Thread: 1989 Bordeaux
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Old 27-05-2004, 02:51 PM
Bill Spohn
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Default 1989 Bordeaux

It appears that you rather liked the Lafite, but is it possible that you
downgraded it simply because you knew for sure that it wasn't a Latour
(which would seem to be your preference)?

No, it isn't.

I do not downgrade a wine because of what it is not, and I love Lafite as much
as Latour, though the performance of the two wines over many vintages is
somewhat different.

I ranked the 3 wines in the order I liked them without reference to what they
were. It makes no difference to me that one is a first growth, one a second and
one a third. On this day they were showing very close together.

The quality that warrants a first growth status is not that it be the best wine
in any given vintage, but that it be a very good wine over many vintages -

Margaux has the terroir for this, yet failed to perform up to that level for
many years during the Ginnestet era. I would not downgrade it for that, but I
would certainly criticise the chateau for miserable performance.

Another telling criterion for judging a first growth is how well it does in
lesser vintages. It is relatively easy to make a great wine in a great vintage
when all of the ingredients are perfect; it is another to do so in a lesser
vintage when your winemaking technique and the decisions you make in the
vineyard before harvest will make the difference between a good and merely
decent wine.

By this measure, Mouton, for instance, fails to measure up - it would be a 2
and 1/2 growth somewhere between 1st and second if I were classifyng them.

I looked up the Parker reviews of the 89s (he is one of the most reliable - far
better than that bunch of cowboys at the Wine Speculator) and he gave the
Lafite a 90, which together with his written review I would say was right on
the money. He gave the Palmer a 95 - it wasn't up to that on the night I tasted
it. He gave the Las Cases a 91, and he was close to the mark there, too.