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Bordeaux 2010

Bordeaux 2010


On paper, 2010 has all the attributes of a great vintage; after all, its analyses at so many châteaux bore a striking resemblance to those of the 2009s. In terms of IPT (a measure of tannin concentration), alcohol, acidity and pH, there were startling similarities between the two vintages. 2009 was termed the vintage of a generation by many Bordeaux château owners; were we about to see a second such vintage promoted in the review guides the very next year? Either way, tasting our way across Bordeaux in the first week of April was sure toprove fascinating.

The hype machine had been slow to get into gear this year. Murmurings and early reviews suggested something more classically-styled with an elevated level of acidity; a fresher, less exotic vintage, yet with all the volume of fruit and density that one looked for in a great vintage. One negociant went so far as to venture that with 2009 and 2010, we had twins, of the non-identical variety, in prospect. While Fiona Morrison MW of Pomerol’s Le Pin succinctly stated: "After all the praise justifiably heaped on the 2009 vintage, it is becoming difficult, if we want to remain credible, to sing the praises of the 2010 vintage".

The weather conditions in the two years were different however. The winter was cold and dry, with bud-break taking place earlier than normal in early April. Flowering took place in early June, with rains having an adverse effect on pollination. Coulure (a metabolic reaction to adverse weather and after which grapes fail to develop after flowering) and Millerandage (a condition which results in bunches with grapes of vastly differing size) were prevalent in Pauillac. On the Left Bank, at Ducru-Beaucaillou, and on the Right Bank, at Château Gazin, we were told that flowering had extended over three weeks. Such difficulties have a dramatic effect on likely yield, particularly if quality- onscious proprietors opt to thin out the affected bunches for fear of disease or astringency or varied ripeness levels. Coulureaffected bunches are more susceptible to disease while those affected by millerandage often impart a shrill acidity and notes of astringency to a resultant wine. An extended flowering meanwhile will lead to fruit on the same vine ripening at different times. "Dry conditions, low temperatures and exceptional sunshine were the major climatic factors in 2010" according to Château Pichon-Longueville. The summer conditions did much to alleviate concerns. Bright, sunny days with daytime temperatures that did not rise too dramatically were accompanied by markedly cool nights. This is one of the key differences to 2009, a vintage in which more dramatic spikes in temperatures were noted.

That said, 2010 was a year of drought. It might not have been as hot as 2009 but it was drier. At Vieux Château Certan we were informed that "by the end of the growing season the dry weather had caused substantial water deficit in the soils." At Chateau Palmer this water deficit “accounted for even greater phenolic concentration than in 2009 (which was already high)… very small berries with astonishing aromatic richness and well-preserved acidity." Amazingly, less than 200 millimetres of rain fell between the 1st April and the beginning of October. To underline how significant this is, the seasonal average for this period, as recorded over the last thirty years, is roughly double this amount. Consequently, vegetative growth came to a halt early, bringing forward the onset of veraison (when the berries start to ripen and change colour). Château Latour "noticed a halt in vine growth at the end of July."

The fine conditions enabled châteaux to choose the right moment to harvest and grapes were picked at near optimal ripeness at staggered intervals. The dry weather with the cool evenings meant that good concentration of sugars and anthocyanins (the compounds responsible for colour) occurred in the berry, tannins ripened well. The smaller berry size and consequent high skin-to-juice ratio meant that deeply coloured and richly tannic wines were likely to result. The Léoville-Poyferré team remarked that “the berries have never been so small.”

This was going to be a more demanding vintage to vinify without a doubt. Wines of high skin-to-juice ratio and high natural alcohol can easily become over-extracted. Alcohol levels in the range of 13.5 to 15 degrees render the task of extracting colour and tannin all the easier and both tannin and anthocyanin levels were already naturally elevated this vintage. It is all too easy to work the skins too much and see austere, drying wines result. With this in mind, growers sought to carry out careful, gentler extractions, many opting for a lower fermentation temperature than normal as cooler temperatures favour more gentle extraction. Levels of around 24/25 degrees celsius were commonplace, whereas 30 degrees or higher would be normal in more regular vintages.

The difficulty then lies in extracting sufficient weight and body without taking it too far. In this tricky vintage, with such evident structural components, some châteaux were going to miss out on producing great wine by erring too much on the side of caution. As we tasted across the region it became apparent that some wines lacked sufficient mid-palate volume. These wines were by no means poor, but did show in a leaner, racier, more linear manner. It made me remember Michael Broadbent’s description of the 1988 Bordeaux vintage as the archetypal ‘lean, long distance runner’. There is always variation in a vintage – that goes without saying. Some vintages are more homogenous than others – invariably those that are more straightforward to vinify. The 2010 vintage is not homogenous and you should expect vastly differing opinions across the trade as well as the journalistic world.

And what of prices? If what we hear from negociants and friends in Bordeaux is true, many château owners, buoyed by increased global demand for the wines of Bordeaux, will look to increase or maintain last year’s price levels. With so little wine now held in reserves at châteaux, and so much profit being made at last year’s record release prices, château owners will be unperturbed should they have to retain a significant proportion of wine for sale down the line when bottled. What the appetite for the vintage would be at these levels remains to be seen. But one should remember that nearly every negociant attributes the success of the 2009 campaign to the bullishness of the UK market. It was not Asia which underpinned the pricing policy for that vintage and it is doubtful if Asia will step up to the plate in this vintage. After all the Chinese market is driven by bottled vintages that are readily available for shipment – en primeur is yet to catch on entirely.

In short and in general terms, 2010 is not a replica of 2009, the two vintages differ greatly in style. The young wines are deep in colour, revealing an intense fragrance, a bold tannic frame, high natural alcohol levels and fresh vibrant acidities – on account of the cool evening and night time temperatures. A dozen or so wines have the potential to exceed the quality witnessed at their estates in the 2009 vintage. This is quite some feat and not all of these châteaux are located at the top of the tree. 2009 remains an incredible vintage and now with 2010, we have a vintage that offers numerous impressive wines though with perhaps fewer highpoints and more disappointments than the preceding year. 2010 takes more effort to get to grips with and to understand.

Selective purchasing on our part is key this vintage. We have made our notes and rely entirely on our own estimations of the wines in making our buying decisions. If a given price is deemed too high by the Atlas team, the wine will not be offered by us other than on the express wish from a client to purchase to order. The wines will undoubtedly be talked up but, be forewarned, not everything will warrant its offer price and if this vintage stutters with the Bordelais’ over-ambition, certain 2010s may be picked up in several years’ time at lower prices.

We have written comprehensive notes for the wine of every key property we rated. These can be found on our website: www.atlasfinewines.com or can be sent on request. If you would like to discuss the vintage please do not hesitate to contact us. If you would like to advise us of your potential requirements in advance of the release of the 2010s, please do so. In such instances, these requirements will not be binding and will solely be taken as an indication of your likely interest subject to release prices. We anticipate the wines will be released between mid-May and the end of June.

