Bordeaux from the 1980s, part 2 – mainly 1982, nearly 30 years on
January 1, 2012
Once again, I am lucky to know so many cool and passionate wine-loving people in Washington DC. On December 29, we each brought some mighty special bottles, with no defects, no cork issues, quite lucky indeed. Participant Kevin Shin posted some superb notes on this dinner, and I agree with much of what he has written. And we did not enjoy just Bordeaux… see below! Many thanks to yet another fine dining experience at Lavandou in Washington D.C., where service is super and with a smile.
So as 2011 came to an end, I really wanted to revisit older school Bordeaux. Below you will read notes on another series of Bordeaux from the 80s, this time all 1982s, the mythical vintage that had put Robert Parker on the map. The PREVIOUS EVENING (28 December), I had enjoyed mostly 1986s.
It was interesting also to note noticeable evolution for certain bottles (Cos d’Estournel and Canon for example) that some of the same tasters had tried in December 2005 – see HERE – while other wines seemed to have improved, or were just perhaps better bottles (Calon Segur, for example).
Krug 1990. Thank you Randy. What a marvelous bottle of Champagne. Manly stuff? I had enjoyed a vertical of Krug in London last month (1989, 1995, 1996, 1998 and 2000), thanks to Decanter’s Fine Wine Encounter, but we did not have the 1990. The vinous nature here is impressive. Freshness married to deep substance. One encounters subtle toffee, white fruit, and cinnamon spice, in a broad shouldered yet complex and overall elegant Champagne. A tonic finish really completes this bubbly, because it makes you reach for more. 96
Pol Roger Winston Churchill 1999. This seemed softer in comparison. But it was the wine of the night for me at a big party thrown in Bordeaux by Domaine de Chevalier’s Olivier Bernard – SEE HERE. Richer to some extent than the above, but less focused. The palate lacks the strict precision of the above, with a touch more sweetness, perhaps. Coming back to this, it is tasty and very fun to drink, and not a lightweight by any stretch of the imagination, but a bit “sandwiched-in” between two superior Champagnes. 93+
Salon 1996. Could this be the best Champagne I have ever had? Possible. It certainly qualifies as a revelatory experience. 1996 is such a brilliant vintage and here we have a superb expression of that brilliance. A slightly reticent nose precedes an exuberant, energy- filled palate, exuding chalky minerality that beguiles the palate into a state of near ecstasy. Excuse me, but it was that good. 100% Chardonnay sumptuousness, but with such backbone and structure, it is built to age. The energy and briskness however make it oh so pleasurable now. 99-100?? Thanks Kevin for this revelation.
Henri Boillot Criot Batard Montrachet 2004. Chris and Marjorie Bublitz brought this bottle and I think Chris and I liked it particularly. I did not mind a slight under-ripe aspect. In fact, I found it very tasty. Yes, there was a bit of wet sock on the initial nose, which was just slightly off-putting, at first. But that blew off pretty quickly, or, perhaps I was left just mightily impressed with the palate’s sheer briskness. This reminded me of a fresh Sancerre, as Kevin noted in his fine notes, but also of a meeting I had had earlier this year with Klaus Peter Keller in Germany, who professes enjoying lemon and grapefruit in the morning. Tart pleasures. And to boot: this shows no sign whatsoever of premox. Good on Henri Boillot, very good to drink. 93+
Faiveley Meursault Charmes Hospices de Beaune bottling 2006. Here again a 2006 white Burgundy that to me at least is a bit too sweet. The butterscotch is just a tad over the top, but that does not detract too much from the high quality of the wine itself, as it is rich and full-bodied like a Meursault should be, yes? Still, a question of subjective taste. I much prefer the 2004 above. 90
Ramonet Batard Montrachet 2008. The 2008s I have tasted in Burgundy tend to have bracing acidity but here I found a spherical aspect – completeness. One could get some slightly thick oak derivation but, sheesh, it is so well integrated. Much pear and white fruit, depth and richness, and, yes, freshness. A wine that certainly impresses and tastes marvelous. Thank you Kevin! 96
