UGC Week: Bordeaux 2012 - Day three

UGC Week: Bordeaux 2012 - Day three

Friday 12th April 2013
by Tom Jenkins

By now we were well and truly in the groove and in the familiar surroundings of the northern Medoc, so it was time to unveil fifty shades of red cord picture courtesy of Peter Richards MW). Appointments were booked thick and fast, so pace and concentration were the order of the day.

Our first stop was Cos d'Estournel to taste with Aymeric de Gironde, ironically from the Loire region of France, but clearly destined to succeed in Aquitaine. Aymeric, formally of Pichon Baron has jumped into Jean Guillaume's loafers and he is a charming and capable substitute; we wish him all the best. He joined after the harvest and vinifications, so 2012 is not his baby, but you can sense his passion for the wine as he hosted our tasting. Views varied from good, bad and indifferent. There's certainly some charm and precision, but we were not wholly convinced - maybe we give it the benefit of the doubt...

Next stop Calon Segur; the first vintage since the death of Madame Gasqueton. Thankfully Toby didn't ask how she was and the tasting passed without incident. We were charmed by the Grand Vin, which is typically graceful and elegant and will no doubt be very yummy in a few years’ time.

Hervé Beland welcomed us to Montrose and there was not a crane or workman in sight. Years of construction appear to be coming to completion. Hervé kindly gave us a tour of the new barrel cellar and we all agreed it would be an incredible venue for a party. The room is spectacular. As for the wine, it is not a classic brooding Montrose; it is somewhat more exuberant and friendly than normal, which we thought suited the vintage. The flavour profile is very correct and linear, but there is an uncharacteristic prettiness and joyousness that we don't normally see from barrel. We like.

Now to Hervé's old haunt, Mouton Rothschild. I'm afraid that the novelty of Golf buggy rides has worn off, but we like Clerc, Petit Mouton and the big Mouton - smart wines with real purity and length.

Back in the wagon for the short trip to Lafite Rothschild and probably the busiest tasting room of the week. Lafite's star is still burning bright. We didn't go for Carruades, but that probably ain't gonna concern DBR much. Duhart is a closed book, but after much coaxing one gets a glimpse at the brooding dark fruit core. Lafite is at first impenetrable, but again with aeration one begins to see what this wine is all about. Real breed and nobility here - a really handsome wine.

A little sojourn to St Julien to taste Leoville Las Cases before lunch. The less said about the Nenin and Potensac wines the better, but the Las Cases stable is looking good. There’s no lack of concentration here – big, impressive, brooding, serious wines.

Alfred Tesseron was our host for lunch, and delicious it was too, much like his Pontet Canet 2012. The Technical Director, Jean-Michel Comme spoke eloquently about a wine which evokes emotion – it certainly hits the right notes with us...

The afternoon started with a visit to Chateau Latour. No longer part of the primeur system we are delighted that we will still be able to taste from barrel and compare with their peer group. The 2012 range is a spectacular display of precision wine-making, with the Forts and Grand Vin both displaying laser guided accuracy and purity – wonderful wines.

The rest of the afternoon we yo-yoed from Pauillac to St Julien tasting Leoville Poyferre, Grand Puy Lacoste, Beychevelle and Lynch Bages. Poyferre was good, but the two Pauillacs stole the show. GPL is classic, charming and definitely one for the cellar. Lots of noble Pauillac flavours delight the senses and with any luck, this should be good value. Jean-Charles Cazes’ Lynch Bages is another Fifth Growth on top of its game. The 2012 has plenty of depth, ripe fruit, lovely precise flavours, complexity and charm; what more does one want?

As we supped a 1664 after a long day’s tasting, we were somewhat perplexed by the mixed reports we had heard from fellow tasters. Granted, not everything was good, but there are plenty of desirable wines from the Northern Medoc, usually hailing from the grandest terroirs and from the most quality conscious estates.