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Bordeaux 2012: Good wines say critics, but questions remain over price

Many Bordeaux 2012 wines were showing well in the bottle at the recent Unions des Grands Crus tasting in London critics reported, but prices continued to concern merchants.

Trade visitors flocked to the UGC’s annual Bordeaux tasting at London’s Royal Opera House

Throngs of professional critics, buyers and journalists packed London’s Royal Opera House last Thursday (23 October) to taste the progression of Bordeaux‘s recently-bottled 2012 vintage.

Many were impressed with the reds. ‘After the rather austere, narrow 2011 reds, the 2012s come as a welcome contrast,’ said Stephen Brook, a Decanter contributing editor.

‘In general it’s a vintage to enjoy relatively young, when the fruit is still lush and bright, though there is no reason why the better wines shouldn’t be cellared for five years or even more,’ he added.

The chateaux themselves also appeared pleased with the vintage’s performance. Anne Bernard, of Domaine de Chevalier, said that those reaping the most reward were the ones who didn’t extract too much in the cellar.

Sandrine Begaud, of Rauzan-Segla, declared that ‘you can’t have bad vintages any more in Bordeaux, only light and rich years’.

Decanter consultant editor Steven Spurrier reiterated the view he espoused in June 2013; that there is much to like about 2012, if the price is right.

Yet price was a major sticking point for many merchants. ‘Why would I buy this when I can get 2007 for less?’ one buyer asked a producer in a rather heated inquisition.

Two buyers, who did not wish to be named, told Decanter.com that prices for many of the 2012 wines negated any comments on vintage quality.

‘Prices may have to come down a bit more. It depends how long some of the negociants can sit on stocks,’ added Richard Harvey MW, of Bonhams auction house.

Bordeaux 2012 wines endured a difficult en primeur campaign, which came during widespread buyer disillusionment with Bordeaux over pricing.

Fine wine trading index Liv-ex shows that prices on several 2012 wines were either flat or had fallen by up to 10% since their en primeur release.

‘I don’t think the wines are too expensive,’ said Ludovic Fradin, commercial director at Smith-Haut-Lafitte, which has seen its 2012 red drop by 7% in price on Liv-ex since its initial release.

‘These are entry level prices. After 2009 and 2010, when prices hit a ceiling, prices came down in 2011 and again in 2012.’

Spurrier said the 2012s ‘deserve a market as the reds are good examples of their appellations, each chateau has retained its own character and they are exactly the kind of clarets I would like to open up in two or three years time and continue to enjoy well into their second decade.
No Clear Appellation Winners
‘No particular appellation stood out, but for me it was a Margaux and a Pessac-Leognan vintage, with some elegantly expressed St-Emilions,’ said Spurrier.

‘The dry whites from southern and northern Graves were wonderful, absolute classics of a Sauvignon-Semillon blend, while of the very much reduced showing of sweet whites, Barsac had it over Sauternes.’

However, Brook said that ‘Pomerol seemed especially successful. There were some disappointments in Margaux, and a few wines were just too soft.’


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