Circles: Bordeaux ‘10 At Ten
BY NEAL MARTIN | APRIL 21, 2020
Each February I taste the relevant
Bordeaux vintage at 10 years of age, both sighted and blind. This year it is
the turn of 2010, a fascinating and highly revered vintage, albeit one not
beyond criticism. How have the wines evolved? How does 2010 compare to 2009?
Where is its place in these tumultuous times?
passage of time between present and past feels shorter as we get older. Paradoxically,
2010 seems like yesterday, while the current pandemic makes February’s tasting
of the vintage feel like a different lifetime. How was the world in 2010? Well,
Barack Obama was POTUS, and on this side of the pond David Cameron’s hung
parliament sowed the seeds of discontent that ultimately begat Brexit. At the
flicks, Christopher Nolan reinvented the intelligent blockbuster with the
mind-bending Inception, which I am
still trying to work out, and Lady Gaga brought color and camp back to pop
music. Nobody then had heard of Greta Thunberg or coronavirus. My palate and
penmanship were working for Robert Parker, and slivers of spare time were invested
in researching my Pomerol tome; consequently, I spent long stretches in
Bordeaux, including en primeur. It
was a memorable campaign. The Bordelais
were basking in the afterglow of the unprecedented and, as it transpired,
unrepeatable success of the 2009s, their euphoria fueled by the rapturously
received 2010, which was baptized a great vintage. They could already hear the
ring of cash registers... or so they thought.
title of my primeur report was “Another Royal Flush,” since 2009/2010 was the
latest in a series of well-received pairs that stretch from 1899/1900 to 2015/2016.
My report on the 2010s in bottle was entitled “Snow-capped Peaks and Troubled
Plains,” and it is intriguing to re-read my comments from 2014, noting how the
tannins had hardened and that occasionally “there was more astringency and
attenuation than is optimal.” My conclusion: “Across the board from First
Growths down to Petit Château, if you ask which is the better vintage, I would
say 2009 over 2010.” However, I was more positive toward the Left Bank, where I
found the Cabernet Sauvignon “in excelsis” and that “the best 2010s on the Left
Bank are some of the greatest wines you will ever drink.”
with maturity can we really put vintages into focus and place them within the
context of other growing seasons. The 2010 vintage was born a different
expression of Bordeaux compared to the 2009s that oozed lushness and fruit
intensity. Those sensual wines were either exalted or traduced, depending upon what
you think Bordeaux should aspire toward. The 2010s produced more challenging
and less arousing fare, with drier and less pliant tannins. They were bestowed
greater structure – wines with reinforced girders – and alcohol levels as high
if not higher than the previous year. Even though (to use Spinal Tap parlance),
the 2010s turned it up to eleven, at their heart they were mostly “classic” in
style, appealing to Bordeaux purists.
timing of the 10-year-on horizontals arrives at an intriguing juncture. Tasting
the 2009s last year, the pertinent question was whether the fruit and
freshness had held up. With respect to the 2010s, I sought to discover if the
tannins have begun to polymerize and soften, and gauge where the wines are in
terms of approachability and their proximity to drinking plateaus. How do the
tannins feel in relation to the fruit? Is there equilibrium between the two, or
has the passing of time revealed excessive tannins that render the wines
austere and aloof? Do their high alcohol levels intrude? Does this snapshot
reaffirm 2010 as a bona fide great
Bordeaux vintage or has it been undeservedly placed on a pedestal, and thereby
fated to fall short of high expectations? Is beatification warranted like the
1961s, which continue to excel after decades, or are they more akin to 1986s,
where the jury is still out on whether they will ever come around?
is only one way to answer these questions, and that is to taste the wines. For
many years I have attended two horizontals held within a few days of each other.
BI Wines & Spirits organizes a sighted tasting of around 70 wines at their
offices, nearly all bottles directly from properties. Farr Vintners hosts a two-day
tasting of approximately 200 wines that are poured single blind within peer
groups for a group of experienced professionals predominantly from the trade. Attending
two tastings allows examination of the same subject in two different ways.
Instead of needlessly publishing the same report twice, I keep the tasting
notes separate but publish them together for readers to compare. Accretion of
tannin inevitably poses a challenge for anyone tasked with tasting a large
number of these wines, and in addition, I was wary of bottles being given insufficient
aeration considering the logistical limitations of carrying out a tasting on
this scale. Readers should note that bottles were all double-decanted early in
the morning of the tasting. Despite these obstacles, there is still a unique
opportunity to juxtapose like with like, revealing not only absolute but relative quality. Given a choice of
2010s, what should you open, what should you buy and, maybe, what should you
The Growing Season
high-pressure system in early March delayed the growing cycle, predicating a
late vintage. Budding took place in mid-April, then May was unseasonably dry.
