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Bordeaux Primeurs 2012: Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste & Château Haut-Batailley

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux


Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Château Haut-Batailley released last week and their en primeur prices look competitive, given the quality here. Whilst things are a little up and down in the Pauillac appellation in 2012, not so at Domaines François-Xavier Borie. There’s excellent blackcurrant purity on Grand-Puy-Lacoste, second wine Lacoste-Borie looks an early maturing delight and ‘GPL’ sibling Haut-Batailley, a by-word for elegance and finesse, has made very appealing wine. These are really Pauillacs to consider in 2012.

These wines represent value, year in, year out. Even in the great Pauillac vintages like 2009 and 2010 both properties can still be purchased at reasonable prices. There’s also great digestibility in the wines that François-Xavier Borie makes at both properties.

Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste is situated off the D206 just behind the town of Pauillac itself. The 55 hectare vineyard is continuous and sits up on a slope [the ‘Puy’ in the chateau’s title] overlooking the surrounding vineyards. In the past I’ve greatly enjoyed the 1982, 1990 and 1995. Of the recent vintages, 2009 & 2010 look extremely strong. Château Haut-Batailley is a great value Pauillac, with the extra finesse the property achieves from its complex terroir. The 22 hectares are situated on the Pauillac/St Julien border, with the vineyards of Château Talbot and Château Moulin Riche just to the south, whilst also being adjacent the vineyards that produce Les Forts de Latour.

They describe 2012 here as a return to ‘normality’ following the extraordinary years of 2009 and 2010 and the freakish, back to front 2011 vintage, normal, at least, in terms of a wet spring and a dry summer. They report that the vineyards were in good health by mid-September but the shift to damper, wetter weather, required ‘vigilance’. The harvest started on October 3 at both properties and was completed by October 16. Strict selection was required and there were two successive selections before and after de-stemming. The macerations were long-ish, three weeks in both cases, and the blends were made at the end of January.

I tasted Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste three times during primeurs week in Bordeaux on three different days. Each time it was consistent. It is full of blackcurrant fruit, pure and nicely balanced. At £350 [$550 or so] a case of twelve it looks good value to me. Likewise Haut-Batailley’s 2012 effort impresses. Yes it’s elegant but it has finesse and character and will be reasonably early maturing. It’s a wine to consider en primeur, as the release price of around £245 [$380] is less than available vintages, though frankly there is a lot of 2009 and 2010 still available on merchant’s lists for not an awful lot more and I’d be tempted to snap these up first.

The following wines were tasted at the Union des Grand Crus events and at Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste between April 9-12, 2013.

Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste

Deep and saturated look; cassis, blackcurrants; very dense and very attractive; layers of cool blackcurrants here; good on the palate with lots of chew and depth; lovely balance here; extract but tannins fine and really impressive length. Tasted Friday April, 12, 2013 at Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste. 91-93+ [Earlier notes from UGC] Deepish; pure Cabernet aromas and some perfume; blackcurrants beneath; earthy entry; very good density and pretty fine. Fresh finish. This is better than Pichon-Baron this year. Good effort. Tasted UGC Thursday April 11, 2013. 90-92+ [Earlier note] Mid depth; vibrant edge; lots of attractive Cabernet fruit here; blackcurrants; some stalks; sense of freshness and vibrancy; again lively Cab on the palate; quite tight on the end but plenty of extract and material. Nice length if grippy at present. Promising. UGC Tuesday April 9, 2013. 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot. 90-91+

Château Haut-Batailley

Good looking; polished; very attractive, pretty nose; blackcurrants, smoke, earth; very nicely done; palate attractive too [little oak to integrate] but nice layers here with some cream and plenty of blackcurrant tones; nice balance and harmony. Good length and good effort. 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 60% new oak. Tasted Friday April, 12, 2013 at Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste. 88-90+

Lacoste-Borie, Pauillac [second wine of Grand-Puy-Lacoste]

Deep and healthy looking; very pretty nose; lots of fat, primary fruit – plums, blackcurrants; mid weight on the palate but pretty harmonious [probably the fair wack of Merlot]. Coffee and spice tones on the finish. Good effort. 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc. Tasted Friday April, 12, 2013 at Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste. 87-88+

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