Seventeen wines from the Margaux appellation in 2010 were shown by the MW Institute late last year. While there’s variation, generally the wines shown were very impressive. They have vivid fruit characters and show attractive tension and freshness. Once again there is more structure, grip and tannin evident in the wines than in 2009 so, in general, these 2010s need more time in bottle to show their best. At the top end Château Margaux [pictured here] has produced a 2010 every bit as good as its 2009. It is a fabulous effort. This is closely followed by an extremely plush and concentrated wine from Château Palmer, perhaps even better than their glorious 2009? Château Brane-Cantenac and Château Giscours are both beautiful. They show depth, purity and elegance. Château Lascombes is typically lush and forward while at the other end of the scale Château Rauzan-Ségla is dense and long term. Structured, balanced wines have also been made at Château Durfort-Vivens, Château Ferrière, Château Kirwan and Château du Tertre. Château Prieuré-Lichine and Château Rauzan-Gassies are full and gutsy.
There’s an attractive freshness to 2010 in Margaux. The vintage doesn’t have the exaggeratedly lush, delicious quality of 2009 but the extra tension provided by the cooler, yet still remarkably dry, conditions of the vintage means that these wines feel fresher and more textured. It is certainly a more classical vintage in that sense. Overall the wines need three to five more years to open up, the very best much more than that. Still there is enough fruit in most of the wines I think for these to make old bones indeed.
Château Margaux is magical, up with Mouton for me as wine of the vintage. It a worthy companion to the estates perfect 2009. It is difficult to describe its wonder in words, but it is the combination of aromatic beauty, depth and purity, but also dazzling elegance that strikes you. It’s closest rival, Château Palmer [above], is a very different beast indeed. This is a fantastically concentrated Palmer, a wine of great depth with layers of plush fruit but which clearly needs more time to develop. This property is really on song right now, and with impressive wines also in 2011, 2012 and even the tricky 2013 vintage, the consistency here [once elusive] is now remarkable.
Next up for me would have to be a beautiful effort from Château Brane-Cantenac [above]. This is really intelligent wine and a 2010 that grows and grows in the glass and which remains balanced and deliciously moreish. You can drink this now, but it has the stuffing to age nicely and gain further complexity. Château Giscours has pulled out all the stops in 2010. This is a wonderfully pure effort with remarkable balance and poise – very Margaux indeed! Château Rauzan-Ségla is a far bolder and more masculine rendition. There is a lot of power here, with considerable density, structure and tannin. It needs time in bottle.
Château Lascombes is Ségla’s polar opposite. This is a delicious, lush effort, with the emphasis on the fruit and ripe tannin in a blend that is Merlot dominant [55%]. I must say I’ve become a fan of Lascombes. It may not be the purists idea of Margaux – it is made in a decidedly modern in style – but it does capture that elusive perfume of the appellation and it is almost always delicious.
There then follows a group of similarly styled, nicely composed and well-balanced wines that I would thoroughly recommend. Château Kirwan has turned in a very good effort. Recent vintages have been decidedly serious [almost verging on the dour] but this Kirwan strikes a good balance between the structure, texture and the fruit. Château Durfort-Vivens is another intelligent wine, correct and well-balanced with its usual stamp of blackcurrant purity. It is elegant and mid-weight. Château Ferrière is in a similar category, with bright fruit, fresh acids and a vibrant, sappy style. Château du Tertre also looks good. The emphasis here is on vivid, pure fruit, balance and length. It shares some family hallmarks in that respect with the wonderful Giscours.
Château Boyd-Cantenac and Château Pouget are well-made, if the latter is a little masked by oak currently. Boyd-Cantenac is quite weighty and substantial overall with plenty of seductive, earthy blackcurrant fruit. I’m a fan of Château d’Issan but two samples looked at were a little dusty and backward with rather present, chewy tannins. It’s probable that these wines have simply shut down. Château Cantenac-Brown was a rather closed chewy effort, solid enough with plenty of extract, but not exciting for me.
Château Rauzan-Gassies continues its gradual but clear improvement. While this 2010 lacks the finesse of some of the best wines, there is plenty to like in this substantial effort. Château Prieuré-Lichine has also turned in a dense, solid wine. On balance their 2009 was more impressive for me at the same stage last year but this may just be a phase it is going through.
Below are the full notes on the wines tasted at the MW Institute’s Annual Claret event last November.
