If anything 2012 Sauternes and Barsac is a little better than expected in what was an extremely difficult harvest in the region, spoiled by vintage rain. The very best wines are light yet with enough depth to make appetizing sweet wine that will be comparatively early maturing. A few are in a strange sort of purgatory, a half-way house position, between sweet styles and the off-dry, emphasizing the kind of all-or-nothing risk taking that Bordeaux’s bravest winemakers undertake here each vintage. There’s always the danger that you might get left high and dry in Sauternes [no pun intended] and some brave souls clearly have.
Posts Tagged ‘2012’
The 2012 growing season was as tricky up in the northern Médoc as it was elsewhere on the left bank, with the advantage here that the blends often have a higher proportion of Merlot, the variety that succeeded in the vintage. Not that Merlot escaped entirely. One of the consequences of the very cool weather around flowering was considerable flower shatter [coulure] on the Merlot, reducing yields, although this was reported as having a positive effect on quality, increasing concentration. Nevertheless the cool and wet start to the growing season certainly led to uneven development in the grapes. Ripening did catch up with the warmer and very dry period spanning mid-July to late September, but the harvest was always going to be a late one, one that would ultimately be influenced by October’s wet weather. Nevertheless the best wines have good fruit and weight from the Merlot.
Despite the vagaries of the vintage it would be a mistake to overlook St Estèphe in 2012. At the top end excellent wines have been made at Chateau Calon-Ségur, Chateau Cos d’Estournel and Chateau Montrose especially. Further down the chain there are values to be had if you pick carefully. I’ve written about the excellent effort at Chateau Meyney, but very fine wine has been made at Chateau Phélan-Ségur and there is a surprisingly good Chateau de Pez. The vintage can’t be compared to 2009 and 2010 but it’s probably better than the 2011 vintage here at least. Where the price is right, and in a few cases it is, you could consider some of these wines en primeur.
Château Cos d’Estournel has produced a dense, serious wine in 2012. It comes across as more immediately polished than arch rival Montrose, perhaps firing on six-cylinders as opposed to Montrose’s eight, though Cos’s opulence makes its overall power a bit deceptive. The comparison between the two will be fascinating down the line even if Montrose has the edge in terms of sheer power. The real difference here is on price. Cos recently released at around £990 [$1500] a case. It makes Montrose [£660/$1000] look good value, and Calon-Ségur [at £440/$700] perhaps particularly so. Still I expect Cos see this as cheap given recent pricing here, though I wouldn’t like to be a merchant charged with having to shift it [as good as the wine undoubtedly is].