This year at En Primeur, it’s all about the three Ps—Pomerol for magnificent Merlot, Pessac-Léognan for notable whites, and after today’s tastings, Pauillac for stellar Cabernet Sauvignon.
But don’t think these subregions as three of a kind. The wines made here are entirely different from one another, because of their terroirs. Pomerol’s clay soils are uniquely suited to grow Merlot; in Pessac-Léognan, the proximity to the warm city climate allows growers to pick their whites earlier than in other regions; Pauillac’s gravel is ideal for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, revealing the true resilience of the variety.
“These wines are very structured,” says Philippe Dhalluin, managing director of Château Mouton-Rothschild. “The dry summer meant that the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes had thick skins. So despite the rain at harvest time, we were able to wait before picking with no problems.”
Indeed, it’s becoming clear to thousands of attendees of this week’s En Primeur that despite the poor growing conditions of this vintage, hard work from great winemakers resulted in good wines, and in these three appellations in particular, great ones.
Tomorrow: Margaux, Moulis-en-Médoc and Listrac-Médoc.
2012 Top Bordeaux En Primeur Pauillac, Saint-Julien and Saint-Estèphe Red Wines
96–98 Château Mouton Rothschild 2012 Pauillac. Barrel sample. This powerful, impressive wine is comprised of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s seriously structured, with loads of black currants and dark tannin, and revels on the finish with the juicy, fresh acidity of this vintage. A fine Mouton, this is the first vintage produced in the chateau’s new cellar. —R.V.
96–98 Château Pontet Canet 2012 Pauillac. Barrel sample. This is a structured, ripe wine that also has a great sense of freshness—vibrant blackberry flavor and lively acidity. The finish retains the same delicious freshness and brightness of this vintage. —R.V.
95–97 Château Lafite-Rothschild 2012 Pauillac. Barrel sample. Full and powerfully concentrated, this wine has dense acidity, sweet black fruits and very fine tannins. The concentration is enormous but it expresses itself through the prism of smooth, velvet-textured tannins. —R.V.
95–97 Château Léoville Las Cases 2012 Saint-Julien. Barrel sample. This is a very solid wine with tannins that are very firm and dense. There is power without excessive alcohol, lending a classic feel, and a pure line from fruit, acidity and tannin. The result is as much about fruit as structure. —R.V.
94–96 Château Calon-Ségur 2012 Saint-Estèphe. Barrel sample. Big and ripe, this is a powerful wine with 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, giving the wine a solid, dusty structure but also delicious fruit. Finishes with a touch of chocolate at the end. —R.V.
94–96 Château Cos d’Estournel 2012 Saint-Estèphe. Barrel sample. Big and rich with lots of chocolate and ripe black-plum fruits, this is a very structured wine, showing some extraction but also spice and sweet tannins. Powerful, but with a finish that is like a cool breeze. —R.V.
94–96 Château Ducru Beaucaillou 2012 Saint-Julien. Barrel sample. This is a glamorous wine with acidity and structure surrounded by a ripe fruit character. The palate is powerful, and already quite complex, with both great fruitiness and a solid feel. —R.V.
94–96 Château Léoville Barton 2012 Saint-Julien. Barrel sample. Firmly tannic in character, this wine is dry and extracted. There’s potential for this powerful, impressive wine to bear the wine’s very dry character with the weight of its fruit. —R.V.
94–96 Château Léoville Poyferré 2012 Saint-Julien. Barrel sample. This very ripe, full-bodied wine is powered by sweet blackberries and solid tannins. It is a full, concentrated and complex wine that has a great future. —R.V.
94–96 Château Montrose 2012 Saint-Estèphe. Barrel sample. This is a big, powerful, fruity wine that has restraint from its dense tannins. It’s foursquare, chunky in character, already balanced, the tannins merging with the acidity. There is great aging potential. —R.V.
94–96 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2012 Pauillac. Barrel sample. Barrel sample. Intense black currant fruitiness makes this wine unabashedly forward. The palate bears weighty tannins behind that fruit, resulting in a wine that is already quite balanced and structured. —R.V.
Tomorrow, tune in for En Primeur, Day Five: Reports on Margaux, Moulis-en-Médoc and Listrac-Médoc.