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Bordeaux Primeurs 2012: St Julien

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

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I have to admit that I wasn’t exactly knocked over by the showing of the wines of St Julien in 2012 despite two detailed passes of the commune on separate days. Yes the best are correct enough and will make decent wine, but many don’t set the pulse racing, or offer the immediate charm of the best properties in the Margaux or Pessac-Léognan appellations or the potential of the even better wines on the right bank. Overall they feel a bit joyless, like the vintage rain has dampened their spirits. Unless they are released at prices less than available vintages now, few make sense as an en primeur purchase today.

That’s not to say that if you are a die-hard St Julien fan that there aren’t wines to consider. The best wines are undoubtedly the Léovilles – Château Léoville-Las-Cases [and their excellent Clos du Marquis], Château Léoville Poyferré and Château Léoville Barton. Château Saint-Pierre [photo above] also looked good in a fresh, blackcurrant style along with Château Langoa-Barton. I didn’t make it to Château Ducru Beaucaillou. Amongst the values Château Gloria had plenty of fruit and sap, but, again, it all depends on price.

The rest? Château Gruaud-Larose looked pretty consistent, Château Branaire-Ducru a little lean and chewy to me but it’s usually a bit slow to come forward early on. There was inconsistency in the samples of Château Lagrange, one was extremely dry and tannic, and Château Talbot felt pretty grippy and angular. Château Beychevelle had a curiously jammy note yet then felt stretched in the mid-palate and dry on the end. All these wines should be better down the track, and that’s when we should be considering them too, certainly not as en primeur purchases, unless offered at a compelling discount to available vintages.

At the time of writing few St Julien properties have released prices, save for Talbot coming in at around £300 a case. The message for the rest has to be come in at 10% or 20% less for the price your 2008s or 2006s are now trading at, to make a mark.

Château Beychevelle

Mid depth; little oak influence; some jam; red fruits; black cherry too; palate feels a bit hard; finishes dry. Should fill out further but feels a little mean on the finish. 2011 felt a little better to me. 85-87 UGC Tasted April 11, 2013 [Earlier note] Deep looking; red fruits, jammy note; strawberry tones; red fruits and feels a little worked; some tannin to resolve at the end, feels extracted and a little stretched. Will probably settle but feels a little hollow to me after the up-front jam lift. 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc. Harvested Cabernet between October 12-18, so relatively late. Tasted UGC April 9, 2013. 86-88.

Château Branaire-Ducru

Deep-ish; fresh looking; some fresh, sappy Cabernet tones on the nose; quite taut palate; angular and grippy quality to the tannins; firm acid; chewy palate. Overall the wine has a certain density but also angularity and grip. Not a huge joy. 87-88  UGC Tasted April 11, 2013 [Earlier note] Mid depth; some stalky notes; fresh Cabernet; some spices; feels fairly high-toned and ‘boney’; angular palate [sample a little cold] feels a bit pinched. Tasted UGC Tuesday April 9, 2013. 86-88.

Château Gloria

Deep and dark at centre; fresh blackcurrants; clean; some spice; fresh and grippy palate but with chew and density; tannic and dry on the finish. Lots of extract and material so should come good. 87-89 Tasted UGC Thursday 11, 2013 [Earlier note – slightly better] Deep and saturated; looks enticing; lots of fresh blackcurrant fruit and spices; some cherry; lots of fruit evident on the nose; lots of fruit and purity; chew also. Chewy with plenty of extract. Should settle nicely. 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot Tasted UGC Tuesday April 9, 2013. 88-90.

Château Gruaud Larose

Mid depth; nice layers to the nose; attractive; some perfume and lift; grippy palate, fresh with acid and tannin firm; will fill out I expect but will always have bite and grip. 87-88 Tasted UGC Thursday April, 11, 2013 [Earlier note – better showing] Mid depth; some stalky Cabernet, some earth and tobacco tones; quite open and attractive on the nose; palate has a nice tension between earthy Cabernet and grip; pretty sinewy effort though. Still reasonable texture and fruit. 66.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot and 6.5% Petit Verdot. Tasted Tuesday April 9, 2013. 88-90+

Château Lagrange

Deep and saturated; dumb, little dusty;  palate quite tight and astringent; chewy and lacks appeal; may fill out [I certainly hope so] but not much joy here at present. 86-87 Tasted Thursday April 11, 2013 [Earlier note – better] Mid depth; some meal, earth and mineral; little neutral overall though; palate mid-weight; earthy notes; ripeness and nice-ish chew at the back. 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot. Tasted Tuesday April 9, 2013 87-89

