Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.


Geoff Kelly,  MSc Hons

Alfred Tesseron,  owner,  Ch Pontet-Canet website:  Technology is neither necessary nor desirable, as only taste can guide choices and reveal the emotional subtleties of a great terroir treated with respect.

Conclusions from the tasting:
This was a simply sensational tasting.  Because the en primeur prices were so high,  very few of these labels ever reached retail / wine shop shelves in New Zealand.  Therefore,  few New Zealand people have tasted them at all.

The tasting got off to a good start,  with not a single bottle showing cork / TCA taint.  Are we really reaching the level of (re-considered) artisan work plus backing-up technology where cork can be (nearly) relied on ?  As the tasting proceeded,  the little noises of pleasure to be heard round the room were both exciting,  and immensely rewarding for the presenter.  

For the wines,  the better ones showed a freshness of character which showcases Bordeaux at its best,  coupled with a ripeness and concentration bespeaking a great year.  The year 2010 combines the essential elements of ‘classical’ bordeaux,  namely fragrance and florality on bouquet,  with good acid balance on palate,  plus concentration,  ripeness and depth,  in the modern style.  A simple index to the level of both satisfaction and the learning opportunities that this tasting presented can be gathered from the fact that seven of the twelve wines were one or more person’s top or second-favourite wine.  In the writing-up of the wines,  nine of the 12 wines rank gold-medal level by Australasian judging standards.  It is fair to note these standards are very different from those applying in London,  where the wine world is at commentators’ feet,  and the absolute benchmark labels rarely or never tasted in New Zealand are seen relatively frequently.    

Among the wines,  2010 Ch Montrose is revelatory.  2010 Ch Leoville-Barton and 2010 Vieux Chateau Certain epitomise in a marvellous / at-best way the contrasting winestyles of the west and east bank,  cabernet-led and merlot-led.  And 2010 Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou is up there too,  appealing more to those who mark up new oak in their claret,  whether recognised as new oak or not.

 An indication of the quality of the wines in the tasting can be gained from the fact that these top six all scored 19 + or more … an almost unimaginable result given there were only 12 wines all told.  Nine of the 12 were gold medal level or better.  From the left,  our 2010 Ch Lynch-Bages did not seem quite as remarkable as the bottle reported on from London,  but still impressed for its amazing freshness and youth,  with clear-cut cassisy berry characters and subtle oak.  Three people had it as their top wine, 19 +;  next 2010 Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste,  showing a suppleness and charm with soft cedary complexity which made it more accessible than some,  but did not appeal to the group so much, 19 +;  the 2010 Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou stood out a little in the top six,  not only for its superb 56 mm cork,  but also with its much more noticeable new-oak handling adding just a thought of the New World.  This was matched by intense and perfectly ripe cabernet sauvignon characters,  eight people rating it their top or second wine, 19 +;  then the East Bank contender,  the very highly regarded 2010 Vieux Chateau Certan,  beautifully floral as merlot should be but so often is not,  and supple bottled plum and blueberry notes on palate.  It was hard to imagine how an East Bank wine could be more characteristic,  with ten tasters rating it their favourite or second-favourite wine in the set, 19.5;  in second place was the intensely cassisy 2010 Ch Leoville Barton,  in a sense exactly defining how a top-level West Bank cabernet-dominant wine should smell and taste,  forming a beautiful comparison and contrast with the merlot-dominant Vieux Certan.  Eight people had the Barton as their top or second-favourite wine, 19.5;  and finally the exceptional 2010 Ch Montrose,  one of the absolutely great Ch Montrose offerings,  with a density and velvety richness of berry which is off-the-scale,  yet astonishing freshness and aromatic complexity too.  This is a 90-year wine,  which six people had as their top or second-favourite, 19.5 +;

 One could not own too many of these 2010 bordeaux.  I am increasingly of the view that in both Bordeaux and the Rhone Valley North and South,  2010 is the new 1961.

Introduction to the 2010 vintage:
The goal in setting up this tasting of the most expensive Bordeaux en primeur campaign ever offered,  is to combine some of the highly-praised wines with some of those still affordable,  by the time they reach New Zealand.  As always,  even though the top names were demanding high prices,  there were plenty of smaller chateau not caught up in the hype.  For example Paveil de Luze,  a much-improved cru bourgeois from the Medox,  landed here for under $50 on the shelf.

But just to set the tone,  let’s for a moment consider the wines at the other end of the scale.  We reached the point with the 2010 campaign,  where a fair number of well-regarded chateau ended up over that critical $500 per bottle landed cost,  which once was the preserve only of the First Growths.  Ch Palmer,  for example … compared with my first purchase of it from the 1966 vintage,  at $6.30 on the shelf in Fletcher-Humphreys,  Christchurch.  For my 2010 buying strategy,  I retained that $500 landed cost absolute limit.

Farr Vintners of London are now the single most famous and largest provider of en primeur Bordeaux to the UK market in the first instance,  but to the world at large as well.  For many years,  Farr Vintners and it predecessor organisations have mounted a '10 years on' tasting of their earlier Bordeaux en primeur campaigns.   In February 2020,  the subject was the 2010 vintage.  They assembled no less than 180 of the more important wines of Bordeaux ... and tasted them in 15 flights of 12,  over 2 days.  Participants included a veritable who's who of the world wine trade,  including 8 MWs,  Julia Harding MW from jancisrobinson.com,  Neal Martin from vinous.com,  and Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW from robertparker.com.  This is a scale and depth of wine tasting which we in New Zealand (or Australia) can only marvel at.  Considering that they are tasting the greatest cabernet / merlots in the world,  it throws into sharp focus the sad fact that so many local wine-writers seem to start their scoring range at 90 points,  despite in many cases having never tasted a number of these absolutely benchmark or defining wines,  as in the 180 top wines the Farr Vintners panel assessed.

