Bordeaux 2010: Right Bank 'fresher than 2009'

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  • Thursday 7 April 2011

The overall quality of the St Emilion and Pomerol wines is high in the Bordeaux 2010 vintage, but whether they are superior to 2009 is a moot point.

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Decanter’s critics spent yesterday on the Right Bank and consider the majority of the wines fresh, acidic and very well structured.

But at this early stage they are wary of pronouncing the vintage greater than last year’s.

‘We have to remind ourselves of what we loved in 2009’, Decanter’s Right Bank critic James Lawther MW said. ‘It was accessible with high tannins and excellent fruit, but perhaps 2010 has that magic quality – acidity.

‘I get the impression these wines are more classic and will age longer – but we still have a long way to go.’

Lawther stressed this: the wines still have to be barrel aged, which will be critical. If too much oak is used the wines will lose their fine balance.

Control is the watchword on the Right Bank. Those properties on clay subsoil, which retained water in the very dry summer, produced Merlot with very small powerfully-flavoured berries, and winemakers needed to take care with extraction.

Stephan von Neipperg at Chateau Canon la Gaffeliere told Decanter.com, ‘the Merlot is outstanding…it was just stressed enough, with small berries with outstanding concentration.’

Neipperg said that vintage 2010 was ‘easy’ in terms of the fact the dry, cool summer necessitated little work in the vineyard. It was ‘a good vintage for lazy people,’ as he put it.

‘The problem was in controlling extraction.’

This was achieved in the majority of properties. Steven Spurrier made the point that ‘good extraction is the pattern this year. When I have come across over-extracted wines they are noticeably out of sync with the rest.’

While Spurrier thinks that this will be a Cabernet vintage – ‘the best plots in the Medoc never became overripe’ – the Merlot-based wines of the Right Bank are more refreshing than the 2009s.

Decanter.com will publish its full Bordeaux 2010 report including scores and tasting notes on Wednesday 13 April.

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