Denis Durantou, owner of L'Eglise Clinet - one of the magicians not only in Pomerol but also in the whole of Bordeaux
2012 wasn't at all blessed by weather Gods. After the cold spring, flowering was delayed two weeks, and Merlot suffered coulure (lack of fruit setting). Then summer arrived, and it didn't rain for almost 2.5 months. It helped grapes to get back to normal ripening. However, many bunches of grapes on vines had uneven ripening phases. Lots of work in vineyards had to be done.
For most of September, it didn't rain, but around the 28th, there was a 50-80 mm downpour. It rained some ten days later, and the weekend after another downpour ended with great hopes of another excellent vintage in Sauternes & Barsac and getting CS perfectly skin ripe. The funny thing is that this rain killed grapes mostly in Sauternes, not Barsac.
Merlot on both banks did very well, especially in Pomerol, while there were some problems with Cabernet Franc getting ripe in Pomerol, but bigger ones in Saint-Emilion.
Left Bank had no such problems; even the troublesome Petit Verdot did ripe well but without 100% phenolic ripeness. One proprietor in Haut Medoc told me that CS lacked 4-5 days to obtain perfect phenolic ripeness.
1. Left Bank is more consistent than Right Bank, with Margaux commune and St.Julien doing exceptionally well, + Pichon Baron and Pontet Canet. Pauillac's and Saint-Estephes are less consistent than Margaux and St. Julien's communes. FGs aren't better than their 2011 versions, and neither are the second wines of FGs.
2. Graves/Pessac Leognan in both colors did also particularly well.
3. Most of the Pomerols are OK, but not all. Still, L'Eglise Clinet, Le Gay, Petrus and L'Evangile top my chart. Great to see Petit Village returning from the doldrums and quickly getting better and better – thanks to new technical director Marielle Cazaux, appointed last year.
4. Saint-Emilion is a mixed bag of styles, successes, and failures. I don't want to put some names here, but many wines, some at a high level, are far too much extracted, vegetally green, lack midpalate, and are out of balance and thin. You could see problems with Cabernet Franc, which several proprietors needed help to handle. You could get the impression that they tried hard to make another 2010 vintage out of 2012 but pushed too much and failed big time. Maybe some wines will put on weight during the second year in barrels. Who knows? Tertre Roteboeuf is among the best wines of the vintage, with astonishing effort in 2012. Imho, better and more complete wine than Ausone and Cheval Blanc. It's a mystery or more touch of genius that he, vintage after vintage, makes dazzling wine with, so to say, his bare hands. There's no high-tech cellar, no modern facilities, no fancy tanks, and no fancy vinification techniques of modern times. Francois Mitjavile told me during harvest 2011, when grapes had a different state of maturity – "Izak, I don't make second wine. Why should I? I use all grapes except green ones and ones affected by botrytis. The raisiny ones give fine roasted flavor to my wine!" 100% magician winemaker.
Hottest female proprietors – Anabelle Cruse Bardinet, Caroline Frey, and Helene Garcin-Leveque.
Prettiest equippe – three gorgeous-looking women at Grand Puy Ducasse pouring wines during UGCB tasting.
The best-looking cellar - La Conseillante with that lovely violet touch.
The most exciting and longest visit is Belle Brise in Pomerol and Tertre Roteboeuf in Saint-Emilion.
Most modern accommodation with a fancy bathroom – Petit Village.
Most old-fashioned accommodation without Wi-Fi – Lascombes.
Most depressing tasting (wines!) – Cercle Rive Droite.
20 Mille Bordeaux Supérieur 89 3 de Valandraud St-Emilion 87 "S" de Suduiraud Sauternes 88-89 d'Aiguilhe Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux 88Aile d'Argent 91p Alter Ego de Palmer Margaux 91 Alcée Castilllon Cotes de Bordeaux 88Amélisse/Saintayme St-Emilion 89 Angélus St-Emilion GC 91-92 d'Angludet Margaux 89Aria de La Riviere Fronsac 90 d'Armailhac Pauillac 88 D'Arsac Margaux 86
Ausone St-Emilion GC 92-93? Bad Boy Bordeaux 88 Balestard La Tonnelle St-Emilion GC 90 Barde-Haut St-Emilion GC 91-92 Barrabaque Canon-Fronsac 91+ Bastor Lamontagne Sauternes 86 Batailley Pauillac 91 Beaumont Haut-Médoc 88 Beauregard Pomerol 89 Beau-Séjour Bécot St-Emilion GC 87 Beau Soleil Pomerol 88 Belair-Monange St-Emilion GC 91 Bel-Air Ouÿ St-Emilion GC 86 Belle Brise Pomerol 93-94 Belgrave Haut-Médoc 89-90
Bellegrave Pomerol 88 Bellevue St-Emilion GC 87 Bellevue de Tayac Margaux 89 Berliquet St-Emilion GC 89 Beychevelle St-Julien 92 Blaison d'Issan Margaux 86p Bonalgue Pomerol 88 Bon Pasteur Pomerol 91 Bourgneuf Pomerol 92 Bouscaut red Pessac-Léognan 90 Bouscaut white Pessac-Léognan 91-92 Branaire St-Julien 90 Brane-Cantenac Margaux 92 Broustet Barsac 86 La Cabanne Pomerol 91 Calon Montagne-Saint-Emilion 88 Calon Segur St-Estèphe 92
de Camensac Haut-Médoc 87 Cantelauze Pomerol 90 Canon St-Emilion GC 91 Canon-La-Gaffelière St-Emilion GC 91 Cantemerle Haut-Médoc 89-90 Cantenac-Brown Margaux 92 Capbern Gasqueton St-Estèphe 89-90 Cap de Mourlin St-Emilion GC 88 Carbonnieux red Pessac-Léognan 91-92 Carbonnieux white Pessac-Léognan 91 CarlMagnus Fronsac 90 Les Carmes Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 91 Carruades de Lafite Rothschild Pauillac 87
Castelnau de Suduiraut Sauternes 85 Certan de May de Certan Pomerol 91-92 Chadenne Fronsac 88 de Chambrun Lalande de Pomerol 88 Chantegrive red Graves 89 Chantegrive Caroline white Graves 91 Chapelle d'Ausone St-Emilion GC 87-88 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 87 Charmes Godard blanc Francs Cotes de Bordeaux 88 Chasse Spleen Moulis 86 La Chenade Lalande de Pomerol 91 Cheval Blanc St-Emilion GC 92-94
Citran Haut-Médoc 87 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 88 Clarke Listrac 87 La Clarte de Haut Brion (white) 88-89 La Clemence Pomerol 90-91 Clerc Milon Pauillac 91 Climens Barsac 95-96 Clinet Pomerol 92 Clos Badon Thunevin St-Emilion GC 89 Le Clos de Beau Pere Pomerol 90 Clos de l'Oratoire St-Emilion GC 89 Clos du Clocher Pomerol 86 Clos Fourtet St-Emilion GC 88 Clos Floridene white Pessac-Léognan 89
Clos Haut Peyraguey Sauternes 90 Clos l'Eglise Pomerol 92-93 Clos Marsalette Pessac-Léognan La Confession St-Emilion GC 94 La Conseillante Pomerol 94-95 Le Conseiller Bordeaux Superieur 89 Corbin St-Emilion GC 91-92 Corbin Michotte St-Emilion GC 91Cos-Labory St-Estèphe 91 Coufran Haut-Médoc 88 Couhins Lurton blanc Pessac-Léognan 91 La Couspaude St-Emilion GC 87 Coutet Barsac 91 La Croix du Casse Pomerol 86-87 La Croix de Gay Pomerol 86
La Croix Saint-Georges Pomerol 93-94 Croix Mouton Bordeaux Superieur 89 Croizet-Bages Pauillac 90 de Cruzeau white Pessac-Leognan 89 Les Cruzelles Lalande de Pomerol 91 Dalem Fronsac 89 La Dame de Montrose St-Estèphe 88 Dassault St-Emilion GC 91-92 Dauzac Margaux 92 Desmirail Margaux 89 Doisy Daene Barsac 91-92 Doisy Vedrines Barsac 89 Domaine de Chevalier red Pessac-Léognan 93+
