En Primeur 2010, Day Three

En Primeur 2010, Day Three

The concentrated 2010 Bordeaux vintage wines look promising for long-aging. It’s fortuitous that Americans, this year more than last, are attending En Primeur.

Jean-Luc Thunevin, a St.-Émilion négociant and owner of Château Valandraud, is often ahead of the wine curve. He thinks that the American market is no longer in a slump and is looking for great Bordeaux wines, though the question remains whether some of these top wines will be priced well when released four to eight weeks from now.

Many more American wine buyers are in attendance at En Primeur this year than in previous years for the simple reason that they need more stock. Not buying last year left them with empty shelves.

One major buyer is Devin Warner of The Chicago Wine Company, who says, "Yes, our clients are concerned about pricing,” but they also want to know the taste. "Quality-wise, 2010 is on par with last year [2009]. Stylistically, it’s a different ballgame,” he says.

Warner’s analysis is in line with what WE and many others are tasting in the barrel samples of the 2010: fresh acidity, more classic, ageworthy wine than what one buyer called the “exotic 2009.” The 2009 vintage is already smooth drinking. The consensus is that at top levels, the 2010 Bordeaux is for long aging.

Warner says it simply: “Cabernet is king!” In this case, Cabernet refers to both Cabernet Sauvignon, prominent in the Médoc wines, and Cabernet Franc, which is prominent in a limited number of vineyards in Merlot-dominated St.-Émilion.

Day Three: St.-Émilion and Pomerol: The Year of Cabernet Franc

Well balanced, harmonious, great acidity and high in alcohol. That’s the verdict for many of the wines from the Right Bank regions of Bordeaux. In St.-Émilion and Pomerol, Merlots have pushed the alcohol level of the wines to a high 14.5% and even 15%.

At the same time, the concentration of the grapes, which have high sugar and acidity, gave Cabernet Franc in St.-Émilion in 2010 a wonderful, perfumed quality. Château Cheval Blanc and Châteaux Ausone, and wines like Le Dôme are at peak performance.

The concentration came from the unusually dry summer. The weather reduced berry size severely and that created the phenomenon of grapes that had both high sugar and high acidity.

Dany Rolland, an enologist together with her husband Michel, says that “the wines are more firm, more structured than 2009, which was more hedonistic.” Gérard Bécot of Château Beau-Séjour Bécot in St.-Émilion declares it “a very great vintage, so balanced, even if it is tannic and powerful.”

Unlike 2009, when the average level of quality of the wines was very high, the quality level of the 2010 varies. Christian Moueix, president of Jean-Pierre Moueix blames this on “the danger of over extraction,” meaning that there are wines that are not only alcoholic but also have bitterness due to keeping the skins in contact with the juice for too long. In Pomerol especially, that seems to have been the problem for the 2010 Merlot.

So what are the tricks to buying 2010? According to the Right Bank, avoid wines that have very high alcohol levels. The chateaus that succeeded have made what Pauline Vauthier of Château Ausone calls “the most fruity wines… they will be delicious.”


94–96 Château Trotanoy (Pomerol). Firmly tannic, quite severe, with a dry core of structure. The fruit has a great berry freshness to balance. Obviously a long-term wine. –R.V.

93–95 Château Petit-Village (Pomerol). With its dark concentration of flavors, this is hugely dense, very ripe and juicy. There is a fruit salad of rich berries here, powerful, finished with some tough, dry tannins. –R.V.

93–95 Château La Conseillante (Pomerol).
The tannins are huge, very dense, packing through the ripe fruit. At first it tastes like a mouthful of wood and fruit tannins, then the potential of the fruit becomes apparent. That gives a wine with a great, final acidity and finish. –R.V.

93–95 Château La Fleur-Pétrus (Pomerol). Power and tannins on a wine that has initial severity. It shows a black plum skin texture. Very solid and dense. –R.V.

93–95 Château Hosanna (Pomerol).
Beautifully balanced wine, with the fruit well integrated into the sweet tannins. There is a dark, smoky character underneath. –R.V.

92–94 Château La Pointe (Pomerol). Big, firm, with dense tannins that underly the ripe, dark berry and plum skin fruit flavors. Very powerful, the almost shocking acidity a cutting edge of freshness. Hugely juicy aftertaste. –R.V.

