Cult Wines team made the trip over to Bordeaux last
week for the trade en primeur tastings which
consisted of 3 and half days of ‘hard-work’ in
beautiful sunshine! The Circle Rive Droite tasting
held in London a few weeks ago had given us an
insight for what was in store, but speaking on
behalf of the whole team – the quality across the
board surpassed our expectations.
Our team this year was diverse in experience and
palates, from Philip who has had over 20 years
experience tasting barrel samples from the Cote d’Or
to California and Bordeaux to Jonathan, our newest
member of the team – who was enjoying his first trip
to Bordeaux and tasting of en primeur. Nonetheless,
whilst we don’t profess to have the discerning
palate of a Robert Parker Jr. or a James Suckling,
we felt well positioned to report back our
impressions of what is another outstanding vintage.
We will publish further information, scores and
reviews over the next few weeks. If you are
interested in being kept up to date with the en
primeur campaign or would like to request
allocations for specific wines, then please register
your interest by getting in touch.
(There will be an En Primeur 2010 form to fill
out in the coming weeks.)
Having arrived in Bordeaux at 10.30am, we picked up
our 7 seater hire car which over the week would
cover many hundreds of miles and guarantee our swift
negotiation of the plethora of UGC tastings and
Chateaux visits we had in store. The car is a
surprisingly crucial decision during en primeur week
for this reason – and I’m happy to say our Seat
Alhambra with its many gadgets stood up to the
challenge very well (even if Philip still hadn’t
worked out how to work the electronic door by the
end of the week).
accommodation in Lussac de Martigues, surrounded by
vineyards was a wonderful base for the week but it
meant that we were a good hour away from our first
appointment in the Sauternes at Chateau d’Yquem.
On arrival we were treated superbly well by the team
at Yquem and given a full tour of the Chateau even
during this busy time. As the only Premier Cru
Superior in the Sauternes, which comfortably sits
head and shoulders above the rest of the estates, we
were expecting good things.
The wine itself was glorious and a great way to
start the week. The rigorous selection process
undertaken by the Chateau has produced a wine fully
in keeping with the expectations for the 2010
vintage. They have drawn comparison with the 1988
vintage, but perhaps there will be more to come from
the 2010 in the ensuing years.
Chateau d’Yquem: The 2010 is of great
stature, an excellent body to the wine provides
lovely floral aromas with citrus and honey on the
palate which leads into a creamy finish. Overall
very fresh and wonderfully balanced.
Yquem, we made the short trip to the Lafite Estate
owned Ch. Rieussec which although a premier cru is
often sold as tied stock to some of the Lafite
Estate’s more in demand wines, which is in some ways
a shame as this really is a very high quality wine.
Ch. Rieussec: This year’s blend consisted
of 92% Semillon, 5% Sauvignon Blanc and 3%
Muscadelle. There was real power in this wine and it
provided some lovely floral notes on the nose. The
depth of this wine impressed upon us and it should
develop very well in cellaring – definitely a
standout in the Sauternes.
Of all the other Sauternes and Barsac wines tasted
at the UGC held at Desmirail (later in the week) -
Chateau Suduiraut really stood out as a wine with
This concluded our first half day and it was a
gentle introduction to a busy week.
our second day we were based in the Left bank and
started with a morning tasting at Ch. Mouton
Rothschild – our first red and first growth of the
week. There were four wines available to taste:
d’Armailhac, Clerc Milon, Petit Mouton and Mouton
Rothschild. It was interesting to compare our
initial thoughts on the wine compared with those at
the end of the week. I think what can definitely be
said is that it has left us somewhat divided. It is
certainly true that the 2010 is in keeping with
Mouton and its style – and that what they have
produced is very, very good.
Ch. D’Armailhac: Dark and intense colour.
Fruit aromas on the nose, powerful rounded tannins
with a long oaky finish. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23%
Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Alcohol
Clerc Milon: Black fruits with notes of spice
on the nose. Full-bodied with a velvety texture, the
fresh fruit flavours are evident. Finish is long and
warm hearted. Overall shows balance and great
refinement. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 11%
Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Carmenere.
Le Petit Mouton: Second Wine. Rich and
complex nose with notes of red fruit and Vanilla.
Deep, ripe fruit flavours on the palate – tannic in
structure but very elegant. The finish was long and
supple. Lovely wine. 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24%
Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol: 14%.