Stephen Browett,  now a substantial owner and Chairman of Farr Vintners,  has written up this tasting in a most engaging way.  Here are some of this thoughts,  précised,  focussing rather more on a context for the wines which we have.  Astonishingly,  some of ours (which I have marked in bold red,  below),  though under that critical $NZ500 ceiling,  still measure up well in Browett's summary:

Expectations were very high coming in to the tasting and the big questions on everybody’s lips were “How great is the 2010 vintage?” and “Is it ready to drink?”.

Pomerol in general produced a stunning set of wines with four of the vintage’s top seven places. The tannic structure of the 2010 vintage was tamed by the sheer plushness and weight of ripe Merlot fruit here. Some 2010s on the left bank and in Saint Emilion are pretty firm and stern, but here they are spherical, complete and harmonious. In many cases they are drop-dead gorgeous and pretty much ready to drink. The Pomerol winner (and 3rd place overall) was the quite magnificent L’Eglise Clinet with Lafleur, Le Pin and Vieux Chateau Certain just behind. All four of these are absolutely sensational and some of the finest young wines that I have ever tasted.

[ Since most of us will never taste current Ch Petrus,  for interest we can interpolate the Pomerol scores of Neal Martin and Lisa Perrotti-Brown at this exact tasting (from Vinous.com and RobertParker.com respectively).  For Vieux Chateau Certan NM is 97,  vs L.P-B 100.   For Ch Petrus,  NM is 96,  vs L.P-B (sitting on the fence) again 100.  So fervently hoping that our bottle is sound,  we have the chance of tasting claret about as good as it gets.  See also Montrose and Lynch-Bages,  below,  which offer similar possibilities.]

Saint Julien produced a great set of wines in 2010 with some deep colours, classic Cabernet Sauvignon fruit intensity matched by a structure that will make these candidates for long-term ageing. Our top two were the slightly more plush and glossy Ducru Beaucaillou and Léoville Poyferré and the more open-knit Langoa Barton [ a reserve wine ] in third place out-scoring the more closed and tannic (but ultra-serious) Léoville Barton. This is a classic claret than needs at least another five years in bottle. As always the consistency in this flight was excellent – collectors can buy with confidence knowing that this appellation performs well right across the board and offers classic Médocain style in a 2010 guise.

In Saint Estèphe the traditional order was maintained with the top two wines – Montrose and Cos d’Estournel – clearly ahead of everyone else. The former has superb purity and dense, mouthcoating tannins that make it destined for the long haul. Such is the intensity and drive that it may not reach its peak for another decade or more.

Finally to Pauillac where two of the greatest young Bordeaux wines that I have ever tasted were our clear winners. Top of the pack with four perfect scores was the incredible Latour 2010. ... However, for those of us who can’t afford to drink First Growths every night, the big news here was the incredible performance of Lynch Bages. This classic claret is the essence of Cabernet Sauvignon and is all set to mature into one of this property’s greatest ever wines. With a jet black colour, huge black fruit and matching tannins, this First Growth taste-alike was the third highest rated wine of not just Pauillac, but of the entire left bank of Bordeaux – even outscoring Lafite, Margaux and Haut Brion. This wine is still not ready to drink but is starting to reveal its true potential as the tannins soften and the enormous weight of fruit bursts into life. There were also terrific performances by ... Grand Puy Lacoste (refined, supple and subtle) – truly fabulous and much closer to maturity than some of the neighbours.

So, how do we describe 2010 red Bordeaux and how does it rate against other years? First of all it is abundantly clear that this a great vintage. For me it is very different in style to the more opulent and obviously sexy 2009. I would say that 2009 is more consistent as a vintage with quality at every level, but 2010 at the top contains higher peaks with several potentially perfect wines. The very best of these are not yet mature but their class is clearly evident.

The Wine Spectator current rating for the 2010 vintage is:  Left Bank 99,   their highest-ever rating (in their schedule back to 1972),  Right Bank 98,  top equal with 1989.  Wine Advocate ratings are 94T –  99T,  varying with village.

The Invitation to the Tasting:
Make no mistake,  2010 is a great year in Bordeaux.  For the next 50 years,  enthusiasts will argue as to whether the best wines match or surpass the 1961s … but the point is,  the vintage is of that calibre.  It is particularly like 1961 in that it is a year of classical restraint,  needing cellaring.  Thus some of the fashionistas,  for whom everything has to be accessible immediately,  have mocked the vintage.  Disregard them.

With global warming,  plus immense advances in the science and practice of wine-making,  fine vintages in Bordeaux are now much more commonplace than even 20 years ago.  In this century there was a tentative start with the 2000 vintage,  then a great step forward with the 2005s.  Jump a few years,  and there are the warm-year,  plush and thus accessible 2009s appealing to the American palate,  then the taut and aromatic 2010s,  in a sense appealing more to the European palate.  2015 and 2016 is an exact replay of that sequence.  In purchasing the 2010s,  notwithstanding them being the most expensive en primeur Bordeaux vintage ever offered,  I was excited by the early reports.  Now,  having waited the traditional 10 years (“it is a sin against the spirit of the bottle etc …” ) for good Bordeaux to reveal some its charms,  how will these still-expensive wines open up for us ?  Note these wines are quite rare in New Zealand,  due to their high en primeur offer price.

With the passage of the years,  old mentors and advisors are increasingly challenged by young and very switched-on tasters.  For Bordeaux,  two English palates are to the fore,  Neal Martin at Vinous,  and Jane Anson at Decanter.  And in a more supervisory role,  there is also Stephen Browett,  now owner of the fabulous Farr Vintners of London,  to be listened to.  The above summary of the status of the 2010 vintage is abstracted from their writings.

