Bordeaux 2012 - To Buy or Not to Buy

POSTED ON 13/05/2013

After a topsy-turvy year in the vineyard, the question exercising the mind of Bordeaux and its customers is whether the 2012 vintage is a silk purse crafted from a sow’s ear. On two counts. Firstly was the weather good enough to make 2012 saleable en primeur, i.e. right now, before the wines are bottled in two years time? And if so, are prices attractive enough to have us reaching for our silk purses?

But first the sow’s ear. One critic described 2012 as ‘a game of three halves’, meaning a miserable Spring, a hot dry summer and a wet September harvest. Along with the press and wine trade, I tasted barrel samples of the new wines before Easter. The wines are not the finished article but approximations of the final blend. In trying to devine the divine, the best any taster can hope for is a guesstimate of how each wine will eventually turn out. Early indications are of a number of delicious and expressive wines, a shedload of average ones and few, if any, true greats.

Castle or fairy tale?Castle or fairy tale?

The key to the silk purse was to have deep enough pockets to pay for the bells and whistles service required to preserve your grapes from treacherous weather. Skilled vineyard work, well-trained pickers, meticulous sorting to eliminate unripe and rotten grapes were a sine qua non, not to mention top-level winemaking and blending. As a rule of thumb, the higher the château in the pecking order, the greater its resources, the better the wine it made, and, sadly, the more expensive it’s going to be. So is it worth forking out now?

Normally at this stage Bordeaux does the Dance of the Seven Veils, hoping for good ratings from the American super-critic Robert Parker before revealing an arm, a leg, then an arm and a leg. But widespread anger at exorbitant prices for the admittedly exceptional 2010 vintage and a lesser but still overpriced 2011 vintage has brought a reality check. Prices have fallen and collectors who bought early are not happy. Bordeaux is so desperate to kick-start the sale of 2012 that there’s been an abnormally early flow of prices at, with the odd exception, up to 30% down on last year. Does anyone really care?

There is no stampede, no queue, orderly or otherwise, for 2012. Why buy a curate’s egg when there are Fabergés from earlier, better vintages still knocking around? For aficionados who feel the need to have a case or two of Bordeaux in the cellar in every vintage, there are plenty of good wines to choose from, some at reasonable prices. But it’s not enough to set the pulse of most of us racing just yet. Check out for my top 50 wines of the vintage.

Tasting Bordeaux 2012Tasting Bordeaux 2012

Something For The Weekend 11 May 2013

Night In

2011 Tesco Finest Soave Classico

Made from pure garganega by the Cantina di Monteforte, this is unusually good soave for the price, an intense dry Italian white with ripe peachy scents and delicious full-bodied apricoty fruit which is gluggily juicy and moreishly dry. £7.99, Tesco

Dining In

2008 Rioja Campo Aldea Graciano

Astonishingly aromatic combining vanilla oak with savoury undertones, this pure, distinctive graciano-based red has a classic rioja feel to it mainly because of the super-concentration of dark fruit with its spicy balsamic gamey undertones. £12.99, Marks & Spencer

Splash Out

2010 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Merlot, Margaret River, Western Australia

There’s a rich core of cassis fruit behind the smoky cedar and cinnamon spicy fragrance of this elegant Margaret-River-meets-Bordeaux-style blend from Cape Mentelle, which finishes on a satisfyingly juicy, refreshing and beautifully balanced note. £14.99, Majestic


I list below 100+ wines with tasting notes and scores. The vital thing to grasp is that this is a snapshot in time. The wines are as yet unfinished and imperfect and were tasted as barrel samples. Accuracy therefore at this stage, especially when it comes to foretelling the future for these wines, is hard if not impossible to guarantee (one just does one's best).


Château Pétrus.

Deep bright inky ruby in colour, lovely freshness and vigour of tobacco spicy fragrance showing just a smidgeon of subtle vanilla and cedary oak, liquorice spice and bright loganberry and fresh dark fruit richness, absolutely gorgeous rich black cherry and mulberry and dark berry fruit quality on the mid-palate with a lively energy and intensity about it, superfine tannins and lovely freshness; overall beautifully poised and balanced.
100% merlot. 96 – 98

Château Ausone

Serious depth of colour, fine intense aromatic quality, lovely sweetly concentrated black cherry and cassis fruit quality, intense and concentrated, powerfully built and yet in proportion with vivid bright cherry sweet fruit and seductive, supple-textured tannins, finishing bright fresh and cleansing. It’s beautifully balanced with a real purity of opulent dark red berry fruitiness, well-proportioned oak and savoury freshness; it doesn’t shout or swear, but finishes with a statement of intent: this is simply lovely wine.
13.9%. 55% cabernet franc, 45% merlot. 18,000 bottles. 95 – 97

Alain Vauthier of Château AusoneAlain Vauthier of Château Ausone

Château Latour

Wow! nose of exceptional intensity and fragrance with subtle traces of cedary and incense spice and dark berry fruit leading seamlessly to a quite gorgeously seductive black fruits richness and intensity of flavour, effortlessly framed by silk-stocking tannins, almost imperceptible and yet clearly hugely polished oak and bright damson-fresh acidity; the most classic of the classics.
90.2% cabernet sauvignon, 9.6% merlot, 0.2% petit verdot. 12.8%. 95 -97

Château Cheval Blanc

This has great depth of fragrant intensity of aroma, with distinctive freshness and precision, and, recalling blueberry and blackcurrant, the palate follows with a lovely persistent richness and power of dark berry fruitiness enveloped in oak with velvet folds of texture and bright acidity bringing a feeling of real energy and poise to a wine of great structure for the medium to long haul. A lovely wine of great precision and purity.
54% merlot, 46% cabernet franc. 95 – 97

