2010 Chateau La Tour Carnet Haut Medoc

2010 Chateau La Tour Carnet Haut Medoc

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A past Wine Access story about 2010 Chateau La Tour Carnet Haut Medoc

“La Tour’s best since their 2001” — Rich and powerfully built on the attack, with terrific density. Silken in texture, filled with a flamboyant mix of plum, blackberry, red raspberry, graphite, and pepper.

Parker’s “Spectacular” 93pt Haut-Médoc and the Blessings of Montaigne


Michel de Montaigne was a giant of 16th century letters. He is largely credited with revolutionizing and popularizing the essay, penning 107 iconic, discursive musings still taught in literature and philosophy classes to this day. An early skeptic, he is remembered for his motto: “Que sais-je?” (“What do I know?”)

Montaigne also happened to be a canny power player in Bordeaux, twice serving as mayor of the region. His father held that post too, at one point serving as a go-between for the king and the Bordelais during delicate negotiations over taxes. What did he know? Montaigne knew his wines. And when he wanted to kick back, drink, and reflect, there was one gorgeous property owned by his family which he relished visiting again and again: Château La Tour Carnet.

Located in Haut-Médoc, it is one of the oldest and most storied active châteaux in all of Bordeaux. The estate, home to a medieval castle whose tower dates back to the 11th century, withstood the 100 Years War and was appraised in the 1855 Classification as a Grand Cru Classé. Like many aged châteaux, it has seen periods of tumult. But no matter who was in charge through the centuries, left unchanged are the incredible power and complexity of the terroir — clay and limestone underneath Gunzian and Pyrenees gravel — and the superb placement of the south/southwest-facing vineyards, a stone’s throw from the most highly regarded estates of Saint-Julien.

Bordeaux-born multimillionaire Bernard Magrez acquired the property in the late 1990s, installing the revered winemaker Michel Rolland — whose capacity for evaluating Bordeaux varieties is unparalleled — to oversee vinification. Magrez’s aim was to restore La Tour Carnet to its status as one of the greatest producers of Haut-Médoc. Price was no object. The gambit paid off: In his Wine Buyer’s Guide 6th Edition, Robert Parker called the 2000 vintage “the finest La Tour-Carnet I have ever tasted.”

A decade later, a sensational mild yet sunny 2010 growing season rocked the record books as Bordeaux’s top names put out indescribably concentrated, magnificently structured blends. Parker released a barrage of 17 ecstatic 100-point reviews; Wine Spectator gave the vintage a monumental 99-point rating.

Château La Tour Carnet performed phenomenally, earning rave reviews from the critics. Stephen Tanzer, he of the Scrooge-like stinginess with scores above 90, pinned 91+ points on this “very impressive vintage for this bottling.” Parker did him one better. A “spectacular effort,” the sage of Maryland declared, calling it “La Tour’s best since their 2001” and lobbing on a glowing 93 points.

The 2010 La Tour Carnet is 60% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. Opaque purple in color. Gorgeous nose of black raspberry, plums, black cherry, and sweet spice. Rich and powerfully built on the attack, with terrific density. Silken in texture, filled with a flamboyant mix of plum, blackberry, red raspberry, graphite, and pepper. The structure here is superb, sneaky tannins lurking beneath a luscious black-fruit cloak.

If you’re a Bordeaux collector, we’re guessing you’ve already hit “Buy.” A 93-point, full-throated endorsement from Parker. 91+ points from Tanzer. One of the greatest vintages in a generation. One of Bordeaux’s most ancient and storied estates, beloved by the region’s homegrown philosopher, Montaigne himself. Only 360 bottles. $55 price — an INCREDIBLE bargain. Sounds like a no-brainer to us. But what do we know?

Expert Ratings and Reviews

93 Points Wine Advocate
92 Points James Suckling
91 Points Vinous Media

Customer Ratings

Based on 8 ratings

Bordeaux 2010

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.

Key Dates

Cold weather, season gets off to a slow start

Warm and dry, bud-break from beginning to mid-month, slightly later than 2009

Dry but cool, less sunshine than 2009, despite a warm spell in the middle of the month Flowering begins in late May, slightly later than 2009

Cool month, unsettled weather. Occasional storms and considerable rain affect pollination. Flowering is prolonged and uneven. Merlot suffer coulure and millerandange, and crop loss as a result. Mid-flowering is on June 9th, later than the average

Hot, dry, sunny days, cool nights. Some water stress begins to occur in the dry conditions

Mid-veraison occurs around the 6th for Merlot and the 11th for Cabernet. Both were three to four days later than 2005 and 2009, but earlier than 2004 or 2008. Cooler than in 2009 or 2005, but with average sunshine. This played a role in the focused, firmer structures that the 2010s would later display

Temperature dropped but weather stayed sunny, very cool evening temperatures, again setting the stage for the higher acidity and firm structures in the 2010s

Hot and dry early on. On the 6th and 7th, low pressure and just enough rain to allow ripening and freshen the vines. Beautiful weather returned mid-month, with sunny days and cool nights. Cool, dry, fall-like temperatures settled in at the end of the month, allowing more hang-time while maintaining acidity and freshness

Merlot harvest begins

Cabernet harvested mainly in the first half of the month

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