Bouchard Père et Fils – 2012s


DSC02883The following wines were tasted with Philippe Prost in Beaune, 09 Jan, 2014.

“A great vintage is one with excellent wine at all levels; 2012 is like that.” Philippe Prost.

Prost on 2013:“We have 42 hectares in Beaune, we saw between 20% and 80% destruction. Our estate wines have lost one whole year’s production in the last 5.”

2012s: Practically all the villages wines were bottled, the 1er crus would be done over the next two weeks. The grand crus to follow-on. The whites were all bottled. The last two cuvées to be done were the Corton-Charlemagne and the Montrachet, just before Christmas.

Prost on whites:“Due to the flowering conditions in 2012 the berries were so small – it was scary. We had no latitude on picking; too early and they would have been a little green, too late and it would have been a more chardonnay ‘varietal expression’. We destemmed one-third of the chardonnay fruit before pressing, as we felt that the stems had some metallic taste in this vintage. Happily we have a cool-fruit expression and no varietal expression. The alcoholic fermentations were rather slow and there wasn’t much malic acid, so the difference post-malo was minor.”

Prost on reds: “It was a cool vintage, so we had one week between picking the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits fruit, unlike the whites we had plenty of latitude on when to pick. On average we retained around 25% whole-clusters, but only 2 punchdowns per day was our limit, otherwise we would note something a little vegetal. Actually, the acidity is often not much more than 2000 or 1992, but there’s a minerality which brings crispness. We really had to respect the balance in this vintage, do too much and you would break something, so we also used a little less new oak.”

Following up on the oak, BP&F ordered their barrels before the 2012 hail, so still had too many despite noting the potential size of harvest and ordering only 420 new barrels – versus their normal purchase of ~700! Actually they ‘lose’ new oak relatively easily here, by using it on large-volume ‘Bourgogne Chardonnay’ and using the one-year-old barrels for their more important wines the next year.

Prost on prices: “Because we are very well spread, we have some potential to balance things. We definitely don’t want to seem opportunistic because we need to retain the goodwill of our customers. We don’t want to make big increases on our domaine wines, though certainly some of our growers have demanded +50% for grapes and we have had to pay – this is our biggest pressure on pricing today. Many of our volume estate wines will not grow more than 15%, though some ‘allocated wines, Bonnes-Mares for instance (only 2 barrels, should be closer to 4!) will probably be higher.”

Prost on corks: BP&F are now using DIAM for the reds, except for the grand crus and the l’Enfant Jesus and Cuvée Carnot. For whites, DIAM are being used for the whole range – grand crus included – many receiving the 54mm long DIAM 10 which requires its own specific bottle “filled to 63mm from the top”! Prost notes that “These DIAMs are laser written so as to avoid using ink.”

Prost on the evolution of white wine making at BP&F: The chardonnay is now only pressed in ‘open’ cages and there is no use of SO2 in the first 24 hours when the juice slowly sediments. “It’s quite an oxidative process” notes Prost; “When racked after 24 hours the wine is the colour of tea. Taken together with bottling in an inert atmosphere and using only DIAM closures, we have a much higher level of confidence today. Our basic rule is that we can use SO2 after pressing and racking, but not 5g per barrel, maybe more like 1.5 grams. Maybe 2.5 grams will be added later, but only after malo – nothing in-between. To avoid losing CO2 we do no battonage, but we are ‘allowed’ to roll the barrels.”

The reds:

2012 Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Reserve
there are 300k bottles of Bourgogne Pinot Noir, and 120k of this reserve version.
Very good colour. This has a dark, ripe nose with some dried fruits too. Crisp, very good dimension of fruit flavour across the palate. I find the density very good for such a label and there’s plenty of dry extract in the finish. Hard to go wrong, you could even cellar it!

2012 (Domaine) Monthèlie
Already in bottle for 2 months, this is a blend of villages and 1er cru (Les Duresses).
The nose is very agreeable; dark-red, fresh fruit. There’s clearly more depth and detail versus the last wine, nicer texture too. Again, good dry extract in the finish. As good as the previous BPNR is, this is quite a step-up and has lovely complexity. Yum!

2012 Beaune 1er du Château
90k bottles in the short 2012 vintage, but for comparison, there will only be 38k in 2013.
Also very good colour. Wide, with good aromatic depth too – more individual red fruits than the Monthèlie, and hinting at a floral dimension too. There is a similar texture here to the Monthèlie; less depth, but more width and complexity. A little more intensity too. Lovely!

2012 Beaune 1er Grèves l’Enfant Jesus
The nose is deeper, clearly finer and even hints at a Vosne-style spice. Silky, padded with fine-grained tannin and showing an intensity that keeps growing after you swallow. There’s a clear extra-dimension of flavour in the mid-palate and finish – super length. I certainly wouldn’t say this every year, but in 2012 this is Grand Cru standard!

2012 Volnay 1er Les Caillerets, Ancienne Cuvée Carnot
Due to hail, this is one of the most affected cuvées, but at least here there is wine, there are no bottlings of Monthèlie Champs Fulliots, or Volnays Taillepieds and Clos des Chênes.
Very good colour. A nose of deep fruit, almost textured and certainly floral – this is very pretty. Lovely, silky texture before a velvety tannin envelops you. Cool but ripe fruit that has fine width. The finish lingers well. This wine just misses the extra dimension of flavour offered by the Baby Jesus.

