Best 2012 Saint-Julien

17 April 2013
Author: Jeannie Cho Lee


Saint-Julien is one of the most successful appellations this year with consistent quality across the board with wines that express their origin as well as the vintage – elegant, accessible, without heaviness or weight of warmer vintages with cassis, blackberries and cedar flavours. For those tired of the forward, ripe fruit characters from warm vintages, creeping alcohol levels and full body, 2012 is a vintage to love and to drink. At Saint-Julien, many properties like Ducru-Beaucaillou respected the vintage, opting for gentle extraction and favouring juicy, fresh flavours rather than dense layered tannins and high extract.


Out of about 25 wine I tasted from this appellation, the Delon family at Leoville Las Cases is among the most successful – from the Petit Lion and Clos de Marquis to the grand vin. In this vintage, even the Leoville Las Cases is approachable with gentle, ripe flavours and alcohol just touching 13.5%. Pierre Graffeuille of Leoville Las Cases says that they are very pleased with both their Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc which makes up 85% of the grand vin. These grapes were harvested between 4-18th October, careful selection and constant work in the vineyard resulted in some fabulous wines. There were only a few disappointments from Saint-Julien; the classics are the goodies in this vintage.


1. 2012 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien, Bordeaux, France

This vintage of Ducru-Beaucaillou is likened to Fan Bingbing according to Bruno Borie. It is a feminine wine with layers of floral notes, red currants and spices. This wine is seductive and balanced with a gentle character that is a departure from Ducru’s previous years. An approachable style with wonderful balance and grace. The grapes were harvested in early October. There is freshness and lift here along with the substance and backbone to age for a few decades. (92-94) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$112 / HK$866


2. 2012 Chateau Leoville Las Cases, Saint-Julien, Bordeaux, France

Full-bodied, generous red with velvety texture and very classic Las Cases notes of cassis, herbs, tobacco and plums. Nice density and depth for this vintage with medium body and ripe Cabernet fruit – in 2012 there is 74% Cabernet with 15% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Franc. (91-93) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$148 / HK$1,151


3. 2012 Chateau Gruaud Larose, Saint-Julien, Bordeaux, France

This is a forward, expressive Gruaud Larose with round, supple texture. Lifted cassis, mixed currants and blackberry flavours. Well-made, classic in style and expression with fairly long length. (90-92) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$55 / HK$427


4. 2012 Chateau Beychevelle, Saint-Julien, Bordeaux, France

Soft, elegant, juicy wine. Very nice balance without any extraction or heaviness. There is generous flavours of plums and cassis with hint of violets in the finish. Well-crafted red. (89-91) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$70 / HK$546


5. 2012 Chateau Branaire Ducru, Saint-Julien, Bordeaux, France

Well-made, soft, balanced red with good concentration and finish with velvety texture. An early drinking red that is not for long aging but a pleasure to drink over the next 10-15 years. (89-91) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$47 / HK$367


6. 2012 Chateau Leoville Poyferre, Saint-Julien, Bordeaux, France

Good concentration in this difficult vintage. Flavours range from plums to blackberries and the palate is quite densely packed with flavours. The tannins are supple and round with good finish. (89-90) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$78 / HK$605


7. 2012 Leoville Las Cases – Le Petit Lion de Marquis de Las Cases, Saint-Julien, Bordeaux, France

Beautiful perfume of violets and cassis with hint of plums and blackberries. Supple, balanced with good finish. Tannins are very well handled here. Blend of mature Merlot vines and young vines from Las Cases vineyards. (89-90)Average Retail Price for 2011: US$47 / HK$367


8. 2012 Chateau Leoville Barton, Saint-Julien, Bordeaux, France

Approachable, classic Saint-Julien red with elegance and finesse. Subtle flavours, hint of green beans and leafy character with supple tannins. Not that concentrated but a pleasure to enjoy near term. (87-90) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$69 / HK$534


9. 2012 Leoville Las Cases – Clos du Marquis, Saint-Julien, Bordeaux, France

This is a good example of how Cabernet Sauvignon ripened well in certain vineyards. There is 92% in this vintage, a record high for this property – usually Cabernet makes up around 75-85%. This medium weight Cabernet has herbal, spicy notes with supple tannins. An early-drinking style with good potential to age/evolve. Well balanced, supple wine. (88-89) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$47 / HK$367


10. 2012 Chateau Saint-Pierre, Saint-Julien, Bordeaux, France

Vibrant juicy black fruit with plums and cedar notes. There is real freshness and energy in this wine with good length and finish. Plush, balanced, generous and fairly long. Only 9,000 cases made; a small property for Saint-Julien. (88-89) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$50 / HK$391