2012 Vintage - Press Pack


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2012 Vintage - Press Pack

  1. 1. VintagePress pack Lettres De Châteaux Marie-Stéphane Malbec 12, rue d’Enghien - 33000 Bordeaux ms.malbec@lettres-de-chateaux.com Tel.: +33 (0)5 56 44 63 50
  2. 2. Contents2012 vintage in Bordeaux Irritating, late, complex, original, technical… 3Château Talbot, Grand Cru Classé en 1855, Saint-Julien 5Château de Lamarque, Haut-Médoc 8Château Paveil de Luze, Margaux 11Château Marquis de Terme, Grand Cru Classé en 1855, Margaux 14Château Belle-Vue, Château de Gironville, Crus Bourgeois, Haut-Médoc etChâteau Bolaire, Bordeaux Supérieur, Haut-Médoc 17Château Cantemerle, Grand Cru Classé en 1855, Haut-Médoc 19Château Sénéjac, Cru Bourgeois,Haut-Médoc 20Château de Rouillac, Pessac-Léognan 21Château Carbonnieux, Grand Cru Classé, Graves 23Château de Pressac, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé 25Château Soutard, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé 26Château Grand Corbin, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé 27Château Canon Pécresse, Canon Fronsac 282012 vintage at SauternesComplex harvests, low yields and drastic selection will undoubtedlyresult in some very fine wines! 29Château Guiraud, Grand Cru Classé en 1855, Sauternes 312012 vintage in Côtes de GascogneDomaine d’Arton, Côtes de Gascogne 342012 vintage in Languedoc-RoussillonVignobles Lorgeril, Languedoc-Roussillon 362012 vintage in ProvenceChâteau Lauzade, Côtes de Provence 382012 vintage in BandolDomaine de La Bégude, Bandol 392012 vintage in Bourgogne‘‘2012: a rare and precious vintage in Burgundy’’ 40Maison Louis Jadot, Bourgogne 412012 vintage in ChampagneChampagne Philipponnat 422012 vintage in LebanonChâteau Marsyas 44 2
  3. 3. The 2012 Vintage in BordeauxIrritating, late, complex, unpredictable, technical…At first, a year full of challenges, followed, later, by some pleasant surprises; Bordeaux’s2012 vintage should be labelled too hastily. It requires very careful analysis.If you listened to everyone, you could easily get lost in speculative semantics becauseeveryone has his or her take on this vintage. It was infuriating (for the wine-makers);uneven (for consumers); very successful (for the dry white wines); jealous (for thesweet white wines). And so it goes on. Perhaps we should just stick to commentsfrom oenologists at the Gironde Chamber of Agriculture: ‘2012 is a decidedly goodvintage.’A good vintage, of course, does not mean a great vintage. Overall, Bordeaux winesdid better than in 2011, though nothing to compare with 2009 and 2010. Nature isnot generous every year and apart from the wonderful, salutary month of August, theweather tested wine makers’ nerves to the limit. Much rain and a cool July causedlate although not necessarily flawed ripening.The best results will be found in the dry whites: perfectly balanced, fruity, aromaticand with the livliness that fresh acidity brings. The same is true for the rosés, whichdon’t have the hot, heavy character of very warm years and which will make pefectdrinking over what promises to be a good summer in 2013.Unfortunately, the sweet white wines were not so consistent. In Sauternes it was“demanding yet surprising”, with small yields, variable quality and some resoundingsuccesses.For the reds, the virtues of a Merlot-Cabernet blend and the contribution of varieties,such as Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, enabled skilled wine makers tomake up for the damage from coulure, oïdium, millérandage, mildew, botrytis andhumidity. 2012 is unquestionably a technical vintage, where vignerons had to be ever ... 3
  4. 4. vigilant in the vineyard against fungus, disease and pests, as well as being carefuland attentive in the winery.And on this point, it is useful to remember the contribution of new techniques andprogess in oenology, which have come out of the Bordeaux Institute and the decisivework it has been doing since the end of last century. In 2012, they truly demonstratedwhat a difference they can make.2012 then is the vintage of the bon vigneron who, through incessant work, skilland experience made good wine, overcoming all the difficulties of a complicated,demanding and capricious year.For all these reasons 2012 is a «decidedly good vintage” and the fine terroirs willprovide wine lovers with first-class, balanced wines that reflect the classic Bordeauxstyle. 4
  5. 5. Christian Hostein, Vineyard Manager at Château Talbot,Grand Cru Classé in 1855, Saint-JulienIt’s the end of the year and time to take stock. The tension has gone. Winter workand routine have returned to the vineyard. The new wine is in new oak and we canbegin see what this vintage will be.The first question might be,»where did all these extraordinary vats of CabernetSauvignon come from?», because at first glance, the weather was really not ideal.A cold, rainy winter (the coldest in 30 years), followed by a cool, rainy spring led tocapricious flowering and imperfect fruit set. The result was what appeared to be a smallharvest, similar to 2002, with lacklustre Merlot and light Cabernet Sauvignon.The beginning of summer also fell way short of expectations and we had to wait untilAugust to finally enjoy sustained, hot, dry weather, which continued until the onsetof a heat wave. During this period, a few of the most exposed grapes, those at theends of the rows, that get most exposure to the afternoon sun, actually got slightlyburnt.September promised to be good. We harvested the Sauvignon Blanc on September12th and 13th, then the Semillon on the 17th, with fine freshness and exotic aromasmixed with white peach and pear.Until then, all was well and the cumulative temperature level was close to that of2010. Perhaps it was all going to work out?However things started to go very wrong in the second half of September, withsignificant rainfall. The berries were swollen and water reached the roots. Botrytiscinerea, our staunch enemy that had been prêtty absent up to that point, literallyexploded in early October. Picking the Merlots from October the 1st to the 3rdproved a good bet, producing expressive grapes, not over-mature but with excellentconcentration and good sugar-acidity balance.We then decided to halt harvesting for 6 days. We lived in a sort of sauna and sleep ... 5
