Ever since the final grapes were gathered in October of last year, there has been growing excitement about the quality of the 2010 vintage. 2009 it is not. Its style is absolutely the opposite, which makes it all the more interesting. Whilst the 2009s were focused on openness and lusciousness of fruit, the 2010s are all about power, structure and longevity.
Although one or two of our top wines of the vintage were on the right bank – most notably Vieux Chateau Certan – our initial impressions were that this is more of a Cabernet year. It coped favourably with the drier summer months and the cooler days and nights allowing the very best wines to preserve an excellent freshness and vibrancy of fruit.
As is always the case in the later picked Cabernet years, the 2010 Primeur tastings at the beginning of the month were plenty early enough. Therefore, some wines were a little closed and backward, but in the finest wines the outstanding quality shone through. They are wines which will require patience as they have very intense flavours and strongly structured tannins supported by a natural level of acidity, which will require a certain period of bottle ageing before they reach their peak.
In such years it is sometimes unfair to pick one appellation over and above another, but the core of our favourite wines very much come from Pauillac and St Julien despite my absolute favourite being the hugely Cabernet dominant Ch Margaux. The brooding and powerful Ch Latour was the most spoken about wine of the week and all the super seconds have reached exceptional heights with individual favourites based more on personal tastes rather than qualitative distinction.
With yields down approximately 20%, the main concern is that the Châteaux owners can perceive confidence in the market and thus a potential demand for yet another Primeur campaign. They are showing signs of real unwillingness to bring prices down and more worryingly, they think there is a justification to increase prices above the all-time highs of 2009.
Our own view is that whilst this is clearly a vintage to buy for qualitative reasons, we will need to work harder than ever to find the right wines at the right price points for our customers.
We will be returning to Bordeaux next week to re-taste again, following which, we will be able to send out our comprehensive Primeur report.