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Update Friday 17th May
Nothing to report first thing; and because France has a holiday on Monday for Whit/Pentecost then maybe Bordeaux will be quiet until Tuesday.
Update Thursday 16th May
More favourites this morning: Domaine de Chevalier (the rouge at £335 is a recommendation), Montrose (£640), Clinet (£490) and Malescot St Exupery (£330).
Update Wednesday 15th May
There are some worthwhile considerations today with the releases of Gloria (£240), Haut Batailley (£245), the Seckford-recommended Grand Puy Lacoste (£340) and the high scoring Pavie Macquin (RP92-95 £395). Beychevelle (£465) just missed the email notification; followed later by Issan (£300) and La Lagune (£395).
Update Tuesday 14th May
This morning sees the release of Leoville Barton (£490) and Langoa Barton (£335). Pichon Lalande (£650) is cheaper than Lynch Bages, Pontet Canet and Pichon Baron. This afternoon Branaire Ducru (£320) is priced a little lower than Langoa.
Update Monday 13th May
First out of the blocks this week are Pichon Longueville (£720) and Smith Haut Lafitte (£450). Now that Pichon Baron is released, perhaps Christian Seely will be able to turn his attention to Quinta do Noval 2011 – let’s hope so! Followed by Calon Segur (£440), Clos Fourtet (£510), Roc des Cambes (£440), Tertre Roteboeuf (£1250) and Lafleur (£3850).
Update Wednesday 8th May
Tuesday passed without incident so that’s it for this week. Let's look forward to some well-priced recommendations on Monday...
Update Friday 3rd May
No releases this morning, so that may be it for this week. Please do get in contact if you require an update. Next week will be disjointed due to the UK bank holiday on Monday and France’s national holidays on Wednesday & Thursday, which will result in some taking a pont holiday on Friday. Will it all happen on Tuesday? Enjoy the weekend.
Update Thursday 2nd May
With no releases to report yesterday (but did you see the 2011 Vintage Port offer?) today is Graves day with Haut Brion (£1400 per 6), La Mission (£825 per 6), Haut Bailly (£480) and also Pauillac’s Pontet Canet (£690).
Update Tuesday 30th April
There will be a few releases today before France’s May Day holiday tomorrow; starting with Potensac (£140), Lafon Rochet (£245) and Pape Clement (£550).
Update Monday 29th April
On Friday the release of Talbot (£300) stirred Robert Parker to publish his Wine Advocate notes! Releases on Monday include Troplong Mondot (£595) and Giscours (£300).
Robert Parker: My tastings clearly revealed the overall success of the Merlot crop, with the most successful appellation being Pomerol, followed closely by Pessac-Léognan, which in some cases had begun their harvest before Pomerol. Many Médoc producers aimed for forward, fruit-driven wines and kept the extraction process to a minimum, often succeeding in fashioning charming, mid-weight, delicious wines without an excess of concentration or tannin. In the best cases, the tannins are sweet, especially in Pomerol, Pessac-Léognan, and to a certain extent, St.-Emilion.
While 2012 is not a great vintage, it is an excellent one in Pomerol, Pessac-Léognan and for some St.-Emilions. In the Médoc, 2012 tends to be average to above average depending on the château. It was a disappointing year for the sweet whites of Sauternes and Barsac, which is evidenced by the fact that four well-known châteaux, Yquem, Rieussec, Raymond-Lafon and Suduiraut, all declassified their entire harvest. In contrast, the dry white wines of Graves are beautiful. 2012 is clearly a top vintage for these wines, which are rich, soft, intense and honeyed.
First tranches of Mouton and Lafite sell out.
Update Thursday 25th April
A handful of chateaux this morning: including Chateau Margaux (£1400 per 6), Pavillon Rouge (£850), Canon (£420), Climens (£465), which is reputedly the finest Sauternes/Barsac this year, Angelus (£2000) and Pavie (£2000). This afternoon we get Palmer (£1710) with 48% merlot.
Update Wednesday 24th April
This morning one of my favourites for a good value recommendation: Batailley (£249) plus two chateaux from the Mouton stable: d’Armailhac (£275) and Clerc Milon (£340). Pauillac scores from Jancis Robinson have been added below. Later du Tertre (£220) released.
Update Tuesday 23rd April
Happy St George’s Day (and as per tradition Taylor & Fonseca have announced whether they are declaring a port vintage; and indeed the excellent 2011s will be offered. More details will follow in due course. Graham, Warre and Dow had also declared earlier in the month). Meanwhile, in Bordeaux, a few more wines released this morning…including Alter Ego de Palmer (£420) and Cantemerle (£200).
Update Monday 22nd April
A flurry of chateaux released this morning to start the week, including Sociando-Mallet (£220) and Filhot from Sauternes. Then mid-morning Domaines Barons de Rothschild released Lafite (£1950 per 6), Duhart-Milon (£575), L’Evangile (£1150) and the second wine of Rieussec: “Carmes de Rieussec” (no grand vin Rieussec this year).
Update Friday 19th April
No new releases to bring to your attention today; however I have added Jancis Robinson’s scores to the Pessac-Leognan wines. “Many tasted agreeably fluid, well balanced and refreshing but not skinny. And the finest of them all, Haut-Brion, was quite stunning (“very grand” 18.5 points).”
