Once again a great vintage in Sauternes, the continuation of a stunning succession: 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009. Yet the style of this latest vintage sets it apart. 2010 has a special balance, of very rich botrytised berries and remarkable acidity, giving pure and crystalline aromas to the wine, nearer to Riesling TBA than usual fat, oaky and slightly dirty old-fashioned Sauternes! The summer was hot, very dry and not especially favorable to botrytis, or even normal ripening, because of water stress. But after an early October storm, rains gave way to sunny days and fresh nights and an incredible concentration got underway in the berries. Many estates had to pick almost their entire crop in under two weeks. Most of the crop was picked above 20° of potential alcohol, and the wines show great majesty. Of the two communes, Barsac stands out - its healthier, more golden grapes have given rise to some mind-blowing wines, surpassing all but the best Sauternes (of which there are many of course). There was some grey rot in Sauternes meaning some selection was necessary and there the wines are more diverse in quality. Overall, though, the balance of acidity, purity of taste, length and sheer tactile sensations put the 2010 Sauternes/Barsac on a par with 2007, '05 and '01, though you’d need to go back to 1988 or even 1937 to find such refinement of texture, but with far less volatile acidity. Some have suggested the 2010s lack botrytis character but I disagree. To my mind, many are masterpieces of modern sweet winemaking: rich, pure, true to terroir, but far easier to drink than those of the past. By Michel Bettane


Written by Decanter