Domaine de Chevalier white Pessac-Léognan 94-95 Domaine de L'Eglise Pomerol 87p Domaine de Gachet Lalande de Pomerol 86-87 Domaine de Cambes Bordeaux 87 Domaine des Gourdins St-Emilion 86 Domaine des Justices Bordeaux red 86p Domaine des Justices Bordeaux white 86p Domaine des Sabines Lalande de Pomerol 89 La Dominique St-Emilion GC 87 Le Dragon de Quintus St-Emilion GC 86 Duhart-Milon-Rothschild Pauillac 88 Duo de Conseillante 88 L'Eglise Clinet Pomerol 96 L'Evangile Pomerol 94-95 Ferrande Graves 89 Ferrande white Graves 91-92
Ferrière Margaux 91 Feytit-Clinet Pomerol 87 de Fieuzal red Pessac-Léognan 92 de Fieuzal white Pessac-Léognan 92-93 Figeac St-Emilion GC 88 Filhot Sauternes 87-88 La Fleur St-Emilion 87 La Fleur de Boüard Lalande de Pomerol 87 Fleur de Clinet Pomerol 86 La Fleur Petrus Pomerol 91-92 de Fonbel St-Emilion GC 85-86 Fonreaud Listrac 86 Fontenil Fronsac 90 Fourcas Dupre Listrac 86 Forcas Hosten Listrac 88
Les Forts de Latour Pauillac 88 de France red Pessac-Léognan 88 de France white 91-92 Franc-Mayne St-Emilion GC 87 Gaby Canon-Fronsac 91+ G Acte 4 Bordeaux Superieur 88 La Gaffelière St-Emilion GC 90-91 La Garde Pessac-Léognan 87-88 La Garde white Pessac-Léognan 87 Le Gay 94-95 Gazin Pomerol 91 Girolate Bordeaux 86 Giscours Margaux 93 Gloria St-Julien 87 Grand Mayne St-Emilion GC 91 Grand Ormeau Lalande de Pomerol 88
Grand-Puy-Ducasse Pauillac 89 Grand Puy Lacoste 90 Grand Village Bordeaux Superieur 88 Grand Village white Bordeaux Superieur 89 La Grave Pomerol 87 La Graviere Lalande de Pomerol 89 La Tour de By Médoc 86 Gruaud-Larose St-Julien 88 Guiraud Sauternes & Barsac 86 Haut Bages Liberal 89 Haut-Bailly Pessac-Léognan 91-93 Haut-Bergey Pessac-Léognan 89 Haut-Bergey white Pessac-Léognan 92 Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 94-95 Haut-Brion white Pessac-Léognan 96-97
Haut Maillet Pomerol 89 Haut Simard St-Emilion GC 86 Hosanna Pomerol 91 d'Issan Margaux 88-89 Kirwan Margaux 91 Le Jardin de Petit Village Pomerol 87 Jeunes Pousses de Raymond Lafon 88 Labégorce Margaux 91-92 Les Justices Sauternes 88-89 Lafaurie Peyraguey Sauternes 90 Lafite-Rothschild Pauillac 93+ Lafleur Pomerol 95 Lafleur Gazin Pomerol 87 Lafon-Rochet St-Estèphe 89 Lagrange St-Julien 91 La Lagune Haut Medoc 92 Lamarque Haut-Médoc 87 Lamothe Cissac Haut Medoc 88-89
Lamothe Cissac Vieilles Vignes Haut Medoc 90-91 Langoa-Barton St-Julien 89 Larcis Ducasse St-Emilion GC 91 Larmande St-Emilion GC 90 Larrivet-Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 92 Larrivet Haut Brion white Pessac-Léognan 91-92 Lascombes Margaux 92 Latour Pauillac 94+ Latour-Martillac red Pessac-Léognan 91 Latour-Martillac white Pessac-Léognan 93 Latour-á-Pomerol Pomerol 90
Léoville-Barton St-Julien 93 Léoville-Poyferré St-Julien 93 La Louvière Pessac-Léognan 91 La Louvière white Pessac-Léognan 92 Lynch Bages Pauillac 92 Lynch-Moussas Pauillac 87 Malartic-Lagravière red Pessac-Léognan 92 Malartic-Lagravière white Pessac-Léognan 87 Malescot Saint-Exupéry Margaux 92 de Malle Sauternes 90 Manoir de Gay 88 Margaux Margaux 94-95 Marquis d'Alesme Margaux 92 Marquis de Calon Saint-Estéphe 86 Marquis de Terme Margaux 91
Maucaillou Moulis 88 Meyney Saint-Estéphe 88 La Mission Haut-Brion red Pessac-Léognan 93-94 La Mission Haut-Brion white Pessac-Léognan 95-96 Monbrison Margaux 91 La Mondotte St-Emilion GC 94 Montlandrie Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux 89-90 Montrose St-Estèphe 92 Montviel Pomerol 88 Moulin Saint-Georges St-Emilion GC 87 Mouton-Rothschild Pauillac 94+ Myrat Sauternes 91-92 Nairac Barsac 88-89 Olivier Pessac-Léognan 89 Olivier blanc Pessac-Léognan 92
Les Ormes de Pez St-Estèphe 87 Palmer Margaux 95-96 Pape Clément Pessac-Léognan 92 Pape Clément blanc Pessac-Léognan 94-95 La Papeterie Montagne St-Emilion 87 Pauillac de Château Latour Pauillac 85-86 Pavie-Macquin St-Emilion GC 92+ Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux Margaux 91 Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux Bordeaux 92 Pensées de Lafleur Pomerol 91 La Petite Eglise Pomerol 90-91 Le Petit Cheval St-Emilion GC 87
Le Petit Mouton de Mouton-Rothschild Pauillac 87 Petit Village Pomerol 91 Petrus 95 de Pez St-Estephe 88 Phélan-Ségur St-Estèphe 90 Pibran Pauillac 87 Pichon-Longueville Baron Pauillac 92 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Pauillac 90-91 Picque Caillou red Pessac-Léognan 91-92 Picque Caillou white Pessac-Léognan 88 Le Pin Pomerol 94+ Plince Pomerol 88 Plincette Pomerol 87 La Pointe Pomerol 86 Pontet-Canet Pauillac 94
La Providence Pomerol 91 Puy Blanquet St-Emilion GC 86 Puygureaud Francs Cotes de Bordeaux 87 La Prade Francs Cotes de Bordeaux 88 Prieure Lichine Margaux 92 Quinault l'Enclos St-Emilion GC 86 Quintus St-Emilion GC 90 Rabaud Promis Sauternes 88 Rahoul Péssac Léognan 91 Rauzan-Gassies Margaux 91 Rauzan-Ségla Margaux 92 Rayne Vigneau Sauternes 92+ Reaut Cotes de Bordeaux 88 Reserve de La Comtesse Pauillac 85-86
Respide Medeville Graves 90 Respide Medeville white Graves 90 de La Riviere Fronsac 89-90 Roc de Cambes Côtes de Bourg 92 Romer Sauternes 89-90 Rol Valentin Saint Emilion 87 Sacre Saeur 92+ Saint-Pierre St-Julien 89 Le Sartre Pessac Léognan 89 Le Sartre Pessac Léognan white 90+ Seguin Pessac-Léognan 92+ La Sergue Lalande de Pomerol 88 La Serre St-Emilion GC 88 Sigalas Rabaud Sauternes 91 Simard St-Emilion GC 85 Siran Margaux 89
Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac-Léognan 92-93 Smith Haut Lafitte white Pessac-Léognan 91-92 Soutard St-Emilion GC 89 Suau Sauternes 86 Talbot St-Julien 90 du Tertre Margaux 91 Tertre-Roteboeuf St-Emilion GC 96 Thieuley Bordeaux 86 La Tour-Carnet Haut-Médoc 90-91 La Tonnelle Haut-Medoc 86 La Tour Blanche Sauternes 90 La Tour Figeac St-Emilion 86-87 Tour de Pez Saint-Estéphe 87 Les Tourelles de Longueville Pauillac 87 Trimoulet St-Emilion GC 88 Tronquoy-Lalande St-Estèphe 89
Tronquoy Sainte-Anne Saint-Estéphe 87 Troplong-Mondot St-Emilion GC 92 Trotanoy Pomerol 93+ Trottevieille St-Emilion GC 90-91 Valandraud St-Emilion GC 94-95 Valandraud white Bordeaux 90 Veyry Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux 90-91 La Vieille Cure Fronsac 88-89 Vieux Château Certan Pomerol 94 Villemaurine St-Emilion GC 87 La Violette Pomerol 95 Virginie de Valandraud St-Emilion GC 89 Virginie de Valandraud white Bordeaux 90
VISITS AND TASTINGS
I spent three weeks in Bordeaux in April 2013, tasting around 320 2012s and additional 75-100 wines, divided into several verticals and several wines in 2009, 2010, and 2011 vintages. Ratings on 2011s are already posted here - see above. Here is "a short" summary of what I've experienced while in Bordeaux, tasting 2012 primeur and other vintages. Visits are described chronologically, not alphabetically. This year I've chosen not to describe every wine district by district. Still, I will describe visit by visit, summarize wines from UGCB tastings and also write my impressions about other vintages tasted. For 99.9% of tastings, I was accompanied by Niko Dukan, a wine journalist from Croatia.
