This is the second article from the South China Morning Post that I wrote following the 2010 en primeurs, published on April 28 (and before you ask, the edit turned the Saint Emilion wines into Grand Cru, I am sure just to keep things simple).
Best cellars - a look at Bordeaux's most promising en primeur investments
In the second of a two-part series on Bordeaux futures, Jane Anson takes a look at the best potential investments
Coming so soon after the investment-heavy 2009s, it seems a tough task to expect the 2010 Bordeaux wines to attract equal numbers of buyers looking for long-term growth in their wine values.
The vintage, which wine buyers and journalists tasted en primeur (before being bottled) earlier this month, does have a few tricks up its sleeve, however, not least the history of great Bordeaux years coming in pairs.
There has been plenty of talk of this being the equivalent of 1928 and 1929 (although the styles were reversed there, with 1928 being more classically structured and 1929 more voluptuous). For those with shorter memories, 1989 and 1990 offered this similar mix of long-living and concentration against richness and harmony.
The dry, extended growing season of 2010 has produced wines of enormous concentration that are likely to need time to develop in bottle, with huge potential for ageing - in short, the exact thing that most Bordeaux collectors search for.
These are physical wines, three-dimensional in the best examples, rich in texture, depth and length. On the whole, cabernet sauvignon on the Left Bank made some truly fantastic wines. Its success was clear in the sheer percentages put in (90 per cent at Chateau Margaux, equalled only in 2006, 94 per cent at Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, the highest ever).
Over on the Right Bank, cabernet franc was the star, and again many estates have used their highest ever levels of the grape (55 per cent at Chateau Angelus, 80 per cent at Le Dome).
Prices, due to be released over the next few months, are likely to be high, with most chateaux skirting around the record prices set in 2009, and some climbing even higher. The wines that follow are not easy to get hold of, but Hong Kong residents are lucky in that a vast majority of them are likely to head east.
If you pay opening prices, you should see a rise in value; but for this piece, I have not mentioned the first wines of the First Growths, as they are a clear investment opportunity if bought at opening price. I am looking instead at the next wave of investment wines.
There are a few voices of caution, however. Sebastian Woolf, portfolio manager at European Fine Wines, says: "I still believe the 2008 vintage is the wine to buy for clients at the moment. For individual estates, Lynch Bages is one to watch, and back-vintage Haut-Brion."
Chateau Ausone 2010, Saint Emilion grand cru
Plummy, rich red, some violet, cassis and fig hints on the nose. Every year this is a lesson in how to keep things in check, in balance, under control. The blend is the same as last year at 55 per cent cabernet franc, 45 per cent merlot. On paper, this sounds like a big wine: entirely new oak for ageing, low yields, 14.5 per cent alcohol, Michel Rolland as consultant. Yet they manage to keep things utterly fresh and restrained.
98-99/100. Drink 2021-2045.
Chateau Cheval Blanc 2010, Saint Emilion grand cru
The grape varieties this year were a reversal of 2009 - 56 per cent cabernet franc, 44 per cent merlot, showing how well cabernet did in 2010. The tannins manage to be both big and ripe, and the cool nights have given the whole experience a fresh elegance and wonderful length.
96-97/100. Drink 2021-2045.
Chateau la Conseillante 2010, Pomerol
Of all the Right Bank appellations, Pomerol produced some stunning wines this year, and many offer excellent investment potential, as they should be long lasting. This wine offers violet edges with an open, spicy and exotic nose. Gorgeous, mouthwatering fruit, a rush of uplifting freshness on the finish, juicy redcurrant, violet and elderberry fruits in the mid-palate, cradled by the acidity.
96/100. Drink 2020-2045.
Chateau Haut Bailly 2010, Pessac Leognan
Warm vanilla pods and cedar on the nose. On the palate, the elegance comes in, with a freshness that matches pace for pace the tannins and deep black fruits. This continues a run of increasingly successful vintages for this chateau, and even with the price rise introduced in 2009, there still seems some way to go in terms of investment. But don't be too concerned about that - this is one to keep and drink.
95+/100. Drink 2020-2040.
Le Clarence de Haut-Brion 2010, Pessac Leognan
Undervalued compared to the other second wines of the First Growths, this is really worth seeking out. The wine offers an instant hit of finely textured autumnal fruits, so clean and precise that it closes with a whisper on the finish - highly accomplished, with a rich vibrant core. A mix of 52 per cent merlot, 36 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 10 per cent cabernet franc and 2 per cent petit verdot.
