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April 01, 2013

Bordeaux 2012 En Primeur Report

2012 is a winemaker’s vintage, where severe selection and good wine-making has been practised some excellent wines followed with good ripeness and fruit concentration. Conversely poorer efforts have resulted in thin wines, particularly on the left bank, devoid of weight in the mid-palate. Broadly speaking it is a better vintage than 2011 and where chateaux have reduced their prices from last year one can find real value for drinking and an incentive to buy En Primeur for capital growth once again.

Cases are also available in various formats. For further details please contact or telephone 0203 195 8051.






Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac, £1,975, 6x75cl – 92-95 Parker Points

This is beautiful for the vintage. Full body and very tender with fine tannins and a pretty finish. Attractive currant, cedar, and sweet tobacco character. More delicate than the 2011. Robert Parker

Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, £1,500, 6x75cl – 95-97 Parker Points 

Mouton Rothschild has produced one of the vintage-s most profound wines in 2012, and possibly the -wine of the Medoc.- About 49% of the production made it into the 2012 Mouton, which is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. The harvest took place during the middle two weeks of October. This may be one of the few 2012s that comes close to equaling what was achieved in both 2009 and 2010, two far superior vintages. Robert Parker

Margaux, Margaux, £2800, 12×75 – 92-94 Parker Points

This quintessentially finesse-styled Margaux exhibits notes of pure black currants, spring flowers, graphite and forest floor. With supple tannins and medium body, this pretty, stylish effort reminds me of the 2001 or perhaps a modern day, improved version of their 1979. The lovely 2012 should be drinkable in 4-5 years and last for two decades. Robert Parker

Haut Brion, Pessac Leognan, £2,800, 12×75 and £1,400, 6×75 – 93-95 Parker Points

The 2012 Haut-Brion, which represents only 46% of the production, is a blend of 65% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc. One of the stars of the vintage, it is a complete, medium to full-bodied, soft, round, atypically accessible effort displaying lots of minerality along with red and black fruits, exceptional fragrance and purity, a fleshy mid-palate and a long finish. A remarkable fact in both these wines is that the alcohol levels in 2012 hit 14.8%, which nearly equals the record levels achieved in 2010 – that’s astonishing! This 2012 should drink well 3-4 years after bottling, and last for 20-25 years. Robert Parker

Cheval Blanc, St Emilion, £3,700, 12×7594-96 Parker Points

The final blend for the 2012 Cheval Blanc was 54% Merlot and 46% Cabernet Franc. Despite the use of 100% new oak, there is not a hint of vanillin, toast or espresso notes in the aromatic bouquet, which is filled with scents of black currants, sweet cherries, lavender, forest floor and a hint of underbrush. Concentrated with a surprisingly lofty alcohol level of 13.9% as well as a tannin level that equals their 2010 (a wine bestowed a three-digit score), this full-bodied, opulent 2012 has a pH of 3.8, which accounts for its suppleness, velvety texture and heady richness. It is a great success in this vintage. It will be approachable early given its silky structural aspects, and should last for two decades. Robert Parker

Montrose, St Estephe, £640, 12×75 – 92-94 Parker Points

The inky/purple-colored 2012 offers up scents of white chocolate, creme de cassis, acacia flowers, crushed rocks and forest floor. The tannins are surprisingly soft as the pH is about 3.7, which is slightly higher than the 2010′s 3.6. This dense, full-bodied wine is still somewhat monolithic, but it is loaded with concentration and power as well as a long finish. While not totally formed, all the component parts are present. The 2012 will not match the level of the 2009 and 2010, but it should stand out as one of the highlights of 2012. Robert Parker

Cos d’Estournel, St Estephe, £980, 12×75 – 92-95 Parker Points

It has a saturated purple color, a classic style, abundant tannin, slight austerity, superb concentration, huge fruit, a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, and a structured, muscular, well-delineated finish. This impressive, full-bodied Cos will need time to round into shape. Give it 4-5 years of cellaring and drink it over the following two decades. Robert Parker

Calon Segur, St Estephe, £440, 12×75 – 90-92 Parker Points

The 2012 reveals an opaque ruby/purple color along with sweet tannins, low acidity, medium to full body, and abundant cedary, foresty notes intermixed with black cherries, black currants, caramel and spice box. This medium to full-bodied St.-Estephe should drink well in 4-5 years (atypical for a Calon Segur), and last for two decades. Robert Parker

