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Bordeaux Primeurs 2012: Château Léoville Poyferré

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux


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.

After a cold and dry winter, bud break was comparatively early here but vine growth slowed rapidly after reflecting the wet weather that, by and large, lasted until mid-July. Flowering was consequently long and prolonged [they compare it with 2006 in that respect] and veraison late and correspondingly extended. The dry late summer with heat spikes did lead to vine stress and the momentum was only recovered by [helpful] rain at the end of September.

As everywhere else they would have liked better weather in October, clearly for their last two hectares of Cabernet which were harvested in a deluge! These are the risks you run when you try to push the harvest as late as possible in search of extra ripeness. Save for 2008 [a very good wine was made here then] this was the latest harvest for over thirty years at the property. The Merlot itself, which comprises 30% of the grand vin in 2012, was harvested between October 8-11. Of the Cabernets, the Franc was harvested between October 16-17 and the Cabernet Sauvignon between October 11-19. Petit Verdot was harvested in two goes, October 10-11 and on October 13.

Although the vintage itself began under very gloomy conditions, and it rained throughout the harvest, the estate argues that between October 8-18 it rained 39mm, just 3.6mm a day, so maybe not a huge threat in terms of dilution. It was potentially a risk for botrytis, though the grapes were harvested healthy and sorting was used [manual and optical]. The two hectares caught out in the deluge of October 19 however received 28mm in just one day and marked a very wet end to the harvest.

Château Léoville Poyferré is always the sleekest and most modern of the Léovilles and whilst overall the grand vin is not as impressive as Château Léoville-Las-Cases this year [though I didn’t have the opportunity to see them side by side] I’d certainly expect the wine to fill out further. Price has risen here over the past few vintages, especially following Robert Parker’s perfect score of the 2009. It cuts both ways of course and I see that Parker this year hasn’t scored the 2012 that highly. It puts the property in an interesting position in terms of release price. It was down a fair bit in 2011 but if the property releases at a really competitive price, say like the £420 ($650] a case of twelve at Château Rauzan-Ségla, then ‘LP’ would look potentially interesting. I remember the 2008 being extremely well priced on release in 2009. At £320 or so [$480] a case it didn’t take me a minute to think about that one…

Château Moulin Riche, sometimes mistaken for the second wine here but it is actually an entirely separate 22 hectare St Julien property. It felt a little harder on the day. I think this was partly because of the slightly greater emphasis on the Cabernets and slightly less Merlot. Still, it looked a good effort. I’ll report on Château Le Crock, the Cuvelier St Estephe property, in a later post as I had the chance to catch up with their very good 2010 as well as the 2012.

The following wines were tasted both with Didier Cuvelier at Chateau Léoville Poyferré on Monday, April 8, 2013 and Léoville Poyferré  itself was subsequently tasted at the UGC on two separate occasions.

Château Léoville Poyferré, Cru Classé, St Julien

Deep and tight to the rim; saturated colour; healthy purple at rim; lots of blackcurrant cassis; layered and mannered; precise; blackcurrant notes, some smoke and meat; tight palate, lots of fruit evident; minerals; good focus again; lots of fruit here but very focused. Didier Cuvelier thought the palate was closed on the day. Very expressive nose though. Looks very good indeed, should blossom further. 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot 13.4% alc, IPT 82, pH 3.8 92-93+ Tasted Monday April, 8, 2013 [Additional note] Deep and saturated look; ripe; lots of fruit on the nose; thicker and layered; nice palate with good depth and density. Tannic grippy finish but need a bit of time. 91-92+ Tasted UGC Thursday April 11, 2013 [Additional note] Deep and saturated look; ripe and deep on the nose; smoky notes, blackcurrants; lots of finesse; palate has a lot of material; nicely composed; layers of fruit if firm tannins at the back. Chewy finish but very good material. 91-92+ UGC Tuesday April 9, 2013

Château Moulin Riche, St Julien

Mid depth; rich colour and looks polished; smoke, black fruits and layers to the nose; later blackcurrant, cassis and black cherry notes; more structure evident than in LP; feels strong and dense with a chewy finish. Precision but not as much flesh evident as Leoville-Poyferre. 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 13.2% alc, IPT 73 pH: 3.8 87-89

IMG_4372Didier Cuvelier – the power behind Poyferré

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