Bordeaux 2000 – 150 wines tasted

Vintage overview

pichon baron Following the hype and excitement of 2009, many involved in the Bordeaux wine trade were actually a little embarrassed that 2010 seemed to throw up another year where conditions were right to make great wines. Both were drought years (as was the excellent 2005), but as Paul Pontallier of Château Margaux told me, “The Médoc was not transformed into the Gobi desert, but technically the rainfall was at drought levels.” Interestingly however, this did not coincide with extreme heat as it did in 2003 and, to a certain extent in 2005 and 2009. 2010 was sunny but relatively cool all the way through the growing season. That meant the maturation of the grapes was delayed and the berries hung on the vine a little longer, but were also smaller than usual. Smaller berries means higher skin to juice ratio, so tannin levels were naturally high. Acidity was preserved because of the cool season, resulting in grapes that had good ripeness and potential alcohol, plenty of tannins and plenty of acidity. In short, all the components were there to make excellent, long-lived wines in 2010. Above: Château Pichon-Baron.

Quality impressions

margaux cooperage Those favourable conditions did not result in universally excellent wines. Generalisations about left bank vs right, or how some communes performed compared to others, are next to meaningless in 2010. As is so often the case, the key to success lies in the attention to detail shown by individual estates and, in particular, how well tannins were managed. That is complex equation, part determined by factors outside the winemaker’s control – vineyard site, age of vines, mix of grape varieties – but greatly influenced by decisions taken in the vineyard and in the winery. It appears it was all too easy to ‘over-extract’, drawing too much tannin and inky pigment from the grapes in 2010. If the fruit is insufficient to stand up to the onslaught, the results can be pretty charmless and overly chewy. However some estates managed their tannins beautifully, so that they are much riper, more fine and less brutish than in less successful cases. And yet others managed to match fruit levels to big tannins producing large-scaled, but impressive wines. Alcohol is high in this vintage, particularly on the Right Bank, where 15% ABV and up is not uncommon. There are some 2010 Bordeaux that seem more like Coonawarra Cabernet in sweetness, tannins and oaky overdrive this year, yet the best have produced gorgeous wines where the fruit definition and finesse is supported by, not dominated by, tannin and oak. Above, the tonnellerie, or cooperage, at Château Margaux.

Tasting notes

My tasting notes follow. As always, these come with the caveat that these are unfinished wines that will spend another year or more in barrel before final blending and bottling. Because of that, it would make sense to mentally bracket all scores by one point either side – so you might like to think of my score of 90 as being a wine in the 89-point to 91-point range.

Graves and Pessac-Léognan

Pessac-Léognan Rouge

Château Haut-Brion 2010
(AR) Dense in colour, fabulously invitingly, richly fruited and intense aromatic power wafts from the glass here and puts a huge smile on your face before you’ve even tasted it; there’s a lovely density and purity of ripe, dark berry fruitiness here bringing seductive opulence in its wake with dark chocolate to the mid-palate but all reined in and restrained by a firm yet elegant backbone of tannin and fresh acidity that bring great length, balance and finesse. This is very fine and beautifully balanced. 98/100

Château La Mission Haut-Brion 2010
(AR) Very dense and vivid ruby to the rim of the glass, invitingly rich sweet nose of dark fruits and a hint of underlying pepper and liquorice spiciness; Wow, it’s quite lovely on the palate, absolutely silky textured and plush with delicious black cherry and dark fruits flavours and a glycerol richness of texture encased in a firm spine of fresh acidity, which you notice before the tannins, and then the tannins creep up on you, but they’re fine and beautifully resolved. Hard to believe it’s 15.1% alcohol, but it is. 96-98/100

Château Brown 2010
Has a rich, ripe berry fruit. A certain meatiness and touch of ashy, more refined raspberry fruit comes through. Fantastic fruit sweetness here. It turns positively silky, with suppleness to the big tannins and good balance. 90/100

Domaine de Chevalier 2010
Fine, quite racy appeal, a touch of smoke and of dusty gravel. The palate has a chocolate and berry fullness, with ripe but juicy tannins and acidity, and a terrifically vital edge. Delicious, structured and long. 93/100

Château de Fieuzal 2010
Lovely cherry ripeness here, lots more of that smoky, gravel depth and cedary refinement too. Big dry tannins swamp the palate, but this has lovely sinewy structure and grip, the balanced fruit and acidity is delicious. 93/100

Château des Fougeres, Clos Montesquieu 2010
A nicely gravelly, ash and lightly earthy aspect to this. Big, concentrated fruit. Quite dry on the palate, composed but lacking a little length. 86-87/100

Château de France 2010
Black fruit is juicy and pert, but fairly straightforward with a hint of cedar and vanilla. There’s a raft of bittersweet cherry and plum fruit and plum skin grip, the tannins pretty decisive, but this has fairly good balance overall, finishing with some spice. 88-89/100

Château Haut-Bailly 2010
Inky black depth of colour and body, with a really meaty character. There is big extraction here, the depth of savoury concentration, tannin and acidity will need time to soften. 91-92/100

Château Haut Nouchet 2010
A touch leathery and dense perhaps, but a nice, raspberry-licked fruit quality too. The sweetness of the fruit is matched by big, dry tannins that kick in with brutal force at this stage, but this has length and could come good. 87/100

Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion 2010
A touch of charcoally minerality here, and refined, ripe black fruit beneath. The palate is a little on the dry side. 87/100

Château Latour-Martillac 2010
Lovely Graves smoke and gravel here, a racy red fruit that is brighter, more raspberry-like than some. But the palate has masses of structure and density. Big tannins here giving a massively dry finish, but the fruit sweetness and freshening acidity is very good. 92/100

Château Malartic-Lagravière 2010
Firm, dark, savoury and vinous with a certain meatiness and glimpses of more fresh cherry fruit. The palate has huge extract, and at this stage, it creates a slightly brutal onslaught on the finish. 91/100

Château Olivier 2010
Meaty, dense, a tiny bit reductive, but solidly black fruited and savoury beneath. The palate has a wonderfully plush, dense weight. Here, the tannins of this vintage don’t let up, but it already shows signs of having the plummy, fleshy density of fruit and acid balance. 92-93/100

