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Bordeaux 2012: Soft tannins and ‘ripe fruit’ potential say vignerons

Bordeaux 2012 is a vintage with low, soft tannins and good fruit flavours, vignerons say – but a good deal of work is necessary in the winery to deliver that potential.

Almost all red grapes are now in Bordeaux cellars across both Left and Right banks – in some cases a little earlier than expected following last week’s rains.

The vintage is ‘close to 2000, which also started with difficult weather but saw a magnificent end of season,’ Hubert de Bouard, owner of Saint Emilion’s Chateau Angelus said.

‘But perhaps 2012 has just missed out on being exceptional, with rain falling a few days earlier than I would have liked. It will still be a very good vintage for those who have followed their vines closely through the growing season,’ he told Decanter.com.

Jean-Baptiste Bourotte, of Clos de Clocher and Chateau Bonalgue in Pomerol, said the year had ‘potential’ for its low tannins and ripe fruit.

‘We were expecting a long, slow harvest during the first two weeks of October, but ended up working long days to get the grapes in. The first tanks are showing alcohol levels of up to 14, and the tannins are soft and ripe.

‘It is not going to be a big tannic year, but there are a lot of ripe, fruity flavours coming through. This is a year with good potential – it’s easy to be negative because of rain during harvest but we should not forget that we had a magnificently dry August and September.’

Up in Saint Estephe, Didier Marcellis at Chateau Serilhan said he believed they could ‘deliver a good vintage but it will continue to require care’.

‘Cold maceration and tannins are the key priorities, plus extraction before the alcoholic fermentation starts.’

In Sauternes, where chateaux are hoping to benefit from the return to sunshine and high temperatures this week, negotiant Bill Blatch is reporting ‘mounting tension’.

Both Chateau d’Yquem and Climens have reported waiting for the grapes to aerate after the rain last weekend, and to continue their process of concentration of sugars.

‘Any grapes at roti [shrivelled] stage were probably lost,’ said Blatch in his regular update, Bordeaux Gold, ‘but those which had not got to the final concentration resisted the rain well, and there are still some beautiful looking bunches on the vines.’

Olivier Castéja at Chateau Doisy Védrines has reported using cryo-extraction to concentrate sugars, and is confident that he will get attractive flavours, and a reasonable quantity, ‘perhaps 13 hectolitres per hectare’.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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