My 'value' (okay, in the context of the Hong Kong market) article for the South China Morning Post was published today. You need to be logged in to see it on the site, so I will reproduce it here (although I recommend subscribing if you are interested in the Asia market - it's an excellent way to stay tuned in to what is going on in a very fast-moving marketplace).
Next week in the SCMP I have chosen my best investment wines - and a more complete range is slowly making its way to my website www.newbordeaux.com (about 30% are up now!).
Now for the good crus
The 2010 Bordeaux wine futures week revealed some exceptional bargains
Apr 21, 2011
Get serious about Bordeaux wine and at some point you will consider engaging in the annual "en primeur" market. This method of advance purchasing the most sought after chateaux has ruled the business of selling Bordeaux wines for decades. It was formalised in 1974 when the Union des Grands Cru began organising its yearly wine futures week.
This is when wine buyers and journalists are invited to taste and assess the most recent vintage, and this year was held in the first week of April. About 6,000 visitors were in Bordeaux to assess the produce from the September crush that has spent the past six months being turned into wine. It will spend another year or more in barrels before being bottled and put on the market.
About 25,000 tasting samples were poured in 30 tasting stations across Bordeaux. The Union des Grand Crus organised tastings for its own 132 members (the classified growths of the Medoc, Saint Emilion and Pessac Leognan), but there were also many off-circuit events, from private tastings at the first growths to group tastings by high-profile wine consultants.
There were 68 nationalities attending the tastings, among them record numbers of Hong Kong and mainland buyers, indicating how the market has moved over the past few years. At many chateaux, vintage notes were offered in English and French, as usual, but also in Chinese. Maggy Chan, from Maxford Wines in Hong Kong, says: "Last year the prices already scared some traditional Hong Kong customers, but Hong Kong is a very dynamic market, and there are new customers becoming interested all the time. Overall, I found the wines more discreet this year than in 2009, and cabernet sauvignon lovers will have a lot to be happy about."
For the most part, quality of the 2010 vintage lived up to expectations, and it matches the brilliant 2009, although the characteristics of the two vintages are quite different. Where 2009 was all about generous fruit and seductive impact, 2010 is more of an intellectual vintage, with high concentration of tannins, fruit and alcohol, and a wonderful level of freshness that makes the wines likely to age extremely well.
In this week's feature, I pick my (likely) "best value" wines of the vintage, which will be followed next week by the "best investment" wines. For most wines here, the prices are not yet set, and will be released between this month and June. And when looking for value, don't overlook the "second wines" (made from grapes not perfect enough for the grand vin) of the best estates - in a great vintage like 2010, there are plenty to choose from. Once purchased en primeur, the 2010 vintage wines will be delivered in June 2012, with slight variations depending on the chateau.
Chateau Moulin St Georges, Saint Emilion grand cru 2010
A plum red blend of 80/20 merlot/cabernet franc. Love the gooseberry, redcurrant freshness that you get here, explosive on the first attack, truly juicy acidity, and a lovely fresh finish. This uses 100 per cent new oak barrels, but you can't tell, even at this early stage. Only seven hectares, so not a lot of this wine is available, which makes it worthwhile to reserve at this stage. 93+/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Carillon d'Angelus, Saint Emilion grand cru 2010
The second wines are coming into their own right now in Bordeaux, and this one, from Chateau d'Angelus, is among the best. Beautiful redcurrant and violet nose - gorgeous. The year 2010 is an excellent one for cabernet franc, and here levels rise to 50 per cent, blended with 50 per cent merlot. Stunning length, tongue-tingling freshness, for me the best example of Carillon produced at the estate. 94/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau Beauregard, Pomerol 2010
Reserved on the nose, but comes in rich and powerful on the attack, with black fruits and sense of purpose. An intellectual wine that asks you to take your time. Seventy per cent merlot, 30 per cent cabernet franc. 92+/100. Drink 2018-2030.
