It has been an exhilarating week for Bordeaux producers—this acidic, concentrated and high-alcohol vintage has no doubt been well received by critics and winemakers alike. But despite its overall success, one problem is still apparent: price.
“In 2009, there were extremes of richness and opulence, but in 2010, by contrast, the wines are more strict, square, more Bordeaux” says Pierre-Henri Chabot, cellar master of Château Latour. While the quality of the wines are indeed high, there are some that have suffered from high alcohol and high extraction—and this will making buying the 2010 more risky than the 2009.
With the euro riding high against the dollar, Bordeaux prices theoretically need to decrease by 10% to match the prices of last year, and that doesn’t look promising, according to Jean-Guillaume Prats, director of Château Cos d’Estournel in (St.-Estèphe).
“The general consensus on the Bordeaux market is that prices will be maintained from last year,” he says. Official prices won’t be released until at least June, so only the wines in high demand—those produced by the top 20 or 30 chateaus—will be worth buying at En Primeur. For those looking to spend less, Prats’ suggests opting for the second wines of major chateaus; they often have very high quality.
The Wines of the Vintage
It could’ve been a sweet Sauternes or Barsac, or a white from Pessac-Léognan. But the Cabernet Sauvignon won, and the Cabernet Sauvignon was at its peak in St.-Julien. The three Léovilles were all magnificent: Château Léoville-Barton, Château Léoville-Las Cases and Château Léoville-Poyferré.
The Nine Great Growths of Bordeaux
There are five classified first growths in the Médoc and Pessac-Léognan. There is one super first, the sweet white Sauternes of Château d’Yquem, and three great growths on the Right Bank (Chateaus Pétrus, Ausone and Cheval Blanc). Together, these are the great growths of Bordeaux.
98–100 Château Ausone (St.-Émilion). A very concentrated and wonderfully perfumed wine, it has great balance, acidity and intense freshness. The superb fragrance of the Cabernet Franc has contributed to a gorgeous, black fruited wine that’s likely to age well for decades. – R.V.
98-100 Château Margaux (Margaux). Very concentrated wood and tannins. With 90 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, this is initially more tannic than many Château Margaux vintages. Then all the elegance and style of Margaux comes through, with acidity, spice and great ripeness. An outstanding wine. – R.V.
97–99 Château Lafite-Rothschild (Pauillac). A wine of enormous structure, with robust tannins as well as dark berry fruit. It is so powerful, so concentrated and offers great finesse brings together all the elements. – R.V.
97–99 Château Latour (Pauillac). This has great beauty, with delicious fruits at the beginning. The structure comes from behind, with such sweet fruit tannins, then chocolate, an edge of wood and finally, acidity, which reigns supreme. – R.V.
96–98 Château Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac). An impressively powerful wine, with dense tannins that still retain softness. The wine is the acme of elegance, with great Cabernet Sauvignon flavors (94% of the blend) and hints of spice and tannin. – R.V.
96–98 Château Pétrus (Pomerol). A hugely full-bodied wine, with the ripest fruit, black plum juice and spice. The tannins are very dense, yet balanced by acidity. The finish is beautiful and structured. – R.V.
96–98 Château Cheval Blanc (St.-Émilion). A beautifully perfumed wine, with aromas of violets. It’s full of ripe spice and great berry fruits, with tough and smoky tannins at the finish. – R.V.
96–98 Château d’Yquem (Sauternes). Stunningly rich in character, this wine has great power to go with its acidity and sweetness. Dense and concentrated, it’s powered by honey and spice, and the finish has aromatic dried apricots. – R.V.
95–97 Château Haut-Brion (Pessac-Léognan). Very firm, tannic and structured, the wine is very tough and dry, with a concentration of flavors in a dark, brooding framework. – R.V.
Day Five: The wines of Haut-Médoc, Pauillac, St.-Estèphe and St.-Julien—the land of Cabernet.
91–93 Château Cambon La Pelouse (Haut-Médoc). A deliciously fresh wine, with acidity striking the core of the balanced tannins. The texture is dusty, firm and preserves its elegance. – R.V.
90–92 Château Cantemerle (Haut-Médoc). Dominated by its acidity, the tannins are firm yet finely integrated into the rich, dry structure. Boasts a fine finish of licorice and black plum skins. – R.V.
90–92 Château d’Agassac (Haut-Médoc). Rich and fruity, a real juice bomb of a wine that has black currant and spice to go with its solid, well-integrated tannins. – R.V.
90–92 Château Clément-Pichon (Haut-Médoc). A perfumed, juicy and fresh wine, with delicious acidity and blackberry fruit. – R.V.
90–92 Château La Tour Carnet (Haut-Médoc). A very polished wine, it’s packed with new wood and smooth tannins. It has a delicious juicy redberry fruit character that reflects its elegance. – R.V.