92–94 Château Clinet (Pomerol).
New wood mint aromas give this wine its great polished feel. The tannins offer a counterpoint of richness here, firm and dense. The fruit takes a while to show through, then brings the fine plum skin flavors suffusing through the wine. –R.V.

92–94 Château Providence (Pomerol). Dense and concentrated, a powerful wine packed with ripe berry fruits, hugely ripe and opulent. –R.V.

92–94 Château Certan de May de Certan (Pomerol). With huge tannins, very dark fruits, powerful and concentrated. The wine is ripe, juicy and firmly tannic. –R.V.

91–93 Château Gazin (Pomerol). Rich fruit currants and berries, intensely juicy, packed with dark very ripe fruit. A powerhouse of berries. –R.V.

91–93 Château La Cabanne (Pomerol). Complex wine, its ripe Merlot character structured with tannins, a solid dark core, ripely balanced and intense. The acidity is already well integrated. With this structure, the wine should have a good future. –R.V.

91–93 Château Le Bon Pasteur (Pomerol). Firm while also rounded, very rich Merlot spice and blackberry character. There are hugely dense, extracted tannins, with a final dark fruit character. –R.V.

90–92 Château Latour à Pomerol (Pomerol). Good tannins here, very structured. You can feel the power through the dusty tannins. The final feel is very concentrated. –R.V.

90–92 Château Le Vray Croix de Gay (Pomerol).
Densely characterized wine, with its dark tannins, and powerful structure. Spice, juicy pepper, final acidity. –R.V.

89–90 Château Lafleur-Gazin (Pomerol). Densely tannic, with a dry edge, while allowing the rich berry fruits to come through. Tannins promise good aging. –R.V.

89–91 Château La Grave (Pomerol).
A firm wine, with tight tannins, very structured, showing a mineral edge. –R.V.

88–90 Château La Croix de Gay (Pomerol).
While it is dense, the wine does not have structure. It seems diffuse, the berry fruit element not in balance with the tannins.  –R.V.

87–89 Château Beauregard (Pomerol).
Rich, though a wine that seems to lack an inner core. It is all beautiful fruit, superripe, laced with acidity, missing the structure. –R.V.

87–89 Château Plince (Pomerol). Solid, chunky wine, full of dense tannins, concentrated fruit. There is a powerful feel to it. –R.V.

87–89 Château Bourgneuf (Pomerol). A delicious spicy wine, keeping the freshness and acidity in a red fruit style. The spice from the wood is too defined. –R.V.


95–97 Château La Gaffelière (St.-Émilion). Structured, with the ripe fruits finely organized. The wine has weight, and dusty tannins, very perfumed in character. This is a beautiful wine that shows elegance as well as power. –R.V.

94–96 Château Figeac (St.-Émilion). Tannic, juicy Merlot, very rich, laced with intense acidity. Blackberry flavors dominate this super-rich wine. Cutting through the richness is a core of dryness, of dark structure. –R.V.

94–96 Château Pavie Macquin (St.-Émilion). The wine is juicy, edged with dominant tannins. It has power of course, although this is tempered with the concentrated core and the intense acidity. It’s likely to be a powerful wine. –R.V.

94–96 Clos Fourtet (St.-Émilion). Very dense wine, the dusty tannins floating through the black plum flavors. It’s rich, concentrated, complex, with a great depth of flavor. This will always be powerful, while already balanced. –R.V.

94–96  Le Dôme (St.-Émilion).
Beautifully perfumed wine, profiting from the great Cabernet Franc in 2010, with almost silky tannins. The heady berries are surrounded with violets, giving a wine with great final freshness. –R.V.

93–95 Château Trottevieille (St.-Émilion). New wood aromas and flavors dominate this firm, dry wine. That makes the tannins hard at this stage, all structure. The fruit is tight, with taut final acidity. –R.V.

93–95 Château Canon (St.-Émilion). A firm, but richly juicy wine, laced with polished new wood flavors to go with the ripe black currant fruits. There is a smoky, meaty character as well, with the final reminder of delicious acidity. –R.V.

93–95 Château Beau-Séjour Bécot (St.-Émilion). Very minty character, a wine that shows polished wood, black currant and very perfumed fruits. It has a definite style to it, the tannins subdued by the mint and eucalyptus character.  –R.V.

