Check the report on the Bordeaux En Primeurs 2012 by Robert Parker with his notes (highly expected) and 5 of his tasting notes.
My tastings clearly revealed the overall success of the Merlot crop, with the most successful appellation being Pomerol, followed closely by Pessac-Léognan, which in some cases had begun their harvest before Pomerol. Because of its vast size, St.-Emilion offers virtually everything from top-flight wines that are not far off the mark of 2010 and 2009, to wines that are hollow, overly extracted, rustic and astringent.
The Médoc is the area of most concern for the following reasons:
1) some wines lack a mid-palate,
2) some are herbaceous, even vegetal, and
3) others are too tannic.
Nevertheless, many Médoc producers aimed for forward, fruit-driven wines and kept the extraction process to a minimum, often succeeding in fashioning charming, mid-weight, delicious wines without an excess of concentration or tannin. By and large, the acidity levels in the 2012s are relatively low (obviously much lower than in 2011), and the tannins are relatively high. In the best cases, the tannins are sweet, especially in Pomerol, Pessac-Léognan, and to a certain extent, St.-Emilion.
While 2012 is not a great vintage, it is an excellent one in Pomerol, Pessac-Léognan and for some St.-Emilions. In the Médoc, 2012 tends to be average to above average depending on the château. It was a disappointing year for the sweet whites of Sauternes and Barsac, which is evidenced by the fact that four well-known châteaux, Yquem, Rieussec, Raymond-Lafon and Suduiraut, all declassified their entire harvest.
In contrast, the dry white wines of Graves are beautiful. 2012 is clearly a top vintage for these wines, which are rich, soft, intense and honeyed.
2011 was also too expensive when it came out, and the wines have not sold well. Now we have the 2012s ready to be priced, and in another 5-6 months, 2013 will be coming down the Route du Vin in Bordeaux. Prices have to drop significantly in this vintage for consumers to jump back on the Bordeaux bandwagon.
Do I think that’s going to happen? While everyone talks about lowering prices and giving consumers a fair deal, I have heard that song so many times that I am very skeptical it will happen.
However, Bordeaux is at a crossroads. While it provides indisputably the world’s greatest wine, produces the largest quantity of great wines on planet Earth, and will never lose favor, concerns must be raised about the viability of buying Bordeaux as a wine future if prices do not drop and make such a proposition attractive to the wine trade as well as to the ultimate drinker of this product, the wine consumer !
Parker’s best scores
Château Le Pin 2012 – Pomerol • 93-95
The 2012 Le Pin exhibits a surprisingly opaque purple color, moderately high tannin, deep mocha and jammy berry characteristics, unexpected headiness, an alcoholic blast and lots of glycerin and fruit. This beauty should come into its own in 4-5 years, and last for 15 or more.
Château Mouton-Rothschild 2012 – Pauillac • 95-97
The intensely ripe Cabernet Sauvignon grown on the plateau at Mouton has produced an inky/purple-colored wine with the famous Mouton creme de cassis and floral characteristics vividly displayed. For the first time in a number of years they appear to have outdistanced their cross street rival, the biodynamically farmed Chateau Pontet Canet of Alfred Tesseron. Wonderfully sweet tannins envelop the enormous fruit and extravagant richness of this full-bodied Mouton Rothschild. With profound density as well as surprisingly sweet tannin, this terrific effort will probably shut down slightly and require 5-8 years of cellaring after bottling. It appears to have 30 or more years of aging potential, making it potentially one of the 3 or 4 longest-lived wines of the vintage.
Château Angélus 2012 – Saint-Emilion • 94-96
Owned by Hubert de Bouard, the 2012 Angelus was harvested between October 8-18, yields were 34 hectoliters per hectare, and the natural alcohol was over 14%. The final blend was 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. One of the superstars of the vintage, the dense opaque purple/blue-colored 2012 offers up notes of barbecue smoke, graphite, charcoal, blueberries, blackberries, sweet cherries and forest floor. With terrific fruit intensity, a powerful, layered, multidimensional mouthfeel and full body, it should be drinkable at an early age given the sweetness of the tannin. It should easily evolve for 15-20 years.
Château Troplong-Mondot 2012 – Saint-Emilion • 94-96
One of the superstars of the vintage, it boasts an inky/purple color as well as abundant notes of blueberry liqueur, graphite, truffles, acacia flowers and subtle toast. Full-bodied, opulent and already easy to drink, this large-scaled wine possesses high levels of tannin, but they are relatively well-concealed by the extravagant fruit, glycerin, texture and density of this compelling Troplong Mondot. This impressive wine may shut down after bottling and require 4-5 years of cellaring. It has the potential to last at least 15-20 years. Bravo!
Château Rauzan-Ségla 2012 – Margaux • 93-95
The 2012 Rauzan Segla may turn out to be as strong an effort as their 2010. A brilliant blend of 54.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot (which accounts for the wine’s ripeness and intensity), and the rest a tiny dollop of 1.5% Petit Verdot, it boasts an inky/blue/purple color as well as gorgeous aromas of black and blue fruits, spring flowers, and hints of background toast and forest floor. Well-integrated wood and acidity as well as moderately ripe tannins make for a medium to full-bodied, expansive, flavorful, rich, well-delineated effort. It will need 3-5 years of bottle age and should drink well for two decades thereafter.
[TECHNICAL] • To understand the 2012 vintage in Bordeaux
2012 turned out to be a complex year weather-wise, with a wet early, mid- and late spring as over 300mm of rain fell between March and the end of June.The wet weather plus frequent cold spells had a deleterious effect on the crop set (flowering), with lots of coulure, which lowers the crop size and promotes uneven grape maturity. Consequently, there were several generations of grapes, which had nightmare potential for producers, since the grapes would ripen at different times. Every grower wants flowering conditions to occur under high barometric pressure conditions with low to moderate winds, and no significant rain.
However, just the opposite occurred in 2012, so the table was set for a relatively late as well as irregular harvest that would require extensive viticultural work (spraying, removal of the second and third generation buds from the vines) to promote even ripening. Moreover, it was a small crop. The wet, cold, bizarre spring and lack of any summer weather continued through mid-July, creating a pessimistic attitude that 2012 had no chance of reminding anyone of 2009 or 2010. Some thought it might not even turn out to be average to above average (as 2011 did). By mid-July, Bordeaux had experienced irregular flowering and considerable mildew outbreaks that mandated extensive work in the vineyard to try and keep the vines healthy.
Things began to finally improve by mid-July. With the ripening process ominously two to three weeks behind 2011, especially in the Médoc, the weather became warm and dry. By the end of September, it was clear that much of Pomerol, along with the Merlot in Pessac-Léognan and St.-Emilion, had already been harvested under relatively fine conditions. The results suggested low yields and plenty of ripeness. Many producers had crop-thinned simply to remove the unevenly sized bunches and second and third generation grapes. In short, 2012 was turning out to be labor-intensive and expensive.
As October unfolded, producers in the Médoc began to hope for Indian Summer-like conditions, but that optimism was crushed by 100mm of rain that fell between October 7 and 9. This further delayed and diluted the Cabernet Sauvignon crop still hanging on the vine in search of phenolic maturity. The amount of luminosity and sunshine began to dwindle as the days became shorter, and producers reached the point where nothing was to be gained by delaying the harvest any longer. However, for the most part, this was avoided by employing meticulous and labor-intensive sorting, as well as the high-tech laser optical sorting tables which are widely used at the top Bordeaux estates.
By the time the harvest finished in early November, France’s Ministry of Agriculture declared it the smallest crop that Bordeaux had produced since 1991.