Château Pape Clément 2010
Almost New Worldy in its coffee and high, toasty oak and ripe blackcurrant fruit profile. There’s a trace of Graves smokiness, but only a trace. The palate has superb fruit weight, richness, sweetness and length. It is undoubtedly the most modern, international style here, but fabulously full and confident. 94-95/100

Pessac-Léognan Blanc

Château Brown Blanc 2010
Fresh, citrusy, a little background nuttiness but focused on the fruit that becomes quite peachy. More peach and nectarine on the palate, with an almond touch and very nice, clean and lengthening acidity. 90/100

Château Carbonnieux Blanc 2010
Quite plush and ripe fruit here, a weighty suggestion of ripe stone fruits and gently creamy oak. The palate has masses of juicy fruit and an orangey squeeze of acidity. 91/100

Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 2010
Quite mineral and juicy, only a background hint of vanilla. On the palate quite peachy and delicate, a lovely quality of soft, tropical ripeness against that nectarine juice sweetness but mouth-watering acidity, in a long, gossamer-like finish. 93/100

Château de Fieuzal Blanc 2010
Lots of fresh, lightly leafy but juicy stone fruit freshness here. The palate has real intensity: a piercingly vivid shock of grapefruit and lime, then a subtle oatmeal richness beneath. 93/100

Château Latour-Martillac Blanc 2010
I like the hint of smokiness to ripe, exotic lychee fruit here that is very expressive. The palate has a grippy, grapefruit pith acidity, but it cuts through the orange and peach ripeness very nicely into a long, focused finish. 92/100

Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion Blanc 2010
Seems to be lots of creamy, opulent vanillin oak here, as well as tropically sweet and full fruit, hinting at pineapple and ripe melon. The palate has plenty of acidity, plenty of juicy fruit, thought not quite the finesse of some perhaps. 91/100

Château Malartic-Lagravière Blanc 2010
Lightly creamy, relatively subdued style, with citrusy aromas and a touch of vanilla in the background. Tight and racy on the palate, this is a focused, lean style With fine mineral intensity. 91/100

Château Olivier Blanc 2010
Orange and stone fruit aromas, with a really punchy, juicy vibrancy. The palate has equally decisive flavour – an assault of vivid acidity and mouth-wateringly crisp fruit. A little vanillin support in the finish. 91/100

Château Pape Clément Blanc 2010
Powerful nose, a creamy, quite leesy character, some buttery Brazil nut notes too. There’s a great shock of decisive acidity, the weight and texture of fruit filling the mouth. Big, decisive stuff. 92/100

Pauillac, St-Julien, St-Estèphe, Margaux

Pauillac

Château Latour, Pauillac 2010
(AR) Dense colour and brooding sweet dark fruits on the nose, absorbing new oak well, this is a big, rich dense and intensely flavoured mouthful of black fruits with concentrated bittersweet chocolaty undertones, powerful yet incredibly supple ripe tannin backbone, and juicy refreshing acidity, showing a lovely freshness throughout, fleshy, yet firmly structured and very fine-boned with an impressive ‘iron fist’ structure. This is a great classic, very cabernet in style, very Pauillac, very Latour in fact. Possible more classic even than 2009 and a wine that will outlive anyone alive today. 98/100

Château Lafite, Pauillac 2010
There’s a lovely sense of composed minerality on the nose here, with cedar and a herbal aspect and lots of schist and gentle smokiness. A gravelly note. On the palate this is very tightly wound and intense. There’s a natural sense of purity to the blue-black fruit and that intensely mineral, graphite precision to the tannins. The tannins are huge but have a terrific sense of precision to them, leading this through to a finish that allows the juiciness of the fruit to breathe, and the lovely acidity that adds a sense of light and shade and illuminate the finish. 97/100

Château Mouton-Rothschild, Pauillac 2010
An immediate note of minerality here, of graphite and gentle smokiness, cedar and composed black fruit. Dense, and the fruit not fantastically expressive at this stage, but very attractive components in there. The palate has plenty of oak, still quite raw and giving a little resinous character at this stage. The tannins are powerfully dry, and this is a big, liquorice-licked wine at this stage, with a creamy cherry fruit that is also dry and quite solid, plummy and deep, a wine that perhaps lacks a little of Lafite’s precision in the finish, but has delicious, almost chocolate richness and substance. 96-97/100

Château Lafite, Carruades de Lafite 2010
Beautifully refined, lightly cedary nose with a cherry ripeness to the fruit and solid underpinning black fruit. The plate has a depth and richness immediately, The tannins are dry and full as would be expected, but a nice clarity to the fruit and good length. 92/100

Château Mouton-Rothschild, Le Petit Mouton 2010
Fine, cedar-touched black fruit, a touch of something fresh and lightly herbal. The palate has a fine juiciness of fruit: there is plenty of slightly resinous oak at this stage, but the quality and refinement of the fruit is lovely, and the tannins really quite moderate, with a juiciness and cherry freshness in the finish of this relatively pretty wine. 90-91/100

Château d’Armailhac 2010
A much richer blackcurrant character than the Petit Mouton, with bold, cassis ripeness and berry fruit to the fore, a nice richness and slightly coffeeish feel to the oak. The palate has delicious freshness and the fruit stays very forward. This is remarkably well-mannered at this stage, the plush, sweet fruit absolutely the driving force. Tannins are very silky too, and this has a lovely structure, but one that is allowing the fruit to sing. 92-93/100

Château Duhart-Milon 2010
Much more meaty and meat-stocky than the Carruades tasted just before. Some cedary and mineral refinement comes through. Is there a touch of something green too? On the palate this has a tight, liquoricy concentration to the tannins and fruit, a really dark, sinewy edge that is more serious than the Carruades, but lacks a little of the easy charm at this stage. Very dry tannins and the bigger extract suggests this will need time. 91/100

Château Clerc-Milon 2010
More closed than the d’Armailhac, the oak more dominant and the whole picture more dense and tight. On the palate the tannins are big and forceful, but there’s a certain elegance to them too. The fruit, more meaty, more plummy than the d’Armailhac, begins to assert with a lovely cassis core and the gentle cedar, tobacco and coffee richness and smooth texture very nice against the tannins and the fresh, cherry acidity. 93-94/100

Château Grand Puy Ducasse 2010
Very fine nose – lightly mineral and earthy, a vegetal streak, but nice in a savoury olive way. The palate has a racy life about it, lots of tannin and a chocolate density, and does the alcohol get a little hot? 90-91/100

