2010 featured early hydric stress and the splendidly healthy condition of the grapes in the great terroirs of Saint-Emilion, Lussac Saint-Emilion and Puisseguin Saint-Emilion promise great things at this early stage.
The 2009-2010 winter was colder than the average over the last 30-years and spring was relatively unstable and cool, which caused quite a late flowering. Temperatures in July, August and September, without being excessive, were close to the seasonal averages, which caused the colour change (véraison) to take place quite slowly and at dates close to the average over the last five years.
Major Factors influencing the vintage
Two major factors have exerted a profound influence on the quality of the 2010 vintage:
1. A rainfall deficit of more than 43% since the beginning of the year, with identical levels to that of 2005, although distributed differently.
2. Daily temperature amplitudes of around 14°C for the whole summer.
These weather conditions, which continued throughout the summer and right up to the harvest, caused the vines to stop growing early, before the onset of grape ripening, which resulted in a substantial build-up of sugar in the pulp and the accumulation of all the essential pigments in the grape skins. It also led to an unparalleled retainment of all the aromas and acidities that are so essential to the balance of great wines.
Furthermore, the weather conditions have been such that absolutely no rot developed. With intensified vigilance by the winegrowers, the grapes picked were perfectly clean and disease-free, making harvest-time supremely and unusually serene.
Winegrowers Expertise Handy
Over the year skilled winegrowers adapted to these unusual conditions, making it possible to minimise their negative impact. This has been done by cultivating grass between the rows, removing leaves and thinning out the fruit depending on the needs of each and every vine, its age and vigour and the specific terroir on which it grows.
Fabulous Grapes, Potential for Splendid Wines
The combination of all the above factors and those listed below promised and resulted in fabulous grapes and therefore potentiallly splendid wines.
1. A la carte harvesting since 27 September in the early-ripening areas in good weather.
2. Conditions have been dry and mild and continue even today.
3. The exceptional quality of the Merlot grapes picked so far.
4. Very small grapes making for moderate yields and a lot of concentration.
5. High natural alcohol levels – around 13% by volume – in all localities, with acidity levels that show how well the vines have done their job and how magnificently well-balanced the coming wines should be.
6. Thick grape skins that are very aromatic and rich in ripe phenol compounds. Analysis of the fruit reveals unparalleled levels. No vegetal hints in the grapes and ripe, hazelnut-tasting pip tannins, which lead one to expect balanced, silky wines.
7. Exceptional colour in the must, which has incredibly strong aromas of black and red fruits.
The vintage is nearing its close and we shall soon be able to judge the accuracy of all these elements.
John Salvi, Master of Wine
Bordeux, October 20, 210