Chateau Mouton Rothschild: A fruity aroma
on the nose, this wine has lovely complex and
powerful body with great depth. Minerality and
freshness comes through in this elegant wine. Well
balanced. 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot.
Our next appointment was at the nearby Pontet Canet
where we scheduled for a tasting and lunch before
moving onto the UGC Saint-Julien, Pauillac & Saint-Estèphe
at Chateau Branaire-Ducru.
was the 100% bio-dynamic wine of Ch. Pontet Canet.
First impressions were excellent. All of the team
were very impressed with the preciseness of Guy
Tesseron’s effort. Opinion seemed to be unanimous
amongst the wine trade in Bordeaux – and it fully
deserves to be highlighted as one of the stars of
Pauillac this year. The 2010 caps off what has been
a trio of excellent wines made by the Chateau and is
testament to the investment not just of money, but
time, human effort and philosophical beliefs.
Pontet Canet: Noticeably deep colour to this
wine, inky purple/black. Lovely aromas. On the
palate there is strong fruit– very intense with
fantastic depth and beautifully balanced structure.
A very tasty wine, almost a shame to spit out!
Yields are down 10% from 2009. 65% Cabernet
Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit
After a lovely lunch at Pontet Canet – which was
accompanied by the 2000 vintage, which was showing
very well – we made our way to the first of our
Union des Grand Cru tastings held at Branaire-Ducru,
showcasing classified wines from Saint-Julien,
Pauillac & Saint-Estèphe.
overall quality was high amongst the wines on show
and was a good indication of the strength of the
2010 vintage from top to bottom. Of the St. Julien
wines on show Beychevelle produced another very high
quality wine on a level with 2009 but very different
in style and Leoville Barton shone through with a
classic style with great depth.
Grand Puy Lacoste, Lynch Bages and Pichon Lalande
were favourites of the team in a very high quality
Pauillac showing. GPL in particular proving somewhat
of a favourite for not just our team but many of the
Lafon Rochet proved to be the standout from Saint-Estephe
and another success for Guy Tesseron, a Chateau to
look out for and one that may prove great value for
Beychevelle: Very sumptuous fruits on the
palate with soft round tannins, well balanced wine
with an enticing finish.
Leoville Barton: A deep ruby colour with
black fruits on the nose. Lovely style to this wine,
in keeping with the Barton estate. Fruit and spice
run through this wine into a long finish.
Bages: Philip simply marked this as ‘great,
end of story’. The wine showed lovely freshness,
good concentration and nice supple tannins. The
aciditiy provided great balance and one will expect
this to be for the long-haul.
Grand Puy Lacoste: Deep colour to this
wine with lovely aromas of fruits and oak. Tannins
silky smooth – very well layered wine and classic in
style. Perfectly balanced with a long finish.
A very deep colour to this wine and an elegant
fruit aroma. Very focused with pure fruits in the
mouth, lovely acidity providing balance leading into
a long finish. This showed real class.
Lafon-Rochet: A lovely wine from the
vineyard that borders Cos and Lafite. Strong fruit
aromas emanate from the glass. The wine is velvety
smooth on the palate, with great structure and
balance. A fine and long finish, leave a lasting
this point of the day the temperature had climbed to
30 degrees and many of the visiting trade, who are
more used to colder and wetter climes, took
advantage of our beautiful surroundings and deck
chairs provided to soak up the sun! It was a welcome
change to the weather which greeted us last year –
and if anything it helped to make the wine taste
that much better!
Our afternoon consisted of a tasting at Cos
d’Estorunel followed by a visit to Ch. Lascombes
where the UGC tasting for the Margaux appellation
was being held.
First up was Cos and following their 7 year
restoration and redevelopment, which finished in
2008, it is quite some place to visit for a tasting.
With an entrance hall more akin to a 5 star hotel
and cellar and vat system which would be more at
home on the set of a new James Bond film, it helps
to create a distinct aura whilst tasting the three
wines of the Cos d’Estournel stable: Goulee, Pagodes
de Cos and the grand vin.
impressions were that the 2010 vintage was a far cry
from the approach taken by the Cos last year. As
General Manager, Jean-Guillaume Prats, put it ‘2009
Cos was more an expression of the vintage than it
was Cos, but with 2010 it is more an expression of
Cos’. For the first and second wines the harvesting
of the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc
occurred between 27th September and 6th October. Of
the total yield 55% will make it in the grand vin
with the remaining 45% making up the second wine.
year’s effort is certainly going to help allay those
critics of Cos following last year, and the whole
team very much enjoyed the classically structured
style. We also had the opportunity to taste the
third wine: Goulée which is from the Northern Medoc,
and felt it showed very well alongside the first and
Goulée: This could be one of the stars of
the week for the more affordable wines! The aromas
were inviting, the wine was fresh and velvety.
