Drinking Older Bordeaux Wines
By Bob Lipinski
“No, Agnes, a Bordeaux is not a house of ill repute.” (George Bain 1920–2006, Canadian author, Champagne is for Breakfast, 1972)
At a fabulous private wine event, I had the opportunity of tasting wines from three classic Bordeaux wineries dating back to 1982. The wineries were Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Château Branaire-Ducru, and Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste. Leading the sit-down discussion were representatives from each of the Bordeaux estates.
My tasting notes of some of the wines are below.
Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte (Martillac, Graves) Red wines are made from a grape blend that varies by vintage; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Red wines are aged in oak barrels for about 18 months.
2010 “Blanc:” (Blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris, 5% Sémillon grapes) Bouquet and flavor of coconut, marzipan, citrus, peach, mango and ripe melons. 10 months in oak.
2012 “Blanc:” (Blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc / 5% Sauvignon Gris / 5% Sémillon grapes) Flavors of peach, apricot, and citrus, with hints of caramel and star anise. 10 months in oak.
2012 “Rouge:” Dark colored with huge mouthful of black tea, black currants, spices, and black cherries.
2009 “Rouge:” Full-flavored with red fruits abounding; spices, perfumed bouquet, cinnamon and raspberries.
2000 “Rouge:” Notes of sweet cherries, cranberry, licorice, and black raspberry with light tannins. Elegant.
1998 “Rouge:” Maroon-colored with an earthy bouquet; black currants, dark fruits, sweet cherries, leather, mushrooms. Velvety and very long aftertaste. Wow!
Château Branaire-Ducru (Saint-Julien; fourth growth—1855 Classification). Produces only red wine from a grape blend that varies by vintage; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Wines are aged in oak barrels for 16 to 20 months,
2011: Dark color with a bouquet of cedar, sweet cherries, chocolate, and spices. Some tannin to lose. Overall quite young.
2010: Closed, tight nose; heaps of fruit, well-balanced, tannin and plenty of cherries.
2008: Perfumed bouquet, violets, dried red fruits, well-balanced, still tannic, some black currants.
2005: Bouquet loaded with brown baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), wonderfully structured, softening. Still youthful.
1989: Perfumed bouquet of roses, cherries and violets. Medium-full bodied and elegant but thinning out. Drink by 2020.
1982: Brick-color; certain sweetness of fruit; soft, elegant with some tannin, Hint of tea and orange peel. Drink by 2020.
Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste (Pauillac; fifth growth—1855 Classification). Produces only red wine from a grape blend that varies by vintage; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
2009: Dark red color with a complex bouquet of fruits, blackcurrant, cedar, spices, licorice. Youthful.
2006: Bouquet of black currant liqueur with hints of cedar, black tea. Still tannic.
2005: Garnet-color with hints of cherries, black currants, spices and wet stone. Still quite youthful.
2000: Brick-color; bouquet of cherries, mint, licorice, and plums. Still quite flavorful and fruity.
Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org.