It was fascinating to taste the 2010s last month. It will be equally fascinating to see how this vintage fares on the market and how it is commercialised as to see how it ages in bottle. The best wines of this intriguing vintage offer great finesse and longevity – they will surely rank among the greatest recent vintages for their respective estates – but don’t get caught up in the general hype. Vintages are often more variable than they are inevitably portrayed.

Simon Larkin MW
Managing Director

 

St Estephe

Cos d'Estournel
78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.
Nowadays Cos is nearly always opaque in the glass, the only differentiator visually is that the 2010 shows a marked bluish purple hue. The aromatics are restrained, yet the palate is expressive; bold without any suggestion of over-ripeness. Indeed this is a very well-mannered Cos, nothing too heady or brash, but given some time to evolve in the glass, a layered, sleek – even classically-styled– St. Estèphe of undeniable class starts to emerge. It gradually builds, impressing with its copious quantities of black fruit, gentle spice and (comparatively) discreet toast as well as impressive finely-grained tannins. The freshness captured by this vintage is reminiscent of the poise found in the 2008, though the structure and volume here herald a wine that is several notches higher up the qualitative ladder. Long and persistent, this vintage avoids the headier, untypical pitfalls of the ‘opinion-dividing’ 2009. Drink 2020-2035

Montrose
53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, Cabernet Franc 9% and Petit Verdot 1%.  
Despite 20 hectares of neighbouring vineyard having been bolted on the estate of Montrose, there is certainly no negative effect on the quality of the Grand Vin. Restrained aromatically, and effortlessly dense on the palate, this is a seamless Montrose; yes it is rich, but softly mouth filling with mineral-infused black fruit and such finely expressed tannin. Cassis-laden with notes of a savoury nature, the impressive aspect of this vintage is the racy, vibrant acidity that lends levity to a rich, powerful wine. It is this mineral raciness which carries the wine to a long, lingering finish. This may not chase the points in the same way that other vintages might have since the sale of the estate, but it is all the better for it. This vintage is a graceful, elegant style which is likely to draw references to the still impressive 1989. More obvious comparisons may be drawn to the 2009, though the 2010 is less exotic, more advanced in its evolution and more classic in proportion. Drink 2020 - 2035

Calon-Ségur
86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot.  
The 2010 Calon-Ségur is an exercise in refinement. Deep in hue, it exudes pure, ripe cherry fruit on the nose, enticing and open. On the palate, there is a vibrant, lush core of dark cherry and currant fruit, with impeccably defined tannins. Extraction was easily attained this year, so a careful approach was required and has paid dividends here, particularly given that 14% of press wine is included in the blend. Such elegance and refinement, backed up by rich, almost lush fruit infused with gravelly mineral notes; this is a very fine Calon, which is underscored by a terrific fresh acidity. The tannins are silky fine and beautifully woven to the wine. Long, pure and a pleasure to taste. Drink 2017 to 2028

Capbern-Gasqueton
73% Cabernet Sauvignon and 27% Merlot.
Following in the same impressive vein as the 2010 Château Calon-Ségur, Monsieur Millet has crafted a fine Capbern, with copious quantities of soft, ripe cherry fruit and again a lively acidity. This is so well-balanced, not overly complex, but with gravelly-mineral nuances, gently-asserting tannins and a fine purity of fruit. The same winemaking philosophy has paid dividends here. Drink 2015 - 2022

Le Crock
47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot.
Château La Crock is impressively situated, between the vineyards of Châteaux Montrose and Cos d’Estournel, and is under the ownership of the Cuvelier family, better known as proprietors of Château Léoville-Poyferre. The nose is expansive with dark fruits, cedar and a touch of wood smoke. Showing admirable purity on the palate, with good intensity and elegance, the tannins are round and fine. This is performing way above its designation and gives a strong affirmation of its origins. Drink 2016 to 2026

Ormes de Pez
57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot.
In a year where St.Estèphe appears to have performed so well, Ormes de Pez does not disappoint. Offering ripe, sweet black fruit on the nose, with vibrant pure fruit of a similar vein on the palate, this continues an impressive run of form for the property. What renders this wine so appealing is the lift and vibrancy that characterises the vintage. The tannins are well-handled and whilst grippy are by no means dominant or drying. The lush touch to the mid-palate and the restraint to the finish signal a fine and appealing Ormes. Drink 2018 -  2028

Pagodes de Cos
62% Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Merlot.
Pagodes has been edging forward in quality over the last five years – resultantly it is being taken far more seriously as wine in its own right. Scented aromas of dark berry pave the way to a bright core of fruit on the palate. This has a supple, inviting quality even at this nascent stage, with almost powdery soft tannins framing a deep-natured fruit of impressive density. To the finish, this vintage reveals an almost damson-like fruit character with lively acidity. Drink 2017 - 2025

Dame de Montrose
64% Cabernet Sauvignon and 36% Merlot. 
Whereas other second wines may have been beefed up with greater selection of fruit and more attentive winemaking in this brand-led age, La Dame de Montrose has been tremendously consistent for almost a decade. The 2010 shows admirable intensity, with sweet cassis allied to more savoury nuances. This shares the mineral-backed freshness of the Grand Vin; streamlined and focused, with silky fine tannin and not a hard edge in sight. Drink 2015 to 2022  

Pauillac 

Lafite-Rothschild 
87% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Merlot. 
The 2010 shows suitably deep in the glass, with discreet aromas of soft-skinned blackcurrant, as well as a gentle leafiness and hallmark lead pencil notes. On the palate there is a fine sense of elegance, everything is streamlined, in keeping with the linear nature of the Cabernet dominant Medocs this vintage. It is a refined style. In a year when tannic concentration was easily gained (small berries, high alcohol), so many châteaux have fermented at cooler than normal temperatures for fear of over-extracting. And so, Lafite comes across as a lean, refined, pure, elegant wine, well-made yet without the density of fruit on the palate that singled out 2009 and 2005, or 2000 for that matter. Lafite is often the most reticent First Growth at such an early stage and early evaluation here can prove tricky. This showing suggests a vintage in line with the tight lines of 1988 and 2002, not the twin, identical or otherwise of 2009 as many critics have expected. The tannins do lead to a long finish, and there is nothing harsh in their expression. A very refined Lafite, which should prove long-lived. Drink 2020 to 2040

Mouton-Rothschild
94% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Merlot.
Deep in the glass, with aromas of scented, minty ripe berryfruit – all cassis and toast, the palate is typically opulent and mouthfilling, with a sweet, bright core of fruit well-displayed. There are again notes of mint, toast and liquorice adding interest to the deep-natured, ample fruit. Impeccably expressed tannins underpin this incredibly complete Mouton. Indeed this wine seems very together at such a young stage – the expectation was of a little more verve and drive, but the approach here is much more integrated and harmonious. A less exotic Mouton, perhaps more restrained this vintage, there is a sense of ample underlying depth and the tannins are so finely cut that it is hard to find fault with this showing. Everything is present. After elevage this will more than likely reveal itself to be a very impressive vintage for Mouton, perhaps even a whisker ahead of the impressive 2009.  Drink 2020 to 2040.