Château Lafite

Dense deep ruby hue, superbly intense fragrance combining polished cedary liquoricey spicy oak with fresh dark berry / mulberry fruitiness, very present and yet restrained at the same time, a lovely seductive quality of dark red and cassis fruitiness infused with that same polished cedary spicy oak and defined by the suavest and silkiest of tannins; it may lack the richness and power of 2009 or 2010 but it has a lovely elegant almost lacy feel to it and a deceptive structure for the medium to long haul. Odd to come across a Lafite that’s quite so dangerously drinkable at this early stage of its life. 94 – 96

Château Margaux

Good intense colour, cedary aromatic fragrance and fresh, voluptuously ripe cassis cabernet fruit richness, with a lovely suave texture, plenty of tannin structure, but ripe tannins with excellent concentration and a fine blade of acidity with a touch of bittersweet chocolate combined with that twist of savoury astringency that keeps it fresh and balances it seamlessly and beautifully.
87% cabernet sauvignon, 2% cabernet franc, 10% merlot and 1% petit verdot.
94 – 96

Portes Ouvertes at Château MargauxPortes Ouvertes at Château Margaux

Château Mouton Rothschild

Deep ruby hue, a slighty minty note on the nose, with dark and brooding berry fruits on the nose, and behind it a rich depth of concentrated plummy and dark berry fruit leading to a structure of chunky tannins and quite substantial vanilla and chocolatey oak, and behind that a supporting frame of fresh acidity and firmish tannins; this is a wine that’s impressively put together and almost drinkable now but with that extra bit of flesh to make it a convincing proposition for the medium to long haul. 94 - 96

Château Haut Brion

Distinctively pungent cinnamon and camphor spice aromas , with subtle pepper and ginger oak undertones overlaying plum and a richer and deeper more intense mulberry and loganberry fruit with a very firm, muscular structure of tannin and acidity behind the bright fruit flavours; quite marked by oak at this stage and far more succulently ripe and juicy than La Mission, but the oak is polished and once settled, should add a further dimension of complexity.
65.5% merlot, 32.5% cabernet sauvignon, 2% cabernet franc. 14.9% 75% new oak. 40% grand vin. 94 - 96

Château L’Angelus

Dense colour, very fine fragrance of dark berry fruits, lovely rich and intense fruit quality, seductive black cherry fruit richness and intensity of flavour, beautifully polished oak with a firm tannic backbone and equally firm backbone of fresh acidity; very nicely resolved supple tannins and fine overall balance of pure fruit flavours.
55% merlot, 45% cabernet franc. 94 – 96.

Château Clos Fourtet

Dense inky ruby, lovely nose, very precise, sweet-smelling violets and dark fruits, lovely deep, dense black cherry and blackberry fruit concentration framed by fine stylish oak, lovely fresh, sweet and resolved tannins and a fine backbone of fresh acidity all in seamless balance and yet behind the fruit a terrific structure for ageing. A very beautiful, classy wine. 94 – 96

Château Léoville Las Cases.

Dense inky ruby in colour, fine , dark, brooding nose, lovely rich dark berry fruits quality, a touch of bittersweet chocolate, very fine with beautifully proportioned savoury acidity and mild tannic astringency combining in a support system for the bright clarity of fruit, lovely seductive depth of flavour with real finesse and style.
74% cabernet sauvignon, 15% merlot, 11% cabernet franc. 13.47%. 93 - 95

Château Palmer

Very intense deep almost black colour, brooding closed but intense on the nose, with a promise of rich black fruits black in cherry and plum spectrum and delivering that richness and concentration, with lots of voluptuous depth of blackberry fruit intensity, and a backbone of fine suave tannins and freshness.
48% merlot, 46% cabernet sauvignon and 6% cabernet franc. 13.5%. 70% new oak. 93 - 95

Château Lynch Bages

Dense deep youthful ruby, brooding and a little closed but invitingly rich in aroma, silky-textured berry fruit with plenty of succulently ripe cherryish and blackcurranty sweetness on the mid-palate and very elegantly defined finely chiselled sweet tannins supporting a wine, which, though not exceptionally powerful or concentrated, is beautifully defined by cherry and mulberry fruit with a subtle underpinning of oak and leafy fresh acidity.
71% cabernet sauvignon, 26% merlot, 2% cabernet franc,1% petit verdot. . 93 – 95

Château Léoville Poyferré

Rich deep colour, fine nose with an inviting underpinning of cedary spicy oak behind primary dark fruits, bright fresh dark mulberry and cassis fruit richness here, a wine with a level of generosity and plumpness that bodes well for the future, the fruit beautifully framed by a sensual succulence and some muscularity of tannin and fresh damsony acidity. A well-crafted classic style for the medium to long term. 93 - 95

Château Montrose

Dense ruby purple, ripe cassis and a sweet chocolatey note on the nose, which is deeply fresh and fragrant, while the palate starts out filling the mouth with fragrant ripe dark berry and cassis fruit and the tannins, through initially quite sinewy and muscular, soften in the glass into a more silky texture to create a balanced wine of bright fruit and finesse.
57% cabernet sauvignon, 37% merlot, 5% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot. 93 – 95

Château Pontet Canet

Good depth of youthful ruby, brooding and quite closed on the nose initially and then opening out into ripe cassis and blackberry characters laced with spice and a touch of sweet beeswax behind which there’s a seductively fleshy textural quality of dark berry fruit that’s also laced with a touch of beeswax and framed by a fineclarity of expression supported by a vibrant freshness and firm enough tannins to give it structure for ageing in the medium term. 93 - 95

Ali Baba is hiding at Château Pontet CanetAli Baba is hiding at Château Pontet Canet