As to our wines,  considering both Browett’s Farr Vintners report,  and going back to established advisors,  Jancis Robinson elsewhere lists her top 20 wines for the 2010 Bordeaux.  When you reflect that she is frequently tasting wines of a price and calibre we never see,  such as Ch Cheval Blanc,  Ch Petrus,  the Rothschilds etc,  for us to have even four of her top 20 wines is extraordinary.  When I add in that Lisa Perrotti-Brown,  now the chief Bordeaux taster at RobertParker.com has given one of those four wines 100 points in her comprehensive 2020 review of the 2010 Bordeaux,  and that both she and Neal Martin have given another of the four 99 points,  you can see that by New Zealand standards,  this Library Tasting of 2010 Bordeaux comes very close to being an opportunity to taste truly benchmark cabernet / merlot blends.  But I have also included some affordable wines,  to retain a grip on reality.  This tasting should be a very special experience.

Brook,  Stephen,  2007:  The Complete Bordeaux.  Mitchell Beazley,  720 p.
Browett,  Stephen,  2010:  Bordeaux Ten Years On,  February 2020.  https://www.farrvintners.com/blog.php?blog=276
Parker,  Robert M.,  2003:    Bordeaux,  Fourth Edition.  Simon & Schuster,  New York,  1244 p.
Peppercorn,  D.  1982:   Bordeaux.  Faber & Faber,  424 p.
Robinson,  Jancis,  Feb. 1920:  My top-scoring 2010 red bordeaux.    https://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/bordeaux-better-ageing-selling
www.decanter.com = latterly,  Jane Anson for Bordeaux,  some free material on website,  subscription needed for longer articles,  and reviews
www.jancisrobinson.com = Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW,  some free articles,  subscription needed for reviews
www.robertparker.com = Robert Parker and successors,  for Bordeaux Lisa Perrotti-Brown,  vintage chart,  subscription needed for reviews
https://vinous.com = Antonio Galloni and associates,  now notably Neal Martin for Bordeaux.  Introduction to articles free to mailing list,  subscription needed for reviews    
www.winespectator.com = vintage chart,  subscription needed for reviews.

Authors / Initials cited: 

FV:   Farr Vintners,  London (UK)
JA:   Jane Anson UK @ Decanter
JH:   Julia Harding MW (UK),  @ Jancis Robinson
JM:   James Molesworth (US),  @ Wine Spectator
JR:   Jancis Robinson MW (UK)
L.P-B:   Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW (US),  @ Wine Advocate
NM:   Neal Martin (UK),  @ Vinous,  formerly at Wine Advocate
RP:   Robert Parker (US),  @ Wine Advocate
SS:   Stephen Spurrier (UK),  @ Decanter
WA:   Wine Advocate (US)
WS:   Wine Spectator (US)

Particular thanks to Scott Gray,  of Maison Vauron,  for help with 2010 En Primeur pricing … appreciated.



The first ‘price’ given is the current wine-searcher world-market value,  if available,  per 750ml bottle.  An approximation of the original purchase price is given in the text,  if evidence / best recollection is available.  In the reviews,  I try to contrast a British view with a United States one … and sometimes an earlier view with a later. 

2010  Ch Bourgneuf
2010  Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou
2010  Ch Giscours
2010  Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste
2010   Ch d’Issan
2010  Ch Leoville Barton
  2010  Ch  Lynch-Bages
2010  Ch Montrose
2010  Ch Paveil de Luze
2010  Ch Pontet-Canet
2010  Ch Saintem (formerly Saintayme)
2010  Vieux Chateau Certan

Saint-Estephe Second-Growth,  Medoc,  Bordeaux,  France:  14%;  $469   [ Cork,  50mm,  ullage 12mm;  $352 landed;   the 2010 wine is CS 53%,  Me 37,  CF 9,  PV 1,  all hand-picked,  the bunches hand-sorted,  the berries optically sorted then again hand-sorted;  fermentation in s/s,  cuvaison up to 25 days,  elevation 18 months in 60% new barrels;  average production 16,650 x 9-litre cases;  climatically the chateau compares the 2010 wine with 1929,  1945,  1947,  1959 (the greatest Montrose I have tasted),  1961,  1989 and 2009;  not known if a consulting oenologist;  a Jancis Robinson Top 20 of 2010 wine;  JR@JR,  2015:  Brooding and magnificent. Still lots to give. Heady and dense and very Montrose. Substantial and with masses of backbone. Admirable, 18;  NM@Vinous,  2020:  … an outstanding bouquet with graphite infused black fruit, cedar and tobacco, extremely well focused and seeming to gain intensity in the glass. The palate is beautifully balanced with perfect acidity, gentle grip ... fine body and it fans out wonderfully on the persistent finish. Outstanding, 98  (99 at the FV tasting);  RP@WA, 2014:  This is considered to be among the greatest vintages ever made in Montrose ... an incredible nose of blueberry and blackberry liqueur, with hints of incense, licorice, and acacia flowers. Tannins are incredibly sweet and very present. The wine is full-bodied, even massive, with great purity, depth and finish ... a 50- to 75-year wine, 100;  Parker also notes that the chateau considers the wine will cellar to 2100;  2010 Ch Montrose has become so rare,  Farr Vintners do not have it in stock – unusual;  good website;  weight bottle and closure:  563 g;  www.chateau-montrose.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  very fresh and clearly the deepest,  richest and most saturated of the wines.  Yet the bouquet has a freshness to it,  just an aromatic edge to the cassis,  which is most unusual.  Behind are florals,  darkest roses and violets,  intense cassis more than blackberry fruit,  and further below in the nett bouquet impression is sweet oak.  In mouth the richness is tactile:  oh,  how I'd like a dry extract on this wine,  it must be well over 30 g/L.  Now I have some idea what that fabulous 1959 Montrose,  the greatest Montrose I have ever tasted,  was like as a young wine.  The richness of berry totally overwhelms the cedary oak,  yet good acid and the Saint-Estephe tannin (as well as the oak) all give the wine impeccable structure.  A glorious Montrose which will cellar for as long as the 50 mm corks hold.  Perceiving the quality,  since the chateau itself states this is a 90 year wine,  a pity they did not use 54 mm corks.  Close to perfection.  Three people rated Montrose their top wine,  and three second favourite.  Cellar 20 – 60 years.  GK 09/20