Deep looking; lifted, earthy blackcurrant aromatics with plummy spice tones; roasted coffee bean notes [oak]; has fruit and quite seductive; good fruit on the palate with quite a bit of oak present but also undergrowth and earthy tones; little dry on the finish but this is substantial Boyd-Cantenac with quite a bit of chew to the tannin. Reminds me of their very good 2005. Drink 2017-2030. 91+
Deep and saturated looking; seam of beautifully pure blackcurrant fruit; ripe and clean; elegant and perfumed; very voluptuous and caressing on the palate; really terrific; grows and grows; lots of layers here which uncoil wonderfully; real power to this alongside the elegance. Long spicy finish. Excellent effort. Beautiful Margaux. Drink 2015-2035. 95
Château Cantenac Brown
Deeply coloured; dark core; some red fruits, dust and black fruit tones; liqourice; still dumber than Brane-Cantenac [and very differently styled]; solid feel to the palate; firm and structured wine; quite chewy fruit and tannin; feels extracted [though less so than formerly, so settling to a degree]. Masculine style of Margaux. Drink 2017-2035. 89
Deepish core; easy, some satin notes, red fruits and lifted resin characters; quite full palate; gutsy with spicy fruit, structured and chewy. Not a whole lot of flesh though but enough. Drink 2015-2025. 87
Deepish and fresher looking [more vibrancy]; some Cabernet Franc tones; blackcurrant cassis and Ribena notes; some cherry tones; quite measured palate with blackcurrant and plum tones with attractive tension between the fruit, the acidity and structure. Not pushed. Intelligent wine. Drink 2016-2035. 91+
Mid depth; darkish core; wet rock notes with oak resin; little shut down; blackcurrant tones on aeration; more blackcurrant tones on the palate; some vigour and life with sappy intensity; sappy and vigorous style; inky and interesting. Intense. Good effort. Drink 2016-2028. 91+
Mid depth; attractive nose; perfumed and layered; blackcurrants, some earth; elegant and very attractive to me; pure fruit on the palate; precise and fresh; crisp acidity and nicely articulated on the palate. Vivid. Freshly styled pure blackcurrant tones dominate. Very well judged. Drink 2015-2035. 94+
Deepish colour; slightly feral note that blew off revealing blackcurrant aromatics; elegant palate, little modest compared to Giscours before; closed currently. Drink 2015-2025 88? [Second sample]: Earthy blackcurrant aromatics, little dusty; blackcurrants dominate the palate; nicely pure, elegant with spicy finish. Tannins a little dusty and chewy. Needs time and rather shut down. 2018-2030. 90
Deep and dark looking; blackcurrants, wet rocks; mineral notes; resin; methol and spices too; blackcurrant purity on the palate; firm and clean; deep and structured. Lots of stuff here. Good lively finish with crisp acidity. Good effort from Kirwan, still in a serious style, but plenty of depth to this effort. Drink 2018-2030. 91+
Deep centre; very open and forward; plummy spicy notes; very plush as usual [Merlot 55% dominates the blend]; spicy, briary plummy tones on the palate; not as evidently structured as some [structure partially covered by the lashings of fruit] but plenty of material in a softer style. Drink 2015-2030. 93+
Deepish colour with some maturity at the rim; spot on Cabernet aromatics; wonderful Bordeaux; lifted and elegant with real perfume; satiny blackcurrant purity on the palate; intense blackcurrants and spices; lovely palate – this is another beautiful Margaux to rival the 2009 – there is extract and matter here but it is all in proportion. Excellent length on the finish. Perfect surely? Drink 2018-2045+ 100
Deep and attractive colour; creamy aromatics; full and very plush with some oak resin but lush blackcurrant and plums tones; little earth; loaded with fruit on the nose but more tightly packed than Lascombes; very caressing palate; very plush and complete; lots of extract here but impeccably handled; tannins ripe and no trace of hardness [though tannin levels considerable]; lots of extract and depth here with great length. Long future ahead. Great wine. Drink 2018-2045. 98
Mid depth; forward, spicy briary tones with pain grillé notes; attractive and open; forward palate with spicy plum and liquorice flavours; fair bit of oak but quite a lot of matter here; good effort; perhaps lacks a little intensity and the depth of the best wines of the appellation. Drink now-2025. 89
Deep and saturated looking; some spicy Cab Franc tones [like de Camensac]; full; some dust; plenty of fruit – red fruit tones and dusty/spicy Cabernet [Franc?] tones; spicy characters dominate. Earthy finish. Good and solid but perhaps lacks the depth/finesse of the best. Drink 2015-2028. 90
Mid depth; ink and jam tones; briary and blackcurrant fruits; some purity here; clean; pretty gutsy on the palate [not as caressing at the best]; spicy finish. Good effort from Rauzan-Gassies [given past performances]; impressive depth and saturation of flavour from this property – gutsy if a little lacking in finesse. Drink 2016-2028. 90
Deep looking; legs; blackcurrant cassis; some mineral; purity; intense; slightly chalky note; full bold palate; firm with depth; little unyielding at present and needs time [5 years plus]; depth and structure here. Some chew to the considerable tannin. Masculine style, typically serious and less overt than the glorious 2009 here. Drink 2019-2045. 94+
Château du Tertre
Deepish; elegant blackcurrant aromatics; depth; with some spicy Cabernet characters; quite concentrated crunchy fruit but with nice acidity; crispness here alongside the blackcurrant fruit which makes this nicely vibrant and appetizing; textured and elegant Margaux. Drink 2016-2030. 91
Tags: 2009, Bordeaux, Bordeaux 2010, Chateau Boyd Cantenac, Chateau Brane-Cantenac, Chateau Cantenac Brown, Chateau d’Issan, Chateau Desmirail, Chateau du Tertre, Chateau Durfort-Vivens, Chateau Ferrière, Chateau Giscours, Chateau Kirwan, Chateau Lascombes, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Palmer, Chateau Pouget, Chateau Prieuré-Lichine, Chateau Rauzan-Gassies, Chateau Rauzan-Ségla, Margaux