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.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Ormes de Pez’
Twenty-minutes isn’t a long time, but it’s a lifetime if, on the eve of harvest, your vineyard is sat beneath a storm producing hail the size of golf balls. As extreme vineyard events go the St Estèphe hail storm that struck on September 1st 2011 was a dramatic as they come. Not every producer was mind you. It was highly localised, passing some vineyards, clipping others but decimating quite a few. Basil Tesseron, owner of Chateau Lafon-Rochet, who made good wine in the end, described it as the viticultural equivalent of falling off the Empire State Building – a microscopically short event ending in oblivion. The immediate fear, apart from the reduction in yield and damage to those vines physically stripped of their leaves, branches and fruit, would have then been the secondary threat of rot on the remaining bunches. This fear would have been made more complex by the fact that the vineyards were approaching maturity but not quite ready to pick. Do you wait and get proper phenolic ripeness or risk losing the lot to rot? Or do you pick quickly but end up with green wines and unripe tannins? Add all this to a vintage that had seen conditions see-saw and which overall was pitifully dry. Pouring over meteorological charts at that few days of harvest was probably all you could do – that and having a stiff gin and tonic and go with your instinct. Close your eyes and feel the force Luke.
Now finally detailed notes on Bordeaux 2009 now that it’s in bottle following October’s Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting. First St Estèphe and Paulliac, two strong appellations this vintage. There was no doubt about the quality of these wines en primeur, and they moved on magnificently during elevage.
So we have a week to collect ourselves during Vinexpo, Bordeaux’s wine trade fair that runs this week, to assess just where we are with the controversial release prices of the 2010 Bordeaux vintage. If you thought prices for 2009 were a bit heady then so far the prices of some 2010s have been eye-watering. In certain notable cases prices are up 40% year on year and that on top of similar increases last year. You wonder why Bank of England chief Mervyn King is losing sleep about the UK’s paltry 4.5% inflation rate. Small beer Merv, get with it. Bordeaux’s up ten times as much.