Château Léoville Poyferré looks very mannered and polished in 2012. The fact that they have managed to wrestle something as refined as they have in this challenging year reflects their exceptional terroir, clearly a huge amount of effort in the vineyard and great attention to detail in the cellar. The results are what Didier Cuvelier describes as 1999 ‘plus, plus’, a wine of surprising concentration and style.
Château Léoville-Las-Cases has triumphed in 2012. It borders Château Latour geographically and for me this northernmost St Julien is better than the Pauillac first growth this year. It is a great effort. In the glass there is no trace of the difficult vintage that produced this wine. Clos du Maquis looks very good too, lots of blackcurrant and cassis tones [it is 92% Cabernet] it has a solid structure but nicely ripe tannin. If the price is right this wine is really worth considering. Le Petit Lion du Marquis de Las Cases, the second wine of Las-Cases, is attractive and supple.
Overall a surprisingly homogeneous and really encouraging set of wines that confirms, for me at least, that the Margaux commune probably out-performs St Estèphe, Pauillac and St Julien in 2012 in terms of consistency, delicacy and drinkability. Early maturing certainly but not in the under-ripe, hollow sense. There is genuine lushness in many of the wines, layers of ripe, velvety fruit provided by the beautiful Merlot that the vintage produced. It combines nicely with the tighter, admittedly fresher, but rarely angular or green Cabernet Sauvignon. The combination works well. Given the right pricing [critical] the best are seriously worth considering. Certainly they are a far better set of wines overall than in 2011.
Château Palmer’s 2012 is very impressive and follows on from a trio of highly successful vintages here spanning 2009-2011. The improvements and the consistency achieved under the leadership of managing director Thomas Duroux now make Palmer one of Bordeaux’s stand-out wines, year in, year out. The heights to which Palmer can soar are well known – 1961, 1983, 1989 – but it’s the inconsistency that’s been ironed out. Unquestionably Palmer is now on the same qualitative pedestal as Château Margaux, if often its stylistic opposite, usually plusher and more seductive in style. The only issue this year is the price. I think it’s fair to say most people were hoping to see more than 1% trimmed off the tag but least it hasn’t gone up! Thank heavens for small mercies.