of production these wines remain the very best value that Bordeaux offers.

In the following sections there are overviews for each of the principal Bordeaux appellations with tasting notes. All are adapted from my original blog posts. Not included here are the individual profiles for the higher profile estates, principally the first growths and most leading super seconds. If you want to read these they can easily be found through the blog history or by searching for the individual chateaux themselves in the search box.

ST ESTEPHE 2010 OVERVIEW

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St Estèphe has produced big, strong and dense wines in 2010. Certainly this isn’t a vintage for early drinking and there is not the succulence of 2009 in the best wines this year. In that sense this is traditional St Estèphe. There is richness but it is more strength that dominates not opulence. There is also noticeable grip in the wines along with plenty of dense tannin and high-ish alcohols. These wines will be long lived and need time in bottle. This reflects the overall vintage conditions and partly Merlot’s reduced yield in some cases. 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, reducing its softening influence and accentuating Cabernet Sauvignon’s sharper elbows, or producing more concentrated Merlot than usual.

Chateau Montrose is sublime and probably one of the wines of the vintage. Along with Chateau Cos d’Estournel, both these properties are operating at the same level as de facto first growths. Both Cos and Montrose have managed the tannin in this vintage brilliantly and are quality terms pretty much equals, with Montrose just out in front for me. The two respective second wines, Les Pagodes de Cos and La Dame de Montrose, are also really good and 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 extract, grip and 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. It feels very long term and 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 is very structured and grippy reflecting more Cabernet in the blend I wonder? Chateau de Pez has made something strong and extremely dense which, like Meyney, should offer good value, 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 will 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 a harvest needed a lot of wine-making savvy, to extract what was needed but not too much. The best wines do have excellent freshness and concentration but the tannins are big. Those winemakers who extracted too much have a lot of dry tannin on their hands and you wonder if they will ever settle.

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 Segur 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 some finesse. Depth and length. Should be pretty good. 86-88+/100 l’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois tasting 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 4 April 2011.[Second 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 5 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 too. 88+/100 [35% Merlot, 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, alc 14%, pH 3.54 IPT 78], Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC. [Second 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 7 April 2011 UGC

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 13.5] 5 April 2011 UGC. [Second 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 7 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 5 April 2011 UGC. [second 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. Long term. 88-90/100 [66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, alc 14] 7 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 7 April 2011

Chateau Meyney

Deep; minerality, strong oak, Cabernet feels 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 8 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 7 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 7 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]  5 April 2011 UGC [second 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 7 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 5 April 2011 UGC. [second 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 7 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 7 April 2011 at Chateau Montrose.

PAUILLAC 2010 OVERVIEW

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Overall dense and intense, and tannic too with lots grip is the verdict on Pauillac 2010. It’s less easy to enjoy than 2009 as an infant and doesn’t have the seduction and flamboyance of that vintage. Strength and power is the style here and it will be very interesting to see how these wines develop. Amongst the first growths [see individual posts] Mouton has produced an even better wine in ’10 than in ’09, Lafite is perfect but very concentrated and dense and feels less elegant and seductive over ’09. Latour is very dense, concentrated and amazing – yet nearly overshadowed by a quite extraordinary Les Forts de Latour. Carruades de Lafite is no slouch this year, better than last, as is Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild, also a notch up on 2009.

The Pichons are strong in 2010, but I think preferred them in 2009. Again Chateau Pichon Longueville [Baron] always seems to taste better at this stage than Chateau Pichon Comtesse de Lalande. Comtesse looks extremely good but was a bit reticent. Chateau Lynch Bages has great density and strength, quite tremendous power in fact, but again I preferred their brilliant 2009. In twenty years time it may be the other way around.

Chateau Pontet-Canet has produced something extremely pure and unadorned and it will be a great wine [see individual post]. What’s more it is certified organic and biodynamic which is great news. How long until others follow suit I wonder? Chateau Duhart-Milon has made a wine equal at least to its 2005 and 2009 and is tremendous. Amongst the values, Clerc Milon, well maybe not quite the ‘value’ it once was, looked excellent in two out of the three times I tasted it. Chateau Batailley as ever, impressed, with more grip than ’09. Stablemate Lynch Moussas looked good and promised to be extremely drinkable, a point to remember when wading through all the density, grip and tannin here. Chateau Grand-Puy Lacoste looked to have finesse and precision, Grand Puy Ducasse continues its improvement, though the ’10 is a wine with more obvious structure and grip than ’09 – true I guess for all the wines in this commune.

Overall Pauillac’s proprietors see the vintage as more classical than 2009 but with more strength and concentration – ‘plus, plus’ I kept being told. Personally I found the wines a bit tricky to judge overall because of the strength of the tannins and the grip, despite the obvious concentration here in 2010. I tasted everything twice, some three times. In the end, I concluded that 2010 is a great year if you like strength and power, though I found more joy and seduction here in 2009 at the same age. Time will tell which is the greater vintage. I suspect it will simply come down to style and personal taste rather than definitive quality as with the other appellations. If 2009 didn’t exist then we’d certainly be arguing the toss between 2010 and 2005 in Pauillac

The following wines were tasted at the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux. Chateau Pontet Canet, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Chateau Latour were all tasted separately.

Chateau Batailley

Deep centre, legs; some smoke, cream and blackcurrant; feels pretty seductive on the nose; Cabernet on the palate, strong; some higher toned notes; acid and grip here too; depth plus richness. Good mid-palate density. Warm at the end. Grip and tannin. [78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot alc 13.5%] 90-92/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC [Second tasting] Deep colour; fresh blackcurrants, nice life, very attractive wine on the nose; some summer fruits; ripe and attractive; palate quite dense but some seductive perfume and then there is the solid core and the tannins. Ripeness here. 90-92/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Clerc Milon

Very deep and intense; fresh looking; little more evocative than the d’Armailhac – very pure, very fresh tasting; fresh blackcurrants again; summer fruit pudding; good structure, acid and tannin here; bit less evolved on the palate than on the nose; feels leaner and meaner but good chew and density and good length on the finish suggests more than enough fruit is here. Excellent length in fact 90-92+/100 Tasted 4 April at Mouton. [Second tasting] Deep core, legs, purple rim; ripe blackcurrant nose; cassis, some grip, leaf and density on the palate; feels that it’s quite infant; tannin and acid very present and lots of material; sample a trifle disjointed; Good length and grip on the finish. 90-92 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC [Third tasting] Deep and saturated; some summer fruit pudding; ripe and rich; deep and attractive; dense blackcurrant, quite grippy and fresh. Good length. Very good. 90-92/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Croizet-Bages

Deep and saturated; legs; some coffee, brooding; feels like there is depth here; some cassis. Tannic palate and feels extracted and dry. Grippy too. Overall a bit chunky and disjointed at present. 84-86?/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC. [Second tasting UGC] Not bad colour or depth; ripe and lifted, not bad effort, dense; clean and attractive lacks the depth of the best, some blackcurrant, quite fresh. Better sample than previous 86-88+/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 UGC

Chateau d’Armailhac

Deep and dense; black at the centre; healthy sheen; some minerality, rocks, with blackcurrants; dense; little more subdued than usual; creamy; good concentration on the palate; quite fresh feel; blackcurrants; classical wine with race; density and concentration; great mid-palate; very good chew and length on the end; real bite. Lively. Good length. Should be very good. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, alcohol 14] 90-92/100 Tasted 4 April 2011 at Mouton Rothschild. [Second tasting] Deep and dark, legs, saturated looking; sweetness and ripeness here; cassis and layered nose; attractive; quite concentrated and dense on the palate but there is fruit here; but lots of tannin and grip; lots of extract here. Chewy finish. Intensity and grip. Long life ahead. 90-92/100 5 April 2011. [Third tasting UGC] Deep and dense; full of colour, full of extract too; ripe and full nose, blackcurrants, some lift here; attractive; chewy on the palate but with freshness; clean; blackcurrants again; grip and acid. Nice and fresh. 90-92/100 Tasted 7April 2011 UGC

Chateau Duhart Milon

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 Tasted 7 April at Lafite.

Chateau Grand-Puy Ducasse

Very saturated, deep; very clean, blackcurrant, depth, not majorly expressive, ripe, some cassis; real depth and concentration on the palate; feels a bit woody and tannic on the palate; acid here too. Feels strong but bit currently disjointed. Will meld no doubt[60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot] 88-90/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC. [Second tasting UGC] Deep and dark; up to rim; blackcurrants, quite seductive quite full; some blackcurrant even tobacco; ripe and full; chewy and ripe. Good grip and lift. Promising. 89-91+/100 Tasted 7 April UGC [Third tasting] Deep and saturated; vibrant looking; blackcurrant, fresh, some smoke and cassis here; oak little obvious for now on the palate; will meld; density, grip and tannin here. Structured and correct. Would like a bit more flesh but guess that’s the vintage. 88-90/100 Tasted 8 April at Chateau Meyney

Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste

Deep and dense; nice cassis and blackcurrants; fresh; almost some mint and menthol; palate concentrated and intense with depth; not over extracted here. Quite fine. Dips away a fraction at the end but overall very good 89-91/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC.[Second tasting] Thick and dark looking; ripe and thick nose, blackcurrants, ripe and creamy; dense, concentrated wine with some freshness; quite firm with acid, chewy and dense. Good freshness here. Intense. 90-92/100 Tasted 7 April 2010

Chateau Haut-Bages Libéral

Deep, saturated; maybe fraction less dense here; some higher toned notes as usual; some fragrance too, blackcurrants; not bad palate; quite grippy. Feels fresh. 87-89+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC. [Second tasting UGC] Deep, not as dark and black as some; quite pretty and fragrant Cabernet nose; clean and quite fresh; feels higher tones but nice; blackcurrants and cream on the palate; quite intense; lots of blackcurrant fruit and some chew and grip too; quite sappy. Good and fresh 88-90+/100 Tasted 7 April UGC

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild

Deep and saturated; the most saturated of all the wines shown at Lafite; 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 Tasted 7 April at Lafite.

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. Tasted 7 April at Lafite.

Chateau Latour

Dense, legs; graphite, minerals; sublimated and strong; really strong minerality, very intense with extraordinary depth on the nose; aeration revealed tightly packed layers of aroma, very focused; a nose of density and strength; very concentrated core of blackcurrant fruit on the palate; dense yet fresh; blackcurrants and cream; layer upon layer of flavour; lovely poise; terrific concentration and very, very long. Amazing. [90.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5% Merlot, 0.5% Cabernet Franc, 0.5% Petit Verdot, alc 14.4% IPT 83] 100/100 Tasted 8 April at Latour.

Les Forts de Latour

Very dense, tight to the meniscus; cream and blackcurrants, very fresh and very deep; more forward and seemingly lush than the grand vin; very appealing; very seductive on the nose; plush palate but with real extract and density and real freshness too; concentrated with layers; polished and pure; perfect extraction; powerful but some how elegant. Lovely wine of fantastic length. Focused and persistent. Quite terrific. [72.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25.5% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, alc 14.3%, IPT 87] 96-98+/100 Tasted 8 April at Latour.

Pauillac de Latour

Very deep and saturated look; fraction less so than Les Forts and Latour, very ripe nose; succulent fruit, quite perfumed; dense attack, pretty good; very clean and pure wine with freshness that prevents the palate dipping. Very attractive wine with good length. Blackcurrants. Focus and grip excellent. [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44.5% Merlot, 0.5% Cabernet Franc, alc 13.9% IPT 79] 91-93+/100 Tasted 8 April at Latour.

