I have yet to move my website over from PC to Mac, so please bear with me while I get that up and running. For now, will post the notes on to my blog. The first wave below Cercle de Rive Droite and the Perse wines, all tasted on the Sunday before the en primer week got officially underway.
Cercle de Rive Droite
Tasted in the new cellars of Chateau Barde Haut.
The majority of these wines suggest (as I have said in a previous post) that this is a boys vintage, one for comparing muscles. In fact, I felt this far more clearly in both this tasting and the one for Cru Bourgeois than in those of the UGC, suggesting that terroir counted for an awful lot in 2010. I can’t in all conscience give these OTT wines massive scores, and continue to complain about high alcohol, so be aware that unless wines are very well balanced, I will take a few points off for heat. My palate wants more restraint, and my scoring has to follow that.
Two estates really stood out for me in terms of how to deal with this issue. Firstly, Pontet Canet, who practised no leaf thinning and no green harvesting, to ensure the bunches were protected and to try to keep natural sugar levels reasonable. Secondly Pavillon Blanc from Chateau Margaux, where they used just 40% of the available grape must, because they used only the very first pressing and discarded the rest. This ensured the higher alcohol must that comes during the later stages of pressing was not used (they did declassify it and sell it on for generic AOC use). Of course they can afford to lose some of their production, but it does show that there are choices available.
For this Cercle de Rive Droite tasting, there were some excellent wines that really stood out, but a number that seemed to have picked to control sugars before phenolic ripeness had been reached, or others that over-extracted in what is a big, big vintage.
Chateau Siaurac, Lalande-de-Pomerol 2010
Rich, vanilla-pod scented nose, with dark cherries, a Mauritius sunset. This follows through on the palate, it is rich with pure fruit flavours, good freshness on the finish, excellent quality for what is likely to be a reasonably priced wine. 80% merlot, 20% cab franc. 91-92/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau de Viaud, Lalande-de-Pomerol 2010
This chateau has made the news recently as it was sold by Philippe Raoux to COFCO, a Chinese conglomerate. From this sample, they have bought a good quality chateau with room for improvement. A beautifully powerful nose, really deeply fruited, some gentle spice, but on the palate I get ever so slightly burnt taste with too much heat, even though it is well masked by powerful cassis. 67% merlot, 27% cabernet franc, 6% cabernet sauvignon. 87/100. Drink 2015-2030
La Fleur de Bouard, Lalande-de-Pomerol 2010
85% merlot, 10% cab franc, 5% cab sauvignon. Get some alcohol on the nose here, and it is a touch hot on the finish also, but in between there are some wonderfully textured cherry and blackberry fruits, and a sense of freshness to balance it all out, real blackberry crumble going on here with the toasted oak. 91/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau La Sergue, Lalande-de-Pomerol 2010
Deep, intense colour, inky purple, clearly coming from the 3% malbec, here blended with 85% merlot, and 12% cabernet franc. Grown from 5 hectares of vines on mainly gravel-clay soils, this is a good effort from winemaker Pascal Chattonet. Wonderfully tight, well-drawn tannins, I am seriously enjoying this. It gives the impression of alcohol that is girding at the bit, but under control. 91/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau Jean de Gué, Lalande-de-Pomerol 2010
Enjoyable wine from Vignobles Aubert (owners of La Couspaude in Saint Emilion). Rich and textured, with well-balanced acidity and plenty of sweet truffly black fruits. 75% merlot, 20% cabernet franc 5% cabernet sauvignon. Small estate, at 10 hectares, but one that should offer good value for money. 90-91/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau de Chambrun, Lalande-de-Pomerol 2010
Owned by Swiss entepreneur Silvio Denz (bought from the very talented Jean-Philippe Janoueix, who had already done a lot to improve the vines). Mocha and bitter toasted beans, this has a lot going on, but here I worry that the alcohol will dry it out slightly. Still, my final impression on the mouth is puckering tannins, suggesting there is enough acidity at work to make it viable. A big effort. 94% merlot, 6% cabernet franc. 90/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau Vray Croix de Gay, Pomerol 2010
Wondered if we had a touch of brett on the nose here, but if so it clears quickly. In fact, this has a very attractive core of fruit, there really is a good push forward in the mouth of blackberries and damsons, and some excellent minerality. 92-93/100. Drink 2020-2035.
Chateau Vieux Maillet, Pomerol 2010
90% merlot, 10% cabernet franc, owned by the Laviale's of Chateau Franc Mayne. As ever with this family, we are high on the sweet oak taste, and I again worry about the alcohol levels. There are plenty of redeeming features here, not least the silky texture of the tannins, but overall, the alcohol is spoiling the finish for me. 88/100. Drink 2015-2025.
