In 2012, European vineyards were under tremendous pressures and Bordeaux was no exception. As in 2011, Bordeaux vignerons and winemakers never got the opportunity to use the luxurious "chaise lounges" they purchased after the profitable 2009 vintage. 2012 was all about work.
The late budburst and flowering provided the first warnings of the difficulties to come. Much of the flowering occurred during severely wet and cold weather, providing perfect conditions for Coulure, "Millerandage" and uneven ripeness down the track. To add to the pain, mildew popped up in many parts.
Veraison was very slow to kick in, belated by the cold weather of early to mid-July, followed by hot and dry weather from August to mid-September, sending vines into shut -down mode and shrivelling or burning berries in many parts of the region. Some light rains through mid-September saved the day, with Merlot naturally advantaged and looking like the star of the vintage. Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc proved more problematic, as they required a longer ripening period.
The onset of heavy rains from mid-September to late October added to the already existing pressures, and by then, everyone realised that severe sorting and lesser volumes than anticipated would be the norm, with some estates announcing by December that they would not release a 2012 vintage.
Where to from here? Even though the vintage conditions were challenging, it is not to be overlooked. The advantage of vintages like 2012 is that they provide perfect conditions for the best Terroirs and vignerons to assert themselves. Heterogeneity is by no means correlated to poor wine: think about the 2011 Australian vintage and the revelation of some new viticultural and winemaking talent. Again, these years are all about the hard work.
Similarly in Bordeaux, at the more astute (and hardworking) end of the production pyramid, some gems can be found. Stephane Derenoncourt (one famous, and hardworking) right bank winemaker, recently summed up the diversity of 2012: "sucrosity in the clays, saline in limestone and flinty in gravels" warranting the diversity of styles that are already emerging.
In Sauternes, where it was announced Yquem and Rieussec would not release their first wines, 2012 should not be discounted as a whole. Even though the onset of Botrytis was rather long (due to fresh nights in September) Pierre Montegut from Suduiraut (Yquemís neighbours) reported he had known harder vintages and Xavier Planty from Guiraud expressed confidence about the deliciousness of his grand vin. He outlines that there is much to rejoice about neighbouring Barsac which was harvested earlier than Sauternes.
The bottom line:
- More than ever, the work of critics will be tested and reviews will have to be objective and precise, as any superlative comments or over-zealous enthusiasm should be taken with a grain of salt.
- Money talks! Debate has been raging for a few months now as to whether 2012 pricing will be on par with 2011. Robert Parker has called for a downward correction in pricing for the region as a whole. Truth is, not everyone is on the same page and reality has more than ìfifty shades of greyî when it comes to Bordeaux Estate pricing. The word is that some should soften their price while others have produced real gems and probably deserve a solid release price. It should provide for some interesting reading.
- In 2012, buy to drink! This is another vintage that should reward drinkers rather than speculators. China has started to shift focus for wine investment towards Burgundy, while the UK and USA may still be a bit shy in their buying due to the mitigated early vintage reports. Our Australian dollar is still strong and we are in a good position to fight for and secure the best wines on offer. So while we cellar our 2009 and 2010, we will enjoy our 2012 which, in general, should reach peak drinking earlier.
As per usual, we will be compiling our offer as wines are released by the Place de Bordeaux over the coming months.
to see the releases to date with some early signs of price reductions.
to keep up to date with 2012 Bordeaux releases and subscribe to future offers.
Conditions of Pre Arrival Offer:
1. there is no minimum order unless stated.
2. all wines are 750ml unless indicated otherwise.
3. once received, all orders will be confirmed with suppliers and then an invoices issued; Payment will be due on receipt of this invoice.
4. The wines are due to arrive in late 2015.
5. Payment in full is required at time of order to secure these wines at the En Primeurs pricing.
6. Nicks Wine Merchants reserve the right to pass on any changes inGovernment duties and taxes and delivery charges from the date of order tothe date of final delivery of the wine.
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