  6. 6. became impossible with humidity approaching 100% and night-time temperaturesof 18°C. Cep mushrooms were popping up in all the nearby fields ‒ some peoplewere even harvesting them with scythes! Not a good omen.Finally we started picking again. The ever-sensitive Petits Verdots were giving causefor concern and we harvested them all within a day.The Cabernets Sauvignons were next. We had to make a difficult decision and givepriority to bringing in the grapes on the plateau at peak maturity at the expense ofother areas of the vineyard. The skins were fragile, but the phenolic potential wasthere and although they will produce limited quantities, these will be complex, totallyclassic Bordeaux wines.Here at the heart of the plateau on the finest terroirs, water that is harmful in excess,acts like a buffer on a piece of fine silver. Everything is smooth, well-defined andround, no rough edges! These old vines are well nigh perfect. Their fruit is a testamentto the work of everyone on the estate, in a decidedly Médoc climate. Exhausted andwashed out, we finished harvesting on October 16th.Today the malolactic fermentations are nearly complete and by Christmas the wineswill be stored safely in new barrels. In January the blendings will begin, that finealchemy between our palates and our instincts; they will be critical for this difficultvintage, although my feeling is elegance should win through.Rainfall: January : 43 mm - February : 3 mm (snow) - March : 25 mm - April : 188 mm May : 39 mm - June : 71 mm - July : 42 mm - August : 12 mm September : 60 mm - October : 128 mm - November : 84 mmFirst Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon flowers: May 29thMid-flowering: June 4th ... 6
  7. 7. Beginning of leaf thinning operations: June 25thHarvest: Sauvignon Blanc: September 12th and 13th Sémillon: September 17th Trial of géo box for the reception of grapes at the winery: September 27th and 28th Merlot: October 1er, 2nd and 3rd Petit Verdot: October 9th Cabernet Sauvignon: from October 10th to 16thDecember 2012 7
  8. 8. Marie-Hélène et Pierre-Gilles Gromand d’Evry,Co-owners of Château de Lamarque,Haut-MédocI described the last three vintages - 2009, 2010, 2011- as ‘wine maker’ vintages.In describing 2012, I am reminded of professor Peynaud’s motto, “You make goodwines with good grapes.” Wine makers were only able to prepare the quality ofthe 2012 crop by making the right growing decisions during a year of hide andseek with the weather.The harvest sun did the rest…transforming the grapes into anexceptional or very fine vintage.All year long, as in every vintage, it was the wine maker’s close scrutiny and intelligence,which produced healthy, mature and plentiful grapes. Still, rainfall and temperaturesduring the 2012 harvest proved complex. This year’s weather conditions were nothinglike those of the past three years and in the end, it was the weather at harvest timethat characterised the vintage.The almost tropical climate we lived through in late August, with some hot and (thankGod) dry periods, had us on a knife edge until October 1st, when we began picking.We finished on October 19th.From then on the vigneron needed all his wine maker skills. We had to wait foreach variety, on each plot to reach the right balance: pH. theoretical degree, acidityand…perfect condition. We took maximum risk, certainly, and we also needed thecapability to act quickly in the vineyard as well as in the winery.This year we picked by hand and by machine. We used a state-of-the-art harvestingmachine (it has no de-stemmer, to avoid tearing the grapes) to pick the first Merlot. Wethen picked the remaining Merlot by hand and the Cabernet Sauvignon mechanically.The Cabernet Franc and all the Petits-Verdot were harvested manually.We employed something of a ‘strike force’ strategy to harvest at optimum balanceand optimum condition and crucially, we also had to bring-in extra sorting teams tocheck the grapes on arrival in the winery.Until the 2011 vintage, our draconian sorting had been done, after de-stemming, ... 8
  9. 9. on a 5-meter vibrating table by a team of 8 trained people. The grapes were thencrushed before vatting. But this method, however excellent, was slow and led us torun risks with regard to the pace of harvest.For a few years we had studied various sorting methods to improve work and speedand, last spring, we opted for the optical Defranceschi ‘X-TRI’, a machine already inservice with some of our celebrated neighbours (La Lagune, Leoville Las Cases…)It combines both high quality sorting (cameras analyse chlorophyll rate accordingto set criteria) and speed. In view of conditions in 2012, it was a good investmentand we were able to harvest, stop and resume operations precisely at the pacewe desired. As I said earlier, the objective was to wait until the last moment thenintervene quickly, according to the plot and the grape variety.Although unplanned, we should also add that we placed a supplementary vibratingtable just outside the ‘XTRI’ before crushing, to do a final, two-person check andmanual sorting - just-in-case.Vinification was relatively easy and the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations wentwell:Pressing: one spinning and two pressingsYield: 37 hl/haAlcohol: circa 13.3°Tannin: average IPT 72Acidity: 3.4g/l…in short: good balance.Grape Varieties Château de Lamarque 2012:45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 12% Petit-Verdot.The Cabernet Franc with the young Merlot went into in the D de Lamarque.We blended with the help of oenologists Jacques and Eric Boissenot and produced80% ‘Grand Vin’ (Château de Lamarque) and 20% ‘second wine’ (D de Lamarque). ... 9
  10. 10. All the 2012 went into barrel from mid-November 2012 until mid-January 2013. Weused 5 French barrel makers. The barrels were medium toasted. We used 45% newoak, 40% barrels of one wine, 15% barrels of two winesToday, February1st 2013, Château de Lamarque 2012 is a brilliant, deep garnet-redcolour. The nose is still discreet and slightly dominated by the oak, with aromas ofblack fruit (blueberry, blackcurrant). On the palate, it has good balance and structureand is very dense with fine fruit and persistent tannins - a wine that reflects all theefforts made by the estate throughout 2012 in the vineyard, as well as wise decisionstaken during harvest. It is a classic vintage, reminiscent of 2006.February 2013 10
  11. 11. Frédéric de LuzeOwner of Château Paveil de Luze,MargauxAfter a mild start to winter, February saw two weeks of record-breaking cold weatherin the Bordeaux region.The rainy spring unfortunately caused significant coulure, generating small yields andconsiderable variation, mainly in the Merlots.Summer finally arrived in mid-July. Along with the first leaf removal operations on theeast-facing side of the vines, we decided to start thinning-out to remove any rareclusters of rot within the bunches.August was hot and dry, though not excessively so and at this point we were alllooking at the prospect of a good vintage.Despite the improvement in the weather, however, the véraison was uneven, requiringa second green harvest to give the grapes chance to reach perfect maturity. Theinconsistent véraison confirmed that the harvest would be late, with the risk ofunpredictable weather. Even more so than in previous years, it was abundantly clearthat the condition of the grapes would be the deciding element.The dreaded equinox rains came right on cue, heralding a change in the weatherthat lasted from mid-September right up to the end of the harvest.Mild temperatures and alternating periods of sun and scattered showers werestressful to say the least but it was worth keeping one’s nerve because, in fact, thegrapes were ripening, slowly but surely.Despite adverse weather conditions and the presence of botrytis, all our efforts inthe vineyard were paying off. This was confirmed by the fact that the all importantvisit from our oenologists, Stéphane Derenoncourt and Simon Blanchard, was notprogrammed until September 20th.Stress levels rose again over the next two weeks. Lots of growers were harvesting ... 11
