Five St Estèphe properties tasted back in October were pretty much in keeping with the appellation’s character as well as the style of the 2012 vintage. Top crus Château Cos d’Estournel, Château Montrose and Château Calon Ségur don’t show at the UGCB, but there was plenty of finesse displayed by Château Lafon-Rochet. Château Ormes de Pez, Château de Pez and Château Phélan Ségur were consistent, with good fruit and attractive harmony. Château Cos Labory was chewy but should settle.
Posts Tagged ‘2012’
The top Pauillac 2012s are elegant in the best sense, not in the euphemistic way sometimes used to describe a disappointing vintage, but genuinely elegant in terms of relying on charm, balance and harmony to pique interest and intrigue. There are some disappointments [a few wines felt clipped, lacking stuffing] but there are also a number of pure, harmonious efforts here in this vintage. Top of the list in this fashion are Château Pichon Lalande, Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Château Lynch-Bages and Château Pichon-Longueville. Château Batailley, Château Haut-Bages Libéral and Château Grand-Puy Ducasse have also succeeded in different styles.
An enjoyable, forward set of wines were shown at the UGCB’s 2012 in-bottle tasting in London on Thursday, their annual gathering held at the Royal Opera House in London. Pessac-Léognan’s whites were generally delicious as were their reds but there were successes in most appellations with some good showings in Margaux, St Julien, Pauillac and St Emilon and Pomerol especially. It doesn’t appear to be a long-term vintage but there is genuine charm here and more harmony shown in the wines than in 2011. Overall the reds seem more enjoyable now [and perhaps more consistent] than that vintage at the same stage.
If anything 2012 Sauternes and Barsac is a little better than expected in what was an extremely difficult harvest in the region, spoiled by vintage rain. The very best wines are light yet with enough depth to make appetizing sweet wine that will be comparatively early maturing. A few are in a strange sort of purgatory, a half-way house position, between sweet styles and the off-dry, emphasizing the kind of all-or-nothing risk taking that Bordeaux’s bravest winemakers undertake here each vintage. There’s always the danger that you might get left high and dry in Sauternes [no pun intended] and some brave souls clearly have.
The 2012 growing season was as tricky up in the northern Médoc as it was elsewhere on the left bank, with the advantage here that the blends often have a higher proportion of Merlot, the variety that succeeded in the vintage. Not that Merlot escaped entirely. One of the consequences of the very cool weather around flowering was considerable flower shatter [coulure] on the Merlot, reducing yields, although this was reported as having a positive effect on quality, increasing concentration. Nevertheless the cool and wet start to the growing season certainly led to uneven development in the grapes. Ripening did catch up with the warmer and very dry period spanning mid-July to late September, but the harvest was always going to be a late one, one that would ultimately be influenced by October’s wet weather. Nevertheless the best wines have good fruit and weight from the Merlot.
Despite the vagaries of the vintage it would be a mistake to overlook St Estèphe in 2012. At the top end excellent wines have been made at Chateau Calon-Ségur, Chateau Cos d’Estournel and Chateau Montrose especially. Further down the chain there are values to be had if you pick carefully. I’ve written about the excellent effort at Chateau Meyney, but very fine wine has been made at Chateau Phélan-Ségur and there is a surprisingly good Chateau de Pez. The vintage can’t be compared to 2009 and 2010 but it’s probably better than the 2011 vintage here at least. Where the price is right, and in a few cases it is, you could consider some of these wines en primeur.