A quiet evening on the River Test, perfectly cooked local lamb on the BBQ and some unbelievably good wines – a Saturday that really makes you appreciate how good life can be at times. Three vintages of Chateau Margaux, great food and highly entertaining company; a perfect way to spend an evening. Before the Margaux-fest, we started with a bottle of the 100-point Mouton 1986 – as you do – but unfortunately it was corked and so note or score.
Then the main act – Chateau Margaux, the ‘pearl’ of an estate, run by perhaps the smoothest man in Bordeaux: the ever young Paul Pontallier. For several decades now they have been producing wines with the smoothest tannins in all of the Medoc. We spoiled ourselves with three vintages all of which rated 98pts or above by yours truly...
This is without doubt the most tannic and backward of the three vintages served. It is evolving at such a slow rate that I think that it will be another 5+ years before it is hitting its peak; it’s intense and powerful... I am not sure what they did this year as the extraction is massive but the balance is as ever ‘Margaux’ with creme de Cassis, touches of smoke and little floral notes. Very complex with exotic aromas; this is a wine that needs a few hours decanting to offer its full array of flavours. 98pts DT
Early in its life many a critic suggested that the 1983 might actually be the better wine, but on this tasting I have to report that the 1982 has awoken from its prolonged sleep to show its true form. It is stunning, and drinking as close to perfection as you can imagine. Still dark plum in colour with notes of ripe cassis, dark plums and a touch of spice, it is without doubt a full bodied Margaux, as you would expect from the fruit-dominated 1982 vintage. Rich and ripe on the palate, it’s very velvety and smooth with great length. 98+pts DT
My personal favourite of the evening, but let me make this point: it was very, very close – then again I rate the 1989 vintage almost across the board as the greatest vintage between 1961 and 2000. If you ever want to taste perfect balance and poise then look no further... in short I absolutely love this wine. The aromatics are so precise and focused, nothing drifting or loose. Parker scores this wine 90 points and I think that this plays perfectly into the hands of the consumer: sweet, ripe cassis and dark cherries, tobacco and cedar... It has wonderfully delicate, fresh acidity and such beautiful minerality – this is a wine that I would seriously appreciate having in the cellar. 99pts DT
Finally a blind bottle from the cellar. As always a little chilled to start, but it slowly opened to allow us a sensible guess – Lindsay hit Vosne Romanee, but beyond that I am afraid we failed...
Dark Cherries and raspberry, with the slightest hint of secondary forest floor and mushrooms. Had the Vosne spice and also the Vosne elegance and soft tannins, but as with most 1999 tasted recently, it still has years of life ahead and needs around 5+ years to open and soften further. No doubt this is very good Burgundy, but needs time. 94+pts DT