  12. 12. in the Bordeaux region, but we felt we had to wait, not wanting to risk compromisingthis year’s efforts. We tasted the grapes in the vineyard on October 4th and finallydecided to harvest the following Monday.Nineteen days later than last year, the red Merlot on the Pont Rouge plot were thefirst to be harvested; the first vats looked encouraging, heralding a vintage with goodbalance. Two days after, we attacked the Paveil Merlots. Conditions proved difficultbut somehow we managed to harvest between showers. Here again the newly-filledvats gave off very attractive red fruit aromas.On October 11th it was time to bring in the Cabernets, first the Cabernet Franc, thenthe Sauvignon. The weather had hardly improved although we kept harvesting andthanks to the continued ripening of the Cabernet Sauvignon, we looked forward to apretty calm end to the harvest.The result was a vintage with fine maturity, picked between October 8th and 16thand in record time for the estate.Berry-tasting revealed good ripeness and wonderful potential, encouraging usto extract softly and stagger pumping-over to respect the grapes as much aspossible.Post-fermentary maceration took place at high temperature, in order to obtain plentyof fat and ripe tannins. When the wines were run-off, they were aromatic with softand elegant structure.Tasting notes (newly run-off wines):• Paveil Merlot:Red fruit, raspberry, redcurrant nose with the typical smoky hints that are theexpression of gravely soil. The palate is sweet, round, at once creamy and dense.Good, silky tannins on the finish. ... 12
  13. 13. • Paveil Cabernet Sauvignon:Redcurrant, rose and raspberry nose. Clean, firm front palate followed by fine buttight tannins on the mid palate. Very long, aromatic finish.February 2013 13
  14. 14. Ludovic David,Technical Manager at Châteaux Marquis de Terme,Grand Cru Classé in 1855, Margaux2012 Vintage, first impressionsA wine maker’s vintage: rainy spring, summer drought and a hot, wet October!The rain has finally stopped!!!!! We have just completed harvesting and the sun hasreturned to the Bordeaux sky. The vineyards are still beautiful, scarcely touched bytinges of autumn red.What a strange vintage. The grapes took an eternity to ripen, leaving us with endlessquestions on when to pick them.As in all good stories, everything began well at the beginning of the year. A cold, rainywinter and a mild, rainy spring created a superb leaf canopy, the like of which we hadnot seen for 5 years and periods of sun and rain favoured regular, vigorous growth.The first problems appeared during flowering which, due to alternating periods ofdamp and warmth, was very patchy and uneven. Disease (mildew and oïdium) testedour skills in vineyard management to the full.The rain, however, also encouraged the spread of mugwort, purslane and chickenwort,as well as ray grass, demonstrating renewed soil vitality, since we stopped usingherbicides in favour of tilling the soil between rows and plants.Stopping systematic application of insecticides and choosing to limit treatmentshas produced large quantities of typhlodromus (natural predators of insects thatdevastate vines) and meant that wildlife has returned. All of this is very encouragingand is the result of a three-year commitment plan to protect the environment byusing organic methods. Today, this means that our choice of viticulture is making thebest of our fine terroir and year after year it is re-establishing it bio balance.A dry summer from July to early September (less than 5 mm rainfall) slowed down the ... 14
  15. 15. ripening proces but lots of sunshine and a warm September confirmed the vintage’spotential.Rain in late September is rarely welcome but since the vines had been prepared bynumerous leaf removal operations, we actually saw an accelaeration in ripening onseveral plots thanks to some much needed water.With our eyes glued to various Internet weather forecasts, we continued to preparefor the harvest. From September 24th until 27th there was a serious deterioration inweather conditions including a rare phenomenon in Bordeaux: a week of tropical-like weather where daytime temperatures reached 25°C-28°C and 90% humidity- perfect conditions for our old enemy, botrytis cinerea. We spent the time waitingto pick by visiting to each plot. Our aim: to assess ripeness and not to panic aboutrot!In the end, the Merlot were beautifully ripe and harvested on October 9th,10th and11th, as we had taken into account the late véraison these turned out to be theexact dates we’d planned for, for over than a month, The very good Petit Verdot washarvested on October 12th and showed good fruit and power.We were not so lucky with the Cabernet Sauvignon. In my opinion we harvested 10days too early, but we couldn’t wait any longer, as the forecast was for rain, wind,unsettled conditions and cool temperatures. Indeed, the following weekend, theweather was wet, windy and cold validating, if need be, our decision to pick whenwe did.So what was the result? What sort of quality did we produce? With the vinificationprocess under way, these are the questions we ask ourselves each year at thistime. when our exacting work as œnologists and our knowledge of the terroir nowcome into play in the winery: singling out batches, selecting wines, working each vat ... 15
  16. 16. carefully and never using a ‘system’ to vinify but looking to exploit the potential ofeach vat.Now that the alcoholic fermentation in the first batches is complete and macerationis underway our expectations are confirmed: beautiful Merlots and slightly tightCabernets with great finesse and elegance.Nothing came easy in this vintage but hard work and tough choices in the vineyardand the winery paid off. 2012 is a fine example of a wine maker’s vintage, wherequality was down to us making the right decisions.The potential is there and careful ageing will refinine and marry the raw material. Butalready we feel confident that this new vintage will sit perfectly in the elegant andcharming style and tradition of Marquis de Terme wines.November 2012 16
  17. 17. Jean-Michel Marle, General Manager,at Château Belle-Vue, Cru Bourgeois, Haut Médoc,at Château de Gironville, Cru Bourgeois, Haut-Médocand Château Bolaire, Bordeaux SupérieurVine cycle in 2012:A long, hard winter frost was followed by mild weather. Growth occured in spurts andbudburst was quick and even. There was then a surge in growth (and the spreadof disease, much more sustained than in 2007), with a temporary halt in growth inJune. Conditions during flowering were mediocre, limiting fertilisation and impactingon yields. The Merlots and Petit Verdots were particularly affected but the Cabernetsmade up for this. There were plenty of bunches although they were smaller thanusual.Strong and weak points• Uneven ripening. Rainy weather meant a lot of work to the canopy (leafthinning, cleaning…).• Luckily favorable weather in September allowed us to prepare for theharvest.On the whole it was a year that favoured late-ripening varieties. 2012 producedlovely Cabernets despite the threat from disease, especially botrytis.Dates and harvest operations13 consecutive days, from October 5th to October 17th.Harvesting was continuous and weather conditions were variable, ranging fromdamp to dry and sunny in the space of one day.The year’s characteristicsVery short harvest period, with a real need for sorting. We were immediately struckby the beautiful colour. The risk of dilution due to rainfall was offset by bleeding thevats and the result was concentrated, fresh wines.2012 styleThe wines are open with pleasant fruit, good tannic structure and intense colour. ... 17
