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Bordeaux 2012 Primeurs: Pomerol

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux


Pomerol has made a really serious fist of 2012. There is plenty of creamy, fat Merlot on offer and with diligent vineyard work and a steady nerve it was possible to harvest ripe and flavoursome Cabernet Franc. There is wonderful freshness and vibrancy to the best wines, and generally much more flesh on offer than in 2011. There is also impressive structure too. Some estates are comparing the vintage with 2001 in terms of balance. At Vieux Chateau Certan they talked about 1985 while Christian Moueix has even been comparing it with 1971. What’s in the glass is delicious in my opinion and there is considerable depth on offer too.

Certainly 2012 is a very different vintage from 2011 – that topsy-turvey growing season resulted many uneven wines – but 2012 was not without considerable challenges of its own. Bertrand Nicolas of Chateau La Conseillante described 2012 as another ‘difficult’ year in the vineyard but at least the seasons were, by and large, in the right order.


Weather at the start of the growing season was very mixed and cool. This led to uneven bud break and later a stretched flowering period. There were two principal effects resulting from this. The first was that it made 2012 a relatively late harvest [certainly compared to the last three vintages]. Secondly, that there would considerable variations in ripening and, to a degree, some unevenness in fruit set. Edouard Moueix said the extended flowering period effectively created two crops. The later grape bunches they would end up removing as things progressed.


The wet weather in the early summer presented a considerable mildew risk and necessitated much vineyard work but then the weather cleared substantially. The period following late July to September was actually a very dry one. August was also very hot. This allowed for the build up of concentration and density in the grapes. Light rain in September helped the Merlot attain good phenolic ripeness.

At JP Moueix’s various Pomerol properties, the harvest ran from September 24 to October 11. The threat of heavy rain in October did make it a very tense waiting game for the Cabernet Franc and the very small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon in the appellation. At Vieux Chateau Certan, they picked their Cabernet Franc between 10-11 October, trying to steal as much extra ripeness as possible. Once the grapes were in the vat room, the heavens then opened.


The 2012 vintage waiting game was further evidenced at Chateau Nenin. At 32 hectares it is one of the larger Pomerol properties. Here the vintage began on September 21 and ended on October 10. Yet within this three-week period they only picked on eight of the days.

The results? Across the board there is more consistency in 2012 than in 2011 at all levels in the wines tasted. There is wonderful vibrancy and bounce to the best. This freshness is epitomized particularly by the JP Moueix wines. I was especially impressed by Chateau Latour à Pomerol, Chateau Providence and Chateau Hosanna. Hosanna was sumptuous. Chateau La Fleur-Pétrus and Chateau Trotanoy looked extremely impressive with lots of layers and the depth you’d expect. There is also vitality to Chateau Plince, Chateau Lafleur-Gazin and Chateau La Grave. Generally these were a very refreshing set of wines.

At Vieux Chateau Certan there is lots of perfume, freshness and depth. The Thienponts seem very happy indeed. I was also taken with Chateau Nenin, tasted separately on a trip to Chateau Léoville-Las-Cases [as it is part of the Delon portfolio]. It had lots of creamy, plummy fruit and great purity. Their second wine Fugue de Nenin was pretty too.

The UGCB held their event at Chateau La Conseillante. The nine Pomerol wines shown there looked impressive. La Conseillante displayed delicious summer fruit compôte aromas and a creamy and attractive palate. Chateau Clinet was less flashy than usual and much tighter but showed impressive depth and structure. Chateau Gazin has produced another very good wine, and shows the continued march forward with quality here. Chateau Petit Village was attractive, layered and pretty dense too.


Chateau Beauregard, Chateau La Cabanne and Chateau La Pointe have also produced wines full of flavour and material, properties that usually offer reasonably good value. Chateau Le Bon Pasteur also looked promising, though there is a lot of emphasis there on new oak [both fermented and aged in new oak barriques]. Still there looked to be enough fruit to handle the winemaking.

I also tasted twenty one Pomerols blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite’s event. These were more homogeneous than in 2011 too, though here was more variation on display than at the other Pomerol tastings. Some were very impressive indeed and should prove good values. Amongst these I’d definitely seek out Chateau Fayat, Chateau Feytit-Clinet and Chateau Mazeyres. Chateau La Fleur de Gay also looked very good. Others felt a little disjointed, either over-oaked or extracted relative to the fruit, or a little mean.

