cos d’estournel

Bordeaux 2012 Releases: Cheval Blanc, Ausone, La Conseillante, Cos d’Estournel, Ducru Beaucaillou, Beausejour Duffau, Lascombes & more

Posted by on May 23, 2013
Cult Wines Ltd News, Wine Market News / No Comments
Bordeaux 2012 blog post

A very quiet last week has been followed by a stampede of releases in this one.

Things kick-started yesterday with five notable releases: Cheval Blanc, Ausone, La Conseillante, Cos d’Estournel, Ducru Beaucaillou and Lascombes.

The morning saw a deluge of emails from Negociants, with Ducru, Cos and Cheval Blanc dominating the subject lines. Recent reticence of buyers in the UK seemed to have had an effect on pricing, with the day’s six big releases priced an average of -18.08% compared with their 2011 release – very welcome indeed.

Cheval Blanc was obviously the big news of the morning @ €330/bt. A wine rated across the board very well – and not just by the Cult Wines team!!! 94-96 from Parker reaffirmed the quality that has been consistently associated with the top Right Bank estates this year. Unfortunately, it cannot be conveyed as the cheapest available vintage, but the price was certainly par for the course at this stage, with comparable recent vintages trading at a similar price level. Difficult to make a case for short-term price movement, but for those who like to buy Cheval for the long-term, it’s ticking a few boxes.

Next we looked at Cos and Ducru – both wines which have come under increased attention from prospective buyers following perfect scores for the ’09 vintage. Cos @ €89/bt was a welcome reduction on a very hefty 2011 price and the superior score from Parker makes this look like a reasonable buy this year. Bob was not the only critic impressed by the ’12 offering, with very consistent mid-nineties scores from many other major critics. Not to mention that it was one of our team’s most enjoyable tastings this year, with the Cos Blanc also leaving a lasting impression (a definite buy @ €42/bt for those who enjoy a crisp Bordeaux white). It is by no means the cheapest Cos vintage available, but similar to the Cheval, for those playing the long game it seems a reasonable buy.

Ducru Beaucaillou is always one of the team’s favourite tastings and this year was no exception. The Parker score came as somewhat of a surprise to us, as most of the team preferred the 2012 to the ’11 – we’re not market makers yet..! Given the score, we were expecting a slightly lower price than transpired, but then again, the general critic score for Ducru was higher than Parker’s. Priced above many other back vintages, it is difficult to make a case for the Ducru representing short-term value.

La Conseillante was one of our favourite wines during our Dourthe tasting at Belgrave. It’s one of those Pomerols that often flies below the radar due to the tiny quantity produced each year, but the consistency of quality in recent years, combined with the relative value has certainly caught our attention. Geographical neighbours include l’Evangile, VCC and Petrus as well as St. Emilion counterpart Cheval Blanc – terroir’s not bad then! Bar the inferior 2007 (89 pts, £560 per case) it is the cheapest available vintage and the cheapest of the comparable back vintages by some distance. With a minute production of less than 4,000 cases, it is a rare wine that can only benefit from diminished supply (likely in the short-term). Considering Parker’s recent comments that “…the Pomerols are really not far off the quality of blockbuster years just like 2009 and 2010…” the case for Conseillante is very strong in 2012. A definite buy for us.

We were intrigued by Margaux this year, as the all of the top wines we tasted were showing quality over and above initial expectations. Château Margaux and Palmer are the two that almost never fail, but Rauzan Segla and Lascombes were two wines we were very interested in when leaving Bordeaux, in terms of monitoring both the score and price. Parker favoured Segla with 93-95 points, but Lascombes did not strike the same chord. Realistically, it is a very promising drinking wine for those who like the approachable Margaux but little can be said for investment credentials.

Ausone 2012 was an exciting release given the price (€360/bt) and score (95-97 pts). The problem was in the release size – 1st Tranche allocations were extremely tight and only a tiny parcel of the c.1,500 case total were made available. It’s an estate that seems to excel in average vintages and 2012 was no exception, we were bowled over at the tasting for the second year running and the score certainly seems merited. The 2nd Tranche release at €390/bt still warrants consideration from buyers and this will almost certainly be one of the wines of the vintage in years to come, in a year where the top right banks thrived.



Release (ex-neg)

RPJ (2011)

Release (2011)

% Diff.

Beausejour Duffau












Leoville Poyferre













Cheval Blanc






Ducru Beaucaillou






Cos d’Estournel












La Conseillante






Today saw the release of three more big names, including two interesting Right Banks.

