2012 Bordeaux: classic Merlot wines made by the perceptive winemaker

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Elegant classic Bordeaux wines with velvety purity were made this year by those winemakers with sensitive insight. The top wines were Merlot dominated (as this variety was able to ripen before the rains) with the top appellations being St Emilion, Pomerol, Pessac-Léognan (red and whites) and some of Margaux.

Those in touch with their vines, with nature, who got out of his vehicle (even if it is a 4×4 and can get really close to the vines) and walked through his or her vine plots from morning to night (not just at harvest). These were the winemakers who succeeded this year, the ones with soil on their shoes. Yes it was a challenge, involving decisions to be made and changed every minute, in reaction to the constantly changing climate variables. Once safely in the vats, they knew how to treat their grapes, gently during the winemaking process.

Those that tried to overwrite the vintage, beefing it up  through extraction and oak, failed.

Most wines this year are  technically well-made full of upfront promise of black fruit and oak but that seem to lose their way, lacking coherence – not following through. (When tasting I think of them as the Cones of this vintage).

The top wines this year, many fewer of them, are elegant and pure (hopefully like my favorite 2001 vintage). More Cylindrical starting with a purity of ‘croquant’ black fruits and continuing wth a smooth velvety middle, silky and full.

The whites were able to ripen before the rains and were very successful this year with good fresh aromatics and ripe peachy flavours.

My top Bordeaux ‘cylinders’ 2012 so far: (just the UGC). As you can see there are fewer as you go up the Médoc but still some good wines.

Difficult to have a favorite appellation (probably plump for St Emilion) as there is so much variability in each but definitely prefer the Right Bank this year.

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Pomerol: La Conseillante(photo of the circular chai), Le Croix du Gay, Le Bon Pasteur

St Emilion: Clos Fourtet, Larcis Ducasse, Troplong Mondot, Pavie Maquin, Villemaurine, Figeac (bit clonish!)

Margaux: d’Angludet, Cantenac Brown, Giscours, Malescot St Exupery, Marquis de Terme

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St Julien: Gruaud Larose, Leoville Barton, Talbot

Pauillac: Croizet-Bages, Pichon Baron

Pessac Léognan: RedsHaut Bailly, Smith Haut Lafitte, Domaine de Chevalier, Olivier and Malartic Lagraviere, Carbonnieux. WhitesSmith Haut Lafitte, Domaine de Chevalier, Olivier, Malartic Lagraviere

Impressed too with the simpler wines of this appellations particularly the reds of Haut Bergey, Ch de Rahoul, Chantegrive, Pique Caillou

We musn’t forget that infact that it was pretty dry and hot this summer once we hit mid July. Grapes were pretty ripe by the time we got to October. Shame the rains came mid October, could have done with an extra ten days of sunshine to make it a very good vintage. Even so perceptive winemakers made it good.

Yes it was a year that definitely favoured Merlot, but if the Cabernets were picked in a healthy condition and treated very gently during extraction, with very little pumping over (particularly as alcohol came in to play) to go easy on the unripe skins, there were even some nice wines made on the left bank.

Bordeaux has the last smile, record sunshine for this weekend after a week of primeur ‘pluie’ for its foreign visitors

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