ducru beaucaillou

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

Posted by WineInvestment.org 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 3: Bordeaux en primeur 2012 ‘Magnifique Margaux’

Posted by WineInvestment.org on April 10, 2013
Bordeaux en primeur 2012 / No Comments
Left to right: Aarash Ghatineh (Sales Manager), Tom Gearing (Director) Philip Gearing (Director) Tom Turner (Head Buyer) Jonathan Stevenson (Senior Portfolio Manager) Helen Tate (Sales and Marketing Manager)

If we had a euro for every time we have been told that this year is a wine makers vintage and last year was a classical vintage we could probably buy a scarf from the Cos D’ Estournel gift shop or maybe even a polo shirt from Mouton.

But what exactly does that means? Wine maker’s vintage sounds like human intervention was necessary and success dictated by the dexterity of the wine making team. As opposed to classical, which insinuates that things went rather smoothly. In that case this year is arguably all about how much manipulation went on, and the quality of the grapes in the first place. But to what extent is grape quality quantifiable in this context from a scientific point of view? En primeur is all about making a stab at the potential evolutionary trajectory of the wine, and what this symbolises in terms of price. So what makes a wine age? One factor is the phenolic content, this includes the anthocyanins which are responsible for colour and the tannins and to some extent the mouth feel. They act as a sink for oxygen giving colours and aromas an extended lease of life. It is said that 2.5 g/l of phenolic content will render a wine as a potential ager. Unfortunately this isn’t the only pre-defining pre- requisite, pH for example is said to set the frame work for other reactions to unfold. Degree of Hydrolysis, the capacity of ethanol and acidity to break down and release volatiles making new compounds in the process is another fundamental reaction that will determine how age-able a wine will be. The catch 22 is that none of these chemical reactions can be accurately predicted, which is what makes wine so interesting …. Right?

This morning the team set off full of life on the way to Château  Leoville Las Cases, not really, we all felt exhausted from the night before, which had involved more wine tasting in Bordeaux city center, where famed oenologist Michel Rolland was hosting a party to showcase his portfolio of wines. It was useful to taste some international wines and interesting to speak to Rolland who explained that he spends a lot of time in Argentina, and is very excited about the new estates that he has invested in, one of which is 3,000 feet above sea level. We tried some superb wines from Argentina, France and South Africa, all of which were modern, fruit driven and vibrant.


Le première degustation pour le jour was at Château Leoville Les Cases, when we actually managed to find it, we experienced some typical Saint Estephe wines, full of poise with clear evidence of longevity, firm tannins and lively acid.

Château Ducru Beaucaillou was a colourful and eccentric experience, just like its owner Bruno Borie. Another photo moment at the grape reception area that had been modified to resemble a film premiere red carpet scene, with a pop up studio to capture the team. Very original, except for the fact that Clinet clearly had the same brain wave! So after our photo shoot we hit the art embellished tasting room. The Grande Reserve Croix Beaucaillou really stood out for being extremely vibrant and forward. Jade Jagger designed the label in 2010, and even when with a wine like this, wine quality transcends the packaging, the gold embossed label looks pretty special, and adheres to the flamboyancy of the estate.

Next we headed to Château Saint Pierre in Saint Julien de Beychevelle, again not an easy place to locate, its lucky we speak such good French to ask for directions (yea right). We arrived at the office where we were greeted by the owner Jean Riaud, it felt just like another day for them, no photo shoots, strawberries or bottled mineral water, just a frank explanation from Riaud who explained that the vintage had been tough and despite the set-backs presented in the form of disease and climatic influence they remained positive about what they had achieved. This family run estate has only recently switched to temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, reinforcing the feeling that their philosophy is quite purist and back to basics. Riaud joked with us that he wouldn’t embrace a modern system which allowed him to control the temperate using his cell phone, just in case he was out on the town and made an inebriated adjustment!


Château Belgrave was our next visit for the Dourthe tasting where we managed to squeeze in a quick pre-lunch flight of wines delivered straight to our table. This format was a bit of luxury as it allows you to focus more more intensely on the wines. But the Smith Haut Lafite Blanc stole the show for having incredible intensity and elegance. The Clos Lunelles (dry white Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend) described as a new sauternes and produced by the Domaine de Chevalier estate was also impressive, a wine that we intend to obtain allocation of as at the price point of less than £20 per bottle retail is very impressive indeed.

Lunch was delicious, oysters, vegetable and fish terrine, creamy mushroom cray fish to start, followed by roast chicken and mash potatoes for main, accompanied by Chateau Yquem 1996.


After lunch we continued tasting at Belgrave, where we encountered some more absolute gems, again we feel that these wines deserve further coverage in the form of a dedicated blog post in the next few weeks. But Conseillante, Lascombes & Le Gay were three in particular that stood out with the former being a candidate for best wine of the week.

Feeling rejuvenated after lunch we headed for the illustrious Château Margaux. We all knew that we were in for a treat, and the twenty minute wait in reception actually felt sort of appropriate. We tasted the wines in amongst the tanks, despite this vintage being described as less than magnificent, it is still pretty amazing. The Pavillon rouge and the grand vin were already incredibly integrated and clearly capable of some serious aging. Perfumed and delicate, the 2012 wines will be ready for drinking in just a few years as the tannins are so soft. The only disappointment being Pavillon Blanc which despite 2012 producing some fine whites, was below par especially in comparison to their efforts in 2011 and 2010.

Our final destination was Château Palmer, an estate blighted by the weather in the last two vintages reducing crops but yet still maintaining fantastic consistency. The barrel room is transformed with spot light lit tables for each individual group. Our host, a member of the marketing team spoke frankly about the vintage, detailing the troubles they experienced with Coulure and shot berries, he also explained that this reduction in yield has resulted in more concentration. Despite our palates feeling slightly jaded, almost everyone felt that the Palmer wines were the stars of the day, superb finesse and complexity was found. Noting that Palmer is famed for their higher than usual Merlot compared to other left bank estates, its no surprise that 2012 has worked well for them.

Today has shown that whilst this year has been tough for the wine makers, it is a testament to the expertise found in Bordeaux. It has forced producers to be innovative and adapt their wine making practices, and will prove to expose the weak and highlight the strong.

Ce soir we are heading into town and tomorrow we finish with La Mission Haut Brion & Haut Brion as well as the other Clarence Dillon wines. In between we will get to enjoy a lunch with Jonathan Maltus at recently awarded 100 pt producer Le Dome in Saint Emilion and a visit to Pape Clement.

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