Successful Pomerol in 2012, but only for the more subtle ones

For all you Bordeaux freaks, you may have heard that Pomerol was the… “Holy Grail” in 2012.


If you had a chance to taste barrel samples from the estates of Moueix, I can understand you

All I can say is that – more than in most other vintages – stylistic options mean so much more in 2012.

Many Pomerols that I tried at the Cercle de Rive Droite tasting on Sunday 7 April were over-extracted, hard or drying…

So, the idea that “Pomerol” is the best appellation in 2012 may be a bit of … bullshit, quite frankly.

Having said that, those estates which soft peddled extractions in 2012, probably made among the very best wines in, yes, … Pomerol! Château Trotanoy counts among one of the barrel samples of the vintage. For example.

A candidate for barrel sample of 2012

But not far behind were the barrel samples from La Fleur Petrus. From Latour a Pomerol.What is the common denominator you ask? Well, all of the above are owned by the Moueix Company, which does not like to pick too too late. It does not like to over extract. The color of the samples is not black. No, as critic John Gilman says – in the video below – these are samples where terroir trumps winemaking. I agree.

All this is not to say that every single barrel sample from Moueix was awesome…

Read my notes for more details.

But, generally, the barrel samples from Moueix … kicked ass, as opposed to many of the heavy handed, stolid, and rather annoying samples all too often encountered from the “Modernists” at the Cercle de Rive Droite. While their methods could pass well enough in an easier vintage, they fail in 2012.

But let’s start with a blind tasting, at Chateau La Cabanne on Tuesday 9 April. Most of the wines tasted there were from Saint Emilion – and notes on Saint Emilion will be posted soon. It is Sunday evening, and I need to prepare for dinner and a busy work week at the Council of Europe.

Blind tasting at La Cabanne in Pomerol: mixed bags?

Flight Five (Pomerol)

Chateau Petit Village: 89-91

23: Some floral aspects, with freshness on the nose and palate, which is tonic and rather refreshing. More in the 1985 mold, albeit with slightly drying tannin on the finish. This conveys fine freshness overall, and is a signal that this estate is on its (good) way forward.

Chateau La Pointe: 89-91+

24: Deep dark fruit aromatics. Palate is spicy and plum rich. There is refinement and elegance, if not really deep. Moderate length. Fine job.

Chateau La Croix de Gay: 89-92

25: Mint fresh, crushed mint on the nose. The palate is medium plus body – another 1985 style.  I really like the freshness here! The finish is marked by refined tannin, lingering finish. Do the tannins dry out just a tad? Just short of excellent. Let’s see how it does from bottle. It may be better than this barrel sample suggests.

Chateau La Cabanne: 87-89

26: I like the spiciness on the nose here. The tannin is soft, and the palate is of medium minus flavor intensity. There is just a slight angular finish, but nothing ventured really. Give it time in barrel and it may fill out more.

Chateau Beauregard: 87-89

27: Herbal aspects on the nose, with a palate has medium textural presence – that is, it has a pleasing feel on the palate. But it finishes just a bit short.

A fine setting to taste!

Flight Six (Pomerol)

Chateau Le Bon Pasteur: 90-92

28: Spicy if somewhat reduced flavors. The palate has fine ripeness, red and black fruit, with a smooth aspect overall and tannins that begin soft but end up more foreboding. Finishes with medium intensity. Overall, a very positive showing here. Bravo to Michel Rolland!

Chateau Gazin: 90-92

29: I like the nose of spice and brambly fruit. The attack is brisk and the palate of medium plus intensity, all quite cohesive, ending on a smooth and lingering finish. Nice job.

Chateau La Conseillante: 90-92

30: Yet another medium quality to the wine, in every sense, that makes it less than stellar, but in the context, quite positive overall. The tannins are ripe and fine grained. Perhaps not quite among the freshest of the wines I have had (for example, the Vieux Chateau Certan), but there is engaging sap.

Chateau Clinet: 89-91

31:  A medium bodied wine, but with a more pronounced spice on the nose. The tannins are quite present, bordering on slightly hard, but overall, a success in the context of the vintage.

Same Vieux Chateau Certan: Very refined and streamlined. Red fruit freshness. Sap on the mid palate, smooth and layered finish. Fine job, up there with the best of the Moueix.

First of all, many thanks to the Cercle de Rive Droite for organizing, as always, a highly professional tasting of so many wines. The stemware was impeccable, the service seamless and the materials provided – from information on the members to access to plugs for computers – proved great. The difficulties of the 2012 vintage, however, were (evidently)  on display at this tasting. I found many hard and drying tannins from many wines here. Although some were quite good, the general impression was of a difficult vintage. Tasted at Château Barde Haut on Sunday 7 April. 