Latour
90.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5% Merlot, 0.5% Cabernet Franc and 0.5% Petit Verdot.
Restrained aromatically, and looking impenetrable in the glass, the 2010 Latour is a staggering wine. Bold, rich and intensely mouth-filling, this is an imposing style like a dense block of fruit. As solid as it currently is, the palate is incredibly refined. The copious black fruit is laced with striking, wet-gravel-like, mineral nuances. The tannins are expressed with precision, finely-chiselled and so well-defined. And the whole ensemble is beautifully underscored by racy acidity, without which the undeniable density and alcoholic weight might prove too heady. Instead the level of alcohol (a not insubstantial 14.4%) is barely worthy of comment as the balance of the wine is unfazed. A fascinating comparison (to the equally impressive 2009) lies in store. The two are incredible wines of equal merit that differ stylistically in accordance with the vintage. 2010 is broader-shouldered, an altogether more imposing style in terms of density, whereas 2009 may be more exotic in character, it is tauter and more evidently powerful.  Drink 2020 to 2040

Pichon-Lalande
66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot.
Deep, near opaque in the glass, the aromas are restrained, with discreet scented berry notes emerging with swirling. There is an appealing juicy quality to this streamlined, linear Pichon. It doesn’t lack density either, though it would never be termed big-framed. Graceful and juicy, with notes of creamy blackberry and cherry, there is perky acidity to this wine with an almost sour note, like barely ripe plums to the finish. The lasting impression is one of silken tannins and elegant fruit, the currently prominent acidity will more than likely prove a virtue with bottle-age. Drink 2019 - 2030


Pichon-Longueville
79% Cabernet Sauvignon and 21% Merlot.
A deep wine in the glass, the aromas of the 2010 Baron scream Cabernet with blackcurrant leaf and violet-scented cassis as well as background notes of toast. This is a rich example, with admirable structure. The tannins are very fine, adding to the silky mouthfeel, and the marked sense of vibrancy carries the copious black fruits to a long, persistent finish. The volume of fruit has taken on the oak well thus far, with the toasty accent barely perceptible on the palate. This needs to come together somewhat, but this is early days, and the signs point to a very fine vintage for Pichon.  Drink 2020 -  2040

Duhart-Milon
73% Cabernet Sauvignon and 27% Merlot
The winemaking team at Château Lafite continue to ratchet up the quality of Château Duhart- Milon-Rothschild. The 2010 is deeply-coloured in the glass with a nose redolent of Cabernet with blackcurrant, cedar and a touch of smoke. This shows its origins far more than the Carruades tasted before it. There is an underlying depth beneath the expressive fruit. This is a more powerful style with lovely ripe tannins to counter the fruit and provide structure. This is an absolute testament to its Pauillac origins and finishes with great intensity. Very persuasive. Drink 2020 to 2030

Armailhac
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.
This is undoubtedly a vintage in which d’Armailhac has fared well, and possibly one of the most impressive vintages for this Château. The aromas suggest minty, ripe berry fruit, with a fresh, pure accent. Layered on the palate, there is a terrific freshness to the attack. It is quite dense and powerful (relative to d’Armailhac) in character and backed by a racy, minerally acidity. Long- rawn and linear, the quality of the Cabernet impresses, with great purity and focus. 2017 to 2025

Clerc-Milon
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot.
Another property that has enjoyed some form of resurgence, Clerc-Milon's 2010 reveals hightoned aromas of creamy, sweet almost scented cassis and blackcurrant leaf. On the palate the fruit captures characters akin to black fruit pastille, with a fine minty freshness and a rich, yet looseknit, nature. Not as compact as anticipated, the more opulent style here does impress even if it suggests a wine for more youthful consumption than the 2009. Drink 2017 to 2027

Lynch-Bages
79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.
Dense and opaque in the glass, the 2010 Lynch reveals impressive berry and toast aromas on the nose. A structural example, this is an assertive wine, with firm underpinning tannins. Whilst the tannins show in a dominant vein at the moment, there is a dense core of black fruit behind of admirable purity. The fruit is ripe, generous yet currently held in check by the tannic frame. This will not prove to be an early-drinking Lynch – this is a wine for the long-haul. All the necessary components are present however for it to progress well through its elevage. The purity of fruit and life-giving acidity retain balance in an undeniable big wine yet unlike some this vintage there is sufficient weight of fruit to cope with the evident structure. The linear nature so evident this year carries this wine to a long, detailed finish. This could very well be the most impressive Lynch-Bages for quite some time. Drink 2020 to 2035 

Pontet-Canet
64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.
Another impressive vintage for Monsieur Tesseron’s Pontet-Canet. This is deep and brooding in the glass. On the nose there are slightly floral notes to a ripe, bold berry fruit with discreet background toast. The palate exudes impeccably ripe fruit, remarkably dense, quite compact with such fine richness. The sweetness of the fruit and silky, fine tannins really impress and given the incredible fresh nature exhibited throughout there is plenty of life to this thick, and at this stage impenetrable, wine. A real tour de force, this is beautifully poised and gently mineral. The finish is long and powerful. This is an extraordinary Pontet-Canet combining richness and finesse, far grippier than the 2009 at this stage. Drink 2020 to 2035

Grand-Puy-Lacoste
75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc.
The 2010 Grand-Puy-Lacoste is one of the undoubted success stories this vintage. The classical style of the vintage lends itself to Xavier Borie’s commendable focus on soft extraction. The nose is fragrant with fresh berry and plum. On the palate there is such enlivening freshness – everything is in a near perfect harmony, fruit, tannin and acidity. This is a detailed wine, the tannins are so precise, and they gently assert and lend silkiness to the palate. The fruit captures that succulent, juicy quality that renders GPL so enticing - generous, with characters of freshly crushed fruit. And the finish just flows and flows without a harsh edge or grainy tannin in sight. A vintage that should draw considerable plaudits and attention to the underrated GPL. Drink 2018 - 2028

Haut-Batailley
78% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Merlot.
Revealing a deep colour in the glass, the nose is restrained with blackberry and raspberry in evidence. The 2010 Haut-Batailley impresses greatly; it is finely-tuned, generous in fruit with a firm structure. The supple fruit shows a really fine purity on the Cabernet-dominated palate. This is another fine effort by Haut-Batailley, which showcases its elegance along with the race and power of fine, ripe Cabernet. Under the same stewardship as Grand-Puy-Lacoste, the winemaking approach is reflected with gentle, even-handed extraction in evidence. Drink 2018 - 2032

 Carruades de Lafite
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42.5% Merlot, 5.1% Cabernet Franc and 2.4% Petit Verdot
The name Carruades comes from four separate blocks of vines that lie immediately south of the main Château Lafite vineyard. Interestingly the fruit of some of these vines is used in the Grand Vin. The nose is somewhat muted with hints of cedar, cassis, blackberry and undergrowth. The palate is spicy with a stone fruit nature. Very elegant and polished, this Carruades is rather reticent at present and needs time to express itself. This nascent sample is currently closed and, whilst the tannins are very refined and the wine exhibits beautiful balance, there is so much more to come. (2016 to 2025).