Saint Julien Second Growth,  Medoc,  Bordeaux,  France:  13.5%;  $240   [ Cork,  50mm,  ullage 13mm;  $196 landed;  the 2010 is CS 77%,  Me 21,  CF 2,  vineyard average age 40 years,  planted to 9,100 vines / ha,  increasingly tending to organic practice;  all hand-harvested,  then optical sorting;  fermentation in wooden cuves,  cuvaison up to 21 days,  elevation 16 – 18 months in 60% new barrels;  average production 22,000 x 9-litre cases;  consulting oenologist Eric Boissenot (also Las Cases);  A Jancis Robinson Top 20 of 2010 wine;  Farr Vintners frequently imply that Leoville Barton is the quintessential  Englishman's claret,  a wine which sells itself,  year in,  year out.  For the 2010 they comment in 2011:  Pure cassis on the nose with a classy overlay of oak. On the palate this is classically structured with a black cherry and blackcurrant core, ripe, rounded cedary tannins, freshness and impeccable balance. Intense sweet fruit yet dry and firm. Controlled and refined. This is what great Bordeaux is all about, 17.5+;  RP@WA, 2013:  ... the Leoville Barton is one of the spectacular wines of the vintage ... It is a classic, powerful Bordeaux made with no compromise ... notes of pen ink and creme de cassis, good acidity, sweet, subtle oak, and massive extraction and concentration. ... The beautiful purity, symmetry, and huge finish ... make this one of the all-time great classics from Leoville Barton. Anticipated maturity: 2028-2065+, 96+;  website demanding;  weight bottle and closure:  592 g;  www.leoville-barton.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  the third deepest of the wines,  very fresh.  One sniff and the excitement / pleasure is extraordinary.  This wine shines a laser beam on the concept ‘cassis’ as a marker / descriptor for high-cabernet wines.  There is a purity of Médoc character here which eclipses even the Montrose,  because the ratio of cabernet sauvignon at 77% is so much higher.  Thus there is a freshness and depth of florality giving the bouquet a rare authority,  for the West Bank.  And it is totally free of the complexity notes sometimes encountered in yester-year Barton.  Palate likewise has a freshness and aromatic quality bespeaking perfect ripeness of the cabernet sauvignon,  showing what a great and complex grape it is when perfectly ripened in temperate climates,  and then not over-oaked.  It is not as rich as the off-the-scale Montrose,  and does not need to be.  This wine too is near perfection for young West Bank claret.  The length yet  lightness and freshness of the aftertaste is a delight.  Two people rated Leoville Barton their top wine,  and six as their second favourite.  The finest young Leoville Barton I have tasted.  Cellar 20 – 50 years.  GK 09/20

Pomerol (one of the top growths),  Bordeaux,  France:  14.5%;  $540   [ Cork,  50mm,  ullage 12mm;  landed $440;  the 2010 wine is Me 86%,  CF 8,  CS 6,  the latter unusual for Pomerol,  average vine age 50 years,  max crop permitted per vine 1,000 g,  all cropped at 4.6 t/ha = 1.8 t/ac;  fermentation in temperature-controlled oak cuves or s/s,  a little cooler than most at 28°C;  elevation 18 – 22 months in 100% new barrels;  production 5,000 x 9-litre cases.  The chateau considers 2010 a perfect year:  ... a concise year, with low yields: small berries that were well nourished by perfectly healthy vine canopies with maximum photosynthesis potential. 2010 is a ripe, tannic, balanced wine with amazing fruit and wonderful acidity. The Merlot is dense, vinous, suave, full, and with breed. It simply rolls around the palate.  The smaller proportion of Cabernet Franc is lace-like in texture, ripe, complex, flavoursome and very lingering on the palate. The Cabernet Sauvignon is lively, delicious to taste and savoury. Even in such a small proportion, it brings that touch of freshness that is necessary in the final blend.  A Jancis Robinson Top 20 of 2010 wine;  JR@JR, 2011:  ... floral and scented and pretty. Very concentrated and intense. ... Lovely completeness. Great balance and build. Very, very long. ... Very serious – a marvellously intellectual Merlot, 18.5;  JR@JR, 2020:  Very complex, distinctive nose. Sweet Indian ink on the nose. Wonderfully flattering glossy texture with more nuance than many 2010 right-bank wines. There are depths to this with beautifully ripe tannins in abundance. Why couldn’t everyone manage this? This is an outstanding wine by any measure, with the Cabernet adding so much, 18.5;  RP@WA, 2013:  Thienpont thinks he has produced three wines - 2008, 2009 and 2010 - that are the greatest trilogy in the history of Vieux Chateau Certan, rivaling what this estate did in 1947, 1948 and 1949;  L.P-B@WA, 2020:  the nose opens as a complete spice-bomb, featuring notes of fenugreek, cumin seed and cinnamon stick over a core of Black Forest cake, plum preserves and blueberry pie with hints of fragrant earth and crushed stones. Full-bodied, rich and seductive in the mouth, it is laden with layers of black and blue fruit preserves, framed by super plush tannins, finishing epically long and perfumed, 100;  owned by the Thienpont family since 1924 ... the much sought-after Ch Le Pin is also in the wider family;  the Thienpont family also includes consulting oenologists;  Vieux Château Certan is one of the top few Pomerols,  in some years (eg 2010) outclassing Ch Petrus;  weight bottle and closure:  554 g ;  www.vieux-chateau-certan.com ]
Fairly fresh ruby and some velvet,  the second lightest wine,  with more development showing.  There is nothing light about the bouquet,  however,  it showing a softness,  freshness and typicité bespeaking high merlot made fragrant with cabernet franc (and trace cabernet sauvignon,  unusual for Pomerol).  Bouquet is both floral,  roses and lilac,  with beautiful fragrant cedary oak quietly underpinning,  on plummy,  redcurrant and blueberry fruit.  So sleek and enticing.  Palate is exactly the same,  much richer than expected,  the longer flavour bottled omega plums and blueberry.  This is very beautiful wine contrasting vividly with the more aromatic cabernet sauvignon dominating the Leoville Barton.  In their purity and depth of berry flavour,  and the subtlety and beauty of their oaking,  they make a special pair of 2010 Bordeaux,  epitomising the contrast between east and west bank wines.  This is near perfection in young east bank claret.  Seven people rated Vieux Chateau Certan their favourite wine,  and three had it second,  making it the ‘top’ wine of the tasting.  Half the tasters accurately recorded this as a merlot-dominant wine.  Cellar 20 – 40 years.  GK 09/20

