This appellation has had a fantastic vintage in 2010. Yes some wines have too much alcohol but in most cases the wines have incredible balance because of the freshness of the vintage. Also over-extraction is seemingly less problematic here than usual, although again that is a relative thing. There are a host of terrific wines this year but it seems that those that have a high proportion of Cabernet Franc, and even Cabernet Sauvignon as in the case of Chateau Figeac, have made the very finest wines. Amongst these, Chateau Cheval Blanc, Chateau Angélus, Chateau Figeac and Chateau Trottevielle have made truly extraordinary wines which are approaching perfection in my book.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Cheval Blanc’
Cheval Blanc’s managing director Pierre Lurton describes the 2010 vintage as one of ‘cool maturity’, a vintage that allowed for the steady build up and accumulation of flavour and alcohol without plunging acids. Nights in late August at Cheval Blanc were distinctly cool, down to 5C on occasion. ‘It was like keeping the grapes in the fridge overnight’ said technical director Pierre Olivier Clouet. Certainly the vintage conditions have enabled Cheval Blanc to make impressive wines. Grand Cru Classe Chateau La Tour du Pin has been managed by the team here since 2006 and was also shown. The vineyards of this eight hectare estate are planted on a mix of gravel and sandy soil overlying clay and lie close to Cheval Blanc.
Well, all the early signs are that Bordeaux 2010 is indeed a terrific vintage, truly remarkable given that it follows immediately behind the extraordinary 2009s. Early days still of course but tastings today at Chateau Haut Brion in Pessac, Chateau Mouton Rothschild in Pauillac and Chateau Cheval Blanc in St Emilion were, shall we say, exciting. I also had a quick look at half a dozen Pomerols at the Cercle Rive Droite’s tasting and I’ll head back again later in the week for a more in-depth visit. All were saturated in colour, full of extract and generally delicious.
Amongst the ’A’ list tasted today Mouton looks to have made a wine better than 2009 in my opinion, full of flavour and concentration yet also with great freshness, Cheval Blanc has produced a beauty worth of its enviable terrior and the Pessac duo of Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion and Chateau Haut-Brion are simply fabulous – La Mission weighing in at 15 degrees but none the worse for it. Their white wines too are impressive and bode well for the overall quality of the whites in 2010, even those that sell at a fraction of their price.
The characteristics in brief are high alcohols, high extract and high tannins. If that sounds a mouthful then be surprised because so far I have been. The acids are OK, cool nights in August and September [it got down to 5C at night in some vineyards] helped preserve acidity and freshness despite the drought conditions. Generally the lack of water led to grapes that were small and highly concentrated, in grape for grape terms lighter than 2009 in some cases, suggesting real concentration. The vintage chosen for comparison by proprietors is more the 2005 than 2009 stylistically because of the former’s structure and tannin, but the 2010 wines look to be even richer and higher in alcohol than ’05 so for me so far it seems to be a hypothetical mix of 2005 and 2009s structure and ripeness, which is pretty exciting.
This is just a snapshot and I’ll report in more depth later. Today’s highlights – Mouton is in the 98-100 point range along with Haut-Brion and La Mission just as fantastic. Cheval Blanc looks 98+ in my book and Léoville Poyferré around 94-96, excellent once again, but maybe not as knockout fab for me as their 2009. I’ll taste it again later in the week, so reserve judgement ‘till then. Certainly it’s concentrated and layered. Tomorrow the Union des Grands Crus start their tastings and St Estèphe, Pauillac, St Julien and Margaux along with the Médoc and Haut-Médoc cru classe are in my sights. I’m also squeezing in Cos d’Estournel too. I’ll update soon.
Overall Bordeaux 2006 reds can be summed up as firm, quite strong, structured wines, but for me often a bit joyless. This was certainly my immediate impression having tasted ninety or so wines from the vintage at the Master of Wine Institute’s Annual Claret tasting that took place in the wonderfully oak panelled, if rather gloomy, Vintners Hall last week. The best wines had good structure, acid and enough flesh to make complex wine eventually but the best do need time in bottle. Even mature these will always be firm wines I reckon as in this vintage there is plenty of tannin, albeit it ripe and fine enough. There were also quite a few disappointments and the vintage is not consistent across all the appellations.