Parker Revered Winemaker’s Under-$30 Bordeaux Stunner
A combination of the winemaking talents of Bordeaux superstar Stéphane Derenoncourt, author of many Robert Parker 100-point wines, an excellent 6-acre hilly clay limestone site, and the phenomenal 2010 vintage has resulted in one of Bordeaux’s greatest Right Bank bargains. The 2010 Bordeaux vintage — a batch of sensationally structured wines that floored critics like Robert Parker — has become the stuff of legend. As the prestige of that harvest has continued to soar, remaining allocations have dwindled to almost nothing. We’ve scoured cellars in Pomerol, Saint-Émilion, and their Right Bank satellites, where small châteaux put out what many believe are their best wines since the historic 1961 vintage. Occasionally we come across a rare deal like the 2010 release from Château Haut-Bernat in Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion, perhaps the finest bottle they’ve ever made. Drawn from 30-year-old vines off clay-limestone hillsides, this is hands down one of the great Right Bank reds of the vintage. Sadly, we have just 56 cases to go around. At $24.99 per bottle, we strongly recommend a case-buy.
Located in the hilly farmlands of Puisseguin-Saint-Émilion, the charming château’s vineyards cover less than 10 acres, planted almost exclusively to Merlot. The mustachioed and wonderfully warm Dominique Bessineau, who also owns acclaimed Château Côte Montpezat, acquired the property in 1991. He proceeded to overhaul and modernize the facilities with the help of one of the Right Bank’s marquee talents: the revered flying winemaker, Stéphane Derenoncourt, whose work at Château Pavie Macquin, Clos Fourtet, and Canon-la-Gaffelière among other estates has earned a barrage of glowing scores from Robert Parker.
The heavyweights of that stupendous 2010 Bordeaux vintage — the 100-pointers from Petrus, Le Pin, and Cheval Blanc — made a beeline from Bordelais cellars to Chinese mansions the moment they were released. But the tiny estates set on the limestone-strewn hillsides of Saint-Émilion’s satellites left collectors frequently astonished. From top to bottom, the rigorously farmed estates on the Right Bank turned out astonishingly rich bottles, often infused with Napa-like concentration. But most importantly, as Parker was first to emphasize, all that ripeness was matched by unusually firm acidity, making for wildly opulent bottles that drink beautifully now, and will age gracefully for decades.