Last week, the great and good of the UK wine trade descended upon the sun drenched Portico Rooms of Somerset House, for what is becoming an essential, if small, event in the wine trade calendar, the UGC En Primeur and retrospective tasting. Hosted by the Union des Grands Cru, the tasting was a four vintage showcase from some of the better known names in Bordeaux.
From the left bank: Léoville Poyferré, Rauzan Segla, Pontet Canet and Branaire Ducru, Le Crock, as well as Moulin Riche and Pavillon de Poyferré from the Cuvelier family stable. Whilst from Graves and the Right Bank: Châteaux Smith Haut Lafitte, Canon, Gazin and the wines of Comte Von Niepperg; Châteaux Canon La Gaffeliere, La Mondotte, Clos de l’Oratoire and d’Aiguilhe.
For those such as myself, who didn’t have a chance to make it out to Bordeaux this year, the day’s tasting was invaluable to get a proper insight into the 2012 vintage; albeit a somewhat spoilt one. None of the above properties made bad wines this year and whilst the wines are not as concentrated or as long-lived as the stellar as 2009 or 2010, they are very approachable, even now.
Without wanting to sound like a stuck recording, the better 2012s will provide huge early drinking pleasure for those who pick them up, and as long as the Bordelais keep dropping their prices to reasonable levels doing just that won’t break the bank. Our favourites of the day were Chateau Canon, ripe and well balanced, and Chateau Léoville Poyferré, delicious pure core of cherry and cassis with a fragrant long finish.
The other three vintages on show by each Château were quite a mixed bag across the board, with some of the 2009s showing very well now, whilst others had completely closed down, the “perfect” Smith Haut Lafitte 2009 causing much debate. Of the 2010s, the one that really surprised us and stood out was Pavillon de Poyferré 2010, the second wine of Château Léoville Poyferré. Described by our director Jamie Strutt as “pure, high toned with great clarity of balanced red fruit – buy lots”.