Château Cos d’Estournel

Dense rich inky ruby in colour, warm, ripe blackberry on the nose, quite warm ripe, blackberryish concentration on the palate, very structured and tight muscular tannins showing a twist of astringency and providing an unusual sweet and sour contrast between sweetness of fruit on the one hand and fresh astringency on the other, the two starting to combine and meld in a single sytrcuture thanks to the level of fruit concentration and spine of freshness.
75% cabernet sauvignon, 22% merlot, 2% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot. 93 – 95

Nuts for Le Pin?Nuts for Le Pin?
Château Le Pin

Deep ruby purple hue, a touch of leaf and mulberry on the nose, almost as if there’s a touch if cabernet franc, which there isn’t; lovely expansive volume of sweetly ripe and juicily succulent mulberry fruit with a fine purity and definition, very focused and classic with glorious fruit freshness that’s incredibly appetizing thanks also to some grainy fine-grained tannins that add another twist of freshness and grip to a seamless whole.
100% merlot. 400 cases. 32 hl / ha. 93 - 95

Vieux Château Certan

Fine colour, not black, beautiful bright and fresh mulberry fragrance, lovely sexy ripe and juicy mulberry fruit fragrance freshness and concentration with a fine elegance and finesse and purity of tannin and acidity. Lovely seductive fruit quality that’s pure VCC in character, juicy, beautifully defined and focused ‘Burgundy in Bordeaux’. 93 - 95

Château La Conseillante

Fine depth of ruby colour, lovely fresh and intense violet nose and deliciously juicy fresh black cherry and dark berry fruit quality with lovely purity, focus and precision, the tannins are very supple and yielding while the acidity is beautifully precise and balanced and keeps the entire wine in attractive proportion, making it almost juicy and very approachable while supported by fine structure. Intense and satisfying. 93 – 95


Château Pichon Baron

Very dense inky dark colour, lovely seductive aromatic and intense blackberry and mulberry vigour on the nose, supported by fine cedary oak , super-vigorous dark red fruits character etched with damson fresh acidity, excellent fruit quality in the most classic sense, but positively ‘classic’. Lovely bright and vigorous, intense fruit quality here.
80% cabernet, 20% merlot. 80% new oak. 92 – 94

Château Grand Puy Lacoste.

Deep rich colour, good quality of fragrant dark fruits laced with a sweetly spiced cedar and coconutty oak character that’s beguiling, and followed by a concentrated, almost chocolatey ripe richness linked to blackberry and cassis and supported by muscular tannins with firm backbone and structure with good potential for the medium to long term. 92 – 94

Château Pichon Lalande

Good depth of colour, intense strawberryish aromas, ripe sweet rich and concentrated palate of intensely juicy succulent strawberry and blackcurrant, nice purity and concentration of fruit underpinned by fine-grained, sinewy, mouthcoating tannins and a bright, lively fresh berry fruity almost damsony freshness, a wine with elegance and restraint and deceptive structure that holds its head (relatively) high.
59% cabernet sauvignon, 28% merlot, 8% cabernet franc, 5% petit verdot. 92 - 94

Château Malescot-Saint-Exupéry.

Good depth of ruby purple, an intense aromatic berry fruit quality, seductively ripe juicy sweet mulberry and black cherry fruit with a clarity and precision of fruit ripeness that’s not always found in this vintage in Margaux, allied to a concentration and finesse of tannins too, finishing succulently ripe and juicy and with the elegance, grip and precision to improve in the medium to long –term. 92 – 94

Château Ducru Beaucaillou

Good dense colour, intense fresh mulberry and cherryish aromas, fine bright fresh cherry and mulberry fruit with very silky textured ripe sweet tannins and bright fresh juicy acidity giving the wine a lively succulence while the oak is subtly restrained giving full rein to the vigour and verve of the fruit, albeit at this early stage with a twist of astringent tannins on the finish. Should soften and meld nicely.
91% cabernet sauvignon and 9% merlot. 92 – 94

In the cellar at Château Ducru BeaucaillouIn the cellar at Château Ducru Beaucaillou

Château Haut-Bailly

Very good rich colour, attractively fresh blackcurranty nose, promising energy, bright and pleasantly approachable dark berry fruits, soft and savoury-juicy, approachable style that’s restrained on the mid-palate with deliciously bright cassis-leafy quality and excellent overall balance of tannins and fresh acidity; a bright, restrained style that relies on elegance over power for its finesse and quality. 92 – 94

Château La Mission Haut Brion

Bright fresh clean plum and cigar box tobacco spice on the nose, fine bright mulberry and raspberry fruit intensity and richness, a powerfully constructed red framed by subtly restrained vanilla oak and bright acidity, a wine that’s powerful, elemental and a shade green in its nature, needing aeons of time for those muscular tannins to resolve.
62% merlot, 38% cabernet sauvignon. 41% grand vin. 14.95%. 74% new oak. 49 hl / ha. 92 – 94

Domaine de Chevalier

Good rich colour, very nice stylish cassis cabernet nose, lovely richness and concentration of focused cassis fruit with plenty of flesh on the mid-palate, beautifully applied oak spice and juicy ripe, resolved succulence of tannin, finishing clean and fresh, a stylish and polished red of good intensity for the medium to long term. 92 – 94

Château Beau-Sejour Bécot.

Good dense ruby colour, fine stylish nose with lovely dark berry fruit sweetness polished by lashings of cedary oak, and although youthful already showing much class, and fine concentration and depth of rich sweetly opulent black cherry fruit that coats the palate, superfine tannins and gorgeous fresh fruit bringing up the rear in a polished, classy and hugely satisfying red of considerable dimension and style. 92 - 94

Château Troplong Mondot

Massive inky depth of youthful ruby, stylish veneer of polished cinnamon and cedary oak spice on the nose, almost New World in its obvious chocolatey sweet oak on the nose and the palate too; it’s rich, full, black cherry with chocolatey oak on the palate, attractive and seductive although the oak is just a tad too pokey and aggressive at this stage, while the tannins and silky and long if just a tad dry on the finish and the acidity nicely balanced. Something stylish about the overall fruit and balance, the oak likely to settle, though very firm structured. 92 - 94

Would sir / madam care for a glass to taste with?Would sir / madam care for a glass to taste with?

