1998 Right Bank Bordeaux at 20 Years

January 29th, 2018

1998 Bordeaux Right Bank vineyards

2018 is here bringing the opportunity to organize horizontal wine tastings at 10 year benchmark intervals for vintages 2008 (try classic Chablis), 1998 (Bordeaux), 1988 (improving old style red Burgundy), and 1978 (40 year old treasures). Started out this month trying 20 year Right Bank Bordeaux 1998 a year of overall varying quality but favouring the ripening of cabernet franc & merlot especially in the Graves, Pomerol and St. Emilion regions. The rains during most of the first half of October hindered the phenolic ripeness and intensity of some wines from the Left Bank (which your scribe will report on after a forthcoming Spring tasting) but the Right Bank on release was universally recommended. Here is a brief report card on the 9 wines:

First Flight: Lafleur-Gazin, Magdelaine, & Grand Pontet. Colours are still young and deep led by M but GP is more aged murky looking with a mature browning rim. L-G high merlot plums show plus some typical Pomerol iron notes but finishing with drier simpler vegetal flavours. GP is full rich but ready and not aging as slowly as other two so drink it up now. Star of flight is definitely Jean-Pierre Moueix’s Magdelaine (last vintage was 2011 & now part of their Chateau Belair-Monange) on Cotes limestone soil resulting in complex fruit with extra dimensions of anise, cinnamon, and licorice. Excellent match with the prosciutto wrapping on the roasted quail course. Good start.

Second Flight: Trotanoy, Beausejour Duffau Lagarrosse & Mystery wine (1998 Chateau Haut-Brion). T is a big jump up in class! So big concentrated yet velvety textures with superb length singing Pomerol. Excellent reminding of the 1964 from old vines before vineyard replanting. BDL quite brown on the edge and way too earthy and unclean. Strange. Bad bottle? Not near the sensational 1990 100 pointer we reported on earlier here. Disappoints. Mystery wine is dark deep and rich but has stunning power combined with elegance. Some ripe mocha notes. Guesses of another 1998 of highest quality perhaps a First Growth – Cheval Blanc cab franc & merlot? We didn’t nail it but H-B in Pessac-Leognan really fits with Robert Parker’s description for this wine of “liquid nobility”. Two really outstanding wines in this flight showing off the excellent quality of 1998 at the very top level. Truffles seem to always show the wines to advantage!

Third Flight: Pavie-Macquin, La Gaffeliere, & Canon La Gaffeliere. P-M way the darkest look here. Young with good structure and impressive extracted Right Bank fruit but still quite primary. LG palest colour especially the rim with quite a lot of herbaceous pyrazine styling obvious on the nose. Stylish elegant ever improving in the glass especially tasted with the 56 day dry aged steak. CLG mid range look with a maturing rim but solid balanced lovely very St Emilion terroir from this often undervalued property. Nice flight but lacking somewhat in overall complexity.

Have you tried the 1998 vintage from some wine region recently? Are you organizing in 2018 an interesting horizontal of older wines from the same vintage?


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January 29th, 2018

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