Burgundy 2012 EP
Peter and I were in London for most of the first half of January (plus I headed out to Burgundy in November) to taste our way through hundreds of samples of the tiny quantities of wine that make up the current Burgundy 2012 en primeur offering.
Although we have plenty of information to share with you, before we begin our personal insights and recommendations on this much-lauded vintage let’s set the scene by taking a quick look at what the buyers and agents have to say.
In the vineyard…
This was an extremely challenging year that came good in the end. Essentially, it started well with mild weather in March but then turned cool and wet, with winemakers having to contend with frost, disease and hail as the growing season progressed. Fortunately things improved significantly from mid summer onwards and so, in spite of variable weather during the vintage, a small but ripe and concentrated crop of grapes was harvested.
The received opinion is that this is a particularly good vintage for the reds, with Jason Haynes of Flint Wines stating, ‘2012 is possibly one of the easiest vintages to like that we have ever tasted en primeur’. Jasper Morris MW of Berry Brothers and Rudd described the reds as, ‘glorious and glamorous’. Intense but fresh wines with structure, beautifully ripe fruit and the ability to age would seem to sum up the general feeling towards the reds. For the whites the word ‘concentration’ crops up again and again. Picking relatively early to retain freshness and vibrancy in the whites was considered key to achieving balance and finesse in this tricky vintage. There were also some issues with rot in the less successful wines.
2012 is the third small vintage in a row and there is a lack of wine, especially from the Côte de Beaune. Although this naturally impacts prices, agents and buyers seem confident that the increases are not as bad as we might have expected, despite another small harvest in 2013.
Right from the start, we set out to focus on the less expensive wines that offer real value in this small vintage. The wines that offer real pleasure at a decent price. At a time when investors and drinkers are looking to diversify away from over-priced Bordeaux, it is depressing to see Burgundy suffer from a string of short vintages that is bound to result in inflated prices.
However, we firmly believe there is still great value to be found in Burgundy and we have purposefully recommended wines from 2012 that offer it. Often these come from the less well-known communes such as Saint Aubin, Rully, Santenay and Savigny Les Beaune.
Our general feeling is that the vintage as a whole is very mixed. Where the wines are good they are utterly heavenly, especially the reds but also some of the whites. These wines offer Burgundy lovers a compelling package, being plush and drinkable now, yet with the structure and freshness to age.
At the less successful end of the spectrum, we found many of the white wines lacked grip and, although fleshy, fruity and very pleasant to drink, they didn’t offer the spine-tingling, steely thrill we expect from great white Burgundy with the potential to age. Where the wines do offer this, they are a superb marriage of focus, vibrancy and multi-layered concentration.
The reds are, at times, too austere and tannic, at others lacking mid-palate depth. But when they are good – and a great many of them are – they are often sensational: fragrant and highly seductive, structured and with captivating intensity and length.
More than ever this year, we feel it is essential to choose wines from individual producers who have managed the vintage successfully. Deciding on the perfect time to harvest the grapes was particularly important in 2012 and those producers who were clever enough to do so have made stunning wine.
So our message is: don’t just go with the crowd in 2012. You must either taste the specific wine yourself that you are considering buying or take a recommendation from a critic in whom you have complete faith.
With all of this in mind, we have begun by listing our top producers of 2012. We have also chosen a list of the wines that we feel offer particularly good value for money in this small, relatively expensive vintage. And finally, we couldn’t resist a short list of our top-scoring wines from the tastings*. We’re all allowed to dream, aren’t we…
*Several of the more desirable producers’ wines weren’t shown this year as quantities were so small and the wine was already allocated.
