2010 Bordeaux vintage and Rhone imports

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I recently co-hosted a 2010 Bordeaux tasting for Jon Osbeiston, of what is now Vintage Cellars Ultimo. The 30 wines were of a very high standard, as long as you accept the rich, very ripe modern style of red Bordeaux that we’re getting used to seeing in recent years.

This higher-alcohol style is partly due to improvements in viticulture and winemaking (including greater attention to fruit sorting), partly to climate warming, and partly to the market – which now demands a higher level of concentration and generosity in the wines, to match the ever-rising prices.

As first and super-second growth prices soar into the stratosphere, we are seeing increasing numbers of second and even third-tier bottlings from the famous chateaux, usually at much more affordable prices – and many of these wines are excellent in their own right, especially in great vintages like ’09 and ’10.

Hence, while you probably no longer encounter first growths in retailers’ tastings such as this, the best of the ‘second’ cuvees are equivalent to many of the grands vins of vintages past.

It’s a whole new world. Look for Alter Ego de Chateau Palmer, La Dame de Montrose, and Clos du Marquis (from Leoville Las Cases).

Also on the fine imported red front, I attended two great Rhone Valley tastings in Brisbane and Sydney. The first featured nine vintages of Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle (the ’85 and ’89 were absolutely glorious), and some lovely Chave Hermitages (’89 and ’90 especially), plus the exquisitely ethereal ’78 Chateau Rayas.

The Sydney Rhone tasting focused on Cote Rotie and Gigondas, and revealed some stunning wines from Guigal, Delas and Jamet, the best value of the lot being the standard 2010 St Joseph of Guigal at a very reasonable $55. 

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