Having returned from a hectic week of tasting hundreds of Bordeaux wines I have had time to gather my thoughts and reflect on the latest vintage from the various appellations of Bordeaux. My conclusion is that the 2012 is not a great vintage but it is going to be a very good drinking vintage.
Whilst I was there I overheard a number of conversations trying to compare this vintage with others from the past. For some reason people like to have a comparison. 1998 and 2004 were mentioned but I cannot see it. I feel this is a unique vintage with very little to compare it with, as the results have reflected a difficult growing season. A season with similarities to our own in the UK where growers have been hampered with unseasonal rains producing limited crops of average quality.
The yields in Bordeaux have been down and the quality of the fruits have been ok but not brilliant. Although the Merlot grape seems to have done particularly well this year. Mother nature has provided some taxing issues for the chateaux to deal with and its yet again a vintage that is going to sort the men out from the boys when it comes to the final quality of the wines. Technology is becoming more and more prevalent thus offering a helping hand to those who can afford the necessary equipment. For example it offers the opportunity to grade the harvested fruit (provided the chateaux calibrate the equipment correctly). Going forward I can see modern technology becoming a major part of wine making in the poorer years.
The 2012 vintage with an average PH level around the 3.25 will have longevity but will also drink earlier than most vintages as its full of fruit, has soft round tannins and good acidity levels. Some wines I tasted I could almost drink now! If there was ever a vintage to have in your cellar to appreciate what good Bordeaux wines taste like it will be this one. Especially when you consider it against the great vintages of 2000, 2005 and 2009 most of which will not be ready for drinking for decades. The 2007 vintage provides good drinking but it has a higher PH level and therefore will not have the life expectancy of the 2012. So if you are into drinking Bordeaux’s get some 2007′s in the cellar and by the time you have drunk those the 2012′s will be ready to satisfy your needs.
Whether to buy or not will be very dependent on the release prices as there are some good competitively priced wines currently on the market that are drinking very well now and potentially of a higher quality.
As to whether this is a Left Bank (Medoc) or a Right Bank (Saint Emilion, Pomerol etc) vintage is dependent on your palate. For me in general the Left Bank produced a more feminine style. A style that is chic and elegant. Whereas the Right Bank in the main offers more power. It is definitely going to be a vintage that will divide opinion and on average the marks given out by the critics will be lower.
As to which wines that suited my palate and that I considered to be the better wines I give you a list below:-
First Growths – Margaux.
Second Growths – Durcu -Beaucaillou, Leoville Poyferre, Pichon-Llande, Lascombes and Montrose.
Third Growths - Palmer
Fourth Growths – Beychevelle, Duhart-Milon and St.Pierre.
Fifth Growths – Pontet Canet, Lynch Bages , Grand Puy Lacoste,d’Armailhac and Clerc Milon
Pessac-Leognan - Domaine de Chavelier, Haut Bailly, Pape Clemant, Carbonnieux and Smith Haute Lafitte.
Saint Estephe - Phelan Segur
Saint Emilion – Troplong-Mondot, Figeauc, Clos Fourtet, La Fleur Morange, Bellefont Belcier, de Pressac and Ripeau.
Pomerol - Clinit, La Conseillante and Vieux Chateau Certan ( VCC).
And where we may see some good value and some lovely second wines-
Pavillion Rouge, Le Clarence de Haut Brion, Quintas, Petite Mouton, Moulin Riche, Le Petite Lion, Croix de Beaucaillou, Lalande Borie, Reserve de Comtesse, Alter Ego, La Parde Haut Bailly, La Fleur Morange Mathilde, Langoa Barton, Barde Haut and Chateau Pibran.
In conclusion I thought many of the Chateaux made some very nice wines under difficult growing conditions. The 2012 will not go down as a great vintage but a vintage that will give pleasurable drinking to many.
I hope you have enjoyed my thoughts on this years vintage and if anyone has any comments or has any questions to ask me please feel free to send me an email. If you have wish lists of wines you are interested in buying during the campaign please send me your lists.