Bordeaux 2012: Soft tannins and 'ripe fruit' potential say vignerons

Bordeaux 2012 is a vintage with low, soft tannins and good fruit flavours, vignerons say – but a good deal of work is necessary in the winery to deliver that potential.

Almost all red grapes are now in Bordeaux cellars across both Left and Right banks – in some cases a little earlier than expected following last week’s rains.

The vintage is ‘close to 2000, which also started with difficult weather but saw a magnificent end of season,’ Hubert de Bouard, owner of Saint Emilion’s Chateau Angelus said.

‘But perhaps 2012 has just missed out on being exceptional, with rain falling a few days earlier than I would have liked. It will still be a very good vintage for those who have followed their vines closely through the growing season,’ he told

Jean-Baptiste Bourotte, of Clos de Clocher and Chateau Bonalgue in Pomerol, said the year had ‘potential’ for its low tannins and ripe fruit.

‘We were expecting a long, slow harvest during the first two weeks of October, but ended up working long days to get the grapes in. The first tanks are showing alcohol levels of up to 14, and the tannins are soft and ripe.

‘It is not going to be a big tannic year, but there are a lot of ripe, fruity flavours coming through. This is a year with good potential – it’s easy to be negative because of rain during harvest but we should not forget that we had a magnificently dry August and September.’

Up in Saint Estephe, Didier Marcellis at Chateau Serilhan said he believed they could ‘deliver a good vintage but it will continue to require care’.

‘Cold maceration and tannins are the key priorities, plus extraction before the alcoholic fermentation starts.’

In Sauternes, where chateaux are hoping to benefit from the return to sunshine and high temperatures this week, oenologist Bill Blatch is reporting ‘mounting tension’.

Both Chateau d'Yquem and Climens have reported waiting for the grapes to aerate after the rain last weekend, and to continue their process of concentration of sugars.

‘Any grapes at roti [shrivelled] stage were probably lost,’ said Blatch in his regular update, Bordeaux Gold, ‘but those which had not got to the final concentration resisted the rain well, and there are still some beautiful looking bunches on the vines.’

Olivier Castéja at Chateau Doisy Védrines has reported using cryo-extraction to concentrate sugars, and is confident that he will get attractive flavours, and a reasonable quantity, ‘perhaps 13 hectolitres per hectare’.


source: Decanter


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Parker rates bordeaux 2010 among the 3 best vintages he tasted in his carreer.

Robert Parker says the 2010 is together with the 2009 and  the 2005 the best bordeaux vintage he has ever tasted.

Robert Parker's best bordeaux in 2010:



2010 bordeaux  that parker rated higher than the 2009 vintage: 


2010 bordeaux that parker  rated lower than the 2009 vintage: 

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quarin says latour 2010 is the wine of the vintage !

The 2010 vintage is overall a greater success for Pauillac than for the neighbouring appellation of Saint Julien. Some labels have done better than in 2005 and 2009. As in Saint Julien, the drought has curbed the liveliness of the fruit but, for those with clayey subsoil, results can truly be spectacular.

LATOUR Pauillac    Pauillac    19,5 - 20 // 99 - 100   
My best score ever given to the estate en primeur.

Beautifully intense dark-hued wine. Mighty nose: subdued yet deep, with a pinch of truffle. Magnificent on entry: broad, compelling, plentiful and showing a tightly-knit texture -and yet its fat is exceptional!  Incredibly rich and melting on the palate, leisurely unfolding layers of flavours through to a powerful finish where tannins and suppleness take it in turns to come to the fore. Très grand vin. 
Latour had been in the habit of bringing its merlot a little late in the past few years but this changed in 2010, which could explain the lifted new savours.  

other wines  that  merited quarins  'best ever score  given to  this estate  en primeur':

PICHON LONGUEVILLE BARON    Pauillac    18 // 95  

PONTET CANET    Pauillac    17,75 // 94 - 95  

LEOVILLE BARTON    Saint-Julien    17,5 - 17,75 // 94 - 95 

GRAND PUY LACOSTE    Pauillac    17,5 // 94 

LES FORTS DE LATOUR    Pauillac    17 // 92 

BRANAIRE    Saint-Julien    17 // 92 

LYNCH MOUSSAS    Pauillac    16,5 - 16,75 // 90 - 91 

HAUT BATAILLEY    Pauillac    16,25 // 89   


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Quarin compares 2010 to 1961 !