94/100. Drink 2018-2035.
Chateau Palmer 2010, Margaux
A successful combination of tension and power. The acidity is giving an incredibly balanced feel to what is clearly a huge wine. This has long been the only real contender from an investment point of view to Chateau Margaux in this appellation, and here again proves what a thrilling wine it is. A ratio of 54 per cent merlot, 6 per cent petit verdot and 40 per cent cabernet sauvignon.
97/100. Drink 2022-2042.
Chateau Duhart Milon 2010, Pauillac
It goes without saying that if you secure Chateau Lafite Rothschild at the opening price, you should snap it up - but expect prices to begin their ascent quickly and steeply, taking the shine off any returns if you don't get in immediately. This wine, also from the Lafite stable, should offer a slower rise but still enormous pleasure and potential. It gives an immediate hit of plum and intense damson, and is rich in structure and power, with concentrated liquorice and savoury herbs.
95/100. Drink 2022-2042.
Chateau Pontet-Canet 2010, Pauillac
This estate was certified both organic and biodynamic in 2010, and once again proves why it has leapt up in terms of reputation over the past decade. Such a vibrant colour, it just jumps out of the glass. Incredibly aromatic. This is violet, plum, rosemary, black cherries and pure cassis, all clearly defined.
96/100. Drink 2020-2045.
Les Forts de Latour 2010, Pauillac
The second wine of Chateau Latour has been going from strength to strength in quality over recent years, and displays the same precision engineering you see in Latour itself. Grape selection has been tightened in 2010, and there is a clear density and definition to the rich black fruits.
94-95/100. Drink 2020-2035.
Chateau Clerc Milon 2010, Pauillac
Again, if you can get hold of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild at the opening price, don't hold back. If not, look to the other wines within their stable, and for my money, Clerc Milon is looking wonderful this year. Full of power, this has the minty edge, the tannins and the freshness to really lift you up and carry you through.
94-95+/100. Drink 2020-2040.
Chateau Leoville Las Cases 2010, Saint-Julien
Stunning, utterly gorgeous, a classic wine from my favourite appellation of 2010. There is quite high acidity underpinning the tannins, translating into fresh fruit flavours, wrapped in a powerful structure and incredibly suave texture. One of the wines of the vintage for me.
99+/100. Drink 2022-2045.
Chateau Beychevelle 2010, Saint-Julien
A wine that is creating increasing interest in auction houses, this has a powerful punch of tannins, again saved by a juicy acidity scooping them up in the mid-palate. Great finish, seriously persistent, with mouthwatering touches and tannins that inch along, revealing themselves tantalisingly slowly.
94+/100. Drink 2020-2040.
Chateau Gruaud Larose 2010, Saint-Julien
Silky, viscous in texture, deep rich velvet tones, sweet charred oak on the nose. This has power but no harshness, intense fruit flavours, well-knitted together tannins, silky texture, excellent quality wine.
94+/100. Drink 2020-2040.
La Croix de Beaucaillou 2010, Saint-Julien
Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou itself is utterly stand-out this year, but 2010 is a good year for smart buying of the second wines, and this is one of the best - and offers earlier drinking than many Left Banks this vintage. Made from its own separate plots of vines, it is due to sport a new label for this vintage, signalling the investment that has been put into upping the quality. And something is clearly working - 85 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 15 per cent merlot, pure violet in colour, rich and sweet on the palate, joyful.
94+/100. Drink 2020-2035.
Chateau Lynch Bages 2010, Pauillac
Again, the massive tannins that are a signature of the vintage, with every element pumped up to full volume. Wet-stone minerality, smothered in blackcurrant, clearly built to last. Lay this down and forget about it for a while, then sit back and enjoy.
94-95/100. Drink 2021-2045.
Chateau Pichon Comtesse 2010, Pauillac
Some subtle floral notes on the nose, this has rich damson fruits, good structure, with liquorice and sweet spices coming in the mid-palate. Yet again a wine where you greet the fresh acidity like a long-lost friend - expect this wine to last upwards of 40 years.
94-95/100. Drink 2025-2040.
Chateau Calon Segur 2010, Saint Estephe
Full of St Estephe character, with wonderful freshness, 86 per cent cabernet sauvignon, two per cent petit verdot, 12 per cent merlot. Half the usual production this year, 80,000 bottles, instead of 160,000 bottles last year, so the price will inevitably rise, but small quantities will also make it sought after in years to come. 13.8 per cent alcohol, but kept in check. 95-96/100. Drink 2020-2040.