Haut-Bailly
62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc 
The nose is dense and a little recalcitrant but eventually it reveals blackberry and cedar notes and even a little chocolate. This is a full-bodied and powerful Haut-Bailly and although there is a wealth of fruit, the structure and tannins mark this out as atypical. There is the usual poise and elegance but in 2010 it is backed up by great depth and a dominant structure. The finish is long and lingering with notes of a gravelly nature. This will be a long-lived Haut-Bailly. (2020 to 2035).in. The nose is somewhat muted with hints of cedar, cassis, blackberry and undergrowth. The palate is spicy with a stone fruit nature. Very elegant and polished, this Carruades is rather reticent at present and needs time to express itself. This nascent sample is currently closed and, whilst the tannins are very refined and the wine exhibits beautiful balance, there is so much more to come. Drink 2016 - 2025

Petit Mouton
68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc.
This is a more welcoming Petit Mouton than some past vintages. There is a scented berry fruit accent on the nose and supple, creamy, round cassis-laden fruit on the palate, with subtle nuances of mint, coffee and toast. The tannins are soft, almost powdery, gently underpinning the palate. A little more opulent, loose-knit and less austere than the norm – this signals a fine vintage for Le Petit Mouton. Drink 2018 to 2025

Forts de Latour
72.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25.5% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot.
‘Second’ wines have witnessed a resurgence of interest in recent years, with prices carried on to dramatic levels by a brand-led culture. Not all such prices are borne out by the quality in the glass. Not so with Les Forts de Latour, this hugely impressive wine has shone in the last three vintages. (As has the Grand Vin, though it is less unexpected in that case!) Comfortably the equivalent quality of a second growth, the 2010 is layered, generous with an intense dark fruit core. The tannins are impeccable: finely-grained, yet grippy and markedly gravelly/ mineral. What impresses most is the sense of energy and drive. A very taut, finely-tuned Pauillac with vibrancy and supreme poise, which leaves one pondering as to how it would compare to weaker vintages of the Grand Vin...... no mean feat. Drink 2018 - 2028

Lacoste-Borie
62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc.
This is certainly a vintage in which to buy Lacoste-Borie particularly given the runaway success of the Grand Vin. Pleasingly ripe and supple with a layered fruit and a juicy, succulent nature, this is as impressive an example of this wine as we can recall. The ripe berry fruit benefits from notes of a leafy nature and a terrific vibrancy. Admirable poise and definition for a wine of this relatively humble level, this is textural, sleek and an immensely appealing second wine, which reflects the success of GPL. Drink 2015 -2025

St Julien

Ducru-Beaucaillou
Cabernet Sauvignon 90% and Merlot 10%.
Since 2003, Bruno Borie has halved the production of Ducru-Beaucaillou by only utilising the vineyards in front of the Château facing the Gironde. The improvements have been radical and Ducru-Beaucaillou is consequently a leading contender for the top property in St-Julien. The 2010 will enhance this challenge. With great colour in the glass and an opulent nose of blackcurrant, black fruits, there is even a touch of “Pauillac” cedar about the 2010. The palate is silky and tightly wound but still expressive. Very much a pure, precise style with a flowing fruit backed up by glossy, round tannins and good acidity. A wine of real harmony combining depth and refinement that accurately portrays the vintage. Very long and persistent. The pristine and impeccable quality of the Cabernet defines this wine. Drink 2020 - 2035

Léoville-Poyferré
61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc.
Poyferré is an interesting wine; it has shown impressive consistency since 2000. The 2010 certainly does not lack style. It is a glossy, elegant wine with impressive volume. The youthful fruit is masked by a layer of toast and vanillin, yet beneath there is a cool, fresh, mineral-infused palate of dark berry and cassis carried by a fresh, lively acidity. Everything is here that one would expect of an impressive vintage – effortless volume, sleek, finely-expressed tannins and life-giving acidity. The style draws more of a correlation with the impressive, more individual 2005 than any other recent vintage. Drink 2018 to 2028

Léoville-Barton
74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc.
With the ample volume, high natural available tannin and higher than average alcohol content, it could have been all too easy to produce a burly, uncompromising Barton. The 2010 however astutely side-steps these pitfalls and demonstrates the virtues of the vintage. Deep in the glass, with aromas of dark berry and cedar, the palate is generous with terrific purity of fruit. Rich and elegant, there is a supple, inviting aspect to this vintage which treads refreshingly traditional lines. The fine tannins gently assert in a classically-styled vintage without the exoticism of 2009. The freshness here coupled with natural density will make for a long-lived Barton, yet it is doubtful that its structure will block the opportunity for more youthful enjoyment. Drink 2018 to 2032

Léoville-Las-Cases
82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc.
The 2010 Las Cases is something of a testament to Cabernet. What impresses here is the precision of the finely-chiselled tannins, which underpin without drying the palate. The vibrancy is such that it creates the impression of a long-drawn linear wine, with plenty of race and gravelly, mineralinfused fruit. This is by no means weighty, though clearly the fruit is held in check. There is however an effortless density with such a pure, yet understated, cassis-led fruit. This may not be what everyone expects; it shows akin to a lean, long distance runner, taut, energetic without unnecessary fat. A very fine Las Cases and a stark contrast to the more exuberant exotic nature of the 2009. Drink 2020 to 2035

Langoa-Barton
72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc.
The 2010 Langoa shows in a very attractive manner with a fine volume of fruit. The fruits are redder in character, markedly so, in stark contrast to its bigger brother Léoville. The layered palate exudes juicy summer berries and cedar. There is superb, effortless density to this wine, with no harsh edges, just a fine, lean, vibrant core of fruit and impressive length. Drink 2017 - 2025

Beychevelle
62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.
Beychevelle is a wine that seems to have grown in stature; the 2010 continues the consistent run of vintages since 2008. With a scented, fragrant nose of almost minty warm berry fruits, the 2010 suggests impeccably ripe Cabernet fruit. On the palate, there is an ample volume of black and red fruits with notes of cedar. This is a racy, elegant style, quite linear and mineral-backed. The vibrancy of the vintage helps the classic Beychevelle style and this comes across as an impressive, elegant St Julien of very fine purity. Persistent and flowing, this registers another notable success for this resurgent property Drink 2018 to 2030

Saint Pierre
78% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Merlot.
This underrated St Julien property has impressed greatly in the last five vintages. The 2010 follows up these successes with another accomplished effort. It can prove to be a wine that is slow to show its colours and therefore a more difficult wine to assess en primeur. Showing good depth in the glass, the aromas are subtle and gently reveal ripe, scented blackcurrant fruit. There is a pleasing roundness on the mid palate, with finely grained, velvety tannins. The vintage’s elevated acidity has leant a linear, racy note to this wine, which is marked by gravelly nuances to the finish. An impressive St.Pierre, understated and refined with impressive harmony. Drink 2018 to 2030

