Double-Blind Tasting – Bordeaux from 1990 and Prior

Just when you thought we were done posting about Bordeaux for a while, I thought I’d throw in a review from a couple months back when my wine group did a double-blind tasting of Bordeaux wines from 1990 and prior.  My wine group of eight guys has been meeting monthly for about nine years now.  The host picks the wine theme and most of our tastings are double-blind.  This time, our wonderful host, Bill Schallert, invited the wives to join the group, so my wife, Christina, was happy to come and taste some swill.  Since we had just returned a month prior from our two week trip to Bordeaux, we absolutely loved the idea of being able to taste some more mature Bordeaux wines, as most of the wines you get to taste at the Chateaux are on the younger side.

I have always really liked tasting blind, or better yet, double-blind.  For those that don’t know the difference between blind and double-blind:  a blind tasting is when you know the wines that are being served, but you do not know the order.  A double-blind tasting is when you don’t know what wines are being served, but they may meet a category (Bordeaux 1990 and prior), and you also don’t know the order.  I like blind tastings because I consider myself a perpetual student of wine, and I don’t want my opinion to be potentially swayed by any labels.

See? You can tell we tasted them blind by the brown wrapping still hanging on to the bottle of Palmer.
See? You can tell we tasted them blind by the brown wrapping still hanging on to the bottle of Palmer.    A good night!

Here are the wines and the order that we tasted them in:


2003 Chateau Raveneau – Monts Mains, Chablis – Nice melon fruit a little sea breeze and oyster shell minerality on the nose.  In the mouth, ripe melon, white peach and a little spice, with  limestone and oyster shells.  Good acidity for a 2003 Chablis, that keeps everything lively on the medium-long spicy white fruit and ocean air finish.  Raveneau makes some absolutely wonderful Chablis, even in a hot year like 2003.  This was a great way to start. (93 pts.)

This is always an excellent white producer.
This is such an excellent producer of Chablis.

Flight #1

1989 Chateau Pichon Lalande, St. Julien – Classic stinky feet Bordeaux nose with a little bit of Band-Aid jumps from the glass, sweet dark berry fruit, dry leaves, forest floor and baking spices.  Medium-full bodied, with good acidity, resolved tannins and a nice long dark fruit finish.  This is a classic mature Bordeaux, that is drinking very well right now.  The ’89 Pichon Lalande is on a faster track and drinking more mature than most of the other 89’s that I have had.  I would venture to say that it will not last nearly as long either.  While a lot of the 89’s will continue to improve through 2020, I will probably finish off my ’89 Pichon Lalande before 2020.  I don’t see it getting any better than where it is at present. (94 pts.)

1990 Chateau Prieure Lichine, Margaux – Darker berry nose with a little Band-Aid again.  In the mouth, darker small berry fruit, black currants, slight bit of spice, decent acidity and surprisingly assertive tannins.  Medium-full bodied and a long dark tannic fruit finish, that doesn’t have the sweetness of fruit the first wine had.  This is a big and dark wine, but it doesn’t give you the pleasure in the finish. (89 pts.)

1981 Chateau Gruaud Larose, St. Julien – Dark earthy red/black berry fruit nose, with just a hint of green bell pepper, but not in a bad way.  In the mouth, deep dark red bing cherry and earthy blackberry fruit, baking spices, slight bit of forest floor and still fairly tannic.  Full bodied and a long sweet dark tannic fruit finish.  This is a big wine that is surprisingly youthful and still drinking young.  I could not believe that it was from the ’81 vintage when it was revealed, it tasted more like a ’96.  (93 pts.)

Flight #2

1982 Chateau Palmer, Margaux -Very nice spicy dark fruit and dark chocolate nose.  Very smooth in the mouth, small ripe dark bing cherries and blackberries, lots of baking spices, slight bit of forest floor and resolved sweet tannins.  Full bodied, sweet/spicy dark red/black fruit just singing on the very long fruit filled finish.  This wine is drinking very well today and even beat the ’83 Palmer that I had about a year ago.  I don’t see this wine getting any better than it is today, so no reason to wait, but no hurry either if well stored.  (96 pts.)

1989 Chateau Angelus, St. Emilion – Very dark cherry fruit and chocolate nose.  In the mouth, ripe black bing cherries and very dark bittersweet chocolate, good acidity and with just the slightest hint of baking spices.  Full bodied and a nice long very dark chocolate fruit filled very tannic finish.  This wine was very tannic and seemed a little closed in on its self, it just was not singing.  You could see the huge potential, but it was begging for another decade in the cellar to really show its stuff.  I know the person who brought the wine bought it on release and it has been well-stored since, so maybe it just needed a lot more air and/or more years in the cellar.  (95 pts.) now with upside.

After tasting the 1989 Angelus, I mentioned to my wife “This wine tastes like a wine we just had in Bordeaux,” it just seemed so distinct.  The others at the table heard me mention this to Christina, so they asked me what I thought the wine was.  I said I didn’t know the vintage, but the characteristics of the wine reminded me of the ’05 and ’06 Chateau Angelus we had a month ago.  I was shocked to see it was an ’89 Angelus, but glad to see that my flavor memory recall was working.  I guess I learned something on that trip (and practice makes perfect, right??).  The ’05 and ’06 Angelus wines were some of the highlights of our wonderful trip.

1989 Chateau Lynch Bages, Pauillac – Dark cherry and bitter chocolate nose.  Smooth in the mouth, with dark black cherries, bitter sweet chocolate and some spice.  Good acidity and still very tannic on the long dark fruit finish.  This wine must have been resting in a very cold, dark cellar and is in need of another 5+ years to show what it has to offer.  A very nice wine, but will not give up what it has right now.  (93 pts.) with upside.

