The Best of 2010 Bordeaux White Wines

6 April 2011
Author: Jeannie Cho Lee


All the elements were present to make great white Bordeaux – sunny days and no serious rain or mould issues during the harvest period. Tastings of the white wines of Bordeaux over the past week have convinced me that this is a great vintage for the dry whites. The best examples are fresh, lively and vibrant, with a core acidity that runs through the wines. A blind tasting of nearly 20 white wines from Pessac Leognan made me realize how consistently good the wines were across the board – there was no bad wine in the entire flight! The whites from the first growths — Haut Brion and Margaux — soared to new heights and many chateaux like Smith Haut Lafitte sparkled with their brilliance. This will be a year filled with delicious, juicy and refreshing whites, whether from a first growth or from Entre deux Mers.


Below are a selection of my top picks:


1. 2010 Château Haut-Brion Blanc, Pessac Leognan, Bordeaux, France The 2010 Haut Brion Blanc has notes of lively grapefruit, apricots, and peach, and the 54% Sauvignon Blanc adds freshness and an herbaceous dimension to the wine. Although 2010 was a dry growing season, the vines are between 35 and 40 years old, and were able to find water in the depths of the gravel and limestone soil. Though its complex flavours are fairly restrained, the wine has incredible depth and body and leaves one marveling at a truly aristocratic Haut Brion Blanc!(96-99)


2. 2010 Château Margaux Blanc (formerly Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux), Bordeaux Contrôlée, Bordeaux, France The 2010 Margaux Blanc offers a kaleidoscope of aromas – white flowers, ripe apricots, mixed fresh herbs, lemongrass, vibrant passion fruit and delicate floral notes. The wine has amazing depth and freshness, and the very cool days in 2010 helped to provide crisp acidity, and great vibrancy and clarity in the wide spectrum of flavours. This will undoubtedly be one of Pavillon Blanc’s best modern vintages.(95-98)


3. 2010 Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc (formerly – until 2008 – Laville-Haut-Brion), Pessac Leognan, Bordeaux, France The 2010 La Mission Haut Brion Blanc has exotic notes of citrus, grapefruit, passion fruit, and star fruit, and great depth of flavour and lifted fruit that carries through in the finish. There is depth from barrel fermentation and a hint of very well integrated oak. This wine is very vibrant and while it lacks the density and power of the Haut Brion Blanc, this one is more about precision and detail. The high Sauvignon Blanc component will likely rise in the future since replantings are increasing the proportion of Sauvignon Blanc.(92-95)


4. 2010 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, Pessac Leognan, Bordeaux, France The Domaine de Chevalier Blanc is a brilliant white wine that is neither too heavy nor too light. Its gooseberries, star fruit, and lemongrass notes lead into a palate of fresh acidity and wonderful intensity of fruit. This is very long in the finish and like all good vintages of Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, this one will keep for decades in the cellar. (92-93)


5. 2010 Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac Leognan, Bordeaux, France The Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc is a flirtatious wine, with aromas of apricots, passion fruit, grapefruit and peaches followed by a glorious spectrum of vivacious flavours. This is a very attractive wine that has a lingering finish, its concentrated flavours standing up to an oak regimen that gives it richness and depth. In all, a spectacular, well-crafted white with wonderful balance. (92-93)


6. 2010 Château de Fieuzal, Pessac Leognan, Bordeaux, France The 2010 Chateau de Fieuzal is a delicious medium bodied white Bordeaux that has lovely lifted aromatics of vanilla, passion fruit, peaches and nectarines, but also wonderful generosity in its flavours, which unfold on the palate and linger for a long time. The wine has a firm, linear acidity which supports the juicy flavours, resulting in a wine that is both refreshing and intense. (91-92)


7. 2010 Château Lespault-Martillac Blanc, Pessac Leognan, Bordeaux, France This wine offers up aromas of passion fruit, star fruit, green apple, and fresh herbs, and while the wine appears light and cheerful because of its exuberant fruit character, it has intensity and a fairly long finish. There is a great balance between the lively acidity and the wine’s flavours, and I feel this is a fine example of a lesser known Pessac Leognan white that has wonderful aging potential. (89-91)