  18. 18. Which other vintage does it remind you of?2008 and 2009. In many ways it’s a 2008 ‘plus’.«A very technical wine-making year. An intense harvest was followed by intensevinifications that required the utmost skill and control of all parameters in the vineyardsand the winery.» Maximilien Delemotte,Vineyard Manager.«An incredibly intense vintage, full of surprises. Fortunately, our efforts paid off.» Vincent Bache-Gabrielsen, Technical Director.«Once again, nature and climate were the determining factors. Every day the teamshad to adapt their strategies and techniques to get the best out of our grapes.» Jean-Michel Marle, Director.January 2013 18
  19. 19. Philippe Dambrine,Manager of Château Cantemerle,Grand Cru Classé in 1855, Haut-MédocThe vine cycle:Budburst occurred in mild, dry weather between March and April. Then, with thearrival of a cold, wet front, the weather changed, disrupting growth in the youngvines until early May.June flowering and early July véraison took place in cool weather, affecting volumes.At that stage, late vine development indicated a late harvest however, the dry, sunnyweather that followed throughout August and September allowed the vines to makeup for lost time.Harvest:After a few scattered showers in late September, harvesting took place from October1st to 16th, The Merlot was brought in in warm sunshine but the rain returned onOctober 7th, forcing us to speed up picking.The keys to success in 2012:On the whole it was a complicated year, perhaps one that people might call a “winemaker’s vintage”. The fight against seasonal vine disease was thus decisive inbringing perfectly healthy grapes into the vats. The choice of dates for harvestingand our ability to regulate the rhythm of work in the vineyard (harvesting, sorting afterde-stemming, vat room intake management…) were also prerequisites for obtainingthe best results in 2012.Style:Initial tastings reveal balance and harmony. The colour is deep and there are lots ofintense primary aromas. On the palate, the wines are soft, round and full, with nohollowness on the mid-palate or harshness. The unusual power of recent vintages willprobably give way to finesse this year but the 2012 wines will certinly give pleasurein a few year’s time, just as the 2001s and 2004s are doing now.January 2013 19
  20. 20. Damien Hostein,Technical Manager at Château Sénéjac,Haut-MédocWe are in the winery, blending the various lots for Sénéjac’s 2012 vintage.How would I sum up the year gone by? Dodging the showers.This vintage, the first for me at Sénéjac, was difficult. Indeed, the year was markedby rain at each key stage of the vine’s vegetative cycle.• April: 153 mm• May: 50 mm• June: 85 mmThis caused coulure in the Merlot, but above all led to significant variation in thebunches at flowering, to the extent that when we carried out maturity assessmentsbefore the harvest, we saw different stages of ripeness on the same plot and evenon the same vine plant.Today, it is clear that Sénéjac will be a good vintage, which in a few months, I hope,will delight the “primeur” tasters. This is largely thanks to choosing the harvest dateswith care, and then sticking to them!A few dates:• 28th September: picking of the young Merlot• 2nd, 3rd and 5th October: harvesting of Merlot from the plateau• 4th October: picking of the Cabernets Franc, no room for error!• October 8th: harvesting resumed with the Cabernet Sauvignon and finished,on October 15th with the rows of old Cabernet on the Sénéjac plateau that hadwithstood the excessive rain.2012 is ending with the vineyard teams working once again in the rain and waitingfor drier days in January to bring smiles back to their faces. One thing is certain, wewill all be ready for the next adventure… 2013.December 2012 20
  21. 21. Jean-Christophe Barron,Technical Manager at Château de Rouillac,Pessac-LéognanVintage 2012: Angel or Devil?You remember some vintages with a sense of calm and tranquility. They’re like agentle, comtemplative horeback ride through the woods. We’ll remember 2012 asthe toughest three-day event or a round of show-jumping at the Olympics, requiringconcentration, timing, agility and poise.After coming through the harsh winter of 2012, the vineyard burst into life thanks toa warm, dry March. In early April, a spring frost took a few buds and with them a partof the harvest, we avoided this ‘weather trap’ by using wind turbines and mobilisingof the entire vineyard team. The rest of the month was very wet, gorging the soil withwater.Hot weather in May enabled very rapid vine development in ideal conditions (moistsoil, warm weather). Unfortunately, mildew, a fungus well-known to wine makers,also enjoys these conditions and wanted its share of the harvest. It spread rapidly.and was one of the main difficulties we encountered during the year. Vigilance andthe use of environmentally-friendly methods (we have obtained AREA certification,«Environmental-Friendly Agriculture in Aquitaine,) enabled us avoid seriousdamage.A warm June meant flowering took place in good conditions but the first days ofJuly were cool and we were convinced were were in for a poor summer. Fortunately,our fears were quickly dispelled, as from the last ten days of July onwards we hadexcellent weather. These exceptional conditions (not a drop of rain for 2 months)provided good ripening for both white and red varieties.The first rains came in late September, proving providential because they providedthe boost to the maturation process, which until then had slowed down due to lackof water. A second period of heavy rainfall began on October 12th. ... 21
  22. 22. As our Rouillac terroir means the grapes ripen early, our motivated, trained teamof pickers brought in the whites from September 12th to 19th and the reds fromOctober 1st to 11th. The harvest was in excellent condition and perfectly ripe.Provided one managed to overcome all the obstacles, 2012 was a generous year.and generous will be how we describe our wines after blending.2012, is, in fact, very reminiscent of another vintage that has been constantly in ourminds throughout the tastings, because the comparison seems so obvious. It might,however, be presumptuous of us to state which one in this report.January 2013 22
