2010 Bordeaux — A Classic Vintage of Outstanding Quality
The 2010 vintage is sure to go down in history as one of the greats. Next to 2009, it will surely inspire debate for decades about which of the dynamic duo is best. They are certainly different in style, with the plush, dense, super ripeness of the 2009s contrasting with the classically structured, more acidic and focused 2010s. That said, which vintage is “better” is best looked at on the regional level, and in many cases, by individual Chateau.
What can be said safely is that both vintages produced superb, long aging, vins de garde, although the 2010s, with their firmly structured, “classic” tannins, may need a little more patience than the more opulently styled 2009s. Both vintages, aside from the record prices, are worthy of a place in any cellar.
The growing season in 2010 started slow after a cold winter. Bud-break was slightly later than in 2009, and uneven flowering and disease issues reduced the crop size right off the bat, setting the stage for a smaller, more concentrated vintage. April was warm, which allowed the vines to catch up some in the growing cycle, but cold weather returned in May (the coolest in a decade). Low temperatures persisted in early June, causing concern, but temperatures rose steadily and the second half of June and all of August were warm. Hot days and cool nights were the perfect recipe for wines with great concentration and balancing freshness. The lack of precipitation in 2010 — it was one of the driest years since 1949 — was another contributing factor, allowing for ripe, concentrated grapes, with thick skins, good phenolic ripeness, and fresh acidity.
Overall, the resulting wines are deep, firm, and structured, showing ample alcohols and extraction, with the acids and tannins to match. They will need time, but those with the patience to wait will be well rewarded with wines that some are calling “modern classics.”
It’s still early to declare a winner between 2010 and 2009, but to date, St. Estephe, Pauillac and St. Julien may get the nod in 2009, and Graves in 2010 by a nose. The Right Bank is a draw, with Saint Emilion perhaps a bit better in 2010 owing to its high acidity and freshness. Pomerol was a tad better in 2009.
Dry whites from 2010 are very good — more vibrant than the 2009s. Sweet wines from Sauternes and Barsac are also very good to excellent, with more acidity and nerve than the explosively rich 2009s.
Overall, we’re looking at a strong buy for the reds, dry whites, and sweet wines. For those who can afford them, these are wines for the ages, and the best will need decades to reach their potentials.