Lovely fruit flavours evident on the palate with
nice acidity. 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot.
Alcohol level 13.74%.
Les Pagodes de Cos: You know it’s a good
vintage when the second wines are of this standard.
Lovely fruits and spice, a balanced and structured
offering. 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot.
Alcohol level 14.13%.
Chateau Cos d'Estournel: Deep crimson
colour, nose still quite closed but a beautifully
smooth texture in the mouth with a great freshness.
The tannins are evident but approachable, and an
explosion of fruit flavour develops in the mouth. A
very long finish – delightful! 78% Cabernet
Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 2% Cabernet franc, 1% Petit
Verdot. Alcohol level 14.5%.
a quick visit to the private cellar of Cos
d’Estournel – another phenomenal room – we made our
way down the left bank towards Margaux for the UGC
On reflection tasting these wines at the end of a
long day may have put them at a disadvantage, but I
think in general the level was good, but in similar
fashion to some of the other appellations there were
some that didn’t quite hit the mark. Of the ones
that were particularly impressive – we found Brane
Cantenac a superb expression of Margaux and one of
the wines of the tasting. Ch. Lascombes also stood
out alongside a very fine effort from Malescot St.
Expury and Rauzan Segla.
Brane Cantenac: This has a very perfumed
nose, fruity and floral. This wine is very striking
in the mouth with layers of fruit and round tannins.
A lovely elegant wine.
Chateau Lascombes: A very nice wine. Dark
fruits pressed upon us, on the palate. Quite tannic,
but the wine had good balance and a pleasant finish.
Chateau Malescot Saint-Exupery: A powerful
effort from Malescot, fruit aromas lead into a
lovely mid-palate which was well structured. Quite
tannic but a lovely finish left a strong fruit
That finished our day first full day of tastings,
and meant we had covered a significant number of the
Left Bank wines. Overall impressions after the first
day were very good. There were a lot of fresh and
vibrant wines on show – and although some wines
hadn’t quite hit the mark there were many that had
produced fantastic wines.
Wine of the Day: Pontet
day started with the team being split in two, with
one half off to taste at Ch. Cheval Blanc and the
other half, tasting at Ch. Angelus. It was the right
bank where we were to remain for our third tasting
day which very much suited us after a busy
travelling schedule the previous day.
The team at Ch. Angelus were not only fortunate
enough to taste the two wines of the estate (Angelus
& Carillon de l ’Angèlus) but also had the pleasure
of tasting friends of the estate. Much to our
surprise some of these wines were produced far from
Bordeaux with Lebanese Rioja and Thai Shiraz also on
We were very impressed by both the first and second
wine of Ch. Angelus as well as selected friends such
as Ch. Laroze. However, many of the other St-Emilion
wines tasted at Angelus were a little disappointing,
we felt they were slightly over extracted and a
little uneven (perhaps directed at the U.S. market).
Carillon de l’Angèlus: Second wine,
velvety and well balanced with delightful fruit on
the nose and really coming through in the mouth. A
wine that demonstrates the quality of the Grand Vin
and the typical characteristics of St-Emilion.
Château Angelus: Hints of berries and
spices on the nose, well balanced and elegant
texture in the mouth. Good length and crispness. One
of the best Angelus from the past decade. 50%
Merlot, 47% Cabernet Franc, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Alcohol level 14%.
Château Laroze: This wine could well be
the Goulée of the Right Bank in terms of
affordability. Well rounded with notes of fruit on
Whilst half the team tasted wines at Angelus, the
rest were enjoying the delights of the Cheval Blanc
tasting. Whilst Angelus has gained a reputation as
one of the top wines in Saint-Emilion, it still
ranks below Cheval Blanc, a point that was regularly
made by the half of the team who went. Nevertheless,
Cheval oozes class and elegance, and the wine
certainly didn’t disappoint. On show were Petit
Cheval, Cheval Blanc and the vineyard they own
directly opposite; La Tour du Pin.
Château La Tour du Pin: A very approachable
wine. Attractive fruit bouquet and similarly fruity
on the palate. A nice richness and balance. 75%
merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc.