Chateau Taillefer, Pomerol 2010
Very closed on the nose, more than the others I have tasted so far today. Very slick though. We are again in eye-watering alcohol, which sours the finish, but there are some truly juicy redcurrant and gooseberry tastes along the way, that make it an enjoyable ride. Good elements, unfriendly final farewell. 75% merlot, 25% cabernet franc. 90/100. Drink 2020-2035.
Chateau Rouget, Pomerol 2010
Some interesting toasted black fruits, slightly overdone, disappointed as I loved this wine last year. 88/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau la Fleur de Gay, Pomerol 2010
One of the richest, slickest wines in this Pomerol line-up. This just has Chantal Lebreton on the title, no mention of her brother Alain Raynaud (who has moved on to his many consultancies, and purchased a small estate in Saint Emilion, called Chateau du Parc). 100% merlot. Some heat that threatens the overall structure. Disappointing again, because the attack is fresh and full of black cherries, but it gets lost. 88/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau Feytit Clinet, Pomerol 2010
In theory, Pomerol knows what to do with merlot, and it shows here. This has a slightly scorched finish, but overall there are rich silky cassis flavours, and good acidity. Just 6.3 hectares at this estate, planted to 90% merlot, 10% cabernet franc. 89/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau Fayat, Pomerol 2010
The new estate created in 2009 out of the fusion of Châteaux Vieux Bourgneuf and La Commanderie de Mazeyres, both owned by billionaire industrialist Clement Fayat. 80% merlot, 20% cab franc. Tasted this at Clement Pichon a few weeks ago also, and it has further grown into itself. Very enjoyable, this has deep fruit flavours, intense but with restraint shown also, good acidity and generally all in balance. I am very impressed with this. 93-94/100. Drink 2020-2040.
Domaine de l'Eglise, Pomerol 2010
Some pleasantly sweet fruit here and a soft finish, the alcohol is present but tamed. Coffee beans threaten to turn bitter, but stop before they do so. This is a Philippe Castéja wine. 91/100. Drink 2020-2035.
Clos de l'Eglise, Pomerol 2010
Smooth and sweet black fruits on the nose, it wafts of international playboy. This is owned by Sylviane Garcin Cathiard and Helene Garcin Leveque. Unfortunately not smiling so much on the palate. There is power and intensity here, but it needed to be tamed a little more for my tastes. Get through this mid-palate wobble however, and the finish pulls back from overly high alcohol, returning the black cherry fruits. 80% merlot, 20% cabernet franc. A good example of how reliant these wines are on the right levels of acidity and pH – here they have just about resolved it. 91+/100. Drink 2020-2035.
Clos du Clocher, Pomerol 2010
A more classic Pomerol to me, lovely silky texture, some really well worked fruits, there is heat, but it is neutralised on the finsih by some good acidity. Careful winemaking I would say, erring on the side of caution, which for me the 2010 clearly needed. 70% merlot, 30% cab franc. 93/100. Drink 2020-2035.
Chateau Clemence, Pomerol 2010
Chocolate and burnt coffee beans, here is another that promises the world, but gets seduced by the easy thrills of alcohol. 85% merlot, 15% cabernet franc. What this and many of these are making me feel is how wonderful the 2005s were, because it seems that five years on, all anyone wants is a cheap date. 87/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau Bourgneuf, Pomerol 2010
The Vayron family have certainly managed to flesh out the fruit here, you can feel it parting as you sip through the wine. But it's a tongue hurter, with a fair whack of alcohol. Still, there is hedonistic pleasure here. 90%/10% merlot, cabernet franc. 88/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau le Bon Pasteur, Pomerol 2010
Big fruit, big alcohol, although an improvement on the 2009 for me. Rolland should know how to handle alcohol, he has been dealing with very ripe grapes for long enough… 90+/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau Bonalgue, Pomerol 2010
Here the fleshy exuberance of last year seems to be a little less carefree, a little more encumbered. There is no bitterness on the finish, and plenty of good rich fruits, but things are not quite cohesive at this stage. 95%/5% merlot/cabernet franc 90/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau Bellegrave, Pomerol 2010
75%/25% merlot/cabernet franc. Wonderful perky aromas on the nose, followed by rich, slighty minty black fruits on the mid-palate... And then wham, alcohol dries out the finish! What is going on during the blending sessions at these chateaux? 89/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau Gaby, Fronsac 2010
This is a very pleasant nose, not too try hard, not too much alcohol, brambly fruits and rich flesh. But again a little disjointed – is 2010 the poster child for moving en primeur tastings back a few months? 85% merlot, 10% cabernet sauvignon, 5% cabernet franc. 88/100. Drink 2015-2030.
