And just like that, Bam!, thanks to the folks at Air France, I’m back in California. En Primeurs 2015 has come and gone, and all I have to show for it are pages and pages of tasting notes, a bunch of emails to catch up on, bills and expense reports, and of course, the memories. In general, the trip was successful as I found many 2014 barrel samples showing the potential for becoming wonderful wines after bottling. I also made time to visit several negociants to taste some back vintages in hopes of finding wines to ship sooner than later. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to taste at two of my favorite chateaux this year, but that happens too. A fellow Bordeaux Scout who works for a local competitor popped in this afternoon and we chatted about our respective impressions. As we were wrapping up, he asked me, “So what was your #1 highlight?” Hmmm. I had several personal highlights; but professionally, it was a conversation.
At lunch in St. Emilion, I was with one of our suppliers waiting for her colleague and his two clients to join us at the table. She turned to me and asked, “So now that Robert Parker is not covering Primeurs any longer, who will take his place in the eyes of Americans?” I’m not going to get into my answer today, as time and spacial constraints do not allow for me to answer in full here and now. It was a fairly serious answer, certainly not one for a “Sunday Email,” though I will air it in the form of a blog post soon. I continued to explain that, despite Mr. Parker’s physical absence from Bordeaux in the spring of 2015, his influence was being felt once more. This time, due to a post he placed on The Wine Advocate’s online bulletin board. He wrote, “Just finished tasting over 700 bottles 2012 Bordeaux. Still have about 40 or so to finish, but my initial report in April, 2013 looks to be on the money….with a big exception…the wines are performing better than I originally estimated…which is great considering the ultimate truth is after bottling.” He specifically pointed to Pomerol and Graves, but also mentioned some St. Emilion and some Médoc. Tom and I both attended the 2012 UGC tasting at the end of January, and we both agreed that the wines from Margaux, St. Julien, and Pauillac were stand-outs. Just thinking out loud here, if the Pauillacs of 2012 are showing better than expected, would the 2012 Pontet Canet be of First Growth quality, yet selling for less than $100? I’d bet on it.
Back in April 2013, I tasted the 2012 Pontet Canet out of barrel, it was one of Pauillac’s standouts. Dense and concentrated, it showed a solid core of dark, lush fruit and earth with captivating structure. The quality of wine Pontet Canet has released for the past 15 years is of the highest standard, and needs to be in the conversation of Bordeaux’s best wine in any vintage. They just do everything right here. When I tasted at Pontet Canet 12 days ago, I asked Mélanie Tesseron about their 2nd wine, Les Hauts de Pontet. She told me there was no reason to show it as there really isn’t very much of it. In fact, it once was comprised of fruit harvested from their youngest vines, but those vines have since matured and in essence, over 90% of their total crop now goes into the grand vin. Operating with the Agence Bio organic certification since 2010, there is a distinct purity of fruit and terroir expression to their wines. This is especially so with their 2012.
So despite not being in Bordeaux personally, Robert Parker’s presence was felt, as word of his upcoming synopsis of 2012 Bordeaux in bottle was all the buzz on both sides of the Gironde. We’ve received many inquiries from customers about the wines of Pomerol and Pessac-Léognan (and Graves), as those were the first two appellations he mentioned in his bulletin board post; but quality is quality, and Pontet Canet has quality in spades. Pass at your own peril. – Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about 2012 Bordeaux, 2014 Bordeaux, or English Football: peter@wineSF.com