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Bordeaux 2010: In Bottle Review

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Great vintages are consistent from cask, to bottle, to glass, and so it is proving with Bordeaux 2010. Tasting this vintage at the Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux’s annual horizontal at Covent Garden last November there is no doubt that 2010, now in bottle, is delivering on the exceptional promise it showed during the Bordeaux primeurs week in April 2011. It remains a fascinating vintage and a wonderful partner to 2009. If the precocious and deceptively easy charms of the extraordinary 2009 vintage appeal to the heart, then 2010 is definitely a vintage for the head.

2010 reds are bold, more classically styled maybe than 2009, with levels of concentration, density and acidity that are unusual and, most probably, unique. For me there is no discussion about which is the better vintage. That misses the point.  Stylistically 2010 and 2009 are poles apart. That’s what makes it fascinating. We are clearly looking at a pair of vintages that will hold their own in the pantheon, evoking the fabled [for me at least] rivalry between 1928 and 1929, 1945 and 1947 or 1959 and 1961. I’m not familiar with these vintages [though I’ve had a bit of ‘61] so a comparison with say 1989 and 1990 or, to a far lesser extent, 1995 and 1996, and possibly even 2000 and 2001, now that the latter vintage is being reconsidered, is more relevant to me. Having tasted all these vintages young and mature I’d have to say 2009 and 2010 trump the lot, in many cases by a considerable margin.

Whether you prefer 2010 to 2009 comes down to a question of taste.  As the unique, if often irritating, Quentin Tarantino might say, either you’re an Elvis or a Beatles person. I think Bordeaux 2009 v 2010 comes down to just that – simply a question of taste. I’m probably a 2009 man, most definitely in terms of the fortune I lavished on that vintage en primeur. 2009 also has one obvious advantage on 2010. It’s window of drinkability, from top to bottom, is more immediate than 2010’s will ever be. That said I was surprised how relatively ‘open’ the 2010’s were in November, but I think this is probably a last hurrah, a bow to the crowd, before the best disappear behind the curtain for a decade or so.

Of course there are 2010s to drink immediately. The whites from Graves and Pessac-Léognan are a real pleasure – strong and firm, so they will last the distance but they are very more-ish already with lots of limes, citrus and grapefruit tones and the structure of great white Burgundy in a number of cases. There’s more apparent acid than in 2009 whites too, which was overall a hotter summer. Remember that 2010 was more a drought vintage than a hot one, which has a great bearing on the density, tannins and acidity of the reds too. If there are concerns here at all, then it’s whether the densest and most overtly structured will come into balance. They probably will, but there were a few, just a few, where there is that concern.

Other wines that are already drinking superbly are the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac in 2010. There is great race, texture and plenty of botrytis on pretty much all the wines. These will last very well but most are already full of peaches and double cream joy and the sugar is matched by lively and refreshing acidity. Along with 2009 and 2011, 2010 makes up what has been a trio of superlative vintages for this under-appreciated region. It looks like the Gods have not been so kind to the region in 2012, but let’s wait and see. I’ll be out in April for a full assessment of the new vintage, red and white, in early April.

More detailed notes by appellation follow. Suffice to say 2010 is a Cabernet year again [as in 2009] and the wines of the Left Bank and Pessac-Léognan are a real treat. St Estèphe, Pauillac, St Julien have had a great year producing wines with lots of structure, density and tannin. Margaux looks a bit more consistent than in 2009 but it is always the most varied appellation in terms of style and quality. In the four vintages 2007-2010 everytime I leave a Bordeaux horizontal tasting I always come away wondering why on earth I don’t buy more Pessac-Léognan and Graves. 2011 wasn’t such a good year here for the reds [it was for the whites] but if you’re looking for value [once again] then there are many well priced reds here that you should consider 2010.

St Emilion has produced very good wines. At the time of the primeurs in April 2011 I considered this vintage even better here in 2010. Now that the wines are in bottle I’m not entirely sure about this. For me, as usual, those with the Cabernet Franc alongside the Merlot in the blends look the most impressive. On the basis of the half dozen wines shown from Pomerol who are current members of the UGCB, the wines look very, very good indeed. Detailed tasting notes by appellation on the various chateaux will follow in the coming days.

A final word on value. Bordeaux 2010 was released, at the top level, at the most eye-watering price. Interestingly these wines haven’t shifted as much downwards as 2009 has by comparison. This may be partly because the vintage hasn’t yet been physically available for trading. If anything, and again depending on your taste, that makes ’09 a more attractive bet to buy than ’10. I think the market has already figured this out. The Liv-Ex fine wine index has shot up 3% since January. 2009 is back on the move upwards [it over-shot the bottom if you ask me] so there is a relative correction happening already. So if you’re interested in great Bordeaux to drink now and over twenty years then 2009 is your best bet. 2010 is equally great Bordeaux – but more likely in five, ten or possibly more years time.

From a purely speculative point of view, I guess if Robert Parker ultimately marks this vintage less favourably than 2009 [his in-bottle scores are released this spring I think] then the market will surely see the 2010s as over-valued. So if 2009 prices don’t rise sufficiently in the intervening weeks to overtake 2010 then you’d probably expect to see 2010 prices fall. I’m talking top reds and first growths here. The opposite could happen of course! Take this all with a huge pinch of salt and for sure don’t quote me. Wine investment’s a risky business…


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2010 is a dense long-term vintage here in St Estèphe. At the best of times this appellation produces pretty full throttle wines, so the combination of a drought year with comparatively cool temperatures, certainly compared with 2009, 2005 and especially 2003, has yielded wines here in 2010 of strength – not just alcoholic strength but pretty much on every indicator of grape chemistry – but most particularly, exceptional freshness.  It’s acidity as much as anything that is the defining characteristic of this vintage. This feels particularly so in St Estèphe [and Pauillac & St Julien, more on which later]. Yes there’s formidable tannin here, though it feels generally ripe, but it’s the grip and acidity that leaves the biggest impression. This means that the opulence of the wines in St Estèphe in 2009 is replaced in 2010 by minerality, density and grip. It’s a combination that makes these wines feel pretty structured and formidable at present.

Sadly Chateau Montrose, Chateau Calon-Ségur and Chateau Cos d’Estournel don’t show at the UGCB events and you’d expect these to be up there with the other top wines in 2010. I hope to get a look at all these wines soon. I’d also like to see Chateau Meyney, Chateau Haut-Marbuzet and Chateau Le Crock, all of which looked very impressive early on. Nevertheless the St Estèphe chateaux represented at the UGCB event last November look in pretty good order, reflecting the terroir and the vintage, as described above. They are all dense and tannic, with plenty of fruit and acid. The volume is turned up on everything and they all look pretty long term.

There’s certainly a lot of tannin to shed at Chateau Lafon-Rochet and Chateau Cos Labory.  If I’m being honest I prefer both of these estates’ 2009s stylistically, but there’s a lot to commend their 2010s. Clearly Lafon-Rochet is the superior wine, but despite the extract, density and fruit stacked in here, there is still dryness on the finish – a combination of the tannin and the grip. Certainly it needs a decade of cellaring, minimum, and it will be interesting to see how it develops. By comparison Cos Labory is more chewy, with a bit less finesse, but it does have all the various elements in spades too.

Chateau Phélan Ségur was the wine that, once again, really knocked me out. This is often a bit reticent during the primeurs week tastings but does it put on weight and polish wonderfully during elévage. There’s lots of refinement here and for me this was the best of the St Estèphe’s on the day. It’s not as knockout as the 2009. It has more tannin and grip in evidence, but there is still real style and finesse here. Still it too needs time to show its best.

Chateau de Pez was attractive in an earthier, more old-fashioned way, and I mean that in the very best sense of being strapping and full, if lacking sophistication. Chateau Ormes de Pez was very dense and tannic indeed. There’s lots of fruit but the tannin and grip make this feel very long-term. A decade, or more, again is needed here for this wine to shed its cloak and come into its own.

A brief word on Ormes de Pez. This is always a great buy and it can be fantastically long-lived. I’ve great memories of a case of the ’82 bought in the mid-eighties that just got better and better. It wasn’t always ideally cellared but that didn’t seem to bother it. I don’t think nuclear war could have shifted it from its path [always a possibility in the eighties]. If you’ve any ’82 Ormes de Pez left yourself, don’t worry about drinking it up. It’s still got years ahead of it I reckon. So given that experience I’m sure the 2010 won’t let you down, but it may very well find it outlives you.

Below are the full tasting notes on St Estèphe from the UGCB event at Covent Garden last November 2012.