1983 Chateau Magdelaine, St. Emilion – Dark cherry fruit and spice with some dark chocolate on the nose.  Very smooth in the mouth, beautiful ripe dark bing cherries, lots of baking spices and a little forest floor adds to the wonderful complexity.  Fully resolved tannins, medium-full bodied and an absolutely beautiful long sweet dark spicy fruit finish.  This is my first time having wine from this producer and they knocked it out of the park with the ’83.  This is a gorgeous wine today, so if you own it, open a bottle.  You won’t be disappointed.  (96 pts.)

2005 Chateau Rieussec, Sauternes – Sweet pineapple, some melon and honey on the nose.  Very sweet pineapple in the mouth, with some spiced honey and decent acidity.  The very sweet finish is long but the honey aspect is just a little too cloyingly sweet for my taste.  It is a nice, well-made wine, but I would prefer a little more acidity to counter the sweetness.  (92 pts.)

All in all, it was a very nice evening with a great group of guys (and girls).  Wouldn’t mind repeating it again soon…!

Day Eight: The Sweet Town of Sauternes and our Favorite Lunch at Les Sapien

The town of Sauternes is a charming little town right in the middle of the vineyards of Sauternes.  Before lunch, we walked through the town, looking at the various buildings and shops.

Christina Watt in the town of Sauternes.
Christina Watt in the town of Sauternes.
Bob Watt in Sauternes.
Bob Watt in Sauternes.
Sleepy and quaint.
Sleepy and quaint.

We came across a cute wine shop that was doing a tasting of Chateau Lamothe Sauternes.

The super cute wine shop.
The super cute wine shop.

Miriam, the delightful woman running the store, happily shared these wines with us:

Miriam was very gracious.
Miriam was very gracious.

2009 Chateau Lamothe – Nice bright nose of peaches and pears.  In the mouth, very fresh peaches, pears and some spice, with good acids and a complex long finish.  The finish of this wine stays in the mouth long after it is gone.  A very nice wine and one to look for.

2005 Chateau Lamothe – Bright nose of white peaches with a little spiciness.  In the mouth, white peach, hint of pineapple and a slight spicy honey note.  Very good acid on the slightly spicy white fruit medium long finish.

2001 Chateau Lamothe – Subtle but very complex nose of peaches, pears, green melon and spicy honey.  In the mouth, very delicate flavors of white peaches, pears, spicy young pineapple and a hint of honey.  Keeps changing in the mouth.  Very good acid and a very long complex finish that won’t quit.  This is a very nice wine and one to look for if you can find it.

2000 Chateau Lamothe – A more mature nose of yellow peaches and some ripe pineapple.  In the mouth, ripe peaches and pineapple combined with a little mango.  Decent acid and a nice long finish of ripe fruit.  The 2000 doesn’t have the energy of the other three vintages, but it is drinking well now.

After the tasting, we wandered across the street to Les Sapien.  Honestly, if we had realized how good this lunch would be, we would have made way more time for it.  We were on time for our reservation, but it was scheduled tightly, with a visit to the fabled Chateau d’Yquem looming large.  What a shame it was, because this lunch was easily one of the best meals we had on our trip.

A partial patio view of the restaurant, Les Sapien.
A partial patio view of the restaurant, Les Sapien.

After the starters, Christina got a pork tenderloin dish that was truly amazing, while I opted for the fish, which was also very well-prepared.  If you know me, you know I’m not a dessert person – while I can tolerate the sugars in wine, I don’t typically do well with the sugar in most desserts.  This dessert, however, was a rare exception.  Blue cheese ice cream.  I’m not sure how to describe it, except to say I can still remember how good it was – and how I had to fend off the occasional wandering spoon from Christina.  We had a very nice dry white wine with our lunch, produced by Chateau Suduiraut called Suduiraut Blanc Sec.

2011 Chateau Suduiraut Blanc Sec – Very bright and crisp, with strong lemony acidity, almost like a Chablis (which I love).  Very nice white fruit and green melon with just a hint of spice from oak.  Nice medium-long clean and refreshing finish.  I have never seen this wine in the states, but I will look to see if I can find it.  It is a great summertime sipper, especially while overlooking the vineyards.

I think this is the only picture we got of the food.  We were in such a hurry, That it wasn't until we were about halfway through that we realized we should have really been recording more of the meal.
I think this is the only picture we got of the food. We were in such a hurry, that it wasn’t until we were about halfway through that we realized we should have really been recording more of the meal!

We had to depart the restaurant all too soon, but we vowed to return again one day – for a leisurely dinner on their spectacular patio.  If you are ever in the area, this is a must-stop restaurant.  Next up – the legendary Chateau d’Yquem!

Cellar Gems: 2004 William Fevre

2004 William Fevre – Bougros Cote Bouguerots (Chablis, France) – I believe William Fevre is one of the best producers in Chablis for the money.  It’s a favorite in our household!

The 2004 had a nice light straw yellow color.  The nose smelled of granny smith apples, wet limestone and sea air.  In the mouth, the sweet high acid green apple fruit combined with lemon, wet stone, oyster shell and just a touch of spices like nutmeg.  The dense sweet fruit carries through the very long mineraly finish, with an electric acid snap that makes you take notice.  This was my first foray, since release, into our collection of 2004 Chablis wines.  The 2004 vintage is a very “classic”  and wonderful vintage for Chablis.  They say “Good things come to those that wait.” and this wine has a long life ahead of it.  (96pts.)

wine blog august 2013 007

Cellar Gems are reviews of bottles aged in our cellar.