Union Grand Crus Bordeaux Recap

I had the good fortune to travel to Bordeaux two years ago to taste 100′s of 2012′s from barrel during En Primeur week.  Most of the wine pundits’ reviews of the 2012 vintage were pretty poor so, as I made my way from Château to Château tasting through their efforts from barrel, I was pleasantly surprised to find fresh, fruit forward wines that will be a great to drink within 5 years of release.

Last week, the UGC (Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux) made their way through Chicago and I had the opportunity to taste through a number of the 2012s now in bottle.  It was a great opportunity to take notes and compare wines from Barrel to Bottle.


Looking back through my notes, the appellations that showed best two years ago in Bordeaux were the stars of the UGC tasting as well: St. Emilion, St. Estephe, Pauillac, and St. Julien.  The best wines from these appellations showed more depth and acidity and will likely have a longer lifespan, but across the board, I found the 2012s to be pleasant, red-fruit dominated, and more feminine than the recent blockbuster vintages of 2009 and 2010. See below for a few of my favorites and additional tasting notes from our team:

  • Smith Haut Lafite BlancChâteau Les Carmes Haut-Brion: Very pretty nose with floral notes. Red currant and earthiness on the palate; high acid, sweet tannins and a long finish. An absolutely delicious wine at an unbeatable price point!
  • Château Ausone: Some dark cherry and strawberries on the nose along with spice. Rich syrupy mouth-feel with velvety tannins. Plenty of grip and depth. Pepper and cassis on the (seemingly endless) finish. This wine is breathtaking now, but definitely built to age. This is my favorite 2012 that I’ve tasted to date.
  • Château Montrose: Mineral driven nose with a hint of sweetness. Surprisingly light on the tongue, with rich mocha notes. Well balanced with tart, mouthwatering tannin.
  • Château Brane CantenacA beautiful, expressive perfume nose.  The wine is medium-full bodied with notes of cassis, minerals and that gravelly back bone I look for in these wines.  There is good tannic structure for aging, but his wine is inviting and delicious right now. ~ Dale Salentiny
  • Château Leoville Barton: Sweetly perfumed nose, floral. There’s a building richness to the palate, which features lovely cherry and blackberry flavors with a hint of salinity. Ends on a nice savory note. One of my favorites of the day. ~ Laurel Sallack Macupa
  • Château Leoville-Poyferré: Balanced but opulent with black current with bright black berry. Sweet spices with toasty graphite and a silky finish- oodles of structure, a real treat! ~ Philippe Andre
  • Château Smith Haut-Lafitte Blanc: A glass full of yellow straw fruit basket with white flowers and lemon curd. A shot of tropical fruits and with dry nuts and fig newton’s, refreshing and rewarding now but will settle down in a 5-10+ years. ~ Philippe Andre
  • Château Beychevelle: Dark fruits of plum, tart blackberry and a hint of eucalyptus. The scent of forest floor and oak lead to soft tannin and balanced acidity. ~ Lauren Domenech

As the 2012′s start to arrive in our cellars, I suggest snapping up a few cases to drink over the next 5-10 years while you wait for your 2009′s to mature.  You can then drink your 2009′s for another 10-15 years until the top 2010′s are ready to drink!

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Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. - 1511 W 38th Street, Chicago IL  60609 - Phone: 312.482.9996  Fax: 312.335.9096