Tue 15 Jan 2013

Sauternes 2012: Some Optimism


Château d’Yquem has made the news recently, declaring loudly that it will not be releasing a 2012 because the quality is not up to scratch. The growing season and harvest was particularly complicated and stressful for the Sauternais, it’s true, and we have not heard anyone claiming the vintage of the century.

However, Yquem’s typically bold statement does rather queer the pitch for anyone who does plan to release! Château Climens’ Bérénice Lurton, who is President of the Union des Grands Crus de Sauternes et Barsac, offers her take on the vintage:

8 days of harvest over a period of 2 weeks (15 to 31st October) gave us a yield of 10hl/ha and moreover, quality that we could never had hoped for. For such a crazy harvest, frankly the outcome is positive. And more than that, it was great to cock a snoot at all those malicious gossipers who declared Climens to be ‘devastated by mildew’. Mother Nature was not so unkind after all!

As for biodynamics, without which we would almost certainly have lost fewer grapes to mildew, it did on the other hand help the vines to stand up to the drought in September and the unwelcome rains towards the end of the season.

The tastings post-fermentation are amazing: apart from 2 or 3 lots that are simpler but honest, the overall result is excellent. To start, the aromatic purity is perfect from beginning to end. And for most of the lots a long finish, complexity, elegance and panache are all there.

(Bérénice’s full harvest report can be found by visiting Climens’ website and clicking on the post entitled ‘Proud of our 2012 vintage!’.)

After a run of good Sauternes vintages, cellars may not be gasping for more. We’ll take a view after we’ve tasted in the spring. At least we know we don’t have to save our centimes for Yquem 2012!

Jo Locke MW
Society Buyer for Bordeaux

Edit, 29th January:
Château Rieussec
, we now know, is also not releasing a 2012 wine; but our first taste of the Dubourdieus’ Cantegril (The Society’s Exhibition Sauternes) and Doisy Daëne have indeed proved that some delicious Sauternes and Barsac have been made.


  1. Jerry W says:

    Possibly it may help the prices descend a little from the stratosphere?

  2. Alan Ford says:

    I agree with Jerry W. Is it possible that I shall be able to afford Climens 2012?

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