• Alexander Smith

Revisiting the 2012 Bordeaux vintage

The 2012 vintage was anything but simple, with surrounding challenges vintages of 2011 and 2013 it is often overlooked, but should it be? A vintage where everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and it could only be saved by the Vigneron. At close to 8 years of age, I thought it would be a good time to re-visit this vintage and see after 8 years, where on the spectrum we fall. I tasted wines at all different levels with Chateau Clinet and Léoville Poyferré coming out on top.

2012 did not start very well, with a very wet spring, followed by mildew, then a cool June meant flowering started later than normal. The flowering was also uneven which of course meant the grapes ripened at different times. Summer was hot, and by hot I mean really hot with some days seeing over 42*C. This meant the vines shut down and delayed the harvest further. Finally, in October some much relief rain arrived, along with warm days and cool night which help to finish the vintage on a good note. With uneven ripeness, mildew, and heat spikes, these grapes had seen everything nature could throw at them and more. Quantities were down, yet with a reduced crop, it was the winemakers who were able to select the best grapes and declassify grapes which did not make the grade.

2012 produced many inconsistent wines, yet certain producers declassified their second-grade fruit and still produced a classic and good quality wine. I have recently been trying some re-released 2012s and was happily surprised by the quality of these wines. I do not believe they will echo the years of 2010, 2015 or 2016. However, will allow for early enjoyment over the coming 10 years.

Leoville Poyferre came out just ahead of Chateau Clinet!

All wines tasted showed surprising depth, along with lush fruit and soft tannins. The wines all showed the same classic Bordeaux style, yet lacked the tannin quality and structure which other greater vintages show. Bordeaux is all about the price, and even though probably on the high side, the prices are reasonable, and for those in search of a classic vintage which will not break the bank and accessible early, I believe the 2012 vintage offers just that!

Recommendations for the 2012 vintage include Chateau Clinet and Léoville Poyferré which showed true character to their name.

2012 Bordeaux Vintage re-visited tasting notes

Château Léoville Poyferré 2012 - 95 points

For a 2012 I was not expecting to blown away like this. Very Inky in color with aromas of coffee, dark red fruit, liquorice, cedar and spice. The palate was wonderfully smooth with refined tannins, along with notes of cacoa, dark cherry and dark mocha. The finish is long and there is some nice chalky minerality which keeps everything in check. Like most 2012 the fruit is taking a backseat, but don't let that shy you away, this shows what can be done in a slightly off vintage. Leoville Poyferre are very consistent and I am looking forward to ordering sime of their 2018s based on this bottle. Drink this today over the next 12 years.

Château Clinet 2012 - 94 points

Opened on day 1, completely closed, not even slightly open, left overnight. Day 2, Now this is much much better! Full-on nose, with lush plum, dark cherry and violet. On the palate I found notes of ripe dark cherry, mint chocolate, coffee, truffle, vanilla and a little graphite. Tannins are very much present but smooth not drying. Quite concentrated. Loving this wine... This is still way too young, you should not even think about opening this for another 5 years minimum. 10 years and I feel this will be game....94+

Château Canon 2012 - 93 points

Powerful Aromas of dark plum, cherry, coffee beans, crushed gravel, licorice, smoke, and a touch dried herbs, the palate was soft, full and alluring with dark and plush red fruit, crushed stones, sweet spices, well-integrated fine tannins along with a smooth and soft finish, yet this lacked the charm of other 2012s tasted of Poyferre and Clinet. A perfect well executed 2012 yet just missing the personality of Canon.

Château Lynch-Bages 2012 - 91 points

Fresh blackberry, pencil lead, tobacco, lavender? There is power here with grippy tannins will probably improve over the next 10 years. Missing that wow effect

Château Gruaud Larose 2012 - 90 points

Aromas of dark cherry, blackberry, medium palate with ripe dark fruit, pepper, spice and green pepper soft finish

Château Cantemerle 2012 - 90 points

The nose is full of dark black fruit, smoke, liquorice and black pepper, the palate is full-bodied and soft with chewy tannins along with soft black fruit, cherries, cedar and peppery. The finish was medium and linear, yet struggling to hold together, I doubt this will get better.

Do you have any favorites of the 2012 vintage?

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