Chateau Cos Labory

Deep and dark, glossy; some lift; plums and spices and fruitcake notes; sweet oak too; depth and grip on the palate; structured wine with lots of extract. Chewy tannins. Lacks a bit of finesse but plenty of elements here. 88+

Chateau de Pez

Deep core; glossy looking red; earthy, slightly salty note with some savoury, meaty characters; not unattractive; lots of material and structure and acid on the palate. This should age well and I like the style. Lots of chew and tannin but plenty of fruit. Grippy finish. Not that bad at all. Good value I’d imagine. 88

Chateau Lafon-Rochet

Dense and very ripe looking; blackcurrants and ripe fruit tones; quite solid plate; chewy tannin and real density. Some dryness to the tannin. Lots of material and extract but very dry tannin. Will always be chewy. Prefer ’09 but this is a pretty dense and tannic effort for the long run. 90

Chateau Ormes de Pez

Deep and glossy; some fruit cake elements; some salt and some blackcurrant; little leaf; depth here; attractive. Lots of extract and chew – the material is dense which gives the wine a ballsy, don’t mess edge. Lots of grip too along with the guts. Nose and the mid-palate suggest sufficient fruit here to cover the grip and tannin. Grippy finish. Very long-term. 89+

Chateau Phélan Ségur

Nice depth; deep colour; glossy looking; very attractive blackcurrant nose with earthy, undergrowth edge; very attractive indeed; spicy and rich palate; quite chewy [the vintage] and lots of material but nicely handled. Lacks the flamboyance and phenomenal fruit tones of ’09 but very classic. Chewy finish with some length. Good effort indeed. 91+



So just how has Bordeaux’s most aristocratic appellation fared in 2010? There’s certainly the heavy burden of expectation. These wines looked extremely strong when first shown during the primeurs tastings a shade under two years ago. Well, on the basis of what is now in the glass Pauillac looks perhaps to be the most impressive of all Bordeaux’s appellations in 2010. It’s a difficult call but the vintage’s characteristics – density, power, structure, freshness – simply reach their apogee here. Of course that’s just as well given Pauillac’s original release prices in 2010.

The notes here don’t yet include the first growths, but don’t let that worry you. Chateau Pichon Longueville, Chateau Pichon Longueville-Lalande and Chateau Lynch-Bages have made truly superb wines. They remind me of a modern versions of  their respective 1986s [as with St Julien] though with more marked freshness, the real life-blood of 2010.

Chateau Pichon-Longueville’s wine couldn’t be a greater counterpoint to the seductive blockbuster it fashioned in 2009. It’s a case of chalk and cheese once again. The structure is much more obvious in 2010, but all the elements are here [by the ton]. The wine has astonishing length, surely not just to do with the wine’s intensity here but the fascinating acid freshness this vintage has produced. It is of first growth quality, no doubt about it and could easily hold its own against Lafite, Latour and Mouton I suspect. Its rival from over the road, Chateau Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, is characteristically rounder and more fleshy but has also succeeded wonderfully. It is usually a bit sullen and resentful early on but it was showing beautifully on the day.

Chateau Lynch-Bages 2010 looks a colossal effort. It will last for forty years plus and probably needs at least twenty to hit its stride. There is so much density and matter here, it’s like the universe on the eve of Big Bang. There’s a lot of tannin too. I have marked this down a tad because of this [probably too much] as this could very well trump the astonishingly exuberant 2009 Lynch-Bages, but for the moment my money is still very much on the latter. That said this is an incredibly serious 2010 that recalls their 1986 but with more tannin refinement and freshness.

Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Chateau Clerc Milon were very impressive but in different ways. Clerc-Milon is the Pauillac you go to for purity and it delivers this extremely nicely in 2010. There’s a lot of texture too on the palate. Once again this is a long-term bet. Grand-Puy-Lacoste feels a fraction more come-hither [at least in 2010 terms] though it does remain a pretty dense, structured and grippy effort on the palate.

In the next tier down, but still looking extremely good in 2010’s fresh, dense, structured style are Chateau Batailley, Chateau d’Armailhac and Chateau Grand-Puy Ducasse. Ducasse is a great effort – wonderfully classic [in the best sense of the word] and textbook Pauillac. There is plenty of material and grip here too and the wine probably needs ten years to show off its wares best. Chateau d’Armailhac is not dissimilar in style and reflects its terroir and vintage nicely. This is another good value Pauillac [in what still remains Bordeaux’s most expensive ever vintage].

Finally in this bunch, Chateau Batailley. This is a property that has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years – so much more finesse than before when it was more gutsy and old-fashioned. There seems real ambition and dedication here now to make the very best that Batailley can produce. This 2010 ranks alongside 2009 in quality if not in style and is certainly one of the best wines they have produced in recent years. You’re going to need a lot of space in the cellar for all these aren’t you?

There are two relative disappointments for me here. Chateau Croizet-Bages was no surprise really. It lacks the focus and intensity of its rivals [which it always seems to I’m afraid]. Chateau Haut-Bages-Libéral, which often delivers sinewy but refreshing Pauillac, felt a tad too grippy for my liking compared to its peers. It may settle down, although the style of the wines here is usually more high-toned so in a vintage like 2010 expect this to be even more so.

If you are looking for a more evolved and younger drinking Pauillac then Chateau Lynch-Moussas is a reasonable bet. It lacks some depth on the mid-palate and a bit of depth but it’s reasonably priced. That said if you are a true Pauillac fan you’re probably better off spending a little bit more and opting for a case of Chateau Grand-Puy Ducasse or Chateau Batailley itself,  Lynch-Moussas’ superior stablemate.

Overall conclusions? 2010 is a vintage that seems designed for Pauillac, accentuating its finest characteristics – structure, density, tannin, longevity and freshness – the descriptors you most clearly identify with great Cabernet Sauvignon of course. 2010 is undeniably a great Cabernet year and so you’d probably expect the appellation that delivers this variety better than anywhere else  [in the world] to have succeeded. Don’t expect immediate gratification here though as in 2009. 2010 will deliver the goods but only in time, and in most cases in a very long time indeed.

I’ll update soon with notes on the first growths and Chateau Pontet-Canet, the most obvious omissions from this roundup but for now, below are the full tasting notes on the wines of Pauillac tasted last November at the UGCB event in London.

Chateau Batailley

Mid depth; glossy; blackcurrant, some cool and fresh tones; quite polished; fresh blackcurrants on the palate; cassis; quite a structure beneath; acid and material; grip. Overall quite positive and correct. Grippy yes, but good length too. 91+

Chateau Clerc Milon

Deep and dense; glossy again; creamier, more pure blackcurrant; nice pure seam of fruit; classic palate; pure and textured with depth but also acid and grip and tannin. Lots of structure. Chewy and dense finish. Long term but very promising. 93+

Chateau Croizet-Bages

Deep, saturated; earthy tinge; some leaf, blackcurrant and earthy tones; lacks a bit of precision; earthy, leafy blackcurrant flavours on the palate; some development too; little loose. Savoury tang at the end. Lacks the finesse and purity of the best Pauillacs. 86

Chateau d’Armailhac

Deep and saturated colour; quite glossy looking; leafy, blackcurrant note; freshness and strength beneath; feels pretty classic; nice blackcurrant flavours again on the palate; quite dry tannin and more classic than say ’09. Nice acid grip here that provides freshness [and longevity]. Vintage comes through. 91+

Chateau Grand-Puy Ducasse

Dense and deep at centre; quite dense at edge; blackcurrants, pure and fresh; chewy and dense palate; plenty of material and lots of grip but lots of blackcurrant flavour too. Nice length. Very good effort here. 91+

Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste

Thick and dense looking in the glass; nice layered blackcurrant nose; some lift; attractive; some graphite; very nicely judged palate – blackcurrants, leafy undergrowth notes and well structured. Grippy and classical and very nicely done. Plenty of fruit here to fit this firm, classical structure I expect. 93+

Chateau Haut-Bages Libéral

Mid depth; fresh looking; clean, some purity, blackcurrant and layers; grippy palate, blackcurrants but quite high acid makes things feel pretty grippy. This will have a long life I’m sure but the present acid makes it feel a little lean. May improve. 86+

Chateau Lynch Bages

Deep and saturated at core; very ripe blackcurrant aromas, full; some olive tones; real depth on the nose; pretty precise; oak here; inky palate; quite dry tannins and lots of structure and very chewy with lots of material also; real density here and extract and tannin. Very long term indeed. 94+

Chateau Lynch-Moussas

Mid depth; solid core; herbs, leafy tones and blackcurrant aromas; quite forward and attractive; some minty, herbal notes too; evolved palate; leafy and blackcurrant notes but also structure beneath. Lacks a bit on the mid-palate but overall a goodish effort. Similar qualitative level as Haut-Bages Libéral but more drinkable and evolved. 87

Chateau Pichon-Longueville

Deep and more saturated than Pichon Lalande; very big, saturated nose; volume really turned up here; lots of blackcurrants, some spices; very, very deep and profound aroma; lots of fruit on the palate; cool blackcurrants, cassis; some graphite notes; lots of material here; tannic structure but with plenty of fruit. Excellent length. Best Pauillac here and of first growth quality. 96+

Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

Depth; glossy look; pure blackcurrants; creamy tones; some black cherry and plums; very enticing; lots of blackcurrant and cassis notes on the palate and lots of depth and chew. Pichon Lalande has really succeeded in this vintage. It can seem a bit sullen early on but this wine is singing nicely. Structure and grip beneath the wonderful fruit tones. Reflects the vintage but also the more rounded Lalande style, versus Pichon Longueville’s power. 95



St Julien has made an extremely serious fist of 2010. It’s the polar opposite of 2009 and possesses a weight, density and integrity all of its own. It feels like a hypothetical blend here of 2005 and 2000 with a bit of 1986 thrown in, though far better handled in the vineyard and in the cellar than ’86 was in those days. Now in bottle, these wines mean business, and you’ll be keeping them there a while. They need ten years age minimum, twenty at the top level, but at maturity they have the potential to be remarkable. If 2009 is considered a latter day 1959, then, in time, could 2010 be the 1961 of its generation?