2012 Le Corton
There is some whole-cluster here, but I had to ask, it wasn’t apparent.
The colour is a little paler than the last wines. Aromatically rather high-toned fruit and flowers – good width, limited depth. In the mouth this is round and full, rather silky too. The acidity and intensity grow in-tandem. There’s a little red fruit too in a good length finish. This cuvée is always well-priced for a grand cru, and it really delivers in 2012.

2012 Gevrey-Chambertin
60k bottles of this cuvée, from 10.5 hecatares, but all worked as if estate vines – so happy with the grape quality in 2012 that 70% of its produce was not destemmed. All bottled before Christmas.
Good, medium-plus colour. Concentrated, fresh, dark-red fruit aroma. There’s a lovely depth and sweetness to the fruit flavour with discrete but ever-present structure. I really like the growing intensity of flavour here. Very, very above-average villages.

2012 Chambolle-Musigny Les Noirots
Good colour. The nose is higher toned after the Gevrey, but certainly more mineral than floral. In the mouth too, this has a more mineral character and has quite some delicacy – yet persistence and presence. I find this rather lovely, but it’s certainly not a clichéd Chambolle. Only the last drops in glass offer a more floral note.

2012 Nuits St.Georges 1er Les Cailles
This had a very long malo, so like the Bonnes-Mares and Bèze, this is one of the rare wines still in barrel.
Deep colour. The nose has high tones, spice and minerality – nice. Lovely texture that’s padded with velvet. Plenty of structure, but it’s not oppressive and you soon lose yourself in a width of flavour that has added floral aspects to it. I lingering creamy note in the finish. Yum!

2012 Bonnes-Mares
The nose is modest, though finely spiced and detailed, maybe a hint of vanilla too. The sweet fruit really fills the mouth – actually rather dominates the mouth. Yet, it is underpinned with fine acidity and currently rather modest, fine-grained tannin. Long finishing with stony impression. A rather contemplative rather than assertive Bonnes-Mares.

2012 Chambertin Clos de Bèze
Though we all know who he is referring to, Philippe says not to mention the name, but refers to the owner of this plot as ‘a great vigneron’.
The colour is slightly paler than the Bonnes-Mares. The nose is somehow silky, dense, yet slowly evolving too with a final floral note. I sense a hint of CO2 but this clearly has multidimensional flavour. Very, very long finishing on a sweet fruit note. Textbook Bèze!

The whites:

2012 Bourgogne Chardonnay Reserve
This contains a little of the product of Rully and Hautes Côtes, but is mainly from around the villages of Meursault and Puligny, 100% hand-picked and vinified by BP&F
Really bright aromatics with some pear and pineapple (7% new oak). This is quite full in the mouth with good sweetness and plenty of acidity. Nice enough Bourgogne.

2012 Pouilly-Fuissé
From Solutre.
High-tones on the nose that also seems faintly salty. More dimension and intensity – straighter and less round in shape. I’d much rather drink this wine. Nice stony finish and good length too. A super drink.

2012 Meursault Les Clous
An important cuvée for BP&F; 8 hectares, with 2 on the flat and 6 on the hill.
A shy nose of faint ginger-cake, but clear Meursault character. Round and friendly with slowly growing intensity and mouth-watering acidity. It may start rather full, but it finishes beautifully!

2012 Beaune 1er Clos St.Landry
One of BP&F’s first vineyard purchases in 1791, indeed their first purchase of white (though could have been pinot blanc in those days), and it’s a monopole, but was labelled for the first time only in 1985. This wine was 50% fermented in stainless steel, and the other 50% saw 12% new oak.
The nose has a clean, almost soapy aspect – very like many 2010s – slowly augmented by creamy notes. Full and sweet but there’s a lovely acidity for balance. I really enjoy the expression here; it’s certainly not Meursault or Puligny, but it’s damn tasty.

2012 Meursault 1er Les Genevrières
Amazingly, this wine has less than 4g/L of acidity. You would never know!
High tones wrap around a ripe core of fruit – very fine aromatic balance here. Silky and sweet with an almost explosive flavour that seems to be powered by atomic acidity – Wow Superman! Then there’s the stony, long, almost electric finish. Despite a little peripheral creaminess, this is currently a wine of pure excitement. Love!

2012 Meursault Perrières
The nose is wide, interesting, high-toned and somehow rocky (auto-suggestion?). But it’s not too ‘shouty’, rather very inviting. Lovely in the mouth. This wine is about a gradual insinuation of flavour – both mineral and with a citrus dimension too. Fine length. Gorgeous. “The little brother of Chevalier” notes Philippe. Now I really don’t know which I’d rather drink, this or the Genevrières!

2012 Chevalier-Montrachet
The aromas have width, but are not ‘super-deep’ – this is a modest, almost textured aromatic. Fresher and more precise and intense after the Perrières. The flavour wells-up from a mineral core. I am smitten. This wine is amazingly dynamic!

2012 Montrachet
Here there is more aromatic impact – ripe fruit that’s cut with mineral notes – fine balance. The palate impression is of a fuller, more comfortable version of the Chevalier – certainly there is more flavour intensity, concentration and impact. Actually this wine has more of everything versus the Chevalier – except, today, dynamism. Still, fabulous.

2012 Corton-Charlemagne
From the top of the hill, so normally needs late picking – up to 10 days later than the their Montrachet.
The aromas are higher-toned, wider and fresh than the last wine, though with less depth. Primarily, this wine is about minerality and silky concentration. Very good acidity with a hint of salinity. Super Charlemagne.

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