I’m in notebook digging mode this week and landed upon my scribbles from this year’s Masters of Wine Sydney 2012 Bordeaux tasting.
I make it a habit to go to this every year, as it offers a great way to try a large variety of top-flight Bordeaux from one single vintage in a single tasting. I don’t think I’ll go again though – $135 to fight a pack of blokes squabbling over 2nd growths, with bottles emptying within the first 20 minutes so I missed much of the best bottles. A frustrating experience.
Anyway, this year it was the 2012 horizontal; a challenging year for Bordeaux that was punctuated with lots of variability. Not quite as bad as 2011, but definitely some mixed ripeness. Sauternes was the biggest loser in 2012 though, with no d’Yquem produced as an example of the challenges (’11 was a strong Sauternes vintage by contrast). Still, the small lineup I tasted were delightful, though a caveat is that I love Sauternes.
My favourite wines here are the ones I typically like, which you can mark down as personal preference (Montrose for example). Still, plenty of plusher releases this vintage (compared to 2011) and the best wines really are very good.
Wines are broadly arranged in order of region, with notes as written on the day. They’re rough notes, and I marked hard. Hopefully they’re of some value.
Chateau Clinet 2012
Soft plum fruits with a meaty edge. Lots of saddle. Bitter finish. Less than pure. Hint of greenness? Chewy tho. Lots of penetration and flavour, but a bit horsey and clumsy. 16.8/20, 89/100.
Chateau Petit-Village 2012
Flashy oak and smooth but perhaps lacks some soul. Silky though. Long too. This has a plush charm to it that is pretty sexy. Nice. 17.7/20, 92/100.
Chateau Trotanoy 2012
This is lovely. Very much oak coiffed and coffeed but convincing texture and a really rich and full style. Convincing, if just the barest hint of mint greenness on the finish. Will be even better in 2yrs time. 18/20, 93/100.
Chateau Lafleuer-Petrus 2012
Authentic but a definite green edge. Aggressive edges. Curious wine. Still has great length but can’t escape the green. 17/20, 90/100+
Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte 2012
Delightful. A fleeting hint of lead pencil, the oak a present force but it bounces off the rather elegant style nicely. Lovely! Such a powerful wine but yet carefully polished and has a restraint too. 18.7/20, 95/100.
Domaine de Chevalier 2012
Rather more mid weight and less flashy oak compared to wines around it. Has a pleasant luncheon claret style to it. Needs years to come into its mode. Good, vital and enjoyable. Cellarworthy. 18/20, 93/100+
Chateau Cantemerle 2012
Driven by tannins. Sullen now, but once the tannins settle down this could prove to be delicious. Love the tannins. 17.7/20, 92/100.
Chateau Boyd-Cantenac 2012
Rather pretty nose – more Franc-ish even. A hint of capsicum and a light touch, the palate silky and smooth, the flow very good. Nice wine. Maybe oak influenced on the finish? Classy. 18/20, 93/100.
Chateau Brane-Cantenac 2012
Lovely. Classic Claret, but luscious too. Feels unforced, if even inderpowered compared to wines around it. This is the style you’d want in the cellar, it’s almost fragrant charms to last for decades. 18.5/20, 94/100+.
Chateau d’Issan 2012
Furry and meaty. It toys with a hint of vegetation and the tannins have a brackish edge too. Characterful and not overripe, but is it a challenging wine because of the green bean notes? 17.5/20, 91/100.
Chateau Rauzan-Segla 2012
Varnishy volatility. Hard palate. A bad bottle, hopefully, for the VA here was off the charts. 15/20, 83/100.
Chateau Angelus 2012
Yes it’s a big and rather black wine, but the oak looks much better integrated this vintage. Coiffed but better managed. Very tight and primal. Gives little away now which is rather surprising for a flashy ripe wine. Quality in every way. 18.7/20, 95/100.
Chateau Cheval Blanc 2012
Shy. Difficult to see the exaltation for this – it’s quite pretty and very even but the flavours are very much hidden. I kept waiting for the penny to drop here, but the devil is in the detail. Good but hard to get excited about this yet. 18/20, 93/100+.
Chateau Calon Segur 2012
Rather sexy. Rich and flashy, every bit the modern wine and very polished. Maybe too polished and almost new world. Quite delicious. I’m a fan for sure. 18.5/20, 94/100.
Chateau Lafon-Rochet 2012
Flashy Cabernet but fighting against a flash of weediness on the finish. Good but unsatisfying and raw. 17.5/20, 91/100.
Chateau Montrose 2012
Tight and still coming together but has some innate prettiness underneath. There’s a lovely style here, even if there is fleeting hints of mixed ripeness. Lovely. 18.5/20, 94/100.
Chateau Leoville-Las Cases 2012
Very classic. Chocolates and plush but has tight tannins and real polish. Regal and yet retains a little chewy meaty Bordeaux ness. Ripe! Very serious. 18.7/20, 95/100.
Chateau Leoville-Barton 2012
Lightly volatile. Seems stuck in a ball, cloaked in tannins. Rather firm extraction. Not pretty but gee there is some latent power here. Needs time to pull together tho. This should be great. It’s all arms and legs for now though. 18/20, 93/100+.
Chateau Langoa-Barton 2012
Really dominated by coco sweet oak. It’s plush and dense, but the sweetness of the oak is distracting and the final impression is an overwrought wine. Worth a look though. 17.5/20, 91/100.
Chateau Pontet-Canet 2012
Very expressive. You can see the details of the components here beautifully. No oak interference. A rather refreshing anti wine compared to many around it, but the hints of cooked capsicum and pushy acidity makes this a tricky wine to love. Maybe later? 17.5/20, 91/100+.
Chateau Coutet 2012
Light and almost crunchy this year. Rather vital and delicious. No big bot hit this year though. Very fresh. Not classic though? Entirely drinkable but a bit primal. 17.7/20, 92/100.
Chateau Doisy-Daene 2012
Delicious. Great contrast between caramel oak and then mandarin citrus. Lots of acid! This is light and delicious. 18.5/20, 94/100.
Light and buzzy. It doesn’t taste like classic Bordeaux but more like a light sweet white. 17.5/20, 91/100.