Weather conditions in 2012 created challenges in Bordeaux. The weather challenge is a continuation from a poor 2011 vintage and 2013 looks even worse, but the whites are showing nicely.
Prices were still strong following the outstanding 2009 and 2010 vintages. The EU recession, slowing growth in China combined with an unheralded vintage is creating a lack of demand. Slack demand is finally driving down prices so as we look at the 2012 vintage price will play a part. It will be interesting to see the impact on the retail shelves from the stronger dollar. We might be talking about a 20+% decrease in pricing.
In general these wines are not for long term cellaring but for early consumption.
You will note that the wines listed below just happen to come from a few areas. When buying 2012 Bordeaux focus on the areas from which the recommendations come from.
The cool and wet spring caused mildew and uneven flowering.
The uneven fruit set caused a reduced crop. This is not dramatic, but with an uneven fruit set the vineyard had to separate the green berries from the ripe berries on the same bunch, which takes money and effort. There is no way of knowing which vineyard spent the time and money to sort the berries is part of the conundrum.
Many high-end, famous critics (who get to attend the En Primeur tastings in Bordeaux) seem to agree that 2012 had quality issues much like 2011. In 2012, ripening of the Cabernet Sauvignon was problematic, and Sauternes lost most of its crop to bad weather just before harvest. The dry whites fared well and the Merlot-based reds were salvageable, but 2012 will not be a vintage to remember, or to save.
And let’s cut to the chase, the 2012 was not easy to produce. It was a challenging vintage. In the words of Charles Chevalier of Lafite Rothschild: “We had an intern here with us in 2012 and he was the only one with a smile on his face; he got to see all diseases and problems in the vineyard he had learned about at school”.
To produce the 2012 was a task of selection in the vineyards. To buy the 2012 will be a task of selection for wine-lovers in the offerings as all depends on the price to determine a good value.
Not all is lost
Not all is lost –
Think Pomerol, Merlot and whites from Pessac- Léognan / Graves / Deux Mers
Critic James Suckling has revealed his top picks for the 2012 Bordeaux vintage, claiming that he “can’t think of many vintages that have improved so much after aging”. Dubbing the 2012 a “sleeper vintage” for Bordeaux, he notes that it’s a “wonderful year to buy and to drink. Many of the wines are incredibly drinkable now, with ultra-fine tannins and delicate fruit.”
It’s a vintage that requires some homework as many wines are much better than others. Pomerol is clearly the star of the appellation. In fact, numerous Pomerol chateau made very fine wines. Due to the mixed reputation of the vintage, Pomerol which is one of the most expensive Bordeaux appellations, (due to its small size and high level of quality) offers some nice 2012 Bordeaux value wines.
Prices for Pomerol can run in the three or four figures and do not play well to my audience as we like good stuff cheap.
Merlot on a whole (which is harvested earlier) did better than Cabernet; of the 60-odd wines I managed to get through before heading back out into the snow, the best were preponderantly from the right bank (Pomerol and St-Émilion) and Pessac-Léognan.
What’s not hot:
Cabernet-driven wines from the Médoc were more hit or miss: Many were astringent, hard and underwhelming; a smaller number managed to balance that toughness with enough generosity to have significant appeal.
White wines are generally grown further south with a different weather pattern.
The dry whites, a specialty of Pessac-Léognan and Graves to the immediate south, are one of the big success stories of Bordeaux 2012 – and there should also be particularly good value to be had to the north in the Entre Deux Mers region, although these are not wines to be bought as futures.
The whites are much racier and livelier than in most vintages.
White wines from 2013 look like real winners.
Chateau Doisy Daene Bordeaux white 2011 or 2012 rated 92 points in the $18 range
Nice aromas of honeysuckle and citrus, balanced with citrus and minerals. Nice finish. The above is a summary of an online blog on this wine. No of cases is the unknown.
Lemon, lime and apple notes – think tart – that is my take on the notes – not necessarily bad as it might be an interesting addition while cooking
Chateau LA Garde – Pessac – Leognan (Graves) white rated 91 @ $20
Interesting wine – What is unique to La Garde is the presence in the vineyard of a parcel of rare Sauvignon Gris, a close cousin of the Sauvignon Blanc but a varietal which yields a slightly richer, rounder character to the finished blend. 50% of the wine comes from this grape and the touch of complexity it imparts lifts this wine above most of its competitors.
Marius by Michel Chapoutier – white – 2013 @ $12
A rich white with white plum, melon and glazed citrus. Spiced with zesty finish – looks interesting – 32,000 cases made
Domaines Paul Mas – Sauvignon Blanc Pays 2013 rated 878 @ $11
Think grassy sauvignon blanc – grassy notes with apple and citrus flavors. Tropical fruit on the finish. 72,000 cases
Chateau LA Pointe Pomerol 2012 rated 90 points $32
Chateau Brown Pessac Loegnan 2012 rate 91 points @ $27
Flavors of blackberry, blueberry, with anise and ganache accents on the finish. Best 2017 for a few years. 6400 cases made.
Chateau haut bergey Pessac Leognan 2012 rated 89 points @ $22
Solid with plum blackberry with tobacco and singed anise notes – a little earthy is the word I would use – not my favorite – 10000 cases made.