These tasting notes were written by William Dick in November 2003 and reflect the views of the Liquid Assets Wine Tasting Society of Indianapolis, IN.
My palate along with my back, eyes, testosterone level (still good, if not at its peak), etc. has changed. Either some other palates have also changed or I have had too much influence on some people. But I usually give others credit for making their own decisions and so I must conclude that many of us now favor the Pinot Noir (or Syrah) grape over the Cabernet/Merlot varieties. Rick Robertson liked the wines quite a bit but most we left wanting more – especially from the likes of Lynch Bages, one of Indy’s personal favorites. Read on…..
1983 & 1985 RED BORDEAUX
Orley Ashenfelter predicted that we would like the 1983’s best and I thought that I, at least, would prefer the 1985’s. Not so, as several 1983’s performed better than their counterparts. Was it just the better weather in 1983 or was it just the two more years of bottle age that gave them the edge? We would like to hear the Professor’s opinion on this subject. This tasting was blind, with the wines served as pairs, and neither the chateau nor the year was known to the tasters. Rick Robertson (surprise) chose the correct vintage on all eight wines.
After the tasting, with only four of us remaining, we sampled more of the 1985 Jadot Chambertin Clos de Beze (a mystery wine included in the line up) and it had really improved in the glass, while the Bordeaux wines did not. Then I brought out a bottle of 1990 Girardin Santenay La Maladieres, which was three-fourths full. The fruit leaped out of the glass and while the wine was in no way deep or profound, it was very pleasant, which is all that we should really expect from a wine. (We get too serious sometimes, I suppose). [Some words in the descriptions are borrowed from Robert Parker’s book, Bordeaux.] All of these wines may benefit from more time, but Mr. Parker believes that they are mature and after all, they are twenty years old.
1. 1983 Gruaud Larose – It is odd that when Orley’s group tasted the 1983’s, while their lineup was different, the same wine, Gruaud Larose, was the preferred one. It seemed to have more of that pleasant fruit, along with substantial backbone. It is all blackberry and cedar, dark, viscous and sweet tannins. Drink now to 2010.
WHD 18 ˝ +, RP 90, 4 firsts, 3 seconds, 1 third (Point scores are out of 20, and reflect my own preferences; RP is Robert Parker’s rating on a scale of 50 to 100; and the number of first place, second, and third places is included as a measure of group preference.)
2. 1983 Pichon Lalande – No surprise here – they make such a fine wine. It is the most St. Julien-like of the Pauillac wines and indeed, part of the vineyards lie in St. Julien. The 35% Merlot content also softens the wine and in my estimate, makes it more appealing. “Stunning wine”, says Mr. Parker and it has always been one of the stars of the vintage.
It had a blackcurrant nose, good body, a bit low in acid, but nice concentration.
WHD 17 ˝ +, RP 94, 1 first, 1 second, six thirds
3. 1985 Pichon Lalande – This wine was similar to the one above but was more tannic and had less elegance than the 1983.
WHD 17 1/2 , RP 90, 1 first, 2 seconds, 1 third
4. 1985 Gruaud Larose – The group was impressed more with this wine than was I. Parker thought it was forward but I thought it was a little backward. It was pleasant but the fruit seemed subdued.
WHD 17, RP 90, 2 seconds, 1 third
5. 1983 Margaux – This was my favorite wine but the group did not admire the two Chateau Margaux wines. Normally, I do not like the wines of Margaux region, even that from Margaux itself. But I thought that it had a complexity that no other wine had. It was definitely oaky, with cassis added for good measure – a wine clearly needing time.
WHD 18 ˝ , RP 96, 1 first
6. 1985 Margaux – Again, I was out on a limb by myself (and Mr. Parker). This wine, while not quite as good as the 1983 version, is still a rich, ripe blackberry scented wine with further potential.
WHD 18+, RP 94, 1 second
7. 1985 Lynch Bages – A shocker to many but not to me – I had sold my stash some time ago. If you read Mr. Parker you would hear that this is a gorgeous wine but I think that it is a hollow tannic monster, worsening by the year. Nuff said.
WHD 16, RP 91
8. 1983 Lynch Bages – Weedy nose, a wine with nowhere to go but down. I’d sell or drink up.
WHD 15, RP 88