Tasting the wines that all seems premature. It’s important to say that 2010 St Julien [along with Pauillac] has an enigmatic quality to it too. Yes, there’s a structure, a density, a level of tannin, grip and freshness that makes these wines unique. But there’s the nagging fear that all these components in combination have the potential for the Cabernet dominant wines up here in the Médoc be more than a bit puritanical.

Freshness, density, classicism and longevity are all great, but we can’t live a life of cold showers and six o’clock runs [though it appeals to some]. 2010 St Julien’s stimulate the intellect – they do that already – but just when will they generate joy and emotion? 2035-2045?

Didier Cuvelier of Chateau Léoville Poyferré has called 2010 in St Julien a modern day equivalent to 1975. It’s actually an honest [and quite brave] comparison. I get what he means. Today’s later picking and better tannin management gets the very best rather than the worst of that scenario but there is a density here in 2010 that maybe does recall 1975 [itself a drought year, though hotter]. Back then 1975 was also considered the new 1961. Oh dear.

I’m not saying that’s quite what we have here in 2010. These are excellent wines in St Julien and unquestionably 2010 is a remarkable year. But what, ultimately, will be its lasting character? Strength, purity, density, structure, grip and freshness, we can see these attributes already. Certainly 2010 in St Julien is not a vintage for the faint-hearted.

The major two major omissions here in the tasting notes are Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou and Chateau Léoville-Las-Cases, other than that I think everyone else is present and correct. Las Cases incidentally looked a pretty monumental effort during primeurs week in April 2011.

On the day pretty much all the wines felt dense and firm, which, given what I’ve outlined about the vintage here in St Julien is to be expected. If the scores don’t seem that flashy, then it’s how I see them now. It felt easier to score 2009 more highly because it was so precocious and delicious. 2010 remains a trickier prospect and I can see I’ve been very conservative. If scores are your thing then I expect all these will migrate one way [upwards] over time but who really knows. As ever, the notes are more important than the numbers. I hope they are helpful.

There’s a trio – Léoville-Barton, Léoville-Poyferré and St Pierre – that would have to be my top picks. Just behind these are Branaire-Ducru, Gruaud-Larose, Lagrange, Langoa-Barton, Beychevelle and Gloria. Gruaud-Larose had looked even more impressive two years ago during the primeurs tastings but it has shutdown since. Chateau Talbot brings up the rear, though not by a huge margin. From top to bottom here the wines are extremely homogeneous.

Chateau Beychevelle

Deep and pretty saturated; fresh blackcurrants; lots of purity here; clean and not at all sullen as ’09 was after bottling; pretty palate; rose petal, blackcurrants; elegance, not the same intensity as some; grip on the finish. Will probably gain further weight. 91+/100

Chateau Branaire-Ducru

Mid depth; pretty deep core; pure blackcurrants, some minerals; nice entry; blackcurrant fruit; plenty of material; fresh acids and structure here; chewy finish. Has length and plenty of fruit. 92+/100

Chateau Gloria

Deep and saturated looking; pretty cassis and blackcurrant nose; plums and spices too; very cool and fresh fruit tones; structure to the palate; nice acid and grip; plenty of flesh on the bones. Has filled out nicely. Good length. 91+/100

Chateau Gruaud Larose

Mid depth; some earth, savoury tones with ripe cassis and blackcurrants; cleaner palate with layers of blackcurrant fruit; quite dry but with plenty of extract. Lacks the purity of Léoville Barton – earthy, smoky and savoury notes. Not as knockout as it was primeurs. 92/100

Chateau Lagrange

Mid depth; deep core; quite firm, pure; blackcurrants; nice pure seam of fruit; Cabernet freshness; linear; concentrated and focused palate; structured with plenty of grip and tannin. Vin de garde. Needs ten years. 91+

Chateau Langoa Barton

Deep and saturated look; fresh; some blackcurrant and dark cherry notes; pure again; similar to Léoville Barton obviously but a notch down in volume; some spice; very classic; blackcurrants and leaf; some undergrowth; grippy and structured palate; lots of extract, tannin and acid. Quite a mouthful at present. Also needs ten years plus. 91+

Chateau Léoville Barton

Deep and saturated; fresh, ripe blackcurrants on the nose; cassis; some black cherry too; real freshness and purity; lots of fruit, extract and material; blackcurrants, dark plums, cherry; pretty clean flavours; structured and tannic but not seemingly as dry as Léoville Poyferré. 93+

Chateau Léoville Poyferré

Deep and saturated in colour; blackcurrants, some cream; layers to the nose; also lift from the oak; leaf and blackcurrant freshness; very structured grippy palate with acid and extract; lots of blackcurrant fruit but there is a density here; chewy finish. Saturated and structured at the same time. Needs time. 93+

Chateau Saint-Pierre

Deep and saturated looking; quite seductive nose; layers; nicely handled elévage; cassis and blackcurrant fruit here; palate intense, focused and fresh; acid here with the structure. Quite chewy and saturated with a grippy finish. Another that needs ten years. 93+

Chateau Talbot

Mid depth; glossy looking; some herbs, a little spice, some blackcurrant with olive; slightly stalky note at the edge; fresh wine, grippy, little awkward at present; lots of grip and tannin. Quite dry on the end. This could just be a stage. Very structured at present. 89+


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There’s some variation in Margaux 2010 as you’d expect from this diverse commune, though there is greater consistency here than in some years. It’s a large appellation with a great variety of terroirs and winemaking styles and this, as ever, accounts for these differences. The density, tannin and grip of 2010 are very present here in almost all the wines. Some lack the fruit to match the density [or is it that match the winemaking?] but others have produced very good, serious, intense wines, which look long-term bets. There’s not as much joy in the best as there was in 2009 but you’d really need to see the wines sat side-by-side to gauge precisely. I guess I could think of other appellations that I’d stock up with first in 2010, but that’s not to say that there are not wines to seek out here in Margaux.

Clearly to very important omissions from the line-up tasted at the UCGB event last November were Chateau Margaux and Chateau Palmer, both of which were extremely exciting wines when tasted during primeurs week. Chateau Malescot-St-Exupéry was also not on show either. In the absence of these Chateau Lascombes was the property out in front. This is a beautiful glass of Margaux with that elusive violet perfume. Though the wine has clearly been given a lot of work in the cellar it remains fresh and attractive but with a lot of flesh to compliment the structure and tannin profile.

There was a fair degree of clear water between it and the other wines grouped at a similar quality level a notch below. In this latter group are led by Chateau Rauzan-Ségla, Chateau Brane-Cantenac, Chateau Durfort-Vivens [a very impressive effort], Chateau Kirwan and Chateau Angludet, which looked extremely nice thank you very much at less than half the price of some of the others. It looked wonderful from cask and now it’s in bottle Angludet ‘10 is another beauty here.

Chateau Rauzan-Ségla is certainly a very serious and dense effort. There is lots of structure and density here. It’s impressive if very tight knit and I have to say that I prefer their 2009. Chateau Brane-Cantenac has lovely violet lift and nice tension between the fruit and the acid, though there is a fair bit of tannin on the finish. Both these wines need time but they aren’t meant to be for early drinking.

Chateau Kirwan seems to have had a slight change of direction, for the better. I’m a great fan of their 2005, but some recent vintage have felt a little over-extracted relative to their fruit. The 2010 Kirwan has nice violet aromas and while it does pack quite a punch on the palate, it feels very clean, fresh and extremely positive overall. Chateau Durfort-Vivens has also made an attractive wine in a vintage that you may have feared it would have been a bit austere and dry at this estate, given 2010’s potential tannins and the usual style of the wines here. There’s a lot of herbal tones and menthol on the nose but it works for me on the palate. It has to go down of one of the best wines I’ve had from Durfort-Vivens in half a dozen vintages. It reminds me of their very good 2005.

There’s a lot of purity and freshness at Chateau Giscours and stablemate Chateau du Tertre, but there is a lot of grip too. These wines will settle down well and deliver very classical Margaux but they will always be structured wines with lots of fresh acid. It will be interesting to see how they develop. Both properties for me succeeded more in 2009 where they made fleshier, caressing wines.

Chateau Ferrière is a pretty good effort in a sturdy, stalky blackcurrant way. There is lots of acid freshness here for sure. The same is true of Chateau Desmirail in a slightly more open style. Chateau Labégorce looks potentially very good. I had marked this out as being even better during the primeurs tastings in April 2011 but it’s lost a bit of that freshness and perfume and the oak is just a little present. This may very well settle down nicely [I hope so, I bought a case]. Certainly it is a very good value Margaux to consider.

