General consensus about the vintage seems to be that there is very little actual consensus. What has so far been agreed on is that Pomerol, where the early ripening Merlot allowed for harvest ahead of early October rain, has produced the highest quality and most consistent set of wines. Otherwise, the results of the vintage for each chateau seem to be a microcosm of the wider world in that, generally, “the haves” will have (good scores) and the “have nots” won’t. Terroir and human input are of utmost importance in a difficult vintage and those with the most resources find themselves in the best position facing this en primeur campaign.
This reality is summed up by Ch. Lafite technical director Charles Chevallier who reported that the chateau “had to manage every single block” as a result of the weather and that it took a reported 450 people to pick Châteaux Lafite and Duhart Milon in 9 days. “Such expense – for manpower and optical sorters – is what saved the vintage and explains why there is not a hint of green to be found in most wines.” This is echoed by another of the “haves,” Jean-Rene Matignan technical director at Pichon Baron, and put thus in his vintage report: “This will go down in Château lore as the vintage where we had to fight on all fronts.” The last important piece for these gentlemen and their colleagues, as they strive for success in the 2012 vintage, is pricing of the wines en primeur. “Appropriate pricing” will dictate the sales momentum and consumer interest that Bordeaux garners throughout the rest of the year.
Two further interesting sound bites:
-Sweet wines struggles mightily, Châteaux d’Yquem, Rieussec and Suduiraut have confirmed that they will not release grand vins in 2012.
-Malescot St. Exupery technical director Jean Zuger has admitted to the use of reverse osmosis on some tanks to concentrate the must; his admission can be taken as a hint that this is not an isolated practice.
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