Clos du Marquis
75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc.
Clos de Marquis is arguably one of the original ‘second’ wines, with its first vintage in 1902. Since Léoville-las-Cases is now sourced only from the “original” fifty-hectare, walled Clos just south of Château Latour, Clos de Marquis is now a wine in its own right sourced from vineyards within Léoville-las-Cases but crucially outside the walled vineyard. The nose is surprisingly unevolved and patience is required before the cedar and cassis notes emerge. The palate mirrors those impressions - so despite the relatively fleshy character the focus is on precision and elegance. The tannins are melded into the underlying structure which is completely balanced. This is a very natural style which interprets the vintage beautifully. Drink 2015 to 2022

Petit Lion de Léoville-Las-Cases
52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot.
The second wine of Las Cases has turned in a strong performance in 2010. Showing good ripeness and a pleasing depth of fruit, this impressively made wine reveals a harmonious, supple Cabernetled fruit of cassis with notes of ripe plum. A very measured style with a touch of classic leafiness and an appealing fresh accent. By no means heady, there is a cool quality to the fruit here asreflected from the Grand Vin. An impressive example that will require modest cellarage to drink in its prime. Drink 2016 to 2024

Margaux

Margaux
90% Cabernet sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 1.5% Cabernet Franc and 1.5% Petit Verdot.
Only 38% of the estate’s production was selected for the Grand Vin of Château Margaux. At first, the wine seems rather mute but it gradually begins to unfurl in the glass. This is a very classicallystyled Margaux despite the Cabernet dominance of recent years. In addition this is one of the more reticent vintages; slow to reveal its delicate yet precise charms. It possesses impressive, pure, racy Cabernet fruit, with finely-expressed tannins creating an incredibly silky, fine impression. The fruit is dark, currant with a fresh mintiness too; this is not an overly voluminous style and indeed there is the expectation that the mid-palate will fill out in elevage. That said, it does reveal good density bit it is a clean-cut, racier, more linear style of Margaux, understated throughout. It certainly shows direction and verve leading to a long, persistent finish. The epitome of understated power? Drink 2022 to 2045

Brane-Cantenac
62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc.
It is hard to recall having been so impressed with a vintage of Brane-Cantenac, young or old. The 2010 is deeper than many vintages at this property. It reveals perfumed, ripe black fruit on the nose. On the palate, the fruit is far deeper than the norm with more density – and all the better for it. This is a detailed wine with finely-grained tannins and admirable freshness. The 2010 Brane- Cantenac is an impressive, elegant Margaux with a fine vein of minerality and long, flowing finish. The overriding impression is one of perfectly judged ripeness and impressive harmony. This vintage retains Brane’s hallmark linear elegance but benefits from greater volume of fruit and impeccable poise. Drink 2018 to 2032

Palmer
54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot.
The 2010 vintage was the longest in the history of Château Palmer. The wine is almost opaque and the nose is dominated by the Cabernet with notes of cassis, black fruits to the fore with a floral touch. The palate is full-bodied yet svelte and very precise. Allied to these traits are the finelyhoned tannins, good acidity, and expressive nature but all of this creates the impression of an almost understated character. This has all the component parts in such beautiful balance that it is immediately very harmonious and natural. The finish is polished and ends on a mineral note. This is a classic Palmer without a shadow of a doubt. Drink 2010 - 2025

Malescot St Exupery
58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot.
Deep in hue with a perfumed violety nose of deep, dark fruit and vanillin. There is an enticing, lush core of dark cherry fruit with round, fine yet grippy tannins. Certainly a well-extracted Margaux, a little more modernist in style perhaps, yet Malescot reveals a terrific fresh vein of acidity and a seductive fruit. Very well-poised, this impressive vintage continues the property’s rich vein of form with a long, lingering, almost cherry-stone like mineral accent to the finish. (2020 to 2035).

d'Issan
70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. 
This moated Château has seen radical improvements with a new chai in 1999 as well as additional vats, which were introduced at the same time to enable parcel by parcel fermentation. This is rich and ripe on the nose with mineral notes as well as copious soft black fruits. Medium bodied, the palate is dominated by the ripe Cabernet Sauvignon fruit with a terrifically pure blackcurrant core. This manages to retain the Margaux finesse yet incorporate a firm structure. A very good effort, 2010 d’Issan should prove long-lived and shows good persistence and density on finish. Drink 2016 - 2026

Ferrière
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc.
The lesser known estate of Ferrière can produce wines of great value in certain years. This is one such year – appealing and fragrant on the nose, the palate shows a pleasing lush, soft accent with terrific acid balance. The tannins do assert, but are finely expressed and are well-masked by the bright core of fruit. The 2010 Ferrière is made in an unforced style with no sign of over-extraction or austerity. Classic Margaux elegance – this is a feminine style and another pleasant surprise from this commune this year. Drink 2017 to 2025

du Tertre
43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. 
Deep in appearance, with characters of berry and fresh stone fruits on the nose. This is a very harmonious style, with silky tannins and a wealth of admirably ripe blackberry fruit. A very classic Margaux, the 2010 du Tertre impresses more than stablemate Giscours with its fine definition and attractive, sleek fruit. A very appealing, fresh-styled du Tertre with a plumper, rounder accent than has been witnessed in many recent vintages. This could prove to be one of the value buys of the vintage. Drink 2018 to 2028

Pavillon Rouge
66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc.
Again just 38% of the estate’s production made it into Pavillon Rouge and like its grand sibling, it is the Cabernet that dominates the wine. Deep in the glass, with a nose which combines notes of graphite and blackcurrant, the 2010 benefits from a stricter selection of fruit in this vintage. The palate is quite open with well-concentrated fruit but the acidity here is even more prominent than in Château Margaux. This is a well-structured Pavillon Rouge but the acidity gives it great freshness and lift. Balanced and finessed, the estate has the stated aim of considerably escalating the quality of Pavillon Rouge hence the more stringent selection, resulting in the addition of an as yet unnamed third wine to the portfolio. Drink 2018 to 2028

Alter Ego de Palmer
59% Cabernet Sauvignon and 41% Merlot.
Administrator Thomas Duroux insists that Alter Ego is not a second wine and as such not a repository for fruit that doesn’t make the cut for Château Palmer. Alter Ego is a different concept from the same terroir. At harvest dependent of the characteristics of the fruit it can be utilised for either wine. An expansive nose of black chocolate, blackberry and blackcurrant leads into a sleek refined palate combining fine grained tannins with fresh acidity and good structure. This has a savoury character and a refined yet almost opulent core. An assertive, powerful Alter Ego. Drink 2014 to 2020

Graves

Haut-Brion
57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.
Dense and opaque in the glass, the nose captures that mulberry, blackberry fruit that is so typical of Haut-Brion with gentle leafy nuances too. The plumpness on the palate suggests an effortless density with creamy, soft-skinned, macerated fruits – with plum, currant and earthy notes all discernible. The ample nature to the fruit comfortably balances the assertive underlying structure – there is a noticeable fresh vein of acidity here and a prominent tannic backbone. The tannins are well-defined and silky, with no austerity. This snapshot in time suggests an impressive Haut-Brion with all the qualities of a great vintage – it just needs to come together through its elevage. This is one of a handful of wines that looks like it will exceed the quality level set by the preceding vintage. A very fine wine in prospect. Drink 2022 to 2045

La Mission
62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc.
Another success for the Haut-Brion stable this vintage, the 2010 La Mission is a monumental effort. It is generous in proportion yet with incredibly fine clarity and purity. This possesses a layered dimension to the hedgerow and blackcurranty fruit with a marked, gravelly-mineral vein. A very natural expression, flowing and graceful – it is an undeniably rich wine but it carries itself so well. Long and stylish, there is a delightful vibrancy and a lifted accent to the fruit throughout and such finely expressed tannins. A fine vintage for La Mission and a wine that could potentially rival the greats of the past – time will tell. (2020 to 2040).

