Bordeaux 2010: An introduction to the Right Bank
The producers were initially reluctant or perhaps embarrassed to admit it but yes 2010 is an exceptional year and one where the Right Bank has played its part. Only time will tell whether it is truly better than 2009 but clearly it’s a different style, one more in tune, if anything, with the power of 2005.
Whereas the 2009s had almost instant appeal thanks to the opulent, caressing nature of the fruit, the Right Bank in 2010 has produced wines that are more ‘classically’ defined. They still have an abundance of fruit but will clearly need some bottle age. Colours are deep, the tannin content high (giving firm but not aggressive tannins) and there’s an extraordinary level of acidity which helps provide balance, freshness and structure.
This was also critical to compensate for the high levels of alcohol (14° to 15°+). These were as high if not higher than in 2009 but curiously less obvious in the primeur tastings thanks to the levels of acidity and pHs that were generally low.
As usual there were producers that pushed the ripeness too far and those with sandy-gravel soils (and no clay) where the vine stressed upsetting the balance. It was also important not to over-extract this year and generally the warning was heeded. The biggest error has probably been overripe fruit.
In the satellite appellations communes like Montagne-St-Emilion, Fronsac and Castillon with an abundance of clay-limestone soils coped admirably with the dry conditions of the year. There will be plenty of good-value wines to be found here but expect them firmer than in 2009. The leaders in Pomerol and those in close pursuit have produced outstanding wines.
In St-Emilion styles inevitably vary but there’s perhaps greater consistency than in 2009. Producers on the limestone plateau, in particular, have excelled as have those with a good percentage of Cabernet Franc which was outstanding in 2010.
Read James Lawther's full report in the June edition of Decanter magazine, out 6th May 2011