JM Quarin  praises 2010 st emilion and pomerol , especially from the  'plateau'

he states that  he never felt  such characteristic tar in the nose while the wines acidity and tannin structure balances the wines to the point they remain cool .

"The wines are very fat, creamy, but with alot of nerve. This sensation of viscous thickness resembles of passerillage. I felt it on all the major wines this year and in all regions."

the weight of a Bay in 2009 was 1.3 gram for barely 1 g in 2010. Thus 2010 yields are often found between 20 to 25% lower than that of 2009. This also explains this single density. For the record, I know one single vintage where elders spoke of passerillage: 1961

wines that quarin considdered as  the best he ever  tasted en primeur:

LE PIN    Pomerol        19   

VIEUX CHÂTEAU CERTAN    Pomerol        18,75

LAFLEUR    Pomerol        18,25

L'ÉVANGILE        Pomerol        18   

L'ÉVANGILE        Pomerol        18   

LA CONSEILLANTE    Pomerol        18

LA FLEUR PETRUS    Pomerol        17,5   

GOMBAUDE GUILLOT        Pomerol        16,5  

PENSÉES DE LAFLEUR (LES)    Pomerol        16


CLOS FOURTET    St-Emilion Grand Cru        17,75  

LARCIS DUCASSE    St-Emilion Grand Cru        17

CROIX DE LABRIE    St-Emilion Grand Cru        16,5 - 16,75  

CANON LA GAFFELIERE    St-Emilion Grand Cru        16,5 - 16,75

LA MAURIANE        Puisseguin-St-Emilion        16,5 - 16,75   





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Bordeaux 2010: Right Bank 'fresher than 2009'

The overall quality of the St Emilion and Pomerol wines is high in the Bordeaux 2010 vintage, but whether they are superior to 2009 is a moot point.

Decanter’s Right Bank critic James Lawther MW says right bank bordeaux 2010  ‘Is accessible with high tannins and excellent fruit, but perhaps 2010 has that magic quality – acidity. the wines are more classic and will age longer – but we still have a long way to go.’

source: decanter


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Bordeaux 2010: another superb vintage!

With warm, dry weather persisting throughout the region for much of the growing season, producers reported that their vats were full of young wines with intense color, strong tannins and higher-than-usual alcohol levels. 

“I’d never thought I would see 2009 again in my professional career,” says Paul Pontallier, technical director at Château Margaux, comparing the vintage to the classic-quality previous vintage.

“these are very good wines with strong structure due to the drought, but not as much aromatic expression as ’09,” says Christian Moueix of Établissements Jean-Pierre Moueix, which makes  Pétrus, Trotanoy, La Fleur Pétrus and Hosanna.

“We had a very dry summer and almost no rain in August. The result is a low crop, small berries and very thick skins,” says Thomas Duroux, managing director of Château Palmer in Margaux. “We were a little concerned about the drought but the rains came on time at the start of September to make sure the phenolic maturity completed.”

Many producers reported widespread coulure, on the Merlot vines, which further reduced the small crop. Coulure occurs during fruit set, when some of the new small berries fall off. Yields were down 20 to 30 percent across the region, with Merlot-dependent Right Bank properties particularly affected.

Vieux-Château-Certan for example, should produce at least 30 percent less compared to last year,” says François Thienpont, whose family owns Vieux-Château-Certan and several other Right Bank estates. "The Médoc will be in much better shape about volume because of the Cabernet Sauvignon."

Both Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc performed very well and look to be the star varieties of the vintage. “It’s going to be a strong Cab year on the Left Bank,” said David Launay of Château Gruaud-Larose in St.-Julien.

