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Bordeaux: 2010 vintage first look

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Digging out the 2010 vintage at Chateau Grand-Puy Ducasse

I’ve just spent the last few days on whistle stop tour of the Haut-Médoc and Pessac-Léognan. It’s been great fun and tremendously exciting, not just because of visits to some great estates, or because the new vintage is in and there is lots of positive talk. Rather it’s because I’ve had some wonderfully frank and inspiring conversations with proprietors generally and met exciting emerging winemakers filled with passion and energy. I’ve even met one owner who flies a helicopter for a living and has set up his chais in a dining room. So interesting times in Bordeaux indeed. There has also been the chance to look again at some 2009s, some I missed earlier in the year, and a few for the second time. There is no doubt at all that this vintage redefines the term extraordinary. More on that soon but before that a brief word the 2010 harvest now that the young wines are in tank and being pressed off….

Infant Cabernet Sauvignon at Chateau Léoville Poyferré

It is early days obviously and the wines still need to go through malolactic but there seems little doubt Bordeaux has again produced something special this year. It’s a bit inconvenient in some ways for the market still soaking up the 2009s – and their soaring prices – but there it is. Drought conditions along with hot sunny days and coolish nights during harvest look to have produced wines with great colour, structure and tannin. I’ve had a peek at some very dense Cabernets literally hot off the press and pre-malolactic at Chateau St Pierre and at Chateau Léoville Poyferré. Concentrated is certainly the word.

Chateau Margaux’s Paul Pontallier: ‘Another extraordinary vintage’ 

Paul Pontallier, general manager and winemaker at Chateau Margaux is characteristically upbeat and says he’s almost embarrassed by the potential of the wine in his vats following on immediately from the 2009 vintage. ‘I feel terribly excited,’ says Pontallier, ‘2010 is more than a great vintage; like 2009, it’s just another extraordinary vintage. It’s early but the general characteristics are of concentration, 2010 is at least as concentrated as 2009, but also smooth enough not to feel the tannins, like 2009. On the other hand we have a lot of freshness, the grapes had more acid, so I think the wines will have more freshness. There is more aromatic intensity which is amazing.’

Jean-Guillaume Prats: Cos 2010 ‘very different in style to 2009′

In St Estèphe Jean-Guillaume Prats at Chateau Cos d’Estournel, is little more guarded about exactly how great things will be, but certainly things seem promising. ‘2010 is clearly a good vintage, where to rank it into the category as a great vintage is too early,’ says Prats. ‘There’s a fairly large amount of malic acid and we want to see how the malo goes but clearly it’s going to be a very different style from last year. Last year we produced a very exuberant, round and silky wine. This year we are going back to a more traditional, slightly more classical style, probably as the 1988 or possibly 1990 or possibly 2005s were in precision, tannic structure with great freshness. Something that strikes me in Cos 2010 is that some of the vats have a little bit of a Pinot Noir nose, red intense currant.’

Roll on next April then when the primeur tastings begin. In the meantime watch this space for more detailed comments and video on 2010…

The freshly pressed skins at Chateau Pontet-Canet

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