  23. 23. Eric Perrin,Owner of Château Carbonnieux,Grand Cru Classé - Graves2012 was a year marked by the vagaries of the weather. A cold, rainy spring renderedwork in the vines difficult. The constant threat of fungal disease required constantvigilance and real technical ability in choosing the right treatments.Budburst occurred on the usual dates but below-normal temperatures slowed growthuntil June. Only after flowering did the vegetative cycle catch up. Consequently, westepped up our work to to curb the vines growth, redirecting sap flow towards thebunches.Véraison appeared in the first bunches in early August, leading us to expect a ratherlate harvest. Fortunately, we had taken into account the weather’s tendancy to goawry, or rather, in 2012, it’s tendancy to return to normal. Indeed, rainfall provedvirtually non-existent from mid-July to mid-September, which favoured grapematuration and concentration and meant we started harvesting on September 4th,a normal date for the beginning of the harvest at Carbonnieux.The whites were picked in 15 days and the reds in 14, by a team of about sixtypickers who worked until October 17th.It is worth mentionning, perhaps, that we equipped the winery with a new de-stemmer,which is precise and very gentle and produced unprecedented grape quality.2012 was an unpredictable vintage with unusual weather, though generous in nature.It offered us rich, elegant, grapes, with classic character. They have enabled us toput together a large number of good quality batches that will produce wines worthyof a Grand Cru Classé such as Carbonnieux.In the words of Philibert Perrin,“For a winemaker, it’s wonderfully satisfying to seeall the efforts made in the vineyard throughout the year rewarded by the sight ofbeautiful grapes pouring into the vats.” ... 23
  24. 24. For the whites, the Sauvignon have that freshness and purity found only in clay-limestone terroirs. The Semillon are exquisite, with notes of apricot and amazingvolume on the palate.For the reds, the Merlots surprised us during during pumping-over with their beautifullyintense colour. For their part, the Cabernets are fruity and full of character. They willrequire slightly longer maturation than usual, but their power will guarantee longageing potential.2012 was also marked by the arrival of our new vineyard manager, Frédéric Magniez,who previously worked at the Rothschild estates. Thanks to his expertise andefficiency, Frédéric quickly took charge of the vineyard, masterfully handling the latesummer work in the vines and then the harvest. Harvesting took place almost entirelyoutside the rainy periods and, with the increase in the number of pickers and thepace with which we harvested, the grapes reached the winery at optimum quality.2012 will be close to the 2011 for the reds and the whites. The whites will be slightlyfuller on the palate than the 2011s.December 2012 24
  25. 25. Jean-François Quenin,Owner of Château de Pressac,Saint-Emilion Grand Cru ClasséThe 2012 vintage was marked by a wet, cool spring, which caused the vines notonly to develop at different rates( there were differences between one vine plantand another and even in bud formation on the same plant) but also led to late andextended flowering. To top it off, there was an ever present threat from mildew. Inshort, at the beginning of summer, morale was not very high!Then, suddenly, the situation changed and the months of August (especially thesecond half) and September were hot and dry, with high variations in temperature,guaranteeing aromatic richness.2012 was very demanding in the vineyard, requiring contstant vigilance to protectagainst mildew and massive work to ensure even ripening. We hired-in a large team toperform green harvesting, for example, so that unripe bunches and parts of buncheswere carefully removed; each bunch (a total of 200 km of vine rows) was inspected.It was the price we had to pay to correct the effects of long, uneven flowering and toachieve even ripening across the vineyard.The harvest was late: 4th October for the Pressac Malbec and October 9th for theMerlot, then the Cabernet Franc. Following a very wet weekend, the mid-Octoberrains forced us to speed up the picking of the Cabernet Sauvignon, which wasbrought-in on the 22nd. In fact, the harvest was not only late but over quickly and wehad to hire more people, 75 pickers, i.e. half as many again as in previous years.The result is very encouraging: the Merlots are fine, round, aromatic and even ifyields are particularly low, the team’s hard work throughout the summer has beenrewarded.November 2012 25
  26. 26. Véronique Corporandy,Technical Manager at Château Soutard,Saint-Emilion Grand CruChâteau SoutardHaving merged the terroirs of Cadet Piola and Soutard, we were able to harvest fourvarieties: Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, to produce thefirst vintage of Grand Soutard.Once again Soutard’s chalky terroir demonstrated its excellence. The vines weregenerous and we were delighted with the volume and quality of the harvest.Our decision to use biodynamic growing methods proved very benficial, enabling usto harvest the Merlots and Malbecs at perfect maturity, while the experience of ourteam and operational organisation meant we could start harvesting on October 3rdand finish all of AG2R La Mondiale’s properties on October 13th.Soutard 2011: 23 ha, Soutard 2012: 30 haChâteau LarmandeOur successes to date have led us to persevere with plot selection. The abandoningof plots located on terroirs of lesser quality (2ha) will doubtless have a positive effecton the quality of the wines.A higher percentage of Cabernet Franc will provide our wines with freshness andelegance, two essential qualities for the style of wine our customers appreciate.Larmande 2011: 22 ha, Larmande 2012: 20 haFebruary 2013 26
  27. 27. Charles CruseEstate Manager at Château Grand Corbin,Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé2012 will be remembered for the considerable pressure from disease -mildew,oïdium, botrytis etc- and by the permanent struggle (that included all scheduledtreatments of the vines) to keep them at bay.The year was fairly rainy but happily finished with sunny weather in September, whichthoroughly ripened the grapes.Harvesting took place between October 4th and 18th in relatively good conditionsapart from some scattered showers.We began with the Merlots, but had to switch to the Cabernets that were threatenedby botrytis. In fact, we picked the Merlots last this year, as they were much lesssensitive to botrytis.For us, the 2012 vintage was also marked by the merger of Châteaux Haut-Corbinand Grand Corbin. The new Château Grand Corbin now covers 28.5 hectaresof vines, all adjoining, with 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 5% CabernetSauvignon.The 2012 vintage produced fine, elegant wines. Grand Corbin 2012, the first vintagefollowing the consolidation, has confirmed our decision to merge the properties: itcombines the power of Haut-Corbin and its Cabernets with the elegance of GrandCorbin and its ripe, aromatic Merlots.February 2013 27