Figeac has undergone a few changes to management and winemaking over the past couple of years, with Michel Rolland now a consultant for the property – although he was only involved with the assemblage for the ’12, he will have full control over the 2013 vintage. In recent years, Figeac have failed to make an impression on Parker et al over at The Wine Advocate, although Suckling and some others have found reason to get behind it. In fact, out of 41 vintages he has tasted, Parker has only awarded a score of 90 points or above 11 times! Certainly one of St. Emilion’s underperformers and the ’12 offers little promise, but it will be interesting to see what happens with next year’s vintage.

The other big Right Bank release was Beausejour Duffau @ €48/bt. Another St. Emilion that could have previously been accused of underperforming, Beausejour Duffau have produced a string of quality wines over the past four years, since the installation of Michel Rolland as consultant oenologist. After the highly acclaimed 1990 vintage (RPJ: 100 pts), Beausejour produced a number of wines which failed to live up to expectations, consistently scoring high 80’s to low 90’s. This estate is a shining example of the effect new management can have on the right terroir with back-to-back perfect scores for the ’09 and ’10 vintages. The 2012 is a 93-95+ wine at around a fifth of the current price of the ’09 or ’10. With less than 2,000 cases produced, there is minimal risk of this micro-cuvee going down in value over any period. In Parker’s recent tasting notes on the perfect 2010: “Anyone who has read this publication or visited St.-Emilion knows that this is a magical terroir capable of great things. It was only fully exploited in the past in the 1990 vintage, but has reached more consistently great heights over the last three or four years. Kudos to the duo of Nicolas Thienpont and Stephane Derenoncourt for what they have achieved over the last few years at Beausejour-Duffau”. It’s not just Bob asserting Duffau’s rise in quality, last year’s St. Emilion reclassification saw the estate ranked St. Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé ‘B’, the appellation’s second highest possible status. Another right bank with a sensible price tag, Beausejour Duffau is another recommended buy.

Leoville Poyferre ’12 saw the price drop 16.2% from the 2011 release. This sort of a drop is of course welcome, but was it enough? Looking at the score, it’s hard to understand why one would buy the ’12 (89-91) for c.£450 per case over a more favourably priced back vintage, say the ’07 (89) for £420. If you use a more comparable back vintage as comparison, such as 2006 (91) @£480 or 2008 (94) £500, then you start to see some potential for future price movement. The only stumbling black is that is still doesn’t look as promising as several other ’12’s at similar price levels.


Cheval Blanc 2012 @ £3,525 per 12

Cos d’Estournel 2012 @ £950 per 12

Ducru Beaucaillou 2012 @ £745 per 12

La Conseillante 2012 @ £615 per 12

Lascombes 2012 @ £410 per 12

Ausone 2012 @ £4,150 per 12

Figeac 2012 @ £510 per 12

Beausejour Duffau 2012 @ £510 per 12

Leoville Poyferre 2012 @ £460 per 12

*all cases available as half-cases (6x75cl) and cases (12x75cl).     

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Day 2: Bordeaux en primeur 2012 ‘Cabernet Country’

Posted by on April 10, 2013
Bordeaux en primeur 2012 / No Comments

On our way to Cabernet country this morning the Cult Wines team either slept, or quietly discussed the day ahead. Unlike yesterday, where we knew that the Merlot based wines ahead of us would most likely be showing well, king Cab, didn’t fill us with as much confidence.The attribute we were hoping not to encounter to an excessive degree within the wines was Isobutyl methoxypyrazine, or bell pepper, this compound has been reported to feature in Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon based wines this year, due to a number of factors. Namely; a long, spread out version which aggravates the accumulation, blocked ripening due to the prolonged summer drought, and insufficient leaf stripping and fruit thinning. All of these combine to result in a measurable level of the compound higher than the human olfactory detection threshold. Too much vegetal characteristic is deemed undesirable by wine critics, as it unbalances the wine and masks other aromas and flavours that would normally be perceived.

So with that in mind we headed to Chateau Calon Segur, in Saint Estephe. This third growth estate, is an impressive sprawling expanse of topiary, walled gardens and out buildings. This year’s yield was down from 45hl/ ha in 2011, to 38 hl/ ha. Which is partly down to 2012 being a particularly bad year for Coulure, which is where wind, rain and chemical deficiencies during flowering prevent flowers from being properly fertilised, this results in the flowers dropping off. As these flowers would normally turn into individual grapes on the cluster, the result then becomes deformed bunches with gaps where the missing berries should be, and consequently a reduced yield. So not only did Cabernet have to endure this downfall, but as a later ripening variety, growers also had to avoid the rain that took place during harvest, this resulted in some heterogeneous ripening hence, virtually any producer you ask in Bordeaux will tell you that their hl/ha was reduced compared with last year.


