It is universally known that 1982 was a landmark vintage for Bordeaux. Throughout the region, exceptional wines with ultimate ripeness were produced, and it seemed to usher in the modern era for winemaking in Bordeaux. Renowned wine critic Robert Parker made his prodigious mark by correctly proclaiming 1982 as one of the great vintages of the century, even while there were some early naysayers.
Fast-forward 36 years to now, and one will find that most of the wines have reached their peak, and many still remain there. And though great wines were produced in virtually every appellation in 1982, Pomerol stands out among the rest. This tiny appellation gained considerable notoriety in 1982, as some of the best wines of the vintage were produced here. The epicenter of the Merlot grape seemed to shine brighter than even the vaulted appellations of the left bank.
It was quite a treat to taste some of the best 1982 wines from Pomerol at a recent dinner, which led to some fascinating comparisons. We limited the tasting to four of the best Pomerol wines from 1982, preferring a focused dissection of fewer wines over a larger, more extensive tasting. The wines included were Château l’Evangile, Château Trotanoy, Château Lafleur, and Pétrus. The only notable exclusions were Château Le Pin and Château La Conseillante. All of the wines came with exceptional provenance, and were devoid of any faults.
So how did the wines perform? They all showed extremely well, although there were stark differences among the wines. The unanimous choice for the most impressive wine of the night was the l’Evangile; it started strong, and finished even stronger. And if you want to compare the two heavyweights, Lafleur and Pétrus, the clear favorite here was the Lafleur. But to compare such great wines is sometimes an injustice, as they all reside at the pinnacle of fine wine. Instead, it is best to see that this was simply another confirmation that the best Bordeaux vintages age with the grace and elegance that typify these exceptional wines.
1990 Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne Brut. Some oxidation was immediately apparent, but not in a charming mature champagne way. Bubbles were mostly resolved. The aromas and flavors were dominated by apple, blood orange, hazelnut, and brioche. Lacking a bit of freshness, but surprisingly, the oxidative notes faded during the evening. Lacked the depth and intensity of the best aged champagnes, but at least the last sip was better than the first. 91/100
1982 Château Trotanoy. Beautiful nose, but somewhat subdued. Red plum, black cherry, truffle, violets, anise, and dark chocolate on the nose. Medium weight and elegant, it was a bit shy all around. Sweet, ripe, and smooth on the palate. Tannins were fully integrated and gave it a nice silky texture. Notable acidity. Never really lost any steam over the evening, and seemed to gained some weight in the glass. 95/100
1982 Château l’Evangile. A deep and rich nose that was mesmerizing. The nose was a tour de force of black cherry, blackberry, iron, iodine, sous bois, tobacco leaf, leather, eucalyptus, and caramel. Wonderfully balanced on the palate. So much life. This wine had everything, with wonderful fruit purity and freshness. Fresh and focused on the finish, with impressive length. A memorable wine. Clearly this was the best wine of the night. 98/100
1982 Château Lafleur. Very different from the other wines. Darker fruit than the others. This was the wine that changed the most throughout the evening. The powerful nose started out mostly primary, with dark fruits and some licorice. Over time, the fruit became more red, along with leather, truffle, roses, fresh herbs, spice, and some fresh mint. Really elegant and poised on the palate, with a gorgeous finish. The tannins were notably soft and silky, and gave the wine just enough structure, along with the fresh acidity. Just a tick below the l’Evangile tonight. 97/100
1982 Pétrus. A deep and sweet nose, with plum, black currant, sous bois, tobacco, roses, and dark chocolate on the nose. Unfortunately, the palate didn’t possess or exhibit the same balance as the other wines. There was certainly ample fruit and a generous mouthfeel, but as good as it tasted, the acidity and suggestion of heat just stood out a bit too much. The finish had considerable length and an obvious spiciness. Clearly a well-made wine, with an interesting combination of elements, which were just not in complete balance. 94/100