Saint Julien Second Growth,  Medoc,  Bordeaux,  France:  14%;  $468   [ Cork,  56mm,  ullage 7mm;  $395 landed;  CS 90%,  Me 10,  planted at 10,000 vines / ha;  fermentation in s/s,  then concrete vats,  in better years elevation in 80%,  latterly 100% new oak for 18 months;  average production 18,300 x 9-litre cases;  consulting oenologist Eric Boissenot.  Farr V.,  2011:  Massive, yet precise and very long. The best wine that we tasted in St Julien in 2010 and a truly great Ducru that should surpass even the 1982 in time, 18.5;  NM@Vinous,  2020:  a seriously fine bouquet with plenty of black fruit, cedar and hints of camphor that blossom from the glass. So much vigour and intensity here, yet it remains beautifully delineated and focused. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain, supple tannins. There is a fine bead of acidity, fresh and focused, one of the most pliant Saint-Julien crus in this flight with a supple finish that belies that structure underneath, 96;  RP@WA,  2013:  With loads of minerality ... and slightly more structure and tannin than Poyferre … this is a blockbuster, fabulous Ducru Beaucaillou that should be at its best a good decade from now and last 40-50 years. The proprietor is not alone in thinking this is the finest Ducru Beaucaillou since the 1961. The classic wet rock, creme de cassis, subtle oak and gravelly stoniness of the vineyard come through in this spectacular, full-bodied, gorgeously pure and intense effort. This is wine for the ages that should be forgotten for at least a decade, 98+;  unhelpful website;  weight bottle and closure:  836 g;  www.chateau-ducru-beaucaillou.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  another very fresh and beautiful young claret colour,  the fourth deepest wine.  Bouquet is bigger on the Ducru,  a lot more apparent new oak,  a wine wanting to be ‘seen’ as a First  Growth,  you almost think.  Below is beautifully aromatic cabernet sauvignon cassisy berry,  but the level of vanillin from the oak somewhat masks any florals,  so you think first of heliotrope.  In mouth the freshness and youth of the wine is dramatic,  glorious cassisy berry filled out with 10% merlot,  but at this early stage the level of new oak,  highest cedary quality though it is,  is a little intrusive.  This will mature into a very aromatic and zingy example of classed-growth claret,  showing not quite the palate weight of the Leoville Barton.  There is just a hint of the New World,  yet the suppleness and magic of the Old.  Three people rated Ducru their top wine,  and five had it in second place.  Cellar 20 – 50 years.  GK 09/20

Pauillac Fifth Growth,  Medoc,  Bordeaux,  France:  13.5%;  $180   [ Cork,  50mm,  ullage 10mm;  $156 landed;  CS 83%,  Me 17,  planted at 10,000 vines / ha,  average age 38 years,  all hand-picked;  cuvaison to 21 days,  elevation 16 – 18 months in 75% new oak;  average production 16,250 x 9-litre cases;  consulting oenologist Eric Boissenot;  A Jancis Robinson Top 20 of 2010 wine;  NM@WA,  2012:  The 2010 has a wonderful bouquet that is reticent at first, probably because it was tasted just three months after bottling. But there is patently great fruit intensity here: blackcurrant and a touch of pomegranate, interwoven with graphite and sous-bois. The palate is medium-bodied is underpinned by wonderful freshness and vitality, marrying the austerity of both Pauillac and the vintage, with intense ... fruit. It offers stunning definition, the finish quintessential Pauillac – a little aloof, a little aristocratic, but utterly compelling. This will be a benchmark wine for the estate, 97;  JR@JR,  2020:  Correct, classic claret with an undertow but the opposite of showy. Lots of both tannin and fruit here. Classic Cabernet. Lots in reserve and great length. QGV.  Drink 2020 – 2042, 17.5;  JM@WS, 2013:  This is dense but silky around the edges, with crushed plum and black currant fruit lined with roasted vanilla bean, tobacco and loam notes. Everything hangs solidly through the finish, lined with finely beaded acidity and leaving an echo of singed anise. Best from 2015 through 2028, 93;  model website;  weight bottle and closure:  602 g;  www.chateau-grand-puy-lacoste.com ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  again beautifully fresh,  though below midway in depth.  Bouquet has all the charm and cut-through found in so many Grand-Puy-Lacostes over the years,  this wonderful integration of florals,  berry and cedar already at 10 years showing some of the complexity that lies ahead.  The floral note is more heliotrope,  due to the cedary component,  but it is subtle alongside Ducru.  Berry notes are a seamless mix of cassis,  dark plum and blueberry,  wonderfully pure.  Flavours simply recapitulate the bouquet,  a suppleness and charm which the Ducru won’t show for another 10 years,  yet there is beautiful texture in mouth.  This will be accessible sooner than the wines rated more highly (Vieux Chateau Certan aside),  a very beautiful wine indeed,  deceptively more substantial than it seems.  On the night,  Grand-Puy-Lacoste seemed understated,  with no top places,  and one second-favourite.  Cellar 20 – 40 years.  GK 9/20  GK 09/20

