2010 the worlds great vintage
Saturday, April 25, 2020 in News
2010: The World's Great Vintage
We take a look at the great vintage of 2010 and step into our museum and take a peek at some cellar-aged wines from Bordeaux, Champagne, Barolo, Rioja and Australia including First Growths, Cru Barolo, Classified Hunter Semillon, McLaren Vale magic, and one of the greatest Granges ever. Browse our 2010 Portfolio Now
Every now and then we get a vintage that is almost universally great. Everywhere! It’s rare that what’s a great Bordeaux vintage also happens to be a great Burgundy vintage. In recent memory, you have 2009 and 2010 (both very different) and 2005 but, by our reckoning, you then need to go all the way back to 1990!
While 2009 and 2010 are both great Bordeaux vintages, stylistically the wines are very different. The 2009s are softer, riper and more opulent, while the 2010s are the product of a drought year that provided concentration, but they also have terrific acidity and freshness from the cooler August–September temperatures which delayed the harvest.
There are some terrific 2010 Bordeaux reds in our portfolio from the well-priced Lagrange (Pomerol) and fifth growth Grand-Puy Ducasse (Pauillac) to two titans of the vintage – the first growths from Margaux and Haut-Brion (Pessac-Léognan). It was also a good botrytis year in Sauternes producing slightly fewer sweet wines than in 2009 but with good botrytis levels and again, that refreshing acidity. De Fargues and d’Yquem are two of the region’s greatest names.
In Piedmont there are no comparisons between 2009, and the 2010 vintage has produced classic, concentrated and transparent wines that will appeal to aficionados and newcomers alike. We couldn’t agree more with Antonio Galloni who writes, ‘The 2010 vintage in Barolo is shaping up to be a modern-day classic. The cool growing season produced transparent, vibrant Barolos that pulsate with tension, crystalline purity and site-specific nuance.’ And what’s still good news for Barolo buyers is that these wines are still a fraction of the cost of Grand Cru Burgundy or first and second growth Bordeaux and all three wines from Rivetto and Michel Chiarlo, including the superb Chiarlo Cerequio Riserva 2010, are under $300.
Elsewhere, we are offering wines from the two greatest red wine producers in Italy’s Veneto region – Quintarelli and Dal Forno. The whole of 2010 might not be a five-star vintage here, but the cooler conditions have produced more approachable Amarone and Amarone style wines. If you have never seen the reds from these important producers, you could do far worse than buy a bottle of each to enjoy this winter.
We have one of the great Californian wines, Christian Moueix’s superb Dominus made from 95% Cabernet and again, you could put together a great tasting or dinner for friends (once things return to normal) by placing this alongside the Bordeaux wines above and one of Tuscany and Italy’s most renowned wines, Castello di Ama’s L'Apparita.
There are also world-class examples of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rioja, Australian Semillon and Shiraz, including the incomparable Penfolds Grange. At ten years of age, what they all have in common is that they are at an age where you can get enjoyment from drinking them now, while knowing that they will still either hold or improve for many years to come.
With its distinctive art nouveau wreath of anemones on the embossed glass label, Perrier Jouet's La Belle Époque has always been about finesse and the 2010 Rosé, made from 50% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay and 5% Meunière with 11% still red wine added and 8 grams per litre dosage, is a great example of the house style. Small red fruits dominate this still very vibrant, lively and complex wine.
Tyrrell's Vat 1 Hunter Valley Semillon
Langton’s Classified ‘Outstanding’
The closest thing Australia has to a wine that reflects a terroir that cannot be readily duplicated elsewhere in the world is Hunter Valley Semillon. It is the product of a wet, humid and warm climate, soils that restrict vine vigour and reduce yields; and a winemaking philosophy by which the best wines are picked early with low sugar levels and high acidity. Neutral when young, the best wines such as Tyrrell's Vat 1 develop rich, mouth-filling, honeyed, nutty and toasty aromas and flavours over a 10 to 20-year period. Under screwcap, the 2010 Vat 1 is looking good now, but you know that it will still be fresh, albeit a little richer, five to ten years from now
Château Lagrange, which is nicely situated at the northern end of Pomerol not far from Château Le Gay and Château Vray Croix de Gay, was purchased in 1952 by JP Moueix; who today also own a number of other Bordeaux properties including Pétrus and Trotanoy as well as Dominus in California. With only 9ha planted to 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, roughly 2000 (not much by Bordeaux standards) cases are year are made of this pliant, nicely detailed, medium-bodied wine.
As there is no winemaking facility at Lagrange, the wines are made by the Moueix team at Château Trotanoy. This means the wine is made using laser sorting tables as well as temperature-controlled, traditional concrete vats for fermentation before spending 18-24 months in 25% new oak. With its ripe, plummy fruit, the 2010 is already showing beautifully and will continue to drink well for another five years at least.