Château Grand Puy Lacoste 2010
There’s a good minerality here, a plump fruit beneath is glossy and plummy, but the dust and gravel firmness is lovely. Very good fruit, big tannin structure and a coffeeish richness of oak. With lovely cherry acidity, this has great style. 93/100

Château Lynch-Bages 2010
Lovely fruit here – deep, silky, fabulous finesse with pencil shavings and gorgeous ripeness and richness. The balance here is lovely – lots of structure, but very, very fine tannins and the spice of mellow oak melding with bloody, ripe, delicious fruit. A great LB I think. 94-95/100

Château Lynch-Moussas 2010
Big green streak here – very vegetal and earthy, and along with really powerful tannins, this is a dry, big, slightly under-fruited wine and is a little disappointing. 88/100

Château Pichon Lalande 2010
Lots of coffeeish richness here, a lightly roasted oak quality that has just hints of complex sweet earth. The palate ha lots of structural power – the tannins are big and grippy, the acidity very brightly focused, and the fruit comes through with lovely clarity. A very fine finish on this, the fruit staying very pure, little hints of chocolate and tobacco and the mineral earthiness again. 94/100

Château Pichon Lalande, La Reserve de la Comtesse 2010
Quite a lot minerality and schisty depth to this. A little whiff of some perfume too, a kirsch like cherry brightness. Juicy and full on the palate, but the tannins really do power through. Orangey acidity and a great deal of taut, sinewy, chewy structure. 91/100

Château Pibran 2010
50/50 Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. A very nice nose, with the racy, Sandalwood finesse of the oak and refined, vinous fruit. On the palate intense sweetness to the fruit, the tannins melding into the background and the whole picture very approachable and easy. Good acidity and a touch of gaminess. 90/100

Château Pichon Baron 2010
79% Cabernet Sauvignon and 21% Merlot, the merlot suffered from millerandage. Plump, charming nose, with a little meatiness and a little plump and creamy vanilla, beneath the intense cassis and kirsch sweetness of fruit. On the palate there is plenty of sweet, fleshy, beautifully poised fruit, with the tannins ripe and creamy, the black cherry skin acidity adding a lovely bright, refreshing edge. Glorious stuff, with sweetness and weight and lovely precision. 95/100

Château Pichon Baron, Tourelles de Longueville 2010
60% Merlot. Fine spice and cedar on the nose, a certain impression of plumpness and weight, a plummy and baked plum pie note of fatness. The palate has lots of kirsch and very juicy, fresh black cherries flooding across. Tannins are tight and beautifully integrated and the juicy, bitter chocolate-licked fruit and acidity makes for a gloriously focused drink. 92/100

Château Pontet-Canet 2010
Lots of black cherry and nicely herby notes, with nice earthy minerality, and a certain lift of freshness and light and shade. The tannins are big, ashy and dry, with a lot of cigar-box oak, some dry earth and plenty of juicy acidity. There’s a lemony, cherry fruited freshness to the acidity and the fruit here, meaning this has terrific juiciness and vitality. The state’s first year being biodynamically certified. All 81 hectares certified. The juicy black plum and black cherry raciness of this is really terrific I must say. The tannins are more blunt than in a wine like Lafite at this stage, but I feel this will come round because of that delicious quality of fruit, acidity and the expressive minerality. 95-96/100

St-Julien

Château Beychevelle 2010
Gravelly, tight black fruit. Some nicely meaty notes. Some plum. There is a lovely elegant silkiness and refinement here. Lovely chocolate and coffee sweetness to the tannins and oak. Good length, and has lots of Beychevelle seductive charm. 91/100

Château Branaire-Ducru 2010
Quite elegant, there’s a little bit of lift and freshness to this, quite a firm fruit profile with a liquoricy edge of minerality on the palate. Juicy, the big tannic strip firmly gripping driving the finish. 92-93/100

Château Gruaud-Larose 2010
Lots of chocolate richness and a lovely gamy and earthy edge – but cleanly focused and with lovely depth of fruit. The palate has a delicious silkiness of tannins and texture. Really sweet fruit in the finish, turning quite chocolaty, but the bittersweetness of the fruit and acidity is beautifully refreshing. 93-94/100

Château Lagrange 2010
Has more schisty minerality, quite tight, racy, ashy and cherryish. Lovely juicy palate, fruit is fresh and a tart, fresh acidity keeps it long and lean. 91/100

Château Langoa-Barton 2010
Brightly fruity, has very nice, plump, intensely fruity appeal. The palate has lots of dry extract, lots of grip, the oak is coffeeish and deep, but it is the mineral and sinewy structure that sits beneath the fruit on the finish. 93/100

Château Léoville-Barton 2010
There’s lots of richness and ripeness here, the very full, cassis and plum fruit is deep but fresh. On the palate there is a flood of tannin, but it is very ripe and creamy, the bittersweet weight of fruit and the focused acids making for a very elegant, very classic wine with structure, fruit and elegance. 94/100

Château Léoville-Las-Cases 2010
A tiny bit reduced, this sample not releasing its aromatics willingly. On the palate the beautiful quality of fruit comes powering through. There’s a fabulous concentration of cassis and black plum, a big, ripe, very generosity to this, the creamy, sweet oak and the bright fruity acidity are mouth-filling and creamy. There are tannins aplenty, but they too have a ripeness and creamy, suede-like plushness. A lovely wine, with real potential to be a charmer – but a long lived one – down the line. 95/100

Château Léoville-Las-Cases, Clos du Marquis 2010
This sample very closed and a little dulled aromatically. Some gentle cherry and raspberry and a hint of minerality perhaps. The palate has a juicy concentration, a really slick sense of quite plush black fruit, quite creamy, dark-hued oak and a silkiness to the tannins. This is spicy and rich, perhaps just very slightly hot in the finish, but has lots of svelte charm and considerable structure. 91/100

Château Léoville-Las-Cases, Le Petit Lion 2010
The new third wine of Las-Cases. Some cherry aromas there, but fairly subdued aromatically. The palate has juiciness and freshness, the tannins quite tame and the acidity moderate. Nice for early drinking this. 87-88/100

