Tag Archives: grands crus classés

2015: year of the decade, but only because it started in 2011!

12 bordeaux

Unfortunately, my numerous activities did not allow me to spend more than three days tasting the Primeurs, and there are a lot of important wines that I would have liked to taste. Still, I can share some hints about the harvest past and the bottling to come.

Despite difficult conditions with an extra dry summer and a rainy august, everyone seems enthusiastic about the end result. I am not. There are some very good wines, but some failures too. With my five-star ranking system (since I still refuse to score on a hundred point scale and will continue to do so), five meaning exceptional, there is no wine with them. Although Petrus was close.

Without further delay, here are my recommendations:

-Best areas : Graves (Pessac-Léognan) and Saint-Emilion

– Disappointments : Saint-Estèphe and Pauillac

I could not taste the Premiers (including Haut-Brion, Lafite, Latour, Margaux and Mouton) and the “Super-Seconds” which prefer to have tasters at their place. So my selection cannot include them! It is unfortunate that not more châteaux bring their wines to the common tasting, although some still do. So here my selection of my year’s favourites:

Petrus
Cheval-Blanc
Léoville Poyferré
Gruaud-Larose
Quinault L’Enclos
Lafon-Rochet

And my greatest disappointments:

Lynch-Bages
Les Carmes Haut-Brion
Beauregard

Why those three? Because I love them (usually), and you cannot be disappointed by something you do not like! But I was also not happy about other wines, the list you can find on my spreadsheet.

Nevertheless, it is a very good year in general, and I especially recommend you to buy the following very good value wines:

Gruaud-Larose, Quinault L’Enclos, Lafon-Rochet, Bouscaut (white & red), Olivier (red), La Tour Martillac (white & red), Petit-Village, Dassault, Cap de Mourlin, Balestard-La-Tonnelle, Siran, Dauzac, Brane-Cantenac, Kirwan, Branaire-Ducru, Clerc-Milon.

Domaine de Chevalier and Château Malescot-St-Exupéry, Léoville-Poyferré, Pichon-Lalande, Petrus, Cheval-Blanc are also very good, but the price might be a little bit steeper!

In the end, it is a vintage with exceptionnally smooth tannins, which might combine everyone’s dream: easy to drink in its youth, with a good ageing potential. The right bank is far above the left, with Saint-Emilion outstanding. Go for good prices, avoid gold diggers!

 

 

 

 

 

1982: the most overrated vintage of the century?

chateau-lafite-rothschild-1986-75cl

Ducru-Beaucaillou 1982
Léoville-Poyferré 1982
Léoville-Las-Cases 1982
Duhart-Milon 1982
Lynch-Bages 1982
Margaux 1982
Latour 1982
Lafite-Rothschild 1982


It is with great excitement that we organised this exceptional tasting. 1982 is widely regarded (at least in the Anglo-Saxon world) as one of the greatest vintages ever. Thirty years is a good minimum to truly evaluate great Bordeaux, so the timing was ideal.

First, a disappointment : Ducru-Beaucaillou is rather bitter and acidic, and we move on to the next wine Léoville-Poyferré, quite good although not at the same level as the 1986 or 1990 vintage years. The worst will come now : Léoville-Las-Cases, a flat wine, flawless but with no real quality!

Now the better wines : Lynch-Bages is good, not one of its best vintages, but still decent. Duhart-Milon is very good; I have always liked this wine, especially since an incredible 1945 vintage, and it always tastes quite well in primeurs (at least much better than Carruades de Lafite, from the same producer). 1982 Duhart is well-balanced, very pleasant, both simple and marvellous, easy-drinking but in the good sense of the term.

Time for the premiers crus : Margaux goes first, simply because of its poor image in 82, suffering from the comparison with the 83, one of the best vintages ever (for Margaux). In fact, for the first time I could compare the 82 Margaux to other 82 Bordeaux, and it is really impressive. A lot of aromas, a great complexity, fantastic length on the palate, a great wine.
Latour is now entering the dance: second time I am tasting it, it is the same average quality indeed. I admit that it is a good wine, but not more. It has power, a little bit like the 75 vintage, although not at the same price, but nothing to compete with the magnificent 1970. Average.
Last but of course not least, Lafite-Rothschild : here comes the king of all 82s ! It needed a long time to open, and it was only at the end of the meal (by the second tasting round) that it expressed all of its potential. Words lack to describe the sensation. Powerful, but a controlled power, expressive, but not in excess, it is a great wine with still a great ageing potential.

Conclusion : 1982 is not a great vintage overall, it is a vintage with great successes. And disappointments too!

Expected achievements : Lafite, Poyferré, Lynch-Bages
Unexpected achievements : Margaux, Duhart
Disappointments : Latour, Las Cases, Ducru

 

 

 

The tasting note: 1986, a great vintage in Médoc?

lafit 86

Let us start with a confession: in 1987, during the primeur tastings for the 1986 vintage, all Bordeaux producers, brokers and experts were unanimous: 86 was as good as 82 for Médoc vintages. But the famous you-know-who American lawyer and (self-appointed) wine critic decided otherwise. The 1986 Médoc vintage never quite recovered from his (relatively) poor rating. Still today, prices for the 86 vintage are lower than for the 82.

It was a good reason to organise a tasting dedicated to this subject, with some of the best 1986s (as judged at the time of the primeur tastings). You will notice the absence of Château Latour, which is terrible in that particular year; in fact the whole decade is very poor. You will appreciate as well the low number of bottles tasted, since there were only six of us.

Here are the results:
Mouton-Rothschild ****
Lafite-Rothschild *****
Margaux *****
Gruaud-Larose ****
Rausan-Ségla **
Léoville-Poyferré ***

One common characteristic is that 86 has become a powerful vintage, more so than at the time of the primeur tastings in 1987.

All wines were decanted 3 hours before.

We started with the Léoville-Poyferré, then the Gruaud-Larose, then the Rausan-Ségla. Three seconds crus classés in a row. Léoville-Poyferré was the finest, Rausan-Ségla was quite pleasant but with a slightly bitter or vegetal finish, and Gruaud-Larose was the most brilliant one, with a lot of body and a very expressive nose.
Moving on with the Château Margaux (to remain in the same area as Rausan’s), the world suddenly felt different… Château Margaux 86 is a magnificent wine, not only full and round, but also fine and complex, with an incredible length on the palate. Absolutely flawless! It has everything you could hope for, and it will probably remain so for many years to come.

After this revelation, Mouton-Rothschild suffered a little bit by comparison! But it is an excellent wine, soft and mellow, ready to drink, shorter than the Margaux, but very good indeed. Lafite-Rothschild came last in the tasting order, but not in term of result: I expected a magnificent wine, having already tasted it ten years ago and 1986 being one of this château’s great vintages. I am glad to report that it was brilliant. Château Lafite 86 is fantastic, probably the best nose of them all, only dominated by Château Margaux’s incredible presence in the mouth. The greatest complexity, the finest wine of all, it was an expected triumph for Lafite… though… on this day, Château Margaux ended up the winner!

Is 86 a better vintage than 82? Well, it is true for Margaux, though Lafite is extremely good in both 82 and 86, same as Mouton very good in both vintages… It may be safe to say that 86 has a better ageing potential, but I would not draw any definitive conclusion on the subject of 82 vs. 86: the inquiry goes on!