93–95 Château Troplong Mondot (St.-Émilion).
Minty aromas, smooth wood, a wine that has great richness, elegance. It is dominated by new wood, while the delicious black currant fruits cut through with acidity. A modern, stylish wine. –R.V.

93–95 Château Canon la Gaffelière (St-Émilion). A beautifully structured wine that is both ripe and elegant. It is bolstered by tannins, the acidity a great cutting edge. The black currant fruits are already delicious, although the tannins promise a great future. –R.V.

93–95 Château Grand Mayne (St.-Émilion). Modern in style, with its new wood flavors dominant, this is a tight wine at this stage, packed with tannins, the fruit a ripe promise for the future. Big and dark, juicy flavors show through finally. –R.V.

93–95 La Chapelle d’Ausone (St.-Émilion). The second wine of Château Ausone is sumptuous, full of ripe black fruits, spice and a rich, deep texture. It’s very powerful, yet also packed with the 2010 hallmark acidity. –R.V.

93–95 Vieux Château Mazerat (St.-Émilion). Great structured wine, with violet aromas and a lovely texture. There is a powerful center surrounded by darkly structured black fruits. –R.V.

93–95 Château Valandraud (St.-Émilion). Jean-Luc Thunevin’s flagship wine is structured, with beautiful perfumed fruit. It’s firm and delicious, with acidity that balances its solid core. –R.V.

92–94 Château Magdelaine (St.-Émilion). Big, rich and smoky, a wine that’s packed with jammy Merlot fruit. It is powerful, with delicious blackberry flavors. Very ripe and dense. –R.V.

92–94 Château Bélair-Monange (St.-Émilion). Smoky wine, dominated by its dry tannins, seemingly extracted. The wine certainly has weight and power, but the dryness is a major element at this stage. It will need serious aging time. –R.V.

92–94 Château Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse (St.-Émilion). Powerful, very juicy in style, with toasty new wood flavors mingling with the very ripe fruits. The wine has a bitter, extracted edge that will probably soften with further wood aging. –R.V.

92–94 Château La Dominique (St.Émilion). Ripe, juicy aromas, it offers sweet fruit. It’s a ripe wine with blackberry flavors and balanced tannins.  –R.V.

92–94 Château La Tour Figeac (St.-Émilion). An elegant wine, its perfumed Cabernet Franc flavors give it shape, some density and fine tannins. It’s showing delicious berry fruits, followed by a fresh, juicy aftertaste. –R.V.

92–94 Petit Cheval (St.-Émilion). Great dusty tannins that are almost too powerful and very solid in character. The wine is chunky, allowing juicy fruits to show. It’s a dry wine, yet not hard. –R.V.

92–94 Les Astéries (St.-Émilion). This is rounded, ripe and densely tannic mineral wine that’s very intense. It’s structured, firm and promises long aging. –R.V.

92–94 Château Faugères (St.-Émilion). Spice and mint aromas with blackberry fruit, new wood and a polished character. The acidity is delicious, refreshing. –R.V.

91–93 Château Angélus (St.-Émilion). Firm and tannic, very structured wine, while still savoring its rich fruit character, this feels very opulent. However, there is a problem with alcohol showing through as a pepper edge. –R.V.

91–93 Château Pavie (St.-Émilion).
This feels very juicy, the fruit almost overripe. There is a generous new world feel to it, very opulent, super-rich. Open black plum and damson fruits push through the dark, perfumed tannins. –R.V.

91–93 Château Quinault l’Enclos (St.-Émilion). A very powerful, spicy wine with rounded fruit despite the dense tannins. It has juicy acidity, finishing with a dark, dry aftertaste. –R.V.

91–93  Le Carré (S St.-Émilion). A powerful wine, very ripe and rounded. Finely concentrated, with dark plum skins and opulent tannins. –R.V.

91–93 Clos Badon Thunevin (St.-Émilion).
Big, ripe and fruity, touched by wood with excellent acidity and spicy, lovely ripe fruit. –R.V.

90–92 Château Dassault (St.-Émilion).
So stylish, with its ripe, jammy berry fruits already a pleasure to appreciate. It does have structure to go with the new wood character, though probably not for the long-term. –R.V.

90–92 Château Moulin Saint-Georges (St.-Émilion).
Severe in character, it’s a wine for aging, although the juicy aftertaste is delicious now. –R.V.

