96-98+/100 Robert Parker Jr. 2010: An amazing wine, the 2010 is right up there with the extraordinary quality of 2009, 2005 and 1990. Made from yields of 32 hectoliters per hectare, the final blend was 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. A late harvest between October 4 and 16 with the last of the Cabernet Franc coming in on October 28 no doubt accounts for the wine’s powerful 15.5% natural alcohol. Of course, the anti-alcohol folks will make a big deal of this, but despite the high alcohol levels in nearly every 2010, there is freshness, precision, definition and absolutely no heat in the wines whatsoever. This stunningly rich effort offers abundant blueberry, black raspberry, licorice and graphite notes intermixed with a hint of espresso roast, a seriously concentrated, super-intense mouthfeel, full-bodied power, a complex, multidimensional texture and a nearly 50-second finish. It will require 5-6 years of bottle age after its release and should keep for three decades or more. Just prodigious! (96-98+ points)
James Suckling 95-96/100 What a nose. Gorgeous aromas of minerals, flowers and dark berries. Stunning. Full bodied, with a solid core of fruit and racy tannins. Citrusy finish too. Loving this.
Decanter Magazine (James Lawther MW) 18.5/20 A modern beauty. Still has deep colour, power and density but there seems to be more refinement these days. Rich, complex nose with cassis, cacao, spice and menthol notes. Sumptuous texture, balancing acidity and long, firm finish.
Wine Spectator (James Molesworth) 93-96/100 A powerful wine in the making, with a forceful beam of blackberry, boysenberry and fig fruit pushed hard by graphite and anise. Offers loads of grip on the back end, with serious length. All the pieces are in place.
St.-Émilion is the star of Bordeaux’s Right Bank, north of the Dordogne River. The rich red wines produced in St.-Émilion, based on Merlot and Cabernet Franc, are less tannic and generally more fruit-driven in flavour than the Cabernet-based wines of Left Bank. Merlot thrives on the plateaus high above the Dordogne, where the soil is filled with sand and clay, a perfect medium for creating opulent, fruit-forward wines. With a typically savoury character, St.-Émilion wines are sometimes called the “Burgundies of Bordeaux.” These refined reds, with loads of finesse, are elegant companions to beef, chicken, pork and duck.
The wines of St.-Émilion were not included in the famous 1855 classification of Bordeaux, which ranked wines of the Left Bank. In 1955, St.-Émilion published its own classification, based on soil analysis, wine quality and reputation of the properties. Unlike the 1855 classification, St.-Emilion’s system requires properties to continuously prove themselves. The list is revised regularly, most recently in 2012. There are two tiers within the classification, Premier Grand Cru Classé and Grand Cru Classé. There are currently just 18 Premier Grand Cru properties and 64 Grand Cru Classé properties.
The St.-Émilion appellation is home to hundreds of individual producers, enhancing the variety of wines made there. Many of the properties remain small, family-run enterprises, unlike the large châteaux of the Left Bank. The area is also the base of France’s controversial micro-châteaux or garagiste wine movement; these innovative winemakers operate outside the traditional classification system, making very high quality (and very expensive) highly extracted wines.