89–91 Château Citran (Haut-Médoc). Ripe, with soft fruit flavors and tannin. An opulent, ripe wine that has density without weight. – R.V.
89–91 Château Camensac (Haut-Médoc). This has weight and is very taut, with dark tannins and mineral. The spice comes from the wood. – R.V.
89–91 Clos La Bohème (Haut-Médoc). A big, powerful wine that’s on the extracted side, with a very modern wood feel that’s laced with intense final acidity. – R.V.
89–91 Château Larose-Trintaudon (Haut-Médoc). A soft, open style wine from one of the largest estates in the Médoc, it has fresh berry fruits and tingling acidity. – R.V.
89–91 Château Malescasse (Haut-Medoc). Ripe, already attractive and soft, it’s fruity, fresh and jammy, with tannins that integrate well with the fruit. – R.V.
89–91 Château Sénéjac (Haut-Médoc). A balanced wine, acidity marks the red berry fruits, yet it has a dry, tough core. – R.V.
89–91 Château Villegeorge (Haut-Médoc). Tough initially, although the weight of fruit is there. The dry core spreads outwards, giving a rich, textured feel. Very firm finish. – R.V.
89–91 Château Belgrave (Haut-Médoc). Firm and structured, with plenty of bitter chocolate as well as sweet fruit. The wine is very dense, wearing its tannins on the surface, where it’s dark and firm. – R.V.
88–90 Château de Lamarque (Haut-Médoc). Soft, ripe and smooth, with delicious acidity and berry fruits, it has some good density. – R.V.
88–90 Château Cissac (Haut-Médoc). A solid, chunky wine that’s firmly tannic and tough. The weight of fruit gives promise for the future. – R.V.
88–90 Château Peyrabon (Haut-Médoc). A big, extracted wine, with hard tannins that are very firm and tough. – R.V.
87–89 Château Reysson (Haut-Médoc). With ripe new wood and spice, it also has blackberry juice flavors and soft tannins. – R.V.
85–87 Château Barreyres (Haut-Médoc). A dark wine, with overripe fruit flavors. It does have structure and acidity, but feels soft and flabby. – R.V.
85–87 Château Caronne Ste-Gemme (Haut-Médoc). With dryness and tannins, the wine feels extracted, and the fruit doesn’t catch up with the structure. – R.V.
84–86 Château Liversan (Haut-Médoc). Tough with tannins, it’s a very hard and firm wine. – R.V.
96–98 Château Lynch-Bages (Pauillac). A powerfully tannic wine, based on firm dryness. The weight offers potential fruitiness, while acidity gives it the necessary freshness. – R.V.
96–98 Château Pontet-Canet (Pauillac). With a juicy, sappy character, the wine has ripe, very pure fruit and piercing acidity. The dark tannins, hints of black fruits and big structure are superrich and elegant. – R.V.
95–97 Château Pichon Longueville (Pauillac). A big, smoky and juicy wine, with strong fruit overriding its acidity and complex tannins. Black currants are ripe and intense, resulting in a beautiful as well as severely structured wine. – R.V.
94–96 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande (Pauillac). A very juicy wine, suffused with acidity. Abundant dry tannins, even while the fruit and acidity dominate. There’s a great sense of richness as well as freshness. – R.V.
93–95 Château Clerc-Milon (Pauillac). A wine that seems complete, with tannins integrated with the sweet berry fruit. It’s laced with great acidity and has structure, concentration and extreme freshness. – R.V.
93–95 Château Batailley (Pauillac). A solidly tannic wine, with flavors of polished wood and a structure that offers a rich, generous feel full of sweet and sumptuous berry fruit. – R.V.
93–95 Château La Fleur Peyrabon (Pauillac). Great, ripe black currant flavors are laced with delicious acidity. The wood element is important, but never too dominant. It has great potential. – R.V.
93–95 Les Forts de Latour (Pauillac). A juicy wine, with great spice and delicious black currant flavors, marked by acidity. The power is certainly there, but the wine has as much style as weight. – R.V.
92–94 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste (Pauillac). A very densely tannic wine without fruit flavors at this stage, but it does have the weight for the future. – R.V.
92–94 Château Lynch-Moussas (Pauillac). A rich and firm wine, packed with dark tannins and wood flavors, very concentrated and dense. The sweet, smoky character gives way to opulent black fruit. – R.V.
92–94 Château Croizet-Bages (Pauillac). Juicy black fruit, very ripe berries, powered by the darkest tannins. The wine has richness, weight and immense structure. – R.V.
92–94 Château Haut-Bages-Libéral (Pauillac). It has concentrated tannins that are very rich and firm at this stage. There’s a more juicy character below the surface that offers the potential of rich berry fruit, with new wood and smoke on the finish. – R.V.