Owned by CA Grands Crus who also own several Bordeaux properties including Château de Rayne Vigneau in Sauternes and Château Meyney. Enormous strides have been made at this Pauillac fifth growth over the last ten to fifteen years. With an average age of 25 years and planted to 62% Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Merlot, the vineyard's 40 hectares are nicely situated with Mouton, Lafite and Pontet-Canet all sharing Grand-Puy Ducasse’s border. Fermentation is carried out in thermoregulated stainless-steel tanks and the wine is matured from 18 to 24 months in French barriques, 30% to 40% of which are new. As the reviews indicate, the 2010 is a terrific wine with excellent depth of fruit and supple tannins making this a joy to drink now but also offering at least another five to ten years cellaring potential.
While Cos d’Estournel 2009 was a polarising wine getting rave reviews from some (Parker) and not great reviews from others (Jancis Robinson MW) there were no such problems with the superb 2010. A blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot (as opposed or 33% in 2009), 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, the 2010 was far more restrained and while you can certainly enjoy the odd bottle now, this was built for the long haul. It’s one of those wines you will thank us for recommending 10-20 years from now!
A blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 2010 was the driest year in over sixty years at Haut Brion with low yields, much less Merlot than usual (and therefore more Cabernet) resulting in a particularly concentrated and structured wine. Additionally, 20% of the fruit was declassified into a third label meaning that only 7,800 cases were produced – by far the least amount of wine produced by any of the first growths in 2010.
A blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot and 1.5% Petit Verdot and 1.5% Cabernet Franc, this is a truly great—if slightly atypical—Margaux due to the higher than normal of Cabernet which has produced a wine that is deeply coloured, concentrated, and firm but with that Margaux elegance. More approachable at this stage than the other first growths, it would be fascinating to put this into a blind line-up with Haut Brion, Dominus, Castello di Ama L’Apparita and Penfolds Grange of the same vintage.
Located just four kilometres south of Château d’Yquem, de Fargues was purchased by the Lur Saluces family some 300 years before they acquired d’Yquem! And until the family sold d’Yquem in 1999 (they still own de Fargues) the wine was made with the same meticulous care with even lower yields than d’Yquem. If you like your Sauternes to be simultaneously sweet and light on its feet with refreshing acidity, this is the wine for you.
Château d’Yquem 375ml
Without question the greatest sweet wine in Bordeaux, if not the world and we can’t remember the last time we opened an Yquem that wasn’t at a minimum excellent, if not great! A blend of 87% Semillon and 13% Sauvignon Blanc (less than usual) and with only 40% of the crop selected, this is a slightly more delicate and restrained d'Yquem and with vibrant acidity and freshness.
For Xavier Vignon’s Arcane series, each cuvée represents an expression of the vintage, a grape variety or a terroir. Interestingly, these cuvées are only ever available once and then they disappear forever to be replaced by new ones. This wine focuses on Grenache from the great 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape vintage.
Jim Barry McRae Wood Clare Valley Shiraz
Jim Barry was the first qualified winemaker to work in the Clare Valley, graduating from Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1947 as just the 17th oenologist from the newly established course. And while Jim passed away in 2004, the winery, now run by the second and third generations, was crowned James Halliday’s 2020 Winery of the Year highlighting just how good their wines are. The 2010 McRae Wood Shiraz is still youthful and, to quote Peter Barry, one of the reasons that the reds last so long and stay fresh is because ‘we are Riesling winemakers who don’t like oxidation.’
At the expense of dispensing with nigh-on 150 years of proud history, you come to fifth-generation winemaker Andrew (Ox) Hardy, who began his career in 1982, working at Petaluma under the eagle eye of Brian Croser. Numerous successes followed as he wove 10 years at Clare Valley’s Knappstein, completed the executive program for growing companies at Stanford University in California, and worked in the Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley, Coonawarra and McLaren Vale. He’s larger than life, with a smile ready to spring into action at the least provocation.
The Hardy family still owns the McLaren Vale Upper Tintara vineyard planted by Thomas Hardy in 1891, its fruit purchased by a roll call of wineries. In 2008, Ox and his father Bob procured a tonne of shiraz from the 1891 planting and made the wine in the remnants of the winery on the vineyard, its slate fermenters (built 1923) still functional.
Langton’s Classified ‘Exceptional’
The core of this Grange is Barossa Valley Shiraz (85%) is the core of this wine around which is wrapped Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon (4%) from the Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and Magill Estate. After this tour of South Australia, the wine spends around 17 months in 100% new American oak hogsheads. Given Penfolds resources, access to fruit, and the attention to detail, there is an argument to be made that Grange is best SA Shiraz made in any year. And 2010 was a great year. In terms of cellaring, the 2010 Grange is multi-generational wine–one to share with the grandchildren. James Halliday offered the following conclusion, ‘there is not the slightest question this will be one of the greatest Granges in the pantheon of ''52, ''55, ''71, ''96 and ''06.’