Our mission today was to ascertain whether or not producers had gone to their best efforts to overcome these obstacles without jeopardising quality.

It was clear that Calon Segur implemented some rigorous berry selection because there wasn’t a hint of ‘bell pepper’, to be seen. The wines were all vibrant and expressive, the Capbern Gasquerton was particularly captivating and represents an excellent price quality ratio.

Our next destination was Chateau Montrose, where we encountered intensely powerful wines. The quintessence of the vintage had clearly been captured through judicious vinification practices, such as a long reportedly long maceration period of 26-28 days, in order to extract phenolics from the thick skins.

Cos d’Estournel didn’t fail to impress. It is like the fantasy land of Bordeaux, the barrel room is like nothing else you will find in France, a sea of barriques can be circumnavigated via an impressive bridge walk way that leads to a feature cellar room containing large format back vintages stored in a Jumanji style high tech storage facility. But even if the winery was a plain Jayne, the wine was still sublime. The Cos d’ Estournel Blanc has been altered this year to provide more of an immediate pleasure, so the blend contained a higher proportion of Sauvignon Blanc compared with Semillon, 77%, 23% respectively. It was deemed by the team to be almost parfait… exhibiting implausible length. The rest of the range was equally good.


Cos d’Estournel was followed by Lafite Rothschild. Where Charles Chevallier greeted us, juxtaposed in amongst the grandiose of Lafite, looking more Latin teacher than Lafite super star wine maker. We discussed this year’s vintage, and Lafite’s decisions to pick much earlier, resulting in 12.5 % ABV, compared with last year’s 13.5 % ABV. Chevallier explained that when deciding the exact moment to pick, he will walk the vineyards and taste the grapes himself in order to make a decision. He also mentioned that they employ students to carry out in-depth crop estimations, where bunches and berries are weighed, sugar, acid, pH are recorded, but actually ‘he doesn’t really care much about this’… and will simply go by his own intuition… Presumably these protocols are implemented more to identify if something peculiar happens, to give work experience kids something to do, or for the sake of harvest reports, and less to pin point harvest dates. But with the amount of vintages under his belt that Chevallier has, instinct and experience will presumably override any other analysis. We tasted the Carruades de Lafite, the Chateau Duhart- Milon and the Chateau Lafite Rothschild. All of which exhibited precision and elegance, but the Duhart particularly captured our attention for providing refinement and personality.

Lunch at Pontet Canet was (as always) impressive, especially the heart attack instigating cheese buffet, with at least 30 different cheeses on offer. The starter was a delicious Terrine de Volaille, Fois Gras au Naturel, and the main a Fondant de Joue du Boeuf, served with the 2002 and the estate owned Cognac Tessaron.

We then hopped along to Chateau Mouton Rothschild en board the iconic golf buggy’s that ferry you to the tasting room. We tasted the Chateau D’Armailhac, Clerc Millon and the top wine the Mouton Rothschild all of which were obviously powerful and refined despite the fact that they will need time to integrate. This year the property have decided to increase the number of tanks from 28 to 56 in order to allow micro-vinification of tiny plots of vines, this will mean that they can blend more judiciously, which is especially during a tough vintage like this year.

Next we went back to Pontet Canet for our scheduled tasting, on the way to the tasting room we passed the new amphora maturation vessels. Owner Alfred Tesseron explained that the Technical director Jean-Michel Comme has spent the last three years trialling different sizes and shapes of amphorae, which are manufactured by the estate. This is with the aim to reduce oak influence, and as Tesseron put it, ‘Oak is fashion, which doesn’t always last’. Evidently they are thinking outside the box and the wines reflected immense purity and freshness. Jean-Michel Comme is a dedicated winemaker, obsessive some may say but it all combines to produce results that are truly sensational!


To understand where Zinedine Zidane fits into a lengthy discussion with PG, keep checking this blog for a full summary which will follow soon.

Last stop Latour. Following the usual security check procedure at the gate we headed for the tasting room. To our delight we were served the three wines Latour released recently as their first non-primeur release, the Pauillac 2009, Forts de Latour 2005 and the Latour 1995. These wines were outstanding, and perhaps enhanced due to our full on day of tasting en primeur. It was a great way to round the day off and provided a useful bench mark for visualising how a fine wine can evolve.

latour 2012 en primeur

Our general summary of the day was that of all of the property’s we visited each and every one of them appeared to have executed wine production skill in order to get the most out of a tricky vintage. We were not disappointed and felt that some of the second and third wines we tasted offered exceptional value.

For a vintage we had low expectations for, we have been pleasantly surprised…roll on day 3.

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