Chateau Cantenac-Brown felt extracted and was too muscular and worked for me. Multiply that by two for Chateau Dauzac which was very drying on the finish. Chateau Marquis des Terme is better than both of these but still feels overworked to me. Chateau Rausan-Gassies is another disappointment from this estate which has such fabulous terroir adjacent to Rauzan-Ségla and across the road from Palmer. Chateau Monbrison is a solid effort, lacking finesse, and a little chewy. 2009 was far better here. Chateau Siran felt very grippy on the day but had plenty of fruit and extract and probably just needs to settle. It will always be structured and grippy nevertheless.

Conclusions? A bit of a mixed bag at one level, but then the appellation often is, but there are some very good, classical, long-term wines here in Margaux in 2010. Some of the very best were released at very high prices [I’m thinking Chateau Lascombes and Chateau Rauzan-Ségla specifically here]. These are not bargains and I think better value [and overall better wines] can be found elsewhere in Bordeaux in 2010. It’s a generalisation but Margaux, the appellation, doesn’t do drought years well, and 2010 is a  year of considerable drought. If you are looking for excellent Margaux at a fraction of the top prices then do consider Chateau Angludet. Don’t waste a moment thinking about it, it’s definitely worth buying in spades. I’d also put Chateau Labégorce in this category too.

The full tasting notes are below on the Margaux wines tasted at the UGCB event in London in November 2012.

Chateau Angludet

Deep and dense; some savour, strong nose; pure blackcurrants and black cherry; espresso notes; settling nicely; freshness and life here alongside the purity of fruit. Looks very pure and fresh. 90/100

Chateau Brane-Cantenac

Deep looking; nice cassis, pure, some violet lift with earthy undergrowth; elegant palate, layers and nice tension here; ripe fruit, good acid and structure here with bite at the end. Quite a bit of tannin. 90+/100

Chateau Cantenac Brown

Deep and saturated look; thick black fruits with some liqourice; very ripe fruit, some marzipan and lift; some coffee; quite chewy, dense with lots of structured and grip. Big wine. Muscular and worked. Will have its followers – not me. 87/100

Chateau Dauzac

Pretty, some red fruits, some oak and marzipan notes; black fruits and liquorice; quite sturdy with lots of fruit and plenty of extract. Very drying at end with lots of oak influenced. Disjointed. Not my style. 86/100

Chateau Desmirail

Deepish; dark core; spicey open nose; not unattractive; some earth and undergrowth and blackcurrant tones; leafy edge; earthy blackcurrants again on the palate, some spice and herbal notes and tobacco; quite forward style and attractive now. Grip on the finish. 88+/100

Chateau du Tertre

Good depth; glossy looking; earth, some redcurrant, some resin, deep; fresh palate with blackcurrant and acid grip; lots of extract and material, inky with grip and chew. Classic and fresh. Needs a bit of time. 89+/100

Chateau Durfort-Vivens

Deep and saturated looking; herbal,, boiled sweet and red fruit nose; some menthol; a whiff of honey; quite briary fruit on the palate; spices, herbs and blackcurrants; nice purity; this is the best Durfort for a while. Very good effort. 90+/100

Chateau Ferrière

Deepish; earthy, mealy note; some herbal tones too; stalky blackcurrants; more richness on the palate; some layers and depth. Good effort. 88+/100

Chateau Giscours

Mid depth; nice oak, blackcurrants and earthy undergrowth notes; some toast and espresso; fresh blackcurrants on the palate; layered and quite cool; toast and chocolate. Dips a fraction but nice freshness and sufficient fruit. 89+/100

Chateau Kirwan

Deep and saturated; layers of flavour; cassis and black fruits; some plum; opens up on the palate; clean blackcurrant fruit with chew and density and grippy acid; lots here. Perfume too. Looks like a slight change of gear here to a fresher, less extractive worked style. Good news. Little dry finish but it will fill out further. 90/100

Chateau Labégorce

Deep and saturated; some leaf, more chocolate; some blackcurrant layers; a certain thickness; quite melded on the palate; blackcurrant fruit; freshness and layers; plenty of extract and has purity. Feels like Margaux. Grip and structure beneath the fruit. Nicely done. Should improve further. 89+/100

Chateau Lascombes

Deep; red at edge; saturated feel; some violet perfume, earth, spices; integrated; full palate; deep; some grip and texture but sufficient fruit and ripeness here. Works very well and has that increasingly elusive – it seems – Margaux perfume. 92+/100

Chateau Marquis de Terme

Deep and saturated look; inky, liquorice; creamy notes; quite oak influenced; feels very ‘worked’; ripe palate, quite thick and pretty extracted; sawn wood note; very full, extracted and worked style. Not me though will appeal to some. May settle with time. 88/100

Chateau Monbrison

Quite dense; some chocolate; plum; feels deep; more blackcurrant notes on the palate; slightly stewed character; chewy finish with grip. Less exciting here than in ’09. Solid rather than memorable. 87/100

Chateau Prieuré-Lichine

Deep and saturated look; deep core; red fruits, satin note; blackcurrants; ripe qualities; chewy palate; a bit chunky in its fruit structure; plenty of grip and tannin but the tannin doesn’t feel over present. Mid weight and overall pretty good effort. 89+/100

Chateau Rauzan-Gassies

Deepish; some earth and blackcurrants with some fruit yoghurt tones; quite grippy and structured palate; feels a bit hard and lacks generosity. Closed certainly. 85-86?/100

Chateau Rauzan-Ségla

Deep and concentrated looking; legs; lifted blackcurrants; some chalk and wet stone; red fruits here too; quite dense and chalky on the palate; lots of structure and grip. Little VA lift. Purity here but pretty dense and tannic effort with lots of grip. 90+/100

Chateau Siran

Deepish; some red fruits, wet stone; ripeness on the palate but lots of extract here and very sappy. Has plenty of material and plenty of acid. Needs time to settle. 87/100



Moulis and Listrac are really two important Bordeaux appellations not to be overlooked by consumers. They offer great value for money, especially in vintages like 2010. Sandwiched between the far more fashionable appellations of St Julien to the north and Margaux to the south, and further inland, the wines lie stylistically somewhere between the two. Less fleshy than Margaux’s best examples, with much more sinew, there is an elegance here and yet the earthy, meaty, savoury qualities in the wines point more towards St Julien.

Moulis has the finer reputation of the two, a reputation based principally on Chateau Poujeaux and Chateau Chasse-Spleen, two great properties that vie for the appellation’s crown. Just beneath them, but not by much, is Chateau Maucaillou, a nifty bet for Bordeaux lovers in good vintages. All these properties have succeeded in making something special in 2010. They all need time in bottle – Moulis can be fantastically long-lived – but they will deliver the goods in time.

Chateau Poujeaux’s 2010 is a bold, deep, sleeping giant. Clearly it is a fascinating companion piece to their colossal 2009. Poujeaux rarely puts a foot wrong. It’s 2008 is also an excellent effort. There has been a change of ownership here a couple of years back and the property is now owned by Philippe Cuvelier of Clos Fourtet. Chateau Chasse-Spleen has more elegance and is the more thoughtful of the two. Again 2010 provides an interesting alternative to their impressive 2009. Chateau Maucaillou 2010 is a gutsy, chewy effort. This needs a bit of time, but will be an extremely enjoyable wine for those who like a bit of grip and vigour. It will go wonderfully with a Sunday roast joint.

Listrac, lies even further inland from Moulis and the wines are less fine, though they are sturdy and tannic. The best properties here deliver wines that wouldn’t be out of place in Madiran. All these wines look pretty good in 2010. Chateau Fourcas-Hosten and Chateau Fourcas Dupré are the best bets, though there’s been a load of investment at Chateau Clarke over the years and Chateau Fonréaud can deliver the goods too in strong vintages. I can certainly vouch for Chateau Fourcas Dupré as a consumer. Their 2005 is just coming into its own and very enjoyable, and 2000 and 1996 all made good wine at ten years.

Of course tannin and structure in Listrac is more obvious in 2010 than it was in 2009. The riper feel of the fruit in ’09 makes the wines of Listrac more immediately appealing now, so it is probably still remains the better bet. Yet there’s a lot to commend these Listrac 2010s. They just need a few years to meld. Moulis on the other hand – well the choice is yours. It’s a stylistic difference rather than a qualitative one between 2010 and 2009. And in its tighter, grippier, more classical style 2010 in Moulis looks very good indeed.


