Bordeaux’s 2010 vintage has produced many thrilling, age-worthy wines – these clearly rival the quality of the 2009s – but the vintage’s climatic extremes fashioned powerful wines that combine pure fruit components with classic tannic structures and acid profiles.
Uneven flowering after a long cold winter resulted in poor fruit set, reducing the size of the potential crop from the outset. The fruit developed steadily through a warm but dry growing season, giving a concentrated crop of small berries with wonderful flavours. A cool September preserved the acidity in the grapes. Rain in early October reinvigorated the vines, bringing ripening to a successful conclusion. Clean and healthy grapes were harvested with high levels of tannin, bright flavours and refreshing crispness.
Some monumental red wines were produced in 2010, their firm structures are much less approachable than the 2009s but they will repay long ageing. Alcohol levels are high and acidity crisp. Wines like Lafite, Latour, Haut Brion, Léoville-Las-Cases and Cheval Blanc should ideally be aged for two or more decades. In general those wines with higher contents of the Cabernets fared best as they were less alcoholic, so better showcased their bright fruit.
Dry whites are aromatic with lovely freshness balancing their richness. Sauternes produced a generous crop of very sweet, rich, unctuous wines with beautifully integrated botrytis flavours – there appears to have been a deliberate effort to keep alcohol levels in check.
Buying 2010 Clarets en-primeur could be a shrewd investment. The vintage is clearly excellent, volumes of wine are small, allocations are predicted to be miserly and there is increased demand from the Far East, the US and from UK investors. All these factors should contrive to drive prices up once the wines are released.
A contrary argument says after the expensive 2009s if prices rise again can investors make money holding these wines? Equally if 2005, 2009 and 2010 were all “Vintages of the Century” should they command such premium prices? Nothing we have seen suggests price restraint from the Bordelais is likely. Not owning a crystal ball these views are speculation, but the 2009s were snapped up despite their eye watering release prices, similar enthusiastic purchasing of the 2010s seems likely.
A selection of the Châteaux whose wines we tasted that stood out as likely to deserve attention from investors includes Lafite (Pauillac), Margaux, Latour (Pauillac), Pichon Baron (Pauillac), Cos d’Estournel (St Estèphe), Montrose (St Estèphe), Palmer (Margaux), Pontet Canet (Pauillac), Ausone (St Émilion), Cheval Blanc (St Émilion), Vieux Château Certan (Pomerol) and l’Evangile (Pomerol).
If you are not sure if you are buying to drink or as an investment there are a raft of wines like Brane-Cantenac (Margaux), Gruaud Larose (St Julien), Léoville Barton (St Julien), Lynch Bages (Pauillac), Smith Haut Lafitte (Pessac Léognan) and Beychevelle (St Julien) that will fill both criteria perfectly.
The vintage has produced many excellent wines throughout the quality spectrum, particularly in the Medoc. There are plenty of lovely wines to choose from among the mid ranking Crus Classés and even at Cru Bourgeois level. A few châteaux that stood out for us that we hope may release at decent (!?) prices are – Marquis de Terme (Margaux), Kirwan (Margaux), Domaine de Chevalier (Pessac Léognan) and Talbot (St Julien). Crus Bourgeois worth considering include Cissac (Haut Médoc), Beaumont (Haut Médoc) and Tour St Bonnet (Médoc).
David Allen MW