2010 Bordeaux Delivers Everything Promised

A glass of Cabernet Franc from Barboursville V...
Photo by Amy C Evans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, I had a chance to quickly taste through a flight of ridiculously impressive 2010 Bordeaux. Just being fresh off the boat from Europe, they preformed remarkably well, doubly so since we had opened the flight only minutes before. I had virtually forgotten my enthusiasm for the vintage – I hadn’t tasted much since George Derbalian of Atherton Wine Imports brought 15 barrel samples by the store. That was almost two years ago. I remember now how was wowed I was then. I am wowed again now.

Vintages like 2010, despite the immense prices of the top wines, allow the more modest wine buyer remarkable value for excellent, age-able wines.  As the old French saying goes: Drink small wines in big years and big wines in small years.  If you haven’t  2009 and 2010 Bordeaux in your cellar already, now is the time. They will reward you for many years down the road.

“As the old French saying goes:

Drink small wines in big years and big wines in small years

While the whole line-up was excellent-plus some, the last three wines were simply remarkable, and absolutely lived up to their price points.  The surprise of the tasting was the Puynomand; it is a truly spectacular value.  Big and powerful, if a touch rustic, this has dense concentration for any wine up to the $30-ish price point. This is one that will lay down for 15 to 20 years – or more, depending how old you like your wine.  I’ve scored these using the twenty point system.       ~Dean Alexander

2010 Bordeaux Tasting, May 25,2013

2010 Chateau Poitevin, Medoc
Starting out strong with this Poitevin! This shows off with its ripe, complete fruit, ample concentration and lasting complexity with some toasty tannins. This will age nicely for 5 to 10 years.  15

2010 Chateau Mongravey, Cru Bourgeois, Margaux
Floral nose of Margaux’s terroir is evident as this echos the stereotype of the appellation. Much more elegant than any of the other wines, light to medium weight for the vintage. Fine tannins play along the long finish. 16.5

2010 Chateau La Bienfaisance, Grand Cru, St-Emilion  91 pts WS

Bégédan vineyards in the Haut-Medoc of Bordeaux.
Bégédan vineyards in the Haut-Medoc of Bordeaux. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Merlot’s bright red cherry fruit, very pure, with racy acidity pulling the flavors along on the extended finish. This was not showing nearly as dense and powerful as it had two months ago. This was a crowd favorite at the price. 16

2010 Chateau Belgrave, Fifth Growth, Haut-Medoc
Not much showing on the nose, but has good weight and richness on thepalate. Broad plum fruit, oaky tannins firm it all up, allowing it to finish with some elegance. This developed nicely over the course of the tasting. 17

2010 Chateau Puynormand, Vieille Vignes, Montagne-St-Emilion
Impressively deep plum is dark with lots of dusky, animal-like notes. Ripe Merlot is 100% of the cuvee, and show the power than can be achieved with this grape when grown in the right place.  Very powerful for the price, and is framed with substantial tannins, both from the skins and the oak. 17

2010 Chateau Cantemerle, Fifth Growth, Haut-Medoc
Showing a bit closed having just been opened, showing only faint fruit and subtle oak now. But this showing some excellent richness, and quite powerful, with cassis at the core.  Firm tannins pull the flavors through with authority.  This will cellar very well. 17

2010Chateau Beychevelle, Fourth Growth, St-Julien

Until I tasted the Leoville, I didn’t think a wine would be better in this tasting. It is certainly the best Beychevelle I have ever had. They have come a long way since I visited the Chateau in 1996, with its dirty, mouldy cellar and resulting dirty muddy wines.  This 2010 is a perfectly balanced wine with remarkable finesse, sweetly fruited on the nose. Excellent richness.  Solid, mouth-filling, and no sharp edges. It was complete and complex.  I absolutely loved this.  Parker may have underscored this one. 18.5

2010 La Dame de Montrose, St-Estephe
Huge for Bordeaux – It’s hard to believe this is a second wine (of Second Growth Ch. Montrose). Completely opaque – black with purple edges. Powerful nose, showing quite a bit of green-ness – presumably from Cabernet Franc, and plenty
of new French oak. Sweet, and powerful black-fruits here. A massive wine that defines the greatness and power of the vintage.  On some levels it reminds me somewhat of the very best wines coming out of Chile, but with more structure and less gras.  18