Château Léoville-Poyferré 2010
Schisty and dark, an earthy appeal to this. Grippy black fruit and fruit skins, a certain chocolaty appeal and richness. The palate has lots of juiciness and richness to the tannins. Glorious fruit concentration here, perhaps a touch of heat in the finish, but could be worth watching for a good price. 92/100

Château Talbot 2010
Lots of richness and ripeness evident here, despite a touch of reduction. Fruit has a touch of roasted quality perhaps, which along with lots of charry, coffeeish oak, presents a big, slightly raw impression at this stage. 90/100

St-Estèphe

Château Cos d’Estournel 2010
Tobacco and coffee comes through initially, giving this a certain mellow spiciness. A tight, refined but glossy black fruit character comes through. This seems layered and complex. On the palate the tannins are massive and meaty, but the juiciness of the fruit is exquisite – there’s chocolate and a lightly roasted flavour, but the keen black fruit freshness pierces that. The overriding impression in the finish is the sweetness and ripeness of the fruit, that ashy, mineral earthiness also adding a layer of complexity. 94-95/100

Château Cos d’Estournel, Pagodes de Cos 2010
Much more dusty and relatively austere. An earthiness, even a hint of leather, over the dry black fruit. The palate has a big, solid stripe of tannin that is very dry, with a vegetal edge and earthy minerality, but then the classy concentration of fruit comes through, Structured and serious, with sinewy intensity, if a touch ungiving at this stage. 91-92/100

Château de Pez 2010
Very creamy, ripe and forward fruit as well as a creamy, cappuccino quality of oak. The palate too has that very flattering sweetness of fruit and lowish acidity. Lovely svelte stuff, with great fruit expression and sweetness and a touch of chocolaty density about it. Lots of charm here, and clarity too in a more forward style. 90-91/100

Château Haut-Beausejour 2010
Similarly, a very sweet fruit profile with a creaminess and bold, floral-licked fruit. The palate has a big dry tannic structure, but again that very sweet fruit does carry through. Possibly a little more structure than the Pez, and a real juiciness too. 91/100 Château Lafon-Rochet 2010
Massive fruit sweetness, loads of mineral, earthy character but not at the expensive of the fruit. Tannins are harmonious, even though big, with that power of fruit and fresh acidity sweeping through. A beauty. 92-93/100

Château Montrose 2010
Montrose presents a pool of dark, glossy, tightly-wound black fruit. The silky weight of black fruit dominates some cedar and spice and polished oak, a bit of earthy weight. The palate has a wonderful purity of fruit: there’s a long, focused core of black plum and cassis, with a muscular but elegant density. Very polished. The tannins are big, dominating the finish, but have a silky ripeness too, which along with a hint of chocolate and that meatiness, makes for a very powerful finish, the acidity and that purity of fruit giving these an austere but long, very well made and promising a lot for the future. 95-96/100

Château Montrose, La Dame de Montrose 2010
Cherry fruit is to the fore in this wine, with polished wood and a certain dark, deep, cedar and spice depth of plummyness beneath. The palate has lots of flesh, lots of juicy plum and the tart, liquorice plum skin grip. There’s a fabulous big raft of sour cherry fruit and acidity, that makes this very juicy against the dryness and weight of tannins. Grippy, structured but with a sense of generosity too. 92/100

Château Phélan Ségur 2010
Tight, dark and liquoricy, a refined, taut black fruit quality. The palate has lots of sweet edges to the tannic framework, and that sweetness really does push through. 91-92/100

Château Tronquoy-Lalande 2010
Meatier, more sinewy, more dry and earthy immediately. There’s an ashy dryness to the tannins here, the extract slightly overpowering the fruit, though there is a certain silkiness, a certain juiciness too with lovely refinement in the end, despite the tannic heft. Really nicely sweet fruit does come through, and a little tobacco, with fine concentration and much more substance than the Sainte-Anne. 91-92/100

Château Tronquoy-Lalande, Tronquoy de Sainte-Anne 2010
Refined, gently meaty nose with earthy tones and slightly baked, but ripe fruit. Refined older oak, polished tones. The palate has very good sweetness: a lovely elegant richness and ripeness, with mouth-filling, fleshy plum and berries, the texture creamy and the wine flatteringly open and seductive. 89-90/100

Margaux

Château Margaux 2010
Absolutely exquisite aromatics, with the Margaux perfume already soaring from the glass. Kirsch and a touch of herby charter, background notes of Sandalwood and floral aspects. Fantastic palate, the silky texture of the tannins and the fruit, the beautiful natural concentration without any effort. The fruit is wonderful, with an iron fist in a velvet glove . Talcum soft tannins, beautiful balance and purity in to a long, perfectly focused finish. Not a single touch of tannin dryness. Only 13.5% alcohol too. 98/100

Château Margaux, Pavillon Rouge 2010
A pretty nose this compared to the Alter Ego de Palmer. There’s no really powerfully expressive fruit character, but just a sense of elegance and freshness, and a sense of it having silky and floral attributes in the background. Lovely finesse on the palate, with very sweet, delicately flavoured and perfumed fruit at its core, the tannins firm but have a certain chocolaty richness, very nice cherry-ripe acidity, and this is very long. Superb second wine. 93/100

Château Margaux, Pavillon Blanc 2010
Gorgeous nose, the creamy, nutty and fig oak sitting gently over the very fresh citrus fruit, a little grapefruit and lime. The palate is medium bodied, and the initial impression is of that brilliant acidity, the under-ripe apple and melon freshness, and that citrus, but then beneath there is something a little more exotic, with some very delicate herbs, delicate nutty notes and a some waxy, mango peel notes. Long and beautifully focused. 92-93/100

Château Brane Cantenac 2010
Big, rich, but nicely perfumed, with a touch of meat stock quality, but a fresher berry perfume comes through. The palate has lovely fruit: this has a bright acidity too, which along with the fresh aspect to the fruit gives a crisp, lively impression on the mid-palate, Lovely cherry ripe finesse, and the tannins are quite chocolaty and rich, giving this a sophisticated finish and nice harmony. A tiny touch hot feeling perhaps, but it is a quibble as it is very fine. 93/100

Château Cantenac Brown 2010
Blackcurrant and cassis, lightly dusted with pepper and cedar, and a fresh, forward perfumed wine. The palate has very good fruit, a mouth-filling richness and huge concentration. Lovely berry plumpness top this, the tannin tight and muscular, but elegant acidity lifts this. 93/100

