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Bordeaux 2010: confidence in vintage at start of en primeur

The 2010 Bordeaux campaign has started amidst considerable confidence on the part of chateau owners and the wider wine community.

At this early stage of a week that will see 5000 of the international wine trade, including 250 journalists, from 68 different countries, descend on Bordeaux for a week of barrel tastings, all the signs are that 2010 will take its place alongside 09 as a memorable vintage.

The summer of 2010 was extremely dry but temperatures remained low – conditions which one winemaker, Thomas Do Chi Nam at Chateau Pichon Lalande, took care to describe not as ‘drought’ but ‘water constraint’.

These conditions conspired to produce grapes – across the board – that were rich, high in alcohol, acids and tannins.

‘It is a totally unusual vintage,’ Philippe Dhalluin of Chateau Mouton Rothschild told Decanter.com.

The first wine of Mouton, which has not yet been tasted by the majority of the press, contains 94% Cabernet Sauvigon, a good deal higher than the normal Mouton blend, which contains up to 18% Merlot.

‘The Cabernet was of such high quality it was difficult for the Merlot to compete,’ Dhalluin said.

His satisfaction with the Cabernet is echoed by winemakers across Bordeaux, and they are also delighted with the Cabernet Franc – Anthony Barton at Leoville Barton was particularly taken with its ‘class and elegance and lovely red fruit flavours’.

The Merlot however has not been so easy. It is ‘the only shortcoming of the 2010 vintage,’ according to Bordeaux University’s annual vintage report, the vines affected by a variety of early fruiting problems and producing a very small crop.

Decanter’s consultant editor Steven Spurrier, who so far has tasted Sauternes and Barsac as well as a variety of Bordeaux Superior and Cru Bourgeois in the Medoc and Haut Medoc, said at this early stage he would describe the vintage as ‘classic’.

‘While the 2009s were exuberant and rich, the 2010 is expressive and firm. There is no problem with alcohol and the ripeness takes away any leanness in the wines. I didn’t sense the tannins at all.’

Written by Adam Lechmere

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