A horizontal of 1995 Bordeaux: GPL and Pichon Comtesse rule the roost
December 1, 2012
An evening of Bordeaux 1995 at 28 50 with wine lovers, including Neal Martin of erobertparker.com
It was a fun time! The wines were served blind – we knew the names of the wines but not the order in which they were to be served. Some interesting guesses from all of us. It proved to me one point about blind tasting: go with your initial feeling…
The wines (all 1995s): Angelus (St Emilion), Belair (St Emilion), d’Armailhac (Pauillac), Grand Mayne (St Emilion), Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley ringer), Ducru Beaucaillou (St Julien), Grand Puy Lacoste (Pauillac), Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande (Pauillac), Bon Pasteur (Pomerol)
Nice to meet new people in London and to see wine friends again. There are several other postings on this tasting from Tom Cannavan’s superb wine forum, and here is the link.
First series served blind, in this order: Gruaud Larose – Bon Pasteur – Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
My overall favorite (as it turned out of the entire tasting this evening) was Pichon Comtesse, which had rather impressive reduction on the first nose, only to open up rather gloriously over time in glass, and it was just getting better and better… The Cabernet was ripe and structured, the Merlot – as we know 1995 was great for Merlot – added a level of sumptuousness that led some participants to think it was a Right Bank wine. Some even called out Angelus. In any case, it was very lovely, and, to me, eclipsed the other two wines in the first series which were Gruaud Larose, whose nose I rather enjoyed. Sure, a bit of brett, but also lots of character. The palate was rich and full bodied, but lacked the depth, as Neal remarked, of, say, a 1986 or 1990 or 2000. Also in that series was a somewhat lackluster showing of Bon Pasteur. Sure, it was “cleaner” than the Gruaud but it tailed off on the finish… We were all a bit surprised, and Neal thought it may have been a lesser bottle.
Second series of three wines, in this order: Grand Puy Lacoste – Angelus – d’Armailhac
The second series of three wines included my second favorite wine of the evening – Grand Puy Lacoste, which some of us (including myself) thought was Ducru Beaucaillou. A fantastic showing here, with indeed a deep nose that was like perfume, and excellent structure, with a surprising softness, as Richard noted, but ripe and present tannins on the finish reassured. The Angelus was a let down: not sure if the bottle was up to snuff because I have had better 1995s from this estate. And then came my third favorite overall of the evening, a very good showing from d’Armailhac. This was surprisingly good, and some I think mistook it for GPL.
Served blind in this order: Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 – Belair
Then two series of two wines served blind, one with the Beringer ringer which I did not like so much because it was so modern. I thought that all the wines served blind were Bordeaux, so I was trying to fathom which modernist did this one! Let’s put things positive first however: for a wine with this much age, on one level it tasted more youthful that one would expect. But I disliked the extraction and the hard tannin and even slightly drying palate on the finish. What an enormous contrast with Belair! Many found it the most “Burgundian.” I quite liked its nose more and more, but could not help but think that it could have used more oomph. But Nick found it to be drinking the best of all the 1995s tonight. I could see his point.
Final series of two served “blind” in this order: Grand Mayne – Ducru Beaucaillou
Now the next two had to be either Grand Mayne or Ducru Beaucaillou. And my first impression was that the first wine was indeed Grand Mayne and that the firmer tannin in the second made it more Cabernet and thus Ducru esque. But then we all started secong guessing and because the first wine had a touch of musk bordering on cork, some of us, including myself, began to think that the first one was a Ducru, albeit faulty. Well, avoid second guessing yourself because the Grand Mayne came first: it had its qualities but seemed a bit off to me. Then came the Ducru, and I would agree with Richard’s assessment. Interesting how GPL and Ducru were under the same ownership at the time – the Borie Brothers had not yet gone their separate ways – and winemaking was similar for both estates. At this stage, GPL 5th growth is tasting better than the Ducru 2nd growth, at least based on this tasting and … these bottles!
We ended things with a fine Rieussec 1999, which is as a Sauternes should be: rich and spicy, with a good acidity.
Many thanks for this lovely evening! And I have to say that pricing at 28 50 is still an excellent deal for the amount of bottles a group can bring … And the food was great as was the service.