Chateau Lynch-Bages

Deep and saturated; very ripe, cassis; attractive; deep and meaty; nicely done here; blackcurrants on the palate; lots of extract, real mid palate density. Good density here. Blimey – lots of tannin and extract here. Need to settle. Good length. Could be brilliant, but lots of tannins and grip. [79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc 1% Petit Verdot, alc 13.6] 92-94?/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 [Second tasting UGC] Very deep and very dark; thick and concentrated on the nose; lots of blackcurrants; quite sublime; creamy note; depth here; strong wine with depth and concentration on the nose; big mouthful, lots of extract and tannin here; little disjointed on the palate; big chewy and dense and tannins. Stronger and more concentrated even than 2010 but with less finesse, seduction and flamboyance. I preferred ’09 at the same stage. This is longer term obviously. 92-94/100 Tasted 7 April UGC

Chateau Lynch-Moussas

Dense and saturated; cassis and blackcurrants; softer tones here; attractive; bit of leaf; quite floral notes and blackcurrants; tannin and material and grip. Not that bad at all. Good mid weight wine. Not overdone. Nice 88-90/100 Tasted 5 April 2011[Second tasting UGC] Deep and dark; ripe blackcurrants; quite open; some leaf and tobacco; forward and engaging; rose petal palate; nicely judjed; blackcurrants and density but feels well balanced and more towards mid-weight; nicely done. Lacks some depth and concentration but works well for me. Should be good value. 88-90+/100 [76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot] Tasted 7 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Mouton-Rothschild

Deep and dense; oaky and brooding; lots of blackcurrants on aeration; very deep; loaded with pure, fresh blackcurrant fruits; some coffee and coconut at the edge; very polished wine on the palate; blackcurrant purity; depth and concentration here, tannins very nicely done; fantastic depth and length; intense flavours. Real freshness here, and really substantial and yet revealing more than 2009 Mouton did at the same stage. Extremely seductive wine and with fantastic length. Absolutely terrific wine. Incredible freshness and purity. [94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot alcohol 14%] 98-100/100 Tasted 4 April 2011 at the Chateau.

Le Petit Mouton

Deep, arterial, tight to the core; very opaque at centre; legs; very blackcurrant; fresh with some cream; almost summer fruit compote; feels very open on the nose; but nicely pure; quite forward and sexy palate [very saturated with flavour] yet with density and concentration too; blackcurrants and cream in a glass. Density and chew on the finish; very attractive and a great effort. Quite excellent. [68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, alcohol 14] 92-94+/100 Tasted 4 April at the chateau.

Chateau Pichon Longueville [Baron]

Depth and density; blackcurrants, quite pure and fresh; really concentrated cassis; quite perfumed too. Clean palate, lots of material and acid; grip and density. Good length, concentration and freshness. Maybe not as knockout as 2009 here though. [79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, alc 13.8%] 92-94/100 Tasted 5 April 2011[Second tasting UGC] Deep and dark; very tight to the rim; quite arterial; essence and very concentrated; really sublimated feel; real cassis and blackcurrants, some cream lots of fruit and high levels of concentration; layers of flavour and lots of density. Tannins well handled but there are lots of them. Very good length and power. Different from ’09, less seductive more sublimated and powerful. You choose. 94-96+/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

Deepish; saturated but less so than some; some cream and blackcurrants; some rose petal; intense palate, blackcurrant notes; concentration; tannin and grip. Nice balance on the palate. Not overdone – good length. 92-94/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC [Second tasting] Dense; maybe less so than some [cf Pichon Baron], some floral notes, little dumb, cream and blackcurrants; opens up in the glass; actually quite voluptuous and satiny; quite dense on the palate, feels a little awkward; is density here and good finish. Tannic but ripe and fine. More 92-94/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Pontet-Canet

Deep and very dense saturated look; ripe, attractive nose; quite forthcoming; blackcurrants, fresh, some coffee, creamy and layered; very ripe and attractive palate; very well balanced and harmonious; terrific balance; quite fine tannins, extraction managed perfectly. Caresses the palate, clean and fresh. Almost easy. Brilliant wine. 95-97+/100 Tasted 5April 2011 at the chateau

ST JULIEN 2010 OVERVIEW

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St Julien didn’t quite knock me out in 2010 as it did in 2009 but then the latter was an amazing, atypical year. And that doesn’t mean that 2010 isn’t a great vintage here or that the quality is uneven. The appellation remains the benchmark for homogeneity. Great wines have been produced at Chateau Léoville-Las-Cases and Chateau Léoville Poyferré, both are terrific as you’d expect [see individual posts]. Chateau Gruaud Larose is also looking wonderful in 2010, different from 2009, but as good. Chateau Saint-Pierre also looks very strong. The Bartons, Langoa and Léoville, look classical and long-term, but for me not quite as stand out as last year.

There is a lot of grip even the best wines, and tannin too, in this fascinating vintage. Like Pauillac I found these a little tricky to judge overall and tasted everything as many times as I could. I came to the conclusion once again that this is a great year in St Julien, but I’d like to see all these wines a bit further down the track when they will taste better I’m sure. The constituent ingredients are very different to 2009, the drought conditions allied to comparatively cool weather, has given 2010 lots of alcohol, tannin and acidity, much more acidity and freshness than last year. I’m pretty confident that these will settle but this will always be a vintage that is strong in flavour and tannin and will be long-lived. In that respect, in terms of the scores, I’ve probably marked things down a bit, but, as ever, the notes are more important than the numbers.

Last November Didier Cuvelier at Chateau Léoville Poyferré was making comparisons between the 2010 harvest and 1975 for their estate. I’ve mentioned this comparison a few times above. That vintage, a drought vintage but warmer I suspect than 2010, produced wines with concentration and tannin, many of which famously never came round in bottle, despite their longevity. Thirty-five years later and with lower yields, later picking, riper phenolics and far better controlled winemaking, 2010 is obviously a different kettle of fish but comparison is useful. Maybe 2010 is a modern day 1975 here in St Julien?

The following wines were tasted at the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tastings at Chateau Branaire-Ducru several times and also at the individual chateaux were noted. The one [major] omission here is Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou [which by all accounts has made a great wine]. I hope to update with notes here soon.

Chateau Beychevelle

Saturated colour, dense core; rosehip, perfume, higher toned notes; blackcurrants, quite tight bit closed, all tannin and grip, some length? This sample was a bit closed. 87-89?/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC. [Second tasting] Deep and dense; some blackcurrant, ripe, some cream; stones; some floral notes too; quite tight on the palate; dense, richness, good density but less voluptuous than 2009. Some spice. Good length. Much better sample. 90-92+/100 Tasted 7 April 2010 UGC

Chateau Branaire-Ducru

Deep, saturated; fresh feel here, blackcurrants; grip and acid on the palate with tannin and not overtly flattering to taste. Will settle. Goodish 88?/100 Tasted 5 April 2011.[Second tasting] Mid depth, purple at edge; quite velvety, ripe notes, cream; cherry and blackcurrant too; ripe and chewy with density; quite fresh and grippy. Will settle. All bones and elbows here now. 88-90/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Gloria

Deep and dense; attractive nose, nice cassis and blackcurrants; some layers; some Cabernet freshness; grip and flesh. Pretty good 87-89/100 Tasted 5 April 2010 at UGC. [Second tasting] Deep and dense; lots of blackcurrant cassis, real fruit and quite voluptuous and full; lots of ripeness; some stalky Cabernet notes; quite blackcurrant fruit on the palate; chewy palate, bit chunky finish– will probably round out 88-90/100Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Gruaud Larose

Very dense, very deep; feels more finished; satiny feel here, seductive and deep nose, settled and very attractive – this immediately feels very good. Very attractive and deep palate; wow really very complete compared with the last few; lots of depth and density; some chew and grip but lots of lush fruit. Very good wine 92-94+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011. [Second tasting UGC] Deep and dense; lovely seductive nose, roses, blackcurrants, layers, very bright and attractive – deep – this feels genuinely as good as if not better than 2009. Creamy ripe wine on the palate, very attractive; lots of poise and grip with density. Attractive with excellent density 94-96+/100 [66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot 14 alc] Tasted 7 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Lagrange

Deep saturated colour; real cassis and blackcurrants on the nose; deep but feels very tight and intense; dense palate, really intense, feels extracted and tannic with grip but enough depth. Lots of extract and tightly woven. Quite grippy. Needs to settle 88-90?/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC [Second Tasting UGC] Deep and dense; purple edge; creamy, some cassis notes; blackcurrants on aeration; deep and quite cool and fresh; creamy deep wine, concentrated and intense; grippy. Chewy and intense wine – typically pent up for Lagrange early on but more so in 2010. Extract too and tannins. More settled than first sample. 90-92+/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Langoa Barton

Very dense; ripe and creamy, cassis, blackcurrant notes; saturated with aroma; impressive nose, layers; good attack, intense but some flesh; good grip and tannin ripe. Dry, grippy finish. Length. Pretty good. 89-91+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011. [Second tasting at UGC] Very big and dense looking; vibrant, silky and attractive note; fresh blackcurrant and cassis; quite excellent on the nose. Very clean and precise. Dense, concentrated palate, tannins here and a hardness. Will need ten years. Good length, grip and chew at the back. Not seemingly as extraordinary as 2009, more classical, tannic and strong. 89-91/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC.

Chateau Léoville Barton

Dense and saturated; similarly intense, clean, blackcurrant, some smoke, little lift; some plushness to the nose; cassis notes; smoky blackcurrant palate; very focused and intense; tannin but ripe and well handled. Grippy. Potentially very good but also very long-term. 92-94/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 [Second tasting] Deep and dense; some strawberry and blackcurrants, intense; quite fresh and some lift; dense on the palate with some hardness and not the softest of tannins. Strong wine and strong tannin. Not over-extracted but strongly tannic. Classical again. 91-93+/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Léoville Las Cases

Deep and saturated in colour; blackcurrant, cassis and graphite; quite bold and muscular; very, very deep and brooding; real depth; thick and dense palate with lots of extract and material; tannins very ripe, considerable and chewy and nicely done. Lots of depth and chew here. Very big and broad. Dense wine with excellent length. 95-97/100 [82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc 13.7 alc, IPT 74]  Tasted 7April 2011 at the Chateau.

Clos du Marquis

Thick and saturated with colour; legs; brooding cassis and blackcurrants; intense and deep. Lots of blackcurrants on the palate, deep and intense; little thick but good concentration, chew and extract. Extract and tannin. Good length. 91-93+/100 [75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc 13.6 alc, IPT 66] Tasted 7 April 2011 tasted at Chateau Léoville Las Cases

Le Petit Lion [second wine of Léoville Las Cases]

Deep and dense; some cassis, some mineral, graphite; palate sweet entry, quite thick but well handled; chewy and dense; good length. Quite attractive 88-90/100 [52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot 13.7 alc, IPT 63] Tasted 7 April 2011 at Chateau Léoville Las Cases.

Chateau Léoville Poyferré

Dense and saturated to the rim; very creamy and real ripeness and bold; layered nose, some toast, but mainly cassis and blackcurrants; real density on the palate, concentrated and quite firm, real density to the wine. Lots of extract and density; real chew and length. Maybe stronger and more concentrated than 2009 but less hedonistic and knockout in my book. Excellent never the less. 94-96+/100 [61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Petite Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. 14 alc, IPT 90] Tasted 4 April 2011 at Chateau Leoville Poyferre. [Second tasting ]Dense saturated colour; cream, blackcurrant ripeness and intensity – very attractive with freshness; palate very attractive, layered and ripe; density; attractive and tannic; grippy too. Lots of depth and concentration; very good length; long term; length. Excellent 94-96+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Third tasting] Deep and dense, thick looking; very ripe and clean; lots of fabulous ripeness, good to taste again; very bright and alive; real freshness; lovely creamy wine, strong and full, lots of extract and tannin but lots of blackcurrant fruit. Great mid-palate. Really very good. The leading St Julien here? 95-97+/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Moulin Riche

Deep and dense; very perfumed and intense; very clean; really intense; blackcurrants, very precise; cassis too; dense palate, quite firm; layers, rocks and minerals, dense. Good finish. Should fill out but feels a bit denser than the ’09 but less flamboyant. 88-90+/100 [59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot 13.5 alc 83 IPT] Tasted at Chateau Leoville Poyferre Tasted 4 April 2011

Chateau Saint-Pierre

Dense core, saturated; layered and plush nose; satiny and silky note; cream and cassis’ attractive and very good; good palate, fresh but intense and creamy notes; good seam of flavour and positive tannin. Settled. Good depth and creamy. Nice. 92-94/100 Tasted 5 April 2011. [Second tasting] Deep and dark; ripe and attractive; quite layered nose; real ripeness here, lots of stuffing; palate some perfume and density; this should fill out further; little acid and some grip to. Chewy. Will settle. Pretty good. Often underrate this young. 92-94+/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Talbot

Deep, dense and saturated; fresh Cabernet; feels not long past MLF; some spicy and blackcurrant notes; quite high toned and needs to settle. Feels a bit grippy and tannic. 88-90?/100 Tasted 5 April 2011. [Second tasting] Deep and saturated; some spice and blackcurrant but less expressive than some; good density on the palate with blackcurrants. Grip and tannin too here but should meld 88-90/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 UGC

MARGAUX 2010 OVERVIEW

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There is some variability here in Margaux both between the wines, some excellent, others over extracted, and some variability between the samples. Generally I was impressed by the wines on my first pass, the second pass was slightly less impressive.  It was the other way around in the other districts. Of course the large appellation here with its wide variety of soils and terroirs means that often you are not comparing like with like. There is also considerable variability between the blends in Margaux and in the wine making; some much more extractive and manipulative than others. The vintage too with all its elements in large proportions, makes things unusually tricky too. All these things conspired to make the tastings a bit contradictory.

