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One of the most exciting wines of the year. The bouquet jumps from the glass and the palate is balanced, long and quite deliciously full of promise. Everything is present so this will reveal more weight and depth as it ages. ThIs is the first vintage certified biodynamically cultivated, a process Alfred Tesseron began in 2004.
Product Code: CM15334
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This large, fifth growth estate is very well placed next to Mouton Rothschild, but it has only really moved up a gear under the direction of Alfred Tesseron and his technical director Jean-Michel Comme, with the 2000 vintage.For 110 years it was owned by the merchant house Cruse, after they purchased it from the descendants of its founder, Jean-François de Pontet, who had been the governor of Médoc in the 18th century. Under the Cruses’ ownership the wine was widely distributed, but only occasionally made memorably good wine, until 1975 when it was bought by the Tesseron family from Cognac. Current generation Alfred is also assisted by his daughter, Justine.The vineyards are south of Mouton Rothschild and d’Armhailac, and significantly bigger in area, covering 81 hectares. Vines have an average age of 40 to 45 years, and are planted on the poor, well-draining Garonne gravel soils which are typical of some of the best properties in the region. Tesseron practised green harvesting to reduce the crop from 1997, and began using only natural fertiliser and no herbicides. Now almost half of the vines are harvested using horses rather than tractors. A new vat room was installed in 2005, based on the property’s 19th century vat room, which allowed the grapes to drop into the vats using just gravity, avoiding pumping. Alfred also took the decision to use only concrete vats for maceration, after which the wine spends 18 months in oak barrels, up to two thirds of them new. The blend is generally 62% cabernet sauvignon, 32% merlot, 5% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot. The wine has become one of the most vibrant and intriguing wines in Pauillac, though not easy to taste when young, and always benefitting from being decanted. It can be kept for between 12 and 40 years.
The original and most famous wine classification came about when the organisers of the 1855 Universal Exposition of Paris wanted, naturally enough, to show the finest wines of the Bordeaux region. Brokers dealing in the wines got together and produced two classifications of the best red and sweet wines respectively, based on the selling price of the wines at that time. The list was produced very soon after a request for it from the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce was made, strongly suggesting that there was an ‘unofficial’ hierarchy already well known to the brokers. These Grand Cru Classé wines were ranked in five tiers and, apart from the famous promotion of Château Mouton Rothschild in 1973 and the addition of Château Cantemerle to the fourth growths soon after the classification was established, they have remained unchanged ever since. Effectively, they represent what should be the best wines of the Médoc with the one interloper, Château Haut-Brion from Pessac-Léognan in the Graves region. The wines of the right bank, such as Saint-Emilion and Pomerol were not included because their selling price was not as high at that time. Five first growths sit at the head of 62 properties, all of them from the Médoc except for Château Haut-Brion in Pessac-Léognan. Naturally enough, there have been many unofficial revisions made over the years, with expert opinions brought to bear on what promotions and demotions might have been over the years, but none of these musings, no matter how reflective of changing standards and prices they might be, will change the stratification as it stands. The classification is as follows:First Growths (Premiers Crus)Château Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac; Château Latour, Pauillac; Château Margaux, Margaux; Château Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan ; Château Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac.Second Growths (Deuxièmes Crus)Château Rauzan-Ségla, Margaux; Château Rauzan-Gassies, Margaux; Château Léoville-Las Cases, Saint-Julien; Château Léoville-Poyferré, Saint-Julien; Château Léoville-Barton, Saint-Julien; Château Durfort-Vivens, Margaux; Château Gruaud-Larose, Saint-Julien; Château Lascombes, Margaux; Château Brane-Cantenac, Margaux; Château Pichon Longueville Baron, Pauillac; Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac; Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien; Château Cos d'Estournel, Saint-Estèphe; Château Montrose, Saint-Estèphe.Third Growths (Troisièmes Crus)Château Kirwan, Margaux; Château d'Issan (Margaux); Château Lagrange, Saint-Julien; Château Langoa-Barton, Saint-Julien; Château Giscours, Margaux; Château Malescot Saint Exupéry, Margaux; Château Cantenac-Brown, Margaux; Château Boyd-Cantenac, Margaux; Palmer, now Château Palmer, Margaux; Château La Lagune, Ludon (Haut-Médoc); Château Desmirail, Margaux; Château Dubignon, Margaux; Château Calon-Ségur, Saint-Estèphe; Château Ferrière, Margaux; Château Marquis d'Alesme Becker, Margaux.Fourth Growths (Quatrièmes Crus)Château Saint-Pierre, Saint-Julien; Château Talbot, Saint-Julien; Château Branaire-Ducru, Saint-Julien; Château Duhart-Milon, Pauillac; Château Pouget, Margaux; Château La Tour Carnet, Saint-Laurent (Haut-Médoc); Château Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe; Château Beychevelle, Saint-Julien; Château Prieuré-Lichine, Margaux; Château Marquis de Terme, Margaux.Fifth Growths (Cinquièmes Crus)Château Pontet-Canet, Pauillac; Château Batailley, Pauillac; Château Haut-Batailley, Pauillac; Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac; Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse, Pauillac; Château Lynch-Bages, Pauillac; Château Lynch-Moussas, Pauillac; Château Dauzac, Margaux; Château d'Armailhac, Pauillac; Château du Tertre, Margaux; Château Haut-Bages-Libéral, Pauillac; Château Pédesclaux, Pauillac; Château Belgrave, Saint-Laurent (Haut-Médoc); Château de Camensac, Saint-Laurent (Haut-Médoc); Château Cos Labory, Saint-Estèphe; Château Clerc-Milon, Pauillac; Château Croizet Bages, Pauillac; Château Cantemerle, Macau (Haut-Médoc).Alongside the reds resides the classification for Sauternes and Barsac from further up river on the Garonne. There, 27 estates make up a smaller pyramid of their own, topped by the legendary Château d’Yquem, which had been classified out on its own above all the other sweet wines of the region. Since the 1885 classification there have been other such systems established. Those of Graves and Saint-Emilion, both established much later than the 1855 and both subject to change, changes which cause no end of trouble for the authorities as estates are promoted or, more contentiously demoted and seek legal redress for the perceived injustice.Cru Bourgeois is a further classification in the Médoc, representing some 30% of the production of the area. It was established in 1932 to represent properties outside of the Grand Cru Classé estates, though it was not officially recognised by the French government until 2003. At that time the selection of properties entitled to use the designation was revised and, unsurprisingly, fiercely contested by those who were left outside the classification, leading to a legal decision annulling the original classification while their status is re-examined by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce. The list has previously been revised every 12 years, but from the 2018 vintage will be accredited every five years, and is based on the history terroir, winemaking and quality control of the properties, overseen by the Alliance des Crus Bourgeios de Médoc created in the same year as the revision. It is divided into three categories: Cru Bourgeios, Cru Bourgeios Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. In theory the fact that qualification for the designation is based on quality should see improvements in the quality of wines made under its nomenclature.
This is Bordeaux at its best. 2010 clarets have superb ripeness and depth of flavour, balance and freshness. The vintage was memorable on several counts. There is no question that some ‘knock-out’ wines were made. It is exciting that this was true all over Bordeaux and at all price levels. Of course, at the top end 2010 produced some of the finest red wines you can find in the world. Though prices were high for such a great vintage there are lovely wines that punch well above their weight.The growing cycle ticked all the boxes required for a good vintage, the only drawback being uneven flowering that reduced the volume. Summer in Bordeaux, unlike in much of northern Europe) was unusually dry, causing stress to the vines but concentrating the flavour and the fruit. This is essential in great years. There was ideal weather at vintage with plenty of light but no torrid heat during the day and cool nights over an extended period that provided good harvest conditions into late October. This was particularly beneficial to the later ripening cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot. Grapes had a rich abundance of all the necessary elements: fruit, natural sugar, acidity for freshness and life, and tannins that preserve the wine. The berries were smaller than usual with a higher percentage of skin to pulp, which means more flavour. The elimination of bunches affected by poor flowering was important, as was managing the tannins in the cellar by gentle handling and cooler fermentation temperatures. Successful wines have superb ripeness and depth of flavour, balance and freshness. No two vintages are alike but the style is closer to a riper, better-balanced 1986 or a fuller rounder 2000 than the gentler charm of 2009. Great wines are to be found all over Bordeaux.Sauternes also had a good year with lovely pure, succulent, luscious wines, most picked in the second week of October. Dry whites too were aromatic and elegant.
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