ImageAnswers Uncorked

with Kenneth Christie, Master of Wine 

2010 Bordeaux Futures

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All of the wines offered on Special Offer 49 were tasted and selected by Master of Wine, Kenneth Christie. For more information on Kenneth Christie MW and Masters of Wine, visit our Wine Consultants page. 

Since its inception in 1973, Ken has been a trusted guide through the vineyards of the wine world. Members have asked Kenneth questions on every wine issue possible – from building a cellar to identifying minute differences in grape varieties – and Kenneth responds with insightful, informative answers.

We asked him about the 2010 Bordeaux Vintage… Read on to find out what he said. 

ImageO: When were the first Bordeaux Futures offered by Opimian? 

KBC: We offered Futures for the first time in 1975. There were four wines - two were small and unknown châteaux (Château Croix de Bertinat and Château Richotey) and two were well known châteaux, (Château Léoville Poyferré and Château les Grandes Murailles). After a while, we had received so many orders, we had to scratch around and buy a fifth château. To this day, I have examples of the original four wines in my cellar and the last time I tried a bottle of the Grandes Murailles it was lovely, but only as lovely as a charming elderly lady.

O: How many have been offered over 37 years? 

KBC: Well, thank you for that question; I shall try my best to give the right answer. The years we have offered were 1975, 1981 (an error), 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2003, 2009 and now 2010 – that makes nine in total during the last 38 years. We have also offered Californian Futures once and, in 2004 when we did Bordeaux 2003, we included a range of spectacular Spanish classics.

O: What is so special about the 2010 Vintage?

KBC: After several visits to Bordeaux to review and taste the 2010 vintage it is difficult not to believe that lightning has struck twice in the same place. But, as early treatments of the new wine were completed, the quality of the vintage was clearly seen and appreciated. The wines are stunning, universally successful, a vintage where every château made wine that shows the superiority of the year with the presence of massive concentration, fascinating complexity, depth, structure and the potential for great longevity.

Some professionals have suggested that the wines of the Left Bank, that is, Graves and Médoc, are superior to those of the Right Bank. However, just as many proclaim that the Right Bank wines, Saint-Émilion, Pomerol and Fronsac, are the finest of the year. No matter the appellation, it is undeniable that 2010 has produced a galaxy of bright stars, each shining brightly as the rich characteristics of the vintage emerge to reveal more of their secrets.

Opimians continue to cherish the ideal that wine should be a regular companion and part of their dining. This special selection of Bordeaux 2010 “En Primeur” has been directed to offer members a real opportunity to secure wines of superb quality and value from a senior vintage. An investment in these fine bottles is indeed an investment in future pleasure.

Fortunately, truly great wines can still be found at prices that do not require a second mortgage on the family home, but finding them demands careful tasting and the selection of wines whose prices have not been chased vertically upwards by the newsletters of Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson, or James Suckling.

Read about Kenneth’s tasting of the 2010 Vintage on pages 6 & 7 of Opimian News #297

O: Has the 2009 Bordeaux Vintage hype affected the market prices of the 2010 Vintage?

KBC: With the release of the new wines it became clear that the frenzied demand seen a year ago for the 2009s would be repeated for the 2010s. Bordeaux production is limited; if battalions of buyers from China are to fill their order books, then other buyers from France and further afield must relinquish a part of their traditional allocations. Each case allotted to a new buyer from Asia will mean one less for other markets. Gone are the days when the SAQ or LCBO could simply order as many cases of the top wines as they wished; nor can Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard or Yale. Those days have been consigned to history by the burgeoning economies of Beijing, Shanghai and Taiwan.

Before we allow ourselves to run away completely with tales of the new Chinese presence in the market it is also important to know that the Bordeaux market is not just all about the great Cru Classé wines, which, at most, only number approximately 250 châteaux. It is also composed of many other strands of production – those that attract high prices (such as Châteaux d’Angludet or Gloria); others that are modestly priced (numbering many thousands of properties). Added to this complex world of wine those properties where external factors exert influence upon quality – a change of ownership perhaps, loss of interest, lack of or over use of fertilizer, or even natural factors, such as localised hail storms. These inevitably affect prices of all those wines that do not have an established reputation or demand.

And so, I end on a note from Guillaume Prats, owner of Château Cos d’Estournel, one of the great Bordeaux château that produces one of the best wines of Saint-Estèphe.

I sat next to Guillaume for a dinner at Château Margaux in May 2010. His opening, “First Tranche”, price for the 2009 vintage was rather high, so I asked him what he would do if the 2010 is as good as the 2009. 

He replied: “Ken, the market is insatiable! We shall just open again at the same price or even higher!”

*NOTE: Opimian and Kenneth Christie MW’s connections with the suppliers has provided us with prices that are unaffected by the market hype. The pricing listed in Special Offer 49 is the best price possible for wines of this quality*