Château Langoa Barton

Mid depth; nice purity of fruit on the nose – blackcurrants and black cherry notes; cool; palate nice blackcurrant tones with Morello cherry; mid-weight with acid and some chew. Fresh. 86-88+ [Earlier note] Deep and healthy looking; purple at edge; quite lifted; black fruits; palate fresh; lots of acid and freshness alongside the blackcurrant fruit tones. Will come good, but will always have sap and grip. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc 60% new oak. Tasted UGC Tuesday April 9, 2013. 87-89

Château Léoville Barton

Deep coloiur; vibrant at edge; some blackcurrant; black cherry; quite deep; fresh and grippy palate; correct; has purity and tannin but will come good. Fresh. 89-91 Tasted UGC Thursday April 11, 2013 [Earlier note – better showing] Deep colour; very nice purity of fruit; cassis; blackcurrant; fruit compote; blackcurrants on the palate; quite fresh; stalky Cab; but clean and fresh with sap and tannin [and plenty of material]. 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc 60% new oak 13% alc. 90-92

Château Léoville-Las-Cases

Deep and saturated looking; vibrant edge; very deep nose; enticing, focused and precise; layers; excellent depth of fruit on the nose. The palate is full of fruit, material and ripe tannin; there is a lot of stuff here but it is very focused indeed. There is a roundness and ripe quality which gives a balanced and harmonious feel to the palate. Excellent length and very nicely done. 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc 80% new oak, 13.47 alc IPT 70 pH 3.6. 94-96+ Tasted at the Chateau Friday, April 12, 2013.

Le Petit Lion du Las Cases [Second wine of Léoville-Las-Cases]

Deep and saturated; minerality; blackcurrants; cassis and some blackcurrant lift; purity here; life and spice too; nice entry; cassis; blackcurrant; nice balance this is attractive and quite supple and round. 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc 13.53 % alc 20% new barrels yield 33hl/ha IPT68. pH 3.59 89-91+Tasted at the Chateau Friday, April 12, 2013.

Château Léoville Poyferré

Deep and tight to the rim; saturated colour; healthy purple at rim; lots of blackcurrant cassis; layered and mannered; precise; blackcurrant notes, some smoke and meat; tight palate, lots of fruit evident; minerals; good focus again; lots of fruit here but very focused. Didier Cuvelier thought it closed on the day. Very expressive nose. Looks very good indeed, should blossom further. 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot 13.4% alc, IPT 82, pH 3.8. Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at the Chateau. 92-93+ [Additional notes from UGC] Deep and saturated look; ripe; lots of fruit on the nose; thicker and layered; nice palate with good depth and density. Tannic grippy finish but need a bit of time. UGC Thursday, April 11, 2013. 91-92+ [Additional note] Deep and saturated look; ripe and deep on the nose; smoky notes, blackcurrants; lots of finesse; palate has a lot of material; nicely composed; layers of fruit if firm tannins at the back. Chewy finish but very good material. UGC Tuesday April 9, 2013. 91-92+

Clos du Marquis

Very saturated looking; cassis, blackcurrants, freshness and purity; lots of stuff going down here; real polish and layers; full; quite taught palate with lots of extract and material and very nicely handled it all is too. Very concentrated but manages surprising elegance and freshness. Really lots of material here and grip too. Tannin feels ripe. No problems here at all. Good length. Good buy I expect. 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. 40% new oak, 13.5% alc, IPT 65 pH3.64 Tasted at Chateau Leoville-Las-Cases Friday April 12, 2013. 92-93+

Château Moulin Riche

Mid depth; rich colour and looks polished; smoke, black fruits and layers to the nose; later blackcurrant, cassis and black cherry notes; more structure evident than in LP; feels string and dense with a chewy finish. Precision but not as much flesh evident as Leoville-Poyferre. 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 13.2% alc, IPT 73 pH: 3.8 88-90

Château Saint-Pierre

Deep and saturated look; blackcurrants and black cherry; freshness; chewy palate; density and material; pretty classic with lots of fruit and extract but fruit is there. Good effort potentially. 90-92 Tasted UGC Thursday April 11, 2013 [Earlier note] Deep and dark; nice blackcurrant notes; depth; good purity; similarly pure blackcurrant tones on the palate; nice and clean and will fill out. Mid-weight and nicely done. 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot 60% new oak. Tasted UGC Tuesday April 9, 2013. 89-91+

Château Talbot

Mid depth; some Cabernet notes and spice on the nose; feels ‘high toned’; suggests angularity on the palate; some flesh but still a pretty angular effort here with a chewy, dry finish. Will fill out I expect but will always be lean and angular. 85-87 Tasted UGC Thursday April 11, 2013 [Earlier note] Mid depth; stalky blackcurrant notes; freshness; some spicy characters; palate has blackcurrant fruit and some spice and undergrowth; chewy on the finish and fresh acid; Sappy and angular but probably sufficient fruit here. Tasted UGC Tuesday April 9, 2013. 87-89 

IMG_4439Gloria: good potential if the price is right

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