Seguin – the owner Denis Darriet and his highly talented winemaker, Xavier, continue to impress and make an impressive 2012, maybe even with a better future than 2011.
2012 seduced with violets and crushed blueberries, finely grained fresh tannin and silky texture, and velvety finish. 92+p. 2011 was chocolatey, fresh, with soft tannin, refined, and finesse. 92p. 2010 confirmed its stunning effort in this vintage fully with a cherry nose and cherry flavor on the palate, beautifully constructed, incredibly complex and refined, stupendously balanced, and with a long meaty finish. Wonderful wine. 94+p. 2009 did taste great - very aromatic, full of sweet black cherries, powerful but fine tannin, splendid balance, and long aftertaste. Great stuff. 93p. To make it more difficult, I chose to taste all four vintages blind, knowing which ones I would taste and correctly guessing each vintage. 2005 Confidence(s) du Chateau Seguin was tasted; it is a luxury cuvee made from old vines. A beautifully scented and intense wine reminded me much of 2010 Seguin but was less tight and dense. 94p.
Haut Brion/La Mission Haut Brion – 2012 reds here were, in my opinion, slightly under in quality than 2011, with Haut Brion better than La Mission in terms of strength and concentration. 2012 La Mission was lighter than usual, elegant, soft, round, and silky finish. Soft tannins, too, but fine complexity and finesse. 93-94p. There was more stuffing in 2012 Haut Brion, more intensity and density. Violets and crushed dark berries, splendid complexity, depth, and strong structure. Fine effort for the vintage. 94-95p. The second wine of La Mission, 2012 La Chapelle de LMHB, was vegetal on the nose and palate, which indicated not perfectly ripe Cabernet. 87p. The second wine of Haut Brion, 2012 Le Clarence de HB, was better overall than La Chapelle de LMHB, as it contains more Merlot, flesh, and concentration here. 88p. 2012 white versions of La Mission Haut Brion and Haut Brion were a great delight for one's senses. 2012 La Mission Haut Brion white was powerful with a strong apple, citrus, and lemongrass aroma, excellent complexity, balance, structure, and great length. Excellent stuff. 95-96p. 2012 Haut Brion white showed as excellently as LMHB, and the only thing which put HB slightly in front of LMHB was better acidity. 96-97p. 2012 La Carte de Haut Brion, the second wine of LMHB and HB, had nice fruit and acidity, a fine aroma of apple and pear, and a mellow finish. 88-89p. 2012 Quintus was aromatic with black cherries, elegant and sappy, fine complexity, and a meaty palate. Fine effort. 90p. Second wine of Quintus, 2012 Le Dragon de Quintus, showed good aromas, roundness, and softness. Nice light wine. 86p.
Corbin - We tasted in April 2013 following vintages - 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2005. Corbin's owner since 1998, Anabelle Cruse Bardinet, is delighted with 2012 here. She thinks she's got as much as possible out of grapes, and she believes 2012 will edge 2011. I'm not convinced at the moment that it'll be like that. 2012 Corbin seduced with violets and black fruit, elegance, well-integrated tannins, and silky finish, but there was a slightly vegetal taste on the palate, indicating not perfectly ripe fruit. Fine effort for the vintage, though. 91p. 2011 Corbin tasted better for me than 2012, with better (riper) fruit and tannin, better intensity, and more nuanced. 92p. 2010 Corbin had a deep aromatic nose of black fruit, fatty and velvety tannin, a very long and concentrated palate with fatness, and a very long finish. Great class and style here, and this wine mirrors its owner's personality. 93p. 2005 Corbin was also a great thrill to taste, with very close connections to 5 years younger sister. Very aromatic black cherries and blackberries/blueberries, complex, fat, and ripe tannin, powerful and full of finesse simultaneously. Very impressive indeed. 93p.
Jean-Luc Thunevin - Murielle and Jean-Luc succeeded very well in the 2012 vintage, but imho wines are more fleshy than their 2011 counterparts. We did only taste 2012s. Bad Boy (Bordeaux) was, as usual, seductive and charming (88p), Bel-Air-Ouÿ (St-Emilion) relatively light and uncomplicated (86p), Clos Badon (St-Emilion) meaty and with fine grip (89p), well-made Domaine des Sabines (Lalande de Pomerol) 89p and Bellevue de Tayac (Margaux) 89p, excellent Clos du Beau-Pere (Pomerol) 90p, 3 de Valandraud (St-Emilion) attractive, round and soft (87p), Virginie de Valandraud (St-Emilion) being pretty assembled with lovely silky fruit and tannin (89p) and very impressive Valandraud (St-Emilion) 94-95p with very ripe fruit, strong and powerful, fresh, big ripe tannin. Sappy and lush. Valandraud white and Virginie de Valandraud white had a delicate freshness and lovely acidity. 90p for both.
Clinet - Ronan Laborde made 2012 here, which is lighter than 2011, and I wonder if 2012 here will come ahead of 2011 after aging in oak is finished and bottled in 2014. 2012 Clinet was a sappy, aromatic, medium body, fine structure, and smooth finish. Certainly on the light side. 92p. Will aging in oak give some more weight to this wine? Clinet's second wine, 2012 Fleur de Clinet, had good intensity and concentration of dark berries, a light backbone, soft texture with a silky finish. 86p. We were offered to taste 2010 Clinet, and this wine, like many 2010s, showed great aromas of black fruits, fat fruit, and fat tannin with perfect ripeness, tight with a strong backbone, and extremely long finish. 96+p.
L'Eglise Clinet - Here at the property, you will find another example of Bordeaux's magician winemaker, Denis Durantou. I've known him since 1988, and this guy can always impress, can't he?! In the 2012 vintage, he made an astonishing line-up of wines like in 2011, and it was an incredible thrill to taste them in April 2013.
2012 Saintayme (St-Emilion GC) showed violets and crushed blueberries, freshness, fine aromatic touch, lush and sappy palate, and silky aftertaste. Big success. 89p. 2012 Montlandrie (Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux) was chewier than Saintayme, with a stronger structure, more intensity, sweeter fruit, and longer aftertaste. 89-90p. 2012 La Chenade and 2012 Les Cruzelles (from Lalande de Pomerol) had intense cherries on the nose and palate, splendid grip and firm structure, fine ripe tannin, and a meaty finish. 90-91p for La Chenade and 91p for Les Cruzelles. 2012 La Petite Eglise (Pomerol), the second wine of L'Eglise Clinet, was cherry all over, very complex with a strong structure and long aftertaste. 90-91p. 2012 L'Eglise Clinet was a distinct, classy, stylish, and rich wine with black cherries mixed with chocolate/cocoa powder, stunningly complex with myriad nuances and excellent length/aftertaste. Stunning effort. 96p. L'Eglise Clinet is a wine of the vintage for me, together with Tertre Roteboeuf for red wines.
I asked Denis Durantou if we could taste the 2010 L'Eglise Clinet, and he was very kind to say OK. This wine was so "thick" that you could slice it! Enormous concentration and intensity. Plenty of Valrhona chocolate, mixed with black cherries and blueberries, with incredible composition, nuances richness, and strong as a rock with mind-boggling length. 99-100p.
La Cabanne - Francois Estager presented an excellent line-up of 6 2012s - Domaine des Gourdins (St-Emilion) 86p, Domaine de Gachet (Lalande de Pomerol) 86-87p, La Papeterie (Montagne Saint-Emilion) 87p, Plincette (Pomerol) 87p, Haut Maillet (Pomerol) 89p and La Cabanne (Pomerol) 91p. My cherry pick was La Cabanne, with a delicate aroma of blackberries, elegant style, and fine length.
VCC - Guillaume Thienpont, Alexandre's son, took us to the cellar, and we tasted 2012 VCC. I found this wine considerably lighter than its 2011 brother. Silky, velvety, very mineral, elegant with much finesse, subtle and refined. It lacked a bit of concentration and a stronger backbone, coming from Cabernet Franc. This grape variety was only successful in some places in Pomerol in 2012. 94p.
Le Pin - almost the same story here as at VCC, but 2012 Le Pin seemed to have slightly better ripeness, more intensity, and a long aftertaste. 94+p.
