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Bordeaux 2010 In Bottle: Margaux

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

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There’s some variation in Margaux 2010 as you’d expect from this diverse commune, though there is greater consistency here than in some years. It’s a large appellation with a great variety of terroirs and winemaking styles and this, as ever, accounts for these differences. The density, tannin and grip of 2010 are very present here in almost all the wines. Some lack the fruit to match the density [or is it that match the winemaking?] but others have produced very good, serious, intense wines, which look long-term bets. There’s not as much joy in the best as there was in 2009 but you’d really need to see the wines sat side-by-side to gauge precisely. I guess I could think of other appellations that I’d stock up with first in 2010, but that’s not to say that there are not wines to seek out here in Margaux.

Clearly to very important omissions from the line-up tasted at the UCGB event last November were Chateau Margaux and Chateau Palmer, both of which were extremely exciting wines when tasted during primeurs week. Chateau Malescot-St-Exupéry was also not on show either. In the absence of these Chateau Lascombes was the property out in front. This is a beautiful glass of Margaux with that elusive violet perfume. Though the wine has clearly been given a lot of work in the cellar it remains fresh and attractive but with a lot of flesh to compliment the structure and tannin profile.

There was a fair degree of clear water between it and the other wines grouped at a similar quality level a notch below. In this latter group are led by Chateau Rauzan-Ségla, Chateau Brane-Cantenac, Chateau Durfort-Vivens [a very impressive effort], Chateau Kirwan and Chateau Angludet, which looked extremely nice thank you very much at less than half the price of some of the others. It looked wonderful from cask and now it’s in bottle Angludet ‘10 is another beauty here.

Chateau Rauzan-Ségla is certainly a very serious and dense effort. There is lots of structure and density here. It’s impressive if very tight knit and I have to say that I prefer their 2009. Chateau Brane-Cantenac has lovely violet lift and nice tension between the fruit and the acid, though there is a fair bit of tannin on the finish. Both these wines need time but they aren’t meant to be for early drinking.

Chateau Kirwan seems to have had a slight change of direction, for the better. I’m a great fan of their 2005, but some recent vintage have felt a little over-extracted relative to their fruit. The 2010 Kirwan has nice violet aromas and while it does pack quite a punch on the palate, it feels very clean, fresh and extremely positive overall. Chateau Durfort-Vivens has also made an attractive wine in a vintage that you may have feared it would have been a bit austere and dry at this estate, given 2010’s potential tannins and the usual style of the wines here. There’s a lot of herbal tones and menthol on the nose but it works for me on the palate. It has to go down of one of the best wines I’ve had from Durfort-Vivens in half a dozen vintages. It reminds me of their very good 2005.

There’s a lot of purity and freshness at Chateau Giscours and stablemate Chateau du Tertre, but there is a lot of grip too. These wines will settle down well and deliver very classical Margaux but they will always be structured wines with lots of fresh acid. It will be interesting to see how they develop. Both properties for me succeeded more in 2009 where they made fleshier, caressing wines.

Chateau Ferrière is a pretty good effort in a sturdy, stalky blackcurrant way. There is lots of acid freshness here for sure. The same is true of Chateau Desmirail in a slightly more open style. Chateau Labégorce looks potentially very good. I had marked this out as being even better during the primeurs tastings in April 2011 but it’s lost a bit of that freshness and perfume and the oak is just a little present. This may very well settle down nicely [I hope so, I bought a case]. Certainly it is a very good value Margaux to consider.

Chateau Cantenac-Brown felt extracted and was too muscular and worked for me. Multiply that by two for Chateau Dauzac which was very drying on the finish. Chateau Marquis des Terme is better than both of these but still feels overworked to me. Chateau Rausan-Gassies is another disappointment from this estate which has such fabulous terroir adjacent to Rauzan-Ségla and across the road from Palmer. Chateau Monbrison is a solid effort, lacking finesse, and a little chewy. 2009 was far better here. Chateau Siran felt very grippy on the day but had plenty of fruit and extract and probably just needs to settle. It will always be structured and grippy nevertheless.

Conclusions? A bit of a mixed bag at one level, but then the appellation often is, but there are some very good, classical, long-term wines here in Margaux in 2010. Some of the very best were released at very high prices [I’m thinking Chateau Lascombes and Chateau Rauzan-Ségla specifically here]. These are not bargains and I think better value [and overall better wines] can be found elsewhere in Bordeaux in 2010. It’s a generalisation but Margaux, the appellation, doesn’t do drought years well, and 2010 is a  year of considerable drought. If you are looking for excellent Margaux at a fraction of the top prices then do consider Chateau Angludet. Don’t waste a moment thinking about it, it’s definitely worth buying in spades. I’d also put Chateau Labégorce in this category too.

