1989/1990 Right Bank Bordeaux Tasting

1989/1990 Right Bank Bordeaux tasting 3-25-2016

Vienna Cafe and Wine Bar – Davie, FL

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1989 and 1990 produced some of the best wines out of Bordeaux in the past 25 years, and both have already become legendary vintages. This is certainly true in the Right Bank appellations of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. It is often debated which vintage produced the better wines overall, as well as at many of the top châteaux. Neither professional critics nor wine amateurs can agree on which is the preferred vintage at châteaux such as La Conseillante and Angélus. With this in mind, we arranged a tasting of some of the top Right Bank wines from 1989 and 1990. What we found on this night should not be surprising at all; all of the wines in the tasting were superb, and there was little variation in the strength and appeal of these wines. It was very difficult to rank the ‘best’ wines on this night, and the subjectivity of this exercise has never been more apparent than on this night. Any of these wines could have been ‘wine of the night,’ and it almost seemed unfair to rank and score them. But in the end, the top three wines (chosen by the ten participants) were the 1989 Château Angélus, 1990 Château Beauséjour (Duffau-Lagarrosse),  and 1989 Château Clinet.IMG_8316

1989 Château La Conseillante: Elegant. A beautifully perfumed and fragrant nose. Very ripe red fruits, blueberry, truffle, very floral, with some Asian spices. Such purity of fruit in this wine. Not as concentrated and dense and the 1990 La Conseillante. Finesse and elegance on the palate. Excellent balance, with tannins nicely integrated. High acidity and a lengthy finish. This never ran out of steam, and just seemed to open and up and improve with passing time. 96/100

1990 Château La Conseillante: Layered and elegant. The nose started out a bit shy, but it really blossomed after two hours of air. Plum, cherry, floral, mint, sous bois, and sweet tobacco. Less floral and more earthy than the 1989 La Conseillante. This also exuded elegance, with silky tannins and a soft mouthfeel. Great complexity on the nose and palate. Beautifully balanced. Tannins nicely integrated. Medium-high acidity. A long finish with lots of lingering fruit and freshness. 95/100IMG_8285

1989 Château Clinet: Powerful. A beautiful core of plum and ripe cherries, with spices, mushroom, and damp earth. Dense and enormously concentrated. A rich wine. Full mouthfeel, with a fantastic balance. Nicely structured with soft but fairly prominent tannins. Well-balanced acidity on the finish. While perhaps not a 100 point wine, this is a powerhouse wine that is definitely at its peak and impressed most at the tasting. 97/100

1990 Château Clinet: Focused. One of the surprises of the night, in that it rivaled the 1989 Clinet (and surpassed it for some at the tasting). Really ripe and pure red fruits, with earthiness, mocha, and lots of floral notes. A beautiful ruby color. A really great weight to the wine. Very clean and linear. Less power and structure than the 1989 Clinet, but perhaps a bit more charm. Very soft tannins. This wine is in a good place right now, and was much better than the last bottle that I had several months ago. Probably won’t have the longevity of the 1989, when it’s all said and done. 95/100
IMG_8320.JPG1989 Château Tertre Rôtebouef: Rustic and exotic. I was expecting big things from this wine, after the incredible bottle of this I recently had (from the same case). This started out with a really exotic nose of red fruits, bacon, pepper, flowers, and dark chocolate. Surprisingly, the nose seemed to close down over time. Good weight and concentration, but didn’t seem to have the same finesse and elegant mouthfeel of the last bottle. Standing on its own, this wine could still hold its own; tonight, however, it just didn’t stand out. Will have to try this again, as there is just so much potential with this wine. The complexity is obviously there, and there is ample fruit and structure for this wine to shine. 93/100

1990 Château Tertre Rôtebouef: Dark and spicy. For most at the tasting, this was preferred to the 1989 Tertre Rôteboeuf. Dark fruits, black cherry, sous bois, spice, flowers, and anise rounded out some really nice aromatics. It did start out a bit shy, but opened up very nicely over time. Exotic like the 1989, but with more power and concentration. Firm tannins and medium acidity. A really nice finish with medium length. While not one of the top wines of the evening, this was still an excellent wine that held its own. I would consider giving this wine more time, as it seems that a bit more synthesis needs to occur. There is a serious core of fruit here, so there should no worry with holding this wine for a bit longer. 94/100