Haut-Bailly
62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc 
The nose is dense and a little recalcitrant but eventually it reveals blackberry and cedar notes and even a little chocolate. This is a full-bodied and powerful Haut-Bailly and although there is a wealth of fruit, the structure and tannins mark this out as atypical. There is the usual poise and elegance but in 2010 it is backed up by great depth and a dominant structure. The finish is long and lingering with notes of a gravelly nature. This will be a long-lived Haut-Bailly. Drink 2020 - 2035

Domaine de Chevalier
58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot.
The most westerly property of the Pessac-Léognan appellation, Domaine de Chevalier has for years produced one of the finest wines of its class. In 2010 it has not disappointed, turning in a terrific effort. The nose is impressive, combining dark fruit, plum and floral notes. The palate is very finely crafted with intense fruit backed up by fresh acidity and finely grained tannins which are beautifully integrated. Again this works well in 2010 because it emphasises refinement over power. There is a lovely balance and feel to the wine and whilst it appears almost delicate on account of the harmony, there is a firm structure in the framework. This has great length and a slight mineral edge to the fruit on the finish. Drink 2018 to 2028

Clarence de Haut-Brion
52% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.
The second wine of Haut-Brion is a sterling effort and reflects the class of the Grand Vin. This possesses a terrifically deep colour. The palate is still dominated by the Cabernet Sauvignon, despite it comprising just a third of the blend. There is an impressive mass of fruit with very fine tannins and a core of blackberry and cassis. A very impressive effort with structure and power, yet it still comes across rather cool and understated, in line with the grandeur of Haut-Brion itself this year. Drink 2018 to 2028

Chapelle de la Mission
47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot and 26% Cabernet Franc.
The 2010 La Chapelle has a deep hue in the glass and the nose is of stone fruits and plums. The overwhelming impression on the medium bodied palate is a very restrained wine, almost cool on the palate with tobacco and spice in a very natural style. The tannins are finely moulded and there is a streak of minerality to counter the fruit and the acidity. This is a very restrained La Chapelle and the better for it. Drink 2016-2024

Haut-Brion Blanc
46% Semillon and 54% Sauvignon Blanc 
The 2010 Haut-Brion possesses an intriguing nose of lanolin, grapefruit and green apple. The colour is pale yellow and the palate is juicy, round and full. There is a gentle, soft, persistent acidity that follows through to the finish. Slightly honeyed, citrus lemon and green lime notes are dominant and seem to accentuate the juicy quality of the fruit. The fruit is perfectly ripe with lemon, pineapple and even a touch of ginger. This is a very impressive, restrained and elegant Haut-Brion Blanc. Drink 2018 to 2030

La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc
81% Semillon and 19% Sauvignon Blanc
The nose alludes to characters of citrus and white flower. Medium bodied with a dense texture, the 2010 La Mission Blanc possesses a real zesty lemony edge to its fruit. It is a mouthwatering example, with the bright acidity adding definition and precision to a taut palate of stoney, mineralinfused fruit. This is plenty of tension here which is only evident in great vintages. Nonetheless this is expansive, with zesty acidity and freshness creating near perfect poise. This vintage is on tight lines despite its impressive intensity and volume. Drink 2018 to 2030

Clarté de Haut-Brion
83% Semillon and 17% Sauvignon Blanc.
Fragrant, zesty citrus and honeyed peach aromas lead to a palate that captures similar zesty notes with citron confit and mouth-watering grapefruit. Taut, with good energy for a wine of this level, there is plenty of cut and race and nothing too heady here. Discreet mineral nuances emerge to the finish, which possesses good drive and focus. The quality of Clarté has certainly stepped up of late and this could be the best yet. Drink 2015 to 2025

Pavillon Blanc
100% Sauvignon Blanc
Aside from harvesting earlier, the team at Château Margaux has brought about some changes in vinification in order to further enhance the precision of Pavillon Blanc and to reduce the alcohol level. Their efforts have not been in vain. This is a zestier, more clean-cut style than the norm. It shows good weight of fruit without being overblown. This is an altogether more lively style, with stoney mineral notes melding with mouthwatering grapefruit. Long and pure, this is a very finely crafted Sauvignon Blanc that will prove enjoyable in its youth as well as after a decade in the cellar. Drink 2014 to 2022 

Pomerol

Clinet
85% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc.
Clinet has produced another impressive wine in 2010. The nose exudes dark cherry and vanilla notes. The palate is firm and powerful; this is a full-bodied Pomerol, which offers an impressive, silky fine texture. As seductively styled as it is, the tannins are prominent and they reassert themselves on the long finish. This will undoubtedly need time but should be another fine example of the appellation. Pomerol has produced some notable successes in 2010 and this is certainly amongst them. (2020 to 2034).

Eglise-Clinet
90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. 
Deep, inky and intense in the glass, the 2010 l’Eglise-Clinet offers aromas of sweet red fruits, dark cherry and a touch of undergrowth. The aromas really soar from the glass revealing terrific freshness. There is a rich, dense texture to the fruit but it retains elegance and poise with lifted scents and a lively fresh vein of acidity. The generosity of fruit is such that there is an immediate appeal to this almost heady style, with all its damson and cherry fruit. This is a powerful, mineral vintage with fine purity of fruit on show. Layered and long, the tannins are fine grained and have some real grip but they are integrated and they serve to emphasise the depth and structure of this impressive wine. Drink 2020 to 2040

Evangile
89% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Franc.
Oddly the analyses for the 2009 and 2010 barely reveal a difference, with the alcohol level marginally lower and the acidity level marginally higher in 2010. But to all intents and purposes the readings are comparable. In the glass however, there are contrasts. Deep in hue with aromas of blackberry and vanillin, the 2010 is a mouth-filling style, with a layered, sweet dark fruit and notes of dark chocolate and cocoa. Despite its weight it is cool, fresh and with good energy and poise. It shows restraint with a fresh vein of acidity carrying the fruit to a finish that is both savoury and markedly mineral. Not the exotic nature or flamboyance of the 2009 – this is after all more in keeping with expectations with an elevated level of acidity which should see the 2010 prove to be the longer distance runner. Drink 2018 to 2030