2010 Leoville-Poyferre, Second Growth,St-Julien 

This was without a doubt, the wine of the tasting.  It is bigger in structure than the 100 point 2009 vintage, but less suave and refined. That said it is simply a magnificent Bordeaux. A fine nose of minerals and stones, a touch of fresh herbs, vanilla, and shows very little oak,  sweet fruit here again, with excellent ripeness and balance, full mouth-feel, that is long, soft, sultry on the finish, with tannins holding down the long complex finish. 19.5

The line up, with current retail prices and critics scores

2010 Chateau Poitevin, Medoc  90 pts WS  $14.99

2010 Chateau Mongravey, Margaux  91 pts WS  $36.99

2010 Chateau La Bienfaisance, St-Emilion  91 pts WS, $31.99

2010 Chateau Belgrave, Haut-Medoc  91 pts WS  $33.99

2010 La Dame de Montrose, St-Estephe  94 pts RP $55.99

2010 Chateau Puynormand, Vieille Vignes, Montagne-St-Emilion 17.99

2010 Chateau Cantemerle, Haut-Medoc  94+ pts RP $44.99

Chateau Beychevelle, St-Julien  94 pts RP $104.99

2010 Leoville-Poyferre,  St-Julien  98+ $159.99


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Diary of a Winebuyer

About Me: Thirty years ago, I graduated with a degree in political science from the College of Letters and Science at the University of California at Berkeley. Having grown up at the height of the Cold War, I still have vivid remembrances of being instructed to hide under our elementary school desk, covering our heads. The young, white, female teacher, training us without explanation, to face away from the windows. I suppose it is not all that surprising that I had a particular interest in the realpolitik of international relations. My fascination grew with the discovery that certain conditions almost uniformly exist where all revolutions ferment. Did this mean that the revolutions which had occurred in the first half century were revolutions which had been usurped by Marxists who were in the right place at the right time? Probably. A favorite professor was A. J. Gregor. This was a man who, while rakishly wearing a Gestapo-styled black leather motorcycle jacket, exuded expertise on fascism (which he looked the part) and Marxism. Improbably, he did it with a significant swagger. Then in my last semester, I had the blind luck to take a class on Asian Marxist revolution, and the professor, who just happened to be visiting that year while he worked on some unnamed project, was Chalmers Johnson. In retrospect, I should have known his name, as he was a luminary in the political science community but at that time, I did not. It was a remarkable opportunity to experience the ivory tower, but I seem to remember being anxious to get on with life. After college, I drifted through a few of jobs that were of interest to me. One of my former high school teachers said to me. "If I were in your shoes, I'd get a job as a flight attendant." So in order to be young while I could still afford to, I accepted a job serving chicken or beef at Pan American. With that airline losing money faster than it could sell its routes, I got a job doing cellar work at David Bruce Winery. This was the beginning of my wine career. All during this period, I wrote a still unpublished novel about homegrown terrorists the U.C. Berkeley campus, attempting to use some of what I learned in school, weaving in the Vietnamese political and military strategies of Dau Tranh as professor Johnson had lectured years before. Since the early 1990's, I have been involved in the wine industry, selling fine wine in both the retail and wholesale arenas. I have approached learning about wine, by always challenging myself to question how I know what I think I know? And in an effort to try to find answers I've turned, with varying degrees of success to wine books. Overall, I've not been happy with the quality of most wine writing, finding the authors either to lack any deep knowledge, or unable to move much past what I consider to be superficial information. I recognize that wine writers have to monetize their work, but I believe this has dramatically held back our knowledge and understanding of wine. I have set out to add to our industry's base of knowledge where I can. My first series, 'The Terroir of Burgundy' (which I should probably re-edit and complete some kind of conclusion, but I got involved in this project), can be viewed here. I currently work as a sales and marketing manager for a Burgundy and Bordeaux importer based in Atherton, California.

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