Originally I was impressed by the overall quality of the Margaux appellation in 2012 during primeurs. Last month’s UGCB tasting in London has done nothing to shake the belief that many properties here have, by and large, made a set of enjoyable, reasonably full and delicious wines. There is appetizing vigour and sap in the best but plenty of plush Merlot fruit in evidence too. This variety really succeeded in 2012. It gives a forward and attractive aspect. There is elegance – this is not a set of blockbuster wines by any means – but the balance and harmony is striking. The vintage clearly plays to the virtues of the appellation. Early maturing Margaux for sure, these wines are generally more homogeneous and enjoyable for me than 2006, 2007, probably 2008, and certainly 2011 and 2013.
Château Lascombes and Château Brane-Cantenac top the appellation for me. Lascombes is typically perfumed, lush and full, while Brane-Cantenac has attractive elegance and balance, something top Margaux manages better than any Bordeaux appellation. But the remarkable thing for me with this set of 2012s is the homogeneity that Margaux manages this year. Often the appellation is all over the place qualitatively [and stylistically]. Not in 2012 and there is plenty to chose from.
There are excellent efforts from Château Marquis de Terme, Château Prieuré-Lichine and from Château Labégorce. Château Rauzan-Gassies and Château Cantenac Brown have also turned in impressive efforts too, perhaps amongst the most enjoyable wines I’ve had recently from these properties. Cantenac-Brown is full and easy and far less tannic and overblown than usual and Rauzan-Gassies was more open and pleasing than the [currently rather dour] Rauzan-Ségla.
I was also impressed with Château Durfort-Vivens, Château Siran and Château du Tertre. All these wines have plenty of life, vigour and fresh fruit tones and felt complete and well made. Château Rauzan-Ségla [as suggested above] is a typically serious effort, and one of the few that felt it definitely needed more time in bottle. Château Kirwan is similarly styled in a serious vein but even in 2012 it still lacks flesh and charm for me. I’ve got a lot of affection for Kirwan – I’ve a case of the 2005 which was brilliant early on but which has since retreated well into its shell. Recent vintages have left me a bit cold. Even a bottle of 2000 opened by a friend recently felt backward and un-evolved at fourteen years of age.
Château Giscours is good [if a little closed at present], along with a lighter Château Monbrison and nicely balanced Château Ferrière and Château Angludet. Château Desmirail felt the least impressive by comparison. This style is always more forward and easy going here, but it was looser and lighter on the finish than the rest.
Many of these wines are drinking nicely already and the best are vivacious with real beauty. They have enough fruit and acidity to take age in the medium term, but expect them to give considerable joy early on. I paid a lot of attention to these wines back at primeurs in April 2013, and tasted the commune’s wines twice on separate days. I felt very positive on both occasions. On the basis of this tasting, nothing has diminished in my mind now the wines are in bottle. It makes 2012 one of the most homogeneous and immediately appealing Margaux vintages of recent years.
The following wines were tasted at the UGCB’s event at Covent Garden in late October.
Mid depth; slightly reductive edge; blackcurrants and spice on aeration; palate has finesse; soft and easy with elegant tannin. Ready to drink. Drink 2015-2025. 87
Mid depth; attractive perfumed aromatics with some coffee bean hints; blackcurrants and menthol tones; polished palate – very good Margaux; elegance and layers here. Good length. Drink 2015-2026. 91+
Château Cantenac Brown
Deeply coloured; some concentration to the aromas; spicy; full palate; softer than usual and rounder; full and easy style; this is the most enjoyable Cantenac Brown I’ve had in years. Not pushed. Tasty. Some chew on the finish but settled. Drink 2015-2025. 89+
Mid depth; earthy; some development; forward style; easy; soft forward style with some undergrowth and blackcurrant tones; bit loose and rather light. Drink 2015-2020. 84
Deep and fresh looking; sappy blackcurrant; little reductive note; good palate with blackcurrant fruit in a spicy style; sufficient flesh here. Elegant and vigorous Bordeaux. Round tannins. Drink 2017-2028. 89+
Mid depth; resin; blackcurrants; easy palate, not at all tight; forward and easy style. Tannins round. Harmonious effort. Goodish. Drink 2015-2022. 87
Mid depth; lightish at core; little reduction; blackcurrants beneath; sweet, ripe blackcurrants on the palate on entry; attractive fruit; finishes a fraction short but possibly sample a fraction closed. Drink 2017-2026. 88
Mid depth; some resin and blackcurrant with chocolate notes; quite serious in feel; there is fruit here but palate feels a little stretched towards the end. May improve in bottle. There’s a lot of investment going on at Kirwan but the wines are still tending towards an overly serious style. May fill out. Drink 2018-2025. 86.