90–92 Château Tour du Pin (St.-Émilion). Austere, with a dark character dominated by major tannins. These push the spice character of the wine, the sweet fruit following behind. –R.V.

90–92 Château Le Prieuré (St.-Émilion). Densely tannic wine, with beautiful perfumes. It’s ripe, concentrated, while retaining great charm –R.V.

89–91 Château Franc Mayne (St.-Émilion). A balanced and structured wine that shows fine acidity and berry fruits. With the balance already there, it’s developing well in barrel, promising a stylish wine down the road. –R.V.

89–91 Château Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac (St.-Émilion). New wood aromas are still on the palate, while the black plum and stalky fruit give a balance to the wood tannins. There’s a good final juicy element. –R.V.

89–91 Château Larcis Ducasse (St.-Émilion). Firmly structured, while also boosted by sweet, smoky fruits and ripe tannins. The wine has style more than power, and the juicy berry fruits give it acidity and a fresh aftertaste. –R.V.

89–91 Château Haut-Simard (St.-Émilion). Attractively perfumed, with great acidity and delicious dusty tannins. It’s fresh, hinting at wood, spice and blackberry flavors. –R.V.

89–91 Château Teyssier (St.-Émilion). Smooth and opulent, with tannins firmly buried in the sweet acidity. Black plum juice flavors go with the ripe fruits and just a touch of spice.  –R.V.

89–91 Château Rolland-Maillet (St.-Émilion). Elegant, with spice and ripe stalky fruit, acidity and firm tannins. Juicy black fruit to finish. –R.V.

88–90 Château Berliquet (St.-Émilion). The wine seems to have overripe fruit, giving it an unbalanced feel. It does have weight, the tannins offering some structure, while it’s the acidity that really gives the wine shape. –R.V.

88–90 Château Larmande (St.-Émilion). On the firm, dry side, with more tannins than fruit, this is a wood-laden, extracted wine. It is tough, with a bitter edge.  –R.V.

88–90 Château Laforge (St.-Émilion). Smoky ripe fruit, with some firm tannins. The wine is packed with berry fruits. –R.V.

87–89 Château La Couspaude (St.-Émilion).
The wine seems hollow, all tannins missing the weight of fruit. It’s dark, certainly and concentrated, but one-dimensional. –R.V.

87–89 Château la Serre (St.-Émilion). Lovely weight and fruit with freshness and acidity. A very attractive wine with blackberry fruits, dusty tannins. Almost opulent. –R.V.

87–89 Château Simard (St.-Émilion). Very classic in character, with fruit, some weight and totally juicy acidity. –R.V.

86–88 Château Balestard la Tonnelle (St.-Émilion). Sweet, soft fruit, ripe and attractive, with some spice and fresh tannins. The wine is open, already developing. –R.V.

86–88 Château de Fonbel (St.-Émilion). Fine fruit, lovely black currant character, with fine acidity and great freshness. A delicious wine, there is some Carménère in the blend. –R.V.


90–92 Château Fontenil (Fronsac). New wood aromas and a tight palate, it’s very toasty in character. Blackberry juice is under the wood, with the relief of final acidity. –R.V.

89–91 Château Siaurac (Lalande-de-Pomerol). Rich and spicy, the wine has ripe balanced fruit, lots of juiciness. A very Merlot, jammy character. –R.V.

88–90 Château Bertineau Saint-Vincent (Lalande-de-Pomerol). Spicy, smoky character, with ripe fruit and good acidity. Black plums and very rich. There is a touch of pepper from the alcohol. –R.V.

87–89  Plaisir de Siaurac (Lalande-de-Pomerol).
Ripe and juicy, a fruit- forward wine, with acidity and freshness. A wine for early drinking. –R.V.

86–88 Château La Grande Clotte (Lussac-St.-Émilion).
Firmly tannic, stalky with black currant and an edge of extracted bitterness.  –R.V.

Wine Enthusiast uses the three-point range when tasting barrel samples. Once released, the wines are rated again based on the final, bottled blend.

For day one En Primeur coverage: Is the structure and alcohol better than 2009, click here.

For day two En Primeur coverage: Are the Americans back in the Bordeaux market, click here.

For day four En Primeur coverage: 2010—A vintage that defies description, click here.

Published on April 6, 2011