“The Cabernet Sauvignon was up to our expectations in a dry vintage like this,” says Jean-Charles Cazes of Domaine Jean-Michel Cazes, which includes Lynch-Bages and Ormes de Pez. “But our Cabernet Franc at Lynch-Bages is the best we tasted in a long time, with exceptional richness and maturity. It seems to be a very tannic vintage, with higher potential alcohol than ’09 and higher acidity as well.” 


The abundant tannins look to be the vintage’s defining characteristic, and managing those tannins during vinification will be key. “We did much less pumping over than usual but we macerated longer, between four and five weeks,” says Duroux. “We found that this way of extraction was more appropriate to this very dense and concentrated vintage. The wines show an incredible density of tannins, but with a very interesting acidity. At this stage I am very impressed by them even if they look a little bit austere.”

The vintage was also strong in the outer appellations as well. “The 2010 vintage should give wines with good concentration, really refined tannins and nice balance, which should help the wine keep freshness for years,” says Brigitte Roullier-Loussert of Château Dalem and Château de la Huste in Fronsac.

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How to know if Bordeaux 2010 is a great vintage?

   A great vintage is a vintage that produces rich, full-bodied wines that stimulate and fill out the mouth, particularly on entry, on the mid-palate and on finish. 


For this stirring character to last through to the finish and not to be cut short immediately after entry – as in shorter and lighter wines - it is essential for the wine not to be dry. Poor quality tannins, i.e unripe tannins, are responsible for dryness, which hinders voluptuous sensations such as plenitude on the mid- palate and depth on finish.

But the physical presence of the wine in the mouth alone is not enough and the vintage needs to bring it to life. Freshness -triggered by pH, acidity and terroir- and vibrant aromas – brought about by varietals, terroirs and time of harvest – liven up a wine, enhance flavours and in the end invite us to swallow.


What about 2010 ?

What is at the source of gratifying sensations on the palate depends very much on the weather pattern and the work of man.


The weather pattern

Three stages during the maturing process of the grapes are essential for the building of a wine’s structure: July for the entry, August for the mid-palate, September for the finish. The role August plays is the most commonly known. We are all familiar with the saying “August makes the must”. Indeed, a dry and warm month of August will build the wine’s body - essentially on the mid-palate.


What was June like?

Before flowering, the yield looked likely to be bountiful but a difficult flowering leading to poor fruit set naturally reduced volumes. In 2010 bunches were of a decent size but bearing comparatively few berries, which later proved essential to maintain the grapes in good sanitary conditions. With the drought, the berries remained small and had little juice- an ideal proportion to create concentration later on; very few properties resorted to saignée in 2010.


What was July like?

The role July plays in the potential quality of wines has only recently been specified. We now know that if July is hot and, above all, if it is dry, it marks the end of the vegetal growth of the vines and the start of the concentration in the berries. The earlier it happens, the more likely the wines are to be full-bodied. Heat, as dryness, stops the growth.

July 2010 was outstanding- hotter than in 2009, 2008 and 2005 and three times drier than in 2009 and 2005. And that explains the depth in colour for 2010 reds, their high tannins levels and their density.


What was August 2010 like?

August 2010 was not hot. It was cooler than in 2000 and 2005. As you know, living in the heart of the Medoc gives me the unique opportunity to experience the weather live. And in August last year, even though I missed the heat and the chance to enjoy a dip in my swimming pool, I was happy for my garden, already scarred by drought. I remember thinking nature works wonders: too much heat on top of the drought would have caused damage to the vines and plants. I also remember wondering what the wines would be like. I knew that because of the cool weather breadth would be ruled out, but I also knew they would show lift. If the weather in September was poor, wines would be lean. On the contrary, if we enjoyed a spell of sunny weather in September, it could make up for the incomplete maturing in August and the wines would gain in generosity even if they remained linear.