Tertre Roteboeuf - Francois Mitjavile again showed his magician skills and made stunning wines in 2012! 2012 Tertre Roteboeuf had a fabulous nose of black cherries and blueberries, great freshness, beautiful balance, velvety fruit, and tannin. Fabulously constructed wine showed incredible class and style. Among the best wines of the vintage. 96p. 2012 Roc de Cambes followed the same track as TR with a beautiful cherry nose, perfectly ripe fruit (!), excellent complexity, and a velvety finish. Very impressive effort. 92p. 2012 Domaine de Cambes (part of Roc de Cambes vineyard boarding Dordogne river and therefore not entitled to have the same appellation as RdC) showed aromatic mirabelles, freshness, and a seductive approach. Nice structure and balance. Tasty. 88p. 2011 Tertre Roteboeuf (96p) and 2011 Roc de Cambes (92p) were both excellent, with TR a tad more concentrated compared to 2012, while RdC was at the same level as 2012.
Now to the 2010 vintage. This is undoubtedly the best vintage in Tertre Roteboeuf's and Roc de Cambes' history, according to Francois Mitjavile. Having tasted all vintages of both, I agree. Both 2010s (tasted three times from barrel and twice after bottling) are sensational wines, with 2010 Tertre Roteboeuf being a true monster wine with incredible fatness and complexity, impeccable structure, depth, and balance. Heaven. This wine is, imho worth every inch of 100p! 2010 Roc de Cambes was also fantastic wine with incredible aromatic touch and complexity. Well-deserved 94p here!
Julie and Xavier Gonet Medeville - these young proprietors fared well in 2012. Their Graves property, Respide Medeville, produces red and white wine of consistently fine quality. 2012 Respide Medeville white was fat with an oily texture, flowery (acacia) aromas, and fine acidity. Fine quality worth 90p. 2012 Respide Medeville red offered a delicate aromatic nose, tight palate with strong but ripe tannin, and a firm aftertaste. 90p. Two thousand eleven versions were different - 2011 Respide Medeville white (90+p) was more mineral and slightly more complex than 2012, while 2011 red (89p) was leaner and less intense than 2012. They also make a simple and cheap red and white wine from the vineyard of Les Justices in Sauternes, Domaine des Justices. Both 2012s were attractive, round, fruity, and tasty. 86p to each of them.
Cru Monplaisir Bordeaux Superieur (just outside the boundaries of Margaux commune) was tasted in 2011 and 2010 vintages, with 2011 (88p) being quite complex with tasty fruit and silky tannin and 2010 (89+p) being lusher and more concentrated than 2011. D'Eyrins Margaux 2011 (89p) was very aromatic, fruity, lush, and seductive, while the 2010 vintage of the same wine displayed more concentration, a stronger structure, and a long finish. 91+p.
Les Justices Sauternes is also a very stable producer of fine qpr wine. 2012 Les Justices showed aromas of dried apricot, pineapple, and almonds, with acidity and corresponding sweetness. Lighter than usual, and botrytised aromas were less intense. 88-89p. Very small production because of bad weather during harvest. 2011 Les Justices was another story, great intensity, lush, fabulous sweetness and acidity, a thick and captivating nose of orange/mandarine peel and candied pineapple. Very, very long finish. Excellent effort for the vintage. 93p. Then Gilette, the flagship of Medeville properties. We tasted the latest release, 1989, with thick and fatty aromas of candied oranges/mandarines, pineapple, heather honey, creme brulée, caramel, and brown sugar. Fresh and incredibly nuanced, with a stunning interplay between sweetness, acidity, and aftertaste that lasted more than 30 seconds. 96p. There will be no 2012 Gilette, no 2008 Gilette and no 2004 Gilette.
Raymond Lafon - no 2012 Grand Vin here, as grapes needed the required sugar level. Persistent rain in October killed hopes for higher sugar content in grapes. Instead, all grapes went in the second wine, 2012 Jeunes Pousses de Raymon Lafon, with very nice botrytised flavors, a taste of acacia honey, and light for quick consumption. 88p. We also tasted 2010-2009-2008-2007-2006-2005 vintages of Grand Vin, and it was an excellent showing. 2010 was a stylish, refined, and sophisticated wine that perfectly matched sweetness and acidity, was incredibly rich and complex, and had a lush finish. 97p. 2009 was just behind 2010 in quality, with candied orange peel, fat texture, exquisite sweetness and acidity, great complexity, and a honeyed finish. 96p. 2008 displayed a lighter version of 2009 with a great deal of finesse. 93p. 2007 was between 2009 and 2008 and very acacia honey and mirabelle plum flavors. 94p. 2006 did remind me of 2008, with less intensity and concentration. Walnut aroma/taste was very present here. 92p. 2005 was pure, very aromatic, with a huge intensity of flavors like fresh apples, apricots, and walnuts, very rich, with great balance and sophisticated touch. Fabulous wine with great potential. 96p.
Nairac - Barsac did generally better in the 2012 vintage than Sauternes. 2012 Nairac showed elegance, delicious botrytized flavors, and fine underlying acidity. Much lighter than normal - I hope it puts on weight during aging in the barrel. 88-89p? We did also taste vintages in 2011, 2010, and 2009. 2011 Nairac displayed sweet pineapple, refined botrytised flavors, excellent sweetness and acidity, great structure, balance, and a smoothly honeyed finish. Remarkable effort for the vintage. 94+p. 2010 Nairac had even more of everything than 2011, with a great sophisticated touch and stunning complexity. Awesome wine. 96p. 2009 Nairac showed sweet pineapple, crème brulée, and candied mandarin peel, the same class as 2010, but more heavy and sugary less intense. 95p.
Bourgneuf - Frederique Vayron made a very successful 2012. However, it's significantly lighter than the fabulous 2011. Imho, Cabernet Franc could have been better here in 2012. 2012 Bourgneuf displayed a more elegant style than the usual, seductive, aromatic nose of blueberries, silky fruit, velvety tannin, and smooth finish. 92p. To my surprise, neither 2010 nor 2009 Bourgneuf wanted to "speak" to me. They were closed on my day of visit. We also tasted 2005 Bourgneuf Vayron, a tight and muscular wine with great fruit ripeness, depth, sweetness, and balance. 100% Pomerol wine here for long, long keeping. 94p. 2006 Bourgneuf Vayron was backward, tight, less concentrated than in 2005, and fruit/tannin less ripe than in 2005. 90p.
Cercle Rive Gauche - some really good wines. Couhins Lurton (Pessac-Leognan) white 91p, Clos Floridene (Graves) white 89p, de Cruzeau (Pessac-Leognan) white 89p, Le Sartre (Pessac-Leognan) 89p white 90+p. OK wines: d'Arsac (Margaux) 86p and La Garde (Pessac-Leognan) 87-88p white 87p. Several wines were, however, over-extracted and with hollow mid-palate.
Le Gay - we tasted the usual "menu" of five wines - La Graviere (Lalande de Pomerol), Montviel, Manoir de Gay, Le Gay, and La Violette, all four from Pomerol. 2012 La Graviere had silky fruit and tannin, fine complexity and structure, ripeness and depth, and a smooth finish. Fine work. 89p. 2012 Montviel was very aromatic and attractive, with slightly less intensity and concentration than La Graviere. 88p. 2012 Maynor de Gay reminded me a great deal of Montviel. 88p. 2012 Le Gay showed a lot of wild cherries and blueberries, great structure and concentration, silky fruit, and velvety tannin. A classy wine with a long, long finish and great style. 94-95p. 2012 La Violette was very concentrated, with cherries packed in velvet, sophisticated and refined. Long velvety aftertaste. Stupendous effort for the vintage. 95p.
Cercle Rive Droite - some well-made wines but also a disappointing display of many wines, especially from Saint-Emilion. Light, over-extracted, and with hollow midpalate. My cherry picks were the following wines: Clos L'Eglise Pomerol 92-93p, Barde Haut Saint-Emilion 91-92p, Barrabaque Canon Fronsac 91+p, Gaby Canon-Fronsac 91+p, Veyry Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux 90-91p, and Aria de La Riviere Fronsac 90p. Fine wines with lovely fruit and tannin, delicate complexity, and splendid structure.
Bon Pasteur - barrel samples of Fontenil and Bon Pasteur tasted at Cercle Rive Droite and Bon Pasteur were quite similar but seemed oakier at CRD. Potent wines with a bit of forced extraction. 2012 Fontenil 90p and 2012 Bon Pasteur 91p.
Petrus - I found 2012 here quite similar to 2011. Elegant style, finesse, refined, long on the palate. Aromatic black cherries, exquisite balance, velvety fruit/tannin. Great complexity and sophisticated touch. Harvest finished at Petrus on the 8th of October, before the arrival of big rain, which came one week after. 95p.
In Petrus' new cellar - Olivier Berrouet, Petrus' manager, passes by.