Château Lécuyer AOC Pomerol (84-86?): Chipper nose inviting nose, hint of tobacco leaf and ripe black fruit.  Drying on finish.

Château Fayat AOC Pomerol (83-85): More viscous color on this one compared to preceding. Nose is certainly richer, glossier.  Quite extracted. Clunky.

Château Clemence AOC Pomerol (86-88):  More of a flower stem aroma. I like the freshness . Although a bit “herbal” I prefer the freshness here, albeit somewhat hard tannin on the finish.

Château Vray Croix de Gay AOC Pomerol (87-90?): Subtle coco aspect on the nose here. Not too bad, rather straightforward. Bit of alcohol felt, a touch of heat, but overall rather good.

Château Montviel AOC Pomerol (87-90): Pleasing nose here, a bit of oak derivation. Palate is straightforward, decent crispiness. OK stuff. In the end, this estate is an over achiever, so not surprising… Let’s see how it does from bottle!

Clos Vieux Taillefer AOC Pomerol (85-87): This is quite smooth and even subtle, some hint of green however. Extracted feel on the finish.

Château Bellgrave AOC Pomerol (86-88): Fruit drive nose? Black fruit, plum and blackberry. The palate is restrained, a touch abrupt on the finish.

Château Bourgneuf AOC Pomerol (86-88): Cool blue fruit… but some green as well – and confirmed non blind.

Château Rouget AOC Pomerol (87-90): Jammy nose, fresh here too. OK, the tannin clamps down on the finish however. So far perhaps the best?

Clos l’Eglise AOC Pomerol (87-89): Nose has a touch of espresso. This has a good palate presence. Nice feel if a bit hot on the finish? Not as welcoming as the above.

Clos de la Vieille Eglise AOC Pomerol (84-86): Richness on the nose a palate this is broad and hefty. Hot and very drying on the palate.

Château Feytit-Clinet AOC Pomerol (83-85?): As green as a grasshopper on the nose… drying tannins on the finish. Ouch.

Château Bonalgue AOC Pomerol (87-90):  Oak derivation, But there is ripe fruit… and the tannins are not so drying, at least not as drying as other wines. This estate regularly makes fine efforts. In the context of the vintage, I would say: fine effort.

Château Mazeyres AOC Pomerol (86-88): Fruity nose if a touch of green as well… The palate has some hard tannin on the finish, even if the mid palate is better.

Clos du Clocher AOC Pomerol (83-85): Somewhat jammy nose? Vague notions of green? Hard tannin….Reach for water…

Château Beau Soleil AOC Pomerol (84-87): This is not as bad… this has some redeeming virtues coming after preceding wine… I like it, to a point! Hard tannin however on the finish.

Château Le Moulin AOC Pomerol (84-86): Polite in the context, with decent concentration… Ground coffee. But a bit of unfocused soup like qualities.

Château Taillefer AOC Pomerol (86-88):  This has more focus… than the above, but drying on the finish. Not bad.

Château Vieux Maillet AOC Pomerol (85-87): A bit heady… but there is juiciness here, not bad… again a touch drying. Extraction is more noticeable than preceding wine, but again, not an egregious offender here. OK.

Château La Fleur de Gay AOC Pomerol (87-90): This is chocolately, drying on the finish… but there is sap on the mid palate that almost makes you forget the somewhat dry finish… Wait and see from bottle!

On Thursday, 9 April, the same day that I later tasted blind many wines from Saint Emilion and Pomerol at La Cabanne, I also visited Vieux Château Certan, and this estate did a very fine job in 2012.

Vieux Château Certan (91-93+)

Although harvesting dates were “among the latest” ever recorded for the estate, the Merlot (87%) is ripe and opulent and … does not come across as over extracted. The 12% Cabernet Franc brings necessary freshness and delicacy. This is by no means a super vintage like, say, 2005. But Alexandre Thienpont is humble in his comparing it to a 1985 Bordeaux. He stressed “gentle extraction” (Bravo!) after very careful sorting that resulting in low yields of 33 hectoliters per hectare. OK, this is not as good as Trotanoy, but it counts among the most successful 2012s I encountered as barrel samples.

Alexandre Thienpont of Château Vieux Chateau Certan is rather humble about his 2012...


See my notes for barrel samples from the other Bordeaux appellations in 2012:

Back to the main 2012 from barrel page

Graves and Pessac Leognan / Sauternes and Barsac / Margaux-Moulis-Listrac / Pauillac / Saint Julien / Saint Estephe / Saint Emilion / Pomerol / Haut Medoc

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