  28. 28. Jean-Francis PécresseOwner of Château Canon Pécresse,Canon Fronsac2012, a Darwinian Vintage2012 proved to be a year of intense natural selection at Château Canon Pécresse.From the beginning of the year to the very end there were highs and lows, withalternating extended periods of humidity and cool weather and long cycles of heatand drought; it was difficult for both the vines and the wine makers.Sorely tested, the plants constantly had to adapt to their changing environment,a constant test, even if the diseases that lurked failed to strike. Proof of this is thehistorically modest volumes harvested in 2012: 25 hl per hectare! This very smallyield is the happy outcome of a Darwinian process: “The surviving species are notthe most intelligent but those that adapt the best to changes,” declared Darwin.The most fragile berries were eliminated naturally and in the end only the most resistantremained. They also proved the best, with perfectly structure. Having captured thevines’ energy, they improved over time and in the end were amazingly concentrated,giving this vintage unexpected substance.March 2013
  29. 29. 2012 in SauternesComplex harvests, low yields and drastic selectionwill undoubtedly result in some very fine wines!How was the 2012 vintage in Sauternes and Barsac? There cannot be one answerto this question.In Sauternes and Barsac, every vintage is something of an adventure. The combinationof sun, wind, and mist necessary for noble rot to appear can seem subject to the willof the heavens. By chance, for the past ten years, the vineyards producing sweetwines have seen a long series of fine vintages and a few exceptional ones. An unheardof phenomenon in Bordeaux!2012 will be remembered as a complicated year which often placed considerablestrain on the nerves of growers in the region. Spring started warm and dry, and thenended with rain... Two months of summer without a drop of rain, botrytis that hadtrouble getting started, and very localized storms... The somewhat sluggish noblerot meant that the harvests required extreme patience. In many cases they did notstart until October, and were interrupted by spells of rain. Luckily, the last days of theharvests saw an unexpected return of the sun.Every property, and almost every plot, was exposed to different weather conditions,making the harvests a complex affair. Each château had a window of opportunityto pick their grapes. The mosaic of the vineyards was a vital factor, but everyonepersevered, dodging the rain drops, picking and sorting the grapes literally one byone, in the meticulous fashion that is unique to Sauternes. For some, the resultshave been beyond their expectations, given the conditions, and there have beenmore than a few pleasant surprises.Every owner is responsible for the image of these great wines and this year, morethan ever, great care is being taken to maintain the exceptional quality that has beendeveloped over the years. The selection performed at the vineyard will be improvedby highly selective blendings and few will be owners not producing a high qualityvintage. ... 28
  30. 30. The sweet wines of 2012 have a striking aromatic purity. The wines do not rely onpower, impressing instead with finesse, delicacy, smoothness and a freshness thataugurs well for the wines’ long-term balance, with a style that is more ethereal thanin recent years. And which should delight wine lovers… 29
  31. 31. Xavier Planty,Manager of Château Guiraud,Grand Cru Classé en 1855, SauternesHarvest Journal 2012Monday, September 10th: the start of the dry white wine harvest! 100 harvestersarrive at Château Guiraud and are kitted out with baskets and pruning shears. At12:30, the team reunites in the courtyard for lunch and to prepare a fresh start to theafternoon. The harvest of the G de Château Guiraud will last for two weeks; the lastpress is planned for Monday, September 24th.Wednesday, September 19th: there is concern! Maybe it’s just that time of year, butthe botrytis still hasn’t started its work yet, it’s been too dry (which has dessicatedsome grapes) and too cold at night. We have only had two warm nights and a littlemorning fog to start the process, a situation we haven’t seen since 1985.Mercifully, conditions were ideal on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday. Temperaturesstayed above 10°C, a relief after so many nights that were too cool for the perfectalchemy we need for Sauternes. We also had some light rain, which the sun generouslydried out with a little help from a gentle breeze. Has the botrytis finally arrived?Thursday, September 20th: a cool morning – too cool. The thermometer seems tobe playing tricks on us again, threatening to undo all the beneficial effects of the nightbefore. The powdery botrytis fungus demands a perfect trinity of water, wind andsun and 2012 is reminding us that it is this precious balance of conditions that makesour golden wines so exceptional.So we wait, and while we wait we harvest the splendid Semillon grapes for ourdelicious dry white wines.Friday, September 21st: the night brings hope! The temperature has kindly decidedto stay above 15°C. A sprinkle of rain in the morning gives way to a beautiful sunnyafternoon…..can we get out the secateurs for the Sauternes? ...30
  32. 32. Sunday, September 23rd: two nights in a row above 15°. There was a little rainand some fog yesterday morning but not today….the grapes seem to be changing,complicating things for us. We are heading for what we call the “black hole”: thepoint where we can no longer make any more dry white wine, but cannot yet beginour magnificent Sauternes. We hope it won’t last long!Tuesday, September 25th: the last morning of harvest for the dry whites. It has takena total of nine and a half days to harvest the G de Château Guiraud 2012. In thecellars, the barrels are softly humming. Music to our ears!Monday, October 1st: a full moon last night. It’s cool outside, we lit the fire in thechâteau last night for our second Festival of the Moon. Luckily, the weather forecastsays that things are going to warm up again. The secateurs are ready and our friendBotrytis is beginning to show his face. Just a few more days and we’ll be there!Thursday, October 4th: the pickers are back in the vines, this time for the Sauternes!We make an intial trie or sorting to clean the vines with a helping hand in the morningfrom local nursery school children.Tuesday, October 9th: we continue our cleaning process then, finally, the first batchesof Sauternes enter the cellars. But things really are far from straightforward this yearas, even as late as yesterday evening, we were not sure if we would be able toharvest. Our pickers had to call at 7:30 this morning to find out if they were neededor not.Friday, October 12th: another cloudy morning. Fog and the occasional sunny periodbetween showers has persisted for the past three days. Rain stops us harvestingtoday.Thursday, October 25th: we begin picking again after 12 days of non-stop rain. ... 31