Update Thursday 18th April
This morning sees the release of Mouton (£1400 per 6), Rauzan-Segla (£420) and Ormes de Pez (£195). During the afternoon Lynch-Bages (£670) and its second wine Echo de Lynch Bages (£250) become available..
Update Monday 15th April
Gazin (£440) is the first grand chateau to release, but I don’t think there is any need to make an immediate decision.
Bordeaux Report – 12th April
Hold the front page…having tasted a considerable number of 2012s last week my conclusion is that the majority are delicious examples of beautifully fragrant and gorgeously appetizing wines of traditional, mid-weight Bordeaux. The style-clock has been turned back; one Chateau director said “15 years ago these wines would have been regarded as a great vintage, but we have to recalibrate after 2005/9/10”. However there are many excellent wines on the left bank and several contenders for producing “best in show” in Pomerol.
The colours are bright ruby and crimson (not black); very few are opaque (and those that are, are not necessarily incorrect) and the wines have a freshness (but are not high acid). However the overwhelming characteristic is the delightful fragrance which really draws you in with anticipation that you are going to enjoy the wine. And I did!
But…I am talking about the top 50 or so red wines; I only tasted a handful of dry whites and I regret time precluded a visit to Sauternes, which by all reports had a very difficult harvest (although Barsac fared much better). Several of the former region’s chateaux have already announced that they will not be releasing a grand vin.
In conclusion, 2012 is a vintage of elegant wines and one which I am very happy to recommend…albeit at the right price. Will the price-clock be turned back far enough?
Here are my top performers…grouped by appellation:
St-Estephe – includes several recommendations for value
Cos d’Estournel (Decanter 93) (JR17.5) (RP92-95)
de Pez (for value) (Decanter 88) (JR16.5) (RP86-89)
Le Crock (for value)
Montrose £640 (Decanter 94) (JR17.5+) (RP92-94)
Ormes de Pez (for value) £195 (Decanter 88) (JR15.5) (RP85-87)
Tronquoy Lalande (Decanter 88) (JR16.5) (RP88-90)
Pauillac – a very strong hand
Batailley (for value) £249 (Decanter 88) (JR17.5) (RP89/91+)
d’Armailhac £275 (Decanter 90) (JR17) (RP89-91)
Duhart Milon £575 (Decanter 91) (JR17.5) (RP87-89)
Grand Puy Lacoste £340 (Decanter 92) (JR16) (RP87-89) **recommendation**
Haut Batailley (for value) £245 (Decanter 90) (RP85-87)
Lafite £1950 per 6 (Decanter 95) ~ now £1990 per 6 (subject to confirmation) (JR18.5-) (RP92-95)
Latour (no longer released as a primeur)
Lynch Bages £670 (Decanter 91) (JR16.5) (RP87-89)
Mouton £1400 per 6 (Decanter 95) (JR18-) (RP95-97)
Pichon Baron £720 (Decanter 92) (JR17) (RP90-93)
Pichon Lalande £650 (Decanter 92) (JR16.5) (RP91-93)
Pontet Canet £690 (Decanter 93) (JR17.5) (RP91-94)
St-Julien – a remarkably high success rate
Beychevelle £465 (Decanter 89) (JR16) (RP89-91)
Clos du Marquis (JR16.5) (RP91-93)
Croix Beaucaillou (for value) (JR17) (RP87-89)
Ducru Beaucaillou (Decanter 94) (JR18) (RP90-92)
Gloria £240 (JR17) (RP87-89)
Gruaud Larose (Decanter 91) (JR16) (RP85-87)
Langoa Barton £335 (Decanter 91) (JR16.5) (RP86-88)
Leoville Barton £490 (Decanter 91) (JR17.5) (RP90-92)
Leoville Las Cases (Decanter 94) (JR17) (RP93-95)
Leoville Poyferre (Decanter 91) (JR17.5) (RP89-91)
Moulin Riche (for value)
Saint Pierre (JR17.5) (RP91-93)
Margaux – just two wines tasted, but the finest!
Ch Margaux £1400 per 6 (JR18) (Decanter 95+) (RP92-94)
Palmer £1710 (JR18.5-) (Decanter 95) (RP92-95)
Pessac-Leognan (Graves) – only a few tasted at the Chateau; highlights include
Domaine de Chevalier £335 (JR16.5++) (RP92-95) **recommendation**
Haut Bailly £480 (JR16.5+) (RP91-93)
Haut Brion £1400 per 6 (JR18.5) (Decanter 95) (RP93-95)
Mission Haut Brion £825 per 6 (JR17.5+) (Decanter 91) (RP91-94)
Pape Clement £550 (JR17) (RP92-95)
Pomerol – glorious wines have been produced by
Clinet £490 (Decanter 90) (RP92/94+)
La Conseillante (Decanter 91) (RP92-94)
Le Pin (RP93-95)
VCC (Decanter 92) (RP92-94)
St-Emilion – gorgeous wines can be made here by using a light hand
Cheval Blanc (Decanter 95+) (RP94-96)
Larcis Ducasse (RP93-95)
Pavie Macquin £395 (RP92-95)