Vintages like 2012 – which is to say tricky ones – set the men from the boys apart. Sure, there are over-performers: Capbern-Gasqueton, Batailley, Lagrange, d’Issan and Malartic-Lagravière on the left bank and Trottevielle on the right. But the very, very best wines show their class in adverse vintages. It’s rather the point.
Should you buy the top wines in 2012? That rather depends on why you buy them. Mouton and Margaux might be worth a punt, especially if 2015s are as insanely priced as some speculate (but the real opportunity is 2014 if you believe in that sort of thing).
If you buy to drink (does anybody buy these to drink these days?) then all of them will satisfy. You just need to have more money than I do.
Restrained chocolate gloss on the nose. And this is very rich, and very glossy in the mouth. Soft fruit, and a hint of clay here too. Lots of richesse. Carries on. This is a bit of a tart. On and on. Pétrus? Very good.
Quiet on the nose but there is something here. And some rich chunky fruit in the mouth. A touch hot, and deliciously slutty: this wants to go to bed. A though of chocca. Rich. Weight. I like this.
Stains the glass. Something here though slightly closed. Sweet richesse in the mouth. Glossy substance. Rich. This has gloss to it but there is real depth and substance underneath. Long. Clean. Balanced. A little tarty. Margaux? Excellent.
Sweet, vigorous, bouncy fruit on the nose. A chunkiness here, which follows in the mouth. An austere lift to the fruit. This is long and there is depth here, too. And there is more coming. This is rather special – there is something to it.
Some depth here. Some class. And some quite funky fruit on the nose, though this isn’t jumping out of the glass today. Back up there in the mouth: serious. Sweet fruit. All here. Impressive. A touch lean. And long, with the depth coming back again.
I also scored both Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion 17.5. To be honest, I’m much happier scoring out of 100 with these sorts of wines: more headroom, for a start. All of these are hovering around or between 95 and 97, I reckon, though I am certain that on different days, in different settings, each one might do better or worse. In the same way that there are no great wines, just great bottles, you’re scoring each wine, and each bottle, at a particular point in time. A snapshot.
Are these the wines of the vintage? The simple answer is yes. These are the wines that, technically speaking, are a rank above. It’s about depth, vigour, character and sheer quality.
But – let’s drift a bit. If you want to buy some Mouton, and can afford it, then why not buy 2009, 2005, 2000, 1996, 1995 and so on. Why not buy the full ticket? The 2000 excepted, they’re not much more. Likewise the rest.
With the vineyards, expertise and experience that these properties have, there is little excuse for making something other than very, very good. What impresses more in a vintage like 2012 are the out-performers. Like Leicester City in this season’s Premier League, wines like those mentioned in the opening paragraph: Lagrange, Malartic-Lagravière and so on – these are the heroes of 2012, the wines I’d recommend.