The best 2010s from St Julien

10 April 2011
Author: Jeannie Cho Lee


In 2010, the wines from St Julien are of varyingly high standard. Some properties like Ducru Beaucaillou made brilliant wines, surpassing the 2009s by a long way. The same was true for Gruaud Larose and Branaire Ducru. However, other estates like Leoville Las Cases made wines that were so dense and thick in texture that there appeared to be very little fruit or definition to the wine – the 2010 paled in comparison with their fantastic 2009. Of the 21 wines tasted from this appellation, including all of its top wines, there was an equal split as to which estates did better in 2009 or 2010.


1. 2010 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, St Julien, Bordeaux, France The deep purple, beautifully crafted 2010 Ducru-Beaucaillou has notes of fresh dark berries, spices, cedar and blackcurrant, supported by restrained tannins and very long, precise and focused flavours that are concentrated and intense and rise in the finish. This is a massive wine made for long aging which, though it has the same acidity level as in 2009, is higher in alcohol and tannins, resulting in a wine of great density, depth and – in its present state – a certain angular sternness. Less than 10,000 cases were made in 2010 because of strict selection. (94-96)


2. 2010 Château Leoville-Las-Cases, St Julien, Bordeaux, France The deep ruby purple 2010 Leoville Las Cases offers notes of blackberries, blueberries, cedar, plums and violets, supported by layers of flavours that are so rich and dense right now that they have little definition. This is a classic but massive Leoville-Las-Cases with such a thick layer of tannins that it won’t be drinkable for at least a decade. The evident substance behind the tannins suggests that while it is not approachable at the time of tasting (en primeur), it may follow other classic and glacially-evolving Las-Cases vintages like 1986 and 1990 by eventually surprising us all. This is a wine with alcohol of 14% – the norm is 13-13.5% – and a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc. (92-93)


3. 2010 Château Leoville-Barton, St Julien, Bordeaux, France The deep ruby 2010 Leoville-Barton offers up notes of ripe blackberries, plums, blackberries and cedar, followed by elegant and balanced fruit flavours in the middle and finish. This is not a dense wine like many 2010s but has great depth and balance and ability to age, and should be approachable in about 7-10 years. (91-93)


4. 2010 Château Gruaud Larose, St Julien, Bordeaux, France The deep purple ruby 2010 Gruaud Larose is one of the most densely packed Gruaud Larose vintages I have ever tasted en primeur. On the nose there are aromas of violets, cedar, cassis and mixed red flowers, and on the palate plenty of everything — luscious fruit, firm velvety tannins, and fresh acidity. The wine is presently very rich and a bit on the chunky side, with a fairly long finish, but it will likely evolve into a supple and very complex wine. (91-93)


5. 2010 Château Branaire-Ducru, St Julien, Bordeaux, France The deep ruby 2010 Branaire-Ducru has lifted aromas of cedar, plums and blackberries, followed by layers of floral notes and mixed berry fruits that are reserved and focused. This is made in a traditional rather than a ripe voluptuous modern style, and the overall impression is of a beautifully restrained classic St. Julien of great balance and elegance. (90-92)


6. 2010 Château Lalande-Borie, St Julien, Bordeaux, France The deep purple 2010 Lalande-Borie offers up notes of ripe blackberries, plums, blackberries and cedar, followed by a wonderful array of generous spicy fruit flavours underpinned by ripe tannins This wine benefited from very severe selection, resulting in only 14,000 cases against the average 16,000. The wine received 35% new oak, and was a blend of 50% Cabernet and 40% Merlot. (90-92)


7. 2010 Château Beychevelle, St Julien, Bordeaux, France The deep ruby 2010 Beychevelle has subtle aromatics of plummy and blackberry fruits, with dense tannins and a warm generosity on the palate. This is clearly a well-made, restrained style of wine, classic in approach with good balance and a fairly long finish, and one of the best recent Beychevelles for laying down.(90-91)


8. 2010 Château Ducru Beaucaillou la Croix de Beaucaillou, St Julien, Bordeaux, France The deep ruby purple 2010 Croix de Beaucaillou offers up notes of plums, blackberries, cedar and cassis, and dark berry fruit flavours, impressing as a tightly knit, very extracted wine of great density and richness. This is clearly made in a very structured style, which will take many years to come around but will eventually reward the patient. (90-91)


9. 2010 Château Saint-Pierre, St Julien, Bordeaux, France The deep purple 2010 Saint-Pierre has aromas of ripe blackberries, plums and cedar, followed by classic layered Bordeaux fruit flavours, leading to a long finish. This full-bodied St Julien is an under-rated wine that needs 10 years laying down but will have a long life ahead of it. (90-91)


10. 2010 Château Talbot, St Julien, Bordeaux, France Chateau Talbot is now advised by Stephane Derenancourt (since 2010) and the deep ruby 2010 edition has aromas of cedar, plums and blackberries, supported by good precision and balance of soft fruit flavours and supple and delicate tannins. This is a very elegant and well-made Talbot that is not a typical 2010 St Julien. 90-91)