Château d’Issan 2010
A little roasted, coffee and chestnut touch, fruit a little more plummy and deep, but still has a sense of creamy ripeness. The palate has lovely fruit concentration. Very ripe berries, a little bite of plum skins adding a bittersweet edge. The tannins are dry, a touch inky at this stage, but there is enough freshness and good acidity to give this precision. 92/100

Château d’Issan, Blason d’Issan 2010
Quite a lift to this fruit, with cherry and some dried herbs, a touch of lovely bloody perfume. On the palate this is very fine, the fruit delicate woven through the decisive acidity and the big, but really quite sharply focused and crisp tannins. There is a deal of dry extract here, but it is not at the expense of the finesse and good juiciness. Perhaps a touch shorter. 90/100

Château Giscours 2010
A slightly dull quality to this, the fruit not terribly expressive. This particular sample is a little tired I think – not as fresh as it should be. On the palate nice savoury focus and a bit of drive, but the fruit is not singing in the way it does in the best Margaux this vintage. Really, judgement reserved but for now 90-91/100

Château Palmer 2010
Really much more expressive, though there’s some resinous, youthful oak character, but the black fruit comes through more. On the palate a similar black fruit definition and muscularity, but there’s cassis and a hint of almost violet lift to the fruit, hint of kirsch and more fresh intensity. The tannins are massive here, and will take some time to tame, but lovely acidity and a vigorous, fairly profound style but has the elegant lift that is missing in the otherwise excellent Alter Ego. 96/100

Château Paveil de Luze, Cru Bourgeois 2010
Solid, dense, not much perfume. Solid and meaty, but little sign of Margaux charm. 86/100

Château Rauzan-Gassies 2010
A nice sprinkling of cedary finesse on the nose, the fruit coming though with a rich berry, even lightly floral fragrance, delicate notes of cigar smoke and cherry. The palate has good freshness. Lovely fresh, but sweet and round finish, the tanins well handled. 92/100

Château Rauzan-Ségla 2010
Fine fruit. Rounded, fresh, has lots of freshness but a chocolaty depth and cassis richness. Really nice drive here, the tannins and the quite fleshy fruit, and the core of grippy, mineral acidity all pushing on for a long, intense finish. 94/100

Pomerol and St Emilion

Pomerol

Vieux Château Certan 2010
Gorgeous, fragrant, herb-scented and red and black fruit nose. Wisps of woodsmoke and cedar, and delightfully fresh. In the mouth lovely, vigorous stuff, with a sweetness to the fruit that is plump and full, and a meaty density without dryness. Tannins and acids are gripping, but already this has fantastic harmony and is a beautifully composed wine that has tamed the tannins and produced a wine of enormous elegance. 98/100

Château Pétrus 2010
Fantastic black cherry depth of fruit, with a vinous, dark vine fruit density and just the subtlest hints of chestnut and violet, and crushed berry fruit. The Palate has a raft of tannin, a huge density with the juiciness of the acidity and tightness of the tannins focused beneath its muscular, sinewy style. Tight, brooding, masculine and vigorous, and will need considerable time. A thirty-year wine. 96-97/100

Château Trotanoy 2010
Effortless sophistication here, with gently cedary tones to racy, elegant fruit, a background of gently charred meat and blood-streaked ripeness. The palate has fabulous concentration and drive, the juicy clarity and length, pulling through to a beautifully composed finish of joyously pure fruit and seamless tannin. 96//100

Château Beau Soleil 2010
Rich, dark and meaty, does not have the ripe, expressive fruit of some, but concentrated. Rather chunky and very dry tannins, overpowering the fruit somewhat. 87/100

Château Le Bon Pasteur 2010
Big, silky-sweet nose of svelte black fruit. Intense and fleshy, but not at all brutish. The palate has a wonderful density of fruit: massive presence her, but just deliciously layered and long. 93/100

Château Bourgneuf 2010
Higher toast character here, with chocolate and a charry depth. Black pastille quality to the fruit too, giving a ripe, opulent impression. Fruit sweetness here, dominating the weight of tannins. Spicy and rich oak, fine acidity and a very well balanced and opulent wine. 91/100

Château La Cabanne 2010
Not giving much at this stage – rather closed and hard to read. Some cedar begins to come through and really quite a nice minerality. Very pure fruit on the palate, but tight and sinewy, the very brawny tannins and quite high acidity giving a lot of concentration and power if a slightly aggressive finish. 88/100

Château Clinet 2010
There’s a certain meatiness here, a touch of dankness that makes me worry about this sample slightly. Certainly a gamey element to this, but the bloody ripeness of the fruit comes through. Quite silky too, the tannins fine and the acidity good in a wine that ends very long and harmonious. Could be even better than this if this sample was indeed a little past it. 92/100

Château La Conseillante 2010
Gorgeous ripe black fruit, a touch of balsam and resin, but pure and lifted with lots of chocolaty depth and beautiful tannins. Very silky and refined though those tannins are imposing. 93-94/100

Château La Croix de Gay 2010
Very tight, schisty, very attractive black fruit. Lots of damson and blueberry richness, meaty depth too. On the palate there’s a charming plumpness and ripeness top the fruit. Though the tannins are big and chunky, there’s an inherent sweetness and moderate balancing acidity that make this a little more approachable than some at this stage. Elegant and delicious. 92/100

Château La Fleur de Gay 2010
Lots of coffeeish oak and torrefaction, with a fine, ripe, very solid black fruit on the palate. A slick of very creamy tannin and sweet oak fills in, in a big, plush and modern, but very good wine. 92/100

Château Gazin 2010
Beautifully fragrant, with little floral and herbs glimpses amongst the red fruits and plum. On the palate this has a svelte juiciness. It has a lovely texture and plenty of silky depth of fruit, the tannins are big and dry, but refined too. Well-balanced and harmonious, if a little impenetrable at present. 92-93/100

Château La Grave 2010
An almost tomato edge to this, a certain herbal lift, but then a nice bloody ripeness to the fruit. The palate has those lean, sinewy tannins which tend to dominate, but there is a lovely core of fruit here and a freshness on the finish. 90/100