Château Petit Cheval: An aromatic bouquet
combines with a lovely deep ruby red colour. A
powerful, well bodied effort that leaves a ripe red
Château Cheval Blanc: The colour was a
deep intense red and on the nose you get complex
floral and red fruit aromas. The wine is wonderfully
smooth on the palate and there is a freshness that
coats the mouth. Great layers, slightly angular wine
but there is no doubt this will be great. 56%
Cabernet Franc and 44% Merlot.
then made our way to the first UGC tasting we had
planned for the day held at La Couspaude, unveiling
more of what 2010 had to offer across St-Emilion’s
right bank. Whilst, some of the more stylistically
modern St. Emilion’s struggled to achieve the right
balance between high alcohol content and acidity,
the more traditional producers constructed fresh
wines with soft tannins that were extremely
impressive. Pavie-Macquin, Larcis-Ducasse, Clos
Fourtet and Figeac were amongst our favourites in a
mixed St-Emilion showing.
Château Pavie-Macquin: notes of plum,
berries and liquorish. Stylish and well balanced.
High alcohol but perfect acidity leaves lovely juicy
fruit flavours on the palate, with a long finish.
Château Larcis-Ducasse: meaty on the nose,
dark lusterless purple in colour. Quite tannic but
with well rounded explosive fruity flavour on a long
finish, perfectly complex.
Château Clos Fourtet: Earthy and smokey
aromas, lovely fresh fruit flavours evident on the
palate, acidity and alcohol well balanced, long and
warm finish. A wine that continues to improve under
Château Figeac: notes of herbs and spices,
soft and subtle, understated wine with a good
balance and structured finish. 33% Merlot, 33%
Cabernet France, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon. Alcohol
After a well deserved lunch in the glorious Bordeaux
sunshine (that we had now become accustomed to), we
headed onto our next UGC tasting at Ch. La Pointe,
where the wines from the Pomerol estates were on
quality across Pomerol for 2010 was very high in our
opinion, but two wines that really stood out at the
UGC were Château Petit Village and in particular
Château La Conseillante - an extremely notable
Château La Conseillante: showing a rich
ruby colour, traces of chocolate and currants on the
nose, smooth silky tannins and good energetic
acidity. 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol
Château Petit Village: beautifully deep
red colour, vibrant nose. Supple tannins, the
balance between alcohol and acidity a near perfect
marriage. A wine that clearly expresses the finesse
After an enjoyable tasting at a delightfully quaint
Ch. La Pointe in Pomerol, we headed to the most
elevated point in St-Emilion- Château
Troplong-Mondot. We had already heard impressive
reviews of the wine and were eagerly anticipating
our last tasting of the day.
The Chateau, the vineyards and the estate are
beautifully situated on top of a hill overlooking
Chateau Pavie and the ancient city of Saint Emilion.
At the top of the hill we were greeted by Margaux
Pariente- the oldest of the winemaker’s daughters
who was extremely welcoming and insightful.
year the Chateau have decided not to produce a
second wine as they were so impressed with the
quality, that everything went into the Grand Vin.
Similarly to last year’s wine the alcohol levels
were high and the estate have produced another very
Château Troplong-Mondot: thick ruby red
colour, intense fruit aromas, hints of blackberries
and truffles. Supple and highly opulent with serious
length. One of the stars of St-Emilion. 85% Merlot,
5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, Alcohol
Our high expectations for this wine were very much
exceeded; the high alcohol content matched with a
superb freshness provided a great balance.
That concluded our day spent tasting on the right
bank. The overall impression was that the quality of
Pomerol was more consistent than St-Emilion though
they failed to match the quality evident at one or
two of the top St-Emilion estates, such as Cheval
Wine of the Day: Cheval
spending the whole day on the Right Bank, which was
a welcome change for our two designated drivers for
the week (Phil and Tom), our Fourth day saw us
covering the greatest distance of the whole week!
First off we had the short trip to Pomerol for a
tasting at Vieux Chateau Certan, a wine which had
been lavished praise all week from our fellow
professionals, critics and on twitter! Therefore we
were certainly excited to taste this effort from
Following this I had planned for us to make the hour
long drive to the UGC tasting for Pessac and Graves,
held at Chateau Malartic- Lagravière. It’s a lot
easier to make the itinerary when you’re not the one
driving, but in all honesty I think they enjoyed
driving on the narrow winding roads through the
vineyards! (Pic) Tom Gearing (Director) andTom
Turner (Portfolio Manager) at Vieux Chateau Certan.
