The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux had its annual tasting in New York a week or so ago, amid a raging snowstorm. Whatever you might think about Bordeaux, the 2012 vintage or France itself, there’s no question that it’s nice to be inside a vast hall surrounded by an endless supply of red wine when it’s cold and blizzardy outside.
But, about that 2012 vintage. I canvassed a number of wine producers, wine buyers, wine pundits and sommeliers while I was there, and the word that came up most often was “approachable.” That’s true. But it’s also true that in 2012, on the whole Merlot (which is harvested earlier) did better than Cabernet; of the 60-odd wines I managed to get through before heading back out into the snow, the best were preponderantly from the right bank (Pomerol and St-Émilion) and Pessac-Léognan. Cabernet-driven wines from the Médoc were more hit or miss: Many were astringent, hard and underwhelming; a smaller number managed to balance that toughness with enough generosity to have significant appeal.
Below are my seven favorite reds from the tasting, but keep in mind that this is just a snapshot. There are plenty of significant Bordeaux châteaux whose wines I either missed or that weren’t at the tasting. As a side note, the white wines from Pessac-Léognan that I tasted were uniformly terrific; it looks to be a great year for Bordeaux whites.