Chateau de la Riviere, Fronsac 2010
This one I like, plenty of punch for your dollar, a good value pick. I am a little annoyed by the alcohol, as ever, but I think they are striving for a balance of enjoyment, quality and accessibility here. 75% merlot, 13% cabernet franc, 12% cabernet sauvignon. 91/100. Drink 2015-2025.
Chateau Haut Carles, Fronsac 2010
Wow, this has a big big nose, whacks you over the head before you have even begun, 90% merlot, 5%/5% cabernet franc and malbec. This deep, rich colour from the malbec, and real black spices, malbec clearly made a big impression this year. I liked this wine a lot in 2009, for me it has been turbo-charged this year, with a sour alcohol finish. 86/100. Drink 2015-2025.
Chateau Fontenil, Fronsac 2010
Dany and Michel Rolland, again Rolland seems to have pulled off one of the more enjoyable ‘smaller’ wines this year. I don’t mean to sound surprised, but he has got tons of extraction, but without being too heavy-handed. Good rich black fruit. Yes it's nakedly alcoholic, but it has the decency to try to cover itself up. 90/100. Drink 2015-2025.
Chateau de la Dauphine, Fronsac 2010
Again, a good balance of power, rich ripe black fruits, and an attempt to keep things in check. I am enjoying this one more than many. Denis Duboudieu is consultant at this estate, and I think it shows. 80%/20% merlot, cabernet franc. 91+/100. Drink 2015-2030.
Chateau Dalem, Fronsac 2010
90%/10% merlot/cabernet franc. Enjoyable smoky quality, but heading towards burnt. Just about saves itself, but ‘limite’ as the French say. 87/100. Drink 2015-2015.
Chateau de francs, Cotes de Bordeaux (Francs)
Ok, here there is a sense of freshness that really works. I still believe they would have kept more fruit without the overriding alcohol, but it’s good. 89/100. Drink 2015-2030.
Clos Puy Arnaud, Cotes de Bordeaux (Castillon) 2010
Biodynamic winemaking practices deliver mouth-watering freshness of fruit, good persistency, and a crisp finish. Lovely, confident wine making that clearly doesn’t feel the need to bow to the cult of alcohol. 65% merlot, 30% cabernet franc, 5% cabernet sauvignon. 94+/100. Drink 2015-2035.
Chateau Joanin Becot, Cotes de Bordeaux (Castillon) 2010
Like the nose very much, there are vibrant, swirling fruits, and I am enjoying how deep the fruit goes, travelling right through the wine to the floor. Heat on the finish takes away from the overall pleasure, but potential for things to settle down. 91/100. Drink 2015-2035.
Chateau de Pressac, Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2010
Restrained, good firm fruit but still flirtatious and fun to taste, not trying too hard, touch of modernity from the vanilla oak. A reliable estate over the past few years, and a tip from me to get the nod during the next Saint Emilion classification. 92-93+/100. Drink 2018-2035
Chateau Cap de Faugeres, Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2010
Enjoyable, well textured and well handled fruit, with a sense of extraction of tannins and alcohol, but with balance. Not coming together on the finish yet, but I like the potential here. 91/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau Haut Bertinerie, Cotes de Bordeaux (Blaye) 2010
Slight brett on this sample, and unfortunately not as cohesive for me as the 2009. This is an estate which I enjoy, and usually very reliable, but this is not yet a cohesive wine. 60/40 merlot, cabernet sauvignon. 86/100. Drink 2015-2025.
Chateau Reynon, Bordeaux 2010
Less soaring than so many Denis Dubourdieu has consulted for this year, inevitably of course given its appellation and price point. But this is still a perfectly drinkable in a year where many of the ‘smaller wines’ are trying way too hard. Here the fruit stays firm and fresh. 87/100. Drink 2015-2025.
Chateau Mont Perat, Bordeaux 2010
Lovely fresh attack, heavy hot finish. Again I am questioning the choices made during the blending sessions. Maybe the merlot gave them nowhere to go. 85/100. Drink 2015-2025.
Clos Chaumont, Bordeaux 2010
53% merlot, 25% cab sauvignon, 22% cabernet franc. This has restraint and a very enjoyable, fresh finish. You can feel the ripe fruit, but it doesn’t clobber you over the head. Good balance 90+/100. Drink 2015-2030.
