At Chateau Angelus, as ever, Hubert de Bouard was in great form and so were his stable of wines. I was particularly taken by the 2010 Carillon d’Angelus (91 points), but less so by the Bellevue which was bigger and more austere than the Carillon – and therefore, I feel, less successful. 89 points.
And what of the Grand Vin at Angelus? This year it is, as one would expect in such a vintage, full, dense and long with layers of primary black fruit, ripe, generous tannin and terrific acidity. The blend is 50% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Franc and a 3% sprinkling of Cabernet Sauvignon. Once again, the key to the success of this wine isn’t in the statistics – it’s in the balance, structure, taste and length. Happily, this Angelus is one of controlled power. Hubert de Bouard has successfully managed to tame the tannins and let the fruit shine to considerable effect. 96 points.
Above: Vineyards at Chateau Angelus
After Angelus, I retired to prepare for the evening and left the team to go on to Troplong-Mondot. However, I hope to taste the Troplong Mondot later this week because several of them raved about this wine. I know the estate well and it enjoys one of the best and most elevated positions in St Emilion. Since Michel Rolland began to consult for this large and very attractive 33 hectare property, they have begun to pick later and later.
Last year, Troplong produced a controversial wine with 15.5% alcohol and this year, they have done exactly the same with an equally powerful and alcoholic wine. Interestingly, they have not made a second wine this year because they were so pleased with the quality that they felt able to put everything into the Grand Vin.
The wine is 90% Merlot and 5% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Again, I feel this is going to be a wine that divides opinion because of its alcohol and structure. But my team were very much in favour describing it as ripe luscious and balanced with sweet black fruit and a massive mouth-filling finish. It sounds like a Parker wine to me, but one I am looking forward to tasting to make my own judgement.
Above: Fermentation tank and artwork on the walls at Chateau Troplong-Mondot
Tomorrow, I have a limited amount of time to cover Pomerol and look forward to reporting back. I also look forward to telling you about the wines that we are going to drink at Chateau de Sours this evening. One of the great things about En Primeur isn’t just the new vintage, it is also a bit of a celebration of old friendships and old wines. If past form is anything to go by, it promises to be quite a party!
Finally, a word on the demand for the 2010 vintage, which I haven’t really discussed in my blog so far. In my view, global demand is likely to be strong – depending, of course, on the price at which the wines are released by the chateaux. Certainly, there is a considerable Far Eastern presence this week. Also, American accents have been noticed in greater numbers. Naturally, traditional markets are also here in force. But the big question is who will buy which wines?
Price is key. My feeling is that the 2010 will be released at similar prices as 2009. Firstly because the quality is again outstanding – albeit different from 2009 - and secondly, production is down from last year. The Bordelais will see no reason to drop their prices.
Equally though, my view is that they won't dare to raise them while the economic recovery remains fragile. This caveat will only apply to those properties whose wines are successful and have been well received by press and critics.
However, I’m not so sure I see 2010 as being a short-term speculative vintage. Assuming prices are at their upper limit this might not leave anything for investors in the short term. That said, I do think the best wines from this vintage will go up in value – but over the longer term and moreover, I would certainly argue that there are plenty of genuinely great wines from this vintage which collectors and investors will definitely want to have in their cellars.
Tomorrow - More from the Right Bank and a report on our lovely dinner at Chateau de Sours...
Above: The AWC Team - Ready for dinner at Chateau de Sours. (L-R) Robert Hankey, Julia Scales, David Ruvalcaba, Julien Froger, Jing Dong and Deborah Ives