In 1998, I said September was really what determined the calibre of a vintage: rain can definitely spoil the work of a good summer but when September is dry, sunny and warm, merlots, and above all, petits-verdots, cabernets francs and cabernets sauvignons get a chance to mature to their optimum. And optimum maturity is what determines a wine’s breadth. It is also what gives it fat and a velvety tactile feel on the palate. It is what makes a vintage stand out.


What was September like?

September 2010 was on the whole warmer than September 2005 and I° cooler than September 2009, with important differences between day and night temperatures and cooler nights than in 2005 and 2009. Most importantly of all, September 2010 was dry, with 50% less rainfall than in 2005 or 2009. These favourable weather conditions helped the maturing of the grapes and gave them a chance to reach their optimum maturity. But even though the weather was lovely between 13th and 19th September, very cool temperatures at night slowed down the maturing process and the start of harvest had to be postponed many a time. The advantage of cool weather is to keep the rot in check and to concentrate aromas. And yes, 2010 is definitely packed with aromas. They enliven the tannins and lift up the wines with freshness. Quality wise, a slow and steady maturing is better, but in the cooler corners full maturity was not quite reached. And if you think that plots on early ripening soils had a greater advantage in 2010, remember that they often are on graves soils and that, unless there are clayey subsoils, some vines might have suffered from the drought.


What was October like?

The last week in September was cold – 5° at night- but the weather picked up again from October 2 to October 10 with temperatures reaching levels usually recorded in August! Apart from light rain on October 10, the weather held until heavy rain fell on October 24.  For those who had  decided to wait, this beautiful late season was the chance to pick each plot at the right point of maturity without the stress of having to bring in huge yields – in 2010, yields are moderate.


The results

On paper, the vintage seems poised to be a success. All we have to do now is see how well it stands the test of thorough tasting. My notes will be focused on two specific points: how the wines perform on the mid-palate and, above all, how well they perform on finish. Why, you may ask? As the grapes matured slowly in September - with a spell of rather cool weather- no one can really say if they actually reached their optimum point of maturity. I kept close tabs on the harvest and the vinification process and I can tell you that caution was the key word in cellars, where teams were careful not to extract too much - and even more so that alcohol content is higher in 2010 than in 2009, particularly on the right bank - alcohol increases extraction. I must admit I was surprised by such caution. Isn’t it a paradox to believe you have the best possible grapes and not make the most of their qualities?


The work of man

Since 2000, average-quality vintages are getting few and far between in Bordeaux. Producers are facing a new challenge:  to tend and rear increasingly sturdy wines that show higher levels of alcohol. Winemaking teams have the skills to rear traditional Bordeaux wines of average body with imperfectly ripe tannins, but they are less at ease with extremely ripe wines.


Late picking and the aroma of prematurely aged wine.

In 2009, during the en primeur campaign, I mentioned overripe wines that had been brought in too late. 2010 raises the issue of late picking once again. When rain falls in September and grey rot is not a threat, Bordeaux winemakers are at a loss about when to start picking.

With the effects of global warming, the issue of when to pick will have to be addressed. In 2010 the harvest took place late in the season and spanned several weeks. There was a genuine risk for the grapes to lose their taste. Today, scientists are working on the prune aroma in prematurely aged wines- an intense off-flavour present in juvenile wines. Prune flavour is pleasant in mature wines but it should be seen as a technical error in young wines – and it has never been so obviously present in some crus than this year. In my forthcoming tasting notes you will find it referred to as “baked fruit”.

Leaving aside the critics and journalists’ personal preferences for some aromas, we need to bear in mind that when the nose is prematurely aged, the wine will gain nothing from bottle ageing and will never be able to develop the bouquet that makes mature Bordeaux stand out among other wines. But connoisseurs buy Bordeaux to lay it down - even if we tend to enjoy it earlier than we used to. So once again, wine lovers are kept in the dark and are the ones to lose out. How is such a thing possible?


Late picking and en primeur tasting.