IMG_83211989 Château Angélus: Powerful and earthy. Probably my favorite wine of the tasting (though this was a difficult choice, given that all of the wines were impressive and so evenly matched). This was easily the most intoxicating nose of the evening, and it was hard to keep my nose out of the glass. Ripe plum, cassis, blackberry, sweet barnyard, soy, chocolate. After about an hour, there was a serious burst of violets on the nose. Very ripe and pure fruits. Powerful and dense on the palate. Full-bodied mouthfeel. The complexity of the nose was matched on the palate. Good freshness on the finish. Tannins still need more integration. This was truly a complete wine, and one that stood out due to its uniqueness of its aromatics and its power on the palate. 97/100

IMG_8336.JPG1990 Château Beauséjour (Duffau-Lagarrosse): Complex and complete. Struck by its very dark color, showing little signs of aging. Plum, dark fruits, mint, damp earth, and tobacco round out the aromatics. Complex, concentrated, and balanced, this wine seemed to have all of the necessary elements. Lots of structure; the tannins are round but still fairly prominent. High bright acidity contributing to lots of freshness on the finish. This wine has so much time left, and is just getting started. The immense amount of fruit, coupled with its solid structural makeup, bodes well for anyone who has this wine in their cellar. A standout on this evening. 97/100

1990 Château l’Evangile: Charming. This continues to be a really unique wine from l’Evangile. This was quite different from the other wines at the tasting. Red fruits, chocolate and sous bois. A bit lighter on the palate, almost seeming Burgundian at times. Still has noticeable tannic structure, with its ultra-soft tannins. High acidity creating a nice brightness on the finish. This is a very charming wine, especially if you like the light, elegant style. While some have reported bottle variation with this wine, this wine was spot-on with the last bottle tasted several months ago. 95/100

1990 Château Troplong Mondot: Dark and brooding. A bit closed down initially, but opened up nicely after an hour. Black cherry, raisin, earth, menthol, and coffee. Impressive concentration and complexity. A full-bodied mouthfeel. A really powerful wine. Lots of structure with firm tannins. A finish with impressive length. I get the sense that this is not yet at its peak and is going to improve. With the fruit concentration and structure here, this wine has a long life ahead of it. It just seemed like it was holding back a bit on this evening. 93/100

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Château Latour Vertical Tasting

Latour Lineup
1-22-2016 Château Latour tasting at Aquavita, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
For any Bordeaux wine lover, what would be the ultimate tasting? Perhaps a Pétrus/Le Pin comparison? A first growth horizontal tasting from 1982? One could argue that a vertical tasting of Château Latour that included both the 1961 and 1982 could qualify as an ultimate tasting. This is why we were very excited to take part in a private Latour vertical tasting, held by Wine Watch in Fort Lauderdale. This tasting included not only the iconic vintages of 1961 and 1982, but also included many other tremendous vintages as well, like the 1990 and 1996. What made this tasting even more unique was that it included the 1962, an excellent vintage that often gets overshadowed by the 1961.
Château Latour produces some of the best wines in the Médoc, year in and year out. Much of this is due to some of the best terroir in Bordeaux, which includes the famous l’Enclos vineyard. There is also amazing history associated with this estate, from the planting of vines in the 14th century to the purchase by François Pinault in 1993. This tasting included a number of the best wines from this famed history. On this night, many wines were stars, but the ultimate standout was the 1982 (though the 1961 was perhaps not a great representation). Regardless, I would be happy spending the evening with any of these wines.

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This incredible vertical tasting started with the famed 1961 Château Latour. Unfortunately, this did not appear to be a good representation of this wine, and it appeared a bit oxidized. Amber/brown color. Pruney fruits, dried raisins, leather, herbs, and damp forest floor. A nice mouthfeel, and still adequate structure. A bit flat on the finish. I won’t render much of an opinion here, and will defer until the next 1961. The 1962 Latour also had a bit of an oxidized note, but less so than the 1961. Less earthy and rustic than the 1961. Still had similar fruit profile with prunes and dried raisins. Also noted old library book, tobacco, mushroom, and green pepper — a much more vibrant nose. Really lively and elegant on the palate, and seemed to become more interesting with more time in the glass. Classy, with a beautiful richness. Still had nice structure with round, soft tannins. On this night, I preferred the 1962.


Latour-82

The 1970 Château Latour was the least impressive of the tasting. Still had a surprisingly ripe nose, with black currant, some cherry, and fig. Very soft mouthfeel, but a bit thin on the palate. Reserved on the attack and lacked punch on the mid-palate. Hint of bitterness on the finish. Overall, the 1970 did not impress tonight. But, oh did the 1982 Latour impress. This was clearly the wine of the night. The nose was simply amazing, complex and layered. Black currant, cedar, brown spices, licorice, and tobacco. Pure perfection on the palate, from the attack to the finish. A long finish that left a sense of currant and sweet tobacco. Easily one of the best wines I’ve ever tasted. This baby will sing for decades. After this was the 1989 Latour, which was quite reserved for the first two hours. There is certainly potential here. Nice garnet color. A shy nose of dark fruits, spice, and musk. Lacked the concentration of the 1982 and 1990, but it still had charm. This wine didn’t blow anyone away, but when bookended by the 1982 and 1990, it’s just not a fair fight. I would still consider holding onto this a bit longer before opening (perhaps a year or two), based on the tasting this evening.


