Médoc & Graves: Keep
2010 Bordeaux : A truly great vintage, optimally ripe but with firm acidity and tannins. The best wines will need eight years or more.
Saint-Emilion & Pomerol: Keep
Superb wines with great power balanced by acidity and tannin. But some wines are very alcoholic and thus controversial.
Sauternes & Barsac: Keep
Cool conditions at harvest led to some unripeness. But fresh, persistent wines that may prove better than initially thought.
It might have been hard to convince sceptics that Bordeaux was looking at another vintage of the century hard on the heels of 2009, but the En Primeur tastings proved that this was another exceptional year.
Weather conditions were slightly different, mainly because the summer was drier but cooler than 2009 (closer to 2005). Floraison was made a little uneven, particularly in the merlot grape, because early June saw cool conditions and some rain just at the moment of the first merlot flowers. Sunshine hours in June were 102 compared to 293 in 2009. But the weather cleared to give way to a beautifully dry summer. The sunny August, September and October with cool nights meant that the grapes had plenty of time to ripen slowly and leisurely, while still retaining their complexity and tannic density.
White harvest began on early September in Pessac and Graves, with the first merlots around September. As with 2009, estates were able to choose their picking date at their leisure, and many of the last grapes were brought in late October. Sugar levels (and so alcohol) were high as a result, sometimes higher than in 2009, as were tannins, but the high acidities meant they often showed better balance and freshness than the preceding year.
Cooler night-time temperatures than the 2009 meant that the white wines were more successful in this vintage than the last, with some excellent acidities to balance out the ripe grapes. Sauternes saw another uniform spread of botrytis.
In the reds, more than 2009, the success was uniform on both Left and Right banks, as merlot was also able to conserve its acidity and keep its fruit aromatics intact. Berries as a whole were thick-skinned, with deeply coloured flesh that was high in anthocyanes – expect beautifully rich dark fruits that will unfurl over the next decade or so, and keep going for a long time.
This was another vintage where the small appellations did very well, so the Côtes de Bordeaux and the Cru Bourgeois has many successes. On the Right Bank it was the turn of Pomerol to slightly outclass the Saint Emilions, while the Left Bank saw great success across the Médoc, as cabernets managed full ripeness.