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 and good freshness on the finish. Excellent quality for what is likely to be a reasonably priced wine. Eighty per cent merlot, 20 per cent cabernet franc. 91-92/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Clos Puy Arnaud, Cotes de Bordeaux (Castillon) 2010
Mouth-watering freshness of fruit, good persistency, and a crisp finish. Lovely, confident wine-making. Sixty-five per cent merlot, 30 per cent cabernet franc, 5 per cent cabernet sauvignon. 94+/100. Drink 2015-2035.
Domaine de Chevalier, Pessac Leognan 2010
Rich purple with a sliver of vibrancy at the rim. Wonderful texture visually, and a highly promising nose. Charcoal flavours, some smoky plum, a touch of cassis, heavy tannic structure and a full mid-palate, but all very quiet, breathing slowly, clearly built for a long life. One of the best ever from this estate, also known for its white wines. 94/100. Drink 2020-2040.
Chateau Olivier, Pessac Leognan 2010
Another lesser-known estate that has produced high quality this year. A vibrant, reflective purple, with big but well-controlled fruit extraction. Big gooseberry and redcurrant fruits and a tunnel of freshness in the mid-palate that pulls you through to the finish. Excellent. 93/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Pavillon Blanc, Bordeaux Blanc 2010
No-one could accuse Pavillon Blanc of being a value pick on price alone (last year it came out at about Ä100, or HK$110, per bottle), but among first growths, I would argue that it is. This is the third year of their pure, more pared-back style, where they discard all but the first crush of juice, ensuring lower alcohol (13.5 per cent) and well-defined fruit. Made entirely from sauvignon blanc, it tastes of elderflower and lychee with some crab apple freshness. 94+/100. Drink 2012-2030.
Chateau Giscours, Margaux 2010
A brooding nose, and a fruit-filled attack. This is a big wine, making full use of the 2010 vintage. There is a veiled threat here and, as is so often the case in this vintage, you need to sit with it and give it time to allow the abundant cassis and blueberry flavours to reveal themselves. 93-94/100. Drink 2020-2040.
Chateau Rauzan Gassies, Margaux 2010
Inky dark purple, spiced nose of vanilla pods and black coffee. Silky in texture, and I like the restraint on the attack. Alcohol comes in mid-palate, but paired with coffee beans and some bitter chocolate and damson. Real density of fruit and tannins, with an elegant edge. A classified 1855 growth that offers such excellent value is rare. 94/100. Drink 2018-2035.
Chateau Lascombes, Margaux 2010
Dark, silky, damson and cassis nose, again the texture is very silky, with some sweet new oak coming in to the mid-palate, ever so slightly drying, but forgivable. Gourmet in style, more like a 2009 voluptuous wine than the cerebral 2010s. 93+/100. Drink 2018-2035.
Chateau Leoville Barton, Pauillac 2010
This offers wonderful pleasure at a reasonable price compared to some of its neighbours. Rich, pure, vibrant colour. Great whoosh of acidity-tannin-fruit, very polished. 94-95/100. Drink 2020-2040.
Chateau Gloria, Saint Julien 2010
Beautiful violet rim, spicy and inviting nose. A hit of sweet fruit on the attack, leading to a tunnel of tannin and freshness in the mid-palate. Clearly there is alcohol, and clearly built to last, but with grace. 94+/100. Drink 2020-2040.
Chateau Capbern-Gasqueton, Saint Estephe 2010
As of this year, the wine is being made in a new winery with 37 vats relating to the 37 plots of vines. More approachable, 27 per cent merlot, 73 per cent cabernet sauvignon, including 10 per cent press wine for backbone. It's very fresh, very focused. 93+/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Chateau le Boscq, Saint Estephe 2010
This has promise, with carefully-worked black fruits, that are intense but not pinched, and a good freshness on the finish. Enjoyable, and a relatively good-value wine. 93+/100. Drink 2018-2030.
Jane Anson is Bordeaux correspondent for Decanter magazine, and author of the Bordeaux chapters of The Wine Opus (Dorling Kindersley, October 2010). She is currently writing a book on the 1855 First Growths.