Matthew Jukes' Bordeaux 2010 Report

Written By

April 12th 2011

Here is Matthew Jukes’ Bordeaux 2010 Report. He is superb company on any tasting trip and his writing is invariably illuminating and highly entertaining.

Tasting at Ch Montrose

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“Last Friday I returned from the most enjoyable en primeur Bordeaux tasting that I have ever undertaken. With heady, pre-event rumours about the 2010 vintage thick in the air, coupled with last year’s exceptional 2009s still firm in my memory banks, it looked like this might be the best back-to-back vintages in half a century, so anticipation was at a record high. The Bordelais are masters as blowing their own trumpets, so I was reasonably sceptical, but on paper this looked like it was going to be a cracking vintage and I, for one, held out hope that it would rival and perhaps even trump 2009!

The regulations concerning who attends these special “˜barrel-sample preview tastings’ have been tightened up considerably and so the expected hoards of wine trade riffraff didn’t materialise on my pan-Bordeaux tour. This was a relief and even the larger sub-regional events were relaxed. The weather was sublime, too, as it was in the UK, and this positivity was also echoed in the glass. As more people look to invest in en primeur Bordeaux, and with the Americans returning to the game as well as a marked increase in Far Eastern interest, we might not see the prices relaxing – as we all desperately hoped. But with the quality rising to a newfound level it is always going to be unlikely.

I was blown away by many of the Cabernet-dominant, Left Bank wines. For the most part Cabernet handled the near drought conditions last summer better than Merlot. While it wasn’t necessarily hot it didn’t rain much either and this cool summer and cool nights lead to a very long season. The ripeness of the grapes occurred late and with pronounced acidity still present. Also, the tannin levels were peculiarly high in 2010 – the result is a stunning cocktail of deliciously ripe fruit, lip-smacking acidity, very fresh tannins, aromatic and dark wines. I am seriously impressed with the Left Bank wines from Saint-Estèphe all of the way down to the Graves. Sauternes lack weight and intense sweetness, unlike the stellar 2009s, but they are super-fresh and lively, with a more immediate drinking window. The Right Bank didn’t fare as well as the Left with Merlot suffering stress and this has led to a few too many over-extracted, raisiny flavours, which some producers over-oaked, too. Pomerol did better than Saint-Emilion in this regard. The best wines in 2010 seem dense, but not heavy, with stunning freshness and a distinguished air. These are longer propositions than the 2009s and, as many winemakers said, it was nearly embarrassing to show such incredible wines after last year’s successes. But you can only do your best, and when the weather deals you a great hand you take it.

This is a classical Bordeaux vintage and it is up there with the very best. I, for one, think that it has the edge on 2005 and 2009 – now that’s saying something. If you would like to see a full list of my scores please have a look at my website – www.matthewjukes.com

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My favourite ten wines (at any price)
Château Margaux, 1er Cru (Margaux) 20/20
Château Latour, 1er Cru (Pauillac) 19.5/20
Château Haut-Brion, 1er Cu (Graves) 19.5/20
Château Pétrus (Pomerol) 19.5/20
Château Lafite-Rothschild, 1er Cru (Pauillac) 19/20
Vieux-Château Certan (Pomerol) 19/20
Château Ausone, Grand Cru Classé “˜A’ (St-Emilion) 19/20
Château Léoville-Las Cases, 2ème Cru (St-Julien) 19/20
Le Pin (Pomerol 19/20)
Château Pontet-Canet, 5ème Cru (Pauillac) 19/20

My favourite ten great value red wines (assuming prices are fair)
Château Léoville-Barton, 2ème Cru (Saint-Julien) 19/20
Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, 5ème Cru (Pauillac) 18.5/20
Château Léoville-Poyferré 2ème Cru (St-Julien) 18.5/20
Château Brane-Cantenac, 2ème Cru (Margaux) 18/20
Château Haut-Batailley, 5ème Cru (Pauillac) 18/20
Château Langoa-Barton, 3ème Cru (St-Julien) 18/20
Château Saint-Pierre, 4ème Cru (St-Julien) 18/20
Château La Tour du Pin, Grand Cru (Saint-Emilion) 17.5/20
Château Haut-Marbuzet , Cru Bourgeois, (St-Estèphe) 17.5/20
Château Phélan-Ségur, Cru Bourgeois (St-Estèphe) 17.5/20