Pontet Canet, Pauillac, £690, 12×75 – 91-94 Parker Points

A softer, less powerful and less prodigiously endowed Pontet Canet, the 2012 exhibits notes of creme de cassis and new barrique vanillin followed by a medium-bodied, elegant wine with sweeter tannin (and less of it) than is found in the great vintages that immediately precede it. The 2012 is certainly outstanding and, in fact, many readers may prefer it to the blockbuster, out-of-this-world, over-sized 2010, 2009 and 2008. Medium-bodied, pure and expressive, this classic Pauillac should only require 5-6 years of cellaring. It should drink well for two decades thereafter. No one will confuse the 2012 Pontet Canet with the 2008, 2009 or 2010, but proprietor Alfred Tesseron has turned in another high level performance in this more challenging vintage (especially true in the Medoc). Robert Parker

Lynch Bages, Pauillac, £670, 12×75 – 87-89 Parker Points

Some of Lynch Bages’s tell-tale cedary, black currant, earth and spice characteristics are present in the 2012′s moderately intense bouquet. This wine exhibits good purity, a healthy dark ruby/purple color and medium body. There is a slight deficiency in the mid-palate, but it recovers sufficiently and offers up a decent finish that tails off ever so slightly. This good to excellent wine could use more fat and charm in the mid-section. Cellar it for a couple of years and drink it over the following 12-14 years. Robert Parker

Pichon Baron, St Julien, £710, 12×75 – 90-93 Parker Points

A strong effort from this Pauillac chateau, most of the old vine Cabernet Sauvignon from their parcels near Latour made it into the 2012 Pichon Longueville Baron’s final blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. A dense purple color is accompanied by an attractive bouquet of incense, cassis, cedar and toasty oak. It is medium to full-bodied as well as bigger, richer and brawnier than most Medoc 2012s. Noticeable tannin in the finish suggests 3-4 years of cellaring is warranted. Drink it over the following two decades. Robert Parker

Pichon Lalande, St Julien, £650, 12×75 – 91-93 Parker Points

Coming in at a lofty 13.2% natural alcohol, it offers up scents of black currants, white chocolate, berries, cedar and forest floor. Sweet tannin, a round opulence and medium body result in a classic, supple-textured Pauillac that should drink well young and keep for 12-15 years. It is very much in keeping with what most readers would consider the “house style” of Pichon Lalande, despite the fact that they are moving toward more Cabernet Sauvignon and less Petit Verdot in the final blend. Robert Parker

Ducru Beaucaillou, St Julien, £765, 12×75 – 90-92 Parker Points

The color is a healthy deep ruby/purple and the wine smells beautiful, exhibiting lots of floral, creme de cassis, licorice and graphite notes. Medium-bodied but slightly deficient in the mid-palate at present, it picks up speed and finishes with serious authority and power. This 2012 should be outstanding, but it is difficult to favorably compare the 2012 to the prodigious wines produced at Ducru in 2009 and 2010. The 2012 will require 4-6 years of cellaring and should drink well for 15-20 yearsRobert Parker

Leoville Barton, St Julien, £490, 12×75 – 90-92 Parker Points

This well-made, complete St.-Julien possesses a dense purple color as well as surprisingly soft tannins for this wine which tends to be jacked up with a lot of structure, masculinity and muscle in most vintages. The 2012 offers attractive cedary, black currant fruit and vanilla notes, and a medium-bodied, denser mid-palate than many of its peers’. The tannins are noticeable in the finish, so give this wine 4-5 years of cellaring and drink it over the following two decades as it will be one of the longer lived wines of the vintage. Robert Parker

Leoville Poyferre, St Julien, £470, 12×75 – 89-91 Parker Points

This wine seemed primary and not totally filled out or complete. No doubt it will put on some weight given the significant Merlot content in the final blend. There is a certain firmness, stiffness and lack of intensity on the mid-palate, and some tannins kick in in the finish. Nevertheless, there is more to this wine than first meets the palate. It is medium to full-bodied with an opaque color, good ripeness and some attractive weight, but is closed and hard. It needs time to pull itself together, and it should turn out to be an excellent, possibly outstanding effort. Robert Parker

