The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2014

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Page 76 of 128

76 / the tasting panel / march 2014 SPECIAL REPORT: 2010 BORDEAUX I n late January each year, up to 20 tasters sit round a huge white-tableclothed table in front of a dozen polished glasses in the airy, light first floor saloon of The Swan Hotel in Southwold to assess the wines of Bordeaux 40 months after the vintage. The wines are personally collected from the châteaux by Bill Blatch, late of negociants Vintex and now with Christie's, whose four decades in Bordeaux means he knows everybody and everything, driven by him to Southwold where they are decanted and served blind in "like-to-like" flights. This year, beginning at 9 a.m. on Wednesday and finishing at 12 noon on Friday there were 24 flights for a total of 270 wines. For the first time, 51 Médoc cru bourgeois châteaux had offered their wines to be tasted on Friday afternoon, something I was unable to stay for. With very, very few exceptions (and in these cases the merchants amongst the group provide the bottles), the châteaux provide the wines, for Bill Blatch notes not only their rankings in each flight, but also the reactions from the tasters. The press was represented by Jancis Robinson MW, Neal Martin (Robert Parker) and myself, the others, many MWs amongst them, being the U.K.'s top Bordeaux merchants with hundreds of years' experience between them. We judge on the 20-point scale, half marks allowed, the totals divided by the number of tasters, the final ranking eliminating the top and bottom mark. The results represent an overall view valuable both for merchants and producers. The "thumbnail sketch" of the vintage was that the top châteaux on both banks had produced superb red wines, the dry whites finer The Southwold Tasting OUR LONDON CORRESPONDENT REPORTS ON THE U.K.'S ANNUAL VINTAGE ASSESSMENT by Steven Spurrier

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