The major omissions in the tasting notes are Chateau L’Eglise Clinet, Chateau L’Evangile, Chateau Le Pin and Chateau Pétrus. I’ve grouped the following 41 wines more or less alphabetically. Again, as ever, the notes are more important than the numbers.

Chateau Beau Soleil

Deep and saturated; dense and lots of cherry fruit with plums too; packed with fruit on the nose and lots of depth and freshness; spicy plum, slightly cooler fruit tones; purity on the palate with freshness; not too worked; nice acid and sap; this should evolve into beautifully balanced Pomerol. Vibrancy and bounce. 88-90+ Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7 April 2013

Chateau Beauregard, Pomerol

Deep and dense looking; pretty thick nose; dark fruits; oak on the palate, perfume, spicy plum tones; spicy finish. Very good. 88-90 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. Tasted at UGC 10 April 2013

Chateau Bellegrave

Mid depth; lots of raw blackcurrant, stalky fruit and plums; clean and unadorned; purity and drinkability evident on the palate; summer fruit compôte notes, very nicely handled ingredients; good balance. Should be very nicely composed Pomerol. Pure. Like this style. 87-89+ Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7 April 2013

Chateau Bonalgue

Deep and saturated; depth to the nose and fruit feels ripe and supple; open; some coffee; sweet entry, ripe, some oak influence but enough creamy fruit to make this attractive on the palate; some chew on the finish. Will be good. 86-88+ Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7th April 2013

Chateau Bourgneuf

Deep and saturated; attractive fresh fruit driven nose; roundness and some coffee beans; palate has obvious oak influence but there is density and grip. Chew here with some sour cherry and earth. Should meld. More grip than some. Fresh. 86-88+ Tasted blind Cercle Rive Droite, Sunday April 7, 2013 [Second tasting] Deep and saturated; earthy note; blackcurrant and plum tones; spices and black cherry; vibrant with bounce on the palate; very good value Pomerol with lots of life and sap. Lively wine. Appetizing. 89-91+ [JP Moueix, Libourne, Weds April, 10, 2013]

Chateau Certan de May

Deep and dense; vibrant edge; earthy edge; some tobacco and spicy plum; good palate, earthy, chewy; lots of guts and some complexity; good acid and zap again; nice chew and density here. Not overdone either. 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. 91-93+ [JP Moueix, Libourne, Weds April, 10, 2013]

Chateau Clinet

Deep and dark; colour tight to the rim; tight but clearly very deep on the nose; serious, not its usual flattering self; layers here which show themselves on aeration but this is a pretty dense Clinet. Lots of depth on the palate and structure too. Pretty formidable effort. Excellent length. 90% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Cabernet Franc. 93-95+ UGC 10 April, 2013.

Chateau Fayat

Deep and saturated looking; colour tight to the edge; tighter, denser and more serious on the nose; plums, spices some espresso notes; very good and attractive aromas with complexity; lots of sweet fruit on the palate and real depth. Lots and lots of sweet fruit here. Nicely balanced extraction; lots of plummy flavours and style. Attractive stuff! 90-92 Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7th April 2013

Chateau Feytit-Clinet

Deep and saturated; red/purple edge; cleaner; little earthy note; smokey and lifted; quite attractive; layers on the palate with depth. Pretty serious and attractive. This should develop nicely. Espresso notes from the oak on the finish but plenty of fruit. Worked style but nicely done in this case. 88-90+ Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7 April 2013

Chateau Gazin

Deep and saturated; pure blackcurrant cassis, with black cherry notes; deep but fresh; summer fruit compote notes; polished palate; very bouncy and seductive. Very attractive wine and continues the Gazin run of top form. Some pretty serious oak here but the fruit is quite sublime. Grip too. 100% Merlot 14.5% alc. 93-95+ Tasted at UGC 10th April 2013

Chateau Hosanna

Deep and dense; wet rocks and chalk alongside plummy tones with spices and black cherry notes; lovely mouthfeel, enticing and sumptuous palate; deceptively easy and supple; very nicely balanced fruit tones; real delicacy and freshness here. Lots of zap and life again. Very good length. Wonderfully vibrant and enticing Pomerol. 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. 93-95+ Tasted at JP Moueix in Libourne Weds 10 April 2013.

