Tue 16 Apr 2013

2012 Bordeaux – What to Expect


Against expectations, Society buyers Joanna Locke MW and Tim Sykes find themselves genuinely excited and impressed by 2012 clarets.

The cellars at Ausone

2012 has produced a Bordeaux vintage full of surprises. From properties that did, genuinely, make better wine this year than last, to wonderful cabernet-dominated wines in a generally more merlot-oriented vintage, our first week of tasting the grands crus and much else besides was a fascinating one.

We began with a ‘ok, impress me’ attitude, and found ourselves, well, impressed! As already noted on Grapevine, thus far the vintage has not received a great deal of comment, let alone hype, which is not only refreshing but all to the good for we buyers. Top-end Bordeaux has honestly risen to the 2012 challenge and cleverly kept its counsel on this one, allowing trade and press to make up their own minds. The general mood during UGC week, amongst a turnout of visitors not quite up to the numbers for the celebrated 2009 and 2010 vintages but pretty much in line with last year, seemed to be one of positive surprise sprinkled with genuine enthusiasm. A US buyer whose palate and opinion we respect used the analogy of childbirth to describe the long labour required for success in 2012 but (mostly) joyful end result that is parenthood!

The vineyards at de Fonbel in full bloom


  1. I await your advice if this should be an early maturing vintage or one I buy for the children.

    • Nick Martin says:

      Generally this will be an early maturing vintage. The best wines are those that were not forced and overly extracted, so the majority of the successes show delicious plump fruit. As with any vintage there will be exceptions suitable for long-term keeping, being the minority rather than the norm.

      • Joanna Locke says:

        Thank you Mr Martin. I agree but there is enormous variation on this front too. Those who made successful cabernet-based wines are likely to have wines with plenty of potential. Tannin and colour levels are pretty high again in many cases. If we can generalise at all it’s that the best wines are in balance and that will give them mid to long-term ageing potential. When they are published, individual notes will highlight differences by wine.

  2. Donald Howes says:

    I too was pleasantly surprised. There are some very good, if not great wines. The best were the result of brutal selection, great terroir and careful winemaking. Some favourites were: VCC, Pichon Lalande, Cheval Blanc, Haut Brion, Margaux, de Chambrun, Ch. Faugeres, Leoville Poyferre

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