Having studied oenology in California, Christian Moueix of Château Pétrus and Trotanoy fame, was always keen to return and, in 1982, he became a partner in Napanook Vineyard in the Napa Valley and the source of some great wines in the 1940s and 1950s. This vineyard became the foundation for Dominus and by 1995 Moueix was the sole proprietor. Today, this is one of California’s great wines alongside Opus One and a handful of others aspiring to make ‘First Growth’ quality Cabernet-based wines in the Napa. The 2010 is a great wine and that would not look out of place in a line-up of Bordeaux style reds from this great vintage.
Castello di Ama L'Apparita Toscana IGT
A cult wine since its first release 1985, Castello di Ama's L’Apparita is the first 100% Merlot produced in Tuscany, predating Tuscany's other great Merlot - Ornellaia's Masseto by a year. Vines were first planted at this cool site, 350 metres above sea level in 1975 with Canaiolo and Malvasia Bianca before being replanted with Merlot between 1982 and 1985 using the clone nr 342. The wine is vinified in stainless steel and after the malolactic fermentation has finished, the wine is then matured in French barriques, around 35% which are new. Perfumed, concentrated and silky, this is truly one of the world’s greatest Merlots and we could not agree more with Antonio Galloni when he writes, ‘over the years, owners Lorenza and Marco Pallanti have crafted some of the most riveting wines in Tuscany.’
Giuseppe Quintarelli Rosso del Bepi Veneto IGT
Named after the great Giuseppe 'Bepi' Quintarelli (1927-2012) who is considered the father of Amarone and revolutionized his family Domaine, 'Bepi' is the name given to the estate’s declassified Amarone. It is typically produced in cooler years when the best fruit from that vintage is dried on mats and then pressed at the end of January. Made from 55% Corvina and Corvinone, 30% Rondinella, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Nebbiolo, Croatina, and Sangiovese, the fermentation often lasts for 45 days before the wine is racked into older Slavonian botti for seven years. Layers of dark fruit and fruit cake spices can be found in this rich, balanced and hedonistic baby Amarone and just the wine to drink by the fire this and the next ten or so winters.
Dal Forno Romano Lodoletta Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG
In the early to mid-1980s and inspired by what Giuseppe Quintarelli was doing some 40km away, Romano Dal Forno started making his first wines from his family's vineyards, drastically reducing yields in an effort to make the most concentrated wines in the Veneto. Replanting at 12,000 vines per hectare, introducing an air circulation system to keep the grapes cleaner as they dried for 90 days to make the Amarone and roto fermenters all played their part in making some of the richest wines in the world. Lately, the wines have become a little more elegant without forgoing the texture that makes them such alluring wines to drink, particularly over winter!
Dating back to the 1700s, Cannubi is the oldest and still one of the most prestigious crus within the commune of Barolo. Michele Chiarlo owns 1ha of vines planted between 1958 and 1990 and produces a wine that is both powerful and structured yet balanced enough that it can be approached from about seven years on but will, in a vintage like 2010, keep on improving for years to come.
Along with Brunate and Rocche dell’Annunziata, Cerequio isn’t just one of La Morra’s great sites, it’s one of the most prestigious crus in all of Barolo. Chiarlo farm 3.5 ha of Cerequio with the Riserva, which is only made in the great years, coming from a .9ha diamond-shaped and warmer microclimate facing directly south. Fermented in 55 hectolitre oak vats with 22 days on skins and with a minimum of three years ageing in cask and another three in bottle, the 2010 is a wine destined for greatness.
While the standard Barolo consists of Nebbiolo from Manocino, Serra and San Bernardo (all in Serralunga) and is aged for 30 months in large Slavonian oak casks and a further 10 months in bottle, the Barolo Leon Riserva is a selection from the best casks of the Barolo that Enrico Rivetto (the fourth generation to run the estate) feels is capable of extended ageing. The lots destined for the Leon Riserva see an additional 10 months respectively in both cask and bottle before release. The result is and powerful wine designed to go the distance.
Juan Carlos López de Lacalle – one of the most respected winemakers in Spain – has been at the forefront of transforming Rioja in recent years with his focus on terroir and single-vineyard wines. El Carretil, which was launched in the 2000s, is a 5.3ha southwest-facing and limestone-rich site with vines averaging 50 years of age. Less than 500 cases are made each year of this fruit-driven, French oak matured and pure, concentrated wine. You can open and enjoy a bottle now or watch it continue to improve and become more complex over the next 10 years.
Shop online or to access our entire 2010 portfolio (those listed are only the tip of the iceberg), contact your broker.