My Bordeaux: the 1990s
Bordeaux wines over 20 years old begin to show their incredible propensity to age.
As opposed to the official classification of Rive Gauche Bordeaux wines that dates backs to 1855 and includes all wines from the regions of Medoc and Graves (five are premiere cru, 16 deuxième cru, 14 troisième cru, 10 quatrième cru and 18 cinquieme cru, even if in a few rare cases changes were made), the classifications for the Rive Droite (in Saint Emilion) is updated every ten years based on a wine’s technological and quality improvements.
Since the middle of the 20th century, this latter classification, which was first published in 1858, has been updated in 1969, 1986, 1996 and 2006 (the latter only becoming official in 2012 after the appeals advanced by the maisons that were declassified were resolved.
The classification for the Rive Gauche can be summed up as follows:
Premier Cru: Château Lafite Rothschild (Pauillac), Château Latour (Pauillac), Château Mouton Rothschild (Pauillac), Château Haut Brion (Pessac Léognan) and Château Margaux (Margaux).
Deuxième Cru: Château Brane Cantenac (Cantenac/Margaux), Château Cos D’Estournel (Saint Estephe), Château Montrose (Saint Estephe), Château Ducru Beaucaillou (Saint Julien), Château Gruaud Larose (Saint Julien), Château Léoville Las Cases (Saint Julien), Château Léoville Poyferré (Saint Julien), Château Léoville Barton (Saint Julien), Château Durfour Vivents (Margaux), Château Lescombes (Margaux), Château Rauzan Segla (Margaux), Château Rauzan Gassies (Margaux) Château Pichon Longueville Baron (Pauillac) and Château Longueville de Lalande (Pauillac).
Troisième Cru: Château Kirwan (Margaux), Château Calon Segur (Saint Estephe), Château Cantenac Brown (Margaux), Château Boyd Cantenac (Margaux), Château Issan (Margaux), Château Palmer (Margaux), Château Desmiral (Margaux), Château Ferrière (Margaux), Château Malescot Saint Exupéry (Margaux), Château d’Alesme Beker (Margaux), Château Giscours (Margaux), Château Lagrange (Saint Julien) and Château Langoa (Saint Julien).
Quatrième Cru: Château Beycheville (Saint Julien), Château Branaire Ducru (Saint Julien), Château Saint Pierre Sevaistre (Saint Julien), Château Saint Pierre Bontemps (Saint Julien), Château Talbot (Saint Julien), Château Duhart Milon (Pauillac), Château Prieuré Lichine (Margaux), Château Pouget (Margaux), Château Marquis de Terme (Margaux) and Château Lafon Rochet (Saint Estephe).
Cinquième Cru: the following wonderful wines are among 18 cinquième cru and include some of the most important and famous wines that draw higher prices than some of a higher cru: Château Clerc Milon (Pauillac), Château Linch Bages (Pauillac), Château Mouton Baron Philippe (Pauillac), Château Haut Betailley (Pauillac), Château Grand Puy Lacoste (Pauillac), Château Pontet Canet (Pauillac) and Château Betailley (Pauillac).
Even Château Bordeaux wines that are not classified among the premier cru have an extraordinary propensity to age, as demonstrated by the following wines in the first part of our overview of the late 1990s, thus wines that are over 20 years old.
Margaux Troisième Grand Cru Classé 1996 Château Giscours
92/100 - € 100
A bright and lively red color with complex aromas of blackberry jam, currant and blueberry. The mouthfeel has a bold and lovely texture, a concentration that is anything but excessive and, in fact, is mellow and elegant.
Pomerol 1999 Château Clinet
93/100 - € 150
A lively red-purple color with a nice concentration and an interesting bouquet of currant, black pepper, medicinal herbs and rhubarb. The mouthfeel has a commendable flavor and a bold but not invasive structure that is balanced even if bulky.
Grand Cru Classé 1998 Château Montrose
93/100 - € 150
A bright, red color with discreet concentration for this magnificent deuxième cru that has wrapping, warm and relatively sinuous even if not intense aromas. The notes range from ripe Vignola cherry to mowed fields, from damp rock to nori alga and the mouthfeel has an extreme acidic-tannic tension and will improve even more with age.
Margaux Troisième Grand Cru Classé 1999 Château Palmer
94/100 - € 250
This Troisième Cru Margaux achieves great nobility in a great year. A dense ruby color leaning towards garnet and a bouquet with elegant and nicely intense aromas of spice and balsamic hints of bark. The mouthfeel offers great drinkability despite a rather bold structure with a solid and fine texture.
Saint Emilion 1999 Château Tertre Roteboeuf
94/100 - € 200
One of the famous Vins de Garage from the Rive Droite idolized, philosophically, by Robert Parker and his flowers, and with which the famous enologist Michel Rolland made waves in the 1990s. A very intense and an almost dark, concentrated red color. The aroma is unusually fruity and amazes with its strong scents of fresh marasca cherry, mulberry and blueberry jam. The mouthfeel is rounded, broad and bold.
Pomerol 1995 Château La Conseillante
92/100 - € 180
The color is still very rich, such a dark red color it could be blackberry juice. The sweet aromas are of wild berry jam, vanilla and pomegranate and the rounded mouthfeel has soft and velvety tannins and a first-rate sweetness.
Pauillac 1996 Château Baron Pichon Longueville
94/100 - € 180
A beautiful, luminous and bright red color with light hue of garnet on the edge to indicate how time has passed, 25 years since its harvest. The intense aromas are of blackberry and blueberry but there are also notes of cigarette tobacco and antique leather and a coquettish hint of black pepper. A severe, still evolving mouthfeel that is almost austere with its upright elegance.
Pauillac Deuxième Grand Cru Classé 1990 Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande
96/100 - € 200 (rarissimo)
A spectacular vintage for this deuxième cru Pauillac that has reached exceptional heights. The lively and totally intact red color is incredibly luminous and the bouquet opens with rich and copious floral scents and those of plum, peony and chinotto orange, licorice root and rhubarb followed by a delicious mentholated note. The mouthfeel has a solid body and fine and elegant texture, aristocratic and balanced.