Palmer, Margaux, £1,700, 12x75cl – 92-95 Parker Points

The 2012 Palmer’s inky/purple color is more saturated than most Margaux’s, and it offers complex notes of blackberries, cassis, licorice, truffle and spring flowers. The wine is dense, rich and full-bodied with a muscular appeal, but the tannins, as high as they are, are sweet and well-integrated. None of the new oak used during the wine-s upbringing is noticeable. Interestingly, this wine showed no evidence of dilution from the October 7-9 rainfall. I suspect it will require 3-4 years of cellaring, and should last for two decades. Robert Parker

Lascombes, Margaux, £425, 12×75 – 90-92 Parker Points

An outstanding wine in this vintage, the full-bodied 2012 Lascombes reveals more power, concentration and texture than many of its peers. Its dense blue/purple color is followed by notes of acacia flowers, blueberries, black raspberries, black currants, vanillin and toast. Medium to full-bodied with excellent texture (for a 2012), as well as good follow through and length, this soft, plush, outstanding Margaux should drink well for 12-15 years. Robert Parker

Malescot St Exupery, Margaux, £330, 12×75, 89-92 Parker Points

This wine offers attractive floral notes intermixed with notions of lavender, black currants, black cherries, smoke and earth. It is another successful effort from an estate that has been consistently producing exceptional wines in all the finest vintages over the last 15-20 years. An attractive, seductive, dense ruby/purple-hued, medium-bodied 2012, it finishes with some shortness, but everything leading up to the finish is impressive. Like most of these 2012s that possess a certain forward appeal, it should drink well for 12-15 years. Robert Parker

La Mission Haut Brion, Pessac Leognan, £1,680, 12×75 – 91-94 Parker Points

The 2012 La Mission Haut-Brion, which represents 41% of the total production, is a blend of 62% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Lots of tobacco leaf, forest floor, underbrush and red as well as black fruit aromas jump from this aromatic, seductive, open-knit La Mission. Medium to full-bodied, round, generous, lush and flattering to taste, even at this young age, it is built along the stylistic lines of the 2001 or 1999. Drink it over the next 15-20 years. Robert Parker

Pape Clement, Pessac Leognan, £550, 12x75cl – 92-95 Parker Points

The 2012 Pape Clement is one of the stars of the vintage, which is not surprising given this estate’s performances over the last 10-15 years. A blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc, it exhibits an opaque ruby/purple color along with a beautifully sweet, graphite-scented nose with hints of black currants, Asian plum sauce, soy and forest floor. Impressively built with medium to full-bodied flavors, it has more layers than many wines from this vintage, an appealing density and a velvety texture. Robert Parker

Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac Leognan, £450, 12×75 – 92-94 Parker Points

A brilliant success again, this blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot is a medium-bodied, impressively concentrated wine with copious quantities of red and black fruits. Licorice, roasted herbs and a touch of background oak are present in this slightly precocious wine, which should be accessible when released. It has the depth to evolve for 20 or more years. Talk about a severe selection – only 41% made it into the grand vin! Robert Parker

Domaine de Chevalier Rouge, Pessac Leognan, £335, 12×75 – 92-95 Parker Points

One of the stars of the vintage, it boasts a dense purple color as well as a big, sweet bouquet of red and black currants, graphite, subtle flowers and well-integrated, toasty oak. Impressively built rich and medium to full-bodied without losing the quintessential elegance and finesse for which this famous estate is renowned, the 2012 Domaine de Chevalier is filled with purity, equilibrium and balance. The tannins are sweet enough that this wine should be accessible when released, and will last for 15-20 years. Is this a modern day clone of their brilliant 1953 (which I drank from magnum at Bern’s Steak House in November for less than $500!)?… there is no question that Domaine de Chevalier has been on a relatively hot streak lately, and this 2012 is a beautyRobert Parker

Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, Pessac Leognan, £650, 12×75 – 93-95 Parker Points

A gorgeous effort, the 2012 Domaine de Chevalier, made from a blend of 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon that reached 13.5% natural alcohol, boasts abundant notes of creme brulee, lemon custard, candle wax and oranges in its beautifully rich, honeyed personality. Great acidity gives laser-like precision to its component parts. Drink this full-bodied white wine over the next 2-3 decades. Robert Parker

Troplong Mondot, St Emilion, £595, 12x75cl – 94-96 Parker Points

Bravo! From a 63-acre vineyard on the high plateau (called the Plateau of Mondot) adjacent to the famous limestone hillside, the Cote Pavie, the 2012 Troplong Mondot is another fabulous success. Cropped at 31 hectoliters per hectare with malolactic in barrel, this blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon hit 14.2% natural alcohol. Three-fourths of the production went into the grand vinRobert Parker