Canon-La-Gaffeliere - Neipperg's properties did quite well in the 2012 vintage. 2012 Clos Marsalette Pessac-Leognan offered silky fruit and silky tannin as well, nice length and nice structure. Uncomplicated wine, round and attractive. 87p. 2012 D'Aiguilhe from Castillon CdB showed freshness, aromatic berries, very good acidity, minerality, and velvety texture. Nicely made. 88p. 2012 Clos de L'Oratoire Saint Emilion was a step up in stuffing, concentration, and length compared to d'Aiguilhe. 89p. 2012 Canon La Gaffeliere Saint Emilion had more intensity, complexity, better structure, more depth, and a longer finish than Clos de L'Oratoire. 91p. 2012 La Mondotte Saint Emilion displayed excellent intensity and concentration, fat black cherries, velvety fruit and tannin, great depth, and a long aftertaste. Excellent effort for the vintage. 94p.
La Conseillante - we tasted 2012 and 2011 vintages of Grand Vin and the second wine. 2012 was picked for the first time plot by plot according to obtained maturity and vinified in the new cellar (22 vats), which was ready for the 2012 harvest. 2012 Duo de Conseillante was a well-made wine with a delightful aroma of black fruit, silky tannin, and very good acidity and length. 88p. 2012 La Conseillante was sophisticated and refined with great intensity of black cherries, lush and elegant, velvety texture, balance, and long smooth aftertaste. Fabulous effort for the vintage. 94-95p. 2011 Duo de Conseillante (86p) lacked the intensity and length of 2012, while 2011 La Conseillante (93p) was more complex and deep than 2012.
Climens - I love coming to Climens during the first day of primeur (Monday), where you will taste recent vintage and 4-5 additional vintages and small dishes to treat you with oriental spices for lunch to accompany wines. We tasted lots of 2012, and my overall impression of 2012 was a vintage of great finesse with a sophisticated touch but lighter in concentration and intensity than f.i. 2011. 95-96p. 2011 Climens, not yet bottled, had incredible purity of botrytised flavors, richness, acidity, fabulous intensity, and finesse. 98p.
Then "lunch wines": 2010 Cypres de Climens displayed fine sweetness and acidity, combined with honey melon and apricot aroma. Splendid second wine worth 92p. 2010 Climens was similar to 2009 Climens, which offered fantastic botrytis flavors (orange peel, acacia honey, pear, and pineapple), ranging from delicate to concentrated ones, fabulous sweetness and acidity, richness and breathtaking purity, and sophisticated touch: incredible stuff, both vintages and rated 99p. I expect one of these vintages to reach a 100p rating after some years in the bottle. 2008 Climens had spicy botrytis flavors like orange peel, apricot, acacia honey, and fine acidity. An elegant and sophisticated wine with a long honeyed aftertaste. Significantly lighter than in 2011, 2010, and 2009. 94p. 2007 Climens followed well in tracks of 2010 and 2009, and it's a fantastic wine with breathtaking elegance, purity, and wonderful balance. 98p. 2006 Climens showed strong botrytised aromas of candied orange peel and creme brulée. Impressive length on the palate and a very honeyed aftertaste. 94p. All wines coped perfectly with small dishes.
UGCB tasting of Sauternes & Barsac at Coutet (blind) - after many successful vintages in a row, the weather condition wasn't optimal (too much rain) in 2012 to make another excellent vintage in Bordeaux's sweet district. Average to good vintage is my verdict. Several properties in Sauternes and nearby communes declassified their entire crop due to the sugar content in grapes reaching 21%. My cherry picks were: Rayne Vigneau (92+p), a very intense and powerful wine with splendid botrytis, acidity, and length; Doisy Daene and de Myrat, both rated 91-92p, with an intense flavor of grapefruit and apricot, powerful and long on the palate, fine botrytis and long finish, well-made Coutet and Sigalas Rabaud just close behind with slightly less intensity of botrytised flavors and lighter, rated both at 91p and Clos Haut Peyraguey, Lafaurie Peyraguey, de Malle and La Tour Blanche, which displayed elegance, finesse and supple body. All four rated 90p.
Cheval Blanc - I could have been more impressed with 2012 here, as I found all three wines light and soft. 2012 Quinault L'Enclos - 86p, Petit Cheval 87p and Cheval Blanc 92-94p. The latter was not at the level of the 2011 vintage, and I'm too gracious to award this reasonably high rating. However, I know that Cheval Blanc can sometimes be relatively lean when young, so I give it a chance for a higher score.
UGCB tasting of Pomerol/Saint-Emilion at La Cabanne (blind) - 22 wines from Saint-Emilion and 9 Pomerols. Among Saint-Emilion, I particularly liked Pavie Macquin (92+p), Troplong Mondot (92p), Dassault (91-92p), Canon (91p), Canon La Gaffeliere (91p), Grand Mayne (91p) and Larcis Ducasse (91p). Good quality wines - La Gaffeliere (90-91p) and Trottevieille (90-91p) together with Balestard de Tonnelle (90p) and Larmande (90p).
Among Pomerols, the star wine was, of course, impeccably made La Conseillante (94-95p), followed by less scaled Clinet (92p), well-made Bon Pasteur (91p), La Cabanne (91p), Gazin (91p) and Petit Village (91p).
Ausone - disappointment here, and I don't think it was the cold weather's fault. All six wines were oaky, vegetal, and lacking midpalate. Problems with obtaining phenolic maturity for Cabernet Franc? Last year at the same time, I found the 2011 vintage here to be much fresher, tighter, and far more complex. 2012 Simard 85p, de Fonbel 85-86p, Haut Simard 86p, Moulin St.Georges 87p, Chapelle de Ausone 87-88p and Ausone 92-93p? I'm still determining how the latter will develop, and my score may seem generous right now.
Trottevieille - we tasted a range of 2012 wines from Casteja family, from 2008 to 2004 of Trottevieille and the same vintages of "Trés Vieilles Vignes de Trottevieille". The latter is a wine from over 100 years old Cabernet Franc planted on the pre phylloxéra plot in Trottevieilles vineyard. Only 135 bottles have been produced yearly since the first vintage was made in 2004.
2012 La Croix du Casse had a pretty nose of black fruit, quite good concentration and structure, evident extraction, and a lot of oak. Quite a modern style and, all in all, quite good wine that needs some time to soften. 86-87p. 2012 Domaine de L'Eglise (Pomerol) was a bit better in structure and balance. 87p. 2012 Dame de Trottevieille, the second wine of Trottevieille, was attractive, round, and tasty. 86p. 2012 Trottevieille performed identically as during UGCB tasting at La Cabanne the same day in the morning. 90-91p.
Then side by side tasting. 2008 Trottevieille had fine intensity and concentration, a strong backbone, fine structure, and complexity. Long finish. Classic one for the vintage. 91p. 2008 TVVdT was tighter, more complex, more concentrated, and slightly better fruit and tannin ripeness than 2008 T. 92p. 2007 Trottevieille had a scent of coffee on the nose and palate and strong acidity. The fruit was not exactly ripe here but expected due to ripening problems in this vintage. 87p. 2007 TVVdT had more strength and concentration, and fruit ripeness and tannin were better than in 2007 T. 89p. 2006 Trottevieille displayed the same fine things as 2008 T but was more developed on the nose, which seduced a lot. 91p. Same story with 2006 TVVdT - as fine as 2008 T. 92p. 2005 Trottevieille showed very ripe fruit, which bordered overripeness, ripe fat tannin, strong backbone, fine depth, and a long finish. 92p. 2005 TVVdT followed the pattern and had, of course, more of everything than 2005 T. 93p. 2004 Trottevieille was seductively aromatic with ripe fruit, meaty, complex, fine balance, and strong backbone. On the level with 2005 T. 92p. 2004 TVVdT had a stronger structure and better length than 2004 T. 93p.
Jean-Philippe Janoueix's motto is "I do it my way, and I'm proud of it." This is precisely what he does! Some people say his wines are made especially for the American market, but I'm afraid I have to disagree. His style of making wine is semi-modern, and you can't accuse him of making flat wines with no freshness. His 2012s burst with freshness, life, ripe fruit, ripe tannin, a lot of oak, and splendid balance. Yes, there is noticeable extraction in his wines, but not overdone, and you don't find at all dryness coming from unripe Cabernet Franc, which can be found in many places in Saint-Emilion. Great to see that 2012 vintage here is at least on the level with 2011 vintage. Wines from Jean-Philippe Janoueix are consistent from vintage to vintage, thanks to his excellent winemaking skills. 2012 Croix Mouton 89p, Le Conseiller 89p, 20 Mille 89p, Sacre Coeur 92+p, La Croix St.Georges 93-94p and La Confession 94p. Particularly Sacre Coeur, L.C.St.G, and LC had remarkable ripeness of black fruit, strong backbone, precision, and focus.