Chateau Chasse-Spleen

Deepish, quite dark at core; healthy glossy look in the glass; attractive spicy blackcurrant aromas with some undergrowth; enticing; lots of layers of fruit here, attractive and classic – an interesting companion piece to 2009. Sturdy blackcurrant fruit on the palate; quite clean and fresh acids; grippy and chewy finish of the vintage. This works well. 90/100

Chateau Maucaillou

Mid depth; glossy; red fruits, some wet rock and chalky qualities; spice and earth with blackcurrant highlights; blackcurrant fruit again on the palate, earthy notes and quite lot of oak here too. Bags of guts – lots of chewy material. Will need 5 years to meld and last a while. Good value as ever. 88+

Chateau Poujeaux

Deep and saturated – arterial; black cherry, cassis; lots of depth on the nose; freshness and minerality; little boiled sweet note too – overall lots of cassis and fresh black fruit flavours; again blackcurrant, black cherry and spicy characters on the palate; lots of structure surrounding the fruit and firm acid. Fresh. Purer and denser than Chasse Spleen but less immediately appealing. Long term. Needs ten years plus. 91+/100


Chateau Clarke

Deep and saturated looking; ripe and round nose [Clarke Merlot dominant]; some chalky, wet rock notes; little lift too; chewy palate with lots of fruit, plenty of structure and sap. Good effort. 86+/100

Chateau Fonréaud

Deepish; earthy blackcurrant fruit and some dusty tannin notes on the nose; little chunkiness; some lift; mid weight palate; inky fruit with grip and acid. Pretty chewy overall as you’d expect. Will work out. 86/100

Chateau Fourcas Dupré

Mid depth; meaty, spicy nose; some red fruits; attractive; stalky Cabernet flavours on the palate with freshness; grip here as you’d expect. Pretty sappy effort with lots of grip but plenty of chewy fruit here. This will work out nicely. Needs two to three years. 87/100

Chateau Fourcas Hosten

Deep and glossy looking; more blackcurrant purity here than Dupre, some spice, chocolate and coffee highlights; nicely balanced palate, a little sinewy maybe but nice tension between the fruit and the sappy qualities. Needs three to five years. 87+


Cantemerle label cu

The wines from the Haut-Médoc have come along a lot since their primordial days during primeurs week in April 2011. The nascent wines then felt tannic and extremely grippy. Yes they had huge volumes of fruit and extract, but with all the density and acid they were hardly a joy to taste. Such was the early character of the vintage. It still is their character to a degree but the best wines have put on much gloss and weight and have rounded out quite a bit during elévage. They are not the hedonistic efforts the appellation produced in 2009, but are more correct, more obviously structured, serious wines, with lots of grip and sap that, even at this level, remain pretty long-term efforts. Chalk and cheese once again.

Having just described a rather tough experience of tasting these wines two years ago, there was never any doubt for me then that both Chateau La Lagune and Chateau Cantemerle stood head and shoulders above the rest. They, too, still are looking very good, if a little shut down, particularly versus their atypical, even flash, 2009 efforts. Chateau La Tour Carnet has come on in leaps and bounds. It is the usual saturated Magrez mouthful, but it is very enjoyable. Chateau Belgrave proves, once again, that you don’t have to shell out a fortune to enjoy suave, sophisticated Haut-Médoc. It’s often a great buy. Chateau de Camensac, the other cru classé Haut-Médoc, has also produced an intense wine with lots of meaty, blackcurrant notes and undergrowth tones.

Chateau Citran and Chateau Coufran are good, if less sublime than 2009, and will need some time in the cellar to unite. Chateau Beaumont was very stalky and sappy. Chateau de Lamarque felt monolithic and a bit old-fashioned. In the Médoc itself Chateau La Tour de By looks good in a sappy, vigorous way.

The summary here has to be that 2010 Haut-Médoc is pretty serious stuff and some properties are very impressive. For pure and immediate joy in my opinion you are still better off searching out their 2009’s instead though. At this level we’re looking at drinking, not investing, so maybe better to spend your cash on wine that is the same price [2009 is cheaper in many cases] but which is already drinking beautifully. 2010 Haut-Médoc, as undoubtedly good as it is, is a long-term prospect. The best properties [Cantemerle, La Lagune, Belgrave] will, in the short term, most likely shut down further rather than open up. Of course there will be pleasure to be had in their youth if you a real fan of vigour and freshness, but they’ll be better in 5-10 years I reckon. In this respect the vintage here in the Haut-Médoc resembles 2005 more closely in it’s structure than 2009 – and think how much 2005 has really crept into its shell.

The following wines were tasted at the UGCB event in London’s Covent Garden in November 2012.

Chateau Beaumont

Deep and saturated; more spikey fruit, stalky blackcurrant flavours; chewy and quite grippy on the palate. Lots of acid and sap here. Grippy. 86/100

Chateau Belgrave

Deep and saturated; cassis, black cherry and plum notes on the nose; depth of fruit with also a silk and spice note; real purity here; ripe and rich palate with lots of flavour and fruit, grip and structure; really fruit loaded; dips a fraction but nice chew and grip with good length. 90/100

Chateau Cantemerle

Deep and saturated look; textured nose with layers; blackcurrants, some coffee tones; attractive; not ’09 but this is very good; grippy palate but with lots of blackcurrant fruit, extract and acid – a mouthful. Classic with freshness, chew and good length. 91+/100

Chateau Citran

Deep and dark; red fruits, quite saturated in flavour; thick and rich palate; chewier than ’09 with more grip and obvious structure. Some earthy tones with freshness and grip. 88+/100

Chateau Coufran

Deepish; glossy looking; fresh blackcurrant aromas with black cherry and plum; some depth; pure blackcurrants on the palate; attractive; nice purity with extract, depth and grip. 88+/100

Chateau de Camensac

Deep and saturated; earthy and intense, quite attractive meaty, earthy blackcurrant aromas with undergrowth; grippy blackcurrant flavours on the palate, some earth but lots of material and extract; plenty of chew but acid. Works well in its earthy way. 89+/100

Chateau de Lamarque

Deep and saturated; little fig, chocolate and some depth; not hugely expressive; some thickness and minerality; quite thick on the palate with lots of extract. Needs some time here. Little old fashioned. 85+/100

Chateau La Lagune

Deep and saturated; close to rim; lots of density too to the nose; plums, black fruits and spice; rich palate with lots of depth; layered with tannin and extract. Longer term than ’09 but lots of ripe, plummy fruit here with structure and grip. 92+/100

Chateau La Tour Carnet

Deep and dark; saturated at the core; meaty, saturated nose with lift; lots of extract here and obvious density; saturated palate, sweetness but nice in this vintage; some spice but lots of depth and chew. Not over-extracted ultimately but well balanced. Very good effort. 92+/100


Chateau La Tour de By

Deep and fresh looking; fresh blackcurrant, some stalks and sappy tones; blackcurrant and black cherry on the palate; some minerality; nice grip and sap on the palate; needs a couple of years but good vigorous Médoc. 87/100


040 - Copy

Not for the first time does Pessac-Léognan stake a claim to making the most consistent and attractive wines in a single Bordeaux vintage. No mean feat when you’re producing dry white and dry red. Bordeaux 2010 is clearly a vintage of superlatives at the top level, but across the board here in Pessac-Léognan there are excellent wines. You can’t escape the vintage character – why would you want to – so there’s plenty of extract, density and tannin in the reds but there’s also wonderfully bright, refreshing acidity. That too makes the whites even better for me than in 2009, with a bit more freshness and zip, though 2011 probably trumps both [for whites].

The picks. Well the UCGB line up does not include Chateau Haut-Brion and Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, both which during primeurs week looked like having made remarkable wines [at fifteen degrees or thereabouts] – red and white.  In the meantime, if we’re talking reds we’ll have to ‘make do with’ excellent efforts from Chateau Haut-Bailly, Chateau Pape Clément and Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte. These don’t quite have the flamboyance of their 2009 wines,  but they have power. They are also working at the level of the first growths in every respect – in terms of vineyard management, winemaking and the resultant wines. It’s all about great terroir of course, and that of the Graves region [in the broadest sense] is, by and large, Bordeaux’s oldest cultivated vineyard area.

Given the volume of the extract and material in the wines here in 2010, plus the acid, there is far more structure and grip evident, which makes them feel a shade less flattering at this stage than 2009. But this is a long-run game. Give them 10 years these wines should have come into their own, Pessac-Léognan also being a bit more precocious than the other left bank heavyweights. The 2010 vintage, as it ages, may very well overtake the 2009 vintage’s claim to being the best Bordeaux vintage in forty years, though the pendulum is bound to swing back and forth. Think Borg v McEnroe, or Senna v Prost, a clash of the Titans sort of thing. It’s not hype – I’m not selling this stuff, I’m buying it! 2010 & 2009 are genuinely two great vintages to get really excited about.

Back to 2010 Pessac-Léognan. Just beneath Haut-Bailly, Pape Clément and Smith Haut Lafitte in quality but which should gain further stature in bottle, I’d put Domaine de Chevalier, Chateau de Fieuzal, Chateau Latour-Martillac, Chateau Malartic-Lagravière and Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion. These are all excellent wines, exhibiting that extra bite and density over their 2009 counterparts. Just a fraction behind these, and whose reds represent great values in the price context [2010 being the most expensive Bordeaux vintage in history] are Chateau La Louvière, Chateau Bouscaut and, especially with regard to value, Chateau Pique-Caillou. This property makes very tasty reds [and whites] and it has really excelled in 2010. The only disappointment amongst the wines was Chateau Olivier. Neither its red or white sat that comfortably with the competition. Chateau Carbonnieux’s red looks a good effort and is worth considering.