Paul Blanck Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg 2007. Thanks to Howard and Nancy Cooper for bringing this bottle. We last saw one another when they visited Alsace this past summer. I must say that here we have a Riesling that held its own against some fine white Burgundy. I often hear Alsatian winemakers telling me that Riesling can be every bit as good as fine white Burgundy, and I always think: apples and oranges, folks. But here I sort of get the picture. Opulent on the nose, but thoroughly dry on the palate. Blanck is one of my favorite producers in Alsace, and this wine reminded me why. Do not hesitate to get this. 92
The main event:
Bordeaux 1982 almost 30 years on, and still going strong
Chateau Canon 1982. In comparison to six years ago, this wine has become a bit more open knit and has lost some grip. A sweet yet iron-like nose, exuding all spice and chocolate, announces a delectable palate of medium body and of moderate intensity, with tannins melted. The iron quality stayed throughout, but rather in the background, as chocolate notes took prominence, leaving an overall impression of richness. Ken Brown brought us a great bottle with which to start things… 93
Chateau La Lagune 1982. With more grip by comparison, more structure, this La Lagune left me with the feeling that it has more time ahead of it. The nose is more refined, as Kevin noted. At first the palate seemed to me not quite as pleasing on one level – when compared to the Canon’s delectable richness – but the La Lagune displayed a silkier and more refined texture, albeit married with greater tannic presence and a more youthful profile, which is a good thing for a wine that is getting on in years. It is also great to drink, to be sure. And I think it was the better bottle tonight. Thanks to Chris and Marjorie Bublitz for this fine bottle. 94
Chateau L’Eglise Clinet 1982. Here we have more of a beef blood aspect on the nose that is, I agree, as Kevin noted, detracting, and there is some austerity on the palate, too. But it is a very concentrated wine. When I went back to it, towards the end of the dinner, it had improved. And the palate was getting more interesting. Still, it stood out negatively given its pedigree and when compared to the two previous wines. An awkward phase? A bottle that is not showing well? 88+
Chateau Cos d’Estournel 1982. Big bows to Randy. This was his final 1982 from his cellar. The cedar perfumed nose promised great things. Here I got an initial feeling of pleasing dusty tannin but with much depth and richness. The palate feel is broad but with good acidity that assured freshness. Interesting how the wine had lost some of the exuberance we had experienced some six years ago. In any case, I do not see how the modern day Cos 2009, for example, at 15 degrees, will age… Not like this one did, I am fairly certain. 94+
Chateau Calon Segur 1982. Energy and freshness. I was upset that I could not find another bottle of this recently, and tasting it makes me want to obtain more … but prices have edged upwards. I was struck at first by a slightly high acidity when I had opened it at home for an Audouze, but it all just came together over time in glass and proved to be magnificent: with such verve and still tannic edginess that although very pleasing now, will last a long time yet. The Cabernet perfume as Kevin wrote stayed on focus throughout. At a certain point, we say that the bottle (or cork) matters more than the wine. This particular bottle was mighty impressive, better than the one we had tried back in 2005. 96
Chateau Meyney 1982. Chocolate richness, fun to drink. And amazingly youthful for its near 30-year age. The only cru bourgeois (thanks to Chris and Marjorie Bublitz) of the evening’s 82s that stood well against its more aristocratic peers, although it was somewhat simpler when compared to the classed growths above from St Estephe. Still, this was, as Kevin wrote, quite a revelation of sorts, proving the French adage: grande annee, petit vin. You will be happy. 92
St Julien and Pauillac
Chateau Talbot 1982. Now I was raving all over the place when drinking this initially. David Zimmerman, whom I had not seen in at least two years, brought this rather underrated estate to our table, which was drinking very well. Chris stood up with his characteristic enthusiasm and we were nodding in agreement at how delicious this was. Orange rind freshness, plus finesse and that Cordier saddle leather combined to make this a fiesta of earthy Bordeaux. But there was just a hint of green pepper that I normally do not mind at all – and even welcome in many cases as a component of older Bordeaux, when in digestible quantitiesJ. But here the green pepper component came more to the fore with time… Folks, we were drinking a series of 82s, and I could not help but be more critical, so the next two wines proved more pleasing on most levels. Still, this is one lovely bottle of wine that I would welcome anywhere, anytime! 93+
Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste 1982. The Talbot seemed to show more depth, at first, but the GPL grew better and better in glass, tightening its Pauillac grip, but staying very pleasing throughout. Has not budged much since last tried a few years ago, displaying cigar box like aromas and flavors but also some cassis and much freshness. A poor man’s Latour to be sure, thanks to Karl and Adelaide Kellar for bringing this lovely wine. 95
Chateau Lynch Bages 1982. In addition to the aromatics and flavors that Kevin outlined, I also got particular minty freshness that appealed to me (perhaps the bell pepper for Kevin?), then so much depth on the palate, that I have to tip my hat to Lynch Bages. It left an overall impression of youthful richness, balance and pleasure, with a lingering finish. As much as the GPL developed in glass, this to me was of a better pedigree in 1982, at least when comparing these two bottles! The evening before I had a very fine 1986, and then having had in recent years 1989, 1990, 1995 and 1996, and of course 2000, all I can say is that Lynch Bages does merit a 2nd growth rating. Thanks to Howard and Nancy for reminding us, with this superb bottle. 95+
St Julien – best flight?
Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou 1982. I noticed a dusty aspect that seems somewhat typical of older Ducru, but it was refined dust… Floral aromatics combined with tobacco announced a rich, nuanced, licorice-like palate that was both long and focused. All throughout, this wine maintained an overall impression of refined elegance ending on a rather firm, graphite-like finish. A solid 95 or so… perhaps more? Thanks to Ken Barr for bringing this, as it was the first time I have ever tried a Ducru Beaucaillou 1982, at least I cannot recall ever having this before!
Chateau Gruaud Larose 1982. Cedar and tobacco. A bit funky? I hardly got any Brett, to me this was one of the cleanest Gruauds from the 80s I have ever had. A repeat performance from the 1982 I had tried in March 2011 in Germany (SEE HERE), thanks to Howard and Nancy for this great bottle. A pleasing tonic and youthful austerity on the initial palate, which was showcasing mature ripe fruit but also tobacco, very cigar box, could I say rather more typical of older Bordeaux than the next, superior, wine? Still this Gruaud simply kicks ass. A very different style when compared to the Ducru: more foreboding and perhaps a wine that will last longer? Hard to tell because both exude substance, but the Gruaud Larose seems to show more power, without ever being overbearing or sweet. A really magnificent wine. 96+
Chateau Leoville Las Cases 1982. Could we get better? Yes we can. Sap-filled wine, opulent yet with so much seductive grip. A wine that is spherical, complete, mixing elegance with depth and brightness. There is a feeling of both warm and cool fruit, still more youthful, on a slower evolutionary track than either of the above. The cool fruit wins over, for me, and that is why I give it near 100, if I must use that number, this wine is rather there. 99, 100? The 1982 of the evening in any case.
By this time, dear readers, I will admit to some palate fatigue. Unlike Kevin, I was not as studious this time around, having indulged more than using the spitting buckets… So I shall leave these last wines without scores….
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 2001. Interesting, I did not get as bothered by the palate texture. Perhaps I am a sucker for thick textures? I found it more balanced at this stage, but it could certainly use more aging – and will improve. Like Kevin, I got the cream caramel, mango and apricot, but also ripe pear and even grapefruit. I really liked this Sauternes and bought three bottles online the next day. Thanks to Ken Brown for this bottle.
Trimbach Pinot Gris Sélection de Grains Nobles 1994. Indeed, Kevin, Pinot Gris is not my favorite of the Alsace grape trio, but of course SGNs are different and this was lovely. Count on Trimbach for precision and crispiness, even in SGN wines. Yup, very pure nose indeed, with the bright acidity.
Von Hövel Scharzhofberger Riesling Eiswein Mosel Saar Ruwer 1985. Many thanks to Ken for this, but I agree that the wine seemed just a tad tired compared to the previous entries.