Producers in the Médoc, the heartland of Cabernet Sauvignon, are still trying to define a vintage that doesn’t quite compare to any other because of its uniqueness.
“The vintage is so special, with incredible concentration that we’ve never seen before—and incredible acidity at the same time,” says Thomas Duroux, director of Château Palmer in Margaux. “If you look at the analysis, it could be California wine, but if you taste it, it could only be Bordeaux.”
Paul Pontallier, managing director of Château Margaux, tries to draw a comparison to the 2005 and 2009 vintages based on drought conditions. “There have only been two vintages with the drought conditions we had in 2010—2005 and 2009,” he says. And that, he claims, is what makes 2010 so special. The result is a vintage that has “power and concentration, with this great freshness and acidity.”
“The balance we have in the 2010 wines is fundamental to their greatness,” says Philippe Dhalluin, winemaking director at Château Mouton-Rothschild in Pauillac. He considers the vintage ageworthy. “It’s ripe, it’s rich and it’s fresh. These are all the elements you need for long aging.”
Clyde Beffa, co-owner of K&L Wine Merchants in California, was surprised by the vintage and compares it to 2009. “It’s much more serious [than 2009]. I came in expecting hard tannins and acidity and instead I found fruit as well,” he says. And while he still prefers the 2009, he’s confident the 2010 will age well.
96-98 Château Palmer (Margaux). A beautiful wine, with its tannins powered from within. There is black currant, spice, flavors of blueberries, chocolate and powerfully concentrated tannins. Despite all this power, the elegance of great Margaux is all there. – R.V.
95-97 Château Rauzan-Ségla (Margaux). Hugely powerful wine, very concentrated and dense. It has a generous structure that dominates the ripe berry fruits. This is going to be a wine for the long haul – R.V.
94-96 Château Labégorce (Margaux). Powerful and dense, the wine has all the right weight to go with the tannins. It is finely concentrated, a powerhouse of richness without any sense of excess. – R.V.
94-96 Château d’Issan (Margaux). A very structured wine, retaining great acidity and freshness. The tannins cut right to the heart of the wine. The aftertaste is solid and chunky. – R.V.
93-95 Château Kirwan (Margaux). Powerfully structured wine, focussing the sweet fruit through a funnel of dense tannins. The wine has great weight, intensity, the juicy acidity adding essential freshness. – R.V.
93-95 Château Cantenac Brown (Margaux). Sweet new wood and fruit are laced with the freshest acidity. The tannins build up behind all this ripeness to give richness and balance. – R.V.
93-95 Château Dauzac (Margaux). Hugely juicy fruit, with great ripe swathes of blackberries overlying the firmly drying tannins. Great structure here, impressive. – R.V.
93-95 Pavillon Rouge de Château Margaux (Margaux). Velvety tannins, perfumed fruit and great weight. The wine is luxurious in its ripe flavors while keeping style, freshness and elegance. – R.V.
93-95 Château Marjoallia (Margaux). This micro-cuvée from Margaux is very modern, polished in style, maintaining a delicate balance between extract and rich fruit. There is great spice and new wood here. – R.V.
92-94 Château Ferrière (Margaux). There is power and richness here; the wine has weight, delicious ripe fruits and a smooth texture. Under that surface is powerful, dense texture. – R.V.
92-94 Château Siran (Margaux). Very structured wine with dominant fruit tannins. It has power and extreme concentration. Dark and dense. – R.V.
92-94 Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry (Margaux). Sweet and juicy, a wine that has the potential to be delicious. The tannins are certainly prominent, although with good sweetness. Finally, very structured. – R.V.
92-94 Château Brane-Cantenac (Margaux). New, polished wood aromas lead to a wine that has a smooth balance of toast, sweet fruits and a velvet-textured acidity. Delicious. – R.V.
92-94 Château Giscours (Margaux). Sweetly juicy wine, the new wood giving high toast to the black currant flavors. It is on the elegant side, although the new wood needs to be tamed to let the fruit come through. – R.V.
92-94 Château d’Arsac (Margaux). Packed with tannins, new wood and a dense character, this is going to be a wine for the long term. It has all the power, although with a softer side in the final fruitiness. – R.V.
92-94 Château Deyrem-Valentin (Margaux). A finely structured wine, very ripe with just the right tannins and power. It is compact with a fine texture of dense tannins and beautiful berry fruits. R.V.
