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Bordeaux 2010 Revisited: Haut-Médoc

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_6253Top 2010 Haut-Médoc continue to develop successfully if the four crus classés shown at the MW Institute last November are anything to go by. Château Cantemerle 2010 seems equal in quality, if not quite in style, to the prodigious 2009 here. There is more structure and tension in the wine in this vintage but it is another brilliant effort. The same too goes for Château La Lagune. Clearly it has depth, structure and plenty of matter but is currently closed. Château de Camensac has turned in a vibrantly styled wine with its usual emphasis on vigour and freshness. Château Belgrave looks especially successful. It has produced a pure, plump and very complete Haut-Médoc which must go down as one of the finest wines this property has yet produced.

Four properties hardly constitutes a representative cross section of the Haut-Médoc in 2010 of course. It was a disappointment that Château La Tour Carnet was missing from the line-up. Usually it is impressive. Given that Château Pape Clément was also not at the MW Institute;s Annual Claret Tasting I wonder if Bernard Magrez is no longer supporting the event? Still I did have chance to look at Haut-Médoc 2010 in a most comprehensive manner at Vinexpo eighteen months or so back. The notes are not up on the site [something I’ll rectify when I get a moment] but from memory Château Belle-Vue, Château Beaumont, Château Coufran and Château Lanessan were very good bets indeed.

Back to Belgrave, Cantemerle, de Camensac and La Lagune. I always approach tasting these Haut-Médoc crus classés with enthusiasm. They are all wines that, from a buying point of view, remain financially within reach for most of us, so tasting them is a far less academic exercise than it is with the first growths and the sought-after Pomerols and St Emilions.

If you are a fan of Bordeaux and enjoy the brilliant tension that the young reds from this region can produce, then look no further than Château Cantemerle. This isn’t just entry level cru classé, in vintages like 2010 and 2009, this is top notch stuff and offers real value for the quality. Both vintages are still in plentiful supply from what I can see on merchant’s lists and can still be had for £250 a case in bond or thereabouts. While there is more obvious structure and density evident in Cantemerle 2010 over its gorgeous 2009 counterpart, it still retains a degree of accessibility and is already wonderfully open aromatically.

Château Belgrave has also pulled out all the stops with its 2010. There is restraint, balance and elegance here but also plenty of plump flesh on the bones of this fine Haut-Médoc. I’ve 1996 and 2000 Belgrave squirreled away in a friend’s cellar. If he’s not drunk both of them for me I hope to get to grips with both of these vintages and report soon [my last notes on these are five years old].

Château de Camensac always producers fresher, more vigorously styled Haut-Médoc and their 2010 is no exception. It also vies with their 2009 in quality, with a little more structure and grip evident overall. Château La Lagune was easily the most backward of the four Haut-Médoc samples tasted. I’m not convinced that this will ever be quite as ravishing as their 2009 and 2005 [spectacular when last tasted] but La Lagune 2010 has undoubted depth, structure and plenty of material. It should prove to be a particularly long-lived and powerful, but a La Lagune that certainly needs a few more years in bottle to open up.

Below are the detailed notes on the wines tasted last November at the Master of Wine Institute’s Annual Claret tasting. Hope they prove interesting!

Château Belgrave

Deepish colour; legs; blackcurrant purity with chocolate hints; quite plump; very attractive aromatics; pure palate with elegance and harmony but also plenty of extract and matter. Mid-weight and well judged in the cellar. Excellent Bordeaux. Complete. Finest recent Belgrave? Drink 2015-2030. 91+

Château de Camensac

Deep and glossy looking; again attractive purity; blackcurrant tones and spices; composed; perhaps a little ‘chalky’; elegant spicy blackcurrant notes on the palate; vibrant and freshly styled with acids more apparent; lots of material; fresher style with grippy finish. Drink 2015-2030. 90+

Château Cantemerle

Deep; wonderfully open sexy aromatics; blackcurrants, spices, plums and that pain grillé note; hint of undergrowth too; lovely and open; fantastic partner to Cantemerle’s ravishing 2009. Similar tones on the palate; perfumed and very Bordeaux; with more astringency and tension than ’09. Structure and matter here; tightness too which is attractive. Drink 2016-2030. 93+

Château La Lagune

Deep colour; wet rock and ink initially; more reticent than its more immediately forward colleagues [Cantemerle especially]; blackcurrant notes but quite closed currently; lots of chew and extract to the palate with nice acidity and freshness; weight and matter here but currently something of a closed book. Needs five years to open up minimum. Long term La Lagune [compared with the forward beauties made here in 2009 and 2005]. Drink 2018-2035. 92+

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