It’s February, and in the northern hemisphere, wine people are traveling. We were recently paid a visit by Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart from Alsace, and the following week, Elisabetta Fagiuoli from Montenidoli swung by and tasted our staff on her line of new releases. These visits were preceded by the annual Union Des Grands Crus de Bordeaux traveling junket who stopped by the Palace Hotel revealing the newly bottled 2010 vintage.

2010 was another highly successful vintage, especially for the red wines of Bordeaux. The wines show robust structures with plenty of fruit, tannins, and acidity. In some cases, they are revealing now, but this is the kind of “classic” vintage where terroir counts for something, and time in the cellar will reward those of us who may find the patience to leave them alone for several years. And now that wine professionals and consumers all over North America have begun to taste them, word is getting out, and the market is heating up. The Wine Spectator’s James Molesworth’s assessment has been published as have James Suckling’s ratings from this magnificent vintage. The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker’s notes are due to be released at the end of the month, and if it is anything like last year’s assessment of the 2009’s, TWH will resemble a high paced trading desk with phones ringing and orders popping up from all possible origins. So please allow this message to serve as a tap on the shoulder that many of the more famous names listed below may very well win Mr. Parker’s praise and will disappear quickly. We’ve also chosen some solid Red Bordeaux values that will provide plenty of pleasure over the years to come but won’t sting your pocketbook like the classified growths. (Like Lanessan, Belle-Vue, Lalande-Borie, and Mazeyres, in particular).

If I can draw an observation based on my own experiences tasting these wines first, from barrel in April 2011, and again, with the UGC last month, it is that 2010 is indeed a classic Bordeaux vintage.  The tasting notes included with the descriptions of the wines from Mr. Parker and Mr. Martin struck a chord with me. I too remember tasting massive barrel samples with big, brooding structures, which no doubt signals that they will be long lived. It was after the UGC tasting last month where I was swayed by the charm of many of the wines. I was particularly taken by the wines from Margaux and St. Julien, as they were well defined in structure, yet expressive, suggesting they can be accessed in the near to medium term. The wines from Pomerol and St. Emilion are expressing this charm as well. After reviewing the barrel sample notes from The Wine Advocate, I predict similar observations from Mr. Parker and Mr. Martin. Though one can never tell, I would not be surprised to see their scores lean toward the higher end of their respective ranges, but we shall see soon. – Peter Zavialoff