Haut-Médoc 2010 & 2014
88 wines tasted Two well-rated vintages living up to their billing – and perfectly suited for your Christmas lunch
O n the face of things, this tasting might look a little unfair, pitting the 2010 vintage in Bordeaux against the 2014. One year with all the acclaim, the other frequently overshadowed.
2010 was without question an exceptionally strong year (given a Decanter 5/5 rating on both Left Bank and Right), with lots of sunshine but cool nights ensuring plenty of thick skins, intense concentrated flavours and big, bold tannins. All of this should perfectly suit the Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated HautMédocs, as the long harvest window meant excellent ripening. At eight years old, these wines should be in the absolute sweet spot.
2014 was also a strong vintage in some areas, and luckily the Haut-Médoc was one that most benefited from the beautiful Indian summer – after a July and August that gave winemakers sleepless nights. The southern Médoc was not quite as lucky as the northern sector, because it was up beyond Margaux where rainfall was particularly low during harvest, but a long ripening period will always suit Cabernet Sauvignon, and a late harvest where picking takes place in October will almost invariably mean reasonable alcohols and balanced acidities – a good thing, as long as there is enough fruit to buttress the whole experience.
We should expect to find all these wines relatively young, with tight black fruit flavours and tannins still holding the fruit confidently in place, although Haut-Médocs traditionally will not take as long to be ready to open as the village appellations. The four years’ difference could mean that many of the wines – the concentrated 2010s as well as the slightly lighter 2014s – are beginning to open up and getting ready to be enjoyed.
In this tasting we had the Haut-Médoc 1855 classified wines of Belgrave, Camensac, La Lagune and La Tour Carnet, alongside much-loved names such as Cambon La Pelouse and Caronne Ste Gemme, so plenty to look forward to. Panel tastings at this stage are really important, as this moment of ageing is when corks are starting to be pulled.
Lining up such a good number of wines means the exceptional ones really do stand out, and it’s particularly interesting to see who did well across both vintages. In many cases, the 2010 bottles were considerably more expensive, although at the cru bourgeois and general Haut-Médoc level, this certainly isn’t always the case. Would the price make a difference? And would the 2010s wipe the floor with their 2014 counterparts?...