La Conseillante
80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.
Deeply coloured in the glass, the nose offers floral notes, chocolate and expressive stone fruit. The palate is refined and classy, exhibiting fruit of exceptional ripeness. The refinement is such that there is not a hint of lushness or over-ripeness. This is very finely balanced with supple tannins and a flowing style. Fresh, with a silky texture, this is a beautifully structured La Conseillante that will prove tempting comparatively early in its life but which retains the potential to age over the longterm. Drink 2018 to 2030

Le Gay
90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc.
Le Gay has really started to perform over the last few years since it was acquired by the owner of La Violette, Catherine Péré-Vergé. The 2010 is possibly the most head-turning example yet – fragrant, with a soft-nuanced, plush stone-fruit of admirable density. There is that appetising, freshly-crushed fruit quality of young Pomerol here, with a leafy, tobacco background note as well as chocolatey, cocoa notes. Vibrant, attractive, with not a hard edge in sight, this is nonetheless a substantial example yet an appealing, unforced style of Pomerol with silky fine tannins and a long,flowing finish. Surely one to watch. Drink 2018 to 2028

Le Pin
100% Merlot
If ever there were to be a wine to carry the beacon of elegance in even one of the naturally structural vintages, Le Pin had to be the candidate. As deep as expected, the 2010 has a vivid appearance, almost bluish purple. The aromas capture notes of incense (from the barrique) adding spice and scented lift to the subtle berry characters. On the palate, it is the effortless density of the broad swathe of fruit that immediately impresses. Such fine round tannins form a sublime texture. Notes of sweet, ripe blueberry and blackberry meld with discreet notes of vanillin and toast. Cool and creamy, this is a polished style with undeniable class and purity. Such an individual wine – Le Pinis in a world of its own. Drink 2018 to 2030

Nenin
82% Merlot and 18% Cabernet Franc
Château Nenin was purchased by the Delon family of Château Léoville-las-Cases in 1987. It has varied in quality over the years though is now starting to show the anticipated level of consistency. The nose is quite rich, almost liqueur like with blackberry, black fruits, cassis and a touch of vanilla to the fore. Initially the palate seems almost voluptuous but it closes up very quickly to finish with a tightly wound impression. The grainy tannins are evident on the finish and although there is a good density of fruit, there is also a firm structure which holds it all in balance. This is a serious effort in 2010 which will need time to round out in barrel. Drink 2019 - 2029

Petite Eglise
100% Merlot.
La Petite Eglise is not the second wine of L’Eglise Clinet – instead it is sourced from the young vines of the property as well as those cultivated on the gravel soils of a separate plot. In 2010 this has produced a dense wine with an opulent bouquet of red and stone fruits. The palate is firmly structured with solid tannins and fine intensity. The fruit is succulent, layered and revealed in a beautifully balanced, flowing style. This is a terrific, if humble, Pomerol. Drink 2016 to 2022

Vieux Chateau Certan
86% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. 
For Alexandre Thienpont, a man not prone to exaggeration, 2009 and 2010 were twins. Deep purple in hue, opaque, and the nose exudes sweet-scented blackberry and cherry. Layers of fruit are apparent on the dense palate of mulberry, blackberry and cherry with slightly savoury, toasty background notes. This is such a fine effort, with elegant, round tannins and such vibrancy. A svelte, sleek, immensely refined example of great purity and poise. The freshness underscores the palate beautifully and leads to a long, persistent, intensely mineral finish. A slightly headier style than the 2009 interestingly enough, but equally fine. A stunning VCC. Drink 2020 to 2040

 

St Emilion

Ausone
55% Cabernet Franc and 45% Merlot.
Deep in appearance, the 2010 Ausone reveals scented cherry and dark berry fruit on the nose, with notes of vanillin and toast. The density on the palate, purity and impeccable balance one has come to expect of this incredibly consistent Château is all on show, but what stands out this vintage is the freshness. The marked vein of acidity is as elevated as I can recall and beautifully offsets the richness on show. All about power and refinement - the tannins are so well veiled by the density of fruit. Invariably a mineral wine, this vintage of Ausone exudes terrific, almost chalky, mineral notes. In summary, this is a more lively wine of impressive richness and harmony with a lip-smacking quality to the fruit. Impressive – it is hard to recall the last disappointing vintage of Ausone tasted en primeur. Drink 2018 - 2035

Cheval Blanc
44% Cabernet Franc and 56% Merlot.
The scented nose of the 2010 Cheval Blanc is an interesting combination of liquorice, coffee, dark berries and notes of vanilla from new oak. It is a tightly knit wine, incredibly rich, and therefore requires agitation to coax it from the glass. There is plenty of volume on the palate of this surprisingly bold and forthright Cheval-Blanc. The fruit is incredibly ripe and the alcohol level nudges 15%. Taut and structural with silky, fine-grained tannins, this vintage does possess a most welcome fresh acidity. In summary this is a masculine, almost heady Cheval, much more so than in any recent vintage. The finish is long and intense, heralding a Cheval-Blanc for the long term. This may be an opinion-dividing wine on account of its untypical headiness:opulence and density versus refinement and harmony (as exhibited by the underrated 2008 for example). Drink 2020 - 2040 

Figeac
35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Cabernet Franc and 30% Merlot.  
Among some disappointing over-extracted, overly alcoholic St.Emilion this year, stands the classically styled Figeac. Fresh aromas of blackfruit, cherry, tobacco even, and toast lead to an elegant, restrained palate of sumptuous red and black fruits underscored by fine mineral race. This is an effortlessly elegant example, which is more linear than last year, but not necessarily inferior, just stylistically different. Fresh throughout, with the undoubted class of this terroir shining through with gravelly nuances to the finish. Drink 2018 - 2035

La Tour du Pin
75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc.  
Now under the same ownership as Château Cheval-Blanc, La Tour du Pin is going from strength to strength. The aromas suggest soft, ripe, scented berry fruit with a hint of little roasted coffee bean. The palate is glossy and plush with a good density of vanillin-infused berry fruit and a touch of spice. This is far bolder than the 2009, but nonetheless it is elegant and sleek. The transformation here in terms of style and quality is really quite astonishing. This wine shares the winemaking team with Cheval-Blanc and it shows – the styles are certainly related. This is certainly a property to watch. Drink 2017 - 2027

Petit Cheval
75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc.
A significant 20% of the crop was declassified to Petit Cheval for the 2010 vintage. The nose is dominated by the Cabernet Franc, with ripe red fruit, cherry and blackcurrant leaf. There is a great quality of fruit on the palate – rich, ripe and fresh. This is quite a bold statement for Petit Cheval and there is not a hint of the oak framework that supports the Grand Vin. (Only 50% of new oak was employed in 2010 whereas the level was far higher at 75% for the previous vintage).The effortless density really impresses in the 2010, with notably vibrant fruit and some grippy tannins on the polished finish. Drink  2014 to 2020 

