Taste any remotely difficult vintage in Bordeaux and St Julien will always provide some comfort. Whilst Pauillac might be the King of the Médoc, St Julien is always the most consistent appellation, and the one that is the easiest to taste.
I remember tasting these in 2013 and the wines were a relief: a pleasure to taste then and a pleasure to taste now.
I have probably under-scored many of these by at least half a point, and they will no doubt show better and better with time. The group rated Léoville-Poyferré higher than I did, and Beychevelle slightly lower. At £240 per case or so, Lagrange would be my buy. £500 or so for Beychevelle is just a little too rich, Gruaud-Larose at £350 or less per case looks sensible, as does St Pierre at less than £300. At £700 or so per dozen then Ducru might look a little pricey, but there is more to come from this, and it is a cheap case of Ducru.
Ch. Gruaud-Larose (16.5)
Fresh nose, with a touch of chocca-mocha. Then a little more of this in the mouth, with almost-very-rich fruit. This is very St Julien. Soft weight to it. Long. Rather good.
Ch. St Pierre (16.5)
Some wine-making here: creamy, oaky fruit on the nose. Dark fruit and richesse in the mouth. The tannins come in at the mid-palate then float to the back of the stage. This is well made, slightly flashy, St Julien.
Ch. Lagrange (16.5)
Something here on the nose – something grown-up. This character follows in the mouth: richesse, weight, purity. Real wine. Unforced and nicely poised. This is rather good.
Ch. Ducru-Beaucaillou (16)
Clean and fresh and a little restrained – this isn’t jumping out of the glass. This has some clear structure in the mouth, and there is some work here. The fruit should come out in time. This is nicely made, good wine.
Ch. Beychevelle (17)
Lots here on the nose – there is a hint of depth to the fruit here. This is followed by a focused, precise weight of fruit in the mouth. This is very nicely put together. Dense. Long. Poised and balanced. This lacks the chorus line of a good vintage but is all here nonetheless.
Behind these runners and riders, though only just, was a considerable pack, closely bunched. Talbot and Branaire did well for me – in that they over-performed – and there were no disappointments: 2012 is a consistently good vintage for St Julien. I will type all my notes up in time…