Chateau La Cabanne

Mid depth; some bounce and delicacy on the nose; pretty vibrant, not as ‘oh wow’ as Gazin, but good effort for Cabanne; some perfume, bounce and rounded palate which has been well handled in the cellar. This works. 100% Merlot. 87-89

Chateau La Clémence

Mid depth; quite saturated; ripe, more red fruits less plums and some lift; mocha notes from oak; guts and sap on the palate with a little mean streak [oak handling?] May come good. 84-86? Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7 April 2013

Chateau La Conseillante

Deep and saturated look; summer fruit pudding, black cherry, plums and spices, some lift and violet perfume; very attractive palate, creamy blackcurrants, black cherry but with real structure and acid beneath. Very nice length. Lots here. 89% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc. 94-96+ Tasted at UGC 10 April 2013

Chateau La Croix de Gay

Deep and dense; some cream, black fruits – a little hardness too [cold sample]; creamy palate, ripe with plums; lots of fruit and extract but not extracted if you get what I mean. Chewy finish. 95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc. 89-91 Tasted at UGC 10 April 2013

Chateau La Fleur de Gay

Deep and saturated; ripe fruit, some lift; some jam; very ripe fruit infact; palate big and broad, sweet and ripe; nice twist at the end. 90-92 Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7 April 2013

Chateau La Fleur-Pétrus

Deep and dark at the centre; vibrant edge; lots of black fruits on the nose; black cherry, plums even cassis tones; perfumed; creamy palate and lots of layers; plums, spices, black cherry; very nice tension and balance on the palate; some mineral tones too. Very long in the mouth. Good acid and impeccable balance. 95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc. 94-96 [JP Moueix, Libourne, Weds April, 10, 2013]

Chateau La Grave

Deep and saturated; more chalky minerality, vivid again with freshness; pureity of fruit and expressive; lots of zap on the palate; fresghness and nice length. Very refreshing. 97% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc. 89-91+ [JP Moueix, Libourne, Weds April, 10, 2013]

Chateau La Pointe

Deep and dense; vibrant effort, ripe and full, pretty open; lots here, fatness but also tightness; dense palate with freshness and attractive Cab Franc influence. Lots of extract but nicely handled. Serious again and continues the run of good form for me at La Pointe. 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. 91-93 Tasted UGC Wednesday 10 April 2013.

Chateau Lafleur-Gazin

Deep and saturated look but vivid and vibrant purple at the edge; more mineral tones, some spice and perfume [again]; vibrant, spicy nose; attractive palate with lots of perfume; vivacious and lively; lots of fruit and bounce here; nice acid on the end. Sap here. Lively and pretty long finish. Nice zap. 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. 90-92+ [JP Moueix, Libourne, Weds April, 10, 2013]

Chateau Latour à Pomerol

Deep and saturated; vibrant edge; life; perfume; violets, black cherry and plum tones; layers to the nose; creamy palate; some mulberry, black cherry tones; very round but with real depth and life; refreshing zing; this feels particularly successful. Great length and vibrancy. 100% Merlot. 91-93+ [JP Moueix, Libourne, Weds April, 10, 2013]

Chateau Le Bon Pasteur

Deep and saturated looking; nice blackcurrant and black cherry tones; fruit not masked; pretty plummy with some spice; creamy palate, lots of fruit but also oak and quite a lot of oak on the finish. All fermented in barrique. Nice purity, not sure about the use of wood. Lets see how it settles. 89-91+ Tasted at UGC 10 April 2013

Chateau Le Moulin

Deep and saturated look; layered and impressive nose; intense; nicely integrated oak; spices and ripe fruits; little coffee; big and bold on the palate, extracted style with lots of spicy red fruits and lashings of oaks. It works. Impressive. Plenty of stuff in here. 88-90+ Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7 April 2013

Chateau Lécuyer

Mid depth; looser at edge; ripe and satiny Merlot; easy going if lacking a bit of concentration. Fresh and pure if on the light side. 85-87 Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7 April 2013

Chateau Nenin

Deep and saturated; vibrant colour; cream, plums and real depth; very full and promising; some Cabernet Franc tones; classy palate, creamy fruit entry with lots of material and ripe tannins; lots here. Very good wine, pure and fresh. Very good indeed. 92-94+ Tasted Friday 12th April 2013 at Chateau Léoville-Las-Cases