Clos Fourtet, St Emilion, £500, 12×75 - 93-95 Parker Points

The 2012 Clos Fourtet was cropped at 32 hectoliters per hectare and achieved 14% natural alcohol. The final blend was 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. It offers an opaque dense purple color along with attractive blackberry, licorice, truffle and cassis fruit notes. It is full-bodied and dense with an authoritative mid-palate, sweet tannin and a layered mouthfeel that builds incrementally into a stunningly long finish. Precocious and charming already, it will drink better at an earlier age than the massive, prodigious 2009. Drink this killer St Emilion over the next 15+ years. Robert Parker

Pavie Macquin, St Emilion, £390, 12×75 – 92-95 Parker Points

A dense blue/black color is accompanied by notes of creosote, graphite, black fruits, vanillin, chocolate and tapenade. Rich, concentrated and full-bodied, it has a spicy, compacted, layered mouthfeel. Given how past vintages seemed to close down after bottling, this beauty will probably need 5-6 years of cellaring and keep for two decades or more. Robert Parker

Beausejour Duffau-Lagarrosse, St Emilion, £270, 6×75 – 93-95+ Parker Points

The 2012 exhibits a black/purple color along with a striking nose of incense, spring flowers, blueberries, blackberries and hints of mulberries and crushed chalk. The sumptuous aromatics are followed by a full-bodied, super-concentrated, rich, layered wine that builds incrementally across the palate, finishing with an explosion of fruit, spice, tannin, glycerin and minerality. While neither as backward nor impenetrable as the 2009 and 2010, the 2012 should be approachable in 4-5 years and keep for 2-3 decades. Robert Parker

l’Evangile, Pomerol, £1,100, 12×75 – 90-94 Parker Points

The 2012 is an outstanding effort displaying copious quantities of black raspberry and blackberry fruit intermixed with hints of camphor, black truffles and subtle new oak. Opulent, round and generously endowed with impressive purity as well as a forward style, it should drink well young yet age for 12-15 years. Robert Parker

La Conseillante, Pomerol, £660, 12×75 – 92-94 Parker Points

The 2012 La Conseillante exhibits a dark ruby/purple color as well as a beautiful, up-front, projected fragrance that includes mulberry and raspberry jam, licorice, lavender and underbrush. Rich and medium-bodied, this attractive effort possesses the estate’s hallmark elegance, finesse and sweet, velvety tannins. It should be approachable in its youth and last for 15+ years. Robert Parker

Clinet, Pomerol, £490, 12×75 – 92-94+ Parker Points

Although hardly comparable to what Clinet achieved in both 2009 and 2010, the 2012 Clinet is another star of the vintage. A powerful, full-bodied, muscular Pomerol, it reveals a dense purple color in addition to lots of opulence, a layered, full-bodied richness (somewhat atypical for the vintage), beautiful density and plenty of mocha, black cherry, truffle and graphite notes. It is a surprisingly full yet accessible Clinet that will be drinkable long before the 2009 and 2010 hit their plateaus of maturity. Drink the 2012 over the next 15 years. Robert Parker

Clos l’Eglise, Pomerol, £450, 12×75 – 91-94 Parker Points

The 2012 possesses a creamy texture along with a big, sweet bouquet of mulberry and black cherry fruit judiciously touched by smoky oak, graphite and forest floor notes. Round and generously endowed with a dense plum/purple color, fragrant aromatics, a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, and silky tannins, it should age effortlessly for 12-15 years. Robert Parker



La Dame de Montrose, St Estephe, £235, 12×75 – 88-90 Parker Points

The second wine has been a strong effort for a number of years. The 2012 Dame de Montrose represents 29% of the total production. Its domination by Merlot is noticeable in the chocolate, mocha and black cherry characteristics. Deep ruby/purple-tinged, fleshy and succulent with low acidity and ripe tannin, it is the ideal second wine to drink over the next decade. Robert Parker

Pagodes de Cos, St Estephe, £300, 12×75 – 88-90 Parker Points

The second wine, which has gone from strength to strength over recent years, the 2012 Alter Ego de Palmer, is a blend of 51% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Petit Verdot. Spicy and earthy, displaying notes of new saddle leather, roasted herbs and meaty barbecue, it is a medium-bodied, fleshy, attractive wine to drink over the next 10-12 years. Robert Parker

