Wine

10 years on: Ella Lister reviews Bordeaux 2010

Introduction and recommendations by
Ella Lister

It was hard to imagine, after Bordeaux’s heaven-sent 2009 vintage, that the following year could match, or even outclass its riches. Yet 2010 does just that. It is, however, chalk to 2009’s cheese. Some will prefer the hedonistic, seductive style of the 2009s, but give me the structured, classical, fresher 2010s any day. While not as readily inviting as the ‘09s, 10 years on, many of the 2010s are surprisingly, delightfully approachable. Others need another decade to unfurl their brilliant colours.

If 2010 yielded more complex wines than 2009, this is a reflection of the respective growing seasons. Where the 2009 harvest was all too perfect and easy (sometimes lulling growers into a false sense of security, resulting in over-ripeness or over-extraction), 2010 was less straightforward.

Alcohol levels are just as high as in 2009, but are the result of a largely cooler, even drier vintage. This happy coincidence of dry, cool weather in August and September – with especially cool nights – led to small, thick-skinned berries with perfect polyphenolic ripeness. October continued dry, sunny, and now warm, allowing producers to harvest at will. Concentrated, expressive wines resulted, with high levels of very fine tannins.

Some of Pomerol’s second rank of châteaux stood out

Pauillac and Pomerol are the stand-out appellations. All three Pauillac first growths – Latour, Mouton Rothschild and Lafite Rothschild – are majestic. In Pomerol, the top two names – Petrus and Le Pin – are excellent, but happily for consumers’ wallets, it’s the next rungs down which really outperform – from Vieux Château Certan and La Fleur-Pétrus, to Gazin, L’Evangile, and Clinet.

Compared to those highs, the Margaux appellation falls a little flat, other than Château Margaux itself, its second wine Pavillon Rouge, and Château Palmer – the only three Margauxs to make my top picks, below. Likewise, Pessac-Léognan features three times, with Smith-Haut-Lafitte the appellation’s 2010 hero. Saint-Julien produced a solid, consistent range of excellent wines, while in Saint-Estèphe the esteemed two second growths – Cos d’Estournel and Montrose – stood out. Back on the right bank, Saint-Emilion (pictured above) was more successful than in 2010 (NB. sadly the Cheval Blanc was corked).

2010s were considerably more expensive than 2009s en primeur, and were the last straw for the stretched fine wine market, which saw prices plummet a month or so after the 2010 campaign, in the summer of 2011. This crash was led by Bordeaux, whose prices dropped by as much as 40% in the following three years. Original purchasers of the 2010 vintage will only recently have emerged from the red, and on some wines are still out of pocket a decade later. The 2010 vintage remains one of the most expensive recent Bordeaux vintages on the market, only 2009 reaching the same heights. A basket of 120 top 2010s averages £180 per bottle, £1 more for their 2009 counterparts, according to Wine Lister data. However, as they approach drinkability, the best wines undoubtedly merit their price tags.

Last year I advised caution choosing wines from the more heterogeneous 2009 vintage. In 2010 it’s harder to go wrong, with very few duds at the top end, but below are my top picks for those wanting to guarantee optimum gratification.

Top Rated Bottles

Château Mouton Rothschild, 1er cru classé, 2010

Score
100
100
Pauillac AOP
  • From 2022
  • To 2050
  • RRP £554.40
  • Saline
  • Smooth
  • Toasty
Learn More

Château Latour, 1er cru classé, 2010

Score
100
100
Pauillac AOP
  • From 2025
  • To 2050
  • RRP £1,120
  • Blossom
  • Peat
  • Violets
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Château Margaux, 1er cru classé, 2010

Score
99
100
Margaux AOP
  • From 2020
  • To 2045
  • RRP £607.50
  • Flavoursome
  • Light
  • Majestic
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Château Lafite Rothschild, 1er cru classé, 2010

Score
99
100
Pauillac AOP
  • From 2024
  • To 2050
  • RRP £720
  • Lifted
  • Luscious
  • Serene
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Vieux Château Certan, 2010

Score
99
100
Pomerol AOP
  • From 2020
  • To 2035
  • RRP £278.40
  • Harmonious
  • Lingering
  • Polished
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Château Figeac, 1er grand cru classé, 2010

Score
99
100
Saint-Émilion Grand Cru AOP
  • From 2025
  • To 2045
  • RRP £201.60
  • Dark fruit
  • Exotic
  • Regal
Learn More

Château Petrus, 2010

Score
98
100
Pomerol AOP
  • From 2030
  • To 2053
  • RRP £3,300
Learn More

Château Palmer, 3ème cru classé, 2010

Score
98
100
Margaux AOP
  • From 2028
  • To 2048
  • RRP £333.60
  • Complex
  • Firm
  • Subtle
Learn More

Château Haut-Brion, 1er cru classé, 2010

Score
98
100
Pessac-Léognan AOP
  • From 2026
  • To 2046
  • RRP £664.80
  • Delicate
  • Soft
  • Subtle
Learn More

Château La Fleur-Pétrus, 2010

Score
98
100
Pomerol AOP
  • From 2020
  • To 2035
  • RRP £175
  • Pure
  • Refined
  • Silky
Learn More

Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Cru classé, 2010

Score
98
100
Pessac-Léognan AOP
  • From 2025
  • To 2043
  • RRP £139.20
  • Alluring
  • Balanced
  • Savoury
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Château Le Pin, 2010

Score
97
100
Pomerol AOP
  • From 2020
  • To 2040
  • RRP £3,400
  • Gentle
  • Pure
  • Sweet
Learn More

Château Pavie, 1er grand cru classé B, 2010

Score
97
100
Saint-Émilion AOP
  • From 2026
  • To 2044
  • RRP £291.67
  • Concentrated
  • Spicy
  • Stony
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Château Gazin, 2010

Score
97
100
Pomerol AOP
  • From 2021
  • To 2036
  • RRP 576 (case of 6)
  • Elegant
  • Pure
  • Smooth
Learn More

Château Cos d’Estournel, 2ème cru classé, 2010

Score
96
100
Saint-Estephe AOP
  • From 2024
  • To 2042
  • RRP £190.80
  • Bilberry
  • Blackcurrant
  • Juniper
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Château La Conseillante, 2010

Score
96
100
Pomerol AOP
  • From 2022
  • To 2040
  • RRP £148.33
  • Rich
  • Savoury
  • Spicy
Learn More

Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, 2ème cru classé, 2010

Score
96
100
Pauillac AOP
  • From 2025
  • To 2042
  • RRP £285
  • Blueberries
  • Charcoal
  • Tobacco
Learn More

Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, 2ème cru classé, 2010

Score
96
100
Pauillac AOP
  • From 2025
  • To 2042
  • RRP £125
  • Pure
  • Saline
  • Smooth
Learn More

Château Léoville Poyferré, 2ème cru classé, 2010

Score
96
100
Saint-Julien AOP
  • From 2025
  • To 2045
  • RRP £101
  • Imposng
  • Potent
  • Woody
Learn More

Château La Mission Haut-Brion, Cru classé, 2010

Score
96
100
Pessac-Léognan AOP
  • From 2025
  • To 2045
  • RRP £433.20
  • Energising
  • Luscious
  • Spicy
Learn More

Château Larcis Ducasse, 1er grand cru classé B, 2010

Score
96
100
Saint-Émilion AOP
  • From 2022
  • To 2042
  • RRP £70
  • Deep
  • Floral
  • Rich
Learn More

Château Angélus, 1er grand cru classé B, 2010

Score
95
100
Saint-Émilion AOP
  • From 2024
  • To 2038
  • RRP £369.60
  • Plum
  • Rich
  • Vanilla
Learn More

Château L’Evangile, 2010

Score
95
100
Pomerol AOP
  • From 2024
  • To 2044
  • RRP £175
  • Graphite
  • Rich
  • Sophisticated
Learn More

Château Beychevelle, 4ème cru classé, 2010

Score
95
100
Saint-Julien AOP
  • From 2024
  • To 2040
  • RRP £76.25
  • Juicy
  • Luscious
  • Opulent
Learn More

Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, 5ème cru classé, 2010

Score
95
100
Pauillac AOP
  • From 2022
  • To 2035
  • RRP 798 (case of 12)
  • Chalky
  • Elegant
  • Pure
Learn More

Château Margaux, Pavillon Rouge, 2010

Score
95
100
Margaux AOP
  • From 2023
  • To 2036
  • RRP £152
  • Delicate
  • Luscious
  • Succulent
Learn More

Château Branaire-Ducru, 4ème cru classé, 2010

Score
95
100
Saint-Julien AOP
  • From 2022
  • To 2034
  • RRP £50
  • Herbal
  • Plush
  • Reserved
Learn More

Château Montrose, 2ème cru classé, 2010

Score
95
100
Saint-Estephe AOP
  • From 2023
  • To 2040
  • RRP £140
  • Chalky
  • Majestic
  • Rich
Learn More

Château Lynch-Bages, 5ème cru classé, 2010

Score
94
100
Pauillac AOP
  • From 2026
  • To 2046
  • RRP £116
  • Inviting
  • Opulent
  • Rich
Learn More

Château Léoville Las Cases, 2ème cru classé, 2010

Score
94
100
Saint-Julien AOP
  • From 2023
  • To 2035
  • RRP £183
  • Intriguing
  • Persistent
  • Sweet fruit
Learn More

Château Canon, 1er grand cru classé B, 2010

Score
94
100
Saint-Émilion AOP
  • From 2023
  • To 2040
  • RRP £116.40
  • Black fruit
  • Concentrated
  • Spicy
Learn More

Château Clinet, 2010

Score
94
100
Pomerol AOP
  • From 2020
  • To 2030
  • RRP £151.20
  • Chocolate
  • Savoury
  • Tobacco
Learn More

Château Gloria, Cru Bourgeois, 2010

Score
94
100
Saint-Julien AOP
  • From 2020
  • To 2032
  • RRP £51.14
  • Bright
  • Fresh
  • Rhubarb
Learn More

Château Talbot, 4ème cru classé, 2010

Score
94
100
Saint-Julien AOP
  • From 2022
  • To 2034
  • RRP £90
  • Graceful
  • Opulent
  • Toasty
Learn More

Château Clerc Milon, 5ème cru classé, 2010

Score
94
100
Pauillac AOP
  • From 2021
  • To 2034
  • RRP £105
  • Elegant
  • Polished
  • Smooth
Learn More

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