Flowering was uneven, and low temperatures on June 6 retarded a sudden growth spurt
over that otherwise hot weekend. A succession of fronts caused widespread coulure, while millerandage particularly affected old Merlot vines. Hopes for an
abundant vintage were dashed, though that does not preclude potential quality –
quite the opposite. After inclement weather, there was a spike in temperatures
at the end of June, and foliage flourished. July and August were exceptionally
dry, so that just 11 days necessitated umbrellas. The rest of the time it was
sunny: 534 sunlight hours, two more than in 2009, with few heat spikes and just
three days over 35°C. In fact, August was marginally cooler than average, with
night temperatures falling to just 10–11°C, enabling the berries to retain acidity.
The ongoing drought caused berries to lose around 30% of their weight, but at
least it obviated the risk of gray rot as sugar levels reached high levels.
white wines were harvested under dry, hot conditions, the cool nights
continuing to preserve acidity. There were intermittent light showers, but the
drought pushed back the harvest dates, Pomerol commencing around September 22–24.
Rain on October 4 and 10 replenished vine vigor on the Left Bank. The harvest
took place under dry conditions marked by cold nights, so that most of the crop
was in by October 23 or 24; a few stragglers were picked in November, since at
that time, late picking was still in vogue.
crucial point was to eliminate the millerandé
berries by hand or with optical sorting machines that were just becoming more
popular and widely used. In terms of vinification, most producers treated the vinification
carefully, employing reduced remontage and
pigeage and reduced temperatures. Winemakers
observed that the color came easily, though thick skins necessitated careful
management of tannins. High acidity levels meant that malolactics were
generally late, and many did not finish until early March.
2010s were never inclined to flatter in the same way as 2009, which gleefully
doled out all that precocious fruit. Think of overall wine quality as being measured
along an X axis and a Y axis, the first representing “sensory pleasure” and the
second what we might call “intellectual fulfillment.” The weighting given to
each axis depends upon your individual preferences or simply your mood at that
moment. Sometimes we crave a delicious wine to quaff and enjoy; other times we
might seek wines that deserve contemplation. Maybe it is some kind of synesthesia,
but here are their respective styles in shape-form: 2009s are circles, 2010s squares. When a bottle achieves both, then that is when you start seeing all
those high scores and superlatives.
hedonism floats your boat, you may still appreciate the virtues of 2010, but in
terms of what you prefer gulping down your throat, 2009 will be your bag. However,
there were sufficient highlights to anoint 2010 as a great Bordeaux vintage.
Whether it is the benchmark for years to come is another question. Maybe, just maybe, these tastings toned down the exaltation
afforded these wines at birth. It is certainly not an infallible vintage (name
one that is). But it stands to reason that time exacerbates minor deficiencies
and makes them more apparent. Variation between châteaux and between bottles becomes more tangible, and both
tastings revealed more inconsistency than was apparent at primeur or just after
bottling. Indeed, these tastings incontrovertibly prove how wines can vary from
bottle to bottle, since on several occasions a backup bottle could have been misconstrued
as a different wine! It is useful to record the cases where a second bottle was
necessary - and readers will find this mentioned in relevant tasting notes.
will make a few observations before drilling down to individual performances.
Let’s broach the questions I posed in my introduction.
How far are they from their
10 years, many of the 2010s are on the cusp of their respective drinking
windows – ajar but not wide open. I would certainly not advise jimmying open
your OWCs this lockdown weekend; however, if you are inquisitive about how the
2010s are showing, then why not open one? Just make sure you give it plenty of
decanting time – one or two hours for most wines in this report, but four to
six for grander names.
How do the tannins feel in
relation to the fruit?
many years of visiting Bordeaux professionally, I have witnessed fundamental
changes in terms of winemaking practices that engender a different style of
wine. That difference is abundantly clear when juxtaposing two highly praised
vintages like 2010 and 2016. The texture of the latter feels silkier than the
former, and that is down to tannin management. Winemakers now practice far
gentler pressings at lower temperatures, and take much more care in terms of
selecting and blending their vin de
sense, taking their foot off the accelerator and not pushing the wines in a
direction that they believe will ensure longevity or, let’s be candid, warrant
higher scores. The tannins in the 2010s were relatively coarse from the outset,
which is why I forewarned that they would require considerable cellaring.
