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Bordeaux 2012 Primeurs: Haut-Médoc

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Cantemerle label cu - Copy

This appellation covers a vast amount of ground and very differing terroirs. It’s always a bit odd to lump together say Château La Lagune and Château Cantermerle who border [and resemble] the wines of Margaux, with that of Château Belgrave, Château de Camensac and Château La Tour Carnet just to the west of St Julien, alongside Château Coufran, the northernmost Haut-Médoc château, past St Estèphe in St Seurin, but there we are. Overall the best Haut-Médoc 2012s have gone for elegance and balance. Some are quite attractive, others vigorous with plenty of bounce and freshness. Quite a few are a stalky and angular with a fair amount of grip, a bit reminiscent of 2011, so you do need to tread carefully. Again generally I don’t quite see the urgency in picking these up en primeur when there are still lots of 2009 and 2010s on the market for a fraction more.

The pick for me was Château Cantermerle who have a very nice offering in 2012 and who have come out at a competitive price that does look interesting [around £200/$300 a case]. Here they described 2012 as the polar opposite to 2011, at least in terms of harvest. They had completed picking 2011 by October 1st, the date when the 2012 harvest began. For them there was no doubt that 2011 was the easier vintage to make, but 2012 looks much better to me than their 2011 at the same stage and should drink nicely early on.

Near neighbour Château La Lagune has also come up with a pure and elegant wine. No surprises there. Two much cheaper standouts for me in the fresh and vigorous category were Château Beaumont and Château Coufran. Both had lots of bounce and freshness. I was also struck by Château Belle-Vue, evidently very nicely handled, and the wine has good mid-palate richness. Their 2007 tasted blind one evening in Bordeaux also looked very good for the vintage.

Of the Haut-Médoc crus classés west of Château Lagrange and St Julien, Château La Tour Carnet looked very full and typically forward and works well for me. I’m usually a great fan of Château Belgrave and have bought the 1996, 2000, 2005 and 2010 in the past. The sample of 2012 fell short – all upfront and too oaky on the finish. Let’s hope it settles. Château de Camensac is usually more elegant with emphasis on structure and balance. There is plenty of blackcurrant fruit here as well as appetizing sap and freshness. Grippy for sure, ‘classical’ I suppose, but overall it works pretty well.

The following wines were tasted at the UGC event at Château Foucas-Hosten and at the Cru Bourgeois event at Château d’Agassac.

Château Arnauld

Mid depth; spicy and fresh; really stalky Cabernet; palate mid weight with some soft fruit tones and spices; grippy finish. Sappy red. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot. Tasted at the Cru Bourgeois tasting Tuesday, April 9, 2013. 84-86

Château Beaumont

Deep and dense looking, vibrant edge; slightly spicy fruit with some vibrancy and bounce; creamy entry on the palate; attractive Cabernet Fruit; some tannin at the back but also freshness. Simple but clean and fresh. UGC Tuesday April 9, 2013 86-88

Château Belgrave

Deep and dense; thick; integrated nose with some layers; some jam and spice; earthy note; palate quite rich but lots of oak and oak tannin. Not caressing. Tannins at the end. Overall dry, oaky finish. A disappointing showing. UGC Tuesday April 9, 2013. 84-86?

Château Belle-Vue

Deep and earthy looking; mineral tones; wet rocks, sturdy; attractive palate with surprising mid-palate richness for the vintage and appellation. Good and gutsy. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Petit Verdot. Tasted at the Cru Bourgeois tasting Tuesday, April 9, 2013. 86-87+

Château Bel-Orme Tronquoy de Lalande

Mid depth; chalky nose; ripe fruit notes on the palate but a little pinched and angular on the finish. 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc. Tasted at the Cru Bourgeois tasting Tuesday, April 9, 2013. 83-85

Château Cantemerle

Deep and healthy looking; attractive round nose with some elegance and polish; blackcurrant fruit and some cassis; nice fruit on the palate, elegant and nicely balanced. Good vibrancy too. Good effort. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 6& Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc, 40% new oak. UGC Tuesday April 9, 2013 89-91+

Château Citran

Deep and saturated; some pine, menthol and spice; quite integrated; spicy fruit; lots of extract on the palate and spicy tones; chewy finish. Should come good but will always be a gutsy effort. UGC Tuesday April 9, 2012. 85-87

Château Coufran

Mid depth; vibrant edge; spicy fruit [like Beaumont]; blackcurrant and plums; lots of bounce, purity and freshness; fruit on the palate. Gutsy but bright fruit.  UGC Tuesday April 9, 2013. 86-87+

Château d’Agassac

Mid depth; nice red black fruit tones on the nose; dense palate; with guts and grip. Should settle. Tasted at the Cru Bourgeois tasting Tuesday, April 9, 2013. 85-87

Château de Camensac

Mid depth; more Cabernet freshness on the nose; some earthy notes and blackcurrants; fresh blackcurrants on the palate, little sappy with grip as you’d expect from this estate; earthy blackcurrant favours on the palate. 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. UGC Tuesday April 9, 2012 86-88+

Château de Lamarque

Deep and saturated; red fruits with some stewed prune notes; jammy and quite thick and dense; thick and chewy overall. UGC Tuesday April 9, 2012. 83-85

Château La Lagune

Deep and saturated colour; some fruit pastels and boiled sweet notes; red fruits too; palate ripe and real elegance here; lacks a bit of stuffing maybe but fresh, elegant and pretty pure. Should fill out too. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot. UGC Tuesday April 9, 2012 89-91+

Château La Tour Carnet

Deep and saturated; tight to rim; quite deep and layered wine on the nose; ripe fruit; ripe and lots of fruit on the palate; extract here and pretty thick. 65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon. UGC Tuesday April 9, 2013. 88-90+ 

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