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Bordeaux 2012 In-Bottle: Pessac-Léognan

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_6219The red and white wines of Pessac-Léognan are looking good now they are in-bottle. The whites have good aromatic profiles, plenty of flavour and nice acidity. The reds are medium bodied, forward and attractive. 2012 would appear to be an early-maturing vintage for both styles. Top of my list for red and white would have to be Château Smith Haut Lafitte. It had produced two very impressive wines. Close behind are Château Bouscaut [two outstanding efforts from this property], Château de Fieuzal, Château Malartic-Lagravière, Domaine de Chevalier and Château Pape Clément. Château Haut-Bailly has made an impressive, masculine red, and Château Olivier and Château Carbonnieux have made lovely vibrant whites.

Plenty of style and satisfaction is to be found in 2012 in Pessac-Léognan. The vintage was not without its challenges for the reds, principally some vintage rain [and the threat of rain] which led growers to pick some of the red varieties [the Cabernets principally] a little earlier than would have been desired. Nevertheless the early maturing terroirs succeeded well and, evidently, the Merlot was juicy and beautifully ripe. The overall combination of the flesh of this variety with the fresher and more structured Cabernet, has worked pretty well and all producers shown at the UGC have fashioned reds that have gone with the grain, opting for harmony and delicacy over extraction.

2012 Pessac-Léognan whites are excellent. They don’t have the steely race of 2013 or the weight of 2009 and 2010, but they are very nicely balanced and are already enjoyable. They will take some age – some like Domaine de Chevalier and Château Pape Clément need it – but most are delicious already.

IMG_6216Impressive wines from Château Bouscaut in 2012

Prices remain reasonable for 2012 and much is still available on merchant’s lists [reds especially]. If you’re taste is for fruit forward, stylish wines [white or red], there is much to recommend in this vintage. I’ve also listed notes on three Graves properties here. I was impressed by Château de Chantegrive’s red, and the seriously good white [as usual] at Château Rahoul.

The following notes were taken at the UGCB event in Covent Garden last month.

Château Bouscaut

White: Pale grey/gold; attractive complex aromatics with nicely integrated oak; cashew, spices and grapefruit tones in a bold but nicely knit together style; big-ish palate; weighty with some style; crispness with good acid; suave on the finish with saline touch. I really like Bouscaut whites, year in, year out and this 2012 is very attractive indeed. Drink now – 2020. 93+

Red: Mid depth; ripe, creamy attractive fruit on the nose [almost reminiscent to SHL]; lovely and open; rich palate with soft, plush Merlot tones and attractive Cabernet. Very nicely done red. Really showing well. [48% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec]. Drink now – 2025. 92+

Château Carbonnieux

White: Silver gold; attractive sheen; tight at first; lime zest; wet wool; flint and oyster shell; mid-eight palate with fresh acidity; lime and citrus notes; moreish and good effort; twist of grapefruit on the finish; overall pretty clean and pure; good length. Bring out a dozen oysters! Drink now – 2020. 92+

Red: Mid depth; earthy purple; blueberry aromatics with some soft plum; some earth; mid-weight palate with pronounced freshness [acidity]; blackcurrants, blueberries and plum notes; some texture on the mid-palate; nicely managed in the cellar. Elegant and a certain modesty. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc 13.5% alc]. Drink 2016-2022. 88

Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion

Deeply coloured; quite rich and plush with spices and nice lift; complexity; vigorous palate with plummy tones from the Merlot and Cabernet giving tannin and acid and sap. Interesting combination. Drink now – 2025. 90+

Domaine de Chevalier

White: Very washed colour – palest silver/grey; tight and very mineral; crisp and very cool on the palate; some spearmint notes; nice; balanced and appetizing on the palate; quite lean and tight still. Needs a few years to come out. Classical Domaine de Chevalier. Drink 2018-2025. 91+

Red: Mid depth; ripe spicy aromatics with plushness and polish; quite solid palate; full if lacking a little complexity at this stage; reliable red this and good effort. Should develop well. Drink 2017-2025. 91+

Château de Fieuzal

White: Palest grey/green; more overtly aromatic than de Chevalier at this stage; but not quite as flattering currently as Bouscaut; citrus zest, ginger and mineral tones; elegance on the palate and will take some age; excellent finish with very good length. Drink now – 2022. 92+

Red: Deepish; spices and menthol alongside blackcurrant tones; palate complete with polish and panache; grip on the finish but plenty of flesh here, freshness and earthy blackcurrant style. Drink 2016-2025. 91+

Château de France

White: Pale silver/gold; apple tones on the nose; quite soft palate with more apple notes with a crisp finish. Drink now – 2017. 86

Red: Deep and surprisingly saturated look; slight whiff of green [perhaps the terroir] and black earth; soft palate with some grip and an easy finish but feels a little hollow in the middle. OK. Drink now to 2020. 85

