John Gilman – 93+
The Clos de la Roche chez Rousseau has also put on some muscle in the last decade or so and the 2012 version is another excellent wine in the making. The bouquet is pure and youthful, wafting from the glass in a mix of plums, cherries, a touch of beetroot, pigeon, coffee, dark soil tones, mustard seed and cedar. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and nicely concentrated at the core, with fine soil undertow, ripe, buried tannins and a long, nascently complex and very classy finish. Fine juice in the making.
Anticipated maturity: 2027-2065
Burghound – 91-94
A broad-ranging nose features aromas of humus, violet, plum, dark raspberry and again plenty of earth influence. This is also tautly muscular with plenty of size, weight and power yet the mouth feel is, at least at present, still relatively tender and caressing, all wrapped in a palate coating, long and balanced finish. There is excellent phenolic maturity to the supporting structural elements and this should amply repay 12 to 15 years of cellaring. (Drink starting 2024)
Vinous – 92-94
(10% new oak; from very ripe fruit picked early, according to Rousseau): Bright, dark red. Complex, primary nose melds sappy cherry, spices and rose petal. Tangy, sweet and fine-grained in the mouth, offering an exhilarating combination of urgent crushed fruits, flowers and loamy earth tones. Finishes with lovely stony length and reserve. Really shimmers on the aftertaste.
Robert Parker – 93
For the first time a little new oak (10%) has been used on the 2012 Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, where part of the vineyard was replanted five years ago. The fruit here is a little blacker than the Mazis-Chambertin tasted prior, that new oak â€œpluggingâ€ the gaps that might have been there without the new wood. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins on the entry. There is a citric core of fruit here, touches of marmalade infusing the black and red fruit on the linear, mineral finish. This should age very well ” a Clos de la Roche with substance and presence. The trajectory of Armand Rousseau has been phenomenal in recent years. In particular, after the beatified 2005 vintages, the most revered Gevrey-Chambertin producer suddenly found itself amongst the Holy Grail, one whose wines are sought and fought over from London to New York to Hong Kong and everywhere in between. As I have written before, Rousseau is one of my benchmark producers as no doubt it is for many. Rousseau has been the source of some of the greatest wines I have ever consumed: just peruse my write-up of a Ruchottes-Chambertin vertical in December’s issue as evidence. At the same time, part of my appreciation for Rousseau is that they do not try to cover up their wines that can occasionally wear their frailties on their sleeves. This imbues Rousseau’s wines with a sense of honesty and clarity, a reflection of a vineyard buffeted and enhanced by the vagaries of a capricious growing season from one year to the next. If you are lucky enough to participate in a vertical of Rousseau’s wines, then you experience the peaks and troughs, but never a bottle that tries to be something it was not born to be. I had already heard whispers of how good Rousseau’s 2012s were before my arrival and sure enough, tasting through their enviable portfolio, there are a clutch of quite brilliant wines destined to be fought over when allocations are released. And at the same time, I would argue that it is not as consistent as say 2005 or 2010, but would agree with winemaker Frederic Robert that they constitute a step up from the 2011s that I tasted six months earlier. â€œIt was a quite difficult flowering because of the rain and cold,â€ Frederic told me. â€œEven July was cold and rainy. Then we had 6 or 7 weeks of sun from August. We started to pick on 20 September. We lost about 20% of the harvest mainly because of flowering and sorting, but we had to do less sorting than 2013. We de-stemmed around 90% of the crop and did a little chaptalization, but only by a very small amount. The old vines produced small grapes. We will bottle in July and so we will rack them one more time in March.â€ When I asked whether the 2012s reminded him of any other vintage, Frederic replied that perhaps the 2010 would make a good comparison, albeit without the same tannic structure. I would agree with this observation. Rousseau’s 2012 do err more towards the masculine side, unlike the more voluptuous 2009s, yet unlike 2011 there is more freshness, tension and vigor. Moreover, I cannot recall tasting Rousseau’s wines from barrel, whereby the individuality of each vineyard is articulated with such clarity. This year, each village, premier or grand cru is true to their respective characteristics, the hand of the winemaker much smaller than that of the vineyard. Importer: Frederic Wildman & Sons, New York, NY; tel. (212) 355-0700 and through merchants in UK including Howard Ripley.