Graves-based first growth Château Haut-Brion has used the largest percentage of Merlot in its history with the 2012 vintage.
“With 65.5% Merlot in the 2012 vintage, it is the highest proportion of Merlot we have on record as going into the grand vin,” Domaine Clarence Dillon’s public relations manger Turid Hoel Alcaras told the drinks business.
“We had outstanding Merlot this year as we harvested it all before the October rains, but the Cabernet was more problematic as we had trouble with rotten grapes, so we decided to lead with Merlot,” she added. Her report echoed comments from the Right Bank, where producers hailed 2012 as a “classic” Merlot year.
Alcaras believes that despite the dominance of Merlot, the 14.9% abv 2012 vintage will age just as well as Haut-Brion’s Cabernet-dominant vintages.
“The 2012 vintage is dense and concentrated with well structured tannins and good acidity, so everything is in place for it to age incredibly well,” she told db.
Le Dragon de Quintus
“We’re lucky at Haut-Brion because we have equal plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, so it gives us the scope to play with percentages and adapt to the weather conditions of the vintage,” she added.
Alcaras feels the high percentage of Merlot in the blend has led to a rounder wine this year, though believes the terroir still speaks louder than the individual grape varieties.
“Even if you change the blend, the terroir is stronger than the grapes and comes through more powerfully in the wines. The terroir is the signature rather than the Merlot or the Cabernet,” she said.
While Alcaras is happy with the quality of the 2012 vintage of the grand vin, ranking it above 2011, she admitted that the quality of second wine Le Clarence de Haut-Brion was not as good as last year.
Meanwhile, this year will see the first release – 2011 – of Domaine Clarence Dillon’s latest acquisition: 15-hectare St Emilion grand cru estate Quintus, come onto the market.
Quintus’ second wine, Le Dragon de Quintus, is likely to appeal to the Asian market due to the inclusion of a golden winged dragon on the label.
“It’s early days and we’ve only made a very small amount of the wine, so we’ve yet to see how well the Le Dragon goes down in Asia yet,” Alcaras said.
St Julien fourth growth Château Beychevelle, which features a winged griffin at the head of a Viking ship on its label, is incredibly popular in Asia, with consumers referring to it as “dragon boat wine.”