Is there equilibrium between fruit
and tannin or has the passing of time revealed imbalances, excessive tannins
that render them austere and aloof?
of the wines at this level showed good balance between fruit and tannin, though
I would argue that some flirt with excessive tannins in proportion to the fruit
that will naturally recede with time. Time has exposed those big-boned tannins
that might put some drinkers off. Conjecturing forward, the best wines have
everything in place even if they sometimes seem exaggerated. Thankfully, their
acidity levels lock in the crucial freshness that should see them age well. Many
winemakers have told me face to face that 2010 is their preference in terms of
the style of wine they are pursuing, even if it was 2009 that kept their
accounts happy. They could well be right, though success is not the shoo-in
that classicists might have believed.
Do their high alcohol levels
suppose one must ask how “high alcohol” is defined these days. Not so long ago,
13.0–13.5% would be deemed high, whereas now it is regarded as about average or
even low thanks to global warming. The 2010 vintage produced wines that touched 16% in some places. Generally, I did not find that the alcohol intruded too
much because of the factors already mentioned, not least the low pH levels that
would have been higher had the summer been warmer. On the other hand, the metabolic
effect of tasting a small measure of a high-alcohol wine is totally different
from that of consuming an entire bottle throughout an evening, which, after
all, is how wine is supposed to be consumed.
Does this snapshot reaffirm
2010 as a bona
is a trickier question than you might think. There is no doubt that the 2010
Bordeaux vintage deserves its place within the first rank of growing seasons,
along with years such as 2005, 2009 and 2016. Despite making a very positive
impression here, many of these wines are regularly tasted at verticals or
dinners and show better in those situations when they are afforded time to open.
Case in point: at the BI Wines & Spirits tasting, the organizer later told
me how many wines got into their stride only by that evening, which is no
surprise. Taken out of their comfort zone, my overall impression of 2010 is
perhaps higher than you might infer by my notes and scores, cognizant that they
do improve with exposure to air, so that some of the more sullen and
recalcitrant wines deserve the benefit of the doubt. They are just denied that
prolonged aeration to show their true worth. The fact is that fruit-driven
vintages with more malleable structures are less fatiguing to taste en masse, and my view of a vintage is always
governed by how bottles are consumed by wine drinkers out in the real world. Most
of them will not be lining up dozens of 2010s to be tasted one after the other.
The 2010s may well be surpassed by the 2016s and are probably shaded by the
2009s at the moment. You could also argue that they lack consistency throughout
the hierarchy compared to both 2005 and 2009. However, in the long haul, these
still stand a chance of becoming benchmark wines destined to flourish in their
Is beatification warranted,
like the 1961s, still going strong after decades, or are the 2010s more akin to
the 1986s, where the jury is still out as to whether they will ever come around?
me look into my crystal ball... I have always had faith in the 2010s even
though I knew it was going to be a “testing” vintage to understand and taste.
Although 10 years is an obvious numeric juncture to reexamine a vintage, I
suspect it was disadvantageous to many 2010s that need more bottle age, whereas
others are beginning to drink nicely. One thing I will say: when I ask seasoned
professionals how the 1961s showed in their youth, they often reply that they
were unapproachable for many years. That is not such a bad thing – Bordeaux
thrives on diversity, a mix of years when the wines are “open for business” right
away and others that bide their time. Good things come to those who wait.
The 2010 Vintage by
which wines hit home runs?
rarely proclaim that a single wine shone so brightly that it put everything
else in its place, but this is one of those occasions. That wine is the 2010 Latour. It has always been a
monumental First Growth, and both bottles, sighted and blind, left me with no
hesitation in awarding a perfect score. Readers will already know that I am not
predisposed to dish out three-digit scores easily, principally because of my
fundamental rule that I must have no speck of doubt that what I am drinking adheres
to my own definition of perfection. Someone reading my tasting note or acting upon
it should expect nothing less. It is a breathtaking wine. The complexity and
purity of the aromatics, the precision and symmetry on the palate, the pitch-perfect
acidity, beguiling length and innate articulation of what it is to be a
Pauillac, all combine to make it faultless. The 2010 Latour will be up there with
the greats such as 1900, 1928, 1929, 1959, 1961, 1982 and 2000. At the Farr
tasting it drew a consensus that I have rarely witnessed over the years. If I had
space for only one 2010 in my cellar, it would be Latour.