Ormes de Pez, St Estephe, £190, 12×75 - 85-87 Parker Points

Good acidity along with fresh, clean cut red and blue fruits characterize this straightforward, meaty, fruity offering. It lacks some concentration, complexity and overall gravitas, but it does offer good fruit and ripe tannin in a medium-bodied, easygoing style. Consume it over the next 7-8 years. Robert Parker 

Echo de Lynch Bages, Pauillac, £250, 12×75 – 92-93 James Suckling

This has incredible length for a second wine. Full body, with dark berry and raspberry character, ultra-fine tannins, and a long, long finish. Tiny grape yields for the vintage. James Suckling

Grand Puy Lacoste, Pauillac, £340, 12×75 – 87-89 Parker Points

Aromas of tobacco leaf, roasted herbs and red and black currants cascade from the glass of this medium-bodied, restrained, down-sized 2012 Grand Puy Lacoste. Displaying a dark ruby/purple color and no herbaceousness, this lighter-styled wine is somewhat reminiscent of the 1999 and 2001. Drink it over the next 10-12 years. Robert Parker

Lynch Moussas, Pauillac, £220, 12×75 – 88-90 Parker Points

A sleeper of the vintage as well as one of the finest efforts I have seen from this estate owned by Philippe Casteja, Lynch Moussas appears to be rising in quality. This seductive, medium-bodied, charming, endearing 2012 exhibits lovely cassis fruit as well as an attractive mid-palate and a surprisingly long finish. A hint of chocolate adds to its appeal. It should drink well for 10-15 years. Robert Parker 

Lacoste Borie, Pauillac, £155, 12×75 – 90-93 Parker Points

Awaiting note

Haut de Pontet Canet, Pauillac, 12x75cl £260 – n/a

Awaiting note

Croix de Beaucaillou, St Julien, £240, 12×75 – 87-89 Parker Points

The second wine (also about 50% of the total production), the 2012 Croix du Beaucaillou is composed of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest mostly Merlot with 2% Petit Verdot. It is a soft, round, attractively endowed effort with a deep ruby/plum color as well as a sweet nose of black currants, dusty, loamy, earthy notes and a touch of lead pencil shavings and vanilla. Well-made and medium-bodied, this attractive 2012 should drink well for 10-12 years. Robert Parker

Talbot, St Julien, £290, 12×75 – 90-92 Parker Points

A strong effort from Talbot, this sexy, medium to full-bodied, richly fruity 2012 exhibits lots of creme de cassis, licorice, roasted herb and spice box characteristics in an evolved yet elegant, round, lush style that was surprisingly seductive and disarming. This offering stood out as one of the stars of St.-Julien. Drink it over the next 12-15 years. Robert Parker

Gloria, St Julien, £235, 12×75 – 87-89 Parker Points

Another winner from this estate, which has been on a hot streak over recent vintages, the 2012 Gloria is unquestionably of classified growth quality. It offers a dark ruby/purple color, attractive, elegant, herbaceously-tinged black currant fruit, soft tannins, a satisfying, fleshy mouthfeel, a good mid-palate and ripe tannin in the finish. I would not be surprised to see it evolve for 10-12+ years. Robert Parker

Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux, £420, 12×75 – 88-90 Parker Points

The second wine, which has gone from strength to strength over recent years, the 2012 Alter Ego de Palmer, is a blend of 51% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Petit Verdot. Spicy and earthy, displaying notes of new saddle leather, roasted herbs and meaty barbecue, it is a medium-bodied, fleshy, attractive wine to drink over the next 10-12 years. Robert Parker

Cantenac Brown, Margaux, £280, 12×75 – 90-93 Parker Points

The 2012 Cantenac Brown, one of the most impressive Margaux I tasted, is the complete package – from the initial attack to the layered, rich finish. Dense ruby/purple-hued with notes of licorice, mulberries, black currants, asphalt and spring flowers, this medium to full-bodied, concentrated, rich effort does not reveal an excess of rusticity or astringency. It should drink well for 10-15 years. Robert Parker

D’Issan, Margaux, £290, 12×75 – 87-89 Parker Points

A touch of herbaceousness and abundant underbrush characteristics kept my score from going higher. Nevertheless, the wine offers an attractive fragrance of herbs, blue and red fruits and loamy soil undertones. Medium-bodied with an angular mouthfeel, it should drink well for a decade or more. Robert Parker