92–94 Château Fonbadet (Pauillac). A hugely fruity wine that’s very rich, concentrated and dense. It has great power and richness, with the berry fruit racing with ripeness. – R.V.
92–94 Les Carruades de Lafite (Pauillac). A rich and silky wine, it’s soft, ripe and opulent in character, with great Cabernet Franc perfume. – R.V.
92–94 Château Pibran (Pauillac). Great black currant flavors, with lovely fresh acidity, it has a lot of spice from new wood. A stylish wine. – R.V.
91–93 Château d’Armailhac (Pauillac). Finely structured, richly juicy in fruit and packed with ripe tannins and great swathes of rich blackberry, it’s intense and well integrated. – R.V.
91–93 Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse (Pauillac). A fresh, structured wine, full of sweet acidity, complex tannins and a rounded, ripe character. The fruit is tough yet generous. – R.V.
91–93 Château Duhart-Milon (Pauillac). There’s a certain toughness that’s dense and firm in character about this wine. It gives off a solid, chunky and textured feel, packed with acidity. – R.V.
91–93 Les Tourelles de Longueville (Pauillac). With great power, you can feel the alcohol from the Merlot in the blend, and at the same time, the fruit drives through with great juiciness. – R.V.
89–91 Château Bellegrave (Pauillac). Fine tannins, with plenty of juicy fruit, the wine has wonderful sweetness to balance the acidity. – R.V.
95–97 Château Montrose (St.-Estèphe). Such a powerful wine, although with rounded flavors, very ripe in character. The wine has chocolate and dark coffee flavors to go with the juicy fruit. The acidity gives just the right balance. – R.V.
95–97 Château Cos d’Estournel (St.-Estèphe). With huge tannins, it’s concentrated and structured, yet is rich with fruit and acidity that gives freshness. A formidable wine, with a huge mouthful of dense tannin. – R.V.
93–95 Château Lilian Ladouys (St.-Estèphe). A fine wine, its juicy fruits overriding its firm structure. It has all the right weight, perfumes and new wood element to make it a great success. – R.V.
92–94 Château Ormes de Pez (St.-Estèphe). A gorgeous, opulently textured wine, its freshness cuts through its tannins to offer the ripest of plums. Powerful, yet deliciously juicy – R.V.
92–94 Château Le Crock (St.-Estèphe). Big, tannic, very firm and tough, yet all of its fruit offers great potential. There’s a ripe, juicy aftertaste. Under the same ownership as Château Léoville-Poyferré in St.-Julien. – R.V.
92–94 Les Pagodes de Cos (St.-Estèphe). It has powerful tannins, spiced with a considerable amount of new wood. The wine has richness, black chocolate burnt toast flavors along with intense, sweet plum fruit. – R.V.
91–93 Château de Pez (St.-Estèphe). A powerfully tannic wine, with dryness balanced by sumptuous fruit. It shows balance, yet its tannins are a major element. – R.V.
91–93 Château Tronquoy-Lalande (St.-Estèphe). A powerful wine, with dark tannins, great spice, concentration and a hugely dense character, yet its acidity gives a wonderful black currant aftertaste. – R.V.
91–93 Château Le Boscq (St.-Estèphe). This is deceptively soft wine, with tannins full of sweetness. Behind the opulent façade, the power and dry character is very evident. – R.V.
90–92 Château Lafon-Rochet (St.-Estèphe). A beautifully perfumed wine with weight as well as ripe fruit, with tannins that are relatively gentle. – R.V.
90–92 Château Cos Labory (St.-Estèphe). Packed with new wood that dominates the fruit, its style doesn’t have elegance, and the new wood will need to subside. – R.V.
90–92 La Dame de Montrose (St.-Estèphe). With great structure and acidity, this wine has ripe, piercing fruit with tannins that are hugely powerful and dry. – R.V.
89–91 Château Phélan-Ségur (St.-Estèphe). This wine is all tannins, with toughness masking its fruit. There is just a hint of juiciness to finish. – R.V.
89–91 Château Tour de Pez (St.-Estèphe). It’s very structured and its wood permeates the fruit, giving off a toasty, spicy character. Extraction might be a problem. – R.V.
85–87 Château Clauzet (St.-Estèphe). The wine seems too ripe, the fruit very rich, even opulent. It has weight, a jammy character and the tannins are out of balance – R.V.
97–99 Château Léoville-Barton (St.-Julien). This is a big, solid, wood-powered wine. New wood offers immense structure, while the acidity gives necessary freshness. A solid wine, very concentrated, with an immensely long future. – R.V.
96–98 Château Léoville Las Cases (St.-Julien). This hugely dense wine has a great smoky character, showing power as well as great finesse. It has rich berry fruit, weaving through the dusty tannic structure, very powerful and concentrated. The finish is severe, but shows the year’s hallmark juiciness. – R.V.