Late picking gives the grapes a chance to ripen to their maximum point of maturity; it gives body to the wine, rubs out rough edges from the tannins and smoothes them out.  Some estates aim at this optimum maturity to present wines with the fullest possible body and seamless tannins at the en primeur tasting. Picking earlier on in the season would mean presenting wines with less coated, brisker tannins and with less body. But it would also mean more vibrant and lively aromas and taste. When the grapes are brought in early or at the right time, it is really down to the maturing process to smooth out tannins and add charm and pleasure to the wine – this process takes 15 to 18 months. But the wines are sold en primeur, only 6 months into the maturing process. Those that are not immediately attractive run the risk of selling less and at a cheaper price.

This is not a minor issue as for many estates the final price tag is often established during the en primeur campaign. Selling early can lead to excessive new trends only remotely connected to the original taste and style of Bordeaux wines. This year, such excess is more noticeable among the right bank estates than those on the left bank, for two reasons:

  • The first reason is linked to the Bordeaux winegrowing region configuration. On the right bank, estates are smaller and quicker to adapt to changing market demands. On the left bank, properties are up to 20 times larger and are slow to shift. Without intending to, possibly without even being aware of it, they stand as the defenders of the great style that everyone has been enjoying for decades.
  • The second reason is the aromatic fragility of the merlot. Whereas cabernets sauvignons and cabernets francs can be brought in later with no damaging effect thanks to their compliant character, merlots are not flexible and cannot stand approximation.

 The results:

I shall pay particular attention to the expression of the fruit and its intensity. The best scores will be awarded to the wines that manage to strike the perfect balance between maturity and fruit vibrancy. And I am looking forward to surprises and true finds, as I know some results will no doubt escape predictions – and that is the true magic of tasting!  

Source: jm Quarin

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Tanzer: Burgundy 2008 and 2009 consecutive successful white Burgundy vintages

In the latest edition Stephen Tanzer mentions the consecutive succes of the white burgundy vintages 2008 and 2009.

Judging 2009 would be getting a little ahead of ourselves, but 2008 is present in the top 10 price-quality ranks on

Check us out to find out where to purchase this pristine product.



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Quarin : Bordeaux 2010 Driest vintage after 2005 and 1998

In his latest newsletter Quarin compares the  2010 summer in Bordeaux to that of other great recent vintages.

the 2010 will be the driest vintage after 2005 and 1998. dry vintages result  in concentrated grapes and smaller yields.

For Quarin this means that after 2008 and 2009 Bordeaux can have another 'super' vintage.

In this chart you can see the rain fallen in other great vintages in millimeter.

Source J.M. Quarin:

Let's hope he is right!,...





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Bordeaux 2009: the biggest score differences, who is right?

Professional tasters don't always agree!
For those among you who had the chance to taste 'en primeur',  compare their findings to your tastingnotes and let us know who is right.

Those of you who are less privileged will have to rely on the expert they have the most affinity with when buying Bordeaux wines en primeur.

Wine name Avg Max Min Dif Parker WSP Tanzer Quarin
  Clinet (Chateau) / Pomerol 93 99 86 13 97 - 100 95 - 98 89 - 92 86
  Gracia (Chateau) / Saint Emilion 91 97 85 12 96 - 98 92 - 95 88 - 91 85
  Bellevue-Mondotte (Chateau) / Saint Emilion 93 98 88 10 95 - 100 95 - 98 88 - 91 88
  Pavie-Decesse (Chateau) / Saint Emilion 93 97 87 10 93 - 96 95 - 98 93 - 96 87
  Fleur de Gay (Chateau La) / Pomerol 91 95 86 9 93 - 96 90 - 93   86
  Figeac (Chateau) / Saint Emilion 93 99 90 9   97 - 100 88 - 91 92
  Hosanna (Chateau) / Pomerol 95 99 91 8 98 - 100 93 - 96 92 - 95 91
  Pavie-Macquin (Chateau) / Saint Emilion 94 98 90 8 94 - 96 96 - 99 91 - 94 90
  Peby-Faugeres / Saint Emilion 94 98 90 8 93 - 96 96 - 99   90
  Oratoire (Clos de l') / Saint Emilion 91 94 86 8 91 - 93 92 - 95   86

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