Château Hosanna 2010
Meaty, quite dense, quite ungiving at this stage. There’s a terrific sense of blue-black concentration. The palate has brilliant clarity, the tightly-wound, wonderfully focused fruit and vigour, and really pushes through into a long, very focused finish. 95/100

Château Lafleur-Gazin 2010
Elegant touch of leafy cedar, with a ripe black fruit character beneath. Firm, juicy, very nicely concentrated on the palate, the tannins are dry and a touch inky at this stage, but there is a really nice purity of fruit beneath. Long and composed. 90/100

Château Lafleur Pétrus 2010
Gorgeous bloody ripeness to this, with cedar and deep plummy fruit, but also lots of minerality. Fabulous fruit sweetness on the palate, just a huge core of plum and black berries, licked with chocolate and seamless into a long, spicy, but fruit-focused finish with lovely balance. 94-95/100

Château Latour a Pomerol 2010
A cedary, nicely earthy and smoky character here expressing good minerality, with a tightly-wound black fruit core. The tannins rather dominate at present, giving this a somewhat inky feeling of extraction. Definite quality here, of fruit and balancing acidity, but fairly inflexible and a touch austere following the Bourgneuf. 90/100

Château Mazeyres 2010
Juicy, but solid stuff. Masses of acidity here and a very firm edge to the tannins. Tough, sinewy stuff, but there is a red plum sweetness and flesh in there. Could be very good this. 93/100

Château Nenin, Fugues du Nenin 2010
Attractive cherry and black fruit, a touch of seductive chocolate. Some cedary oak adds another dimension. The palate has lots of fruit sweetness, lots of texture, a rich pastille fruit and the tannins and acids nicely dark and liquoricy. Does it feel a little touch hot? 89-90/100

Château Nenin 2010
A much brighter fruit profile – more concentration to the fruit and it sits atop the oak a little more. Very refined on the palate, the juiciness of the fruit nicely matched by grippy but refined tannins. There is a hefty structure there, but a sense of brightness and some edge and energy too, 92-93/100

Château Petit-Village 2010
Open, approachable and earthy at this stage, with a nice little streak of gamy character and some toasty oak adding a warming sub-layer. The palate has very good fruit, the firm tannins and lots and lots of juicy cherry acidity adding freshness, though there’s no doubt the spice and tannic heft here makes for a chewy style – and big one. 92-93/100

Château Plince Pomerol 2010
A nice fresh lift to this on the nose, with a very concentrated cassis fruit character and hint of chocolate. On the palate it has a firm, cherry and black fruit presence, moderate weight but a lovely clarity to the fruit. Balanced, the tannins and acidity nicely matched by the fruit. 90/100

Château La Pointe 2010
Coffee and cereal notes, a nicely earthy character and meatiness. Delicious palate, really lovely quality of fruit and tannin, melding nicely already into a big, hefty finish but one that shows lots of elegance and length too. Really very good. 93/100

Château Providence 2010
Gorgeous fruit sweetness and ripeness. Deliciously chocolaty and rich. Lovely weight, supple tannins and fruit concentration in a deliciously opulent style. 93/100

Château Taillefer 2010
Charming nose, meaty and chocolaty, but has a bit of lift. Plenty of tannin here, but there’s a delightfully juicy edge there too. 91/100

St Emilion

Château Ausone 2010
Super sweet, super vibrant fruit quality. Extraordinary lift to the aromatics, with the kirsch-like fruit singing from the glass and exotic hints of red liquorice, some incense and a touch of game. Expressive and beautiful. The palate it equally riveting, the full, luscious sweetness and ripeness of the fruit and the superb refinement of the tannins and acid balance. A truly beautiful, natural, unforced wine of extraordinary harmony and length. 98/100

Château Cheval Blanc 2010
Immediately more light and shade than the Petit Cheval, with a little floral aspect and cherry edge to the fruit, as well as some cedar and exotic spice, all wrapped around a core of meaty, fleshy plum. The palate too has a sweet intensity to the fruit that makes it lift in the mouth, a cherryish, cassis-ripe immediacy, but beneath that layering of precise tannin and acidity. 96/100

Château Cheval Blanc, Le Petit Cheval GC 2010
Very composed, deep, concentrated nose, a certain intensity and almost liquorice concentration, Elegance comes through on the palate, with a sweetness and ripeness, but a meaty density too. The tannins are thick and the alcohol high, but it has obvious power and concentration. 92/100

Château Balestard La Tonnelle 2010
Quite a meaty but slightly reductive nose. A touch of bacon fat and baked plum fruit. Plenty of ripeness, fat and dark, sweet fruit on the palate, but I still get that slightly thick, reduced quality, with massive tannins too. There is such sweetness here and obvious concentration, that it might deserve the benefit of the doubt:, but for now, 87/100

Château Beau-Séjour Becot 2010
Lots of juicy, quite jammy blackcurrant fruit, with real depth of glossy ripeness. On the palate the tannins are big, but chocolaty and rich and along with coffeeish oak, give a broad underpinning to the fruit. Lovely wine this, with the freshness and drive of the fruit and tannins into the finish. 92-93/100

Château Belair Monange 2010
Quite subdued, with cedar and refined, gentle spice, but the fruit not singing at this stage. The palate has much more fruit presence. There is a meaty concentration and a hint of chocolate to the tannins that are ripe and full, and this finishes with a lovely composure and harmony. 91-92/100

Château Berliquet 2010
Attractive pastille brightness to the fruit. There’s an impression of silky elegance, and indeed that follows through on the palate. This has a core of sweetness, but the plum-skin bite and depth of the fruit is the driving force, checking the tannins and keeping this fresh and focused. It is a bit dry, but has some charm. 90-91/100

Château Canon-La-Gaffelière 2010
Very attractive earthy minerality here, and a very elegant lift of kirsch-like cherry and floral character. The palate has a silky sweetness and a beautifully harmonious composure. It has sweet fruit, elegant tannins and a shimmering core of acidity that pushes through to an elegant finish. A beautiful young wine this. 95/100

Château Cap de Mourlin 2010
More meaty and a touch herbal, nowhere near so cleanly expressive as the Canon-La-Gaffelière before. The palate has good fruit, a roughening tannic quality and juicy acidity. A bold, chewy mouthful of wine this, but lacks elegance. 87/100

Clos des Baies
Gorgeous nose, and effortless charm here too, with cherry and sweet red fruits, a touch of mineral gentle smokiness and very, very refined tannins. Long and pure in the finish, this is seductive and intelligent. 91-92/100.

