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Wine Spectator Report Sees 2010 Bordeaux As A Modern Classic

June 6, 2011

With the 2010 vintage now resting in barrels, Bordeaux has a compelling duo of vintages in the wings, according to the latest Bordeaux report from Wine Spectator, which adds that many in the region are calling the 2010 vintage a modern classic.

“I’m convinced that the region has back-to-back classic vintages in the pipeline, with ’09 and ’10 evoking comparisons to the duo of ’89 and ’90,” said James Molesworth, senior editor and lead Bordeaux taster at Wine Spectator. “In addition, quality in 2010 is remarkably consistent across the region.”

Molesworth rated the year at 95-98 points on both the Left and Right banks, with the only hiccup being some “slightly obtuse” Merlots in Pomerol caused by higher-than-usual alcohol levels. The vintage favors the Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines of the Left Bank, as Cabernet relished the dry and cool conditions of the growing season.

Now the waiting game begins as châteaus huddle to determine their pricing to the trade, which in turn reverberates down to retailers in the U.S. market. With quality high and quantities slightly reduced, pricing for 2010 could easily rival the historic levels set by the ’09s, even with the Asian market dampened by the calamitous events in Japan. But one thing is certain: the quality is there.

The reds of Pessac and Graves are among the best in years. The Château Haut-Brion 2010 (96-99 on the Wine Spectator 100-point scale) is among the top wines of the vintage, showing the most structured and backward profile of all the first-growths. Haut-Brion’s sister property, Château La Mission Haut-Brion 2010 (95-98), is almost equally thrilling.

In the Médoc, the Margaux appellation is remarkably consistent in 2010. Château Margaux 2010 (96-99) and Château Palmer 2010 (95-98) were among the top-rated wines. Palmer’s second wine, the Alter Ego 2010 (92-95), shows how impressive the wines can be even after selections for the grands vins were made.

Within the Pauillac appellation, quality is superb across the board. The Château Mouton-Rothschild 2010 (95-98) touts a hefty 94 percent Cabernet Sauvignon in its blend, the highest percentage ever for the grand vin. The Château Lafite Rothschild 2010 (96-99) and Château Latour 2010 (96-99) are also benchmarks in the vintage. Other notables include Alfred Tesseron’s Château Pontet-Canet 2010 (96-99), as well as wines from Châteaus Lynch Bages (95-98) and Pichon-Longueville Baron (95-98). Solid values—which in Pauillac means less than $50 per bottle—can be found from Châteaus Haut-Bages Libéral, Pibran and Grand-Puy Ducasse, which all produced potentially outstanding wines. The best Pauillac value is likely to be the Château Pédesclaux (90-93).

St.-Julien and St.-Estèphe are impressive sources of structured, long-lived Cabernet Sauvignons in 2010. Château Léoville Las Cases 2010 (95-98) contrasts starkly with the equally dense yet plush and inviting Château Léoville Barton 2010 (94-97). St.-Estèphe is represented by the compelling Château Cos-d’Estournel 2010 (96-99), one of the top wines in the vintage overall.

On the Right Bank, the key was to capture the freshness of the fruit, and winemakers had to be a bit more selective and gentler with extractions than in 2009. Christian Moueix’s Château Trotanoy Pomerol 2010 (96-99) and Château La Fleur-Pétrus Pomerol 2010 (96-99) were among the top scorers. Moueix has also turned out the best Château Latour à Pomerol (95-98) in recent years.

Alexandre Thienpont’s Vieux-Château-Certan Pomerol 2010 (96-99) is a candidate for Right Bank wine of the vintage; it features 86 percent Merlot, 8 percent Cabernet Franc and 6 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, almost the same as the 2009. Thienpont also produced a stunning pure Merlot at Château Le Pin (96-99). Châteaus L’Evangile, La Conseillante, Pétrus, Hosanna, Certan de May and Providence are all potentially classic Pomerols as well. For value, look for Château de Sales Pomerol 2010 (89-92).

St.-Emilion’s 2010 vintage is loaded with excellent wines. Château Cheval-Blanc (95-98) produced one of the appellation’s leading wines, joined by La Mondotte, Château de Valandraud and Château Pavie-Macquin. Also in the top tier, at 94-97 points, are Châteaus Ausone, Angélus, Bélair-Monange, Canon-La Gaffelière, Magdelaine and Pavie, followed closely by Châteaus Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarosse, Figeac and Bellevue-Mondotte and a few others, all at 93-96 points.

The 2010 vintage is a strong one for dry whites, with top names in Pessac-Léognan like Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion, Pape Clément, Smith-Haut-Lafitte and Domaine de Chevalier all producing terrific wines. Château Brown Pessac-Léognan White 2010 (91-94) is a top performer amid a group that also includes Châteaus Malartic-Lagravière, Carbonnieux, Couhins-Lurton and others.

Barsac and Sauternes turned in a consistent and potentially outstanding set of wines. Overall, Wine Spectator rated the 2010 Sauternes vintage at 91-94 points, pending reviews of the finished wines next year. Château Doisy Daëne, along with Châteaus Coutet, Rieussec, La Tour Blanche, d’Yquem, de Fargues and Guiraud were among the top ’10s in the report. To read the complete Bordeaux 2010 report, go to winespectator.com.

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