Biodyvin 2012 En Primeurs Tasting

Tasted at Pontet Canet, Biodyvin tasting – Saturday 6 April 2013

Fascinating tasting, with 2012 en primeur samples from biodynamic properties around France (many of which are not usually tasted at this stage of production, and some of whom were clearly unused to preparing samples of unfinished wines).

Loire - yields up to 50% down in many cases in this vintage

Manoit Tete Rouge, Bagatelle, Saumur 2012

Bottle problem perhaps, very tight, reductive nose totally masking the fruit. Not fair to score this.

Sant Nicolas Le Poire , Thierry Michin 2012
Some pyrazine notes, but fresh cherry fruits, some crab apple, good freshness, gentle taninns, this is a pleasant wine, but have some geosmin and some pyrazine – definite markers of a difficult harvest and underripe grapes, although there is some fresh fruit also, and some early-drinking pleasure. 85 / 14. Recommended (under caution). Drink 2015-2020.

Thierry Germain, Domaines des Roches Neuves, Le Marginale, Saumur Champigny 2012
One of the most exciting Loire producers has here come up with a rich nose and good sense of fruit. There is again a touch of pyrazine; the cabernet franc probably had a tough year, but I like this, has heart and a pleasant sense of juicy fruit. Good persistency also, and really typical Loire cabernet franc markers. This wine is produced under tiny yields in the best years (often down to 15hl/h. Will spend 18 months in new oak. 89-90 / 16.75 / 17. Recommended to Highly recommended. Drink 2-16-2028.

Domaine Philippe Gilbert, AOC Menetou Salon 2012
Vines grown on limestone terroir, this has some barnyard brett on the nose, certainly has a rustic charm. Slight co2 prickle on the palate as well though, so we have too much going on here to make a fair assessment. As an aside, Domaine Philippe Gilbert uses a local coopers also located in Menetou Salon (Freres Gauthier). Would like to retaste.

Domane Vacheron Sancerre, Belle Dame 2012
Like the nose in this, some weight to the pinot noir fruit, lovely floral nose. Sweetness to the fruit, and excellent acidity, this is saveureux and gets your mouth watering. Tannins are firm but not intrusive, could be drunk young but imagine will hold up. My favourite so far. 40 hectares in Sancerre. From 1.6ha of pinot noir grapes. 92 / 17.75. Highly recommended. Drink 2016-2027.

Valentin Zusslin Bollenberg Harmonie 2012

Pinot noir, made without sulphur and without filtering. The nose is reserved, but the fruit is sweet. Good intensity, light touch on the finish, co2 prickle. Good, but not the weight and intensity of the Vacheron pinot. 86 / 16. Drink 2015-2023.

MonTirius Le Clos, Vacqueyras 2012

Touch phenolé/brett on the nose here, 58 ha, biodynamic since 1996, winery built into magnetic lines of the earth. Some coffee, but the leftover beans that you throw out of the caffetiere, with touch of bitterness. For me don't think this is knitting together at this stage, although has power and character, and there is definite potential. The blend is 50% Grenache and 50% syrah, aged without oak in cement vats. 87 / 16.25. Recommended. Drink 2016-2016.

Domaine le Sang des Cailloux, Vacqueyras Cuvee Azalais 2012
Again touch of terreux-moisi, farmyard, but here it is within the almost sought-after Rhone range, gives an authenticity and rustic, garrigue appeal. Vines grown on limestone plateau, biodynamic since 2008. Like the tense freshness in this wine, excellent persistency, a really enjoyable and successful wine. 90 / 17. Highly recommended (and named after his daughter Azalais).



Domaine Cazes, Ego Cotes de Rousillon Villages 2012
Sweet fruit, but there is clear terreux moisi edge, were some grapes here affected by rot? No brett, and good juicy plum fruit, but have this slight tang of moisi-terreux that is masking my enjoyment of this wine. 85 / 14. Recommended (under caution). Drink 2015-2020.

Le Pavillon Ermitage, Michel Chapoutier AOC Ermitage 2012
Love this nose, perfect example of how brett that flirts with the aroma wheel but could never be actually called out on it gives such character to Rhone wines. Plush, juicy dark fruits, some caramel, licquorice notes, imagine some new oak, get lovely cloves, even gaiacol-dentist, but all so controlled, great tannins, this is one of best wines here, such precision. An excellent frame, density of fruit, good complexity. Successful. 94 / 18.25 / Highly recommended. Drink 2017-2032.

David Raynaud les Croix, AOC Crozes Hermitage 2012
Interesting fairly generous nose, get a touch of heat however. And a touch of reduction, giving slight burnt effect. Smooth texture, espresso and blackberry coulis, some vanilla oak, good but a little short. 88 / 16.5 Recommended. Drink 2017-2027.

Pontet Canet AOC Pauillac 2012

Deep dense and intense colour, we have moved to cabernet sauvignon country here. These are my notes from the Bordeaux 2012 report:
65% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot, 1% petit verdot and 4% cabernet franc, same as last few years, 'the vines are just doing what they do,' says Melanie Tesseron, 'we haven't found a need to change the percentages. This is also about the same percentage as in the vineyard itself'. Biodynamics brings out the ripeness, they believe, and this does have a vibrancy and purity that you would be so happy to drink. Doesn't feel huge, imagine not high alcohol (they say they haven't done the analysis yet apparently, which sounds hardly believable as surely they are tracking alcohol levels during vinification?).
Certified again 100% biodynamic and organic, harvesting began on October 4th, with third sorting table to ensure they could go quickly once the grapes were picked. They don't use any anti rot treatment apparently. This does not have the power of recent vintages of Pontet Canet, not the richness of the 2009 and 2010, but compensated by other things, such as elegance and plump fruit. It's a success, and remains one of the most enjoyable northern Médocs. 93 / 18. Highly recommended. Drink 2018-2034.

Chateau Fonroque AOC Saint Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé 2012
Sweet bright fruit on the nose, mid-palate dips a little, but the fruit comes back strongly, with a lovely texture. The fruit spectrum is fresh to ripe, with redcurrant and raspberries. This is charming and mouth watering, lovely texture that holds thing well without any sense of intruding. Alain Moueix has said that since turning to biodynamic farming, he has been able to bring the date of the harvesting forward because the fruit ripens more fully more easily (one of the reasons he suggests is that some vineyard treatments actively slow down ripening). This is a very attractive wine, but I wouldn’t imagine you will have to wait for a long time before cracking it open – perhaps six years, and then it should last another decade. 91 / 17.5. Highly recommended. Drink 2018-2029.

Clos Puy Arnaud, Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux 2012
Thierry Valette often makes wines that I find myself gravitating towards, and here again he manages the sweet fruit trick in a tough year. I find the fruit extraction gets a little jammy in the mid-palate, or it may be that the heat becomes a little more evident in the mid-palate, which dampens the fruit, but there is a lovely floating quality to the finish, and again the tannins are soft, well integrated and you are left with a lilting expression of freshness. 89-91 / 16.75-17.25. Recommended to Highly Recommended. Drink 2017-2027.

Domaine Saint Nicolas Les Clous, Thierry Michon AOC Fiefs Vendeens

Good strong characterful nose. A mix of chenin blanc and chardonnay (and some vintages Michon adds a touch of groslot gris, but I am not sure about this in 2012). Plenty of sucrosité sans sucre, great roundness but with minerality also, like this a lot. This is not a well-known appellation, but a great discovery. 89 / 14.75. Recommended. Drink 2013-2018.

Amphibolite Nature AOC Muscadet Sevre et Maine 2012
Fresh, light, gentle, nice prickle, slightly sour crab apple taste, this is a very attractive simple wine. Vinified with a very short time on its lees, lively and fresh.  84 / 15.25. Recommended. Drink 2013-2015.

Domaine des Huards AOC Cour-Cheverny 2012
Michel Gendrier is the winemaker here ,using romarantin grape, very unusual variety, never tasted before as far as I know. I am getting nettle leaf, quite unusual tastes, think I would need to be talked through this by the winemaker to understand what I’m tasting, but can say it's super interesting. Touch sour on the finish. Would only like to score when I understand the typicity of the variety better. It is said to have excellent ageing capacity, around 15 years.

Domaine Vacheron AOC Sancerre 2012
As with the red from this estate, I absolutely love this wine. Sancerre lies right opposite Pouilly-Fumé, on the other side of the river Loire. Right from the first nose, you get the wonderful gooseberry expression of sauvignon blanc with singing minerality. Reductive in the best possible way. Mouthwateringly dry, zingy, lovely persistency. Tiny bit sharp perhaps, but I love this wine, would like to have a case. 91 / 17.5. Highly recommended.

Albert Mann GC Schlossberg Riesling 2012
I’ve been tasting this producer a few times this year at the faculty of oenology in Bordeaux, so he’s obviously a favourite with Bordeaux oenologists! And with reason. This has an attractive wine, not too petrolly but still clear expression of riesling, and the petrol comes through on the retro-nasal. Good frrehness, some clear varietal markers and good persistency and structure. Can see this developing beautifully. 90 / 17. Highly recommended. Drink 2015-2025.

Josmeyer Alsace Grand Cru Hengst
Cloudy, with some highly reductive notes on the nose. A few of these are showing unstable samples, I assume still on lees – I know the wines from this producer well, but feel unable to fairly comment on this.

Alsace Valentin Zusslin, Clos Liebenberg 2012
Again reduction on the nose, imagine again still on the lees, but this has good clean flavours, clear potential. Lots of personality and zing to this wine, citrus notes clear, good persistency, will need time to open 89 / 14.75. Recommended. Drink 2013-2018.

Le sec de Juchepie Le Clos Oosterlinck Bracke
No soutirage or sulfites. Dark in colour, surprising, okay totally oxidised, clearly the sample simply wasn’t able to travel without effective temperature control etc. No point tasting, but I am keeping in the review, even though it tells you nothing about the wine, because it is interesting I think to note that sulphur does have its uses!

Chapoutier de l'Oree Ermitage 2012
Some reduction on the nose, wonderfully rich sucrosité sans scucre, incredibly complex, crazily so, perhaps acidity could be turned up just a notch. But almond toast, honey, lemon zest, delicious. This one can run and run. 95 / 18.5. Outstanding. Drink 2017-2032.

Domaine Zind Humbrecht Clos Windabuhl 2012
The nose!!! Honeysuckle and frangipane wafting into the room, this is sweet without being in any way cloying, residual sugar can’t be high, more off-dry than sweet, acidity is in perfect balance, overall this is gorgeous.  What a brilliant pair of wines to finish off this tasting. 95 / 18.5. Outstanding. Drink 2017-2032.