To celebrate my ten years living in Italy, I did some major partying this weekend, with friends as well as wine producers in Tuscany. It’s been ten great years, but that’s another column.
On Sunday, we drank a number of 1998s, including Fanti Brunello di Montalcino, Petrolo Galatrona, Ornellaia, Roberto Voerzio Barolo Vecchie Vite dei Capalot e delle Brunate Riserva, and Le Bon Pasteur. The latter made me think about how great Bordeaux’s Right Bank wines, as well as Pessac-Léognan, were in 1998. This is a monumental vintage. Of course, I was not there to taste the 1950 vintage when it was young, but that's the vintage I think of when I taste these wines.
Many wines, such as Cheval-Blanc, Pétrus and Le Pin, are clearly better in 1998 than 2000, even though prices are higher for the wines in the latter vintage. Even the president of Cheval-Blanc admits that 1998 is superior to the 2000. And the Thienpont family at Le Pin also agree.
But you don’t have to buy just the top names in 1998. Just about anything from Pomerol, St.-Emilion and Pessac-Léognan are high quality. I am going to organize a more extensive tasting later this year in Bordeaux to write a complete story, but for now, here is a list of tasting notes from an event a little over a year ago put on by Farr Vintners in London. All the wines were tasted blind, though the scores are unofficial. The notes were never published. Below are my top-scoring wines.
Château Pétrus: Beautiful aromas of blackberries and dark chocolate with flowers. Full-bodied and very chewy with loads of fruit and tannins. This is extremely structured with lots going on. Lasts for minutes. Muscular. Superb. Perfect Pétrus. Best after 2012. 100 points (unofficial).
Château Le Pin: This is breathtaking on the nose, with layers of meat, tobacco, ripe berry, black olives and vanilla. Full-bodied, and very velvety with exotic fruit. Wild and wicked. Sexy and naughty. This is incredible. Give it time still. Best after 2010. 100 points (unofficial).
Château Haut-Brion: This is very complex on the nose with hot stones, berries and minerals. Full-bodied, tannic and powerful. This is a muscular wine with amazing structure and richness. So long, so wonderful. Best after 2010. 98 points (unofficial).
Château L'Evangile: Aromas of violets, lightly toasted oak and berries follow through to a full-bodied palate, with super well-integrated tannins and a long, long silky finish. This is wonderfully textured and refined, yet exotic. Best after 2011. 98 points (unofficial).
Château Cheval-Blanc: Aromas of dark fruit and cafe latté follow through to a full-bodied palate, with loads of new wood and a tight structure Not giving much at the end, but will come around. And it’s very serious. This is still not giving much but it clearly a great wine. Best after 2012. 97 points (unofficial).
Château L'Église Clinet: Lots of fruit, but it's subtle and hidden, with hints of flowers and new wood. Full-bodied, with super silky tannins and a long flavorful finish. This is still very tight. Classy. Best after 2012. 97 points (unofficial).
Château Trotanoy: Aromas of dark chocolate, crushed berries and light vanilla follow through to a full body, with velvety tannins and a long, luscious finish. A gorgeous bottle here. Best after 2010. 96 points (unofficial).
Château Clinet: Intense aromas of blackberries, olives and fresh herbs. Brown sugar. Full-bodied and very, very concentrated. Port-like. Love it. This has a long time ahead of it. Much better than I remember. Super. Best after 2012. 95 points (unofficial).
Château Ausone: Aromas of crushed raspberries and toasted oak follow through to a full-bodied palate, with tight and silky tannins and a long finish. Still only giving a glimpse of what it has. Stylish wine. Not giving much today. Best after 2011. 95 points (unofficial).
Château La Mission-Haut-Brion: Aromas of licorice, plums, berries and cigar box. Full-bodied, with super-silky and sexy tannins. Long, long finish. Fine structure. Best after 2011. 95 points (unofficial).
Château Rol Valentin: Beautiful aromas of chocolate, berries and vanilla with hints of raspberries. Full-bodied, with lovely sweet fruit and layers of velvety tannins. Goes on and on. Give this time, but it's beautifully balanced. Best after 2012. 95 points (unofficial).
Vieux-Château-Certan: Aromas of violets, blackberries and toasted oak. Full-bodied, with round and caressing tannins and a long, long finish. This is very balanced and refined. Pretty. Best after 2010. 95 points (unofficial).
Miguel Lecuona — Austin, TX — April 15, 2008 10:20pm ET
Carole Wurster — New York — April 15, 2008 11:55pm ET
Dr J Rosenblatt — Montreal, Canada — April 16, 2008 3:36pm ET
James Suckling — — April 17, 2008 10:39am ET
Anacleto Ludovic — paris france — April 17, 2008 12:00pm ET
James Suckling — — April 17, 2008 12:35pm ET
Anacleto Ludovic — paris france — April 17, 2008 4:26pm ET
Marcello Buontempo — April 18, 2008 12:41am ET
James Suckling — — April 18, 2008 2:24am ET
Matt Scott — Honolulu HI — April 18, 2008 9:33pm ET
Kevin Andrews — houston — April 20, 2008 9:30pm ET
Anders Wittenburg Jacobsen — Hellrup, Denmark — April 22, 2008 5:51pm ET
Dr J Rosenblatt — Montreal, Canada — April 22, 2008 8:06pm ET
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