The visit to this UGC also marked our first chance
to taste the Bordeaux whites for 2010, which
similarly to VCC, we had heard numerous good things
about. Our afternoon consisted of two chateau
tastings, one in St-Julien at Ducru Beaucaillou and
our final visit of the week at Chateau Margaux (not
a bad way to finish). Up until this point of the
week, we had been very impressed with what 2010 had
to offer but this final day which consisted of both
the whites and reds, was probably the most
consistent and impressive.
the day started with an early morning appointment at
Vieux Chateau Certan. The winemaker Alexandre
Thienpont led the tasting and presented his wine in
very affable manor. You can really feel and
understand the level of preciseness, care and
attention that Alexandre and his family put into the
wines at Vieux Chateau Certan. Following from a very
well received effort in 2009, again VCC have found
the right balance in getting the most of this year’s
weather conditions to produce a quite wonderful wine
that very much leaves a smile on your face.
Alexandre feels that the 09 and 10 are very much
twins, but with differing qualities. I think this is
a good assessment overall between the differences of
the 09 and 10 vintage. They shouldn’t be viewed as
one better than the other, but rather two great
vintages which over time will tell what people’s
preference will be.
Looking more specifically at the wine, production
will be down on previous years with around 3,400
cases expected to be produced and in terms of blend
comparison – 1998 is of similar composition whilst,
Alexandre felt that it bears most similarity to the
Vieux Chateau Certan: An enticing fruity
nose followed by superb depth and concentration on
the palate. This has fabulous structure with
intricate layers of fruits and spice. The tannins
were velvety and overall we were impressed by the
freshness of this wine. Top marks. 86% Merlot, 8%
Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. Alcohol level
this great start to the day we hopped in the car and
headed to the Graves and Pessac-Leognan – the
closest appellations to the city of Bordeaux. By the
time we arrived at midday temperatures were already
heading towards the 30 degree mark and the team were
in high spirits. As mentioned this was the first
opportunity we had to taste the whites – and after
two and half days of over 150 reds, it was more than
a welcome break!
The quality of the whites was excellent; in fact
it’s hard to single out any as it would do
disservice to the quality of the others. I think
that Domaine de Chevalier for both their white and
red, was excellent and probably the standout
performer alongside Smith Haut Lafite, which also
produced a great red and white. In terms of other
top whites, Pape Clement was stunning – a
beautifully vibrant and fresh wine, whilst Larrivet
Haut Brion was also very good.
Domaine de Chevalier (blanc): What a
fantastic white wine, this is a very well balanced
white with lovely fresh acidity. Nice long finish.
Pape Clément (blanc): This a gorgeous
white, vibrant on the nose and palate. A note of
citrus fruits with a creamy finish, the acidity is
Larrivet-Haut-Brion (blanc): Very inviting
nose on this wine. Lovely intensity of fruit, exotic
flavours and balancing acidity.
Smith Haut Lafitte (blanc): This wine has
a lovely fruity nose that leads into a deep complex
palate of crisp fresh flavours. Very well balanced.
As mentioned when it came to the reds it was a
similar story for de Chevalier and Smith Haut
Lafitte, as both produced the stand outs for this
tasting. It was no surprise that the other top
performer came from Haut Bailly, who have been on
top form in recent vintages producing wines with in
a powerfully classic style.
Haut Bailly: Strong fruit aromas on the
nose. Great structure to this wine, nice layers and
beautifully balanced. A powerful effort which should
cellar well for 10-20 years. 62% Cabernet Sauvignon,
36% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol level 13.9%.
Domaine de Chevalier: A very vibrant,
purple colour to this wine. The nose was slightly
restrained, but with hints of fruit. Very smooth
texture which had a lovely freshness brought by the
acidity. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 8%
Petit Verdot. Alcohol level 13%
Smith Haut Lafitte: Very dense colour to
this wine, aromas of dark fruits very much evident.
The tannins are firm but the wine displays lovely
power, density and freshness from the acidity. 66%
Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Cabernet franc,
1% Petit Verdot. Alcohol level 13.5%.