I can highly recommend the following wines: Chateau Angludet has produced a terrific wine and there are really strong wines from Chateau Cantenac Brown, Chateau Giscours, stable mate Chateau du Tertre, Chateau Kirwan and Chateau Marquis de Terme. The real surprise for me, and a star potentially in value terms, is Chateau Labegorce. This didn’t impress me as much in 2009, but the 2010 looks really good. This property has now been reunited with the vineyards of the former, and now defunct, Chateau Labégorce-Zéde.  Chateau Labégorce should prove to be a good buy along with the Angludet mentioned above.

Other Chateaux which have done well, but showed a bit of variability were Chateau Brane-Cantenac, Chateau Priéure-Lichine, Chateau Monbrison and Chateau Siran. The last two have produced good wines again, as they did in 2009, and should be good value. The major misfires for me: Chateau Malescot St Exupéry, it seemed overdone and extracted, a real surprise, as the 2009 was sublime. Chateau Lascombes has the same kind of problems. I do hope these wines settle but for the moment the jury is out. The other relative disappointment for me was Chateau Rauzan-Ségla. The 2009 was terrific [I bought some] but one 2010 sample tasted very tannic and overdone on the palate. The second sample was better and I’m giving this the benefit of the doubt because I’m usually a fan and John Kolasa is a terrific winemaker. Maybe I have it wrong. A nice surprise was Chateau Rauzan-Gassies which produced a reasonable effort after years of under performance. Chateau Durfort Vivens was dry and tannic and not much fun at present and one of Chateau Dauzac’s samples showed better than the other, but I worried that they were pushing things too much.

Chateau Margaux is in a completely different league here in 2010. It has produced a lovely wine [see detailed individual post], one of the most beautiful in this vintage. Chateau Palmer has also done really well again. Their 2010 is fractionally less brilliant for me than their 2009 but it is a superb wine nevertheless with lots of lovely plush flavours [see individual post too] and considerable but finely managed tannin.

Here are the detailed notes on the wines tasted last week at the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting held at Chateau Lascombes along with the other notes from tastings at Chateau Margaux and Chateau Palmer. 

Chateau Angludet

Very deep and concentrated colour; quite strong and pure; depth to the nose with substance; cassis and blackcurrants; intense; full, good density and precise on the palate; fresh and will work well. Nicely judged wine.  89-91+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011.[Second tasting] Deep and dense; lots of ripe fruit on the nose; blackcurrants, violets; quite saturated and will be beautiful, very pure and unadorned with oak or extractive hijinks – pure. Violets on the palate too, lots of ripe, bright fruit, fresh. Good grip too and a fresh finish. Excellent wine 90-92/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Brane-Cantenac

Deep and saturated colour; some reductive notes; some violets too; cassis; palate quite grippy and backward; little alkward needs to settle and blossom a bit, but not over extracted. 87-89/100 Tasted 5 April 2011. [Second tasting] Deep and saturated; floral and perfumed, fresh blackcurrants and violets, quite seductive; some grip on the palate, blackcurrants again, some coffee; elegance with intensity. Some chew at the back. Much better sample. 90-92/100 [62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc 13.5 alc] Tasted 7 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Cantenac Brown

Deep and saturated; fragrant and attractive, violets; quite plush, feels like fine Margaux; perfumed; palate attractive with some blackcurrants, violet notes again with some rosehip; some grip here but nicely done. Elegant and intense. Much better than 2009. Excellent 91-93+ Tasted 5 April 2011 [Second tasting] Deep and intense; more concentration and intensity on the nose than Brane; riper and full; some violest; good density on the palate, quite unctuous and worked palate; quite thick palate with chew and extraction. [66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot 13.6 alc] 90-92+/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Dauzac

Deep and saturated; toasty meaty nose; lots of substance here; tar and liquorice; ripe and layered; quite meaty and deep, not that bad, good density without overdoing the extraction. Grip. Very good but not traditional Margaux.  88+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Deep and saturated; vibrant, some cough mixture, jam, coffee and chocolate; cassis dominant; palate feels a bit forced and palate more oaky and disjointed than earlier. Some bitter tannins. Feels overdone? Sample variation here. If it settles 88?/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Desmirail

Dense, but not as saturated as some; mid weight nose; ripe, some cassis, quite supple; polished and glossy; some blackcurrant; good palate, open and drinkable but with some concentration. Good grip. Some leaf on the palate. Elegant mid weight and attractive. 88-90/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Deep and saturated colour; lots of coffee, liquorice and cassis; ripe and quite supple and modern; blackcurrant cassis on the palate along with some oak; ripe but a faint green streak here too; bit of tannin and austerity on the finish. Slightly vegetal/green streak in this sample.  86-88?/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau du Tertre

Deep and saturated; very attractive, perfumed nose; violets and blackcurrants; seductive; some coffee and char at the end; nicely judged palate; full of flavour and ripeness; very digestible; clean and with real depth. Nice freshness, some warmth a very end. 91-93 [70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, alc 13.8%] Tasted 5 April 2011. [Second tasting] Mid depth; purple at edge; fresh, some fragrance, feels quite full [Cabernet?], freshness here; palate similarly cool and fresh, some tannin and extract too; quite chewy but tannins ripe and should settle down. Strong wine, nice Cab freshness. 88-90+/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Durfort-Vivens

Deep and saturated; super-ripe notes here plus a curious vegetal streak too; quite intense and blackcurrant, but feels a bit vegetal. Extract and intensity but rather herbal green note. Disappointing.  84-87?/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Deep, bit rasiny and cooked to me; thick and rather stewy; not me; some blackcurrant notes but feels terribly dry and tannic. I just don’t get the wine here this year. 84-87?/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Ferrière

Pretty saturated in colour; very ripe, plush nose, attractive, some menthol, blackcurrant; layered and good; some herbs and spices here on palate; grippy but intense. Tannin here but should round out. Good and nice length. 89-91/100 Tasted 5 April 2011. [Second tasting] Deep and dark, some velvet, some strawberry, fleshy and quite seductive; freshness; ripe attack but also some astringency in this sample; quite dry on the palate. Needs to settle. More tannic and grippy sample. 87-89?/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC.

Chateau Giscours

Very deep and saturated; fresh and creamy, blackcurrants and some violets but feels plush and sumptuous; lovely; great palate, intense, black fruits; sumptuous and layered. Great depth and concentration. Tastes wonderful and flattering. 92-94/100 [50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot, alc 13.9%] Tasted 5 April 2011. [Second tasting] Dense and deep; some minerals, some ripe fruit, oak and blackcurrants; some chew; palate on this sample marked by oak; feels a little disjointed at present; oaky. Earlier sample better 88-90?/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC.

Chateau Kirwan

Very deep and saturated; strong, whiff of animal; cassis and blackcurrants; plushness and concentration; great entry, layers and concentration and material; grip and structure too; fruit coes back to soak the tannin [of which there is plenty]. Strong wine, tannic and big. 91-93/100 [50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot 13.9 alc] Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC [Second tasting] Deep and dense; quite plush and plump on the palate; full, some velvet; ripe concentrated wine but with some violet notes; quite thick on the palate and dense but with freshness. Chewy and tannic at the end but extract and fruit seem to dominate the oak. Consistent notes. 91-93+/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC.

Chateau Labégorce

Deep and saturated look; attractive nose, some resin some cassis and vioilet lift; quite layered and good and deep; quite plush palate, rich wine; lots of extract and mid-palate density. Sumptous and good depth and length. Should be a great value 89-91+/100 [45% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc, alc 13.5%] Tasted 5 April 2011. [Second tasting] Deep and dark; nice freshness here this year; blackcurrant, cassis; nice seam of ripe fruit; some cream too; palate has depth, sweetness and is not over-extracted – nicely done. Quite focused and precise. Consistent notes. This could be a great buy 89-91+/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC.

Chateau Lascombes

Deep and dark looking; very ripe nose; strawberry tones; very lush and ripe layers and real ripeness; verging almost towards the overblown; concentration on the palate but lots of tannin and feels very extracted. Dry and extracted palate. Overdone? If settles 88-90?/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Very dense and saturated look; very sweet and strawberry tones; thick nose, on the unctuous side, verging toward jammy; ripe and thick concentrated palate with density but also tannin here. Blackcurrants and cassis but palate on the drying side and tannins seem overdone? 88-90?/100 but only if settles. Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC.

Chateau Malescot Saint-Exupéry

Deep and saturated; more fragrant than Lascombes; violet perfume plus some marzipan; ripeness; palate very extracted and tannic; think again this is overdone. Mouthpuckering at present and monolithic. Needs to settle? Really unsure here. This estate produced a beauty in 2009, but not 2010.  If settles 88-90?/100 maybe more [there is a lot of fruit] but will it? [57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc 5% Petit Verdot, alc 14%] Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Deep and dense; tar and ripeness on the nose; some marzipan hints; strawberry too; quite thick; sweet entry, quite fat seemingly but also tannins here very dry. Dry finish. Very tannic and dry. Blimey this wine needs to settle. If it does 86-88?/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC.

Chateau Marquis de Terme

Deep and saturated; some cream and freshness with violets more cream and lift; creamy palate, very intense, layered but with saturation and extract and tannin too but plenty of sweet ripe fruit I feel. Should work out very well. 89-91/100 13.5 alc Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC [Second tasting] deep and dense, clean, slightly cooler nose, some cassis and blackcurrants, black fruits and coffee; violets here too; dense palate but very good extraction and feels like it works. Chewy, dense but fresh. Very good. 90-92+/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC.

Chateau Monbrison

Deep and dark; little more traditional; some stalky notes but with violets and blackcurrants; richness here and some sumptuousness on the palate; fragrance and attractive too; good life here again; depth and fragrance. Good length. Should be a good buy. 87-88+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 [Second tasting] Quite dense, legs; cool, some violets, fresh and cassis too; palate grippy with strong acid needs a bit more flesh. Quite chewy this sample. Promising if the tannin melds a bit. 87-89/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC.

Chateau Palmer

Dense and saturated colour; tight to the rim; quite dense; ripe, cassis and blackcurrants; very layered nose, seam of ripe fruit, very perfumed; lots of depth; deep and layered; good and clean, quite ‘cool’ feel and fresh; concentrated and tannic palate but nicely done; chewy and dense. Lots of life and grip here. 2009 is more flamboyant but this extremely good and not far behind at all. In fact, given time it may be the other way around. Let’s see. Super wine. [54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, alc 14.5%] 95-96+/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at the Chateau.

Alter Ego

Deep; creamy ripe blackcurrants; pretty seductive; quite intense with grip, more grip on the palate. Freshness here, despite the 14.5 degrees alcohol. In fact pretty lively on the palate. Great effort. 90-92/100 [51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 49% Merlot] Tasted 7 April 2011 at Chateau Palmer.

