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Quick Links:   Day One  |  Day Two  |  Day Three  |  Day Four  |  Overall Thoughts

The 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.)

Day One:

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).

Our 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.

Following 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 great poise.
This concluded our first half day and it was a gentle introduction to a busy week.

Day Two:

For 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 level 14%.

Ch. 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. Alcohol: 14%.

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.

First up 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.

Chateau 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 Verdot.

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.

The 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 tasters present.

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 money.

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.

Lynch 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.

Pichon-Lalande: 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 impression.

At 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.

First 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.

This 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 second wines.

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%.

After 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 tastings.

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.

Chateau 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 flavour.

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 Canet (Below)

Day Three:

Our 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 offer!

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 the nose.

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 fruit finish.

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.

We 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 the Lurtons.

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 level 13.9%.

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 show.

The 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 effort.

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 Level 14.5%.

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 of Pomerol.

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.

This 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 powerful wine.

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 15.5%.

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 Blanc.

Wine of the Day: Cheval Blanc (Below)

Day Four:

After 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 Alexandre Thienpont.

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.

So 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 1950 vintage.

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 14.5%

Following 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 well balanced.

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 characteristics.

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 different terroir.

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%.

After 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.

Of 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 benefit greatly.

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. Margaux

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.

The Sun setting on Bordeaux 2010


Overall Thoughts on Bordeaux 2010:

I 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.

I 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

There 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 previous years.
The 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.


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