After a brief foray into the whites that Bordeaux
2010 had to offer we revisited St-Julien to taste
one of the best offerings from an appellation that
had impressed upon us greatly at the start of the
week. We arrived at Ch. Ducru-Beaucaillou, a rather
grand entrance to taste one of the most high profile
properties of St-Julien. Some of the team could have
confused the insides of the Chateau with the Tate
Modern. We tasted three wines- Ch. Ducru-
Beaucaillou, Croix de Beaucaillou and Ch.
Lalande-Borie each wine unique in its
Château Lalande-Borie: Deep purple in
colour, notes of berries and plums, ripe tannins and
an impressive finish. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40%
Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol Level 13.95%.
The severe selection process clearly embodied in
this soft, pleasant amiable wine.
Croix de Beaucaillou: A great dark violet
colour with notes of plums and dark berries.
Slightly restrained but clearly a wine with a lot of
potential. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot.
Alcohol Level 13.66%.
2010 celebrates the debut for the new label of Croix
de Beaucaillou to be designed by a British Artist
and unveiled at the London Wine Fair in May. An
attempt to promote this wine as unique rather than
the 2nd label of Ducru as the wine emanates from a
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou: Dark violet
with a striking nose, notes of plum and cherry.
Splendid palate of fruit, ripeness of acidity
evident. Unrelenting finish, High Class. Overtaking
2009 in our opinion. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10%
Merlot. Alcohol Level 13.95%.
finishing the tasting, the team surveyed the
magnificent grounds and the immaculate lawn in the
35 degree heat, reflecting on what was another high
quality 2010 wine. At this point, the conversation
of pricing came up and it was one that we were
unanimous in believing the prices would not be any
lower than last year. It was evident throughout the
week, that many Chateau are financialy sound. There
is no need on the part of the winemakers and
Chateaux owners to drop prices, and with the
precedent set last year combined with another
fantastic vintage – why would they? It was relevant
that this conversation should take place on the lawn
of Ducru Beaucaillou, as last year Bruno Borie was
so disgruntled by negociants discounting his 2009
vintage that he said that anyone seen to be dropping
the price would have their allocations and supply
for Ducru cut in the future. This underlined Borie’s
ambition to see his wine become one of the top wines
in Bordeaux and the top ‘Super Second’ – but for me
it also highlighted the immense wealth that these
Chateau owners now possess that they would rather
price high and sell less, then drop the price of
their wines. With this point lingering in the air,
it was the short trip down to Margaux for our
afternoon tasting at Chateau Margaux.
all the first growth Chateau, Margaux has become
synonymous with class, elegance and this is
underpinned by the stunning chateau on the estate.
In the last twelve months it has been well known
that the Chateau has made a concerted effort to
connect with their newfound customer base in the Far
East. Prices of both Ch. Margaux and Pavillon Rouge
du Margaux (second wine) have seen considerable
uptake, and this has lead in part to the decision to
make a third wine for both the 2009 and 2010
vintage. The obvious high quality of the vintage has
also been a factor it making this possible but as
Paul Pontallier pointed out, with prices of Pavillon
at over $100 per bottle the quality of the wine
needs to match this new price tag. I think you can
also add that by making a third wine it increases
the Chateau’s brand exposure in the Asian market,
but it will certainly be good news to those who
bought Pavillon Rouge 2009 as production will
certainly be reduced now that a proportion of the
wine will go into a third, and the quality will
At the tasting we were presented with three wines:
Pavillon Blanc du Margaux (white wine), Pavillon
Rouge du Margaux (second wine) and Ch. Margaux
(grand vin). The quality across the board was very
high. Although difficult to compare to 2009 as the
wines were very different, it was difficult to argue
against both the Pavillon Blanc and Pavillon Rouge
being the best ever produced. The Margaux was a
delight, and certainly a highlight of the week.
Pavillon Blanc de Chateau Margaux: Layers
of floral and fruit aromas. The wine itself has a
beautifully freshness, packed full of flavour with a
vibrant finish. 100% Sauvignon Blanc.
Pavillon Rouge de Chateau Margaux: Very
high quality wine, this is very precise. It is
extremely well balanced, with lovely layers of fruit
with rounded tannins. Finish was sublime. 60%
Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot.
Alcohol level 13.5%.
Chateau Margaux: The colour of this wine
is a very deep ruby. It’s packed full of flavours
and has a beautifully smooth texture which coats the
mouth in rich pure fruits. A powerful effort with an
elegant finish – ‘classic, with a twist’. 90%
Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 1.5% Cabernet Franc,
1.5% Petit Verdot
Wine of the Day: Ch.