Pauillac Fifth Growth,  Medoc,  Bordeaux,  France:  13.5%;  $376   [ Cork,  50mm,  ullage 9mm;  $269 landed;  the 2010 is CS 79%,  Me 18,  CF 2,  PV 1,  hand-picked and hand-sorted;  elevation 15 months in 70% new barrels;  average production 35,000 x 9-litre cases;  no consulting oenologist;  SS@Decanter, 2011:  Very good concentration of Cabernet fruits, rich and earthy, vibrant, vigorous flavours and packed with energy, 18;  Farr Vintners,  2020: [ it is worth noting here that Farr Vintners are as cautious in their marking as JR,  so 18 and above from them is approaching sensational,  for ordinary mortals. ] Tasted Blind at the Southwold Group Ten Years On tasting. This was the third highest scoring wine of the whole tasting. ... an evocative and rich nose of cassis, graphite and sweet spices. Rich and ripe but supremely refined and driven. The palate is incredibly intense and very pure in black fruit, with blackcurrants, bramble and a little dark cherry. Layers of spice build through the mid palate in tandem with mouthcoating and rich tannins. A wine of great depth and precision, this ... could be the greatest Lynch Bages ever made, 19;  L.P-B@WA,  2020:  … the 2010 Lynch Bages comes sailing out of the glass with notes of redcurrant jelly, black cherry compote and cassis plus wafts of smoked meats, tar, cigar box and dried roses. Full-bodied, the palate is stacked with red and black fruit layers, framed by ripe, firm, fine-grained tannins and fantastic freshness, finishing very long. 2020-2044, 96;  weight bottle and closure:  599 g;  www.jmcazes.com/en/chateau-lynch-bages ]
Ruby,  carmine and velvet,  another remarkably fresh wine,  the second deepest.  Bouquet is incredibly pure,  a depth of near-violets florality on highly cassisy berry,  all shaped by cedary oak.  Freshly opened it was a little reticent,  so in bouquet the quality recognised by Stephen Browett did not jump out at you.  In flavour it is the freshness and aromatics of the cabernet sauvignon component that strikes you,  and the astonishing youth of the wine.  It is more berry-dominant than the Ducru and Grand-Puy,  but less intensely cassisy and rich than the Leoville Barton.  Nor is it as rich as the Montrose.  The flavours present a harmony,  elegance and complexity that is remarkable,  with a perfect balance to oak,  but overall restraint.  Another wonderful wine,  with the freshness and poise of this remarkable 2010 vintage.  To a person who has been tasting Bordeaux off and on for 50 years,  it is the absolute purity of these modern wines that is compelling.  It will be fascinating to watch Lynch-Bages over the next 20 years,  and see if the great future for it foretold by Stephen Browett unfolds.  Three people rated Lynch-Bages as their top wine,  and one second.  Cellar 20 – 50 years.  GK 09/20

Margaux Third Growth,  Medoc,  Bordeaux,  France:  13.5%;  $194   [ Cork,  49mm,  ullage 11mm;  $121 landed;  in 2010 CS 60%, Me 32,  CF 5,  PV 3,  planted at 8 – 10,000 vines / ha;  all hand-picked at c.5.5 t/ha = 2.2 t/ac;  temperature-controlled fermentation in s/s and concrete,  cuvaison up to 28 days,  elevation 15 – 18 months in 50% new barrels;  average production 27,000 x 9-litre cases;  consulting oenologist (then) the late Denis Dubourdieu;  tasting notes for 2010 Giscours now show a lot of bottle variation – we shall have to hope our batch is on the better side.  The best bottle JR@JR has seen,  early on 2011:  Quite complex and complete. Just beautifully balanced. This is ripe claret. The sort that Edmund Penning-Rowsell never encountered. Nothing forced nor self conscious. Just great balance and confidence. Fresh finish. Real Margaux. Appetising and subtle. But no blockbuster. Even a little sinewy on the finish, 17.5;  then over the years,  references to chocolate and tannin,  low scores.  But a recent bottle for L.P-B@WA, 2020:  the 2010 Giscours slips seductively out of the glass with notions of baked black cherries, mulberries and plum preserves plus hints of cassis, pencil lead and dried Provence herbs. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is toting a fair amount of oak with a sturdy frame of chewy tannins, coming through with a long, fruity finish, 92+;  model website;  weight bottle and closure:  561 g;  http://chateau-giscours.com/en/home ]
Fairly fresh ruby,  carmine and velvet,  right in the middle for depth.  With several reports of 2010 Giscours opening variably around the world,  it was a relief to decant this,  and find a fresh young wine in great condition.  Bouquet is model Médoc,  nearly floral,  good cassis and darkly plummy undertones,  light cedary oak,  attractive.  Palate is less integrated than the Grand-Puy-Lacoste,  a youthful wine not quite on the scale of those marked more highly,  but attractively aromatic and cassisy,  still with good mouth feel.  It is not as floral and beautiful as the d’Issan,  with its Margaux magic,  the Giscours being a richer and more sturdy wine.  It still captures the appeal of the aromatic 2010s very well.  No votes for top or second-favourite.  Cellar 20 – 40 years.  GK 09/20