Siran, Margaux, £160, 12×75 – 87-88 Parker Points

Siran did not try to extract too much in 2012, and the result is a very good, soft, round, elegant, cleanly made, medium-bodied effort with attractive blue and red fruits, ripe tannin and a medium-bodied finish. Drink it over the next decade. Robert Parker

Chapelle de la Mission, Pessac Leognan, £410, 12×75 – 87-88 Parker Points

The elegant, medium-bodied, supple-textured, soft, velvety La Chapelle exhibits notes of damp earth, forest floor, raspberry and blueberry fruit. One-third of the production made it into this second wine, which should drink nicely for a decade or moreRobert Parker

Haut Bailly, Pessac Leognan, £480, 12×75 – 91-93 Parker Points

While the 2012 Haut-Bailly is not as powerful or rich as the 2009 and 2010, it is classically elegant, racy and noble. This medium-bodied effort is the poster child for elegance, finesse, balance and equilibrium. The Cantemerle of Pessac-Leognan? Its deep ruby/plum/purple color is followed by a sweet nose of black cherries, black currants, lead pencil shavings and a touch of spicy oak. This medium-bodied, pretty wine will benefit from 4-5 years of cellaring and last for two decades. Robert Parker

Cantemerle, Haut Medoc, £195, 12×75 – 89-91 Parker Points

Cantemerle’s ethereal elegance and racy, classy style are unmistakable in this understated yet pretty, dark ruby-colored 2012. Offering lots of cherry, raspberry and black currant fruit, this is a wine of unmistakable finesse and delicacy. Enjoy it over the next 10-12 years. Robert Parker

Sociando de Mallet, Haut Medoc, £215, 12×75 – 88-90 Parker Points

A noteworthy success for this conscientiously run property that has overperformed for much of my 35-year career, the black/purple-hued 2012 Sociando Mallet reveals notes of camphor, black truffles, asphalt and abundant blue and black fruits. Layered, rich and concentrated with sweet tannin and a more forward, precocious personality than is normal for this estate, it should drink well for 10-12 years. Robert Parker

Chasse Spleen, Haut Medoc, £195, 12×75 – 87-89 Parker Points

This attractive dark ruby/plum-colored 2012 offers up notes of lead pencil shavings, vanillin, earth, black currants and black cherries. Medium-bodied, easygoing, seductive and consumer friendly, drink it over the next decade. Robert Parker

La Lagune, Haut Medoc, £395, 12×75 – 90-92 Parker Points

This is an excellent effort from this estate at the southern end of the Medoc. A tell-tale, seductive, round, medium to full-bodied style is present in this forward, precocious, delicious wine with plenty of charm and finesse. Medium-bodied with sweet tannin and plenty of toasty, black currant and loamy soil notes intermixed with hints of spice box and vanillin are present in this nicely textured, complete, attractive effort. Drink it over the next 12-15 years. Robert Parker

Canon, St Emilion, £410, 12×75 – 91-94 Parker Points

A dense ruby/purple color is followed by notes of black raspberries, blueberries, crushed rocks and spring flowers. This medium to full-bodied, well-endowed, authoritative Canon reveals some serious tannin in the finish, so 4-5 years of cellaring will be needed after bottling. It should last 15-20 years.  Robert Parker 

Croix de Labrie, St Emilion, £335, 12×75 – 93-95 Parker Points

If you want to impress a friend with a pure, hedonistic St.-Emilion that also offers an intellectual challenge, the 2012 Croix de Labrie, a St.-Emilion fruit bomb, is the wine for you. Unfortunately, the 250-case production means this cuvee is limited in availability. Aromas of incense, Christmas fruitcake, Asian plum sauce, blackberries, licorice and truffles soar from the glass of this dense plum/purple-colored wine. Opulent, voluptuously textured and medium to full-bodied with no hard edges to be found, it will drink well for a decade after bottling. Robert Parker

Coutet, Barsac, £350, 12×75 – 90-92 Parker Points

The 2012 has a lifted bouquet of quince, marmalade and yellow flowers that is precise and focused. The palate is viscous and convincing on the opening, offering good depth and cohesion with satisfactory botrytis, though it tails away ever so slightly on the finish. Still, this is a commendable effort and is another fine 2012 Barsac. Robert Parker


Robert Parker’s 2012 Bordeaux en primeur report will be released at the end of the month, however, releases will start as early as next week. After speaking with the proprietors and negociants it is clear that the mind-set is more commercially sound than last year. Two precepts abound: prices need to be closer to those in 2008 thus lower than the 2011s. Moreover, the chateaux need to release evenly, not in a mad flurry five weeks into the campaign…common sense really. Several top estates are expected to release before Parker’s verdict.