The team at Chateau Margaux
With that tasting it concluded our packed 3 and half
days in Bordeaux. Over 200 wines were tasted during
our time there and to think there was still a wealth
of wines un-sampled, you realise the tough job the
top wine critics have.
Sun setting on Bordeaux 2010
Overall Thoughts on Bordeaux 2010:
think we were a little sceptical coming here, as to
whether the Bordelais had produced another ‘great
vintage’, but by the end I think we were convinced
that the top Chateaux had produced efforts worthy of
that title and wines that may well be best laid down
for future generations! As the scores from the
critics begin to roll in ‘greatness’ is seemingly
affirmed, but I suppose until Robert Parker Jr
releases his notes then it won’t be consigned to the
hall of fame just yet.
It must be said that Mother Nature was certainly
kind on the winemakers of Bordeaux for a second year
running – the driest year for generations combined
with well timed rain during harvest and long warm
sun filled days provided the fundamentals. This a
vintage that can definitely considered modern, in
the technical sense, as technology certainly played
its part to produce a ‘great vintage’.
This vintage was all about the winemakers finding a
balance. The top wines were those that managed to
find the balance between higher than usual alcohol
levels, high acidity and producing
velvety/approachable tannins. Looking across the
board high alcohol content may well be the things
most remembered by this vintage – Chateau Palmer
recording their highest ever levels. For those
tasting, I think freshness would be a word
synonymous with a lot of notes – a result of the
high levels of acidity.
think in the case of the merlot grapes there was
certainly a problem in some cases of over ripe and
under ripe. Another characteristic of this vintage
was the unique assemblage of a lot of the top
Chateaux – many with higher than usual Cabernet
Sauvignon on the left bank (Margaux: 90% in the
grand vin) and on the right bank wine such as
Vieux Chateau Certan which contained an historically
high 86% Merlot.
From an investment point of view, I suppose the best
buys won’t be evident until the prices are known. I
think that in general the top Chateaux – which will
inevitably receive top scores – will be long-term
investments. If we are taking last year’s release
prices as a starting point then a hold of 5 years
should be seen as minimum on any of the top wines to
make solid returns. However, in a great vintage
history shows us that the wines will last the test
of time and demand will only ever increase. In
summary the investment view for the 2010 should be
mid-long term stable returns.
Lafite and Latour will no see no reason to lower
prices for 2010
will no doubt be certain wines which will perform
the best in the short term and based on the results
of last year, it would seem to point to the lower
capital wines for the most speculative returns. The
second wines were hugely impressive in percentage
returns, but how will the Chateaux price them this
year? It’s been a long time since Carruades, Forts
and Pavillon was sold as tied stock and with prices
fetching £150-£350 per bottle – there is no reason
for the Chateaux to sell anywhere near as low as
top performers this year could well come from the
top classified growths outside the ‘big 8’. Pontet
Canet have put together a trilogy of brilliant wines
and as their reputation continues to soar, it may
well be one of the last vintages to get hold of this
wine at a ‘reasonable price’. Similarly, Lynch Bages
who have followed 2009 with another fantastic wine
will undoubtedly receive top marks from the critics
and with 2010 production expected to be down even on
2009, it could see good returns as long as it’s
released at similar price to last year. Chateau
Montrose, fits the bill, a wine that is on top form
following its change of hands in 2006 and under the
influence of Delmas has produced another top wine.
A lot of critics have singled out Montrose as one of
the top performers of the left bank. I think Cos
d’Estournel, in answering a lot of critics, offers
good investment potential but similarly to Ducru
Beaucaillou – it will depend on the price. On the
right bank, Vieux Chateau Certan, one of the stand
out wines of the vintage, with only 3,400 cases
expected to be produced could be an exciting
investment opportunity if it’s possible to get
supply! The more obvious choices will be the likes
of Beychevelle which has enjoyed a lot of notoriety
in the Far East, Duhart Milon Rothschild (Lafite’s
3rd wine) and potentially the estate wines of Mouton
Rothschild: Clerc Milon and d’Armailhac. The latter
two both produced by the Mouton Rothschild team are
one of the few last remaining wines that are
produced by first growth estates at modest prices.
The Clerc Milon was especially good and has
impressed the critics thus far. It doesn’t seem long
before these two wines will see price growth in the
same vein as the second wines. Duhart Milon has lead
the way for the likes of these two wines and it
could well be worth purchasing.