Pauillac Fifth Growth,  Medoc,  Bordeaux,  France:  14.5%;  $394   [ Cork,  50mm,  ullage 13mm;  $278 landed;  cepage in 2010 CS 65%,  Me 30,  CF 4,  PV 1;  fermentation in both s/s and concrete;  cuvaison to 28 days;  half the wine is matured in new barrels,  but latterly a swing away from oak,  with one third of the harvest now matured in concrete amphorae;  half in new barrels,  elevation typically 16 months;  average production 20,800 x 9-litre cases;  consulting oenologist initially Michel Rolland,  latterly Ludwig Vanneron;  JR@JR,  2012:  Subtle, fresh with really intense scents and wonderful fluidity. Complete. Exciting. Like purple flowers. Long and rich. Great fan of flavours, 18;  in the Farr Vintners 2020 tasting,  the bottle shown was thought to be sub-optimal (oxidation,  reading between the lines),  so the chateau later sent a second sample to key people.  For the second bottle,  JH@JR,  2020 made no score adjustment,  but the revised notes say:  There's far more fresh cedary cassis fruit, even a sort of stony freshness. Still very firm tannins but the fruit has the freshness and succulence to hold it all in balance. It's big and rich, with a bit of alcoholic heat, 17.5;  the same re-supply applied for L.P-B@WA,  2020,  who declined to give a score to the first sample (astute !).  For the second:  … a vast array of black fruit preserves and savory nuances: plum preserves, blackcurrant cordial, black cherry coulis and licorice with wafts of dried lavender, melted chocolate, charcuterie, black olives, truffles and camphor plus a hint of sandalwood. The full-bodied palate is completely filled with black fruits, exotic spices and earthy nuances with a firm foundation of ripe, grainy tannins and bold freshness, finishing with epic length and depth. So much more expressive and seductive than a lot of 2010s at this stage, and yet it is still incredibly youthful, 100;  Pontet-Canet obtained organic certification from Ecocert and biodynamic certification from Biodyvin for the 2010 vintage –  the chateau claims it is the first (and only) classed growth so certified.  They consider the 2010:  the finest Pontet-Canet of the modern era;  website requires persistence to use,  not all detail there;  weight bottle and closure:  825 g;  www.pontet-canet.com ]
Ruby and velvet,  some development showing,  just above midway in depth.  If there had been a New World foil in the set,  this would have been it,  the wine showing a certain boldness and aggressiveness beyond the recorded 14.5% alcohol.  You wonder if there is threshold VA.  Within this big bouquet there is saturated cassis not quite so fresh and youthful as the top wines,  plus plummy depths,  and cedary oak.  It is nostril- clearing.  Flavour is big too,  almost a mint-like complexity note,  great berry richness the flavours all melding together,  and a lot more ripeness and oak than most in the field.  This wine will appeal more to people who regard florality and delicacy / subtlety in claret as nonsense.  One person had Pontet-Canet as their top wine,  but three rated it second.  Big sturdy dry wine to cellar 20 – 50 years,  but looking a bit burly in the company.  GK 09/20

Margaux Third Growth,  Medoc,  Bordeaux,  France:  13.5%;  $152   [ Cork,  50mm,  ullage 15mm;  $112 landed;  CS 61%,  Me 39,  cropped at 5.45 t/ha = 2.2 t/ac;  elevation 16 – 18 months in 50% new oak;  average production 9,150 x 9-litre cases;  I particularly wanted to secure d’Issan for 2010,  since in the years prior Jancis Robinson had been admitting to a soft spot for this chateau,  little known to me;  consulting oenologist the late Jacques Boissenot.  SS@Decanter, 2011:   Fine fragrant nose, perfect extraction, already beautifully textured, great future, probably the best d'Issan yet. Drink 2016-35, 18;  NM@WA,  2012:   ... an intense bouquet of blackcurrant, a hint of crème de cassis and blueberry. This really captures the essence of Margaux: floral and feminine. The palate is soft and caressing on the entry with light but tensile tannins encasing the mineral-rich black fruit. It is very well balanced, nicely focused with a lingering hint of black pepper on the finish. Harmonious and long, this is a superlative d'Issan, 94;  L.P-B@WA, 2020:  ... opens with baked blackberries, blackcurrant jelly and stewed plums scents with hints of bouquet garni and charcoal. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is bright and refreshing with just enough chewy, textured black fruits and an earthy finish. Drink 2020-2038, 93;  informative website;  weight bottle and closure:  551 g;  www.chateau-issan.com ]
Beautifully fresh ruby,  carmine and velvet,  but not as big a wine as some,  the third to lightest colour.  The bouquet is in one sense light too,  but what it lacks in gravitas it makes up for in exquisite florality,  beauty and charm.  This really is violets and dusky roses,  uncanny,  on sweetly fragrant cassisy berry,  so delicate.  You feel this fragrant wine offers a window into Jancis Robinson's tasting soul,  she several times in recent years having enthused about the style of Ch d’Issan.  In flavour there is,  like the Leoville Barton,  perfectly-focussed cassisy berry plus darkest bottled black doris plums,  but all lighter and more elegant,  more feminine as used to be said,  than the Leoville Barton.  This is an exquisitely understated somewhat smaller-scale Médoc which is nonetheless perfectly formed – a pleasure to smell and taste.  If beauty be any criterion for assessment,  it has to be a gold medal wine by New World marking standards.  One top place,  no second.  Cellar 15 – 30 years.  GK 09/20

Margaux Cru Bourgeois,  Medoc,  Bordeaux,  France:  14%;  $75   [ Cork,  50mm,  ullage 12mm;  $46 landed;  CS 70%,  Me 30,  planted 7,000 vines / ha,  machine-picked;  fermentation in s/s,  elevation 12 months in 30% new barrels;  production averages 12,500 x 9-litre cases;  consulting oenologist Stéphane Derenoncourt;  JR@JR, 2014:  I've tasted two or three different bottles of it in the last week or two and I love it. … I like it especially because, with its seductive perfume, it is very Margaux. It has the intensity, class and balance of the 2010 vintage in Bordeaux, but its tannins are already quite soft ... [ scored in another article ], 16.5;   RP@WA, 2013:  ... notes of forest floor, spring flowers, blueberry, black raspberry and cassis ... A superb cru bourgeois that behaves like a classified growth ... sweet tannin and low acidity ... cellar for 15 or more years. Bravo!  This is an absolutely sensational wine [ for $US25,  understood ], 92;  increasing emphasis on sustainable cultivation,  a wine with a good reputation,  noted for being good value;  weight bottle and closure:  601 g;  www.chateaupaveildeluze.com ]
Ruby and velvet,  noticeable development showing,  just below midway in depth.  With only 12 wines in the tasting set,  and the sub-goal of spanning the (reasonable) price range,  there had to be a jump in quality at some point.  The Paveil opens as a softer,  simpler wine than most in the field,  plummy more than cassisy,  even a hint of best fresh prunes,  and blackberry.  There is clean cedary oak below.  In mouth the impression of greater ripeness continues,  the style more 2009 than 2010,  the wine more one-dimensional than those marked more highly.  There is more development too,  yet  still the Bordeaux lightness of touch to the finish.  No votes for top or second place,  but six as least wine.  I did wonder if this bottle shows trace premature development.  Cellar 10 – 25 years.  GK 09/20

