O’Briens Wine Beer & Spirits
33 Spruce Avenue Stillorgan Industrial Park Co. Dublin Ireland Ireland
+353 1 2931040 online@obrienswine.ie Monday-Saturday 10:30am-10pm Sunday 12:30am-10pm

En Primeur

  • En Primeur 2012

    More than any other vintage in the last decade this is one in which you have to put your trust not in vintage reports and critics feedback but in individual Château. Those who picked in one of the few ideal ‘rain windows’ and those who went through meticulous selection at harvest time managed to produce quite beautiful wines, those who didn’t, didn’t. These are wines for the mid-term although certain Château have made very structured wines that look like they will have staying power.

    What will make this vintage hopefully very attractive is the wines should be relatively affordable. After the very expensive ’09s and ’10s and the ‘big drop’ in 2011 – that never really materialised –  Bordeaux have now realised that prices need to come down if they want to move any volume. Already some serious reductions have been seen, others have not been so wise.

    We are about to launch our offers and we are only offering wines we believe are genuinely very good for this vintage. Four days of heavy duty tasting in April has given us a very clear view of which wines are really worth getting behind.

    St. Estèphe for example was largely disappointing but I would happily stand over the following Châteaux: Ormes de Pez, Lafon Rochet and Phélan Ségur. Moving down the Médoc and there were some very good Pauillacs: Pontet Canet is sublime, Lynch-Bages & it’s baby brother Echo were excellent as were both the Pichons - avoid anything with Grand Puy in the name and Haut-Bages Liberal fell somewhat short of the mark.

    St. Julien was again very good, maybe not as homogenous as recent years but the blue bloods showed their class here: The Léovilles and Langoa were serious, accomplished wines that will age well; Gruaud Larose was ripe and plush where Talbot and St. Pierre were found lacking. Gloria - considering its price point - was one of the best wines in the appellation.

    Margaux which is normally a bit ‘all over the place’ was surprisingly consistent this year and there was a raft of exceptionally good wines for mid-term ageing. Château Margaux itself was a beauty but was  followed closely by Palmer and Rauzan SeglaKirwan, Brane Cantenac, Cantenac Brown,  d’Issan, Lascombes, du Tertre and Siran were all very successful.

    On the right bank Pomerol was one of the real successes, many great wines were made; La Conseillante, Clinet, Le Gay were all powerful, concentrated wines while La Pointe and Petit-Village had a lighter more floral nature but equally attractive.

    St. Émilion had some what can only be called challenging wines and here Château selection is most important. The wines I have the greatest faith in after tasting are: Pavie-Macquin, Troplong Mondot, Canon-la-Gaffelière and for sheer approachability and hopefully value La Tour Figeac.

     Other wines which showed particularly well at the tastings and are worth looking out for from mixed appellations were: Chasse-Spleen, Sociando Mallet, Cambon La Pelouse, Sénéjac, Bellegrave and Poujeaux.

    We release our offers on Monday but here is a sneak preview, if you spot anything you want to reserve then contact me directly on dstewart@obrienswines.ie.

  • Bordeaux is a lot more than just the ‘Big Names’

    Having spent the last four days tasting through nearly all of Bordeaux’s main wines from the 2012 vintage - and a lot more besides - I could easily be forgiven for being a little tired! It is a physically tiring tasting with so many extremely young, tannic red wines however, my enthusiasm for Bordeaux has not tired in the slightest. Indeed seeing what this region is capable of doing in a tricky year like 2012 has only increased Bordeaux in my estimations and I am sure this is the case for many others.

    From probably the 2005 vintage onwards there has been a marked improvement from top to bottom; better fruit ripeness, better balance and more purity in the wines from this vast region. However what has really impressed over the last few years is the quality of the more affordable wines.

    I will follow up on the 2012 with an En Primeur report but in the meantime there is plenty of enjoyment still to be had with recent vintages. A good place to start is the 2008 vintage of which there are still some wines available. A personal favourite is the smart, modern (but elegant) Château Gironville which at €17.99 (was €19.99) is very hard to beat. There is not too much of this left so I advise anyone interested in experiencing one of the region’s over-performers to be quick and grab a bottle before it is gone for good.

    Another rejuvenation to take note of is that of Château Fourcas Hosten (€24.95) the 2008 shows a marked change in form and style, richer, fuller and more complete than any earlier Fourcas. These improvement paid off with the 2008 earning the Château a four star Decanter rating and a ‘Buy of the Vintage’ Tag.

    2009 is lauded one of regions ‘best ever’ vintages and for once this is true. This was a perfect year, the weather couldn’t have been better and the wines have a generosity and voluptuousness that is hugely enjoyable. Top Bordeaux house CVBG Dourthe has had huge success over the years with their Château Pey La Tour Reserve €17.99 but the 2009 is THE vintage to buy. Merlot rich and barrel matured this has the nose and palate of  much more expensive wines from neighbouring communes – chiefly the St. Emilion group.

    For a taste of St. Emilion itself the 2009 Vieux Château des Combes (€19.99) is a gorgeous, floral Bordeaux with very pure blackberry fruit and an accent of good French oak. There is a silky texture to this wine that belies its price-point and makes this a highly pleasurable wine experience. Decant, leave for half an hour and match up with roast loin of pork or slow-braised lamb.

    So take confidence in Bordeaux’s recent vintages, there are lovely wines to be found from 2008, 2009 and 2010, meanwhile the 2011s that are just beginning to arrive and will reward cellaring for a couple more years.

    Just remember to follow these two important rules in order to enjoy Bordeaux at its best:  Bordeaux is designed for food and young Bordeaux likes to breathe – so decant.

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