Amazed Again By The Longevity of Bordeaux Wines

November 30th, 2020

Your scribe is pleased with the continuation of the present opportunity at home to taste older wines. Always amazed at how well-cellared high quality Bordeaux seems to last forever. Sure they don’t have the immediate big fresh ripe accessible fruit of the last three vintages of 2018-2020 but provide something more three dimensional in complexity with particular brilliance for food pairing. It must be a combination of terroir factors led by the remarkable magical trio balance of fruit acid and tannins that make this all possible. These observations were commented on in a previous Blog here on July 27, 2020 of “Looking Back 50 Years to 1970 Bordeaux.” However most of us don’t have that chance to try such old wines but there are other “younger” aged wines that are doing just fine thank you and available for purchase at prices comparable to current releases. A good example is 1986. This vintage has been mostly unpopular and rather unapproachable until recently – particularly in the most successful ACs of St. Julien & Pauillac. They now are opening up nicely onto an exquisite plateau of enjoyment. Almost all the chateaux in those two appellations are singing. Last week was a surprise by the dramatic change in 1986 Château Leoville Poyferre which had been rather closed dull tannic and simple on yearly previous tries but now has opened rounded out and so delicious with roasted duck leg. Predicted this correctly about 1986 in my Leoville Poyferre vertical posted here on January 23, 2017. Recommend buying some of those classic 2016 Bordeaux from various appellations at all price levels to enjoy and to follow their progression with aging. 

My enthusiasm for raising this topic yet again was an outstanding bottle treat on the weekend of 1981 Château Margaux. Remember ordering a case of this in New York at $30.25/bottle and picking it up on my way to the airport in May 1984. Not allowed to pay for it by credit card in those days and had only enough cash left to capture 7 bottles (left the other 5 for a lucky friend living in NY) in the good old days of liberal hand luggage to fly on to Vancouver. Well stored since the wine is still a young vibrant red colour with a brilliant so complex bouquet on a perfect plateau of enjoyment with juicy roasted chicken. This wine has to be the best wine of the vintage and my hearty congrats to the Mentzelopoulos family from those early days. Most consumers say drink this up including our own knowledgeable IWFS member John Danza who posted on cellartracker: “The palate has lots of red fruit, tobacco, with good acidity and moderate tannins. Definitely fully mature, and one to not buy to hold. Drink up.”  Aged bottles will vary and some of us like well matured drier wines more than others but believe me this 1981 Château Margaux was fantastic claret and will remain IMHO on this perfect plateau for quite a while yet! Appreciate older Bordeaux.

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November 30th, 2020

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