The week after, I tasted the 2010 version of the wines above, except Croix Mouton. 2010 Le Conseiller 91p and 20 Mille 91p had splendidly concentrated black cherries with perfect ripeness, silky fruit and tannin, fine structure, and length. 2010 La Croix St.Georges displayed intense black fruit on the nose, tight and dense structure, fat fruit and fat tannin, excellent concentration and complexity, and impressive depth and length. Staggering wine and worth every point of 96p! 2010 Sacre Coeur was less intense and not as voluptulous as L.C.St.G, but had same style. Great stuff too. 94p. 2010 La Confession acted strong, dense, and tight, with a lot of perfectly ripe fruit and tannin, great complexity, and a superb finish. 96p.
La Fleur de Bouard - only a little to write about. Light wines lacking midpalate and freshness, very extracted. 2012 Angelus 91-92p, Bellevue 87p and La Fleur de Bouard 87p. It was a great surprise for me to discover 2012 Haut Sarpe, property belonging to the father of Jean-Philippe Janoueix, being consulted now by Hubert de Bouard of Angelus and La Fleur de Bouard. I'll somewhat restrain from putting my tasting notes of this wine here.
Lafleur - I found red wines lighter than those in the 2011 vintage here. As Lafleur has Cabernet Franc in the vineyard, the lighter style for 2012 can be explained by not perfect ripeness (phenolic) of this grape variety. However, 2012 Lafleur had richness, refinement, complexity, and sophisticated touch. 95p. 2012 Pensees de Lafleur was on the light side with a nice fruity nose and good structure but had slight dryness on the palate. 89p. 2012 G Acte 4 displayed freshness, nice aromatic black fruit, structure, and length. 88p. 2012 Grand Village in red and white did well, with red being fresh, round, tasty, and attractive. 88p. 2012 Grand Village in white had a fine freshness, fruit and acidity, and a long finish. 89p.
Petit Village - this property has recently undergone a massive upgrading of cellar facilities, improvements in the vineyard, and more precise winemaking. They appointed a new technical manager in May last year, and she's determined to bring Petit Village quickly step up in quality. 2012 was well made with fine aromatic black cherries on the nose and palate, silky texture, backbone, and balance. 91p.
UGCB tasting of Graves/Pessac-Leognan at Carbonnieux (blind) - wines in both colors showed splendidly. Excellent balance, freshness, silky fruit and tannin, great complexity and structure for reds, aromatic intensity, splendid concentration and complexity, and excellent acidity for whites. My cherry picks among reds were Domaine de Chevalier 93+p, Smith Haut Lafitte 92-93p, Haut Bailly 91-93p, de Fieuzal 92p, Larrivet Haut Brion 92p, Malartic La Graviere 92p, Pape Clement 92p, Carbonnieux 91-92p, Picque Caillou 91-92p, Les Carmes Haut Brion 91p, Latour Martillac 91p, La Louviere 91p, Rahoul 91p and Bouscaut 90p. The best wines among whites were: Domaine de Chevalier 94-95p, Pape Clement 94-95p, Latour Martillac 93p, de Fieuzal 92-93p, Haut Bergey 92p, La Louviere 92p, Olivier 92p, Bouscaut 91-92p, Ferrande 91-92p, de France 91-92p, Larrivet Haut Brion 91-92p, Smith Haut Lafitte 91-92p, Carbonnieux and Chantegrive Cuvee Caroline 91p.
La Lagune - consistently excellent wines to taste, and you can't resist hoping to meet one of Bordeaux's prettiest female proprietors, Caroline Frey. She's brought La Lagune a step up in quality.
Me tasting 2012, 2011, and 2010 La Lagune with my wine journalist friend from Croatia, Niko Dukan (right)
2012 La Lagune had an attractive fruity nose, fresh acidity, fine grip, ripe fruit, and tannin; well put together and very harmonious. Firm finish without any trace of dryness and sharp edge. Fine freshness here. Well-deserved 92p. 2011 La Lagune, although recently fined before bottling in June, had a splendid nose of black cherries, intense, strong structure and backbone, excellent acidity, and a long finish. Splendid effort for the vintage. 93p. 2010 La Lagune displayed very ripe cherries, intense flavors, fat-ripe tannin, dense texture, strong backbone, great concentration, and great complexity. Remarkably long aftertaste. Awesome wine. 95p.
Pontet Canet - 2012 was made from 65% C. Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% C.Franc, and 1% P. Verdot. It is aging in 35% amphora tanks, 50% new oak, and 15% one-year-old barrels. Very enchanting and seductive nose of black cherries. Refined, excellent fruit ripeness and balance, lush, silky fruit and tannin, long and silky finish. Impressive stuff. 94p.
Pichon Baron - 2012 Pibran had soft fruit and tannin, an attractive berry nose, supple and round palate with a soft finish. Light texture. 87p. 2012 Les Tourelles de Longueville displayed a very aromatic and elegant nose of black fruit. Sappy on the palate, light but in good balance. 87p. 2012 Pichon Baron had intense flavors of cherries, powerful drive, strong backbone, splendid concentration, fine balance, and long fleshy aftertaste. 92p. 2012 Le Jardin de Petit Village was easygoing, round, charming wine to enjoy early. 87p. 2012 Petit Village was similar to its appearance at UGCB tasting at La Cabanne and at the property. 91p. 2012 "S" de Suduiraut, made from 55% Semillon and 45% Sauvignon Blanc, showed very nice aromas of acacia flower and heather with a touch of sweetness. 88-89p. 2012 Castelnau de Suduiraut was light with good botrytised flavors and acceptable sweetness but no apparent acidity. Nothing special. 85p.
Mouton Rothschild - 2012 d'Armailhac had a very nice fruity nose and palate, nice structure and depth, and balance between ripe fruit and tannin. However, lighter than usual. 88p. 2012 Clerc Milon displayed fine ripe cherries on the nose and palate, was quite complex and well-structured, silky fruit and tannin, splendid grip and finish. Splendid effort for the vintage. 91p. 2012 Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild was supple and had a light cherry nose, palate, ripe tannin, and good grip. Light. 87p. 2012 Mouton Rothschild had black cherries/blueberries everywhere, velvety fruit and tannin, a very complex nose, and a smooth, silky finish. Fine midpalate. Lighter than usual but with striking elegance and finesse. 94+p. 2012 Aile d'Argent white (Mouton R's white wine) offered an aroma of freshly harvested apples, butter, and very nice acidity with a touch of sweetness. 21% of this wine underwent malolactic fermentation. 89p.
UGCB tasting of Haut Medoc, St. Julien, Pauillac/Saint-Estephe at Grand Puy Ducasse - there were a few fine wines to highlight from all tasted wines. The majority ranged from OK to good quality. In Haut Medoc La Tour Canet 90-91p did very well, while in St.Julien, I was impressed by Leoville Barton 93p, Leoville Poyferre 93p, Beychevelle 92p, and Lagrange 91p. In Pauillac, Lynch Bages 92p, Batailley 91p, Clerc Milon 91p, Croizet Bages 90p and in Saint-Estephe Phelan Segur 90p.
Lafite - not that impressive wines to taste. 2012 Carruaders de Lafite was oaky, linear, with nice structure and length. 87p. 2012 Duhart Milon had a little more to offer than CdL. 88p. 2012 Lafite was, imho not up to the usual standard of this 1. Growth. Painfully oaky, low-keyed, and rather short finish. Will it improve dramatically after aging in oak? 93+p.
Latour - we tasted the usual range of primeur wines + Pauillac 2009, Les Forts de Latour 2005, and Latour 1995. 2012 Pauillac had a nose and palate of red fruit, nice concentration, structure, and finish. Simple and low-keyed. 85-86p. 2012 Les Forts de Latour had more concentration, better structure, and more complexity. 88p. 2012 Latour turned out with feminine wine, silky fruit, and tannin, more finesse than power. 94+p. 2009 Pauillac was already mature and ready to be enjoyed with an enchanting nose of truffles, sweet fruit, silky texture, and smooth aftertaste. 88p. 2005 Les Forts de Latour displayed the fine intensity of sweet black cherries, fine acidity, balance, and splendid complexity. Harmonious with a fine finish. 92p. 1995 Latour showed mature flavors, a touch of coffee, and fine complexity. 94p.
