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Bordeaux 2012 Primeurs: Pape Clément, Smith Haut Lafitte & Haut-Bailly

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux


Great white wines have been produced by Chateau Pape Clément and Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte in 2012. Full and sumptuous they have lots of weight and style. Their reds look good too. Pape Clément in particular is an extremely lush offering and benefits from a larger percentage of Merlot [65%] this year, which usually sits 50:50 with the Cabernet. Huge effort was put in at Smith Haut Lafitte during the red wine harvest to mitigate the weather. Amongst other things they doubled their pickers to 200. They have been rewarded with very good wine that has plenty of fruit if slightly firm tannins. Chateau Haul-Bailly is a chewy number at present. I’d expect this to settle as there is plenty of material and extract but it always looks a bit backward early on.

I’ll post in more detail overall about all the wines in Pessac-Léognan 2012 shortly. There is no doubt that the vintage looks very good for the whites, but overall I though there was more variation amongst the reds than I was expecting. Quite often the Cabernet Sauvignon’s angularity poked out from beneath the lusher, fully ripe Merlot and lent a rather chewy quality to the tannins. These wines will probably settle nevertheless. Still I think that’s why Pape Clément has succeeded so well for me because it upped the emphasis on the Merlot in the grand vin blend, just as at Haut-Brion and La Mission this year, and that’s partly why it has produced something so delicious.

Chateau Pape Clément, Cru Classé de Graves

White: Palest silver/gold; some candy, pear drop; grapefruit and zest but in check; elegance here; powerful palate with lots of depth; great mouthfeel and very long. Spicy and zesty finish. Brilliant effort. 55% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sémillon, 15% Sauvignon Gris. 94-96+ Tasted Monday April, 8, 2013 Pessac-Leognan tasting at Chateau Olivier [Later note] Pale straw/gold; quite full and fat, some lees and grapefruit citrus tones; very full and deep; palate has some pretty qualities and is also very round and full. Lots of weight ultimately here and length. 94-96 Tasted Wednesday April, 10, 2013 at UGC

Red: Deep and saturated look; dense; very pure and seductive black fruit nose; lots of depth; black cherry, plums, very lush indeed; little oak at the edge; real depth to the nose; lots of fresh fruit flavours on the palate; opulent Merlot [65%], ripe and lots of material; some real chew and depth but you really end up marveling at the wonderful quality and depth of fruit here. In a much lusher, more forward style but not far behind Haut-Brion and La Mission for me. 65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon. 94-96+ Tasted Wednesday April, 10, 2013 at UGC

Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Cru Classé de Graves

White: Palest silver/green; full and broad; some wax and grapefruit; lots of density to the palate; very ripe material; weight and density here; with very good length. 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris. 92-94+ Tasted Monday April, 8, 2013 Pessac-Léognan tasting at Chateau Olivier [Later note] Steely silver/green; grapefruit, lees, quite serious; some ginger spice; deep; very full almost waxy palate. Very full, very good indeed. 93-95 Tasted Wednesday April, 10, 2013 at UGC

Red: Deep and dark; creamy, deep and layered on the nose; attractive; very fiull; and textured on the palate with layers of fruit; quite firm tannins and nice bite at the end. Good freshness. Excellent effort. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. 92-93+ Tasted Monday April, 8, 2013 Pessac-Léognan tasting at Chateau Olivier. [Later note] Deep and saturated; some nutty oak, little reminiscent of Domaine de Chevalier; red fruits alongside some black cherry; chewy palate with just a little angularity to the tannin; lots of plushness from the Merlot disguises the slight astringency of the Cabernet. 90-91+ Tasted Wednesday April, 10, 2013 at UGC

Chateau Haut-Bailly, Cru Classé de Graves

Deep colour; vibrant edge; lots of briary and blackcurrant fruit on the nose; sweet ripe fruit attack and then come the tannins; little chewy on the palate [it always seems to be in its youth]; very dense and clearly lots of matter here but slightly drying quality to the tannins. Usually sorts itself out later. Serious, chewy and tannic. Probably underrating this and look forward to seeing it again down the track. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot. 90-93+ Tasted Wednesday April, 10, 2013 at UGC

040 - CopyChateau Haut-Bailly: lots of fruit, plenty of tannin


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