95–97 Château Léoville-Poyferré (St.-Julien). This wine is firmly tannic, with wonderful fresh fruit, blackcurrant skins and damsons–followed by bitter chocolate. It is certainly tough and dense, with the juicy acidity of the year giving lift to the finish. – R.V.
94–96 Château Gruaud-Larose (St.-Julien). A solid, chunky wine. It has powerfully dry tannins, although they are not dominant, leaving the sweet fruit to shine. Blackberry flavors integrate well with the dark core. – R.V.
94–96 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou (St.-Julien). This is a wonderfully perfumed wine, with great tannins and a very opulent character. Powerful and generous, touched with vanilla at the end, it has structure and richness. – R.V.
93–95 Château Branaire Ducru (St.-Julien). This wine is very fresh, its acidity a tonic of black currants and berries. The tannins are underneath all this delicious freshness. – R.V.
93–95 Château Beychevelle (St.-Julien). A strongly tannic wine, powered by a dry core that pushes through the sweet fruit. It has great weight and there’s tension between the acidity and the dark heart of the wine. – R.V.
93–95 Clos du Marquis (St.-Julien). A very soft wine, its acidity a pure line in the heart of firm, dusty tannins and black plum-skin flavors. It has a generous feel. – R.V.
92–94 Château Langoa-Barton (St.-Julien). This wine strikes a wonderful balance between freshness, acidity and dark tannins, giving it immense structure and delicious fruit. Powerful but elegant. – R.V.
92–94 Château Talbot (St.-Julien). A luxurious wine, acidity and sweet plum fruits merge together into a fine, beautiful structure. It has toughness, to be sure, while it is the glamorous surface that is immediately attractive. – R.V.
92–94 Château Lagrange (St.-Julien). This is a dark, dry wine initially austere. Then the bright berry fruit comes from behind the severe façade to give a structured, still luscious wine. – R.V.
91–93 Château Saint-Pierre (St.-Julien). An immensely dark, structured wine, with pure fruit and tannins, a wine that pushes its weight. It never goes too far, with a sense of restraint giving the wine elegance. – R.V.
91–93 Château Gloria (St.-Julien). Smooth, velvety tannins make up the surface of this concentrated wine. It is very juicy and ripe, then rounded out by the tannins. Structured and delicious at the same time. – R.V.
91–93 Château du Glana (St.-Julien). This is a smooth, rich, strong wine, with delicious acidity, pushed by ripe fruit and gorgeous tannins. – R.V.
91–93 Croix de Beaucaillou (St.-Julien). This is no longer a second wine, but a wine with its own portion of Ducru-Beaucaillou’s vineyard. It is juicy and rich, without being overpowering. The acidity at the end is both very ripe and fresh. – R.V.
90–92 Le Petit Lion (St.-Julien). This wine of Léoville las Cases has structure and solid tannins. It is chunky, but melds into ripe black fruit. A fine second wine, ready to drink in 4-5 years. – R.V.
90–92 Château Lalande-Borie (St.-Julien). A soft, juicy wine, swollen with black currants, having a fresh character in the finish. – R.V.
Wines that were tasted “out of order,” but are worth noting.
90–92 Château Potensac (Médoc). A ripe wine, keeping great swathes of freshness and offering delicious acidity. A fresh wine, full of great blackberry fruit. – R.V.
89–91 Goulée (Médoc). This wine has soft and ripe fruits. It is round, and very fruit forward, packed with blackberry flavors. – R.V.
91–93 Château Nenin (Pomerol). A sumptuous wine, without being over the top. It has delicious fruit and feels very luxuriant, but still displays a core of firm and dry tannins. – R.V.
95–97 Château Haut-Brion Blanc (Pessac-Léognan). The white of Château Haut-Brion is the first growth of white wines. This is a perfectly rounded wine from a great year. It is almost sweet, while an herbaceous element gives ripe white-plum fruit. The toast is subtle in the aftertaste. – R.V.
90–92 Château la Garde (Pessac-Léognan). This wine is ripe with notes of spicy fruit. It is packed with new wood, yet shows the bright fruit of 2010. The wine has weight and richness with a very dense aftertaste. – R.V.
98-100 Château Margaux (Margaux). Very concentrated wood and tannins. With 90 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, this is initially more tannic than many Château Margaux vintages. Then all the elegance and style of Margaux comes through, with acidity, spice and great ripeness. An outstanding wine. – R.V.A beautifully herbaceous white wine, spiced with new wood and tingling with acidity. It shows the balance between crispness and richness so typical of 2010. – R.V.
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.
For day four En Primeur coverage: 2010—A vintage that defies description, click here.