Girolate, Bordeaux 2010
So smoky you could be trapped inside a wood-fired pizza oven. Overly concentrated, this vintage did not need low yields. It is still rich and velvety, and I know how well this wine can age (over the 10 year period), but needs to be retasted. 89/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau Penin, Bordeaux 2010
A highly reliable estate that is not letting me down once again this year, although slight reduction on this sample. They are not trying too hard to be a muscle bound Schwanenneger, although I still preferred their 2009. 88/100. Drink 2015-2025.
Chateau Thieuley, Bordeaux Blanc 2010
Graasy sauvignon on the nose, and fairly gentle on the palate, surprising after so many aggressive reds. This is good, but unexciting. 87-88/100. Drink 2012-2020.
Chateau Raynon, Bordeaux Blanc 2010
Reduction on the nose, often to be expected at this stage. I like the subtly of this, there really is a pleasant, lilting fruitiness, and a real purity of expression. Like it. 91+/100. Drink 2012-2020.
Chateau Fombrauge, Bordeaux Blanc 2010
Defined citrus aromas, and a fresh, frank minerality. I like this, good purity of fruit again, and not overpowered by the oak. 92/100. Drink 2012-2020.
Chateau Sainte Marie vielle vignes, Bordeaux Blanc 2010
Delicate and succulent on the attack, although here things are slightly blown off course by the alcohol. Pleasant sherbert finish. 90/100. Drink 2012-2020.
Girolate blanc, Bordeaux Blanc 2010
Biodynamic, what is that dandelion nose? Sorry, but this just does not work for me. Could be the sample. 84/100.
Chateau Hostens Picant, Bordeaux Blanc 2010
Slightly too pinched, the fruit is clearly defined, but things are a touch imbalanced, and the mid-palate is hollow. I again like the fresh, floral attack, but it misses somewhere, competent but not great. 87/100. Drink 2012-2020.
Chateau Penin, Bordeaux Blanc 2010
Definitely fresh and juicy, tastes a little too pinched on the finish, but there is some prettiness here. 87/100. Drink 2012-2020.
Gerard Perse wines, tasted at Chateau Pavie
Chateau Lusseau, Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2010
Estate owned by Gerard Perse’s estate manager. I'm not sure that this is working. I am truly getting an alcohol rush on the tongue. A good attack, lovely fruit and freshness, then another big, OTT finish. Not as good as last year for me. 75%/25% merlot cabernet franc. 86/100. Drink 2018-2025.
Clos des Lunelles, Cotes de Bordeaux (Castillon) 2010
There are a lot of interesting slightly earthy tannins here, and unbelievable concentration of spicy dark fruit. 28 hl/h, not at all unpleasant on the finish, the alcohol doesn’t burn, but it’s a hold on tight whoosh as you are tasting, and very little in the way of elegance. 88/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau Monbusquet, Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe 2010
I always find this wine tough to taste, and no different this year. You need to literally pull in your cheeks and breathe hard. Yield this year was 28 hectolitres per hectare, pretty low but Perse always strives to keep things down to increase concentration. I love the nose, love the potential, but the alcohol takes all the fruit in your mouth and dumps it out. Clearly needs a huge amount of time before approaching. 88-89/100. Drink 2020-2030.
Chateau Pavie Decesse, Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe 2010
This has a far better chance of taming the vintage, with its location on the limestone plateau, and it does so. Certainly there is silky texture here, and the purity of the fruit comes through, although you can run but you can’t hide from the alcohol. In 2009, this was the star Perse wine for me, but not as successful this year. 90% merlot, 10% cabernet franc. 92/100. Drink 2020-2035.
Chateau Bellevue Mondotte, Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2010
Just 2.5 hectares, again up on the limestone plateau. There are clear successive waves to this wine, it attacks well, it has balance, then the alcohol and tannins come in. You are temporarily blindsided, but the juiciness comes back, and the overall feeling is freshness. Very good. 94/100. Drink 2020-2035.
Chateau Pavie, Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe 2010
As ever, a divisive wine that has divided critics. This has a rich, ripe nose. Ok, it hits you directly in the face, a clean, sharp punch, but then seems to clear away, there is a definite menthol hit that manages to wipe clean the palate on the finish. This is a wine that has learnt to deal with power. I often think of Pavie as menacing when young, and this is no different. But it has balance, and for the style of wine that they are trying to achieve, it works. 96/100 (the highest score that I have given Pavie at this stage). Drink 2020-2045.
Monbusquet Blanc, Bordeaux Blanc 2010
A wonderful floral nose, but crazy 15% alcohol that cuts the flavours and the fruit right down. Not balanced enough for my palate. 88/100