2010 was another great Bordeaux vintage, following on from the sensational 2009 vintage, and it may well end up the equal of (if not surpassing) both 2005 and 2009 – with so many wines showing a perfect balance of fruit, tannins, acidity and alcohol. It was a different vintage to 2009, and 2010 Bordeaux generally warrant greater ageing.
The 2010 growing season saw great fluctuations in weather – from cool and damp to warm and dry – producing waves of growth spurts. Warm weather in June meant grapes were relatively small and concentrated, with thick skins rich in tannin and very high sugar and alcohol levels – almost worryingly so. Fortunately a cool late summer and early autumn around the picking season brought that all-important acidity to the party and the package was complete.
However, winemakers still had to marry all those ingredients and those that let their terroirs shine produced the best wines, while some did suffer from too much human tinkering. However, strict selection was necessary to root out those grapes that experienced too much hydric stress and consequently overblown alcohol. On the left bank, Merlot cropped less well than on the right bank, which has seen an increase in Cabernet Sauvignon in the blends of the Médoc and the Graves. In fact, Mouton has the highest percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon ever recorded. On the right bank many producers saw coulure (failure of the fruit to set) and millerandage (small, useless berries) on Merlot in the spring, and so yields were down by up to a third.
It was also a very good year for Sauternes with the gradual development of secondary botrytis at the end of September adding great complexity to the wines.