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The 1990 Château Latour was my #2 wine of the night. Gained weight the whole night and kept revealing its complex layers. Dark fruits, lots of cherry, barnyard, lots of cedar, fennel, and sweet tobacco. Full-bodied, with incredible balance. Clearly in its wheelhouse right now. Silky ripe tannins, with a solid structure. Very long finish, with lots of fresh acidity. The 1996 Latour was probably the #3 wine of the night. At times, seemed similar to the 1982 in aromatic profile, but still showing very young. Very dark ruby color. Black currant, cedar, mushroom, and licorice. Like the 1990, incredibly well balanced. Lots of ripe tannins. You can open this now, but if you wait for another 5 years, you will be rewarded. The 1999 Latour was the pleasant surprise of the night. I really enjoyed this, and found it be quite interesting. There was much more earthiness on the nose, with a pleasant barnyard scent. Also showed the characteristic dark fruits, cedar, and tobacco. When I closed my eyes, it was like smelling fruit that had been crushed in dirt. Soft tannins in the background. An elegant mouthfeel, but still had adequate power. A bit higher acidity noted on the finish. Compared to the 2000 Latour, this seemed much more evolved.


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The 2000 Château Latour was simply fantastic, but is just so young right now. A shy nose that did open up nicely in the glass, really showing its pedigree. Black currant, damp earth, pencil shavings, and licorice. Such a classic Pauillac nose. Well-structured but silky smooth on the palate. A formidable wall of tannins on the finish. Also notable acidity. This is an awesome wine, but it really deserves 5-10 more years in the cellar. The 2005 Latour seemed like a baby on this night. Again, a shy nose, but layered and nicely perfumed. Black currant, lots of fennel, clove, and mocha. Can still detect some oak influence. Powerful and really hits you in all corners on the palate. Tannic, but not aggressively so. An incredibly long finish that never seemed to go away. Should be another ‘wow’ wine in 10-20 years. It wouldn’t be criminal to try it now though.


Les Forts Yquem

The night finished with a tasting of the 2001 Les Forts de Latour and 2011 Château d’Yquem. The 2001 Les Forts was a very impressive wine. A really nice nose of ripe cassis, blackberry, tobacco, and chocolate. Lots of finesse and elegance. Smooth on the palate. The Les Forts certainly held its own tonight among the great wines of Latour. The 2011 d’Yquem was the nightcap. It paired beautifully with the chocolate covered bacon. What more can you say? I’ll certainly pair more bacon with my Sauternes from now on. Such a classy wine, with such great balance at this young age.

Château Gruaud Larose – 1989

1989-gruad-laroseFrom one of the best values of the 2nd growths, this ’89 has matured nicely. Medium ruby with lightening of edges. Decanted for 4 hours. A dense array of aromatics, with cherry > blackcurrant, leather, musk, licorice, and sous bois. The tertiary notes are starting to outshine the fruit a bit. Good balance and smooth on the palate. Tannins silky smooth. Medium length finish. Acidity seems a bit high on the finish. This is still drinking well, but it appears to be coming off its peak. Still, there’s at least a few years left of good drinking. 92pts –  Sept. 2015

Château Lynch-Bages 1989

LB dallasBottle variation is certainly an interesting thing. After enjoying a pretty stunning bottle of 1989 Château Lynch-Bages recently, I had the pleasure to open another. The nose of this one was a bit shy, but did open up a bit with air. There was also a bit less depth on the palate. Don’t get me wrong; this was still a great wine, and I can’t wait to try again…soon. – Oct 2015


lynch bages1989 Château Lynch-Bages from Pauillac. Lived up to its reputation, in a big way. Followed its evolution over 5 hours, and it honestly just kept getting better. Very young in color and a very clean nose, with no initial funk. An amazing nose of cassis, leather, mint, exotic spiciness, and anise. Lots of fruit here. Very smooth on the palate, with well-balanced tannins. Acidity is also in perfect balance. The finish is memorable, and just kept lingering. The nose and finish propel this wine to ‘special’ status. This wine should drink well for several decades. 96pts – Aug 2015