Château Clos Fourtet 2010
A little coffee and some vanilla, baked cherry pie quality. The palate has good fruit, nice composure and a very classic style: the fruit is really quite juicy and fresh in the mouth, and the tannins refined. Good acidity adds to the elegance. 92-93/100

Château La Couspaude 2010
As always, a seductively open wine, already showing a depth of mocha and tobacco, and plum and blackcurrant fruit with a little gamy edge. Most attractive. The palate too has that hyper-sweetness and fat, mouth-filling ripeness, with great feeling of generosity and forward drinking appeal. Lacks the 30-year potential of some, but gorgeously drinkable. 91/100

Château Dassault 2010
Again quite meaty and a little closed perhaps, a little reduced too. The fruit is very ripe, sweet and mouth-filling, with, the tannins dry and the overall extract quite inky. There is good fruit here without a doubt, but the balance raises questions. 88/100

Château La Dominique 2010
Relatively closed, showing quite a fine, pepper and spice edge to taut black fruit. The palate is dry and savoury. The tannins really power through: not brutishly, because they are quite polished, but they have a vice-like grip on this, just allowing the fruit to show through before plenty of acidity leads the finish. Great components for the future. 92/100

Château l’Elglise Clinet 2010
Expresses some lovely minerality with an ashy, smoky character. There’s a cool, blueberry and plummy fruit, and on the palate the obvious ripeness and sweetness of both fruit and tannins. The oak is dense and powerful on the finish, which with the hefty tannins adds lots of structure, but the acidity and the lovely sweetness of fruit is impressive. 93-94

Château l’Elglise Clinet, Le Petit Eglise 2010
A little roasted, a little reduced, but on the palate the fruit seems very nice and ripe, with an inherent sweetness, beneath a lot of dry tannin extract. Tough to call, but seems to have very good structure and fruit. 91/100

Château l’Evangile 2010
Very refined nose of ripe, damson plums , a touch of blueberry and a chocolaty touch of plumpness. The oak is refined and gently cedary. The palate has lovely freshness, with a great juiciness and natural concentration: the freshness, tangy, cherry skin liveliness and grip. Good balance here, the fresh fruit and acidity nicely matched to the big, dry tannins and that spicy, warming base of oak. 94/100

Château Figeac 2010
There’s a plummy, deep, meaty and bold character here, with cedary oak and plenty of depth. The palate has a silky smoothness and concentration. Although the tannins are big and the fruit perhaps slightly less bright and expressive than some, it does have a svelte, balanced mouth-feel and huge length. 93-94/100

Château Fonbel 2010
Nice mineral earthiness, with some softly gamy notes and a lovely brightness to the fruit. I really like the black fruit focus, juicy clarity and balance. 90-91/100

Château Franc Mayne 2010
Delicious and delicate lift of flowers and fresh, summery berries here – a really attractive wine aromatically, with an elegant fruit expression. The palate follows this through, with a juiciness at its core of that fresh, cassis fruit, licked with chocolate and finishing with both succulence and chewiness. A wine that is carrying the 2010 tannins effortlessly and a fabulous effort from Franc-Mayne. 93/100

Château La Gaffelière 2010
Svelte, rounded and ripe fruit, with a touch of chocolate and a touch of spice. The palate has a delicious smoothness and ripeness of fruit and tannins, and a chocolate-coated berry richness dominates the finish. Tannins really are well managed here, in a stylish, svelte wine. 93/100

Château Haut-Simard 2010
Ripe and gamy, a real richness and touch of coffee and roasted quality. The palate has beautiful sweetness, that plays against grippy tannins and a dry extract character, which with good acidity again makes for a structured, grippy, but deliciously flavoured and pretty well-balanced wine. 90-91/100

Château Larmande 2010
Full fruit, very stylish, plump and sweet, with a real freshness on the palate and a very pure, focused black fruit richness. Cassis dominates, the tannins and the lightly charry, smoky barrel well into the background, in a very attractive wine with good acidity to balance the big structure and sweet fruit. 91/100

Château Lucia 2010
Lovely, refined, glossy cherry fruit and flatteringly modern in style, but immediately seductive. The palate has lovely fruit sweetness and a certain chocolaty density. Opulent and impressive. 92/100

Château Magdeleine 2010
Lovely sense of minerality here, with a nicely meaty edge, but refined cedar and black fruit. The palate has a very firm character, the tannins at the core, but also a certain, cedary, sinewy muscularity to the fruit. 90/100

Château Moulin St Georges 2010
A huge family resemblance in all these wines shown by Chateau Ausone, with again the very ripe, sweet, berry fruit melding with a little gamy note and plenty of mocha oak. But the intense, almost roasted ripeness of the fruit is to the fore. On the palate delicious fruit floods across the palate, a real juiciness and depth, but just filling the mouth with energy and drive, the powerful tannins and acids beautifully submerged. 93/100

Château Puy Blanquette 2010
Nice nose, with a pure blackcurrant fruit and touch of charcoally minerality. Slightly dry impression on the palate, the fruit a little overwhelmed by tannins and acidity. 87/100

Château La Serre 2010
More opulent, ripe and bloody stuff than the Puy Blanquette, with plenty of blackcurrant fruit. The palate has lot more fruit sweetness too, and along with the big tannins and very juicy acidity, a good effort here. 89-90/100

Château Simard 2010
More oak here with, lots of gamy richness and ripeness, lots of kirsch and blackcurrant and although the oak is forward, the fruit matches it. Weighty plate, but with delightful freshness to the fruit. There’s a more drying tannin quality, but it is not at all without charm. 89/100

Château Pavie-Macquin 2010
There’s an attractive glimpse of something leafy and floral here, a touch of smokiness and minerals, and the fruit fresh and bright. The palate has really nice juiciness and richness, the black fruit and plum skins and cherry skin bite and the firm liquoricy nature of the tannins and fruit in the finish is delightful. This has lovely style and harmony, turning a little chocolaty and promising a great future. 94-95/100

Château Saintayme 2010
Dark, cherry and almost raisiny, blueberry fruit. Chocolaty notes too in a very ripe wine. The palate has a purity and racy sweetness, and a vinosity that is easy to like. 90/100

