Best 2012 Pauillac

15 April 2013
Author: Jeannie Cho Lee


This appellation was one of the more consistent in this difficult vintage and among the 30+ wines tasted, there were very few that were terrible. Most were elegant and forward-fruit with tannins that were well managed without too much extraction. I was most surprised with Mouton this year – often at this time in barrel Mouton can be concentrated, dense and oaky. However, in 2012, there is a delicacy in the flavours with lovely sweet spices and red fruits rather than black. On the other hand, at Pichon Lalande, Nicolas Glumineau has managed to combine greater intensity and depth than in vintages like 2011, 2008 or 2007, without losing a sense of the property’s hallmark elegance.


At Lafite, Charles Chevalier, the Estate Manager, says 2012 was a very difficult year where protection against disease was extremely difficult. During harvest, they used optical sorting equipment to discard all the imperfect berries. Harvest was protracted with many starting early October and rushing mid-October to bring in the rest of the grapes before the very heavy rains. It was a year that required people to work all season to keep the grapes healthy to ensure ripening during the rain, humidity and drought.


This is an attractive, early drinking vintage for the wines from Pauillac – lovely aromatics, good intensity but not very concentrated and dense, with fresh acidity.


1. 2012 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France The nose on this Mouton is lifted and fresh with a mix of red and black fruits, violets and wonderful velvety texture. Delicately layered with finesse and a light touch – this wine is not extracted or heavy, and follows the personality of this light vintage. Elegant, relatively early drinking style but the freshness and tannins suggest the wine will age well for a few decades easily. (93-95) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$523 / HK$4,073


2. 2012 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France Full-bodied, generous Lafite with good depth and substantial mid-palate weight. In this vintage, the difference between the grand vin and the second wine, Carruade, is huge. Only 38% of the crop went into this grand vin. Focused, restrained with delicate flavours. Lacks the generosity of previous vintages. An elegant vintage that can be enjoyed much earlier than the blockbusters of 2009 and 2010. Wonderful drinkability. There is 91% Cabernet in this blend. (92-94) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$687 / HK$5,347


3. 2012 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac, Bordeaux, FranceThere is amazing depth and grace as well as concentration in this 2012. Fleshy and generous with very long finish. Velvety texture with supple tannins. There were two green harvests done in July and August to increase circulation. Not much botrytis according to the General Manager, Nicolas Glumineau. Harvest was October 1st until the 18th 2012, and towards the end there was heavy rain but the wines show no dilution. Tasted 2 samples, and the one at the cellar was far better than the one at the UGC tasting. (92-94) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$107 /HK$833


4. 2012 Chateau Clerc Milon, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France Vibrant, attractive aroma of mixed red fruits, cedar and plums. A delicious wine that is drinkable now with supple, velvety tannins and a generous mid-palate. Layers of flavours combined with freshness and plush tannins create a beautifully balanced full-bodied red with great potential to age easily for a decade or more. (92-93) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$57 / HK$440


5. 2012 Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France There is great density and concentration in this wine with structured, firm tannins. The small berries in this vintage from drought conditions probably contributed to this concentration. Supple texture and good balance with potential to age longer than the 2011. There is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon in this blend. The yields were extremely low, about 5 hl/hectare. (92-93) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$110 / HK$857


6. 2012 Chateau Pontet-Canet, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France Lovely aromas of violets, dark berries and hint of mixed herbs. Full-bodied, generous, accessible flavours with long length. Velvety tannins with roundness and delicacy with more detail and length than the 2011. (91-93) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$103 / HK$797


7. 2012 Chateau d’Armailhac, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France Balanced, medium weight d’Armaillac that has freshness and a voluptuous texture. Very attractive wine with lovely aromas of cedar, sweet spices and red currants that is showing very well now. Fairly long length – a wine that is attractive early but should keep well for a decade or more easily. (90-92) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$46 / HK$357


8. 2012 Mouton Rothschild – Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France I love the aromatics on this wine which is fresh, lifted with crunchy blueberries, red currants and ripe plums. A generous opulent red that is very attractive now despite being only 6 months old and still in barrel! A wine with a light touch, wonderful balance and elegance. This is one of the prettiest Petit Moutons tasted en primeur. (90-91) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$115 / HK$893


9. 2012 Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France Velvety tannins, round, plummy flavours with nice grip and finish. The mid-palate is modest; this wine is more about elegance and balance and lacks a bit on concentration. (89-91)Average Retail Price for 2011: US$57 / HK$440


10. 2012 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande – Reserve de la Comtesse, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France Intense blackberry flavours and concentration here with dark fruits, cedar and tobacco. There is amazing structure in this 2nd wine of Pichon Lalande than normal. Full-bodied, very intense with substance and depth that is surprising in a second wine in a difficult vintage. Fairly long length. 45% of the production is the Reserve. (90) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$35 / HK$273