Chateau Mazeyres

Deep and saturated look; very tight to the rim; lots of vibrant fresh fruit, bubblegum; very big and fruit driven on the palate with some perfumed oak; easy and open; ripe cherry and plummy fruit; very enjoyable and pure. I like this. 87-89+ Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7 April 2013

Chateau Montviel

Deep core, lighter at edge; bounce and freshness on the nose; spicy and attractive fruit; vivacious palate; elegant and easy; satin-y quality. Not over-extracted but delicious Pomerol. Quite delicious. 86-88+ Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7th April 2013

Chateau Petit-Village

Mid depth, very nice lift, blackcurrants, cream and attractive layers to the nose; very mannered palate and pretty serious effort [compared with the flamboyance here in ‘09/’10]. Pretty serious effort on the palate; density and lots of fruit and structure. Quite tight and tannic at the back. They are comparing things here to 2001 and 2004. 80% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Franc. 91-93+ Tasted at UGC 10 April 2013

Chateau Plince

Pretty dark look; ripe and sexy nose; pretty and voluptuous with lots of depth; lots of fruit here on the palate with nice tension; structured but plenty of material and flesh. Nice blue fruits. Appetizing finish. 90-92 [JP Moueix, Libourne, Weds April, 10, 2013]

Chateau Providence

Deep core; vibrant edge; very pure fruit; black cherry, ripe, plum; violet perfume; layers here; wonderfully fresh and ripe on the palate; vibrancy again; harmonious and nicely balanced. Very impressive. 100% Merlot. 92-94+ [JP Moueix, Libourne, Weds April, 10, 2013]

Chateau Rouget

Deep and saturated look; nicely judged nose; fruit, spice, some fat, juicy Merlot here; mid-weight palate; depth on the palate; quite compact and feels a little modest with good elegance. Not trying to be something it isn’t – so honesty here. Fresh too. 87-89+ Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7 April 2013

Chateau Taillefer

Deep colour; perfumed lift with vibrant, plummy fruit beneath; spicy; fresh and appetizing palate with some grip and savour. Grippy finish. Should come good if a little lean maybe. 87-89 Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7 April 2013

Chateau Trotanoy

Deep and saturated look; healthy and fresh; lots of blackcurrant fruit, black cherry and summer compote notes; freshness again; creamy palate with lots of black cherry and plum tones; very layered and lots of stuff going on; lots of sap and bounce here too. Very vivacious and pure. 100% Merlot. 94-96 [JP Moueix, Libourne, Weds April, 10, 2013]

Vieux Chateau Certan

Deep colour; pure at edge, fresh and healthy looking; lots of red and blue fruits; great Merlot; lots of black cherry, sweet plums and perfume; very pretty; palate very balanced with real delicacy and verve. Structure and density there too. Fresh and ripe. 87% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon 94-96+ Tasted at the Chateau Friday 12 April 2013

Chateau Vieux Maillet

Deep and saturated; nutty oak; very sweet fruit on the palate; chewy and dense. Stewed notes. Disjointed sample. 84-86? Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7 April 2013

Chateau Vray Croix de Gay

Saturated and deep looking; ripe fruit, almost super-ripe and coffee bean oak; easy palate that falls away half way through and leaves the wine feeling a bit stretched. May fill out. 84-86 Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7th April 2013

Clos de Clocher

Deep and saturated; ripe, red fruits, some coffee; some fig too; thick initially, chewy tannin [oak and fruit tannins]. Bit plodding. Lacks vitality. Chewy finish. 84-86 Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7 April 2013

Clos de la Vieille Eglise

Mid depth; perfumed oak submerges the fruit, which feels a bit vegetal; fruit on the palate here but all a jumble. Overall impression is of a chewy, tannic wine with a green streak to me. 78-80 Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7th April 2013

Clos l’Eglise

Mid depth; looser at the meniscus; little dumb at first, some dust and spice; chewy and gutsy palate which lacks finesse. Depth and guts but overall a bit rustic. 85-87 Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7 April 2013

Clos Vieux Taillefer

Deep and concentrated look; more intense on the nose; lots of plummy, spicy fruit; good purity and depth; well handled oak; dense on the palate, yes extracted but good fruit purity here and nice bite and grip at the end. Good effort. Still remains fresh. 86-88 Tasted blind at the Cercle de Rive Droite, 7 April 2013


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