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Bordeaux 2010 Primeurs: St Julien

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

St Julien didn’t quite knock me out in 2010 as it did in 2009 but then that was an amazing, atypical year. And that doesn’t mean that this 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 terrific are. Chateau Gruaud Larose is also looking wonderful in 2010, as good, but different from 2009 in fact. Chateau St Pierre also looks strong very strong. Still there is a lot of grip here, even the best wines, so fresh was the acidity and considerable the tannin 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. The constituent ingredients are very different to 2009, the drought conditions allied to comparatively cool weather, has given lots of alcohol, tannin and acidity, much more acidity and freshness than last year. I’m confident that these will settle of course but this will always be a vintage that is strong in flavour and tannin and will be very long-lived. In that respect, in terms of the scores, I’ve probably marked things down. 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 before. That vintage was a drought vintage, warmer I suspect, which produced wines with concentration and tannin, many of which actually never came round in bottle, despite the 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 nevertheless useful I think. 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 7April 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 5April 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. Bones and elbows here. 88-90/100 Tasted 7April 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 – will probably round out 88-90/100Tasted 7April 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. 90-92/100 Tasted 7April 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 7April 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 Leoville 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 Leoville 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 4April 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 5April 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 4April 2011

Chateau St 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 7April 2011 UGC

Chateau Talbot

Deep, dense and saturated; fresh Cabernet, some reductive notes; 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 5April 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 7April 2011 UGC

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