The Weather

2012 was dominated by vagaries of weather. A rainy spring caused cool damp conditions slowing vine growth; diminutive flowering proceeded slowly throughout the first weeks of June and this was the primary reason for reduced yields.

Summer finally began at the end of July; August was very dry and sunny with several days of high temperatures and drought. The excellent weather continued into September which may have resulted in heat strain and cessation of the ripening process; much needed rain arrived in late September, but a deluge between the 7th and 9th which saw 90 to 100mm of rainfall created rot issues.

2012 by Village

The right bank villages of Pomerol and Saint Emilion – which are Merlot dominate – could be picked before the rot and deluge issues occurred and to this extent the right bank has produced an excellent vintage, with sweet tannins, ripe fruit and good mouth feel. Chateaux Clinet, La Conseillante and of course Cheval Blanc, Angelus, Beausejour-Duffau Lagarrosse and Pavie, all performed extremely well, producing wines that are ripe, plump and long in finish. In fact Parker commented that some right bank 2012s, while not legendary, are not far behind the great 2009s and 2010s.

The Medoc was hurt by the deluge in October and the top estates countered this with severe selections, only 30-35% of the crop going into their first wines, with the remainder going into their second and third wines. The wines of the Medoc seem to be very well structured and well-made although they lack the abundance of fruit we saw in the 2009 and 2010 vintages.

Starting north and heading south we visited the great estates of Montrose and Cos d’Estournel in Saint Estephe. Montrose is a structured concentrated wine, full of black fruit with high notes of mint and ripe tannins. Cos d’Estournel on the other hand was more elegant with a velvety mouth feel and enveloping layers of flavour.

In Pauillac, Mouton Rothschild demonstrated great concentration with notes of chocolate, coffee and a touch of cedar. The wine showed finesse and was certainly more dense than the 2011. The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tastings gave us a chance to try many of the wines side-by-side. Lynch Bages was another magnificent effort from Jean-Charles Cazes, no doubt achieved by their lowest yields since 1991. It is full-bodied and densely packed with black fruit and a touch of smoke, a classic Lynch Bages. The adjacent Pichon estates were equally as good; in particular Pichon Baron combined black fruits, mocha and strawberry jam; both were muscular and structured.

Before enjoying the great lunch and famous cheese selection of Pontet Canet we were welcomed by Alfred and Melanie Tesseron to taste their first wine. This was another wonderful effort to compliment the 100 point 2009 and 2010 vintages. The wine was fragrant boasting soft blueberries, violets, white flowers and elegant smoke, though with some noticeable warmth from the alcohol at 13.5%. An interview with Alfred Tesseron will follow this report. It is noteworthy that we drank a 1995 Pontet Canet at La Tupina on Monday evening, which remained incredibly youthful, more like a 2006 than a wine made a decade before.

Broadly speaking Saint-Julien did not match the high standards of Pauillac. However, Leoville Poyferre was a high point with flavours of pepper, cloves and good minerality.

Entering the village of Margaux we were very well received by the charismatic Thibault Pontallier of Chateau Margaux, son of Director Paul, who will feature in an interview to follow. Margaux was once again an excellent wine with plenty of red and black fruit and a classic scent of violets. One of our white wines of the vintage was Pavillon Blanc where 30% of the crop was used meaning 800 cases of the 2012 vintage will be produced. It vaunts a pronounced bouquet of lemon, peaches and apricot, with a fat mouth feel, balanced acidity with honeysuckle on the finish. Palmer was the wine of the vintage for us in 2011 and in the opinion of Charles Sichel, whose family own one third of the Chateau, 2012 is even better.

Pessac Leognan and Graves fared well, with their higher proportion of Merlot. The top wines have excellent mid-palates and density, with Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion achieving alcohol levels close to 15%. Both wines include their highest ever proportion of Merlot with over 60% in their blends. These are our wines of the left bank, breaking the trend of the 2012, they are rich and exuberant combining their tell-tale cigar box with, brioche, pepper, sweet spices and dried raisins, creating a truly pronounced nose. On the palate they were full bodied and voluptuous, La Mission displaying a subtle white chocolate and a long finish of Cinnamon.

We will provide further information as releases continue.