Chateau Priéure-Lichine

Deep and saturated colour; strong, not primary fruit or fresh but worked; palate dense and imntense but feels extracted. Bit overdone in 2010? Will probably settle but currently clumsy and tannic. Jury out 86-88?/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 [Second tasting] Deep and dense; some violets, some coffee; blackcurrants, pretty good; palate full, quite fleshy and with grip; this will meld and soften. Chewy and grippy finish but flesh here in this sample I think. 87-89/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC.

Chateau Rauzan-Gassies

Deep and saturated; some violet, some coffee and blackcurrants and cassis; good; quite nicely done; palate a little extracted but there is density and concentration. Bit chunky and grippy too. Probably will be ok. Lots of oak on finish however. Grippy and tannic finish. Not that bad overall. 87-89+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 [Second tasting] Deep and dark; some density on the nose; blackcurrant fruit and some cough mixture; sweetness from the oak, pretty good; oak dominates the palate but there is flesh here. Not a bad effort from this estate. Chew and grip at the end 88-90/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC.

Chateau Rauzan-Ségla

Deep and intense looking; very ripe, sweet strawberry nose; quite a surprise; good palate but real extraction; Blimey! Big and extracted on the palate. Monster? How will this develop? 2009 better looking at the same stage. 88?/100 [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc 1% Petit Verdot, alc 14%] Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Deep and concentrated; more strawberry ripeness; cherry, attractive and some violets with ripe cherry; very dense and rich and intense but lots of tannin; dense and chewy. More settled than first sample. A far cry from 2009’s knockout quality though. 89-91/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Siran

Deep and saturated; some perfume and lift; cassis beneath; quite deep and plush; more violets on the palate; some tannin here, in fact pretty tannic and extracted on the palate; Probably will be ok 86-88/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 [Second tasting] Deep and dense; thick looking; cassis, blackcurrant, some coffee; big and ripe and with lots of extract and fruit. Extracted but fruit is there. Will round out. Pretty good. 87-88+/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC.

Chateau La Tour du Mons

Very deep and saturated; some freshness and violet perfume; creamy; some weight here but not overdone; nice balance; some tannin and extract but nice grip and mid-palate. Should be good. 86-87/100 Tasted 5 April 2010 at L’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Medoc.

MOULIS AND LISTRAC 2010 OVERVIEW

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The wines of Moulis and Listrac are pretty brooding, backward and tannic in 2010. The structure, acid and tannin are much more obvious here compared to the ripe, polished comparatively low acid style of the 2009 vintage at the same age. It’s another case of chalk and cheese.

In Moulis there is huge density and concentration to Chateau Poujeaux and plenty of grip but very substantial amounts of tannin too. Chateau Maucaillou looks pretty good but Chateau Chasse-Spleen is distinctly awkward and grippy at present. All these wines looked better bets in 2009 to me. Chateau Brillette showed well as did Chateau Dutruch Grand Poujeaux and Chateau Anthonic.

In Listrac good wines have been made at Chateau Fourcas Dupré, Chateau Fourcas Hosten and Chateau Fonréaud, although these are less overtly appealing than in 2009. Chateau Clarke looks pretty extracted to me but hopefully will settle. Overall it’s a case of fruit, tannin, acid and then more tannin. The vintage in both appellations is much more like 2005, just with the volume, contrast and colour knobs turned right up. It makes 2010 here a long term prospect for both appellations.

MOULIS 

Chateau Anthonic

Dense and saturated; some cream and ripeness; very ripe attack, some fruit here and sweetness but also grip and piles of tannin but enough fruit here to work. Will always have grip and tannin but has flavour and concentration too. 85-86+/100 L’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois 5 April 2010

Chateau Brillette

Deep and saturated – intense as espresso; some cream and blackcurrants; some smoke; more flesh here; ripeness, pretty good. Lots of extract, fruit and tannin, but in that order. Needs time but will age well. 86-87+/100 L’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois 5 April 2010

Chateau Chasse Spleen

Deep and reasonably saturated; some reductive notes and work-in-progress feel; blackcurrants too but suggestion of some hardness; palate concentrated but very grippy and tannic; feels dominated by the tannins. It should fill out though not certain. 86-88?/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Deep, fresh looking; quite strong blackcurrant but also tannin and dust on the nose; palate quite grippy with tannin here dominating the fruit, this is not a patch on the ’09. Tannic, chewy and with lots of acid grip. Will come round but certainly not the winner 2009 was in my book. 84-86?/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Dutruch Grand Poujeaux

Deep and saturated; ripe fruit, even some red, strawberry fruit notes; fresh Cabernet too; good entry, quite supple but with grip and extract behind. Will meld. Grippy but lots of fruit. 85-87/100 L’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois 5 April 2010

Chateau Gressier Grand Poujeaux

Deep and saturated; some stalky Cabernet; blackcurrants; grippy tannic wine; needs a bit more flesh; sinewy; will come round I imagine 84-85/100 L’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois 5 April 2010

Chateau Maucaillou

Deep; less saturated than some; more strawberry notes and mineral and wet rocks; palate sweet entry and has depth here; ripe fruit and open. This should be good. Chewy, dense and grippy but has flesh. Sappy and concentrated. 87-89+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC [Second tasting] Mid depth, saturated; some cream and blackcurrants, quite fresh and deep, ripe Merlot here on the nose; strawberry fruit too; dense with some life; dense and also grippy but I feel this will come good and is reasonably well balanced. Chocolate and coffee on the finish. 86-88+/100 Tasted  7 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Poujeaux

Deep black, saturated and arterial; quite ripe, some raisin notes but also blackcurrants and cassis; good depth. Tighter and more tannic than 2009’s beauty. Has the extract but wow real big tannins here. NOT ’09 at all. Could be great but very, very long term. 89-91+/100 [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot 13.7 alc and IPT 81] Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC [Second tasting] Deep and dense; legs; very dense but with super-ripe notes here; rich and thick nose – will be BIG; quite deep; thick palate, ballsy and dense; feels very solid and strong but feel it is not as attractive as ’09. More 89-91/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC

LISTRAC

Chateau Clarke

Deep and saturated; ripe and toasty nose; fruit, tight still; some char; nice attack on the palate, ripe and some layers but then the tightness [this will need a bit of egg white fining down the line!] Tannic and very dusty on the finish. Wow these tannins! Very grippy too. Tricky at present. 84-86?/100 Tasted 5 April 2011. [Second tasting] Deep, right up to edge; ripe fat nose; Merlot style; some marzipan hints; lots of fruit but also extraction here also; needs to soften; big and ballsy; grip and tannin and very extracted. Tannin. Over-extracted in fact on these showings. 84-86?/100 Tasted 7 April 2010 

Chateau Fonréaud

Deep and saturated; creamy, ripe fruit; some mineral and wet rocks; blackcurrant beneath; good density, some herbs and concentration; tannic but ripe. Gutsy and tannic but just the right side. 85-86+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011at UGC. [Second tasting] Deep and dark, but healthy looking; smoky nose; earth; some spices with blackcurrant; quite meaty; spicy, grippy palate; some herbs; grippy finish but flesh and pretty good. 85-87+/100 Tasted 7 April at UGC

Chateau Fourcas Dupré

Deep and saturated; real ripeness here; fruit, some luxuriance, ripe; good guts and some tannin and grip but concentrated. Will knit together. Some spice and herbs on the finish. Very good 87-88/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Dense and saturated; legs; ripe and rich, cassis and blackcurrant; rich seam of blackcurrant here and quite fresh and cool; some density, tannin and acid but enough chewy fruit. A bit like 2005. 86-88+/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Fourcas Hosten

Deep and saturated; ripe and attractive nose with some sophistication; blackcurrant, oak, some liquorice and some perfume too [violets]; intense palate, quite dense but good grip and nice balance. Still in the tight Listrac style but well done. Some grip 88+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Deep and dense; attractive nose; lots of blackcurrants and cassis; some stones and minerals; nice entry and density; concentration here without too much hardness. Good palate. Pretty good effort in tannin management. Length good too. 88-90/100 Tasted 7 April 2010 at UGC

HAUT MEDOC 2010 OVERVIEW

Cantemerle label cu

Much less joy for me in this appellation in 2010 than in 2009 to my palate. The latter look seductive and wondrous by comparison and only a few estates have produced wines of comparable quality and enjoyment for me. Chateau Belgrave and especially Chateau Cantemerle spring to mind. Chateau La Lagune is also very good. I expected more from Chateau La Tour Carnet but there is just too much Magrez make-up [ie new oak] and the pedal feels pushed right to the floor. Overall there is a lot of dry tannin and grip dominating the fruit in a great many cases.  They may settle of course but I’d really opt for any remaining 2009s still on the market now. You could be taking delivery of these next year and be drinking them from the off. As good as some are in 2010 you’ll be waiting years for them to settle.

Chateau Beaumont

Deep and concentrated looking, fraction lighter at the core than some of the others; little reductive element, fresh cab and some stalks; quite grippy and high toned; needs to settle. Bit disjointed at present – all acid, tannin and extract. If settles 85-87/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Deep and dense; thick, some strawberry and real ripeness, some fruit here and chew; tannic and grippy palate but bright in fruit. More settled. 86-88/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Belgrave

Deep and saturated; plumy and deep, a sumptuous quality here; some oak too; palate ripe and rich; good attack and some velvet before the tannins. Will be good. Rich wine. Actually in this company, and for 2010, quite sumptuous. Good depth and richness with tannin and grip 88-90+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Deep and black; creamy cassis and blackcurrant; some oak too; thick but palate good; cream and blackcurrants with depth. Chewy and with grip but plenty of material here. 88-90/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Camensac

Deep and saturated; fresh, some perfume, some boiled sweet, some higher toned qualities; dense and extracted with grippy tannins. Probably will settle as there is length and density here. Grippy. 86-88+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Very deep black, very ripe, cherry with blacker fruits; dense and tannic palate, over extraction here, very chewy and tannic. If comes good 85-87?/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Cantemerle

Dense and arterial; ripe; some floral notes, roses, violet [Margaux like], cassis and blackcurrants – nice overall; some cream and depth to the palate; rich and concentrated, good blackcurrant flavours, concentrated and tannic with good acid too. Grippy and tannic finish. Good in time 88-90/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Thick and deep, ripe and smoky nose; thick and rich; attractive nose; lots of cassis and blackcurrant; thick and ripe, rich; lovely palate, lots of fruit here, lashings in fact. This should be good Very impressive. 89-91/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Citran

Deep and dense; ripe strawberry tones; some resin from oak; quite ripe and rasiny, almost jammy note; resin again, some chocolate; lots of extract and grip. Will meld. Tannin [lots] is ripe. 86-88/100 Tasted 5 April at UGC. [Second tasting] Deep and saturated; super-ripe, almost jammy note; certainly on the sweet strawberry fruit spectrum; quite sweet strawberry fruit on the palate two but also tannic; dry palate and chewy with density. Lots of tannin here. Feels over extracted. Much  84-86?/100 Tasted 7 April at UGC

Chateau Coufran

Deep and dense; needs to settle, some reductive qualities; feels tannic at present; chewy palate with density and extract – lots of substance. Good density and will be ok, lots of fruit. 86-88/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Very dense and dark; ripeness but thick and resinous; extracted feel; lots of material; chewy and masculine but very tannic on the finish on this second sample. May settle 85-87?/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau de Lamarque

Deep and saturated; creamy and attractive ripe nose; lots of extract and density; initially sweet attack and ripe and rich plus tannin and grip. Puckering at the end. Needs time. 85-87/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Deep and saturated; ripe nose; lots of fatness; palate big and tannic and extracted at present. Lacks precision. Monolithic and extremely tannic. 82-84?/100 Tasted  7 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau La Lagune

Very saturated in colour, deep and dense; very succulent nose, ripe, rich and deep with real ripe notes like molasses and fig; sweet entry, chewy and intense but also again with succulence. Will meld together well. Good length and a grippy finish. 88-90/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Thick and black in the glass; legs; polished nose, nice layers here; some cassis and perfume; feels deep; ripe and perfumed palate; dense, but with focus. Pretty good effort. Ripe and very good. 90-92/100 Tasted 7April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Larose Trintaudon

Deep and arterial; stalky blackcurrant nose; feels deep if a little backward; clean palate; will work OK in the end; clean and fresh Medoc. Expect a fair price from one of the largest vineyards in Bordeaux. 83-85/100 L’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois 5 April 2010

Chateau La Tour Carnet

Deep and saturated; sweet and ripe with lashings of oak; too much influence really; good density and oaky [again] palate; blackcurrants, oak resin; but also very aggressive tannins. Should settle but verging on the over-extracted in this vintage so verdict out. 86-88?/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Deep and dense; thick, liquorice, smoke and tar along with blackcurrants; ripe fruit but lots of extraction on the palate; too much; lots of extract and material but feel it’s been obliterated by the winemaking; Very big and awkward at present. Will it come good? Hope so. 86-87?/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Malecasse

Very dark and saturated; fresh blackcurrants, some reductive notes; some cream but feels infant [obviously], tannic and grippy palate of some substance; but feels very disjointed and needs to settle. Lots of tannin and acid here. 84-86?/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 at UGC. [Second tasting] Deepish and vibrant colour; fresh, some Cabernet here; bit stalky though; blackcurrants and herbs on the palate but grippy too; not that bad if it settles. Bit foursquare though 85-87?/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at UGC

MEDOC 2010 OVERVIEW

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Again the Médoc 2010s are considerably less precocious than 2009. They are more overtly structured and have much more grip on the palate and bite to the tannin. Look out for too much extraction and dry, chunky tannin, which seems to be a bit of problem for some. The usual suspects, nevertheless, have made very good, classical wines with more power under the bonnet than usual. These include Chateau Potensac, Chateau Patache d’Aux and Chateau La Tour St Bonnet. The revitalised Chateau Blaignan also looks to be a pretty confident effort as does Goulee. 