Château Figeac

Fine deep colour, some initially overt smoky oak on the nose behind attractively juicy sweet blackcurrant and cherry aromas and on the palate an attractive quality of ripe sweet black cherry fruit and cassis that’s seductively textured thanks to the quality of its succulent ripe tannins, subtle oak and balancing fresh savoury acidity; an excellent Right Banker for the medium term. 92 – 94

Château L’Evangile

Deep colour, lovely fragrance blending cedary and vanilla oak qualities with fine black cherry fruit , great volume of mouthfilling fruit, not so much concentrated as intense and fragrantly mulberryish at the same time; powerful and rich, nicely balanced oak which is almost chocolatey, with a fine backbone of acidity and structure for the long haul and with perhaps a touch of tightness of tannin in the background, seemingly destined to resolve nicely over time.
93% merlot, 7% cabernet franc. 14.4%. 73% grand vin. 92 - 94

Château La Tour Figeac.

Very good rich colour, quite blackcurranty on the nose with liquorice spice and savoury undertones; similarly very nice ripe sweet blackcurrant fruit on the palate, with good chocolatey richness and concentration, fine tannins and juicy fresh acidity framed by well-integrated subtle oak in an overall seamlessly balanced red. Lots of finesse and polish here. 92 – 94

Château La Croix de Gay

Good depth of colour, really distinctive spicy nose with angostura and liquorice and morello cherry savoury / umami like character in the sweetly ripe mulberry fruit juicinesss that’s rather deliciously fresh and approachable with lovely tannic finesse and style. Very individual and highly satisfying. 92 – 94+

Château Clinet

Dark colour, fine nose, very rich and concentrated black cherry fruit, lots of concentration on the very ripe side of dark fruits and dark bittersweet chocolate with also lots of tannins, and good acidity, and fine subtle oak, so very good wine with the level of tannin extraction adding an element of structure that should take this wine through to medium to long haul. 92- 94

Château Canon

Good depth of ruby colour, attractive aromatics and sweet cherry and blackcurrant fruit made in a very drinkable, succulent and approachable mode with beautifully textured ripe fruit quality, and an attractive structure of fine tannins and fresh acidity with oak subtly positioned as a complexing element in the background. An attractively fruity and stylish red for the medium to long term. 92 – 94

Château Le Bon Pasteur.

Very good depth of colour, fine fresh bright fragrance and very attractive depth of red berry fruits laced with spicy undertones and with very good length and depth of persistent flavour supported by fine tannin succulence and very good juicy fresh acidity. 92 – 94

Château Pavie Macquin.

Mid-ruby, a tad shy on the nose, brooding, fresh, notes of dark berry and chocolate, attractive dark berry fruit quality and concentration, nice sweetness of blackberry fruit on the mid-palate, quite supple-textured as well, with firm tannins on the finish with good savoury acidity adding freshness. An elegant style. For the medium to long term 92 – 94.

Le Petit Cheval

The second wine of Cheval Blanc, this has great depth of colour, fine fragrance, and a hint of chocolate along with savoury notes, lots of cabernet franc character with a touch of mint on the nose, a satisfying depth of ripe dark cherry and blackcurrant fruit with mid-palate richness and silkiness of texture rounded out by oak offset against juicy fresh acidity and a twist of astringent tannins bringing structure and backbone. Just a tad drier and shorter than the Cheval itself, but very smart.
75% cabernet franc, 25% merlot. 92- 94

All the foie gras you can eat - and moreAll the foie gras you can eat - and more

Château Pavie

Dense inky colour, intense dark fruits fragrance, richly concentrated dark cassis and cherry fruit quality, with an attractive richness on the mid-palate followed by some quite hefty, grippy mouthpuckering tannins, a touch of greenness bringing a chunky unresolved quality here as with the Pavie Decesse and the Bellevue Mondotte; yet oddly, almost the opposite of baked and jammy. I would bet on it coming good however with suitable ageing and fining.
60% merlot, 30% cab franc and 10% cabernet sauvignon. 14%. 92 – 94

Château Léoville Barton

Good depth of colour, elegant mulberry and cherry fruit fragrance followed by an incisive fresh mulberryish fruit ripeness softened and plumped out to an extent by oak while the tannins are gentle and well-handled and the finish is suitably elegantly proportioned. Understated and restrained, almost over-elegant style at this stage but may flesh out more later. 91 – 93

Château Calon-Ségur

Vivid ruby purple hue, bright fragrant dark berry aromas, good sensual ripe blackberry fruit richness with very nice succulence of texture and juicy fresh acidity with very fine-grained almost silky tannins which is unusual for St.Estèphe; almost approachable young although there’s a precision and a deceptive twist of astringent freshness and tannic backbone on the finish. Classic cabernet in style.
78% cabernet sauvignon, 2% pv and 20% merlot. 40% grand vin.
91 – 93

2012 Les Forts de Latour

Dense bright ruby hue, fine dark brooding nose of dark berry and plum, seemingly approachable sweetly ripe and juicy blackberry fruit, not exactly rich, but rather succulent and savoury with a finely textured quality thanks to nicely rounded oak and lively freshness; well-proportioned and, somewhat surprisingly, almost drinkable at this young stage of its life.
76.1% cabernet sauvignon, 22% merlot, 2% petit verdot. 12.8%. 91 - 93