Margaux - as usual, fine visit. 2012 Pavillon Rouge de Margaux (34% of the production) displayed cherry nose, fresh, seductive, and silky fruit: soft texture and fine fruity finish. Fine balance. Well-made. 91p. 2012 Margaux had very aromatic and intense black cherries on the nose, lush and seductive on the palate, refined, velvety texture, rich and with a long finish. One of the best 1. Growths in this vintage. Whole 87% C.Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 2% C.Franc and 1% P.Verdot. 94-95p. 2012 Pavillon Blanc de Margaux - yield 29 hl/ha, and only 30% of the harvest became PBdM. Intense flavors of apples and acacia flower, splendid acidity and minerality, freshness, precise fruit, and long finish. Fine effort. 92p.
Labegorce - 2012 Marquis d'Alesme had a fine, intense nose of crushed blackberries, fine complexity, silky fruit, and velvety tannin, concentrated on the palate with a long aftertaste. Well-made. 92p. 2012 Labegorce was almost as fine as Marquis d'Alesme but had a rough tannin. 91-92p.
Lascombes - this property's 2012 was well-made with an intensely aromatic nose of black fruit, silky fruit, and tannin with a fine dosage of new oak, fine complexity, strong structure, and very fine finish, smooth and fleshy. 92p. A fine effort for the vintage. We also tasted 2010, 2009, 2008, 2003, and 2001 Lascombes. 2010 Lascombes was tight, dense, complex, fat on the palate, perfectly ripe black fruit and tannin, and great length. 94p. 2009 Lascombes had sweet fruit and tannin, complex with a long and sweet finish. 93+p. 2008 Lascombes was more down-to-earth and classic vintage than 2010 and 2009, but still with fine intensity, ripeness, and complexity. 92p. 2003 Lascombes had a touch of warm fruit, and the tannin was slightly dry. 89p. 2001 Lascombes was elegant, refined, and very tasty. 91p. The Second wine, Chevalier de Lascombes, had very nice fruit and good length in 2009 (90p) and 2008 (88p).
During the following dinner, Lascombes' manager, Dominique Befve, opened a bottle of 1949 Lascombes (left), which was an awesome treat with lively fruit, stunning complexity, and richness. 95p.
UGCB tasting of Listrac, Moulis, Medoc, and Margaux at Giscours (blind) - mixed performance of wines. Just OK with good appearances for Listrac, Moulis, and Medoc and a pleasing appearance for Margaux. Most wines in Margaux commune were well-balanced, complex, and aromatic with silky fruit and tannin. My cherry picks were: Giscours 93p, Brane Cantenac 92p, Cantenac Brown 92p, Dauzac 92p, Kirwan 92p, Malescot St-Exupery 92p, Prieure Lichine 92p, Rauzan Segla 92p, Marquis d'Alesme, Labegorce 91-92p, Ferriere 91p, Kirwan 91p, Marquis de Terme 91p, Rauzan Gassies 91p and du Tertre 91p. In St.Julien, I was impressed by Leoville Barton 93p, Leoville Poyferre 93p, Beychevelle 92p and Lagrange 91p.
Malescot St.Exupery - we tasted 2012, 2011, and 2010. 2012 was mineral, oaky, quite modern in style (extracted) powerful. 92p. 2011 had slightly less of everything, the same style as 2012. 92p. 2010 was tight and dense, very concentrated, powerful, horse strong backbone and long firm aftertaste. Modern style. 94p.
Palmer - 2012 Alter Ego, representing 45% of the production, displayed fine ripeness of fruit and tannin, good concentration, and silky fruit and tannin. Well-constructed wine and fine effort for the vintage. 91p. 2012 Palmer showed great class and style with an excellent aromatic nose of black cherries, richness, velvety palate, excellent structure, balance, and a very long finish. A fabulous wine for the vintage. 95-96p.
Belle Brise - this was the longest visit and probably most exciting bar Tertre Roteboeuf and L'Eglise Clinet visits we experienced during three weeks of primeur and worth every minute. I already visited this property in 1996, so it was great to come back 17 years later and experience that its owner Henri-Bruno de Coincy, has yet to lose his touch and still has been producing excellent wines. He bought Belle Brise at the beginning of 1991.
This property is situated in the southwestern corner of Pomerol, just under one kilometer from Libourne and a few hundred meters from the railway (train Bordeaux-Paris). The soil at Belle Brise is exceptional - small pebbles and gravel on the surface, 1 m deep layer of clay mixed with "crasse de fer" at the top of the chalk layer in the underground. These soil conditions are very atypical and quite remarkable for this part of the district, a section of Réne and Toulifaut on the western side of the N89 road dividing Pomerol, where it usually is much sand on the surface and very little "crasse de fer" in the subsoil. There are 2 ha of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, and the average age of vines is 35 years.
There is no chemical treatment of the vineyard. Late harvest, natural fermentation, no malolactic fermentation in barrels, no clarification with egg whites, and no filtration - this is how things are done at Belle-Brise. 100% artisan winemaking without the help of an oenologist! The harvest time is according to the end of the full moon (going down – last quarter).
We tasted vintages 2012-2011-2010-2007-2005 and had only superlatives to say about these. 2012 (33% new oak) had a seductive cherry nose, velvety texture with silky fruit, and tannin, sophisticated touch, finesse, and impressive length. You couldn't taste tannin, which was packed in velvet. Fabulous balance. An excellent effort for the vintage. 93-94p. 2011 (33% new oak) had an intense nose of black cherries, silky fruit, tannin, finesse, and elegance. Great complexity and length here. Very classy and stylish wine. Slightly less concentrated than in 2012. 93p. 2010 (33% new oak) was a fantastic treat with excellent and incredibly intense black cherries, a sophisticated palate with a fat velvety texture, perfect silky fruit and tannin ripeness, stunning complexity, structure, and length. What an achievement! Imho Belle Brise rivals Le Pin in this vintage. 96+p. 2009 had the same style as 2010, less tight and dense than 2010, with incredible balance and more red fruit and less black fruit here. Worth every point of 94p.
2007 was beautiful wine for the vintage, full of life and silky. Impressive ripeness of fruit and tannin, structure, and length. 92p. 2005 displayed the stunning intensity of blueberries and blackberries on the nose and concentration of same on the palate, very truffy, perfect ripeness of fruit and tannin, excellent structure and depth, refined and sophisticated, excellent complexity. Almost as fantastic as in 2010; tannin is less fat here. 95-96p. 2010 and 2009 of Les Cedres de Belle Brise, the second wine, were very drinkable, seductive and charming, silky stuff again and again. 87p.
The price of Belle Brise is between 70-100 €/bottle, but he's no problem selling it as there's a great demand for it in Japan and Switzerland, and 3-4 stars restaurants in Paris have it on the wine list in every vintage. Since he was 16, he's made fantastic Armagnac at the family estate in the best part of the appellation. His Armagnac undergoes double distillation, while most producers there use one distillation. His Armagnac is Fontaine de Coincy, and it fetches prices from 200 € and up. His Armagnac is in stock back in the 19th century. We tasted heavenly vintages in 1979, 1973, and 1954, plus incredibly aromatic and orange-influenced Fleur d'Armagnac a l'Orange.
J-P. Moueix - 2012 Puy Blanquet was fresh and aromatic, light and uncomplicated, with good grip. 86p. 2012 La Serre had better fruit, more intensity and concentration, and better balance. 88p. 2012 Plince displayed aromatic ripe fruit and reminded a lot of La Serre. 88p. 2012 Lafleur Gazin had a vegetal nose, simple construction, and good acidity. 87p. 2012 Bourgneuf appeared similar to the sample tasted at the property. 92p. 2012 La Grave was similar to Lafleur Gazin. 87p. 2012 Latour-á-Pomerol did better overall than La Grave with more complexity, concentration, and length. 90p. 2012 La Providence displayed freshness and aromatic black fruit, ripe and tasty, with fine acidity and length. 91p. 2012 Hosanna was similar to La Providence but oakier. 91p. 2012 Belair-Monange followed closely in the tracks of La Providence. 91p. 2012 La Fleur Petrus had a fine intensity of ripe fruit and tannin on the nose and palate, fine complexity, balance, and a long finish. 92p. 2012 Trotanoy was a step up in quality compared to La Fleur Petrus. Deeper and more complex, and more concentrated as well. 93+p.
Certan de May - we were offered to taste 2012-2011-2010. 2012 had ripe fruit, a nice structure, and a strong backbone. Fine effort. 91-92p. 2011 was more aromatic on the nose, tighter and longer on the palate, and had a better structure than 2012. 92p. 2010 was tight, dense, well-structured, intense on the nose and palate, perfectly ripe berry fruit, fat tannin, and splendid balance. Long meaty finish. 93+p.
