One week I taste wines in Margaret River, The next I taste the Grands Crus from Bordeaux... Life is good.
Last Friday, the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux made a stop over in Hong Kong to showcase the 2012 vintage. So here I was, navigating between Pauillac, Pomerol and Graves, tasting wonderful wines and meeting very nice people. It was a great exercise to compare the different chateaux and appellations, to get to know the 2012 vintage and to analyse its strengths and weaknesses.
2012 was not an easy vintage. The spring was wet and the flowering was disturbed (hence no or uneven fruits), then the summer was too hot and dry (so dry, in fact, that ripeness was difficult to reach). The rain finally arrived in mid-september and brought the long awaited water to the vines. Unfortunately, Bordeaux got a bit too much of it: the autumn became so humid that grey rot started to appear here an there. As I said, not an easy vintage. How is it possible to make great wines in these conditions ? Thanks to great terroir and experience. Pomerol's clay for instance proved essential to retain humidity during the heat wave. In the vineyards, green harvesting (removing bunches from the vines) was necessary to achieve homogeneity. In the winery, you had to be ruthless by operating a strict selection of berries. Afterwards, you had to tone down the tannins of the cabernet sauvignons by controlling a gentle extraction. If you did all that, you made a great wine in 2012. They might not last for 30 years but they are certainly great to drink now and for the next 10 years. Here are my top sixteen with my 'uber' favorite (XXX).
White - Pessac Leognan
Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion - Nutty and mineral nose. Great balance with acidity and body. Great Length. XXX
Chateau Smith haut Lafitte - Delicate nose of cream, butter and smokiness. Mineral on the palate. Good length.
Red - Saint-Emilion
Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere - Freshness of red fruits with extra dimension of spice and plum. Great balance on the palate, elegant. Good length.
Chateau La Gaffeliere - Complex nose of red fruits and plum, parma ham and mushroom. Structure with acidity and tannins. Long finish. XXX
Red - Pomerol
Chateau Beauregard - Ripe black fruits, plums and mushroom. Smooth palate with great structure thanks to tannins and body. Fully there. XXX
Chateau Clinet - Perfume of violet with red fruits, spice and herbs. On the plate, great structure with elegance, balance and long finish. XXX
Chateau La Conseillante - Delicate perfume of undergrowth, black fruits, prune and mushroom. Fantastic presence with perfect balance. A beauty. XXX
Red - Haut Medoc
Chateau de Camensac - Black fruits, herbs and spices. Well balance with good structure and freshness. drink now.
Chateau La Lagune - Nose explosion: black fruit, spice, tobacco, cacao, forest floor. Great balance with complexity on the palate too. Great length. XXX
Red - Margaux
Chateau Kirwan - Floral, Red fruits and spice (liquorice). Tannins still strong but will die down. Pure fruit on the plate. Great finish.
Chateau Prieure - Lichine - Explosion of blackcurrant and tobacco. Beautiful fruity palate with full body and smooth presence. Long finish.
Red - Saint Julien
Chateau Gruaud Larose - Powerful nose of violet, blackcurrant and undergrowth. Smooth and velvety body. Mouthwatering with black fruits and coffee. XXX
Red - Pauillac
Chateau Clerc Milon - Complex black fruits and sweet spice nose. Palate showing depth and balance with purity and elegance. A gem. XXX
Chateau Lynch-Bages - Blackcurrant, prune, undergrowth. Pure flavours of black fruits and dark chocolate. Body, complexity, elegance & long finish. It has it all. XXX
Chateau Pichon Longueville Contesse de Lalande - Black fruits, plums and forest. Complexity, depth, balance and elegance. A beauty. XXX
Red - Saint Estephe
Chateau Phelan Segur - Sweet spice, plum and black currant. Balanced, full body with cacao and tobacco flavours and a long finish. Simply great. XXX