Château Haut Batailley

Good depth of dark ruby, attractive dark fruits aromas, rich and juicy sweet ripe black fruits on the palate, very attractive supple tannins nicely rounded by subtle oak spice , good volume of rich and vibrant fresh fruit framed by quite firm, grippy tannins but nicely done in the context of the wine, which has freshness, length and grace. Well done.
79% cabernet sauvignon, 29% merlot. 91 - 93

Château Brane Cantenac

Good depth of ruby purple, fine brooding depth of dark intense berry fruit with a delicate cinnamon oak edge to it, fine plump ripe cherry and dark berry fruit quality on the mid-palate, satisfyingly fleshy and ripe and supported by a fine textured tannin and bright freshness that bodes well for the medium term, or even longer. A finely crafted stylish red. 91 – 93

Château Rauzan-Ségla

Good depth of ruby purple colour, intriguing nose of plum and a touch of almond and vanilla oak that’s rather appealing; attractive fruit quality, dark red berry and mulberry with fair length of flavour and power and nicely balanced clean ripe tannins and juicy freshness in a framework of well-crafted subtle oak. 91 – 93

Sept Cent Millions de Chinois...Sept Cent Millions de Chinois...

Château Labégorce

Massive depth of ruby purple colour, fine intense brooding primary dark berry and cassis fruit nose, lovely clarity of cassis fruit with a smooth polished veneer of cedary oak and concentrated rich fruit that’s powerful, ripe and long on flavour in a way that so many similar wines aren’t; an impressive depth of fruit whose tannins are nicely defined and whose freshness adds another dimension of complexity to this excellent wine for the medium to long term. 91 - 93

Château Cantenac Brown

Fine depth of ruby purple, lovely intense aromatic quality with affair whack of oak at this stage, attractively ripe sweet mulberry and cherry fruit on the palate, and a degree of intense plum fresh and concentration with a fair structure of fine albeit sinewy tannins and freshness behind, finishing quite silky and elegant in a bright, finely balanced, well-structured style. 91 – 93

Château Duhart Milon

Good colour, attractive fresh fragrance, nicely proportioned mulberry and dark berry fruitiness with lovely succulently juicy tannins and a lively seductive freshness that’s very appealing, showing some ripe fine-grained tannins on the finish with the grip and structure for medium-term drinking . 91 – 93

Clos du Marquis

Dense colour, fine nose, dark and brooding, good pure and precise cassis fruit, with a nice fleshy quality of textured ripeness, firmish grippy tannins, a touch of bittersweet chocolate and lovely sapid refreshing acidity in an elegant whole.
92% cabernet sauvignon, 6% merlot 2% cabernet franc. 13.5%. 91 - 93

Alter Ego de Palmer

Dense colour, very intense, lovely violet fragrance with fine blacks fruits richness framned by cedary oak hich is very polished, richly concentrated bkack cherry fruit, fine tannisn and savouy fresh acidity with real firm backbone of fresh acidity and fine tannins and lovely blackberry and black cherry fruit quality.
51% merlot, 40% cabernet and 9% petit verdot. 13.4%. 30% new oak. 91 - 93

Château Pape Clément

Good rich colour, distinctive nose, quite savoury, the fruit is ripe and rich and grows on you as black cherry and cassis flavours mingle with bittersweet chocolatey notes and subtle oak in an attractively medium-bodied style whose sinewy texture and lively freshness combine to bring a nice balance to what appears to be a relatively approachable wine. 91 – 93

Chapelle d’Ausone

Good deep colour, still a mite reduced on the nose, so quiet, but there’s some seductive mulberry and cherry fruit concentration with good sinewy grippy textured mouthcoating tannins and behind the fruit a lively bright and sapid freshness and good overall balance; it’s about pleasure in the long run and this delivers already.
60% cabernet franc, 25% merlot, 15% cabernet sauvignon. 13.5%. 91 – 93.

Quinault L’Enclos

Good colour, fragrant, lovely raspberry and cassis fruit richness, the silkiest tannins and very juicy fresh acidity, beautifully balanced, a really seductive fleshy and juicy St Emilion with nice plum fleshy fruit but above all juicy twist of astringent freshness.
81% merlot, 19% cab franc. 91 – 93

Château Gruaud Larose

Good dense colour, attractive light smoky cedary oak veneer overlaying primal dark berry fruit on the nose, elegant dark red berry fruits and cedar oak richness on the palate with a succulence of texture and bright fresh acidity behind a fruit quality of medium intensity and attractive elegance, albeit a touch dry on the finish. A crowd-pleaser. 90 – 92

Château Prieuré-Lichine

Fine depth of ruby purple, brooding deep black cherry aromas leading to a ripe sweet cherryish palate whose plump and juicy flesh is neatly defined by supple-textured tannins and a bright lively freshness; there’s a slight dry feel on the back palate but overall an attractive claret for the medium-term. 90 – 92

Château d’Armailhac

Good colour a spicy nose of sweet primary cherry and mulberry, bright cherry and mulberry ripe fruit shaded by a touch of lead pencil oak in the background, with a nice blend of juicy berry fruit ripeness and cleansing mulberryish acidity again framed by subtle oak and a fine-grained tannin and fresh acidity that gives the whole wine a coherent balance and elegantly textured purity, albeit with just a touch of dryness on the aftertaste. 90 – 92

Château Branaire Ducru

Deep colour, a rather distinctive intense and attractive coconut icing nose behind the dark berry fruit aromas of this wine; a n attractive red berry and raspberry fruit with a degree of flesh and plumpness that’s attractively pure and full- flavour finishing up with a nice damson and cherry juiciness, albeit just a tad dry on the final furlong. 90 – 92

Les Tourelles de Longueville (second wine of Pichon Baron)