  33. 33. Monday, 29th to Wednesday 31st October: three days that save the harvest…Thursday, November 1st: the harvest ended at 10:00. We were hastily driven outof the vines when the dark skies overhead opened up and the rain started to pour,So it’s over….only three days allowed us to bring in a harvest worthy of ChâteauGuiraud. We’ll have to wait until the vinification is over to see if the 2012 vintagekept its promise!“We harvested botrytised, concentrated grapes on only three days: 29th, 30th and31st October. Before and after those dates it was OK but there was really nothingvery good. In thirty years of winemaking I have only experienced this three times, in92, 93 and 94.Fortunately, these three fine days, a rare occurrence in late October,will enable us to make some premier cru. Our honor has been saved!» Xavier PlantyThe thirtieth vintage will bear the wine maker’s touch and Monsieur Planty’ssignature.February 2012 32
  34. 34. Patrick de Montal,Owner of Domaine d’Arton,Côtes de GascogneThis was a year of dramatic climatic contrast:• Winter temperatures plunging to -18°C with 20cm of snow• A rainy spring• A dry summer with less than 20mm of rain in 2 months.Vine Cycle SummaryWe experienced early budding then a slow-down due to a wet, cool spring. Ahailstorm struck the property in full force, resulting in crop losses of 50%, rising to70% on certain plots.Extremely staggered flowering in poor conditions (cool temperatures and rain meantfloweing lasted over a month.) After the rain came good, even great, weather and weeven had a summer drought.Véraison began around August 8th although there was nearly a two-week differencebetween berries on certain bunches.HarvestThe harvest began on September 10th for the Sauvignon and ended on October29th, with the Petit Manseng that goes to make our late-harvest wine, Victoire.OverviewThe highlights were definitely the harvest, which took place in ideal weather conditions(cool and sunny).On the downside, there were significant variations in maturity, a low yield due to hailand stalled ripening due to drought. ... 33
  35. 35. Despite its many drawbacks, the 2012 vintage has produced by fruity, supplewines.It was a difficult year, both in terms of maintaining vine health (pressure from diseasecaused by spring rain), as well as determining the optimal harvest date. Tasting theberries was a determining factor in the final decision to start picking.January 2013 34
  36. 36. Miren de Lorgeril,Owner of Lorgeril Vineyards,Languedoc Roussillon2012 vine cycleThe wetter years are good years in our hot, sunny climate so the fact that goodrainfall replenished water reserves in the soil, enabled the vines to thrive throughoutthe vegetative cycle.They developed well, with well-balanced vegetative growth untillate August, even though the bunches were small with few berries, which meant asmall harvest.Summer was pleasant; there was no heat wave but there were the three usualthunderstorms and heavy rain at the end of September, which cooled things down.Clear skies lowered night time temperatures, leading to slow maturation despitewarm afternoons. These variations in temperature between day and night favourslow maturation and aroma development and our plots located at a higher altitude,where the conditions are even cooler, proved even more precious. The weather wasexceptionally good during the harvest.Our team had been well prepared and motivated by Bernard DURAND, our newtechnical director who joined us last winter, after having managed François LURTON’sSud production for 17 years.We harvested for more than 6 weeks, from September 10th (to increase freshness inthe Chardonnays and rosés) until October 25th for the last Cabernets and November3rd for the late-harvest Chardonnays. Again, to maintain maximum freshness, weharvested much more at night than in previous years.2012: Strengths and weaknessesWe had to pay particular attention to the condition of the grapes this summer becauseoïdium was ever present; missing a treatment on a few rows of Chardonnay gaveus a glimpse of what damage we might have had. We continue, however to usesustainable growing methods and traceability to protect the health of the vines, whileusing the smallest quantities of product possible. ... 35
  37. 37. As the autumn was quite cool, late varieties (Mourvèdre in the areas closest to theMediterranean and Grenache and Cabernet in Cabardès) needed time to ripen butas the grapes were in good condition, we were able to wait for complete, slowmaturation and wonderful freshness, all of which explains why the harvest lasted solong.2012 characteristicsThe 2012 vintage has very attractive fruit, freshness and balance, thanks to thisyear’s key elements:• Cool temperatures allowed particularly slow maturation, which helped bynight harvesting and cold maceration, resulted in great freshness and fruit.• The excellent condition of the crop allowed us to adapt our harvesting (over6 weeks) to the pace of maturation on each terroir and in each variety, making the2012 vintage very balanced.Fermentation proved steady, with no acceleration or wide variations in temperatureand it was easy to extract colour, aromas and tannins.This year’s wines are consequently even more fruit-driven than the 2011s; they arefresh, juicy and elegant with ripe tannic structure. Thanks to soft extraction, webelieve that we have continued to progress, in particular at Ciffre in the Roussillonand at La Livinière, where the wines express beautiful, intense fruit.• We will produce a grand vin in ‘Latour de France’ Roussillon villages, whichwe think has remarkable finesse this year.• We may be making a white grand vin, but more of that later…January 2013 36
  38. 38. Nicolas Perolini,Technical Manager at Château Lauzade,Côtes de ProvenceWith a cold winter, followed by hail and then drought, the 2012 vintage caused us afew sleepless nights, Winter was particularly harsh with temperatures close to minus15°C, the most obvious results of this were frost-burnt buds and lower yields.In spring, hail struck the Var department and it passed only a few kilometers awayfrom us. To give an idea of the devastation it caused, some neighbours lost theirentire 2012 harvest as well as next year’s.Then, between May and August, we had very little rain. Fortunately, the water tablewas high and thanks to the care we had given the vines, they managed to reachthese reserves and produce beautifully healthy, ripe grapes. September rain helpedto increase volume.August saw the renovation of our concrete winery and the installation of a temperature-control system. As work finished only days before of harvest, I leave you to imaginethe stress levels! However, the combination of healthy, balanced grapes and theimprovements in the winery gave us the time to follow the progress of our variousvats in relative calm.Harvesting took place in late August for a few days, with a brief pause to let theplants absorb the rain. It then continued until mid-October, without interruption.Today, the final blending of the rosés and whites are finished and promise some verypleasurable wines.We are currently finalising the second phase of our future investments at the winerythat will enable us to make a quantum leap in our ability to tame this unique andmagnificent terroir.January 2013 ... 37