Moulin St Georges
80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. 
Situated immediately opposite Château Ausone, the 7 hectares of Moulin-St-Georges are also owned by Alain Vauthier and the wine is made by the Château Ausone team. The 2010 is a little backward in coming forward (as was Château Ausone). Given aeration, the aromas of blackberry and raspberry slowly surface. The medium-bodied palate has good concentration leading again to blackberry and stone fruit. There is a generous volume of fruit here, as well as good definition and precision but the 2010 Moulin will seemingly need time to show its class. Drink 2018 to 2024

Chapelle d'Ausone
65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Proprietor Alain Vauthier introduced the second wine of Ausone in 1997. The vineyard treatment and selection is exactly the same as for the Grand Vin so the quality is never in doubt. In 2010 he included Cabernet Sauvignon in the second wine for the first time. The nose exudes crushed berry fruits dominated by raspberry. The palate is defined by the intensity of the fruit, which gives it noticeable lift, and by the firm, ripe tannins and acidity, which together impart great balance. This is a very finely tuned wine with the emphasis on the refinement and power. Very complete, with lots of energy, there is a marked mineral element to the finish. This is an outstanding Chapelle. Drink 2014 - 2020

Ausone
55% Cabernet Franc and 45% Merlot.
Deep in appearance, the 2010 Ausone reveals scented cherry and dark berry fruit on the nose, with notes of vanillin and toast. The density on the palate, purity and impeccable balance one has come to expect of this incredibly consistent Château is all on show, but what stands out this vintage is the freshness. The marked vein of acidity is as elevated as I can recall and beautifully offsets the richness on show. All about power and refinement - the tannins are so well veiled by the density of fruit. Invariably a mineral wine, this vintage of Ausone exudes terrific, almost chalky, mineral notes. In summary, this is a more lively wine of impressive richness and harmony with a lip-smacking quality to the fruit. Impressive – it is hard to recall the last disappointing vintage of Ausone tasted en primeur. (2018 to 2035).

Cheval Blanc
44% Cabernet Franc and 56% Merlot.
The scented nose of the 2010 Cheval Blanc is an interesting combination of liquorice, coffee, dark berries and notes of vanilla from new oak. It is a tightly knit wine, incredibly rich, and therefore requires agitation to coax it from the glass. There is plenty of volume on the palate of this surprisingly bold and forthright Cheval-Blanc. The fruit is incredibly ripe and the alcohol level nudges 15%. Taut and structural with silky, fine-grained tannins, this vintage does possess a most welcome fresh acidity. In summary this is a masculine, almost heady Cheval, much more so than in any recent vintage. The finish is long and intense, heralding a Cheval-Blanc for the long term. This may be an opinion-dividing wine on account of its untypical headiness:opulence and density versus refinement and harmony (as exhibited by the underrated 2008 for example). Drink 2020 - 2040

Figeac
35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Cabernet Franc and 30% Merlot.  
Among some disappointing over-extracted, overly alcoholic St.Emilion this year, stands the classically styled Figeac. Fresh aromas of blackfruit, cherry, tobacco even, and toast lead to an elegant, restrained palate of sumptuous red and black fruits underscored by fine mineral race. This is an effortlessly elegant example, which is more linear than last year, but not necessarily inferior, just stylistically different. Fresh throughout, with the undoubted class of this terroir shining through with gravelly nuances to the finish. Drink 2018 to 2035

La Tour du Pin
75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc.  
Now under the same ownership as Château Cheval-Blanc, La Tour du Pin is going from strength to strength. The aromas suggest soft, ripe, scented berry fruit with a hint of little roasted coffee bean. The palate is glossy and plush with a good density of vanillin-infused berry fruit and a touch of spice. This is far bolder than the 2009, but nonetheless it is elegant and sleek. The transformation here in terms of style and quality is really quite astonishing. This wine shares the winemaking team with Cheval-Blanc and it shows – the styles are certainly related. This is certainly a property to watch. Drink 2017 to 2027

Petit Cheval
75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc.
A significant 20% of the crop was declassified to Petit Cheval for the 2010 vintage. The nose is dominated by the Cabernet Franc, with ripe red fruit, cherry and blackcurrant leaf. There is a great quality of fruit on the palate – rich, ripe and fresh. This is quite a bold statement for Petit Cheval and there is not a hint of the oak framework that supports the Grand Vin. (Only 50% of new oak was employed in 2010 whereas the level was far higher at 75% for the previous vintage).The effortless density really impresses in the 2010, with notably vibrant fruit and some grippy tannins on the polished finish. Drink 2014 to 2020

Moulin St Georges
80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. 
Situated immediately opposite Château Ausone, the 7 hectares of Moulin-St-Georges are also owned by Alain Vauthier and the wine is made by the Château Ausone team. The 2010 is a little backward in coming forward (as was Château Ausone). Given aeration, the aromas of blackberry and raspberry slowly surface. The medium-bodied palate has good concentration leading again to blackberry and stone fruit. There is a generous volume of fruit here, as well as good definition and precision but the 2010 Moulin will seemingly need time to show its class. Drink 2018 to 2024

Chapelle d'Ausone
65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Proprietor Alain Vauthier introduced the second wine of Ausone in 1997. The vineyard treatment and selection is exactly the same as for the Grand Vin so the quality is never in doubt. In 2010 he included Cabernet Sauvignon in the second wine for the first time. The nose exudes crushed berry fruits dominated by raspberry. The palate is defined by the intensity of the fruit, which gives it noticeable lift, and by the firm, ripe tannins and acidity, which together impart great balance. This is a very finely tuned wine with the emphasis on the refinement and power. Very complete, with lots of energy, there is a marked mineral element to the finish. This is an outstanding Chapelle. Drink 2014 to 2020

Sauternes

Yquem
87% Semillon and 13% Sauvignon Blanc.
Slightly paler than anticipated, the 2010 is a very streamlined d’Yquem, with smoky, orange and pineapple scents on the nose. The palate shows fine concentration even though not heavily botrytic in style. Already showing complex notes of hazelnut, juicy, honeyed peach and apricot as well as pineapple, there is a precision to this vintage with nothing too heady or overblown. It is a more compact, tauter style with considerable elegance and finesse. This is a layered, concentrated vintage with a sensational finish that refuses to fade. It will be fascinating to see how this ages over time. Yquem is unsurprisingly in a league of its own this year. Drink 2020 - 2045 

As always with Burgundy releases, we are unable to sell leading Grand Cru and Premier Cru or wines from particularly sought-after domaines in isolation – we cannot buy them from the domaines that way ourselves and we are aware that demand is sure to outstrip supply. However, instead of running a complex system of allocations, we do aim to confirm requests as soon as we are able to do so or to highlight where we are unable to assist. To request a specific wine, please contact any member of the sales team on +44 (0) 20 3017 2299. You can also reach Simon Larkin MWRichard O'Mahony, and Laura Hollingsworth by email.

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Atlas Fine Wines Ltd. 

Atlas House, 1 King Street
London, EC2V 8AU
T: +44 (0) 20 3017 2299
F: +44 (0) 20 3017 2290
W: atlasfinewines.com 
E: info@atlasfinewines.com