Good colour, fine nose, bright, vigorous and intense, lovely rich and concentrated sweetly ripe mulberry and cherry fruit quality with a touch of chocolatey sweetness, very juicy with fine yet muscular tannins and bright, lively cherry acidity framed by subtle oak; overall good intense and serious red with a slightly dry finish.
60% merlot, 28% cabernet sauvignon and the rest franc. 90 – 92

Carruades de Lafite

Good depth of colour, intense and inky, fine fresh fragrance of red and dark berry fruit, a very juicy and fresh mulberry / cherry fruity quality with a lively sweetness on the palate and while not particularly long or powerful, this is made in a real crowd-pleasing style. 90 - 92

Château Beychevelle

Deep ruby hue, brooding primary fruit aromas not showing much at this stage, fine concentrated rich cassis and dark cherry fruit quality, good concentration with nice fleshy texture and fine juicy tannins just slightly pinched by some drying tannins that kick in once the wine’s in the mouth, shortening the finish and a tad, but some attractive dark cherry fruit succulence nonetheless. 90 – 92.

Château Lagrange

Good colour, a tad leafy on the nose with some mulberry leaf characters and subtle cedary oak, pleasantly forward and approachable red fruits succulence on the palate, with nice fleshy plump fruit, a light touch of oak and quite succulent tannins and freshness, with a nice suppleness of texture and elegance of style and structure. 90 – 92

Château Langoa Barton

Fair ruby colour, attractively sweet and spicy camphor and smoky oak aromas behind dark red berry nd plum aromas, a very fresh damson plum attack of primary fruit on the palate with some ripe mid-palate dark berry fruits character and attractive mulberryish richness combining with freshness and some firm, at this stage grippy, tannins on the finish. 90 – 92

Château Croizet Bages

Good depth of bright ruby, attractively brooding primary dark berry fruit aromas overlaid by subtle polished oak, attractive purity of cassis and cherry fruit with a freshness that’s bright and perky, a fine veneer of fine-grained cedary oak framed by succulent mid-palate tannins and bright red berry fruit freshness, all in elegant balance if a tad chunky and rustic on the finish. 90 – 92

A Topsy-Turvy YearA Topsy-Turvy Year

Château Saint Pierre

Good rich youthful ruby and nice depth of primary dark berry fruit on the nose with subtle oak hints, attractive freshness of primary berry fruit on the palate with some generosity of fruit, good succulent tannins and a refreshingly juicy quality of acidity that keeps the wine in nice balance. A tad dry on the finish but well done and pretty classic St Julien. 90 – 92

Château Monbrison

Good depth of ruby purple, fine aromatic intensity showing loganberry and black cherry along with sweet incense spice and coconut icing, very nice ripe clean and juicy black cherry fruit with a lively freshness and a framework of nicely supple tannins with a distinctive infusion of subtle spicy oak; an elegant, focused style. 90 – 92

Château Gloria

Good dense colour, nice fresh primary berry fruit aromas, some ripe dark berry and mulberry fruitiness on the mid-palate framed by subtle oak and nicely balanced overall with fine-grained, supple tannins supported by a fresh mulberry juiciness of fruit; an elegant classic style that doesn’t shout but sits nicely in its own relatively slim frame. 90 – 92

Château Maucaillou

Good depth of youthful ruby purple, lovely seductive cassis nose edged by a touch of oak spiciness, attractive medium-weight blackcurrant fruit with some very nice ripe sweetness on the mid-palate , quite fleshy in style and behind the fruit a slightly dry edge to the tannins which are nonetheless nicely resolved; an approachable style for the short to medium term. 90 -92

Château Rauzan-Gassies

Good depth of ruby purple, nice touch of spicy oak over deliciously ripe and juicy mulberry and cherry rich fruit, succulence of flavour and texture in this almost approachable-now red whose tannins and silky soft and yet which retains the right level of acidity to add savour and depth; appealing, crowd-pleasing youthful claret that should develop nicely in the medium term. 90 - 92

Château du Tertre

Fine depth of ruby purple, brooding dark berry aromatics, promising rich dark berry fruits and delivering seductively rich and reasonably concentrated level of clean black cherry and cassis infused with subtle oak spice and etched with a bright acidity behind tannins whose silkiness is such that you hardly even feel them. Good wine of balance and finesse. 90 - 92

Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux

Good colour, fine nose, suave and voluptuously textured cherry and mulberry fruit, very juicy, nicely ripe with good intensity of flavourand finishing with a lively savoury freshness, so overall stylish and very well-balanced. Thibault Pontallier thinks it’s the best they’ve made (see video).
63% cabernet sauvignon, 33% merlot, 3% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot. 90 - 92.

Reserve de la Comtesse

Good colour, attractively fruit raspberry and mulberry aromas, really attractive seamless quality of juicy red berry fruits, raspberry and mulberry with a sweet intensity of flavour, a touch of chocolate and juicy freshness; rather delicious with fine grip, verve and vigour.
64% cabernet sauvignon, 31% merlot, 5% petit verdot. 90 - 92

Château Clerc Milon

Good dense ruby hue, quite intense, bright fresh primary fruit aromas in the mulberry, loganberry spectrum and similarly on the palate a classic bright and, spicy oak-infused richness of dark berry fruits that’s neatly framed by oak and some slightly more grippy and firm tannin backbone than the d’Armailacq and all the while retaining an attractive freshness. Short to medium-term. 90 - 92

Château Cos Labory

Good dense colour, nice nose, an attractive quality of sweetly ripe and succulent dark berry and cassis fruit on the palate with a stylish underpinning of cedary oak and succulently ripe and juicy tannins supported by a lively fresh finish; an elegant style with attractive fleshy fruit and well-proportioned, nicely balanced tannins and acidity. 90 - 92

Château Smith Haut Lafitte

Good depth of colour, fine brooding and spicy nose, attractive dark berry richness on the mid-palate with some savoury elements, subtle oak, finishing a tad on the dry and chewy side but overall good concentration of dark red fruits underpinned by spice and good structure for the medium term. 90 – 92

