The Best of 2010 Bordeaux Sweet Wines

5 April 2011
Author: Jeannie Cho Lee


Denis Dubourdieu, the talented Bordeaux wine consultant with clients around the world, admitted, “As a sweet wine producer in Bordeaux, I have to tell you that it has been an amazing decade. Since 2000, we have not had a weak sweet wine vintage.” Indeed it seems every year is being touted as another phenomenal year – whether it is for the whites, reds or the sweet wines of Bordeaux.


Having sampled over 50 sweet wines, mostly from Sauternes and Barsac, my conclusion is that 2010 is a very good year for sweet wines, but not among the very best. It falls short of the great vintages of this past decade such as 2001, 2005 or 2009. Pierre Lurton of Chateau d’Yquem says that 2010 has tremendous freshness but there is more concentration, extract and residual sugar in 2009. While the 2010 Yquem is a gorgeous medium weight Sauternes, the 2009 is a more opulent, fuller bodied, concentrated wine built to last for decades. In a mini-vertical of Climens, the 2010, despite its charm and vivacity, could not compete with the 2005, which was a more complex, multi-layered wine.


Having said that, there were many wonderful Sauternes and Barsacs produced in 2010 – very few were disappointing. Since this style has had so many great vintages over the past decade, our expectations have inevitably increased. And fortunately for us, these sweet wines have never realized the price hikes of their red wine neighbours and thus remain incredibly affordable. Only a small handful of sweet Bordeaux trade at over 100 Euros, and many can be found at under 40 Euros a bottle.


Below are some of my top sweet Bordeaux from 2010:


1. 2010 Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France Intensely aromatic, with honeysuckle, marmalade, and candied citrus notes, the 2010 Yquem is a wine of amazing freshness and vibrancy of flavour, with layers of sweet flowers and ripe stone fruits, and great substance and depth. More of a middleweight than the 2009, the 2010 Yquem weighed in at 140 gm/l of residual sugar versus 155g/l in the 2009. (95-97)


2. 2010 Château Rieussec, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France The 2010 Rieussec offers a beguiling nose of marmalade, candied orange peel and honey, and on the palate a brilliant clarity of fruit despite the intense sugar levels and full body. This is a gorgeous and generous Sauternes with great depth and length and amazing layers of flavour. (94-96)


3. 2010 Château Suduiraut, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France The 2010 Suduiraut has a lovely nose of honeysuckle, dried apricots, and marmalade, and layer upon layer of wonderful concentrated flavours that are focused and intense but not heavy. This is a fantastic Sauternes with great length and depth, and a long, lingering finish. (94-96)


4. 2010 Château Climens, Barsac, Bordeaux, France The wonderfully fresh 2010 Climens has aromas of honeysuckle, sweet dried flowers, dried apricots, and marmalade. Berenice Lurton always creates an elegant expressive Sauternes with lightness even in ripe vintages, and in 2010 this gorgeous wine exhibits layers of honey and a kaleidoscope of intense flavours. While 2010 was not as concentrated as the 2009 or the 2005, there is plenty of depth to this wine, making the Climens one of the best sweet wines produced in this vintage. (94-96)


5. 2010 Château de Rayne Vigneau, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France The 2010 Rayne-Vigneau has a very aromatic and sweetly appealing nose, with notes of dried flowers, candied orange and lemon peel, and dried apricots. This is a delicious, complex Sauternes with wonderful depth of flavour, a lively acidity and layers of gorgeous fruit – rich but not cloying, and intense without heaviness. Simply gorgeous. (94-95)


6. 2010 Château Coutet, Barsac, Bordeaux, France The 2010 Coutet exhibits wonderful aromatics of dried mangoes, dried apricots and marmalade, and a great concentration of botrytis flavours. Rich, dense but with firm acidity and great length, this is an impressive effort from a producer not usually known for reaching such heights. This fantastic Sauternes shows a wonderful balance between sweet layered flavours and firm acidity, has a long lingering finish and is built to age for decades. This is one for your cellar. (94-95)


7. 2010 Château Clos Haut-Peyraguey, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France The 2010 Clos Haut-Peyraguey has a fascinating nose of marmalade, candied orange peel, and honey, in a very rich, unctuous style exhibiting layer upon layer of dried tropical fruit flavours. This beautifully-crafted wine beguiles with a fantastic palate profile, capped off by a very long finish. (94-95)


8. 2010 Château Doisy-Daëne, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France The 2010 Doisy-Daëne, with its aromas of honeysuckle, sweet white blossoms and marmalade, delivers a vibrant, aromatic wine with wonderful freshness, great depth of flavour, and a honeyed sweetness that is far from cloying. Recommended. (93-95)


9. 2010 Château Guiraud, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France The 2010 Guiraud, with its notes of dried candied peel, dried pineapple and fresh mangoes, is a very rich and unctuous Sauternes, thick on the palate but with sufficient acidity and depth to carry the richness. With its well-layered profile and balanced freshness, this Sauternes is lovely now but will evolve into a real beauty in about 10 years time. (93-94)


10. 2010 Château Doisy-Védrines, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France This fresh, vibrant 2010 Doisy-Vedrines has aromas of honeysuckle, dried apricots, and marmalade and a wonderful concentration of layered botrytis flavours. It exhibits a beautifully balanced acid-sugar tension, offering fresh acidity and a very nice length. This is another wine that will age for decades.(92-94)