Château Haut-Bailly

Mid depth; blackcurrant aromatics; nice and pure and clean; some wet rock notes; quite masculine style [compared with say Smith Haut Lafitte and Malartic Lagravière]; blackcurrant fruit tones on the palate with richness beneath; good structure here as usual and extract; some tannin [ripe] and bite which indicates freshness. Good wine. Drink 2018-2028. 92+

Château Larrivet Haut-Brion

White: Pale straw; attractive aromatics; clean and pretty with nicely integrated oak and fruit tones; palate attractive with some weight and body; very attractive, modern whites here and this is a delicious 2012. Drink now – 2022. 91+

Red: Deepish; quite saturated look; ripe and juicy aromatics; quite forward ; spicy plum and black fruits; full palate which indicates the richness of the Merlot in this vintage; Cabernet cooler but this works well. Spicy finish. Drink now-2025. 89+

Château Latour-Martillac

White: Palest grey/green; apple tones alongside something sturdy; fresh apples on the palate; leaner more racy style with real citrus zing; very zippy and refreshing. Shrieks for a dozen huitres fins de claire! Drink now-2020. 90+

Red: Mid depth; more complex than La Louvière – spicy plum and blackcurrant; attractive cool palate with blackcurrants and a hint of earth and pepper; tannin at end but interesting. Drink now-2025. 88+

Château La Louvière

White: Palest green/silver; sturdy apple notes with a little animal note; crisp palate; needs to fill out a bit; some race and zip with some grapefruit and lanolin tones. Drink 2015-2020. 88+

Red: Mid red; lifted blackcurrant aromatics with attractive undergrowth tones; easy palate at first but then some chew to the tannins. Should settle with a year or so in bottle. Drink 2015-2022. 86+

Château Malartic-Lagravière

White: Slightly bolder green silver; lots of depth on the nose; quite tight but had roundness; full on the palate if lacks a little expression; good weight and a lovely finish. All in the finish here. Will be great stuff. Drink 2016-2022. 92+

Red: Deep and saturated look; ripe and sublimated on the nose but impressive concentration; fruit cool with plummy tones and palate very caressing and attractive. Nicely done. Very appealing and forward. Very good wine and drinking nicely already. Drink now-2025. 92

Château Olivier

White: Pale silver/grey; spicy grapefruit tones with some ginger; fresh and appealing; attractive palate; vibrant with lots of fruit; very refreshing; nice length. Very good dry white. Drink now-2020. 92+

Red: Mid depth; earthy nose with cool blackcurrant aromas and spices in the background; some intensity here; blackcurrant tones on the palate with some chew at the back. Drink now-2025. 88

Château Pape Clément

White: Pale silver/grey; creamy nose, little liqueur note; apparent depth; broad and with lots of depth on the palate if the wine is otherwise aromatically a bit subdued at present. Substantial but feels a bit closed at present. Should return to form as was impressive during primeurs early on. Drink 2016-2022. 92+

Red: Deepish colour; sweetness and some fat; plums and spice quite forward aromatics; more oak present on the palate and chewier feel than, say, Smith Haut Lafitte currently. Lots of elements, needs to settle. Drink 2016-2025. 91+

Château Pique Caillou

White: Pale straw; gunflint and apple notes; simple palate which maybe lacks a little acid? Drink now-2018. 85

Red: Mid depth; some cherry, blackcurrant and wine gum notes; fresh; more grip and lighter styled. Earthy notes and fresh acids. Goodish if light effort. Drink now-2020. 85+

Château Smith Haut Lafitte

White: Palest silver; elegance here but with quite a bit of fruit evident; grapefruit and cashew notes with an attractive salty tang; good weight on the palate and evidently very well balanced. Textured. Very attractive. Drink now-2022. 93

Red: Mid depth; saturated core; creamy and voluptuous aromatics; morello cherries, plums and spice; very lush; some undergrowth and complexity; very round and fruity on the palate with blackcurrant and plum fruit; very precise. Freshness at the end and nice length. One of the most impressive reds at the entire UGCB event. Drink now – 2028. 94+


Château de Chantegrive

White: Pale gold; some fruit; fatness; apple and spice; palate quite firm with some ginger, spice and apple tones. Fruity and easy. Drink now – 2016. 86

Red: Deep and saturated look; sturdy and earthy aromatics with quite a bit of fruit; attractive and full with genuine character. Supple yet quite full with good acid this is good value and enjoyable red Graves. Drink now-2020. 87+

Château Ferrande

White: Very pale straw; little wet wool; crisper and leaner on the palate. Clean crisp style. Drink now-2016. 85

Red: Deepish colour; earthy red at rim; soft entry, easy going spicy red for early consumption. Drink now – 2018. 84

Château Rahoul

White: Palest green/gold; some depth; quite fine style; tight and serious; tight palate which will fill out and feels nicely done; pent up; some grapefruit and spice but contained. Nicely done. Length. Drink now -2020. 90

Red: Mid depth; easy spicy red characters on the palate; soft with red fruit tones. Simple and easy. Drink now-2018. 86

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