Standout Producers in 2012
NB: these producers may also be represented in the UK by agents other than those stated
- Domaine Chevalier (Liberty Wines)
- Drouhin-Laroze (Goedhuis, Haynes Hanson & Clark)
- Arnaud Ente (Berry Bros & Rudd)
- Domaine Fourrier (Goedhuis)
- Jean-Noël Gagnard (Justerini & Brooks, Berry Bros & Rudd)
- Jean Grivot (Goedhuis)
- Hudelot-Noëllat (Flint Wines, Goedhuis)
- Pierre Labet (Corney & Barrow)
- François Lamarche (Justerini &Brooks)
- Domaine des Lambrays (Goedhuis, Berry Bros & Rudd, Flint Wines, Haynes Hanson & Clark)
- David Moret (Liberty Wines)
- Georges Noëllat (Flint Wines)
- Fernand & Laurent Pillot (Lea & Sandeman)
- Denis Pommier (Lea & Sandeman)
- Joël Rémy (Lea & Sandeman)
- Michéle & Patrice Rion (Berry Bros & Rudd)
- Etienne Sauzet (J&B, Goedhuis, Haynes Hanson & Clark)
- Taupenot-Merme (Flint Wines)
Best Value Wines – listed in order of price
Note: prices quoted are for a 12 bottle case in bond unless otherwise stated
- Denis Pommier Petit Chablis 2102 (6.5/10, PR, Jan 2014) £75 Lea & Sandeman
- Daniel Barraud Saint Véran En Crèches 2012 (6.75/10, PR, Jan 2014) £111 Lea & Sandeman
- Meo-Camuzet Clos St. Philibert Hautes Côtes du Nuits Blanc 2012 (7/10, PR, Jan 2014) £115 Goedhuis
- Olivier Merlin Mâcon-La Roche Vinuse, Vieilles Vignes 2012 (6.75/10, SB, Jan 2014) £120 Berry Bros & Rudd
- Bernard Defaix Chablis 1er Cru Côte-de-Lechet 2012(6.75/10, SB, Jan 2014) £125 Flint Wines
- Jean-Baptiste Ponsot Rully 1er Cru Molesme 2012 (7.25/10, SB, Jan 2014) £145 Flint Wines
- Denis Pommier, Chablis 1er Cru Beauroy 2012 (6.75/10, PR, Jan 2014) £132 Lea & Sandeman, £150 Goedhuis
- Bernard Defaix Chablis Grand Cru Bougros 2012 (7.25/10, SB, Jan 2014) £168 Flint Wines
- Claudie Jobard Rully 1er Cru Les Clous 2012 (7.5/10, SB, Jan 2014) £168 Haynes Hanson & Clark
- Fernand & Laurent Pillot Saint Aubin 1er Cru Sentier du Clou 2012 (7.5/10, PR, Jan 2014) £174 Lea & Sandeman
- Pierre Labet Bourgogne Chardonnay Vieilles Vignes 2012 (7.5/10, SB, Jan 2014) £175 Corney & Barrow
- Les Héritiers de Comtes Lafon Viré-Clessé 2012 (7.25/10, SB, Jan 2014) £180 Justerini & Brooks
- Billaud Simon, Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre 2012 (7/10, PR, Jan 2014) £185 Goedhuis
- Guiton Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2012 (7/10, SB, Jan 2014) £105 Flint Wines
- Fernand & Laurent Pillot Santenay Prarons Dessus 2012 (7.5/10, PR, Jan 2014) £123 Lea & Sandeman
- Hudelot-Noëllat Bourgogne Rouge 2012 (6.75/10, PR; 7/10 SB, Jan 2014) £125 Flint Wines, Goedhuis
- Joël Rémy Savigny Les Beaune Fourneaux 2012 (7/10, PR, Jan 2014) £129 Lea & Sandeman
- François Raquillet Mercurey Vieilles Vignes 2012 (6.25/10, PR, Jan 2014) £135 Lea & Sandeman
- Domaine de la Douaix Savigny Les Beaune Dessus les Vermots 2012 (7.5/10, PR, Jan 2014) £171 Lea & Sandeman
- Tollot-Beaut Savigny Les Beaune, Pièce du Chapitre-Monopole 2012 (6.5/10, PR, Jan 2014) £90 for 6 Justerini & Brooks
- Fernand & Laurent Pillot Pommard Tavannes 2012 (7.75/10, PR, Jan 2014) £183 Lea & Sandeman
- Marc-Antonin Blain Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge 2012 (7.75/10, SB, jan 2014) £185 Haynes Hanson & Clark