Chateau Blaignan

Deep and dense; some stalky blackcurrant notes; some sweetness; works well; ripe quality balanced by tannin and grip. Works quite well. 85-87/100 L’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois 5 April 2010 [Second tasting] Bright looking; good concentration; ripe blackcurrants, some stalkys, fresh; blackcurrants and smoky notes on the palate; flesh and soft. Nice. 85-87/100 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. Tasted 8 April at Chateau Meyney.

Also tasted a ‘premium’ cuvee of Blaignan [best parcels, aged in barrels, 2000 cases] – this had nice vibrant and dense colour; real ripe blackcurrants; ripe and deep; good density on the palate, ripe and nicely judged tannin. Good finish  87+/100 Tasted 8 April at Chateau Meyney.

Chateau La Cardonne

Deep black; pretty saturated; some smoky blackcurrant fruit; pretty good; some oak; palate saturated with tannin and fruit; obvious depth but bit monolithic; mouth puckering tannin at the back. Probably will settle ok. 84-86?/100 L’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois 5 April 2010

Chateau Les Grands Chenes

Deep and saturated black red; lots of oak and sweetness and ripe fruit too; liquorice; soft and immediate palate; not bad but feels a bit souped-up; more like you’re in the Barossa Valley than the Medoc. Lots of oak tannins on the finish. Overdone? 84/100 L’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois 5 April 2010

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 alc 13.74 pH 3.52, IPT 79] Tasted at Cos d’Estournel 5 April 2011

Chateau Greysac

Mid depth, some strawberry, little dumb, some chocolate; palate clean but lacks concentration compared to the La Tour de By and others. Grippy and tannic finish. 80-82?/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau La Tour de By

Dense, ripe, blackcurrants, fresh; palate fleshy but with extract and grip. Not bad. Obvious depth and ripe fruit and lots of it. Grip and tannin too. Should meld. 84-86+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Noaillac

Deep; slightly stalky note; dusty; some meat and life on the palate and then the tannins arrive, but this has flavour and grip. Good blackcurrant fruit. Good 85+/100 L’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois Tasted 5 April 2010

Chateau Les Ormes Sorbet

Deep colour again; ripe, blackcurrants; some stalks and dust; quite fleshy and soft to begin with; good density; depth and extract; finishes chewy and quite tannic but fruit there. 84-85/100 Tasted L’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois 5 April 2010

Chateau Patache d’Aux

Deep and saturated in colour; ripe blackcurrants; some smoke and earth; some dust too; oak on the palate, density and chew; pretty good dense and chewy Medoc. Will come good. 85+/100 Tasted L’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois 5 April 2010

Chateau Potensac

Deep, saturated; quite velvety and very ripe on the nose; some smoke; very polished palate, thick and ripe with good mid-palate and attractive. Good grip too. 88-90+/100 Tasted 7 April 2011 at Chateau Leoville Las Cases.

Chateau Ramafort

Deep and saturated; some depth but also some dusty tannin; blackcurrant fruit on the palate; real grip and tannin here; not that bad if simple. Grippy. 84/100 Tasted L’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois 5 April 2010

Chateau Rollan de By

Deep and black; feels jammy, very strawberry jam nose; oak tannins dominate the palate; some attractive qualities but feels a bit overdone to me. 82-84?/100 Tasted L’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois 5 April 2010

Chateau Tour St Bonnet

Deep and saturated; ripe lift and density; palate rich and softer in attack than you’d expect; layers and richness here; very good effort and quite pure; good and will fill out further I expect. 85-87+/100 Tasted L’Alliance des Crus Bourgeois 5 April 2010

PESSAC-LEOGNAN AND GRAVES 2010 OVERVIEW

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Out of all the Bordeaux appellations Pessac-Léognan’s wines are probably the most immediately appealing in 2010. The vintage has given richness and plushness to the reds but grip and acidity that makes the wines feel fresh, lively and complete. The whites have power and concentration as well as more acidity than in 2009. They should age well and yet provide attractive, positive drinking in their youth. Overall hardly anyone put a foot wrong here that I could see, white or red. In that sense it is also probably the most complete and satisfying of all the appellations tasted in the primeurs week. Yes St Emilion and Pomerol have produced terrific wines in 2010, with St Emilion looking better than 2009 for me, but the consistency in Pessac-Léognan is quite amazing.

Amongst the whites, Chateau Haut-Brion Blanc and Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion were extraordinary, but brilliant whites have also been made at Domaine de Chevalier, Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Chateau de Fieuzal, Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion and Chateau Malartic Lagravière. Chateau Pape Clément needs to settle but I’m sure it will come good. Excellent whites were also made at Chateau Bouscaut, Chateau Carbonnieux, Chateau de France, Chateau La Louvière, Chateau Latour Martillac, Chateau Olivier and Chateau Pique Caillou. Some of these should provide good value.

For the reds, Chateau Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion have made superb wines in the appellation but at the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting I was struck by the homogeneity and quality of pretty much all the reds I tasted, regardless of price. Beneath these the field is led by Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte which has produced an astonishingly good wine followed by Chateau Haut Bailly, wonderfully concentrated and rich, and Chateau Pape Clément, powerful, voluptuous and decadent. These three are not far off the quality of the first growths in their different ways.

Terrific reds have also been made at Domaine de Chevalier, Chateau de Fieuzal, Chateau La Louvière, Chateau Malartic Lagravière and Chateau Olivier. Also very impressive are Chateau Bouscaut, Chateau Larrivet-Haut-Brion, Chateau Haut Bergey and Chateau Picque Caillou. The only red wines that were showing a fraction disjointed were Chateau Les Carmes Haut Brion [brooding and pretty tannic], Chateau de France [slightly drying tannins] and Chateau Latour Martillac [lovely nose and lots of concentration but hefty tannin and palate].

Overall given the quality here Pessac-Leognan is an appellation to buy in spades in 2010. Not only are these great wines, with lots of fruit and wonderful balance, in most cases they are likely to be less expensive than their qualitative equivalents in the Medoc and the right bank. Chateau de Chantegrive, Chateau Ferrande and Chateau Rahoul were shown amongst the Graves. All were very good efforts, reds especially. These too will be good value buys in 2010 without a doubt.

PESSAC-LEOGNAN

Chateau Bouscaut

White: Pale straw; toasty oaky nose, very warm; grapefruit and ripe with some zing; grapefruit on the palate less oak here, some lees notes; pretty good. Lowish acid. 88-90/100 [50% Sauvignon Blanc, 50% Semillon – fermented in oak, half new] Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC

Red: Deep and arterial; little dumb but depth; some earth and coffee, strawberry notes later revealed; ripe palate; lush and forward; plush with lots of ripeness; bite towards the end but tannins nicely handled. Very good. 90-92/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Carbonnieux

White: Colourless; some grassy, leesy notes; fresh; clean and wet wool palate, wax; good length and depth. Good grip and finish 88-90+/100 [65% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Semillon] Tasted  6 April 2011 UGC

Red: Deep and black; arterial; plush and velvety on the nose; full and fresh; layers here and very good; quite soft and plush palate, nicely done; lovely and seductive. Nicely judged extraction 90-92+/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC

Domaine de Chevalier

White: Colourless, fresh, ripe, some wax, feels very substantial; broad palate with depth; not especially complex but lovely depth. Terrific length and intensity with real zip on the finish. 93-95/100 Tasted 6 April UGC

Red: Very deep and dense; real colour and intensity; brooding and deep, blackcurrants, some earth and chocolate; ripe entry, sweet and good attack. Lots of grip here and acid. Density but also sweetness. Very ripe but with grip. Very good 92-94+/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC

 

Chateau de Fieuzal

White: Pale straw; ripe, some cashew, wax, very rich; good palate with richness and will age well on the long term. 92-94/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC

Red: Deep and black; concentrated and deep nose; sweetness here; really nice; some smoke, lots of ripeness, some cream; lots of blackcurrants on the palate; ripe and rich fruit; very good; concentrated. Coffee and chew. Very good and concentrated. 92-94/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC

 Chateau de France

White: Palest straw; some zesty, yeasty notes; quite strong and firm; round and quite leesy and waxy note; quite attractive with some zip 88-90+/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC

Red: Deep and arterial; lush and plush; lots of fruit here; some smoke, chocolate; thick and ripe – little stewed note though and slightly stalky edge penetrates the palate. Over-extracted and tannic palate. 84-86?/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Haut-Bailly

Deep and arterial, saturated colour; very ripe, strawberry and red fruit notes; lots of ripeness here, some stalks too; needs to settle a bit; plumy and earthy; ripe and sweet attack, and then the Haut-Bailly tannins – pretty dense but ripe tannins alongside waves of fruit. Freshness too – a strong and powerful wine even if feels a bit raw at present. Everything in spades here. 94-96+/100 [62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc 13.9% alc] Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Haut-Bergey

White: Pale straw, ripe and toasty oak with grapefruit and citrus elements; some lees; poised; attractive; palate a bit oaky, some oil, maybe a bit heavy but should meld. Not that bad overall. 86-88+/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC

Red: Deep and dark; black red; some smoke and blackcurrant; deep and succulent; sweet attack on the palate; good density, bit monolithic and needs some work during elevage but pretty good. Chocolate and tannin at the end. Tannins ripe and doesn’t feel over extracted. 90-92+/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Haut-Brion

Saturated and tight to the edge; very dense; some blue-ish tinge; very deep and layered nose; wonderful layers; some smoke too; very intense and sublimated feel on the nose; richer and seemingly even plusher than La Mission; velvet palate; real ripeness and some liquorice and tar; but very polished indeed. Lots of tannin here, very ripe, but bathed in ripe fruit. Great length overall. Didn’t notice the high alcohol in infact unlike La Mission. Balanced by the acidity. Terrific. [57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, alcohol 14.6% IPT 80 pH 3] 98-100/100. Tasted 4 April at the chateau.

Chateau Haut-Brion Blanc

Pale straw; peaches, passion fruit and guava; very attractive nose with real power behind; some lees on the palate alongside this very fresh fruit; real concentration and depth; full bodied and powerful. Bewildering length and depth. Much more obvious fruit here [much more Sauvignon] and less oak dominated than the La Mission’s Blanc. Flawless to me. White wine can surely get no better? [54% Sauvignon Blanc, 46% Semillon, alcohol 14.4%] 100/100. Tasted 4 April at the chateau.