Pomerol,  Bordeaux,  France:  14.5%;  $72   [ Cork,  50mm,  ullage 11mm;  c.$85 landed;  Me 90%,  CF 10,  green harvest to adjust cropping rate,  all hand-picked;  fermentation in temperature-controlled concrete vats,  elevation 16 months in 30% new barrels;  average production 4,000 x 9-litre cases;  consulting oenologist Stéphane Toutoundji.  JR@JR,  2011:  A really successful 2010 ... Rich but fresh nose. Lively and together and racy, with the Pomerol concentration. Focused. Real floral vitality. Long too. Most beguiling ... Smooth and rich and very nicely polished. Fine tannins. Lots of pleasure, even if a bit chewy for the moment, 17;  JM@WS,  2013:  a dark, slightly chewy edge for now, but the core of crushed plum, blackberry and boysenberry fruit should absorb that with cellaring. Dark ganache and graphite frame the finish, which features a racy, acidic spine. Should unfurl nicely with age. Best from 2015 through 2025. 2,000 cases made [ in 2010 ], 93;  previously Bourgneuf-Vayron,  regarded as one of the better mid-range Pomerols;  weight bottle and closure:  585 g  ;  www.chateaubourgneuf.com ]
Ruby,  garnet and velvet,  clearly the ‘oldest’ wine in the set,  and the lightest.  Bouquet is fragrant,  bespeaking riper fruit than most of these 2010s,  and all dark plums,  no cassis aromatics,  as befits a wine with no cabernet sauvignon.  Palate shows good purity,  but again much greater ripeness than one wants in the 2010s,  no florals or aromatics,  almost prune-y notes in the forward plummy fruit,  straightforward nearly-cedary oak,  quite good richness.  This wine vividly shows why the wine world meaning Britain thought Médocs so clearly superior to East Bank wines,  till the Bordeaux market was derailed by the American palate seeking softer,  rounder,  and riper wines,  with it seems much less attention being paid to aromatics and floral complexity on bouquet.  Perfectly sound and good,  but lacks excitement.  No votes for top places,  one least vote.  Cellar 10 – 25 years.  GK 09/20

Saint-Emilion Grand Cru,  Bordeaux,  France:  14.5%;  $42   [ Cork,  50mm,  ullage 14mm;  landed $31;  Me 100%,  average age 35 years,  planted 6,000 vines / ha;  fermentation in s/s,  then elevation c.14 months in 30% new barrels; production c.3,000 x 9-litre cases;  JR@JR, 2011:  sweet and potent. Pretty rich at the start but then savoury. Dense and lively. Vigorous and slightly skinny so for early drinking. Very easy and charming, but a little dry and green on the end, 16.5;  JM@WS,  2013:  This is wonderfully pure and unadorned, with a thoroughly engaging, vibrant beam of linzer torte and steeped cherry notes coursing along, with only embers of singed spice and a twinge of licorice checking in on the finish, letting a minerality play out more instead. Very pretty. Drink now through 2022, 91;  Saintem is owned by consulting oenologist Denis Durantou,  better known for his Ch L'Eglise Clinet,  of Saint-Emilion;  Saintem is another wine regarded as offering particularly good value;  Saintem or Saintayme is a local nickname for Saint-Emilion;  weight bottle and closure:  577 g;  no functioning website found ]
Ruby and velvet,  fairly fresh,  a bit more development the Chateau Certan,  just below midway in depth.  Bouquet is soft,  ripe and darkly plummy,  very East Bank,  let down a little by a trace rank note which I associate with less-than-immaculate cooperage.  That off-note becomes more noticeably rank in the plummy flavour,  plaining the wine down.  It is quite rich and very ripe / over-ripe,  but does not offer the exciting view of a 100% merlot wine which I hoped it would introduce in this great vintage,  to be a point of contrast with the Médocs.  Fruit to the tail is tending dry and tanniny,  even though it is quite concentrated.  Disappointing.  No favourable votes,  seven least places.  Cellar 10 – 25 years.  GK 09/20

Reserve Wines:
#    2010  Ch Calon Segur
Saint-Estephe Third Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:  14%;  $228     Cork;  landed $158;   CS 56%,  Me 35,  CF 7,  PV 2,  average age 22 years,  planted at 8,000 vines / ha,  with the immediate goal to increase the CS to 70% by 2032;  all hand-picked at 5.9 t/ha = 2.4 t/ac;  fermentation in s/s,  cuvaison to 21 days;  elevation 18 – 20 months in 100% new barrels;  average production 6,650 x 9-litre cases;  consulting oenologist earlier Pascal Ribéreau-Gayon,  now Eric Boissenot;  JR records the 2010 as being CS 86%,  Me 12,  PV 2,  plus 14% press wine;  NM@Vinous, 2020: ... a slightly gamey bouquet, vibrant and energetic with plenty of red and black fruit. This appears to gain complexity with aeration, revealing hidden facets with each swirl of the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins, a fine bead of acidity and a really gorgeous, surprisingly fleshy but focused finish that exudes style and class. What a lovely wine ... to 2055, 94;  RP@WA,  2011:  ... a concentrated, textured wine ... notes of plums, kirsch, licorice, incense and herbs. Full-bodied, moderately tannic, pure, fresh and precise, this beauty will require lots of patience, 92 - 94+;  website hard to use,  no menu;  www.calon-segur.fr

#     2010  Ch La Lagune
Haut-Medoc (Ludon) Third Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:  14.5%;  $138     Cork;  landed $106;   CS 60%,  Me 20,  CF 10,  PV 10.

#     2010  Ch Langoa-Barton
Saint-Julien Third Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:  13%;  $170     Cork;  landed $122;   CS 70%,  Me 20,  CF 8,  PV 2.