Château Gazin

Fine depth of colour, tobaccoey spice, seductively fresh cherry sweet mid-palate with quite firm structured tannins and good fresh acidity all supported by a distinctive oak-derived tobaccoey spice character that’s attractive ; a well-crafted together wine with quite chunky tannins and powerful alcohol with a big-boned structure behind the quality fruit. 90 - 92

Château Trottevieille

Inky depth of ruby purple, nice waft on vanilla oak and black fruits on the nose, the initial impact is of dark red and black berry fruit with a more savoury and less full-on sweet attack that you’d imagine from nose and colour; quite silky tannins pulling up a little dry on the finish and not quite resolved at this relatively youthful stage of development. Good wine though. 90 - 92


Fair ruby hue, attractive fresh nose, fresh touch of leafiness, attractively juicy fresh blackcurrant fruit on the palate, nice ripeness and quite approachable in style with pleasant plump flesh in the middle, but nicely juicy approachable tannins and finishing lively and fresh and yet with quite firm tannins structure; an attractive very drinkable St.Emilion for the mid-term. 90 - 92

Château Grand Mayne

Good dense youthful ruby, very ripe on the nose, lots of ripe sweet dark berry fruit, with good concentration, and richness slightly unusual character, distinctive flavours, mulberry and black cherry, sinewy tannins but resolved despite their muscularity, nice freshness, black cherry fruit, with good fresh acidity. 90 – 92.

Château Larcis Ducasse

Intense and inky depth of colour in the glass, fine, inviting, intense nose of sweet black fruits, oak spice and bittersweet chocolate, lots of sweetly ripe, opulent black cherry fruit concentration on the mid-palate, undertones of bittersweet chocolate, with firm backbone and structure of acidity and tannin with a hint of dryness leading towards very well-crafted finish. 90 – 92

Château La Dominique

Good depth of colour, quite, brooding nose, very attractive juicy blackcurrant and dark cherry fruit with nice sweetness on the mid-palate, relatively juicy and approachable with sub-threshhold oak, quite succulent tannins with just a touch of dryness to them and nice balancing freshness, making this, an overall attractively juicy medium intensity style for the medium term. 90 - 92

Château Nénin. Vivid dark ruby, clean, fresh, inviting nose, nice fleshy ripe dark berry fruitiness, fair level of concentration, juicy sweet tannins and pleasantly fresh damsony acidity with a touch of dryness bringing up the rear and bringing some spine and structure.
70% merlot, 30% cabernet franc. 14.62%. 90 – 92

La Fleur de Bouard - No Expense SparedLa Fleur de Bouard - No Expense Spared

Le Plus, Fleur de Bouard, Lalande de Pomerol

Fine nose, very rich and quite oaky, intense and serious with self-evident structure of tannic and acid backbone, lively freshness and intensity with nicely integrated oak and black cherry fruit, a touch dry on the finish..
100% merlot. 70 year old vines. 90 – 92

La Fleur de Bouard, Lalande de Pomerol.

Lovely nose, delicious blackcurrant fruit juiciness with sexy veneer of polished oak and very nice freshness behind supple textured tannins, beautifully made with lovely black cherry fruit richness and succulence.
85% merlot, 5% cabernet franc, 10% cabernet sauvignon. 90 – 92.

Château Rahoul

Medium rich colour, quite shy on the nose, not giving much at this stage, but a hint of mocha oak behind dark berry fruit; the palate is ripe, sweetly cassisy and juicy with medium-bodied plump flesh in the middle and a coating of bittersweet chocolate behind riding the mid-palate sensually and finishing on a succulent note with nicely resolved tannins, a touch of dryness and good savoury acidity. 89 - 91

Château Poujeaux

Good depth of ruby purple, very attractively sweet cachou / violet and red fruits aromas, bright and vivid cassis fruit with a fair degree of concentration on the mid-palate, a touch of bittersweet chocolate and a firm grippy backbone of tannins running through the fruit which is etched with fine fresh acidity and overall successfully balanced. 89 - 91

Château de Pez

Dense ruby hue, a touch of beetroot on the nose, pleasant berry fruit quality that’s initially bright and mulberryish , very fresh and juicy, without enormous power and concentration but nicely proportioned and elegant with good bright balancing acidity. 89 – 91

Château Cantemerle

Medium ruby, nice touch of smoky lead pencil oak over pleasant mulberry fruit fragrance, some quite attractive medium-bodied cassis fruit sweetness on the palate, pleasantly ripe and juicy in texture with nicely resolved tannin grip and medium-bodied, medium intensity and freshness; an elegant and very drinkable style for the vintage. 89 – 91

La Dame de Montrose

Good colour, still a little closed on the nose, nice opulently fleshy and ripe dark berry and cassis fruit on the mid-palate, a little drying and rustic in tannin towards the finish but with an attractive spicy oak and cherryish quality behind it.
76% merlot, 24% cabernet sauvignon. 89 - 91

Château Phélan Segur

Dense ruby hue, nice fresh primary berry fruit nose, good mid-palate with ripe dark berry fruit quality and subtle veneer of oak, nice damson freshness in a quite muscular framework of tannins that are just a tad drying on the finish, and a little too muscular for the relatively slim fruit quality at this stage, but should soften given time in bottle. 89 – 91

Tasting, Tasting, Tasting, at Château Rauzan GassiesTasting, Tasting, Tasting, at Château Rauzan Gassies

Château Angludet

Fair depth of ruby, if quite forward in colour, savoury nose, forward juicy fleshy berry fruit quality with some quite appealing sweetness; a very approachable style with nicely-proportioned cassis fruit freshness and balance, a crowd-pleaser for the short to medium term. 89 – 91

