2010 lies in the middle of a trio of exceptional vintages for Sauternes and Barsac. The vintage has produced rich, sweet wines with lots of creamy botrytis but also plenty of zip. They will last the course but quite a few are already delicious. There is something beguiling and beautiful about the finest Sauternes and there are a bevy of fine wines to chose from in 2010, some of which remain close in price to their original en primeur offers, so there is much that is still affordable.
That old rivalry between Chateau Climens and Chateau Coutet is very much played out in 2010. For me Coutet just has the edge. It is a wine of exceptional length and intensity and wonderful apricot, honey and creamy tones on the nose and palate. Climens is more racy and pent up and balance is the key here rather than Coutet’s power. Both are pretty remarkable wines.
Chateau de Fargues, always enjoyably big and sweet, is once again. It is bold and rich but with just enough acid to maintain the balancing act. Chateau de Rayne Vigneau was very aromatic, maybe it’s the Dubourdieu influence here under the ‘Prof’ within the Credit Agricole’s Grand Crus Group with whom he works as a consultant oenologist, and who is behind the rejuvenation here these past few years [CA Grand Crus is the same group that have quietly turned around left bank estates Chateau Meyney and Chateau Grand-Puy Ducasse]. Curiously Denis Dubourdieu’s own estate Chateau Doisy-Daëne was a little reticent on the day, subtle and nicely balanced on the palate but dumb on the nose. Neighbour Chateau Doisy-Védrines is never one to keep quiet about its charms, was all power and weight in it’s usual bold, sweeter style. It looks good value.
Chateau Guiraud had lots of apricot notes and real weight on the palate while it’s stylistic opposite Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey delivered restraint and elegance but potential longevity too. Chateau Nairac knocked my socks off once again. It did really well in 2011 too and the 2010 looks to be great value. It is forward and full of flavour but with lovely acidity.
Chateau Sigalas-Rabaud was wonderfully fat, with rich butterscotch and heather honey tones. Full and luscious, you can stand your spoon up in this. Finally Chateau Suduiraut is a sensational wine [so was their 2009]. It is right up there with Climens and Coutet for me. Chateau Rieussec and Chateau d’Yquem weren’t on show sadly.
The conclusion to be drawn here is that there has never been a better time to buy sweet Bordeaux and 2010 should certainly be on your list. The region has been blessed with a series of great botrytis years from 2009-2011 – and 2007 was pretty good too. Save for the great names, many wines can still be had for not much more than their original release prices.
There’s already been the suggestion that 2012 is unlikely to be a good year for Sauternes and Barsac. It’s an impression not helped by Chateau d’Yquem’s announcement that they will not produce a grand vin in this year. Obviously it seems a bit premature to write the vintage off yet before we’ve had a chance to taste it this April – I’m sure many properties will have made a decent fist of it – but with so much great Sauternes and Barsac already available to drink in bottle, it would seem more sensible to stock up on 2009, 2010 and 2011. There’s hardly ever a stampede to buy sweet wine but there are signs that the Chinese giant is stirring in this regard and with 2012 not holding the promise of the past three vintages, prices for the best Sauternes have only one way to go.
The following 2010 Sauternes and Barsac were tasted at the UGCB event in Covent Garden in November 2012.
Mid green/gold; some apple tones; wet wool; freshness; quite elegant palate with good acid. Mid weight style. 88+
Green gold; wet wool Semillon note; apricot and creamy botrytis notes; layered palate with lots of sweetness and some acid. Nicely done. Balanced with great length and race. 94+
Fresh looking green/gold; exquisite nose of creamy botrytis, honey and apricot too; layers and layers to the nose; intense palate; some apricots and desiccated fruit notes; layers again here; very fine palate with excellent length and intensity. 95+
Chateau de Fargues
Pale gold/green; fresh some wax and wet wool; bold, rich palate with lots of oomph and sugar but with sufficient acid to prevent it from feeling flat footed. Rich style. 93+
Chateau de Rayne Vigneau
Pale green/gold; some creamy botrytis, apricots, rich and layered with acacia honey notes; quite big and round on the palate with lots of sweetness. Rich style but with plenty of fruit. Sweet on the finish. 92+
Chateau Doisy Daëne
Pale gold/straw; wet wool, some cream, little dumb; palate very good with length and sweetness. Very nicely balanced between sweetness and acid. Subtle. 92+
Palate gold; fresh, apricot and honey notes; botrytis tones; some lift; quite thick and rich on the palate; lots of honeyed fruit flavours. Lacks the race and balance of Doisy Daene – fuller, sweeter style. 90+
Pale gold; more depth; some peach and apricot tones; thick, ripe palate, dense and some apricot fruit; spice and honey; powerful wine with sweetness but some balancing acid. Depth here. 92+
Chateau La Tour Blanche
Pale straw; some grassy notes; ripe quite rich and thick on the palate. Lots of sweetness on the palate. Very big, sweet style. 90
Pale gold/straw; fresh, apples, some wet wool; lots of flavour on the palate; ripeness; full yet elegant with nice balance. Feels very nicely balanced. 93+
Gold; lush nose; honey, apricot and thick with fruit; definied palate with sweetness which is very well balanced by fresh acid. Very forward and open style which works wonderfully. Very successful for Nairac. 91+
Deep gold; creamy, rich nose; quite thick palate, butterscotch and heather honey notes; rich, sweet and thick. Full and luscious. 93+
Deep gold; lees notes, some wet wool, apricot and creamy botrytis; thick and dense on the palate; oodles of botrytis here; thick and quite sweet but there is lovely acid that gives life. Wonderfully attractive. 95.
Tags: 2010, Barsac, Bordeaux, botrytis, CA Grand Crus, Chateau Bastor Lamontagne, Chateau Climens, Chateau Coutet, Chateau de Fargues, Chateau de Rayne Vigneau, Chateau Doisy-Daene, Chateau Doisy-Vedrines, Chateau Guiraud, Chateau La Tour Blanche, Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Chateau Nairac, Chateau Sigalas Rabaud, Chateau Suduiraut, Denis Dubourdieu, Muscadelle, Sauternes, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon