x
  • Country ranking ?

    824
  • Producer ranking ?

    30
  • Decanting time

    6h
  • When to drink

    from 2020
  • Food Pairing

    Red Beet Arancini

The Tb points given to this wine are the world’s most valid and most up-to-date evaluation of the quality of the wine. Tastingbook points are formed by the Tastingbook algorithm which takes into account the wine ratings of the world's best-known professional wine critics, wine ratings by thousands of tastingbook’s professionals and users, the generally recognised vintage quality and reputation of the vineyard and winery. Wine needs at least five professional ratings to get the Tb score. Tastingbook.com is the world's largest wine information service which is an unbiased, non-commercial and free for everyone.

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10/08/2012 Harvest 2012: The picking of the reds 

The harvest of the red grapes, which had started on Monday October 1st, restarted today after a two-day break. The return of the fine weather has largely enabled the ground to dry again after the rains we had last week. It’s quite probable that the rain - the first really significant rain we’ve had since July 15th - will help the vines to perfect the grapes’ ripeness. So it was essential to wait a while… The Merlots will be finished tomorrow, or almost, and we’ll already be starting a few plots of the Great Cabernets, whose precocity and quality are always remarkable.      
 

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The Story

Since the 17th Century, the first wine of Château Margaux has been recognised as being one of the greatest wines in the entire world. It owes its unique qualities to the genius of its terroir as well as to the passionate work of a succession of generations. It’s a remarkable wine that comes from a combination of characteristics that are only rarely found: finesse, elegance, complexity, density, intensity, length and freshness. Although its tannic concentration may be exceptional, it’s rare to detect astringency.  

The great vintages are distinguished by their formidable ability to move us. The lesser vintages give pleasure to wise enthusiasts. They offer the advantage of evolving very rapidly and, reveal, after a few years, instead of power, this subtlety that is the prerogative of great terroirs.  Château Margaux has an extraordinary ability to evolve. Over the years, it has developed a finesse, an aromatic complexity and a remarkable presence on the palate.

 

Château Margaux has sought to achieve excellence in its wines for over 400 years now through painstaking and necessarily long studies of its terroir, through a constant desire to learn and innovate, by remaining sensitive to demanding markets, and above all through a passionate commitment that has been shared by the families that have succeeded each other at the estate. At the end of the 17th century, it became part of the nascent elite “First Growths” – long before being established officially by the Classification of 1855. Since then, Château Margaux has known fame and fortune, seeing by experience how ephemeral both are.

The estate has 200 acres under vine. Each plot and each variety are treated differently from pruning throughout the growing season. Chateau Margaux’ goal is to nurture and maintain vines for as long as possible, as they believe vines need to reach 20 years of age to produce great wine. The estate is constantly trying to understand through experimentation how to improve soil health and fruit quality. Today, no insecticides are used, there is an important balance of healthy insects to counter pests, and any number of experiments with ploughing, organic farming, and biodynamic applications are ongoing. A final key point to note, Margaux has for the last 30+ years had among the lowest yields in the Medoc.

The wine was aged for 15 months, in 10% new oak and 90% second use barrels. Because of the particularities of the vintage, Cabernet Sauvignon made up an extremely high 88% of the blend, with Merlot only 12% of the blend. Importantly, the wine is held in bottle until ready to drink, which may not mean that vintages are released sequentially.

 

 

 

 

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Wine Information

Paul Pontallier / Château Margaux/ Vintage 2012

Does the 2012 Chateau Margaux growing season remind of any previous vintage?
Paul Pontallier “The 2012 weather conditions are similar to those of 2000.We’ll see when tasting the wines this winter if the quality of the 2012 can pretend to reach the level of 2000.”

Tb: What part of the growing season did you find the most difficult?
Paul Pontallier “With the 2012 Margaux, it was probably the rainy spring as it created favorable conditions for the mildew to develop.”
Tb: Is that exacerbated by your continuing organic farming techniques?
Paul Pontallier “All the more so, as we are definitely involved in an organic vine growing approach at Chateau Margaux. In the 2012 Bordeaux vintage, the most serious threat we faced was mildew, which we successfully managed to control.”
Tb: Did 2012 Margaux vintage require the amount of sorting demanded by the 2011 vintage?
Paul Pontallier “Much less sorting was required in 2012 than we needed to perform in 2011. In 2011, we had to very carefully sort the clusters that were burnt with the heavy heat which occurred at the end of June.”
Tb: Did you experience problems with uneven flowering?
Paul Pontallier “Flowering was not especially uneven at Margaux. So it was not a problem for the 2012 Margaux. When it is, which very rarely happens, we can cut the clusters whose color hasn’t changed. “
Tb:e When did you start harvesting the 2012 Margaux?
Paul Pontallier “While we picked some Merlot plots before October 1, the harvest officially started October 1. We finished picking on October 15.”
Tb: Are you continuing to experiment with optical sorting at Chateau Margaux?
Paul Pontallier “Yes, we repeated an optical sorting experiment that we started last year. Like last year, optical sorting did not prove that useful as the grapes are being very efficiently sorted in the vineyard by our pickers.”
Tb: Did any varietal turn out better in the 2012 Bordeaux vintage for you?
Paul Pontallier “I don’t think that 2012 allowed one variety to perform better than another. As usual, because of our terroir, the Cabernet Sauvignon will be better than the Merlot.”
Tb: What are your alcohol levels for the 2012 Margaux?
Paul Pontallier “In 2012, we have precisely what we want at Margaux: around 13%, rather 13.5% for the Merlot and 12.8% for the Cabernet Sauvignon.”

If everything that took place until the end of June didn't offer what happened next offered additional challenges with 2012 Bordeaux vintage. After an average July, Bordeaux experienced a torrid heat spell and drought in August and September that stressed the vines, especially the young vines. At one point, temperatures soared to 42 degrees Celsius, which is 107 degrees! Other days crossed 100 degrees. It was extremely hot and dry. The vines shut down and the vintage was on track to be even later than originally anticipated. Close to the end of September, things improved due to the much hoped for combination of warm days, cool nights and some desperately needed rain, which helped nourish the vines. The initial days of October offered reasonably warm temperatures during the day, coupled with cooler weather at night for vintners with Merlot ready to pick.

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Vintage 2012

The 2012 Bordeaux vintage report.

The 2012 Bordeaux vintage is a year for vineyard management and workers. Call it a wine makers vintage, or change your tune and name it vineyard managers vintage. Either descriptor works perfectly. The estates with the financial ability to take the necessary actions in the vineyards during the season, coupled with the willingness to severely declassify unripe grapes will produce the best wines.  Even then, it’s going to be a difficult vintage with small quantities of wine.  From start to finish, the growing season and 2012 Bordeaux harvest have been stressful for the vintners, the vines and  with the grapes now in the process of being vinified, the winemakers.

 

The 2012 Bordeaux vintage did not get off to a good start.  Following a cold winter and wet spring, the April rains drenched the Bordeaux wine region.  Following the April rains, there were outbreaks of mildew, which required spraying.  May was warmer than April. Things cooled down a bit again in June.  All this brought on flowering that was late and uneven. That resulted in small bunches with berries that ripened at different times, which brought down the quantities and necessitated in serious work in the vineyards and intensive sorting at harvest.

 

While a growing season is never over until it’s over, uneven flowering is never a good omen.  The lateness in the flowering pushed the entire vintage back 2 to 3 weeks, depending on the chateaux.  Generally speaking, late harvests are not usually harbingers of good things to come.

 

If everything that took place until the end of June didn't offer what happened next offered additional challenges with 2012 Bordeaux vintage. After an average July, Bordeaux experienced a torrid heat spell and drought in August and September that stressed the vines, especially the young vines.  At one point, temperatures soared to 42 degrees Celsius, which is 107 degrees! Other days crossed 100 degrees. It was extremely hot and dry. The vines shut down and the vintage was on track to be even later than originally anticipated. Close to the end of September, things improved due to the much hoped for combination of warm days, cool nights and some desperately needed rain, which helped nourish the vines. The initial days of October offered reasonably warm temperatures during the day, coupled with cooler weather at night for vintners with Merlot ready to pick.

 

In the Medoc, it was hurry up and wait. Tom Petty could have been blasting with “Waiting is The Hardest Part,” because growers needed to wait as the Cabernet Sauvignon was having difficulties ripening.  This was already October. The conventional wisdom says, at some point, there was little to be gained by waiting and more to lose, so the 2012 Bordeaux harvest started taking place.  Some estates began picking young Merlot in late September, but most held back until about October 1, with a few growers waiting another week or longer.  Most producers brought all their fruit in by the middle of October.

 

Pomerol is usually the first appellation to harvest, due to their Merlot dominated vines. Interestingly, picking was taking place simultaneously in the Left Bank on October 1.  Numerous Pessac Leognan properties began their harvest before Pomerol. Chateau Haut Brion began working on their young Merlot vines September 17 and Chateau Haut Bailly was not far behind, with a September 27 start date.  Most chateaux were in the thick of things by October 4, although Domaine de Chevalier held off until October 8.

 

While pleasant, cooler weather was initially forecast to continue, by October 8, things changed quickly when massive amounts of rain dropped over the entire Bordeaux region. With accompanying temperatures in the mid to upper 60’s and higher in some areas, vintners were concerned about the potential of Botrytis, due to the humid, tropical conditions. At that point, the fruit needed to be picked, regardless of the state of maturity.  Similar to what took place last year with the 2011 Bordeaux vintage, ripening was uneven.  It was not just bunches that were not ripening, individual grapes in bunches achieved varying degrees of ripeness which made sorting more important than ever.  Optical sorting was more widely used than ever with the 2012 Bordeaux harvest.

 

2012 Bordeaux could be a year where the dry, white Bordeaux wines shine. The berries were picked in September, under optimum conditions.  Most producers were done harvesting the white wine grapes by September 25. The same cannot be said for the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac.  This has been a difficult year for the development of Botrytis, due in part to the cold nights.  With November closing in, most of the top estates were still nervously waiting to harvest.

 

All this adds up to low yields for most producers.  In fact, the French minister of agriculture reported that 2012 would produce the lowest yields since 1991.  It’s interesting to remember previous years like 1991, a vintage that forced some properties to declassify their entire harvest.  With today’s modern technology and vineyard management techniques, vintages like 1991 which produced atrocious wine are a thing of the past.  Bordeaux is not the only European wine region to suffer in 2012.  Across the board, numerous European vineyards experienced difficult conditions.  It was announced that across the board, production of European wines were at their lowest levels since 1975.

 

Generally speaking, low yields are usually a good thing. Low yields produce more concentrated wines. But when low yields are coupled with grapes that did not achieve full, phenolic ripeness, at the end of the day, the only thing vintners are primarily left with is less wine. If the small quantities of wine available to sell are used as an excuse by owners as a reason to raise prices, grapes are not the only thing that will be in short supply.  Customers for their wines will be in an even shorter supply than the wines.

 

2011 Bordeaux has not sold well to consumers. Prices for 2012 Bordeaux wine need to be lower in price than the previous year.  This is healthy for the marketplace in the long run.  Ample stocks of good wines from top years are still available for sale. Consumers can easily find strong Bordeaux wine from 2010, 2009 and even 2005.  There are different vintages for different markets. Some wine buyers prefer more classic or lighter years.  Other wine collectors seek riper, bolder years.  The marketplace welcomes both types of wines and consumers. But each vintage and style needs to be appropriately priced.  Bordeaux should reduce prices on vintages like 2012 and 2011. In turn, there are wine buyers willing to pay more for the best years.

 

Reports from producers on the 2012 Bordeaux harvest have ranged. For the red wines, some were quoted as saying the pulp is ripe, the seeds varied in ripeness, but the skins did not ripen.  In the Left Bank, there are estates that feel their Merlot turned out better than their Cabernet. In the Right Bank, producers in Pomerol and St. Emilion are optimistic about the quality of their 2012 Bordeaux wines.

 

The early reports show lower alcohol levels for the wines than more recent, highly rated, expensive vintages. 2012 Bordeaux wine has the potential to be classic in style, which should please thirsty fans of traditional Bordeaux wine.  While quantities are small, in many cases, it’s not much different than what the chateaux were able to produce in 2011. Many vintners are comparing the 2012 Bordeaux vintage a blend of 2002 and 2008.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

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Written Notes

An intense dark red, there are firm ripe fruit aromas with blackcurrant undertones on the nose. The palate is bursting with deeply concentrated morello cherry flavour, with a backbone of tannin giving the wine great concentration and ageing potential.

  • 95p

Tasted twice - last time in November 2015. 87% C.Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 2% C.Franc and 1% P.Verdot. Consistent notes. From barrel, this wine had very aromatic and intense black cherries on the nose, lush and seductive on the palate, refined, velvety texture, rich and with long finish. In November 2015, this wine was even better, unresistible with chocolate, cocoa, fabulous nose, classy and silky everywhere. In top two of 1.Growths in this vintage.

  • 95p
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Information

Origin

Margaux, Bordeaux

Vintage Quality

Above Average

Value For Money

Satisfactory

Investment potential

Below Average

Fake factory

None

Glass time

2h

Inside Information

Wine Advocate #206
Apr 2013
Robert M. Parker, Jr. (92-94) Drink: 2017 - 2037 $340-$763
This quintessentially finesse-styled Margaux exhibits notes of pure black currants, spring flowers, graphite and forest floor. With supple tannins and medium body, this pretty, stylish effort reminds me of the 2001 or perhaps a modern day, improved version of their 1979. The lovely 2012 should be drinkable in 4-5 years and last for two decades. 

Only about one-third of the total production made it into the 2012 Chateau Margaux, which is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Like many Medoc first-growths in this vintage, this estate's aim was to make an elegant, supple-styled 2012 that emphasized the fruit, charm and delicacy of this terroir rather than pushing extraction and going for a powerhouse, which would have been difficult to produce in a vintage like 2012. The natural alcohol is 13%.
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