La Clarence de Haut-Brion

Dark, deep; more purple in the meniscus; cream; floral tones; layers, quite fat feel; creamy yet muscular; violets here; good entry, very supple palate; very rich indeed; focused; good density and very attractive. Really good grip at the end with length. Very good. Hardly a ‘second wine’. [52% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot,, alcohol 14.4 IPT 73 pH 3.5]  93-95+/100 Tasted 4 April at the chateau.

Chateau La Louvière

White: Pale straw; candy, some lees, some soap and grapefruit; waxy nicely done palate, good density here and will develop very well. Nice acid and balance. 90-92+/100 [85% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Semillon, barrel ferment in new oak, aged 10-12 months]. Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Red: Dense and saturated colour; fresh and ripe, strong Cabernet influence to the nose; blackcurrants; makes it cooler and fresher; lots of fruit on the palate, concentration and sumptuous fruit; blackcurrants again. Grip and tannin too. Very good prospect. 90-92+/100 [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot]. Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion

Saturated, deep; tight to the meniscus; very smoky, savoury note but with real polish; cassis too; some oak here but really integrated; olives, tapenade and menthol notes [some minerals]; lots of ripeness here; good density on the palate; ripe attack, layered and dense but feels very round; tannin is considerable but very ripe. Real concentration and flavour. Little hotness creeping in at the back, otherwise feels very complete and refined. Excellent length. Quite fantastic. The only question would be the alcohol level, at 15 degrees, which does give a fraction of heat on the finish, though there is plenty of grip. Terrific in almost all other respects. Virtually perfect. [37% Merlot, 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Cabernet Franc, alcohol 15%, IPT 80, pH3] 97-98+/100 Tasted at Chateau Haut Brion 4 April 2011

La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion

Saturated colour; up to the rim; legs; very concentrated, some spice and life; blackcurrants and earth; floral and quite pretty too; very sweet entry; ripe palate; real finesse here; blackcurrants, smoke, some blackfruits; density but also quite open and supple. [47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc, Alc 14.8% IPT 72 pH 3.53] 91-93/100 Tasted at Chateau Haut Brion 4 April 2011.

Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc

Pale gold straw; very focused and fresh on the nose; some grass, gooseberry waxy; very top end; some oaky barrique influence; broad and masculine; full bodied and rich on the palate with amazing density; not oily but certainly rich and broad. Finishes well. Terrific length. Amazing wine. [81% Semillon, 19% Sauvignon Blanc, alcohol 14.3] 98-100/100 Tasted 4 April 2011 at Chateau Haut-Brion.

Chateau Larrivet-Haut-Brion

White:  Pale gold; waxy, some oak here; some butter too; feels fresh with citrus and grapefruit notes; waxy palate, nicely done; some apricot notes; density here, very attractive and ripe. Good wine. Attractive and excellent. 91-93/100 [90% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Semillon, 100% new oak fermented, batonage and will have 11 months on lees 14.2 alc but more acid than 2009] Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Red: Very deep, saturated colour; real strength and intensity; blackcurrants and some smoke; feels pretty good; minerally; plush on the palate lots of flesh; some violets and perfume; very good. Really sweet but with grip and quite floral. Creamy and attractive. 90-92+/100 [55% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.6 alc] Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Chateau Latour-Martillac

White: Colourless/palest straw; fresh, some grass, grapefruit and passionfruit too; grass and candy on the palate, good zip and life; lees and wax alongside floral and spicy tones too. Will develop well. 90-92+/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Red: Deep and saturated; thick and rich, ripe and lush nose; really succulent; ripe palate but quite extracted feel, too much for me; tannins very puckering; may meld; nose is very promising but for me too extracted and tannic. Verdict out until it settles. 86-88?/100 Tasted 6April 2011 UGC.

Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion

Deep and dense; some freshness, little dumb, sweetness later, brooding and deep; sweet ripe fruit and tannin, extracted but there is fruit; maybe a little pushed but finishes better than you’d imagine; will it come together? 90-92?/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Chateau Malartic-Lagravière

White: Pale straw; grass, fresh, little warm ferment note; wax and lees on the palate; should develop well. Nice balance and freshness. Very good and moreish on the palate. Potentially really excellent 92-94/100 [85% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Semillon] Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Red: Deep and dense colour; thick and sweet on the nose, some minerality but feels very rich; some smoke and blackcurrant notes; palate dense, lots of material and extract; tannic but ripe, though may be a little overdone. Certainly dense and chewy. Tannic at the end. Feels a bit over extracted. Hopefully will settle – if it does 90-92/100 [45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, alc 14%] Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Chateau Olivier

White: Palest straw; fresh, some grass, like a summer meadow; fresh palate, attractive, some lees, ripe and round; very good and attractive wine. Very good with real freshness at the end. 90-92+/100 [80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Semillon, all barrel fermented, 25% new] Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Red: Deep and arterial; smoky blackcurrants, very deep, plush and lush, creamy too; lush sweet entry, plump but with structure. Ripeness. Very well handled. Quite terrific effort. 92-94+/100 [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot] Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Chateau Pape Clément

White: Pale straw; some peach, guava and grapefruit; butter too from the oak; very attractive nose; wow, very oak dominated palate, has structure and poise though but very oaky at present. Needs to settle. Lacks a bit of zip? Slightly disappointing showing. 90-92/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Red: Deep and opaque, you won’t get darker; defines the term hedonistic; rich and very ripe, liquorice, black cherry, dense and then the oak, toasty; but can’t mask the voluptuousness here. Oak on the palate too but plenty of fruit to soak it up – blackcurrant, cassis and liquorice notes. Very big and chewy but it works for me. Great density and alcohol [exactly how much I forgot to ask] but lashings of fruit. 94-96+/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Chateau Pique Caillou

White: Pale straw; leesy, quite fresh, some wax; nice palate, candy and wax promising and a good value option I’d have thought; nice roundness and good zip. Excellent and very well made. Very good length. 90-92+/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Red: Deep and saturated; fresh mineral note; crushed rocks and pleasing purity here; refreshing Cabernet influence – quite unadorned but none the worse for it; real blackcurrant fruit; sweet and ripe palate, good attack and nicely balanced; has extract but also depth. Tannic finish. Should be good and good value 88-90+/100 [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot 13.5-14 alc] Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Chateau Smith Haut-Lafitte

White: Pale straw; some candy, fresh and strong nose; ripe and concentrated palate; waxy and will work well – has zip and life. Very promising. Grapefruit on the palate, lots of life and zing but also concentration and strength. One of the best white wines at the UGC. 94-96/100 [90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris and 5% Semillon] Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Red: Deep and dense, saturated; menthol, concentrated blackcurrants and cassis; some perfume too, less adorned with oak than Pape Clement and better for it; very ripe palate, big and plush; sweet and ripe but incredible purity. Lots and lots of flavour. This is truly great wine. Resonance and purity. Easily one of the best reds of the appellation. 96-98+/100 [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot 13.7 alc] Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

GRAVES

Chateau de Chantegrive

White: Colourless; soft passion fruit style, forward and easy, attractive; lees on the palate, finishes well. Very good 87-88+/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Red: Deep and arterial; ripe and rich; layers and lovely life, perfumed and layered; lots of ripe fruit, really like this, some tannin here but ripe and lots of richness on the palate. Round and complete. Exciting 90+/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Chateau Ferrande

White: Pale straw; less expressive than the Chantegrive; full some spices on the palate; lacks a bit of zip. 85-87/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Red: Deep black; lovely earthy nose with depth; ripeness and layers, good depth; sweet entry, nice balance, soft but with real concentration and layers. Very very good for this estate. Nicely judged. 90-92+/100 Tasted 6April 2011 UGC.

Chateau Rahoul

White: Pale straw; fresh, some grass; attractive; full bodied; some wet wool and wax on the palate – Semillon dominant; full bodied, attractive wine. Soft finish, could do with a fraction more zip. 88/100 [70% Semillon, 15% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Sauvignon Gris] Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

Red: Deep colour; ripe, earthy blackcurrants; lively freshness; some coffee; layers on the palate; quite plush and soft entry with layers; plump with some earthy notes. Very nice 88-90+/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.

ST EMILION 2010 OVERVIEW

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This appellation has had a fantastic vintage in 2010. Yes there is some variation, understandable in a region with so many different terriors, blends and wine-making styles. Yes some wines have too much alcohol but in a great many cases the wines have incredible balance because of the freshness of the vintage. Over-extraction, however, is seemingly less problematic here than usual, although again that is a relative thing, but many [though by no means all] kept things in check.

There are a host of terrific wines this year but those that have a high proportion of Cabernet Franc, and even Cabernet Sauvignon as in the case of Chateau Figeac, have made the very finest wines. Amongst these, Chateau Cheval Blanc, Chateau Angélus, Chateau Figeac itself and Chateau Trottevielle have made truly extraordinary wines in my book. I also thought that Chateau Canon-la-Gaffelière [35% Cabernet Franc in the blend] was very impressive.

That said even those with much more Merlot predominant blends have made great reds too, these include Chateau Beausejour, Chateau Beau-Séjour-Bécot, Chateau Belair–Monange, Chateau Clos Fourtet, Chateau Larcis-Ducasse, Chateau Pavie-Macquin, and Chateau Troplong Mondot. These are all superb. I’m afraid that I don’t know quite what to make of Chateau Pavie in 2010, a bit like some others I gather. I’ve never had such a big and extracted infant wine and I have no idea how it will settle or develop.

The following wines were tasted at Chateau La Couspaude in St Emilion at the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux [UGCB] tasting, at Chateau Beau-Séjour-Bécot which held the tasting for the Groupement de Premiers Grands Crus Classes de Saint-Emilion [a great tasting environment in which all the premiers tasted better than at the UGC] and at the Cercle Rive Droite. The major omission here is Chateau Ausone which I didn’t get to taste, though I hope to soon.

Chateau Angélus

Rich and deep looking; lovely seductive nose; real quality, some smoke and savoury notes; layered and intense; terrific; palate wonderful; fabulous concentration; extract, sweetness and perfume here; really terrific. Very clean and well done. One of the real standouts. Brilliant. Very sublimated, intense. 98/100 Tasted April 6 Groupement de Premiers Grands Crus Classes de Saint-Emilion.

Chateau Balestard La Tonnelle

Deep and dark, some chocolate on the nose but feels tired and oxidised; good depth and chew but too much extraction and plodding heavy palate 84-86?/100 6th April at UGC.

Chateau Beauséjour

Deep and thick in the glass; slightly stewed note here to begin with; not as polished and outwardly as fine as the rest; later opened up, smoke and blackfruits, some liquorice; menthol, like this very much also with oak from barrels; freshness initially on the palate; then intensity, grip, cool and well handled palate; real precision again, density and layers and layers; lots of chew and depth; good length. 93-95+/100. Tasted April 6 Groupement de Premiers Grands Crus Classes de Saint-Emilion.

Chateau Beau-Séjour-Bécot

Deep and saturated; ripe, rich nose; perfume and jam with nice lift; quite satiny with real density and extract; Very chewy and dense. Thick and rich and lots of black fruits here, some liquorice. Very strong wine. 94-96+/100 6th April 2011 [Second] Deep and saturated;  rich, ripe and very seductive; feels quite big; slightly jammy note; certainly very ripe style; thick and rich on the palate, concentrated and dense with tannin and grip and extract; wow, feels very dense, lots of extract and material; very big chewy wine. 94-96/100. Tasted April 6 Groupement de Premiers Grands Crus Classes de Saint-Emilion.

Chateau Belair-Monange

Deep and saturated; ripe, liquorice, tar note; slightly burnt edge; layered; some menthol, very tight and layered; later some perfume, almost floral; fresh; density but fine extraction wonderfully handled. Great density and weight, very good length. Some heat on the finish but also grip here. 94-96/100. Tasted April 6 Groupement de Premiers Grands Crus Classes de Saint-Emilion.