Mid depth; healthy looking; very attractive aromatics; earth; blackcurrants and spicy plum perfume; complex; ripe attractive blackcurrant characters on the palate; nicely balanced with good length. The reunited Labegorce goes from strength to strength. Another excellent effort at this estate. Drink 2015-2025. 90
Deep and saturated looking; colour tight to the rim; full, attractive and perfumed aromatics with some development; full and creamy palate that defines plush, not at all overdone but deliciously full in fruit and flavour; freshness too and structure beneath but this wine makes the most of the vintage’s forward and charming virtues. A crowd pleasing effort. Drink 2015-2028. 93
Château Marquis de Terme
Deep and saturated looking; colour tight to the rim again; quite unctuously styled with plenty of very ripe fruit on the nose; palate ripe and full; with nice depth. Good effort here at Marquis de Terme. Drink 2016-2025. 90
Mid depth; some spice and wet rock notes; easy entry but less flesh on the bones than some; nevertheless elegance and some style with attractive sap. May flesh out in bottle. Drink 2016-2025. 86+
Mid depth; plush aromatics with some mineral/wet rock notes; fuller on the palate; attractive with spicy Cabernet notes and genuine richness from the ripe Merlot. Overall feel is soft and easy with plenty of fruit balanced by an attractive grip and freshness from the Cabernet. Drink 2016-2025. 90
Deep colour; tight to rim; resin, depth; some creamy blackcurrant notes with perfume; nice palate – attractive Margaux; plenty of ripe, perfumed fruit and soft and nicely handled tannins. Sap and life too. A really good effort here from Rauzan-Gassies in 2012. One of the best wines I’ve had from this estate in recent years. Drink 2016-2028. 90
Deep looking; tight on the nose; resin; mineral tones; very pent-up in feel; quite a serious effort; palate coiled like a spring but tannin on the end is soft and round. Chewy finish. Serious for 2012, and in the context perhaps a little dour at this stage. Drink 2018-2028. 89+
Healthy vibrant colour; attractive aromatics with some perfume; quite forward; little wet rock; full of fruit on the palate; attractive with a sturdy aspect; freshness; has vigour but also plenty of ripe fruit. A very good effort here. Drink 2016-2024. 89+
Château du Tertre
Mid depth; light at centre; attractive purity; blackcurrant tones and spices; quite forward; some depth on the palate with an attractive undergrowth/green streak; blackcurrants and fresh coffee beans; elegance and freshness; reasonably sappy and vigorous on the finish. Drink 2017-2025. 89+
Tags: Bordeaux, Bordeaux 2012, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chateau Angludet, Chateau Brane-Cantenac, Chateau Cantenac Brown, Chateau Desmirail, Chateau du Tertre, Chateau Durfort-Vivens, Chateau Ferrière, Chateau Giscours, Chateau Labégorce, Chateau Lascombes, Chateau Marquis de Terme, Chateau Monbrison, Chateau Prieuré-Lichine, Chateau Rauzan-Gassies, Chateau Rauzan-Ségla, Chateau Siran, Margaux, Merlot, UGCB