92-94 Château Pontac-Lynch (Margaux). Dark tannins go with the most powerful fruit. Full of ripe berries, this has all the structure and density. The acidity helps it on its way. – R.V.
92-94 Alter Ego de Château Palmer (Margaux). Ripe black currants and powerful fruit with great acidity and enticing dusty tannins. The wine brings out juicy Merlot flavors with a more concentrated element. – R.V.
91-93 Château Rauzan-Gassies (Margaux). The wine is tight, densely textured and very firm in character. It has considerable weight to go with the sweet fruit. Powerful. – R.V.
91-93 Château d’Angludet (Margaux). A very complete wine, packed with just the right level of tannins and with the sweet plum fruit pushing through to give richness to the acidity. – R.V.
91-93 Château Prieuré-Lichine (Margaux). Firm, densely tannic, although with the fruit weight to sustain the wine. It is packed with ripe flavors of berry, very finishing with juiciness. – R.V.
91-93 Château Marquis du Terme (Margaux). Delicious initial fruit is followed by dense tannins. Concentrated wine that has all the weight without any sign of bitterness. The aftertaste brings back the delicious opening. – R.V.
90-92 Château Lascombes (Margaux). Rich wine, its smooth structure going with the ripe berry fruits. It lacks some definition, but all the components are there to be integrated. – R.V.
90-92 Château Marquis d’Alesme (Margaux). A wine that is smoky, with firm and structured tannins. It has a dark character, dominated by final new wood flavors. – R.V.
90-92 Château du Tertre (Margaux). Acidity lightens up this wine. It has weight, certainly, but freshness dominates. Extreme final smoky juiciness. – R.V.
87-89 Château Desmirail (Margaux). Firmly structured with dense tannins and wood, leaving the fruit behind. Extraction is a problem here. – R.V.
86-88 Château Monbrison (Margaux). Hard, firm and extracted wine that misses out on the freshness and fruit of the year. Tough indeed. – R.V.
86-88 Château Durfort-Vivens (Margaux). A lean wine, with the overripe fruit battling with the tannins. It is hard and over extracted. – R.V.
90-92 Château Fourcas-Dupré (Listrac-en-Médoc). Firm, concentrated, dry wine. It seems to be all structure, until the sweet juicy plum fruits show through. –R.V.
90-92 Château Clarke (Listrac-en-Médoc). With sweet tannins and ripe berry fruits, this wine is delicious, ripe, concentrated and intense without losing charm. – R.V.
89-91 Château Fourcas-Hosten (Listrac-en-Médoc). Big, bold, tannic wine. The dry core of tannins is leavened by black currant juice acidity. There is some extraction and a strong wood element, although the wine does profit from its freshness. – R.V.
86-88 Château Fonréaud (Listrac-en-Médoc). Intense wood aromas translate through to the palate. This is all smoky plank and structure. – R.V.
91-93 Château Moulis-en-Médoc (Moulis-en-Médoc). Rich, very dark in style. This wine is very ripe, structured with blackberry fruits, yet still elegant. – R.V.
91-93 Château Pomeys (Moulis-en-Médoc). Delicious, fruity wine with just a hint of restraint. The wine is juicy, bursting with black fruits, the structure well integrated. – R.V.
90-92 Château Chasse-Spleen (Moulis-en-Médoc). All structure and tannin over the austere black fruits. The wine at this stage is powered by its texture rather than the fruit. – R.V.
90-92 Château Duplessis (Moulis-en-Médoc). Firmly structured, tough in character, a wine that has big fruit and tannins to match. Dense and potentially powerful. – R.V.
89-91 Château Poujeaux (Moulis-en-Médoc). Solid, chunky wine, with a fine juicy element showing through in the finish. It has weight, structure, a dense texture and balance. – R.V.
88-90 Château Maucaillou (Moulis-en-Médoc). Acidity and fresh fruit are out of balance with smoky wood. The wine will need to integrate in the coming months, though all the elements are there. – R.V.
87-89 Château La Tour de By (Médoc). Smooth, polished new wood along with sweet, soft tannins. A velvet-textured, smoky wine. – R.V.
87-89 Château Greysac (Médoc). With intense acidity, this is a structured, firm wine. The extract is considerable, leaving an edge of bitterness. At the same time, the freshness gives point to the wood tannins. – R.V.
Tomorrow WE reveals more about Cabernet Sauvignon, the grape that makes the 2010 vintage so unique.
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 three En Primeur coverage: The vintage where Cabernet is king, click here.