Chateau Berliquet

Saturated again; thick looking; very ripe nose, some figs but plush, nice ripeness here; layered too; quite plush palate, little more tannin and chew. Bit lacking in sophistication. Tannin little chunky 86-88/100 6th April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Boutisse

Deep and saturated; nice concentration, life, some menthol and herbal notes; attractive; very ripe and thick; density here; pretty good wine. Chewy and dense but not overdone. 88-90/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Cap de Mourlin

Very dense and saturated; nose very fatigued and heavy; similar raisin notes on the palate; feels tired and way over done. Not a good sample. 84?/100 6th April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Canon

Deep and saturated, tight to rim; rich and ripe on nose, shows real concentration; unctuousness; relatively simple by comparison with previous [Trottevielle] but very pure; real purity in fact; quite a lot of puppy fat here; real ripeness; lacks some of the complexity of the last but lots of fruit and density; feels alcoholic; some length, bit hot. 91-93/100 Tasted April 6 Groupement de Premiers Grands Crus Classes de Saint-Emilion.

Chateau Canon-la-Gaffelière

Deep and dense; ripe and creamy nose, very plush, lots of extract it would seem; ripe but nicely handled palate, good density, sweet and sexy with layers of flavour; density yes but doesn’t feel pushed too far; chalky minerality here to; grip and density but nicely done. Rich and attractive wine. 92-94+/100 [55% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon 14.5 alc] Tasted 6 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Cheval Blanc

Deep and dense; tight to the rim; legs; quite dense nose; some smoke; depth and intensity here; fine fruit, flowers; palate ripe and seductive; real velvety feel here; very well managed extraction; lots of flesh and fruit but wonderfully seductive palate; quite a lot of tannin at the back but very ripe; lots of material and fruit. This looks wonderfully concentrated and with real grip and density. This wine is approaching perfection and extremely exciting. The question for me was more how the tannins eventually settle. [56% Cabernet Franc, 44% Merlot, Alc: 14.5] 98+/100 4 April 2011

Le Petit Cheval

Very saturated black, to the rim; very pretty, plump and sweet; quite seductive and very attractive; good intensity; supple wine; full of flavour and extract; lots of concentration; very supple; tannin very well managed. Fills the mouth with flavour. Good length. Lots of extract and tannin. Freshness too. [75% Melot, 25% Cabernet Franc Alc: 14.5%] 93-95/100 4 April 2011

Clos Fourtet

Deep and saturated; ripe and fresh fruit; clean and concentrated; minerals and chalk; deep; sweet attack, nice density, concentration and bid; thick on palate but grip too. Concentrated but balanced [large proportions!]. Will be excellent. 92-94/100 [87% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc 14.5% alc] 6 April 2011 UGC [Second tasting] Thick in the glass, dense and saturated; stones and minerals, more chalk and minerals than the rest; freshness and violets; open and supple palate; less density than the last but still with lots of extract and guts; quite tannic clout at the end, but grip and brightness too. 92-94. Tasted April 6 2011 Groupement de Premiers Grands Crus Classes de Saint-Emilion

Clos des Jacobins

Deep and dense; thick looking; ripe yet fresh nose; lots of depth here; some coconut and spice too along with violets; sweet ripe entry; thick and rich; very plush and velvety palate. Impressive. 90-92/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Dassault

Thick and saturated; ripe, feels dull and a bit tired; some rasiny notes? Palate thick but pretty stewed feel here; thick and chunky. Not me. 84-86?/100 6th April 2011

Chateau Faugères

Solid black; deep; sweet and open nose; coconut oak; very sweet and ripe palate; lashings of fruit and oak; lacks complexity but really seductive fruit. 88-90/100.Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Péby-Faugères

Deep and arterial; sweet strawberry notes; red fruits; intense and sublimated; black cherry; very attractive palate; lots of extraction but lovely sweet fruit and excellent length. Only a 1000 cases made. 90-92+/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Figeac

Deep and dense; legs; very attractive nose; seductive, rich and intense, very tight but intense black fruits and very deep; rich palate and real intensity and precision here; needs time but nicely done. Tannic and long haul but nice acid and grip at the end. This really is a lovely wine. Hands down the best St Emillion shown at the UGC 94-96+/100 [33% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Franc, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon 13.9 alc] 6 April 2011 UGC  [Second] Deep and dark; saturated colour; ripe and pure; seductive with a whiff of violets; very classy nose; lovely freshness suggests Cabernet [Figeac?]; extremely classy and wonderful. Very glossy and classy palate; rich and ripe; really layered with perfume. Terrific wine. Complexity and fragrance. Great length and extremely fine. One of the wines of the vintage to my mind. 96-98+/100 Tasted April 6 Groupement de Premiers Grands Crus Classes de Saint-Emilion.

Chateau Franc Mayne

Deep and saturated black red; thick, ripe and spicy, lots of obvious concentration on the nose; supple attack initially and then the tannins – dense – but very chewy and tannic at the back. Bit overdone? May settle 85-87?/100 6 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Fombrauge

Thick and dense; extracted look; sweet and very ripe nose; feels thick; sweet attack on palate; very ripe fruit here; some chew and depth; alcohol present but creamy palate. Not that bad. 88-90/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Magrez Fombrauge

Deep and saturated black; sweet and ripe nose; some marzipan, spices; thick and sweet ripe entry; very soft and very unctuous; tannin but in check. Very good and very concentrated and sublime. Tannic twist at the end and some grip. Very good. 91-93/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Fonplégade

Deep and arterial black; super ripe nose; some jam, unctuous; some fruit cake; ripe and sweet palate; dense and yet very easy, supple almost; chewy finish. Lots of extract lurking beneath the sweet depths, but actually pretty good. 88-90+/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Fonroque

Deep; earthy nose; ripe, cassis notes; density here; attractive and layered wine; lots of extract; bit tannic at the end; feels a trifle overdone but may settle. Have  been quite impressed with this wine before. 87-88/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac

Deep and dark; sweet and ripe; freshness here too; violets; concentrated and dense palate; tannic and grippy finish. 86-88?/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Grand Corbin-Despagne

Deep and dense; sweet and ripe but classy; attractive and seductive; violets and nice lift on the nose; plummy and plush; sweet entry; very ripe and concentrated with real density; fabulous ripeness but very well handled; velvety and sumptuous; chewy and dense; some alcohol here but this is a beauty 91-93+/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Grand-Mayne

Deep and dense looking; super ripe feel, jam and cherry; dense and chalky on the palate; some extraction and feels a bit raw. Finishes with grip and chew. Raw. Needs to settle. 85-87?/100 6th April 2011 UGC

Chateau La Commanderie

Deep and dense; thick and ripe, slightly stewed note; sweet and ripe palate; thick and rich; lacks a bit of finesse and a bit monolithic; big; lacks bit of grip at the end. 88/100. Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite.

Chateau La Couspaude

Deep and dense; pretty attractive nose; some floral notes with sweet oak at the back; seductive; palate nicely done, concentrated with extract but not too tannic. Wood showing. Chewy finish. Pretty good. 88-90/100 6 April 2011 UGC

Chateau La Dominique

Very deep, concentrated look; minerals, rocks and ripeness; also seductive qualities big and thick palate with lots of flesh and extract and warmth; some grip at the end. Pretty plush in the middle with real density. Chew and tannin but plenty of lush fruit here 90-92+/100 6 April 2011 UGC

Chateau La Gaffelière

Deep and saturated; some density to the nose; some chalk, some plum and spices; good fruit here, chew and extract; tannins maybe a bit chunky. Pretty good effort. 89-91/100 6 April 2011 UGC [Second tasting] Deep arterial black; even tighter to the rim; nicely done; meaty quality here; feels big and brooding; strong aroma, powerful; very glossy palate, lots of material; quite lush and pretty well done; some warmth at the end. Very big and lots of [ripe] tannin. Lacks sophistication but has power. 91-93+/100 Tasted April 6 Groupement de Premiers Grands Crus Classes de Saint-Emilion

Chateau La Gomerie

Deep and dark; spicey, lush and thick; some cake like notes; very ripe and sweet palate; thick and rich but not too OTT. Earthy note at the end. Pretty good 88-90/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau La Grangère

Deep and dark; lots of fruit, quite fresh and dense too; some black fruits; thick palate, dense and porty; lots of ripe fruits; quite straightforward; lots of concentration and fruit but pretty simple 86-88/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau La Marzelle

Deep and dense looking; rich and ripe nose; thick; succulent; ripe and concentrated palate; lots of extract but also lots of tannin. Big wine. Needs to settle. Bit monolithic. 87-89/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau La Tour du Pin

Deep and dense; tight to the rim; cream, ripe, some fresh plum, good concentration hgere; fleshy and intense; some elegance almost; good mid-palate; nice weight and extract. Good material and extract. [85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, Alc: 13.9] 91-93/100 Tasted at Chateau Cheval Blanc 4 April 2011

Chateau La Tour Figeac

Mid depth in terms of saturation, but that’s by comparison; ripe spicy nose, some fruit cake, chalk and rock; attractive nose; nice sweet entry, violet fruit tones with spices and density and more mineral/rock notes; very nicely done. Good grip and balance. 90-92+/100 6 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Larcis Ducasse

Deep and saturated, really arterial in colour; very ripe, plush nose; lots of layers here; full; some jam, but very nice; palate ripe and full, lots of flesh and fruit; very, very god. Attractive and seductive. Some grip and chew at the back. Good length. Really nicely done. Seductive. 92-94+/100 6 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Larmande

Deep and saturated; very attractive nose, lush and layered, some smoke, floral qualities too; palate dense, nice extraction and chew; ripeness here. Very good. Sweet ripe fruit actually pretty tannic and concentrated. 90-92/100 [65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon]  6April 2011 UGC

Chateau Magdelaine

Deep arterial black; tight to rim; luscious opulent nose but with some real delicacy; ripe and layered; very satiny and pure palate; great entry; silky and refined; lovely poise; terrific balance; surprisingly elegant palate in fact. Very fine. Finishes well. Good length. 92-94/100 Tasted April 6 Groupement de Premiers Grands Crus Classes de Saint-Emilion.

Chateau Pavie

Deep and very saturated look; ripe and smoky, quite jammy and dense; lots of fruit and concentration; some pruney notes; feels very ripe, but lacks the complexity and freshness of the best; almost a rasiny note; clean palate entry; quite rasiny, primary fruits; dense and tannic; increasingly tannic; blimey too tannic and extracted surely? Overdone, extremely drying at the end. Maybe 90-92?/100 if it settles, but no idea how to rate this properly. Tasted April 6 Groupement de Premiers Grands Crus Classes de Saint-Emilion.

Chateau Pavie-Macquin

Deep and dense; very aromatic, seductive and pretty; oak and density; black fruits liquorice, menthol, some violet too; sweet attack, dark fruits, molasses and liquorice, but not too over-the-top. Nicely done. Certainly seductive. More oak on the finish. Will meld. 92-94/100 [85% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon] 6th April 2011 UGC [Second tastings] Deep and saturated; rich, ripe but nicely judged; whiff of marzipan; very ripe and attractive; big bold and ripe on the nose; thick; not unattractive; rich and cake like; very plush palate; tannins here, quite extracted; but freshness too; dense extract and material; little more extracted than some; coffee and oak. Thick and rich. Warm too. 94-96+/100 Tasted April 6 Groupement de Premiers Grands Crus Classes de Saint-Emilion.

Chateau Quinault L’Enclos

Deep and dense; some pretty perfume; some real ripeness and depth; ripe palate, red fruits, strawberry; lots of flesh and lots of tannin but also extract. Drying on teh finish. Will round out I expect but pretty extracted. 88-90?/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite.

Chateau Rol Valentin

Deep and dense; super-ripe notes; strawberry jam and some raisin; very jammy; palate sweet, spicy and ripe; lacks a bit of freshness and feels very late picked. Alcoholic and lacks grip. 86-88/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite.

