Briefly: 2012 was defined by an early thaw, early blossom, and subsequent frost which decimated what little crop was anticipated for an off year for apples. (Naturally apples go biennial and fruit every other year or sometimes even three or four year. Commercial farms manipulate the tree to fruit yearly but I'm referring to old-school apple production and wild apples.) After a wet Spring and cool dry Summer the season turned out pretty good, the brix were high and fruit was clean. The problem for cider, apart from shortages and all-around price spikes, was the early harvest. With an early harvest traditional-style cider makers are left to ferment in warmer then usual temperatures and for longer (starting in September rather then Oct./ Nov.)
I can't speak for cider makers who temperature regulate the fermentation or add champagne yeast but I can speak for traditional cider making which requires a cellar and a long winter for aging. Usually the fermentation begins in late October and the cold temperatures of late November stop the fermentation just short of dry. It is then aged and in the Spring it picks up again and goes into MLF. This year the early apples were bone dry in storage and had even started the MLF pre-winter, but the late apples kept their pattern. In fact a long cold Spring in 2013 really help age the cider and the initial fruit quality was deeply infused. If the harvest were three weeks later the 2012 season might have been the banner year we compare all others with because the Winter and 2013 Spring were perfect.