L'Evangile - 2012 vintage here was very successful. Very ripe grapes, aromatic black cherries, refined and elegant, silky fruit and tannin, splendid acidity and complexity. Great effort. 94-95p.
D'Issan - this is one of the most beautifully situated chateaux in Haut Medoc. We tasted vintages from 2012-2011-2010-2009. 2012 Blaison d'Issan was fresh, round, and attractive, light in intensity and concentration, with silky fruit and tannin. Correct wine for early drinking. 86p. 2012 d'Issan was light, linear, nicely built, and with nice fruit and tannin. I expected some more concentration and better complexity in this vintage. 88-89p. 2011 d'Issan was, imho much better wine at the time of tasting, with better fruit, fatter tannin, better structure, and a long finish. 91-92p. 2010 d'Issan turned out to be successful wine for the vintage. Strikingly elegant with finesse, very complex, silky black fruit and tannin, refined mineral with a long aftertaste. Very precise and focused winemaking. 94p. 2009 d'Issan followed closely in tracks of its one-year younger "sister" with an intense nose, fat palate with great complexity, mineral and spicy red fruit, and long aftertaste. Ripe tannin here. A very seductive wine. 93-94p.
Beychevelle - this property has gone up in quality since excellent 2005. We tasted four vintages - 2012-2011-2010-2009. 2012 (47% C.Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 5% C.Franc, and 4% P.Verdot) offered very aromatic black cherries, concentrated and silky fruit/tannin, splendid complexity, fine grip, and long aftertaste. Splendid effort. 92p. 2011 (47% C. Sauvignon, 46% Merlot, 5% C. Franc, and 2% P. Verdot) was similar to 2012, maybe a bit stronger and fatter. 92-93p. 2010 (58% C.Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 6% C.Franc and P. Verdot) was a full-bodied, pretty, aromatic, sublime wine. Tight, dense, and fat tannin. Splendid aftertaste with a lot of flavors. Sophisticated, graceful, and stylish. Stupendous wine. 95p. 2009 (46% C.Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 6% C.Franc, and 4% P.Verdot) didn't have some concentration and power as in 2010. Feminine style but fine quality as well. 94p.
Calon Segur - 2012 Capbern de Gasqueton was fruity with soft tannin, nice acidity, a very nice structure, and a meaty finish. 89-90p. Marquis de Calon (the second wine of Calon Segur) acted supple, fruity, and round and was already very accessible and already drinkable. 86p. 2012 Calon Segur (78% C.Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 2% C.Franc) was flowery and aromatic on the nose with silky fruit and silky tannin, elegant with finesse. Splendid grip, structure, and length. 92p.
Pichon Comtesse - 2012 Reserve de La Comtesse had a flowery nose but no other things worth mentioning. Very light with practically hollow midpalate and vegetal tones. 85-86p. 2012 Pichon Comtesse displayed cherry drops intermixed with cocoa powder, silky on the palate but light in concentration. 90-91p.
Montrose - work is ongoing with an overall improvement of winemaking facilities (new wine cellar). We tasted vintages from 2012-2011-2010-2008. 2012 Tronquoy de Sainte Anne (T.Lalande's second wine) was fruity, round, and attractive, with soft fruit and tannin. 87p. 2012 Tronquoy Lalande had a nice grip and silky fruit/tannin, round and with good length. On the light side. 89p. 2011 Tronquoy Lalande was very aromatic with blackberries and blueberries and seemed somewhat better in structure, concentration, and length than in 2012. 90p. 2010 Tronquoy Lalande was tight and dense with better ripeness of fruit and tannin than 2011 and better structure + length. Pretty wine. 91-92p. 2008 Tronquoy Lalande displayed slightly jammy fruit, nice concentration, and good length. 88p. 2012 Dame de Montrose was open, round, seductive, charming wine with tasty fruit. 88p. 2012 Montrose had a wonderful nose of black cherries/blueberries, aromatic and seductive, velvety palate, and perfect length. On the light side. 92p. 2011 Montrose displayed a very enchanting nose of black fruit, seductive and intense, silky texture overall, well-structured and well-balanced, and long finish. Better than 2012, imho and splendid for the vintage. 92-93p. 2010 Montrose was a monster wine with its thick aroma of black fruit, enormous concentration, strong backbone, perfectly ripe fat fruit, fat tannin, stunning complexity and structure, and impeccable balance. Incredibly stylish 2010 and showing 100% what this vintage has to offer. Mind-boggling effort. 99p. 2008 Montrose had considerably less opulence than 2010, more red fruit, fine grip, structure, and aftertaste. Typical cool climate wine with powerful and apparent tannin. 94p.
Pavie Macquin - we tasted a range of wines owned and consulted by Nicolas Thienpont and his staff. 2012 Puygueraud was fresh with violet flavor on the nose, soft texture, round and attractive. 87p. 2012 La Prade displayed spicier fruit, more intensity, and more length than Puygueraud. Quite a good finish. 88p. 2012 Alcée had a very nice ripeness of fruit and tannin and was well-structured with fine balance and a smooth aftertaste. 88p. 2012 Trimoulet was meaty, slightly dry on the palate, but had a pretty aromatic and seductive nose. 88p. 2012 Berliquet showed more intensity, concentration, and length than Trimoulet. Nicely made. 89p. 2012 Larcis Ducasse fared similarly to appearance at the UGCB tasting at La Cabanne. 91p. 2012 Pavie Macquin was also similar to the sample tasted at La Cabanne. Obvious modern style with extraction. 92+p. 2012 Les Charmes Godard white was fruity, pleasant with apple and pear, round and tasty. 88p.
Lamothe Cissac - very nicely situated chateau and very good quality wines. We tasted three properties in vintages 2012, 2011, and 2010. 2012 La Tonnelle was round, easygoing, supple, and very drinkable. 86p. 2011 La Tonnelle displayed attractive fruit, flowery nose, roundness, and nice balance. 87p. 2010 La Tonnelle was typical for the vintage, with a tight structure, strong backbone, and concentrated fruit. 88p. 2012 Lamothe Cissac showed a very aromatic approach, the fine intensity of ripe berries, floral notes, and perfect balance and length. 88-89p. 2011 Lamothe Cissac was more delicate and straightforward than in 2012. 88p. 2010 Lamothe Cissac was tight and concentrated with a strong backbone, sappy, well-structured, and long finish. 90p. 2012 Lamothe Cissac VV acted muscular, fleshy, full-bodied, and complex with fine structure and long finish. 90-91p. 2011 Lamothe Cissac VV was made with the exciting interplay between fruit and tannin, fine complexity, intensity and concentration, strong backbone, and fine length. 91p. 2010 Lamothe Cissac VV displayed the great intensity of perfectly ripe fruit (black cherries) on the nose and palate, complexity, fat tannin, depth, and length. Impressive stuff. 92-93p.
Yquem - no 2012 here due to low sugar content in grapes. We tasted 2011 "Y", white dry wine, fresh with acacia flower, apple, and pear, with splendid acidity, complexity, and a long smooth aftertaste. Touch of sweet peach and acacia honey on the palate. 92p. 2010 d'Yquem had tons of botrytised flavors, was almost thick in texture, very powerful and intense on the nose and palate, sweet pineapple, apricot, guava, acacia honey, you name it, fantastic balance. Extremely long finish. Heavenly stuff. 100p.
Calon - I talked a lot with Emmanuel Boidron (sales and marketing responsible) about the coming court case against the degradation of Corbin Michotte from Grand Cru Classe. There were some problems with important wine people (a couple of chateau owners were involved on both sides of the committee, deciding how many points applicants should be awarded for tastings results and having an interest in getting higher status). The scoresheet for Corbin Michotte had one box on it lacking awarded points; there needed to be an explanation in the letter why these points were missing, and be just aware that Corbin Michotte lacked 5 points to preserve its status as Grand Cru Classe! Imho, it was an unjust decision concerning Corbin Michotte as this property has been making better wine for years than many present members.
2012 Calon from Montagne St.Emilion had fresh earthy/cherry flavors, nice structure, length, concentration, and a fleshy finish. 88p. 2012 Calon from St.Georges St.Emilion (this vineyard is split between two communes) was tighter and needed longer to develop flavors. 87p. 2012 Corbin Michotte had a lovely bouquet of black cherries, ripe and silky fruit, and very good acidity. Quite long on the palate. 91p. 2012 Cantelauze was tight, sappy, and quite concentrated, with black cherries/blueberries everywhere, very seductive, splendid balance, and a long fruity finish. Well-made. 92p. 2011 Corbin Michotte had black fruit in large quantities, very ripe fruit, fleshy texture, strong backbone, splendid length, and finish. 92p.