What of the whites? 2010 in Pessac-Léognan looks strong, open, to a degree, but with wonderful race and acidity at the finest level. There are many different styles to the linear, mineral Domaine de Chevalier which has simply astonishing length, to the fuller, more exotic, almost too-much-of-a-good thing Chateau Pape-Clément. Both these efforts, at very different ends of the style spectrum, are fabulous. Chateau de Fieuzal looks really impressive and is somewhere between the two. Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte is truly superb and may well be the best of the lot. It will be a hard fought battle amongst these whites down the track.

But there’s a host of other white wines which are fantastic, many at a considerable discount to the above. Chateau Bouscaut is one of these, reliable and enjoyable year in, year out,. Their 2010 white is full of waxy, grapefruit characters and real zip and life. It looks as if it will take a bit of age too. Chateau La Louvière is a modern, spicy sweet/sour rendition, and very attractive already. The very lean and tight Chateau Carbonnieux will appeal to some. I know it’s renowned but it never quite does it for me early on. Nevertheless it does have intensity in its characteristically elegant guise. Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion looked delicious with floral highlights and real intensity too on the palate, a much more enticing prospect for me than Carbonnieux.

Overall then Pessac-Léognan is living up to the promise that it showed nearly two years ago during the primeurs period in April 2011. Once again, these are wines to stock up on if you haven’t already. It’s easy to get caught up in the Médoc feeding frenzy when it comes to the likes of top Pauillac and St Julien – I know I always do – but the best reds here are comparable with the best reds from these appellations, albeit it in a very different style. This is as much as a note to self as anything, but next time you consider forking out a hefty sum for a sought-after super second Pauillac in 2010, don’t forget you could probably pick up two [or even three cases] of equally attractive wine from Pessac-Léognan in this vintage. And, as for the dry whites, well they are the definitive word in what Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc can achieve at the medium to full-bodied end of the spectrum. Full stop.

Finally, not as an afterthought, are notes on three Grave properties that are members of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux who show their reds and whites at the events. Chateau Chantegrive is usually a pretty safe bet for nicely made red Graves and their dry white has a lot of apple and citrus flavours. Chateau Rahoul makes decidedly serious dry white Graves that could easily pass for something more exotic in Pessac-Léognan and the red can be pretty good, though the 2010 feels angular – opt for the white. Chateau Ferrande has made a good fist of both white and red in 2010. The white is zesty and the red has lots of earthy blackcurrant flavour. The earthy-ness can sometimes get the better of Ferrande [it does in 2007, not a problem if you like that sort of thing] but here it seems in check and gives the wine a bit of complexity.

The following wines were tasted at the UGCB event in Covent Garden in November 2012. Plenty to choose from!


Chateau Bouscaut

White: Deepish gold; full oak and oyster shell on the nose; limes and grapefruit too; very attractive; almost sweet/sour notes; full palate but still with zest; moreish; oak nicely integrated. Mid-weight overall. Good length. Excellent effort 91+

Red: Glossy black red; creamy blackcurrant tons; some earth; enticing; soft entry, creamy with some wood influence, spices and earthy blackcurrants. Structure and grip come a moment later but plenty of material here. Chewy finish. Good effort. Needs a couple of years. 90+

Chateau Carbonnieux

White: Pale green gold; wax, some honey, wet wool; quite tight; palate similarly so; taut style as ever; wax, wet wool, lean but not without depth. Less obviously weighty than Bouscaut but with intensity. Will put on weight in bottle. 88+

Red: Glossy deep red; earthy blackcurrants, some layers, pure and nicely done; not trying to be more than it is and all the better for it; blackcurrants, earth and ink on the palate; dry tannins but not puckering; right combination here. Earthy, blackcurrants with some style. Chewy finish – the vintage. Good effort. 90

Domaine de Chevalier

White: Palest green/gold; quite neutral at first; pure mineral style; dense palate, lots of concentration; depth and intensity; power here; salty, wet beach pebbles tang. Excellent length and depth. Not a showy wine [cf Pape Clément’s white] but works because of its minerality, depth and length. Stunning. 95

Red: Deep and saturated look; full earthy blackcurrant aromas with some oak; layers of blackcurrant fruit; density and chew here; lots of material and extract and not inconsiderable acid giving a degree of grip. Will need a bit of time but all the elements are here. 93+

Chateau de Fieuzal

White: Pale gold/green; more worked wine than Domaine de Chevalier but like this style also; wax, butterscotch alongside grapefruit and citrus tones; very expressive and loaded with fruit; strong palate with depth, maybe lacks the overall scale of Chevalier but this is altogether a different beast. Good finish. 93+

Red: Deep and saturated look; blackcurrants, fruit pastels; feels deep but also fresh; similar flavours on the palate – blackcurrants come through strongly; lots of fruit and material on the palate; dense with a pretty big frame; structure; less acid and feels plusher than some. Chewy but ripe tannins on the finish. Cracking effort. 92+

Chateau de France

White: Pale straw; fatter, broader and less complex than the previous few Pessac whites but still pretty full; apple and spice tones on the palate with some wet wool and the oak a little more obvious. Should meld with a year or two of bottle age. Feels a good effort overall. 88+

Red: Deep and saturated look; earthy, gravelly blackcurrant aromas; soft-ish; developing and quite attractive; forward palate with earthy blackcurrant tones and nice texture. Some grip and sap at the back which gives it a bit of life too. Works well. Almost ready now. This should be good value. 88+

Chateau Haut-Bailly

Deep and saturated core; nice freshness to the nose; some wet rock, chalk; earthy blackcurrant tones too; lots of density on the palate; oodles of blackcurrant fruit in a typically firm style; dryness here but also plenty o depth, structure and acid. This is a long-term prospect and extremely promising. Don’t touch it for ten years. 94+/100

Chateau La Louvière

White: Palest green/gold; sweet and sour notes on the nose; grapefruit, lees along with spicy oak notes; bold and spicy palate with plenty of fat and depth; lots to savour here – salty tang/wet rock tang. Impressive effort. 91+

Red: Deep and saturated; quite savoury, meaty note alongside the black fruits; very full and attractive; some roe petal too; quite lifted in an enticing way; blackcurrants and earthy tones on the palate too; some spicy notes; full and dense; grip and body. Lots of elements with plenty of grip and fruit. Needs a few years but another excellent effort here in 2010. 91+

Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion

White: Very pale straw; somefloral tones; nice oak handling; pretty; racy palate with real elegance and intensity; feels very fine. Flinty finish. Elegant and intense. 91+

Red: Deep and dense looking; some red fruits, some liquorice and thickness to the nose; red fruits on the palate, ripeness and chew; thick again. Some swan wood notes; intense and long. Grippy and saturated in fruit at the same time. Needs to meld but promising. 90+

Chateau Latour-Martillac

White: Palest green/gold; spicy, bolder more masculine style than Larrivet; grapefruit, spice; attractive; broader palate, some wet dog; full; little loose on the finish. 89+

Red: Deep and saturated; deep at core; earthy, some mocha notes; olives; blackcurrants and sour cherry; spicy blackcurrant fruit with some purity; lots of blackcurrant fruit; earthy tones; grip and structure too. Lots here. Very promising. Again needs time. 92+

Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion

Mid depth; nice layers of fruit on the nose; plush; Cabernet Franc influenced [45% Cab Franc, 40% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon]; similar flavours on the palate; plush and attractive; some chew and acid but overall attractive stuff. Small 11 ha estate made with Burgundian techniques – whole berry ferments and pigeage. These techniques influence the wine. Plush and attractive. 91+ 

Chateau Malartic-Lagravière

White: Pale straw; clean, some leesy notes; feels a bit dumb at present; palate full with breadth and depth; sizable; spicy flavours; good length. A bit in it’s shell but shows promise. Less showy than I’d imagined. [85% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Semillon] 90+

Red: Deep and saturated; very ripe nose; almost honeyed note; submimated and reduced; lots of oak too; very extracted and sublimated style; sweetness; presumably very low yields which give a very inky and sublimated feel to the palate also. Grip here too and chewy, dense finish. Promising in a heavy-hitting way. [45% Canebrnet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot] 92+

Chateau Olivier

White: Pale straw; quite neutral at first, some lees, little wet wool; some spice and citrus tones but not overly expressive; quite taut on the palate and lacks a bit of texture and weight versus the rest. May just be a little dumb. Needs to fill out. 86

Red:  Mid depth; some freshness, little chalk and wet rock; blackcurrant, some olive, lots of extract on the palate; little one dimensional though fresh and chewy. Both the red and the white at Olivier disappointing in this otherwise fab year for Pessac-Leognan. 87

Chateau Pape Clément

White: Stronger gold; spicey grapefruit and citrus notes with cashew; much thicker and packed with fruit; bold, big palate with oak quite evident but there is breadth and depth to the fruit which handles it well; some savour and bite too and not at all loose on the palate. Very different counterpoint to Domaine de Chevalier.  [51% Sauvignon Blanc, 33% Sémillon, 13% Sauvignon Gris 3% Muscadelle] 95

Red: Deep and arterial; wonderously plump, deep and sexy; very full and expressive; black cherry, plum and black fruits, spice; layer upon layer here; palate simply loaded with fruit; velvety and rich; plums, blackcurrants, spices, take your pick, and considerable structure beneath. Lots of material and guts. Wonderfully enjoyable wine. 96+