Château La Tour Figeac 2010
Cedary, raspberry-like lift to this, a certain impression of elegance. There’s a raciness to the palate, the fruit bright and focused on crisp, bittersweet liquorice and red fruits, with a biting freshness to the finish. Lovely style this, managing the tannins and retaining lots of savoury bite. 92-93/100

Château La Tour de Pin 2010
Purchased four years ago and now part of the Cheval Blanc stable. Dark vine fruits, not terribly expressive, but has density and richness and a certain meatiness too. Lovely fruit sweetness on the palate, with a delightfully composed, plush edge to the fruit and a racy acid and tannin balance. Fresh, delicious. 93/100

Château Troplong Mondot 2010
Beautiful quality of fruit here, a wonderfully fragrant overlay to solidly plummy fruit with a depth of fruity cocoa notes, some toast and masses of forward personality. The palate is big and ripe, with a massive backbone of tannin over creamy black fruit. Lots of rich, ripe, glossy opulence here, but lovely balance despite the grandeur and the 15+ alcohol. Delicious stuff with marvellous layers of flavour and texture in a totally modern idiom. 95/100

Château Trottevieille 2010
Quite a lot of coffee and toast and cereal notes here, and modest black fruit beneath. The palate has a svelte, coffeeish richness too, the black fruit very composed and elegant, with refinement to the tannins – suede and chocolate – and a lovely understated elegance. Not as showy as some, but has classic refinement and elegance – and powerful depth. 92/100

Sauternes

Only two 2010 Sauternes tasted, but what a showing for these wines.

Château d’Yquem 2010
Six passes through the vineyard, 141g/l sugar and harvested late. Lovely apricot and barley sugar botrytis immediately evident. Delightful little leaf tea and orange notes. Rich and fragrant. Fabulous palate: really fresh, with opulent richness and that juicy nectarine elegance and soft honeyed notes. There’s some exotic mango and white flower lift, the acidity is excellent, with a touch of nuttiness and really great length. This has fabulous elegance and richness in combination, and really vibrant character. 97-98/100

Château Suduiraut 2010
Exotic, apricot and mango fruit a touch of lychee, lovely Botrytis comes through, adding delicate tea leaf and honey. The palate has beautiful fruit, with a leafy lift and fantastic freshness. There’s a big core of tangerine, and lots of beautiful fruit and acidity. Endless finish with huge concentration but all the acidity you need to underpin it. 97-98/100

Other appellations

The left bank

Goulee by Château Cos d’Estournel (Médoc) 2010
Owned by Château Cos d’Estournel, this has a slightly herbal, slightly meaty character, with a dustiness to the nose. Very nice quality of coffeeish oak, and rich berry fruit beneath. Masses of sweet fruit on the palate, with a real silkiness to the oak and the tannins, the fresh orangey acidity lifting the finish in a very stylish, modern interpretation. 92/100

Château Potensac, Chapelle de Potensac (Médoc) 2010
Not giving a lot aromatically, with a slightly inky, tight aspect to the fruit. The fruit on the palate stretched a little thin across the weight of tannins. It has good acidity, and in the end I like the balance. 88-89/100

Château Potensac (Médoc) 2010
This too has that inky, fruity brightness of the Chapelle, with cherry and touch of lipsticky dryness that’s almost reminiscent of Gamay. Some oak beneath and a touch of gamey earthiness adds complexity. The palate has structure, that slightly inky dryness again, but there is good balance and good acidity suggesting this might be rather nice in bottle. 89-90/100

Château Preuillac (Médoc) 2010
Very nice refinement here, an edge of cedar and exotic spice to the black fruit. On the palate delicious sweetness to the fruit. Real juiciness in this Preuillac, with a long, balanced finish. One to watch if price is right. 90-91/100

Château Bernadotte (Haut-Médoc) 2010
Meaty, quite gamy, with a richness of berry fruit. On the palate great sweetness: a really ripe, plum berry fruitiness, the lean sinewy tannin structure slicing through and moderate acidity adding more freshness. Well-balanced, though tannins are fairly chunky. 89-90/100

Château Sociando-Mallet (Haut Médoc) 2010
Earthy, dense aromatics, fruit more plummy, just hinting at a chocolaty richness, then onto the palate there is a juiciness and enough brightness to the fruit and acidity to lift this, but it is dry, concentrated and has a savoury, cherry and spice freshness and grip. 91/100

Château Sociando-Mallet, Demoiselles (Haut Médoc) 2010
Nice coffee and roasted been note of oak that has fine quality, with very good fruit. Plenty of fruit sweetness, the tannins relatively supple and this is has very modest extraction, but is charming for that. 89/100

The right bank

Domaine de l’A, Cotes de Castillon 2010
Stephan Derenecourt’s own estate. Sweet, cedary overlay to the more refined black fruit here. Lovely finesse, sweet, ripe and enjoyably lightened with a touch of herbs. 90-91/100

Château La Croix Lartigue, Cotes de Castillon 2010
Fine, dense black fruit, immediate concentration. Terrific fruit sweetness and depth: massive tannins and meaty substance here, a touch beefy, but lovely purity and length. 89/100

Château Montlandrie, Cotes du Castillon 2010
Some elegance here, and more plump, forward fruit too. I like the sweetness on the palate, and I like the juiciness of the tannin and acidity, and whilst not complex, this is well-balanced and delicious. 89-90/100

Château Les Cruzelles, Lalande-de-Pomerol 2010
Has a roasted character and very ripe fruit, the coffee-bean oak adding depth and a certain New Worldy modernity. Lovely fresh fruit on the palate, with lots of tannin and substance. Not fantastically elegant, but has structure and power. 90/100

Château Moulin Haut-Laroque, Fronsac 2010
Quite a big mouthful of wine this, with lots of extraction, tannin and a fair amount of oak. Has plenty of guts and good balance. 88-89/100

Château La Vieille Cure, Fronsac 2010
A hint of coffee and woodsmoke to solid, plummy fruit. Has a density which comes through on the palate, but not aggressively: meaty and rich, with a sinewy sheen of toughness at this stage. 88/100

Château Pey La Tour, Bordeaux Superieur 2010
Very nice, fragrant nose with some cherry brightness and a nice little leafy lift. Fresh on the palate, with crisp structure and a bit of depth and spice. Potential value here. 88/100

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