- Ghislaine Barthod Bourgogne Rouge 2012 (6.5/10, PR, Jan 2014) £185 Goedhuis
- Marc Colin Santenay Vieilles Vignes Champs Claude 2012 (6.75/10, SB, Jan 2014) £185 Goedhuis
- Charles Audoin Marsannay Les Longeroies 2012 (6.5/10, PR, Jan 2014) £195 Goedhuis
- Domaine de la Douaix Côte de Nuits Villages Vieilles Vignes 2012 (7.5/10, PR, Jan 2014) £198 Lea & Sandeman
A choice selection of outstanding wines from the 2012 vintage
NB: wines listed in descending order of preference
- Etienne Sauzet Puligny-Montrachet Les Perrières, 1er Cru 2012 (8.75/10, SB, Jan 2014) £685 Justerini &Brooks
- Henri Boillot Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2012 (8.5/10, PR, Jan 2014) £1,122 Lea & Sandeman
- Arnaud Ente Meursault, Clos des Ambres 2012 (8.5/10, SB, Jan 2014) POA Berry Bros & Rudd
- Jean-Noël Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet, Petits Clos 1er Cru 2012 (8.25/10, SB, Jan 2014) £276 per 6 BBR, £515 Justerini & Brooks
- Arnaud Ente Meursault 2012 (8/10, SB, Jan 2014) £TBC Berry Bros & Rudd
- Etienne Sauzet Puligny-Montrachet 2012 (7.5/10, PR; 8.5/10 SB, Jan 2014) £350 Haynes Hanson & Clark, £380 Goedhuis, Justerini &Brooks
- Fernand & Laurent Pillot Puligny Montrachet Noyers Brets 2012 (8/10, PR, Jan 2014). £237 Lea & Sandeman
- François Lamarche La Grande Rue, Monopole, Grand Cru 2012 (8.5/10, SB, Jan 2014) POA Justerini &Brooks
- François Lamarche Grands-Echézeaux Grand Cru 2012 (8.5/10, SB, Jan 2014) £840 per 6 Berry Bros & Rudd [SOLD OUT]
- Hudelot-Noëllat Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots 2012 (8.5/10, PR; 8.5/10, SB, Jan 2014) £355 per 6 Goedhuis, £360 per 6 Flint Wines
- Jean Grivot Echézeaux Grand Cru 2012 (8.5/10, SB, Jan 2014) £585 per 3, Goedhuis
- Hudelot-Noëllat Romanée St Vivant Grand Cru 2012 (8.25/10, PR; 8.75/10, SB, Jan 2014) £650 per 3 Goedhuis
- Hudelot-Noëllat Richebourg Grand Cru 2012 (8.25/10, PR; 8.5/10, SB. Jan 2014) £700 per 3 Goedhuis
- François Lamarche Echézeaux Grand Cru 2012 (8.25/10, SB, Jan 2014) £495 per 6 Justerini & Brooks
- Faiveley Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes 2012 (8/10, SB, Jan 2014) £333 per 6, Haynes Hanson & Clarke
- Ghislaine Barthod Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Beaux Bruns 2012 (7.75/10, PR, Jan 2014) £360 per 6 Goedhuis
- Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru 2012 (8.5/10, PR; 8.75/10, SB, Jan 2014) £625 per 6 Flint Wines, £645 per 6 Haynes Hanson & Clark, £660 per 6 Berry Bros & Rudd [SOLD OUT]
- Georges Noëllat Vosne-Romanée 2012 (8/10, SB, Jan 2014) £225 per 6, Flint Wines
- Georges Noëllat Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Petits Monts 2012 (8/10, SB, Jan 2014) £375 per 6, Flint Wines
- Michéle & Patrice Rion Nuits-St Georges Clos des Argillières 1er Cru 2012 (8/10, SB, Jan 2014) £240 per 6 BBR
- Taupenot-Merme Gevrey-Chambertin 2012 (8/10, SB, Jan 2014) £165 per 6, Flint Wines
- Taupenot-Merme Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2012 (8.25/10, SB, Jan 2014) £525 per 6, Flint Wines
NOTE: we have stated SOLD OUT only for the wines that were described as such in the tasting booklets on the day of the tasting. It is likely that many more of these wines have since also sold out.