Chateau Picque Caillou

White: Pale green/gold; some honey, a little passion fruit and wet wool; quite taut style on the palate and focused on the fruit. Nice palate, clean and fruit driven without being worked too much. I like this. Will fill out too. 88+

Red: Deep and concentrated looking; more leaf and lift; mid-weight, earthy with some blackcurrant; very good effort; lots of blackcurrants; plump with lots of fruit; very easy. Sufficient chew and grip to keep the interest – enjoyable. Great effort from this estate that makes well made wines of typicity at an affordable price. [50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon] 90

Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte

White: Palest straw/gold with hints of grey; attractive spicy grapefruit, cashew and oyster shell notes; lots of spicy fruit here – the nose is loaded and lifted and really attractive; bold palate; full; dense and very good; lots of fruit and depth with a nice salty edge on the finish that suggests minerality alongside the citrus fruit tones. Very good length indeed. 95

Red: Super dense and saturated looking; thick black fruits, dark cherry and chocolate tones on the nose; lots of density here; rich and cake-like notes; but there is structure and grip beneath and oh so much fruit above. Chewy finish. Lots of material and will work out extremely well with a few more years. 94+


Chateau de Chantegrive

White: Deepish gold; nice aroma, some grapefuit, oyster shell; strog; plate fresh and full; maybe lacks a bit of zip and finishes a fraction short but may fill out further. Pretty good effort overall.  Full style. 87

Red: Mid red; spicy, earthy blackcurrant aromas, similar flavours on the palate; mid weight. Goodish. 87+

Chateau Ferrande

White: Gold; less deep than Chantegrive; ripe round apple tones; some grapefruit and citrus highlights; crisp plate, taut and fresh with nice acid and life. Flinty and zesty wine. 88+

Red: Deepish; earthy, slightly reductive whiff that blew off with aeration revealing blackcurrants, earthy tones with some undergrowth; black fruits beneath; quite firm palate, some development; undergrowth and blackcurrants; chocolate. Fresh grip on the finish keeps things lively. Good effort. 88

Chateau Rahoul

White: Green/gold; quite big and waxy; very attractive and full – lots of Sémillon influence [I like this style]. Some oyster shell notes. Full palate, some bite, quite suave and very good, Taut style with nice length and a fresh finish. This will take age well but is already mouthwatering. Get out the oysters! Great effort from Rahoul! 90+

Red: Mid red; quite soft, Merlot influenced aromas; chocolate and mocha tones; nose turns out to be quite misleading as the palate is quite grippy and fresh with  blackcurrant flavours. Plenty of acid and structure. Lacks a bit of richness. Tenser style, verging towards the angular. 87


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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.

Chateau Bastor-Lamontagne

Mid green/gold; some apple tones; wet wool; freshness; quite elegant palate with good acid. Mid weight style. 88+

Chateau Climens

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+

Chateau Coutet

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+

Chateau Doisy-Védrines

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+

Chateau Guiraud

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

Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey

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+

Chateau Nairac

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+

Chateau Sigalas-Rabaud

Deep gold; creamy, rich nose; quite thick palate, butterscotch and heather honey notes; rich, sweet and thick. Full and luscious. 93+

Chateau Suduiraut

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.



There’s no doubt that 2010 is an outstanding vintage in Pomerol. As ever the winemaking seems to be more in check here than in neighbouring St Emilion. Pomerol’s clay soils too helped the vineyards cope with the drought conditions that characterized the 2010 growing season, which would have also improved grape ripening and the preservation of acidity. And it’s acidity and freshness that defines the beauty of these wines here in Pomerol in 2010. Cool nighttime conditions in August – 2010 was a dry vintage rather than heatwave – will further have helped preserve this acidity, especially so for growers who pick at optimum ripeness but who also keep a keen eye on grape acids.

This extra acid gives a wonderful grip to the wines here, which alongside the fruit and serious structure beneath may ultimately make 2010 even better in Pomerol than 2009. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Pomerol in ’09 but it’s a year that feels almost dangerously close to being too much of a good thing. Yes there is freshness too in 2009 but the extra grip 2010 gives, you may just end up preferring. It would be great certainly to see these vintages side by side. Of course there’s a lot of extract and density on display here too in 2010. These are big, bold and powerful wines, but it’s the acid that keeps them enticingly fleet of foot.

The picks? Of the wines shown only Chateau La Cabanne was the underachiever and it probably wouldn’t be your first port of call in the appellation in the first place. Not too much to worry about there then. La Cabanne had good enough density and extract but it just felt tired and two dimensional in what proved to be very fine and vivacious company.

At the value end, if such a thing exists in Pomerol, Chateau Beauregard looks very good in its mid-weight, appetizing guise. Chateau La Pointe really has delivered the goods in recent years. Their 2009 is exceptional and the 2011 tasted last April at the primeurs looked a very fine effort in what was a tricky vintage indeed. La Pointe 2010 looks to be every bit as good as 2009 but with an entirely different stamp. It’s more obviously structured and feels grippier too but there is lots of lush fruit here. It should be really good in five years.

Chateau Gazin has produced another beauty and almost stole the show. There is simply wonderful freshness and life here and a sea of blackcurrant and plum fruit to dip into. Chateau Clinet is seemingly as sexy and flamboyant as ever but, just as you think it’s ’09 all over again, then comes the structure and the grip that are the hallmarks of this vintage. It’s a powerful wine, very much the iron fist in the velvet glove, though being Clinet these gloves don’t come cheap. You won’t find it for less than a grand  [GB pounds] a case if you can find it at all.

Qualitatively the equal of Gazin and Clinet is Chateau Petit-Village with Chateau La Croix de Gay not at all far behind. The AXA owned Petit-Village always comes up with the goods, just as its stablemate Chateau Pichon Longueville does in Pauillac. Petit-Village’s ’10 manages an amazing dance on the palate despite the vast volumes of fruit on display. It’s all about the power and the freshness here. So take heed St Emilion boy-racers, this is how you do it. It’s not cellar hi-jinks, but nimble vineyard management and a crafty eye for picking at maturity, not over-maturity, and never at the expense of acid.

Below are the detailed notes on the wines of Pomerol tasted at the UGCB event in Covent Garden in November 2012.

Chateau Beauregard

Deepish; spicy plum, fresh cherry; ripe spicy plum and blackcurrant characters on the palate; little leaf and menthol note; good chew and sap on the finish; appetizing. Medium bodied leafy blackcurrant/plum style. Nice and very drinkable. 90

Chateau Clinet

Deep and arterial; sexy, savoury nose with black fruits’ very deep; lost of spicy notes; lots of sweet extract and material on the plate; lush to begin with then comes the structure and the grip. Lots of elements. Not as satiny as ’09. More tannic with a big frame beneath the lush fruit. 94

Chateau Gazin

Deep and saturated look; plums, spices, earthy tones; feels fresh and attractive; ripe, fresh fruit on the palate; good grip and satisfaction; freshness and life here, a wine you could return too. Lots of blackcurrant and plum tones to the fruit. Real zap here. Excellent effort. 94

Chateau La Cabanne

Mid depth; some chalk and chocolate; feels a tad tired; thick palate with some spice and chocolate tones. 88

Chateau La Conseillante

Deep colour; spices, plums, freshness; some leaf; nice flavours on the palate and good grip and texture; plenty of material and oomph. 92+

Chateau La Croix de Gay

Deep and tight to edge; nice leafy lift; plums, spices, earthy blackcurrants; some ink and iodine; very flattering nose; big and ripe on the palate, very consistent; lots of blackcurrants; palate saturated in fruit but there is good structure here. Very good length. Excellent. 93+

Chateau La Pointe

Thick and ripe looking; attractive nose; rich and full; ripe and saturated palate – lots of material and structure. Grippy and chewy finish. More structured than ’09 but seemingly more material and density [even]. 92+

Chateau Le Bon Pasteur

Mid depth; sexy open nose with red fruits and lift; lots of density to the palate; quite chewy and extracted. Will be fine but needs to settle. 90+

Chateau Petit-Village

Deep and ripe looking; satiny, lifted red fruits; very sexy and forward; seductive; nice fresh palate with lift but that somehow [given the saturated forward fruit] doesn’t feel overdone. Grip and freshness here; more evident structure on the palate than ‘09’s beauty here. Acid gives the wine a positive finish. Excellent. 94+



At the primeurs tastings in Bordeaux in April 2011 I had thought that St Emilion in 2010 had bettered the wines made here than in 2009. That vintage, for me which had looked in many cases a bit over-blown and tannic early on, rounded out during elévage nicely. Now tasting through the 2010 wines at the same stage after this vintage has finished its time in barrel, it doesn’t feel quite as knockout as I had imagined. That’s not to say there aren’t many excellent wines from this appellation in 2010, but I was disappointed by some which misfired and, as ever, a number of wines that feel reduced, late picked and over-extracted – not a problem if you like leaden, plodding wine, but surely one if you like a bit of vitality and freshness.

