Considering the irksome weather conditions that occurred in the
2012 growing season, I was greatly cheered by the resulting wines
I tasted from both these great communes. I'll start with Margaux.
Chateau Margaux itself, made
from 87% Cab Sav & 10% Merlot (+ other traces!) is now almost
100% organic these days & the 2012 has very gentle, well
integrated tannins. The Chateau compared it to the 96 but I noted
at the time that was perhaps a bold claim. They brought in v small
berries, which can make for dense wine but this has a glossy
class. Terrific. The Pavillon Rouge
(2nd wine) was better than I expected too with 33% Merlot. This is
probably about the level of the grand Vin in years gone by now.
The Pavillon Blanc is just
ace...100% Sav Blanc & they think it will age for
decades...errr...really?? I'm not quite so sure personally, but
I'd have happily drunk it that evening in town or just from can in
the street (!) if that wasn't such an unsavory act. A gorgeous,
tropical full bodied white wine. The GV claret was great but
perhaps could have been trumped by Ch
Palmer this year...am I allowed to say that? Oh
well! 50/50 Cab/Merlot seems just the ticket? it's fresh as a
daisy with any green tints completely banished. V low yeilds.
Fresh red/black fruit aromas, weight, structure, charm
personified. OK it's not quite as big as the 09/10 but again I
still wanted to drink it there & then! Affordable drinking is
probably not an option though. Ho hum. At least I can & will
afford the Ch Angludet...I'm
very well hooked up with this estate which sometimes makes me
slightly worry what I will tell them if I don't like it one year.
No need to worry...Ben Sichel has made some great Angludets in all
weathers now & he's prob made the best value Margaux in
2012...it's pretty sure to be under £200 IB a case & released
early in the EP campaign when we still have some money left! It's
a medium bodied wine, perfumed & pronounced black fruit on
nose & on palate. Subtle mocha aroma too. Worth having one for
drinking in every year I think. I had an 86 in a restaurant in
Bdx...still going great guns. The Brane
Cantenac was a touch more extracted than other
Margaux's...some loved it, I thought I'd wait for now. I'm just
opening (& selling!) my 96's at the mo & that's what I
thought about rather than buying the 12 now. I did enjoy the Dauzac. medium/full body with a
hint of gamey/savoury about it. The Desmirail
was silky with hints of leather. Du Tertre was a crowd pleaser as
usual...sexy, sliky tannins & a touch sweeter than other
Margaux's. I wasn't blown away with Giscours
as much as recent years...I found it a bit porty, even stinky.
Could have been an odd bottle but others seemed to lap it up. Not
for me. Kirwan was better...well balanced but they need a great
price to wine me back..I loved, but lost it in 2010 & also
passed the 11. Labegorce was
very well put together. Dark fruits, supple & fresh. Lascombes has a better palette
than nose I felt. Malescot St Expury
had roasted expresso on the nose but could have been too
extracted. Marquis de Terme was
very nice wine with a minerally/metallic palate & a fruit
forward nose. A really fair price would tempt me...Rauzan Segla was very classy &
as I write they've released at at just the price I mean...I think
they know they've over egged it in recent years & £420 per 12
is a massive climb down. Well done! It's a 2nd Growth & top
class Margaux. Ch Siran? I
wrote...'decent not complex' which says something but not a lot I
guess! I really did enjoy tasting this appellation in 2012 though.
Perhaps it wins top dog prize but St Julien may wince a frown of
unfair disapproval at that...it's close.
I had a lovely introduction to St Julien at Ch Langoa Barton where Lillian Barton welcomed myself & another merchant to the Ch & pointed us towards a room & told us to help ourselves. No staff in there...just free reign with loads of back vintages of Leoville & Langoa Barton (inc 99, 04, 05, 03) alongside about 100 other wines they'd left in there & thought we should try. Amazing...you can see my i-phone snap of of Mike from The Secret Cellar (top chap!) cheerfully helping himself, as indeed was I. That was a lot of fun as one rarely gets to assess aged wines in the EP circus. We just wallowed & couldn't help swallowing one or two! The Leoville Barton 2012 was showing very nicely ...it probably helps that it had literally only had to travel from it's barrel, across the quadrangle, to where we were. This wine is bright & expressive with a fruity nose & creamy, lush palate. A touch or chocolate /Black forest gateau on the nose. Delicious. It's not going to be an 05 Leo B, but judging how gorgeous the 99 & 04 tasted...it's going to be a fab Claret to own & drink. We all know how good this wine is right?? I'm now praying for a good price. I think the Chateau were forced by their neighbours to follow high pricing in the recent top years. Now we want our drinking Leo B back!!! But if the price stings, the Langoa Barton may be an option but it's definitely behind the Leoville this year. Some years there's not much between them in quality (just price) but that difference is more marked in 2012. I'll own both in their lifetime no doubt. Back on the St Julien trail Ch Leoville Las Cases had also managed to fashion their Cabernets into a wine tres, tres, elegant. Pure cashmere tannins. They were very keen to point out that they were happy with their Cabs. Well if you insist! The second wine Petit Lion showed well too. This is made from younger vines mixed with old Merlot. Nice idea. The Clos du Marquis was a tad more tarry, from 92% Cab. It's not really a second wine this but a separate vineyard in between Talbot, Pichon Lalande & the Bartons. I then hit the UGC which was showing all the other top St Juliens. Beychevelle rocked reasonably hard. Firmish oak, cassis hit. Nice balance of fruit, tannin, acidity. That's always what we're judging of course. I like the Branaire Ducru a touch more than that. Similar wine but probably cheaper so that'll be why!! Gloria was a bit more savoury..quite a different bouquet to the rest. Gruaud Larose was equal to Branaire I would say..I just love GL in medium vintages. The 04, 03, 01, 99 are all great drinking wines & worth the outlay. The Leoville Poyferre was an odd one. I felt that they loved their super ripe, v highly scored 2010 & 2009's so much they'd tried to force another version. Had they reached for extraction a touch too much? I could be wrong but I'm very keen to see if any of the critics pick up on this. Again, I was thinking of the 01 I've just brought DP to TBC & how I was looking forward to opening one of those more than buy the 12! However, this extra robustness could actually give it an edge with the critics ...let's see. The Saint Pierre didn't present OTT extraction worries...great balance again, no drying tannins on the finish. Tick! The Talbot, like Du Tertre in Margaux is always the sexy crowd pleaser. It's all pretty good at this level so my advice is to pick your favorites & if they release at a price you can afford to drink at, it's OK to go for it. They are good enough wines to buy early & just need to make their own market now. For me I'm hoping that's going to happen with Leo B..I need to keep them happy so they'll let me loose in their cellar again!! Oh brother...