2012 is a vintage that vignerons are sure of: it is a great year, most notably of all, but not exclusive to, the south. It is not a big crop, but it is qualitatively excellent, and this appears to be the case right accross the Southern Rhône, particularly in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This is a vintage of very ripe but notably fresh flavours, incredibly silky tannins and great intensity. The summer experienced heat spikes but the weather cooled down towards the end of the season, so acidities are present but don’t seem as high as the other recent great; 2010. Conditions were less dry so that tannins in 2012 are much more pliable. The resulting wines are seductive already but they are deceptively powerful and persistent.
Above all the southern Rhônes, particularly in Châteauneuf, offer something very rare; elegance. This seems to me one of the most even-keeled and balanced vintages I have tasted. Up north there is a little less homogenity perhaps, but there are plenty of excellent wines too. There are some wines that may not have been picked at optimum ripeness but the top estates have made ripe, fresh, classically structured northern Rhônes that offer an elegance similar to 2004 but with greater intensity and a little more stuffing. I found the Cornas of Domaine du Coulet and the Côte Rôtie of René Rostaing to be absolutely outstanding. For those looking at older vintages, in the south 1999s are drinking well as are 2001s. The excellent 2004s and 2000s are only just starting to come around. In the north the vintages that are drinking beautifully are 2000, 2001, and 2004.
Giles Burke-Gaffney, Buying Director