  39. 39. Guillaume et Soledad Tari,Owners of Domaine de La BégudeBandolAfter a cold and particularly snowy winter, our soil had sufficient water reservesto confront an extremely dry summer: three months without the slightest drop ofrain…We didn’t experience the usual mid-July and mid-August rainfall and had to wait forthe end of August for the first storm. To our delight this brought light, welcome rainthat eased our fears about the halt in the ripening process.At that point it became a waiting game, though fortunately the excellent weatherconditions enabled us to do so with confidence. We started harvesting on September24th and finished picking, as usual, on October 10th in the last appellation. Giventhe great diversity of soils and exposure of our plots at Bégude (17 hectares spreadover 24 plots on 500 hectares of scrubland), our harvest is always prolonged, so thatwe can choose the optimal time for harvesting on each plot.Due to the mineral character of the sites and their exposure to the Mistral wind on thehighest point of the Bandol appellation, the yield was just 22 hectoliters/hectare.The grapes were wonderfully healthy and we could afford to take our time. Asevery year, the rosé vinification proved long, ending in December. The reds finishedtheir malolactic fermentation in January. This year we even harvested some whitefrom the wild boars’ favorite plot (!)- a cool valley, protected from the sometimesoverwhelming heat of Provence, it yielded about 1,000 bottles. At the moment, thevintage seems to be characterised by good concentration and balance, though stillwith the freshness that is the hallmark of the estate thanks to its altitude and thewide range of day and night temperatures. The wines have great promise for thefuture.February 2013 38
  40. 40. 2012a rare and precious vintage in Burgundy12 November 2012A first! That is what Bourgogne’s winegrowers are saying about this year’s weather.Given Mother Nature’s whims, they had to redouble their efforts to ensure the verybest results from their vines. And the first tastings confirm that all their hard work wasworthwhile. From the north of Bourgogne to the south, the industry is unanimous- the quality of this year’s nascent wines is excellent, surpassing all expectationsgiven the weather. The only downside is the quantity which is below average, downas much as 20% according to some estimates. (Definitive figures will be available inearly 2013).A mild winter, a chilly spring with frosts, a warm May, a cool and rainy June, anunstable summer, a heat wave, hail and storms - weather like this could not fail butaffect the vines. The cold and rain in spring caused shatter, where some flowers failto turn into fruit; millerandage where incomplete fertilization of the flower giving riseto small berries; and a big threat from both downy and powdery mildew. The briefhot periods in summer brought some very high temperatures that burned the fruit.These phenomena, which occurred before the grapes ripened, meant yields weresignificantly lower this year, but had no impact on the quality of the grapes. On thecontrary, aerated bunches of smaller berries guarantee concentration and intensity.Having had to manage the elements and struggle on a daily basis, both man andmaterials have emerged from this vintage worn out, yet victorious. During the harvest,which took place under sunny skies, the grapes being welcomed into the winerieswere healthy and showed no signs of disease or rot.The scarcity of the 2012 vintage will only serve to make the wines even moreprecious! 39
  41. 41. Jacques Lardière,Maison Louis Jadot,BurgundyA vintage born of chaotic climatic conditions and contrasts.Wine makers need to keep a close, meticulous watch on the progress of their vinesevery year but in 2012 they had to brace themselves for an unrelenting battle againstcryptogamic diseases to save the crop.It was hard going, but in the end Nature saved us from rot and the grapes thatcame in to the winery were of astonishing quality. It put broad smiles on our faces,smoothing the worry lines that had got deeper and deeper over the months.Of course, any talk of the 2012 vintage in Burgundy is only of the 50% of the harvestthat was actually saved, because the year’s chaotic weather – not to mention thehail – meant only half the normal crop was picked.Fortunately, the quality of the wines is superb. As maturation continues, the reds arebeautiful and the whites are increasing elegant and with no trace of heaviness. It is astyle that should please all wine lovers.December 2012 40
  42. 42. Charles Philipponnat,General Manager of Champagnes Philipponnat and ofClos des Goisses,ChampagneMonday 24th September 2012: Philipponnat has just finished harvesting its grapes.Picking started on September 13th but stopped between the 15th and 18th to allowthe grapes to reach optimum ripeness.The winter and spring frosts, the cold spell just after flowering and the coulure thatfollowed put paid to any hopes of a generous harvest in terms of quantity. We alsolost a few bunches to mildew but the foliage was protected and stayed a healthygreen, ensuring good photosynthesis.The wet weather in July generated a lot of work, especially weed control that is nowcarried out entirely mechanically. We use a tractor equipped with an intercep orunder- vine tool, a cart horse and even, on the steep slopes of the Clos des Goisses,manual weeding with a small hoe.Yields were only 6,000 to 7,000 kilos/hectare producing a cuvée, (the first and onlypressing that is used at Philipponnat) of 30 to 35 hl/ha.Quality was, however, very satisfactory, especially the Pinot Noirs, whose exceptionalsugar content (11.5° to more than 12°), was higher than in 1976, 2000 or 2003. Thiswas combined with excellent acidity (due to an exceptionally dry August, three dryweeks in September and cold nights) that was even better than in 1996. The highproportion of malic acid will enable the wines to retain well-balanced freshness. Theold saying proved to be true: August makes the must.An unusual feature of this vintage was that the Clos des Goisses grapes were a littleless ripe than the Ay grapes (the basis of the 1522 cuvée). The yield for the latter wasslightly better as the vines on the warm soils of this terroir flowered before the coldspell in June.The musts were clear with little or no oxidisation and already present excellent ... 41
  43. 43. aromatic qualities.The best are already fermenting in oak, a good sign, suggestingpurity and longevity.Things will be clearer in a few weeks when the still wines are tasted but already, whatwe are seeing now is somewhere between 2002 and 1959, two of Champagne’sgreatest vintages.September 2012 42
  44. 44. Karim and Sandro Saadé,Owners of Chateau Marsyas,LebanonAutumn 2012 was very rainy, followed by a cold, very snowy winter and more heavyrain, much heavier and more prolonged than normal and which only stopped in earlyApril.There followed a hot, dry spring and a hot summer, with a heat wave in late June.Yields were reduced to provide optimum ripening of the skins and to avoid berrydehydration.The harvest started in the third week of August and finished a month later.February 2013 43