Chateau Troplong-Mondot

Arterial and saturated; very ripe and concentrated as you’d expect; sublimation of a wine; lots of extract and ripe sweet fruit; concentrated and layered; real intensity and chew. Pretty hefty tannin count too. This is big and thick but really ripe – sweet ripe and very pure – with some grip and bite at the back. 94-96/100 6 April 2011 UGC [Second tasting] Deep and saturated, tight to the meniscus; quite ‘cool’ nose; deep and pure; some marzipan and a whiff of alcohol – nevertheless seductive; feels cool but with some menthol and spice; very brooding and deep; polished; satiny palate, real perfume and verve; density but wonderful fruit here; extremely concentrated and tannic but there is sweetness of fruit and some grip here to balance. 96-98+/100 Tasted April 6 Groupement de Premiers Grands Crus Classes de Saint-Emilion.

Chateau Trottevielle

Deep red; not the most saturated; thick and concentrated, some smoke, black cherry, some stalk, attractive and thick, some red fruits too – strawberries; good palate, chew and fruit with excellent density. Lots of extract and grip too. Very good. Real finesse here the Cabernet Franc influence. 92-94+/100 6th April 2011 UGC [Second] Saturated and deep; legs; smoky tones, graphite and earth; more minerality here; more intense too; very tight and layered and intense; very fine wine here; excellent focus and precision on the palate; very, very precise; density too; precise, focused and intense. Fabulous length, simply goes on and on. Quite tremendous. 96-98/100 Tasted April 6 Groupement de Premiers Grands Crus Classes de Saint-Emilion.

POMEROL 2010 OVERVIEW

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Pomerol looks to have had a great vintage in 2010. The freshness, balance and concentration of the best wines here is quite remarkable. As usual there is plumpness and accessibility but there is grip and stuffing too. Some are a bit simple and a few rather jammy and late picked in feel, but these seem to be the exception in what are a very homogeneous set of wines. One caveat here is that my tastings were limited to those at the Unions des Grands Crus held at Chateau La Pointe and those at the Cercle Rive Droite. Amongst the picks here were Chateau Petit-Village, Chateau La Conseillante and Chateau Clinet which are at least as good if not even better than in 2009. I was also very impressed with Chateau Fayat, Chateau Feytit-Clinet, Chateau Gazin, Chateau La Croix de Gay, Chateau Le Bon Pasteur, Chateau Gazin, Chateau Nenin and Chateau Rouget. Good value can also be had with Chateau Bourgneuf, Chateau Clos du Clocher, Chateau Taillefer and Chateau Montviel. There is such a lot of joy in these wines.

Chateau Beauregard

Deep and saturated; ripe, some rasiny notes; quite a thick style, little straightforward; goodish grip and some degree of freshness but lacks the flamboyance of the best 88-90/100 [65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc, alc 14.6%] 6 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Beau Soleil

Deep and dense; quite thick nose; little raw; quite dense, some chocolate on the palate; quite opulent and very soft and easy. 88+/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Bonalgue

Deep and dark, arterial almost; little dumb and less expressive than some; some cream; attractive palate; quite thick and rich but with some punch. Oak here. Needs to settle a bit. 86-88/100Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Bourgneuf

Deep and dense; quite thick looking; liquorice and smoke on the nose; soft and ripe mid-palate; really rather yummy; creamy notes with plushness; maybe lacks a bit of sophistication at the end. 88+/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Clos du Clocher

Deep and dense; sweet and ripe; some toast; smoke and plums too; sweet palate, very ripe; concentrated and pretty extracted but somehow works; actually pretty seductive. Pretty good 88-90/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Clinet

Deep and saturated, lovely silky, satiny and seductive nose, perfumed with violets, very attractive; quite forward on the nose – sublimated creamy wine, quite satiny and velvety on the palate too but with extract and concentration giving tannin and grip. Very good. Great length and intensity. The equal of 2009 but stronger in style but a shade less flamboyant. 94-96+/100 [85% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, alc 14.5%] 6 April 2011 UGC

Domaine de l’Eglise

Deep saturated colour; thick looking; little jammy, super-ripe notes here; some boiled sweets; palate full of sweet, ripe fruit; lacks a bit of grip; loads of fruit though. 88-90/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Fayat

Deep, dark and saturated; some cream, some lift; plums and damsons; layers to the palate; nicely done here; attractive palate; lush with density. Good palate and grip. Very positive wine. 89-91+/100 4 April Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Feytit Clinet

Deep and dark; tight to the rim; plums and very ripe; very seductive palate; ‘hedonistic’ to use a Parkerism; nice palate; really unctuous. Very attractive wine but also has some good grip. Good length too. 90-92+/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Gazin

Deep and dark; dense and concentrated nose; strong but brooding, less open than some; dense palate, lots of fruit, lashing in fact but feels pretty tannic too. Lots of fruit in support though. Strong wine. Very good with grip and length 92-94/100 6th April 2011 at UGC.

Chateau La Cabanne

Deep and saturated; quite solid nose, ripe and deep; but chunky on the palate, feels a bit extracted and tannic. Maybe not that well judged in terms of extraction? Certainly unsettled. 86?/100 6th April 2011 at UGC

Chateau La Conseillante

Dense and deep, arterial; perfumed and very deep nose, violets with purity, lots of plums and freshness too, ripe and full; dense plummy and concentrated; fresh too with concentration, density but also grip. Fabulous. Chewy on the finish but fresh. This feels better than 2009 to me. 94-96+/100 6 April 2011 at UGC.

Chateau La Clémence

Arterial in colour; quite alcoholic nose; needs to settle; slightly vegetal streak too; palate feels overdone and very extracted. Most unsettled sample. 82-84?/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau La Croix de Gay

Deep black, arterial; sweet and sexy nose with some smoke; rich and plush here too, density but also pretty plump; ripe some violet and perfume; structure and grip come later. Lively structure and grip and real depth. Excellent effort. 92-94+/100 6 April 2011 at UGC.

Chateau Le Bon Pasteur

Deep and arterial; legs; dense at the centre; ripe and smoky; cherries, very attractive; soft creamy palate; very sweet and ripe; almost like essence. Big and weighty but with some grip. Lots of flavour. 91-93+/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Montviel

Very deep and dark; very ripe nose, real sweetness here; attractive; almost boiled sweet; some smoke and oak on the palate; quite fat and attractive; sweet and ripe. Wonderful mouthful. 89-91+/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Nenin

Deep and saturated; up to edge; ripe and rich; lots of fruit and density. Less flamboyant than the other Pomerols, feels serious and dense. Lacks a bit of vigour and joie de vivre? 88-90/100 [82% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, 13.9 alc and IPT 80] Tasted 7 April 2011 at Chateau Leoville Las Cases.

Chateau La Pointe

Deep and dense; lots of seductive oak and black fruits; toasty; oak dominate; lots of extract and oak and fruit tannin; early days but feels disjointed. Lots of flesh though but rather too chewy and extracted. Needs to settle. 87-88?/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 at UGC.

Chateau Petit-Village

Deep, dense and saturated; lovely smoky minerality, real depth on the nose; some camphor and iodine; strong and well done; ripe seductive and full of flavour; really good structure, chewy but with lots of extract and tannin. Terrific length and depth. Lovely 94-96+/100 Tasted 6 April 2011 at UGC

Chateau Rouget

Deep and dark at the core; sweet and ripe wine; perfumed and flattering; very soft and plumy palate; very attractive with grip at the end. [85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc] 90-92+/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

Chateau Taillefer

Deep in the glass; legs; sweet, ripe and attractive nose; attractive wine with some Cabernet Franc notes; good palate, really succulent and sweet; ripe fruit but with grip here; good wine. [75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc alc 14%] 89-91+/100 Tasted 6 April  Le Cercle Rive Droite

SAUTERNES AND BARSAC 2010 OVERVIEW

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Overall Sauternes and Barsac do not feel quite as rich and sweet as in 2009 but there seems more elegance here in 2010, a bit more akin to 2007 but with added strength. The best wines have great balancing acidity which makes them feel extremely fresh and probably accounts for this difference. Certainly it is a lovely vintage and I imagine that the wines will be pretty long-lived. I’ve listed the various properties below in terms of how I’ve marked them and all were tasted at the Union des Grands Crus tastings with Chateau de Rayne Vigneau also being tasted at Chateau Meyney. Chateau d’Yquem and Chateau Climens are the most important exceptions and were not tasted.

Chateau Coutet

Pale gold with hint of green; full bodied nose; powerful; botrytis and honey; palate fresh and strong with good acid; feels really fresh. Wonderful. 94-96+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC 

Chateau Rieussec

Pale gold; some honey, thickness and some wax; quite sweet, ripe and unctuous palate; nice balance and waves of flavour here across the palate; sweetness but with bite at the back. Looks extremely good. 93-95/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Rabaud-Promis

Pale gold; nice botrytis here; thick on the nose; wax and butter too; fresh palate, good acid and feels nicely balanced; this is very, very good. Complex, sweet and fab. 92-94+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey

Pale green/gold; clean and attractive, quite fresh and some grass here; palate elegant but with intensity and concentration; sweetness; really very good. 91-93/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Doisy Daene

Palest gold; quite waxy, fresh; cut grass and flowers; quite rich palate, sweet with some degree of unctuousness; quite good bite on the finish. Plenty of acid. Excellent as ever. 90-92/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Guiraud

Palest gold; wax, butter, some freshness and honey; sweet and unctuous on the palate but also with race; a little more elegant than the Rieussec which was surprising. Very good mouth feel. Excellent 90-92+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau de Rayne Vigneau

Pale gold; fresh, some grass and hedgerow; honey at the back; nice and firm palate with good acid and life. Feels really good 90-92/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC [Second tasting] Pale gold; butter and wax, some botrytis; cream and honey; attractive; sweet palate, ripe and creamy with butter and honey notes; good density and richness. Excellent 91-93/100 Tasted 8 April 2011 at Chateau Meyney

Chateau Suduiraut

Pale gold; fresh and honeyed; very clean, some floral tones; palate mid-weight; very elegant but also acid to balance. Feels very fine. 90-92+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau La Tour Blanche

Pale gold; fresh, some grass and hedgerow; honey; nice and elegant feel here; full palate, some wax and butter but pretty good; nice length; attractive; bite at end. Very good 90-92+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau d’Arche

Pale gold; fresh, wax, good; feels fresh and alive; palate racy with good acid; feels lively and not at all ponderous. Lively and nice balance. Very good. 89-91+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Doisy-Védrines

Pale straw; some green tinges; fresh; some grass and candy; alive; feels elegant and racy; lively palate. Quite fat, sweet and full on the palate. 89-91+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau de Malle

Pale straw gold; some wax, quite fresh, some oak; sauvignon notes – herbs and grass; very floral and pretty; nice mid-weight style and elegant and racy palate. 89-91/100 [Semillon 78%, Sauvignon Blanc 22% with tiny fraction of Muscadelle] Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Nairac

Pale gold; butterscotch, wax; full on the nose; positive palate with some candy, butterscotch, heather honey. Nice wine 89-91/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Clos Haut-Peyraguey

Pale gold; quite full, lacks the sophistication of some; palate bold, full and quite sweet; big wine with lots of flavour; maybe lacks a bit of zip and complexity but pretty big 88-90+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Lamothe Guignard

Pale gold, some honey and butter; nice palate, some sweetness and weight; quite clean and pure. Nice attractive wine. Mid term 88+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Romer

Pale gold; some wax and cream and honey notes; more bite and with gooseberry on the palate; honeysuckle too; quite rich; real sweetness here with nice bite on the finish. Good. 88+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Filhot

Pale straw; little reductive and wet dog, wool; attractive palate with good balance and nice acid. Nicely done. 88+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Lamothe

Pala gold, honey again; bit creamier and quite fat, full style; mid sweetness and some grassy tones; fresh 87-88/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Caillou

Pale straw/green; some wax, quite full nose, honey; mid weight palate, nice balance; sweet, some ripe waxy notes. Good 87-88/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Broustet

Pale gold; some wax, some hoiney; little more straightforward on the palate; full and rich; lacks complexity but good. 86-87+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau Bastor Lamontagne

Pale gold; some cream and butter but quite simple; quite full but lacks complexity; waxy, full and simple 86-88/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

Chateau de Myrat

Pale gold; slightly richer and more oily here; ripe; attractive; some weight; fatness – big simple but quite big 86+/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC

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