In the line-up [sans Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Angélus and Pavie admittedly] Chateau Figeac was the finest wine on display for me, followed closely by Chateau Canon, Chateau Troplong-Mondot, Chateau Trottevielle, Chateau La Dominique and Clos Fourtet.  I’m a great fan of Figeac and it’s done really well in 2010, maybe it’s now a shade less amazing than it was during primeurs week, but I expect most of that difference is how the wine has shut down. The same is true of Trottevielle, poor man’s Figeac in my book [well, middle income man at least], although geographically these chateaux could hardly be further from each other. It looked a real beauty early on and, whilst it still looks very good, it’s not quite as amazing as I remember [I rated one blind sample 96-98 in April 2011!]. Still you’d be very happy to own a case of it now.

No surprise about the sleek and polished look of Chateau Canon, another fine effort here, though this vintage for me is forever associated with the sharp price hike courtesy of Chanel [Rauzan-Ségla was another victim in this respect]. Despite this the wine is very fine. Chateau Troplong-Mondot is always the precise opposite of Canon stylistically but somehow isn’t at all overdone. It must be the sheer quality of the fruit here. It’s all sexy opulence to Canon’s cool, focused minerality. Clos Fourtet has also produced a really satisfying wine in 2010 and Chateau La Dominique has produced a blinder, in the appellation context with a lot of pricey wines also relative value. It was excellent in 2009 too.

Behind these, but making very good wines in their own full and ripe styles are Chateau Canon-la-Gaffelière, Chateau Franc Mayne, Chateau Pavie Macquin, and Chateau Soutard. Just behind these, but still good are Chateau Cap de Mourlin, Chateau La Tour Figeac, Chateau Larmande and Chateau Villemaurine. Most of these are skirting the edge of the jammy side of the fruit spectrum but they still managed to appeal. All are certainly very ripe and fleshy wines.

I was honestly disappointed by the showing of Chateau Beau-Séjour Bécot which had looked very good during the primeurs period. I’m a fan of this estate and it has made really good wines in 2006-2009 and in 2011 but the 2010 felt tired and overdone on the day. Chateau La Gaffelière felt solid rather than exciting as to me it often does. Am I not somehow ‘getting’ this wine? Be interested to hear from others on this. Chateau Larcis Ducasse felt massively overdone in the cellar with far too much oak influence. This had looked a very positive effort during primeurs week, but it’s gone backwards in my book.

Then there were a batch of wines that for me were all much of a muchness – Chateau Balestard La Tonnelle, Chateau Berliquet and Chateau Grand Mayne. To varying degrees these felt tired, blousy, over-extracted, overly jammy and late picked in feel, efforts which had a lot of thickness and sweetness to them, but not much by way of finesse, freshness or subtlety.

So if it sounds a varied bunch, that’s St Emilion for you – various winemaking styles – some aggressive, some thoughtful – vastly different terroirs from clay, to limestone, to sand and various combinations thereof. Then there are a variety of blends, some pure Merlot, others with a seasoning of Cabernet Franc, others with a pretty hefty dose of that variety. Figeac even has Cabernet Sauvignon in the mix.

Below are the individual notes on the wines tasted at the UGCB event at Covent Garden in November 2012. A big caveat here [as with all these notes]. You’re faced with 125 wines in total [across all the Bordeaux appellations] to taste in 5 hours. So that’s 25 wines an hour. Below are 20 wines from St Emilion, many weighing in at over fourteen degrees alcohol, with huge levels of tannin and extract. It’s a tiring process tasting them. Still if you concentrate you should be reasonably consistent in your analysis despite the speed of tasting and the number of samples. It is a level playing field. Obviously during the primeurs week in April each year this process of tasting Bordeaux is stretched over a week. This allows for much greater analysis and re-tasting of the wines. I guess what I’m saying is treat the notes below as a snapshot, useful I hope, but not definitive.

Chateau Balestard La Tonnelle

Quite big looking in the glass; some red at edge; thick and VA lift on the nose; figgy; thick and ripe sweet palate with lots of extract. Not much life for me. Feels tired. 86

Chateau Beau-Séjour-Bécot

Very dense and saturated looking; chalky note; some lift; lacks freshness; not developing that well – had much better memories at primeurs; liquorice and fig; feels thick and overdone to me. 88?

Chateau Berliquet

Deep and saturated; some chocolate, some red fruit; quite saturated; palate a little on the figgy, over-ripe side for me; thick middle palate and then dry tannin at the end. Late picked style and over-extracted for me. 86

Chateau Canon

Deep and dense; some chalk, red fruits and some depth; ripe and with lots of extract; deep; big but pure; some grip and texture and extract; not overly tannic, but ripe tannin not too pushed.  Promising effort, pretty structured overall but plenty of fruit here and a pure style; not over-played. 92+ 

Chateau Canon La Gaffelière

Deep and saturated; lifted red fruit aromas, saturated style; spice and liquorice notes; thick and rich palate; red fruits; deep and dense. Earthy note. Usual full style here but it works. 91+

Chateau Cap de Mourlin

Deep and saturated look; some red fruits, fig, lift; strawberry toned fruit on the palate; attractive and easy with lots of guts and material. Some spice and fig but sufficient life to make this work. 90

Chateau Figeac

Deep and saturated; fresher, blackcurrants, really pure seam of fruit here, earthy edge; dark cherry; excellent purity here. Pure palate again, fresh Cabernet [Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon] notes; minerality; some dryness here but plenty of fruit. Grip and sap on the finish. Chewy. Shutting down a bit but still extremely promising. No use in hiding it, I’m a great fan of Figeac. 94+

Clos Fourtet

Deep and saturated look; deep nose; some wet rock; saturated aroma and lift; certainly intense; ripe fruit on the palate; lots of chew and extract; dense and pretty chewy; lots of oomph here; grip and pure fruit. Pretty bold style. 92+

Chateau Franc Mayne

Deep and arterial; some spice; fruit cake; some velvet; thick and ripe palate and lots of saturation of flavour; Cabernet Franc [10%] adds freshness to the Merlot [90%]; very good effort. Usually find this estate’s wines a bit plodding, yes there’s plenty of chew and extract but there is life too. 91+

Chateau Grand Mayne

Thick and arterial in the glass; jammy, heady, lifted nose; feels a tad tired; ripe palate; inky and tannic. Feels extremely extracted and big on the palate. Overdone to me. 86?/100

Chateau La Dominique

Deep and saturated colour; wet rocks; fresh; stalky note; depth and layers here; some tension too [ie complexity, not a monolithic wave of cloying super-ripe fruit]. Nice fruit qualities; very saturated and layered but without the jammy qualities; red fruits and stalky freshness; Nice chew and depth overall. Saturated with fruit but retains freshness and bite. Great effort. 93+

Chateau La Gaffelière

Deep and saturated colour; chunky fruit nose; red fruits; depth; chunky, chewy wine on the palate; lots of extract; some red fruits again; ink, wet rocks and a slightly dry finish. So so effort for such a good terroir. Am I always missing something here at La Gaffelière? 88/100

Chateau La Tour Figeac

Deep and saturated look, tight to the edge; thick aroma, red fruits, some freshness with sour cherry, fruit cake and plum. Ripe and thick palate with lots of depth of flavour. Lots of material and extract. Chewy finish. All the elements and they work. 90+

Chateau Larcis Ducasse

Deep and saturated look; sublimated nose; deep; lots of red fruits – strawberry, redcurrant; lift; ripe and layered palate with density. Thick tannins. Super concentrated style. Quite lifted notes [VA]. Will appeal to those who like their wines sublimated in a centrifuge. If they have balance that’s fine but think we’re lacking acid and freshness here. Have better recollections from primeur tastings. Disappointing showing certainly. 88?/100

Chateau Larmande

Thick and dark looking; spice, liquorice, dark fruits; some sexy notes; thick palate, lots of extract and chew; wood tannin also; very big scaled and chewy with some bite at the end. Very bold and big. Works. 90

Chateau Pavie Macquin

Deep and saturated looking; red fruits; some marzipan notes; thick and open nose; palate ripe and opulent; lots of extract and tannin here. Dry finish. Potentially pretty good but needs some time. 90+

Chateau Soutard

Deep and thick looking: ripe and saturated aromas, quite seductive; layers here and lots of fruit; saturated fruit in keeping with the nose; lots and lots of fruit; very saturated but tannins feel nicely handled. Very good effort. 91+

Chateau Troplong Mondot

Deep and saturated; lifted, sexy nose; very opulent indeed; satiny red fruits; nice palate – plums, spices and ripe red fruits; lots of saturated fruit; structure beneath and chew on the finish. Typically big and seductive but strangely not over-powering. This is how you do it! 94+

Chateau Trottevielle

Deep colour; Cabernet Franc freshness here; blackcurrants, chocolate; attractive and appetizing; pretty dense and layered palate; chewy but lots of richness and depth; cool and attractive more-ish St Emilion – in case you thought that wasn’t still possible. This looked wonderful during the primeur tastings and is still a delight. 93+

Chateau Villemaurine

Deep and saturated; nice savoury edge to the nose and lots of depth of fruit evident; earthy fruit on the palate; quite dense and chewy; attractive though; lots of depth and nice bite on the finish. Good effort. 90+


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