|Photo from Consulate General of France|
Most producers see 2012 Bordeaux as a restaurant wine: approachable, drinking well when still young and not expensive. Perhaps this is an indirect way of saying it was not a great year and that the wine probably won't age well. Yet I wouldn’t say it was a bad vintage not worth talking about. Yes, it doesn't warrant the sky-high prices of 2009 and 2010, and the wines certainly won't age as long, but, as I see it, 2012 simply represents a different, nearly opposite, style. Wineries with the resources to manage their vineyards really well and the financial capacity to make do with a smaller crop succeeded in making pleasant wines that are for drinkers rather than investors. I don't see that as a bad thing. That is the fascination of Bordeaux: vintage variation makes the wine more interesting and rewards the truly dedicated producer. The collapse of the en primeur prices and the relatively unsuccessful 2011 vintage (although I personally prefer 2011 over 2010 because, to me, it was more classical) had the silver lining benefit of bringing many Bordelaise back to the ground and back in touch with wine lovers and consumers, instead of focusing all their attention on the big spenders.
Unlike riper vintages, where wines from across different appellations tend to show many similarities, 2012 was a vintage that really highlighted the differences. The soft structure of the St Juliens contrasted markedly with the angular structure of the Pauillacs. The floral bouquet that is characteristic of Margaux was accentuated, while the Cabernet Sauvignon from St Estèphe was particularly expressive.
|Photo from Bordeaux Confidential|
I really enjoyed this year’s Bordeaux tasting because I could see more passion in the producers. Yes, there are great vintages but I don’t believe there are really bad vintages. It all depends on picking the producers who take extra care and on choosing the right time to drink the wine. 2012 may not last for 20 years but it is certainly enjoyable in the next three to five years.