Some comments on St Emilion, not exclusive to the 2012 vintage: The appellation is fragmented, no one really understands the terroir, and no one really knows what it should taste like (apart from me, obviously). The wine making is occasionally extreme, and a lot of it is hard to taste.
Sorry, let me re-phrase: tasting a lot of it is hard (work).
And that’s just five. I could go on. I wrote what I think is one of my better articles on the subject here. Tasting all of the serious St Emilions blind in any vintage is hard work: there is so much of it for a start and, well – all you seem to taste sometimes is winemaking: oak and extraction. But, looking through my notes there are six wines that scored 17 or more, wines that I probably wouldn’t think to consider otherwise. I thought for a moment that I may have got my scores wrong on these, but there are some good wines here in 2012.
Fresh and there is some lift on the nose. Initially this seems quite anonymous and there is a touch of something burned on the nose – a bit of toast. But in the mouth there is some fruit, some class and some character. This is the first real wine of the day. Vinous. Proper wine.
Le Dôme (17)
Some fruit and a touch of medicine on the nose. Surgical. And again in the mouth. There is a great deal of structure here, and a great deal of fruit too. And it’s all in balance. I have a feeling that this will turn out rather well. Angélus? Long.
Bonfire night on the nose, with a touch of fruit behind it. In the mouth there is sweet fruit with a slightly saline edge to it. A fair bit of tannin here, and it’s very long. Is this a rather serious wine?
Ripe and slightly porty fruit on the nose, which seems to tighten and freshen up the more you examine it. And then rather good in the mouth. Very vinous. Almost Burgundian. I rather like this. Very long. A touch of lift and there is some depth to the flavour here. This is good.
Canon La Gaffelière (17)
Sweet and punchy fruit on the nose. This follows in the mouth. Some weight here. Some vigour. This is good. Long and chunky sweet black fruit.
Rather subdued on the nose. In the mouth there is character and a vinous, slightly saline edge to the fruit. I rather like this. It is complete. There is some extraction but this doesn’t taste forced at all.
So. There you go. I rather liked these, though there is a great deal of chaff to be sorted through in order to get to the wheat. What is a good thing, in my opinion, is that the winemaking appears to be getting less intrusive, less extreme, in many cases. More wine, less wood.