The clues were there. Fewer big gun proprietors stood behind the tables at this year’s Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting. Some château regulars to Covent Garden were missing completely. And the braying roar of excitement from the trade that accompanied the 2009 and 2010 in-bottle tastings was missing here, replaced by a low, gentle, pinstriped murmur, ‘What on earth are we going to do with this vintage?’ I’m exaggerating a little because there were some good Bordeaux reds from 2011 on offer at the tasting, though relatively few set the pulse really racing. The real joy in this vintage is amongst the whites, particularly the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac, and the dry whites from Pessac-Léognan, though that’s not much consolation for a region mostly concerned with red wine production.
Posts Tagged ‘Margaux’
Overall a surprisingly homogeneous and really encouraging set of wines that confirms, for me at least, that the Margaux commune probably out-performs St Estèphe, Pauillac and St Julien in 2012 in terms of consistency, delicacy and drinkability. Early maturing certainly but not in the under-ripe, hollow sense. There is genuine lushness in many of the wines, layers of ripe, velvety fruit provided by the beautiful Merlot that the vintage produced. It combines nicely with the tighter, admittedly fresher, but rarely angular or green Cabernet Sauvignon. The combination works well. Given the right pricing [critical] the best are seriously worth considering. Certainly they are a far better set of wines overall than in 2011.
Château Palmer’s 2012 is very impressive and follows on from a trio of highly successful vintages here spanning 2009-2011. The improvements and the consistency achieved under the leadership of managing director Thomas Duroux now make Palmer one of Bordeaux’s stand-out wines, year in, year out. The heights to which Palmer can soar are well known – 1961, 1983, 1989 – but it’s the inconsistency that’s been ironed out. Unquestionably Palmer is now on the same qualitative pedestal as Château Margaux, if often its stylistic opposite, usually plusher and more seductive in style. The only issue this year is the price. I think it’s fair to say most people were hoping to see more than 1% trimmed off the tag but least it hasn’t gone up! Thank heavens for small mercies.
Even in the most consistent year a Bordeaux vintage is complex. 2012 is far from a consistent year. Poor weather caused uneven flowering at the start of the growing cycle, this led to great variation in ripening, and after what eventually proved a hot and dry summer, vintage rain caused difficulties. It’s a vintage that is heterogeneous in a great many places, especially on the Left Bank. One thing is not in any doubt, however. The vintage has produced Merlot of considerable beauty and it is the quality of this variety that stuck in the mind during Primeurs week.