The full tasting notes are below on the Margaux wines tasted at the UGCB event in London in November 2012.

Chateau Angludet

Deep and dense; some savour, strong nose; pure blackcurrants and black cherry; espresso notes; settling nicely; freshness and life here alongside the purity of fruit. Looks very pure and fresh. 90/100

Chateau Brane-Cantenac

Deep looking; nice cassis, pure, some violet lift with earthy undergrowth; elegant palate, layers and nice tension here; ripe fruit, good acid and structure here with bite at the end. Quite a bit of tannin. 90+/100

Chateau Cantenac Brown

Deep and saturated look; thick black fruits with some liqourice; very ripe fruit, some marzipan and lift; some coffee; quite chewy, dense with lots of structured and grip. Big wine. Muscular and worked. Will have its followers – not me. 87/100

Chateau Dauzac

Pretty, some red fruits, some oak and marzipan notes; black fruits and liquorice; quite sturdy with lots of fruit and plenty of extract. Very drying at end with lots of oak influenced. Disjointed. Not my style. 86/100

Chateau Desmirail

Deepish; dark core; spicey open nose; not unattractive; some earth and undergrowth and blackcurrant tones; leafy edge; earthy blackcurrants again on the palate, some spice and herbal notes and tobacco; quite forward style and attractive now. Grip on the finish. 88+/100

Chateau du Tertre

Good depth; glossy looking; earth, some redcurrant, some resin, deep; fresh palate with blackcurrant and acid grip; lots of extract and material, inky with grip and chew. Classic and fresh. Needs a bit of time. 89+/100

Chateau Durfort-Vivens

Deep and saturated looking; herbal,, boiled sweet and red fruit nose; some menthol; a whiff of honey; quite briary fruit on the palate; spices, herbs and blackcurrants; nice purity; this is the best Durfort for a while. Very good effort. 90+/100

Chateau Ferrière

Deepish; earthy, mealy note; some herbal tones too; stalky blackcurrants; more richness on the palate; some layers and depth. Good effort. 88+/100

Chateau Giscours

Mid depth; nice oak, blackcurrants and earthy undergrowth notes; some toast and espresso; fresh blackcurrants on the palate; layered and quite cool; toast and chocolate. Dips a fraction but nice freshness and sufficient fruit. 89+/100

Chateau Kirwan

Deep and saturated; layers of flavour; cassis and black fruits; some plum; opens up on the palate; clean blackcurrant fruit with chew and density and grippy acid; lots here. Perfume too. Looks like a slight change of gear here to a fresher, less extractive worked style. Good news. Little dry finish but it will fill out further. 90/100

Chateau Labégorce

Deep and saturated; some leaf, more chocolate; some blackcurrant layers; a certain thickness; quite melded on the palate; blackcurrant fruit; freshness and layers; plenty of extract and has purity. Feels like Margaux. Grip and structure beneath the fruit. Nicely done. Should improve further. 89+/100

Chateau Lascombes

Deep; red at edge; saturated feel; some violet perfume, earth, spices; integrated; full palate; deep; some grip and texture but sufficient fruit and ripeness here. Works very well and has that increasingly elusive – it seems – Margaux perfume. 92+/100

Chateau Marquis de Terme

Deep and saturated look; inky, liquorice; creamy notes; quite oak influenced; feels very ‘worked’; ripe palate, quite thick and pretty extracted; sawn wood note; very full, extracted and worked style. Not me though will appeal to some. May settle with time. 88/100

Chateau Monbrison

Quite dense; some chocolate; plum; feels deep; more blackcurrant notes on the palate; slightly stewed character; chewy finish with grip. Less exciting here than in ’09. Solid rather than memorable. 87/100

Chateau Prieuré-Lichine

Deep and saturated look; deep core; red fruits, satin note; blackcurrants; ripe qualities; chewy palate; a bit chunky in its fruit structure; plenty of grip and tannin but the tannin doesn’t feel over present. Mid weight and overall pretty good effort. 89+/100

Chateau Rauzan-Gassies

Deepish; some earth and blackcurrants with some fruit yoghurt tones; quite grippy and structured palate; feels a bit hard and lacks generosity. Closed certainly. 85-86?/100

Chateau Rauzan-Ségla

Deep and concentrated looking; legs; lifted blackcurrants; some chalk and wet stone; red fruits here too; quite dense and chalky on the palate; lots of structure and grip. Little VA lift. Purity here but pretty dense and tannic effort with lots of grip. 90+/100

Chateau Siran

Deepish; some red fruits, wet stone; ripeness on the palate but lots of extract here and very sappy. Has plenty of material and plenty of acid. Needs time to settle. 87/100

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