is the solitary wine that met my uncompromising criteria for perfection. I
guess on this occasion, there is only one seat on the throne. However, the
vintage is not in short supply of others that flirt with perfection, just a
whisker away from matching Latour’s peerless standard. Hot on its heels is a
stunning 2010 Mouton-Rothschild that,
as I commented in 2014, ranks among winemaker Philippe Dhalluin’s greatest
achievements. I place this ahead of the 2010
Lafite-Rothschild, which is less forthcoming than its fellow Pauillac First
Growths. It was quite introspective in barrel, spectacular just after bottling,
and thereafter slipped into what I term a great Lafite-Rothschild. The two
bottles reminded me of the example poured at the estate’s 150th
anniversary vertical and aver that under Eric Kohler the winemaking has
improved subsequent to the 2010.
do not have to murder your wallet forking out for a First Growth to experience 10-year-old
Pauillac firing on all cylinders. For a start, you could save a few (hundred) bucks
and stock up on an outstanding Le Petit
Mouton instead of the Grand Vin. It is the most improved second label of a
First Growth in recent years and, like Les Forts de Latour, stands shoulder to
shoulder with some of the appellation’s Grand Vins.
how bloomin’ awesome is the 2010 Grand
Puy-Lacoste? “Very” is the answer. It revels in a growing season that
stylistically suited this property down to the ground, perhaps better than the
2009. Ditto an overperforming 2010
Lynch-Bages and a strong showing from Batailley,
one of my picks from the original primeur campaign. A majority of the Pauillac
wines showed the nobility that its Grand Cru Classés are renowned for.
Not every Pauillac performed as expected. The showing of the 2010 Pontet Canet left me perplexed since it is a wine that I have rated highly in the past. Whilst I could not identify any obvious fault, blind, it came across unusually exotic on the nose and lacked the backbone and structure that I associate with a typical Pauillac. Though I appreciated what you might call a “sensual” wine, stylistically it deviated from what I recognize as “Pontet Canet”. I will monitor its evolution closely.
there was general consensus about the high quality of the Pauillacs, the flight
of Saint-Julien 2010s was more divisive. However, I found this to be a reassuringly
strong and consistent set of wines, perchance a notch less noble than their Pauillac
counterparts, yet possessing everything you seek from top-quality Claret. I had
one question mark with respect to the bottle of 2010 Léoville Las-Cases at the blind tasting, though the sighted bottle
was very impressive, albeit not leaps and bounds ahead of the strong
competition from Léoville Poyferré
and Ducru-Beaucaillou, which are not
miles apart stylistically. In terms of seeking that sweet spot between quality
and price, I would be telephoning my merchant to order some 2010 Lagrange, Gloria and St-Pierre,
despite the first bottle of the latter exhibiting a bit of oxidation. These
represent some of the finest releases in recent years and yet prices remain
affordable compared to others. Only the 2010
Talbot felt out of step with its peers, validating some of my remarks in my
recent write-up following a vertical tasting, although it is still a pretty
in Saint-Estèphe, the standout is a regal 2010
Château Montrose that on the Left Bank podium deserves either a silver or a
bronze medal. It is a pixelated wine that combines immense structure with
balletic poise, broody in many respects yet delivering entrancing energy. The
man who was in charge at the time was Nicolas Glumineau, so chapeau! the present winemaker at Pichon-Lalande.
It has the edge over the impressive Cos
d’Estournel and a great Calon-Ségur
that probably represents better value for money than either. In recent blind
tastings, Meyney has performed
strongly, although three bottles opened all showed discouraging signs of
oxidation. I re-tasted the 2010 at the property in a vertical tasting in
February 2020 and found it much more representative; I publish that note here
rather than in my forthcoming article. Now, if you really want great value, then
head for the superb 2010 Lafon-Rochet.
This showed its mettle in the blind tasting: grippy and structured, certainly
displaying more body than other vintages, with plenty of tension on the finish.
Bravo, Basile Tesseron and team!
en primeur and just after bottling, I
found that the Margaux appellation was more consistent than in previous years.
