Best 2012 Saint-Emilion

10 April 2013
Author: Jeannie Cho Lee


When I visited Cheval Blanc, Pierre Lurton said he was happy with the vintage. The team compares the 2012 climate with the 2000, pointing out that temperature curves were similar and it was a wet start to the season and a very dry finish. There was enough ripeness in the Merlot for some producers to pick end of September, which is considered early since most of the left bank picked in October. The summer was among the driest in the past several decades and grapes that didn’t suffer hydric/water stress continued to ripen. Vines that were too young or in less ideal sites struggled since water stress did not allow them to continue maturing their grapes during the summer drought months.


The stories I heard from Saint-Emilion producers vary: Some complained about the difficulties with their Cabernet Franc, or their younger vines; others mentioned the wet conditions during harvest and the uneven maturation of grapes even within a small vineyard area. The list of difficulties this year is very long. However, most people in Saint-Emilion seemed happy with their Merlot grapes this year – where there was ripeness and it was achieved without excess alcohol, heaviness and chunky flavours.


The best Saint-Emilion reds are sumptuous without any weight, sleek and focused with great terroir expression – these wines just could not be from anywhere else in the world. This year, the chateaux with the best vineyard sites knew exactly where their best plots were located; it was a vintage as much about location and site as producer’s skill and experience. For consumers, Saint-Emilion is a place with very wide quality variation in 2012 – seek the top producers and you will be surprised at the quality level.


1. 2012 Chateau Ausone, Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, France A gorgeous, plush, opulent Ausone with delicacy and finesse. 50 year-old vines at Ausone produced a glorious wine in this vintage with intensity, concentration and delicacy at the same time. The flavours are characterized by freshness and lift with cashmere-like texture in its tannins. Long finish with great depth. A blend of 55% Cabernet Franc and 45% Merlot with 18,000 bottles made. (97) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$780 / HK$6,043


2. 2012 Chateau Pavie, Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, France Wonderful lifted aromatics with blackberries, violets, jasmine and sweet spices. Alluring palate with attractive dark berry flavours and freshness. This vintage has 60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% alcohol. Velvety, firm tannins and very long length. (92-94) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$179 / HK$1,386


3. 2012 Chateau Troplong Mondot, Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, France Amazing concentration and depth in this vintage with plush velvety tannins and great depth of flavours – plums, ripe blackberries, hint of cocoa. Dense and somewhat modern in style with firm tannins and the potential to age for many years. Tasted twice, this wine showed well both times. (92-94)Average Retail Price for 2011: US$86 / HK$663


4. 2012 Chateau Cheval Blanc, Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, France Subtle nose of violets and cedar – this year the flavours are closed on the palate which is often the case for young Cheval Blanc. There is good density and velvety tannins with a texture that is pure cashmere. The harvest was completed by 13th of October, before the very heavy rains. This Cheval Blanc is classic, not as intense as in previous years but balanced and fresh with very good length. The blend is 54% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc. (91-94) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$646 / HK$5,000


5. 2012 Chateau Angelus, Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, France Opulent and sweet with gorgeous layers of sweet plum and blackberry fruit. The tannins are generous but very well-managed with supple, velvety texture. The wine possesses a seamless character from the front of the palate to the finish. The nose is especially attractive with sweet spices and flowers along with dark fruits. Approachable but will benefit from at least 8+ years in bottle. (92-93) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$207 / HK$1,599


6. 2012 Chateau Larcis Ducasse, Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, France Elegant, full bodied red with opulent tannins and wonderful energy. The flavours range from plums, cassis to blackberries and the tannins are beautifully handled. There is nice depth and intensity here to suggest it will age beautifully over the next decade or two. (91-93) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$52 / HK$402


7. 2012 Chateau Valandraud, Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, France Intensely concentrated with a wonderful array of black fruits with sense of heaviness. There is firm acidity in the background and the flavours are fresh and lively. The texture is fairly thick with layers of tannins and fruit that will need years to come together. Wait until after 2020 to enjoy this serious red for long term aging. (90-93) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$216 / HK$1,670


8. 2012 Chateau Beau-Sejour Becot, Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, France Elegant, intense red with ripe plums and blackberry fruit. Tasted twice, this wine showed well both times. Good concentration and depth, beautifully crafted red with layers of delicate flavours. Fairly long length. (92) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$52 / HK$402


9. 2012 Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere, Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, France This wine is aromatic and subtle with layers of dark berry fruits, cedar, plums and an earthy/mineral edge. The flavours are densely packed and restrained at the moment with firm, ripe tannins. Tasted twice, this wine showed well both times. Its depth and long finish suggests it should open up into a classic beauty given time. 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Franc. (90-92) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$58 / HK$450


10. 2012 Chateau Canon, Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, France A beautiful wine with gorgeous velvety texture and great depth. Layered, fairly dense with an array of flavours – plums, blackberries and hint of cedar. Lovely texture and length. Tasted twice, this wine showed well both times. (91) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$96 / HK$746