Château Clément Pichon

Dense colour, perfumed, lovely opulently sweet ripe pure dark berry fruit, suave and silky texture, nice touch of oak, seamless fruit quality and juicy fresh acidity. 89 – 91

Château Les Ormes de Pez

Good depth of ruby colour, nicely polished oak and richly concentrated fruit quality in dark berry and black fruits mould with a mouthcoating richness and a figgy, damson brightness on the finish that’s nicely supported by quality vanilla oak, which may be a little in the ascendant at present but it’s nice oak and good fruit so bodes well for the future.
46% cabernet sauvignon, 44% merlot, 8% cabernet franc, 2% petit verdot. 89 – 91

Château Soutard

Inky black hue, very attractive fresh depth of mulberry and black cherry fruit on the nose, a little on the shy side, juicy ripe black cherry and blackberry fruit quality with nice supple-textured tannins initially, nice ripeness of sweet mulberry fruit which sits in a framework of quite extracted dry tannins and good fresh acidity, so should be good for the medium term. 89 - 91


Château Haut Brion Blanc

Fine, lovely fresh and intense aromatics delivering both ripeness and concentration, with deliciously intense fresh leesy complexity and lively bright and exotically zesty rich fruit concentration finishing with lemony fresh acidity and a considerable complexity.
55% sauvignon., 45% sémillon,. 94 - 96

Château Bouscaut

Fine complex lees-stirred struck-match and toasty oak complexity on the nose, very Burgundian in style, with fresh spritz and lively bright juicy citrus and grapefruit concentration and richness on the palate, finishing zesty fresh, juicy and dry with a stylish flourish. Excellent dry white. 93 – 95

Château Olivier

Good complex aromas of pure ripe sauvignon edged with a complexing leesy element from barrel fermentation, very attractive and complex fruit quality that puts its head above the one-dimensional parapet and leaps into three, with a bright, lively and intense fruit quality that’s zestily mouthwatering and satisfying. 92 - 94

Château Smith Haut Lafitte

Lovely invitingly sweet toasty oak and leesy aromatics, excellent ripe and juicy fresh peachy ripe sauvignon fruit quality, very well-crafted with concentration of fruit combining with nice subtle restraint and complexity with bright classic fruit quality and intensity and behind it a lively zesty almost pineapple-zesty bite that’s immensely satisfying. 92 – 94

Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux

Lovely nose, classic Bordeaux sauvignon, lovely freshness, very juicy fresh fruit with a beeswaxy and honeyed, exotically grapefruity edge to it, ripe and peachy, with classic Bordeaux sauvignon zest and freshness edged with subtle toasty oak and etched with fine acidity.
100% sauvignon. 92 – 94.

On a Mission - At La Mission haut BrionOn a Mission - At La Mission haut Brion

Château La Mission Haut Brion Blanc

Attractively intense leesy fresh nose with a degree of complexity, lovely richly concentrated bright and juicy fresh zesty citrusy fruit quality, with really attractive zesty fruit freshness.
84% sémillon, 16% sauvignon. 92 – 94

Domaine de Chevalier

Distinctive almost peppery spicy nose, attractively elegant and approachably exotic fruit quality with good concentration and lively yet pithy grapefruit zesty quality supported by an incisive blade of fresh acidity and finishing elegantly dry and beautifully focused. 92 - 94

Château La Louvière

Fine fresh nose with nice bright freshness, fine varietal sauvignon character and a subtle hint of batonnage and toasty oak, very good subtle fresh sauvignon fruit character with lively bright and zesty fresh grapefruity intensity and freshness; attractively styled dry white. 91 – 93

La Clarté de Haut-Brion.

Fine fresh and exotic nicely lees-stirred nose with a touch of toasty oak, nicely ripe sweet conconutty toasty oak overlaying good juicy lemon and grapefruit zesty fresh acidity.
58% sémillon, 48% sauvignon. 91 - 93

Château Malartic-Lagraviere

Bright and lively fresh subtle leesy nose over a deliciously fresh ripe peachy fruit, a well-defined juicy fresh sauvignon fruit quality with a lively zesty and refreshing finish. 91 – 93

Château Latour Martillac

Fine classic Graves sauvignon nose and behind it a bright appealing dry white with a strong sauvignon character underpinned by subtle toasty oak and some nicely restrained leesy batonnage characters, finishing refreshingly juicy and satisfyingly savoury. 90 – 92

Château Rahoul

Lovely complex solids aromatic quality with Burgundian-style batonnage bringing a Swan Vesta struck-match and wholewheat leesy character to the tropical zest fresh grapefruit aromas, while the palate is refreshingly juicy with a complex citrus-zesty character behind concentrated and characterful citrusy sauvignon-based fruit. 90-92

Château de Chantegrive

Fine bright fresh aromatic quality suggesting a degree of barrel-stirred leesy complexity and delivering a fresh spritz and fine quality of fruit on the palate that’s restrained yet attractively flavoured and zestily fresh even if it doesn’t go the whole hog in terms of intensity. Nice wine. 89 – 91

Blanc de Lynch-Bages.

Good fresh nose, nicely exotic undertones with light toasty oak and grapefuity citrusy acidity, nicely fresh and zesty fruit quality.
60% sauvignon, 27% Semillon, 13% muscadelle. 89 – 91


Bye-bye Bordeaux - for another yearBye-bye Bordeaux - for another year



Berry Bros. & Rudd


Bordeaux Index

Corney & Barrow

Edward Parker

Farr Vintners



Haynes Hanson & Clar k

Justerini & Brooks

Lay & Wheeler / Majestic

Lea & Sandeman

Montrachet / Charles Taylor

Private Cellar


The Wine Society


A Crock of Gold somewhere thereabouts?A Crock of Gold somewhere thereabouts?

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