That is generally true, although as a set of wines it is a small step down from
Saint-Julien and Pauillac, partly because the growing season favored Cabernet
Sauvignon and the final blends tend to contain less of this grape variety. The
predictable triumvirate of Palmer, Rauzan-Ségla and Brane-Cantenac showed strongly, although the bottle of
Brane-Cantenac was not the best I have encountered. Both tastings revealed a
couple of less predictable 2010s that showed particularly well, not least an
outstanding Cantenac Brown that is cohesive
and focused – a great job by winemaker José Sanfins. There is also a quite
sensational Deuxième Vin... no, not Pavillon Rouge, but the 2010 Ségla. I guess we are not supposed
to drink these wines in their youth after all!
Pessac-Léognan, I felt the appellation offers a strong set of wines that benefit
from higher proportions of Merlot, which tempers the firmness or obduracy of
the tannic Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2010
Haut-Brion is superb, classic in style and suppler than I would have
anticipated, certainly when compared to a fellow First Growth like Latour. My
money is on its sibling. Both showings of the 2010 La Mission Haut-Brion revealed a deep, structured and complex
wine that is destined for a long future, a nose in front of Haut-Brion at this
stage. Anyone sitting on cases of this wine is in for a treat. Elsewhere there
were strong showings for a fabulous, graphite-tinged Smith Haut-Lafitte and Pape-Clément
(even if it needs another three or four years in bottle) and a great Domaine de Chevalier, though the bottle
served blind failed to capture my imagination. I might have misread it; it
happens. Both Malartic-Lagravière
and Latour-Martillac represent some
of best in terms of value; and do not ignore the likes of Larrivet Haut-Brion,
which was surprisingly sensual.
over to the Right Bank, let’s begin with Pomerol. Many growers have expressed a
preference for their 2009 over their 2010, though at 10 years of age these
wines are pushing the previous vintage hard in terms of superiority. There is a
handful of stunning Pomerols, including a profound, intellectual Petrus that might eschew the gung-ho attitude
of the 2009 but is surfeit with tension and grace, subtle ferrous notes signaling
a secondary phase of evolution. Hot on its heels comes a fantastic Vieux-Château-Certan that is lighter in
style but extraordinarily complex and sustained on the finish, and a brilliant La Conseillante that evoked memories of
my first encounter in barrel with former estate manager Jean-Michel Laporte. I
recall returning to my rental car and blabbering that it was the best wine the
estate had ever produced. It is a finely chiseled La Conseillante that exudes
energy. Then there is the stunning Lafleur,
displaying a lot of Cabernet Franc on the nose that distinguishes it from other
Pomerol crus during blind tastings, typically structured and grippy, while at
the other end of the spectrum, the La
Violette is more lavish and sweeter, yet with impressive backbone on the
finish. The 2010 Hosanna is similar
in style to the La Violette but comes across as trying too hard on the finish.
Not everything hit the mark in Pomerol. I felt the nose on the 2010 L’Evangile was slightly oxidized –
a shame, since previous bottles have shown better. Also, I found the 2010 L’Église-Clinet may have closed up
shop in recent months, as I have encountered better bottles in the past.
was less consistent compared to Pomerol, though not without its fair share of
gems. This was a different era; one might consider it one of the last vintages
where the mantra was toward later picking and rich, occasionally overextracted
wines that are cut from a different cloth than the 2015 and 2016s. Notable
successes include a 2010 Figeac just
beginning to flex its muscles and demonstrate its capabilities, an impressive
and intense 2010 Larcis-Ducasse, and
a splendid, classy 2010 Valandraud
from Jean-Luc Thunevin, up there with the best of the appellation (comme d’habitude). Perhaps best of all
is the spectacular 2010 Angélus. Some
skeptics dispute this property’s inclusion in the top tier of the appellation,
arguing that it lacks the same quality of terroir. Yet this 2010, both blind
and sighted, delivered everything you want from a Saint-Émilion. Pure class. In
terms of value for money, do not ignore the excellent 2010 Beau-Séjour Bécot that I praised during my vertical tasting at
the property a couple of years ago and that showed well again here; likewise
the Cuvelier family’s 2010 Clos Fourtet
that atypically came across almost Left Bank in style.
are misses too. This horizontal coincided with a period before the wine
improved, such as Château Canon, certainly not a bad wine but shaded by the
2009. I was concerned by the bottles of the 2010 Beau-Séjour Duffau Lagarrosse at the BI and Farr tasting,
which were both showing oxidation; I could not rate them. It was the same with
the 2010 Pavie-Macquin when poured
blind; a bottle at BI’s tasting showed better, although frankly it comes across
too exotic for my palate.
should not overlook the Sauternes in 2010. No, these wines could not replicate
the stunning sweet wines of the previous year, and yet certainly those vineyards
blessed with good terroir produced a raft of excellent wines. The long, dry
summer concentrated berries similar to the dry reds. September saw little rain
and prevented the formation of noble rot, and consequently vineyards were
stalled with thick-skinned golden berries
sans botrytis. A spike in temperatures around mid-September caused some
patchy shrivel and botrytis, the first pick offering small quantities of
berries that were high in acidity. Thirty millimeters of rain on October 4 and
subsequent warm days provoked widespread botrytis that frustratingly stalled at
the pourri plein stage instead of
tipping over into the rôti stage that
concentrates the berries. This finally happened on October 12, when the wind
swung east. Pickers could finally be sent into the vineyards en masse, resulting in around 80% of the
crop being picked during the second half of October.
I remarked after the Southwold blind tasting of 2010s back in 2014, this is a
vintage where I find that d’Yquem is
not sitting imperiously and looking down on others. This was reconfirmed six
years later. Without doubt an excellent Sauternes, blind it was gazing into the
taillights of Rieussec, de Fargues, Guiraud and Coutet.
Perhaps with maturity, that will be corrected and Yquem will demonstrate its
unerring ability to age over many decades, but at present, I recommend the other
wines mentioned above, all of which have their own propensity to age.
how to “play” a new vintage is something that Bordeaux châteaux tackle each year. Instead of considering each property as a
separate entity, it is more accurate to think of it as a single organism that
reacts to multiple factors both internally (their opinion of the quality of
wine, shareholder expectation and so forth) and externally (critics’ scores,
economic conditions, importer demand translated via the Place de Bordeaux and courtiers.) In retrospect, Bordeaux did
not play their best hand. Flushed with the commercial success of 2009, they
hedged their bets that East Asia would be back for more, and increased prices 5–20%
from the previous year – a reckless strategy, because instead of consolidating on
their success, many of the more avaricious proprietors assumed that East Asian
buyers would keep offering blank checkbooks. No; they wised up fast, and they
were not going to be taken for a ride. So the warm critical reception did not
translate into big fat orders as it had 12 months earlier, with the exception
of those more naive customers who missed out on 2009.
in terms of investment and profit gain, 2010 pales against 2009 and arguably
the keenly priced 2008 vintage. Liv-Ex published a report in February 2020 that
showed an almost even split between châteaux
that have increased in value from their prix
de sortis in 2011 and those that have fallen. Flatlining prices are never a
positive advertisement for en primeur and they undermine incentive for
consumers to buy. The response from Bordeaux has been that 2010 was always like
the wines themselves – a long-term investment: keep calm and eventually, when
their true value is recognized and people begin drinking the wines and reducing
supply, prices will react accordingly. Maybe.
above paragraph was penned before COVID-19. As I write on April 15, it is a
different world, a different wine market. The pandemic has radically changed
buying habits, unquestionably for the short and medium term, and possibly for the
long term too. We do not know its true ramifications. Speaking to merchants,
there seem to be two immediate effects. First, given the bleak outlook for the
economy, consumers are trading down to affordable wines, if any at all. At the other
end of the spectrum, with restaurants on enforced hiatus, some people are stocking
up on mature bottles of fine wine because it is one of the few pleasures still
available in a lockdown, and merchants have made Herculean efforts to deliver
orders. Without being flippant, recent weeks have taught us to be patient. At
this moment, I personally might seek instant gratification from a 2009 Bordeaux
and wait longer – until, perhaps, we are through this crisis – before broaching
keyword underlying these tastings of the 2010 vintage is ... faith. Do you have
faith in these wines? Away from those snow-capped peaks that we already know
about, do you have faith in this vintage in general? Is it going to repay the
patient, beleaguered wine lover, only asking for patience and a cold cellar? Or
is it a con trick? Did these wines fool us into believing in their virtues,
only to have the last laugh as they become ossified by hard, dry tannins and
end up as modern-day 1975s? I suspect we will see bifurcation between the haves
and the have-nots. Time will gradually abrade those coarse tannins, smooth them
down and render them more approachable. The wines without sufficient fruit will
probably end up astringent and never really give pleasure; however, those that
were born with fruit will surely mature into exceptionally long-lived, maybe
quite profound wines whose peak might be in 20 or 30 years – when, hopefully, COVID-19
will be a distant memory.
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A Beautiful Stay: Beau-Séjour Bécot 1970 – 2015, Neal Martin, April 2018
2008 Bordeaux: A Day In A Life, Neal Martin, February 2018