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Old 26-05-2004, 03:48 PM
Bill Spohn
 
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Default 1989 Bordeaux

Notes from a tasting dinner of the 1989 vintage with the Commanderie de
Bordeaux at Vancouver.

1990 Drappier Carte d'Or Champagne - this wine has progressed in the last 3 or
4 years. Good mousse, nice citrus based nose, good length and crisp finish, and
now it lingers right in the middle of the tongue in a way I had not previously
noted. Very nice, although I am not sure it will ever surpass the 90 Pol Roger.

2003 Mystery Wine - this turned out to be a 2003 Sauvignon Blanc made by one of
our members from Riverbank Vineyard fruit near Hopland in the Russian River
Valley. Grass mixed with tropical fruit in the nose, then what seemed like too
much residual sugar to finish cleanly- it had a sugary acid finish, although
the maker indicated it was actually low in RS.

With seared scallops, peperonata, and goat cheese foam.

First flight, served with smoked squab breast on cumin scented lentils:

Grand Mayne - this right bank flight was in many ways the most interesting, if
not perhaps quite the strongest flight of the night. An excellent nose with
berry fruit and vanilla, a smooth entry then the wine seemed to take on a bit
of weight, although still with a smooth texture. There was both sweetness and
tannin at the end. Quite good.

Magdeleine - a more wood driven nose, medium bodied but with great poise and
good length. Not quite as generous as the previous wine but a good showing
nonetheless.

Canon la Gaffeliere - a slightly ripe nose with herbs. Tannins were a bit
harder on this wine, and it was medium to full bodied. It needs some more time
(at least in my opinion - many were saying they thought the wines perfectly
ready now), and it impressed me more and more as it opened up in the glass.

Angelus - a wonderful soy, black olive and cedar nose, biggest and richest wine
of the flight, and also the longest finish. It lingers on palate with a hint of
dry cocoa at the very end. For me, I think this was the wine of the night, and
I think it would have been voted as such by more of the assembled multitude had
they not been swayed by Left Bank prejudice!

Flight 2 - with braised oxtail wrapped in Savoy cabbage

D'Armailhac - The colour on this wine was a bit light, but the nose was very
good with lots of red fruit and vanilla. Good weight, slightly warm, long full
finish.

Fieuzal - the odd one out in this crowd - sweet vanilla nose with dark
cherries, nice weight and a very becoming sweetness at the end. Perhaps not
quite as good as the previous wine.


Beychevelle - I thought I detected a very slight waft of corkiness in this
wine, and the nose was dusty oak. Lots of stuffing but the fruit seemed
slightly muted and almost dull. It finished with lots of tannin and not quite
enough fruit and sweetness. It impressed others more than it did me.


Clerc Milon - warm toasty nose with lots of plumy fruit, concentrated flavour
on palate, full bodied with velvety and slightly chewy tannins. Best of flight
and the best Clerc Milon I have tasted in a long time.

Flight 3 with roasted venison loin chop

Palmer - with this flight everyone headed into truly familiar territory (none
of those odd right bank wines with all that merlot and the multitude of small
chateaux you can never remember). A sweet nose that exhibited complexity and
depth, medium body, supple and smooth on palate, and a long textbook claret
finish. We opined that this wine may be at peak and will not show further
improvement, although it will last for years.

Leoville Las Cases - after the wonderful Palmer, I was surprised as this wine
seemed to measure up so well. Sweet fruit in the nose, and tons of
concentration on palate, long with a very slight bitter note right at the tail.
This wine, after much comparison, was not significantly inferior to the Palmer,
and will last much longer with its tannins still to be fully resolved.

Lafite - sweet vanilla nose, medium dark colour, good bright fruit and good
length. It probably needs 10 years, but it is a medium bodied wine with
elegance, not a Latour. It was interesting to see people automatically turn on
the adulation when a first growth turned up instead of properly assessing the
wine. This is why I do all my own events blind, so the identity of the wine has
no influence.

Cos d'Estournel - hard company to be judged with, but the Cos stood up pretty
well. A lot of wood in the nose, smooth midpalate, and then a fairly tannic
finish. This wine needs time, and I think it failed to show as well as it might
have because of that - the tannins were harder than those of the Lafite, for
instance. I think it is a better wine than it is often given credit for, and
would like to try it again in a few years.

My favourites of the flight were Palmer, Las Cases, and Lafite, in that order.


La Tour Blanche - honey but little botrytis in the nose and almost no coconut.
On the sweet side and fairly full in the mouth. Medium long finish. Great way
to end this excellent event.


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Old 26-05-2004, 04:23 PM
Cwdjrx _
 
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Default 1989 Bordeaux

Have you tasted the 89 Haut Brion recently? This is the only 89 1'st
growth that I bought. Early on, many thought it was one of the best Haut
Brions of recent years.

My mailbox is always full to avoid spam. To contact me, erase
from my email address. Then add . I do not
check this box every day, so post if you need a quick response.

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Old 26-05-2004, 04:47 PM
Bill Spohn
 
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Default 1989 Bordeaux

Have you tasted the 89 Haut Brion recently?

I am just starting to get into the 89s and I haven't had the chance to try the
HB yet.
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Old 26-05-2004, 06:38 PM
Mark Lipton
 
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Default 1989 Bordeaux

Bill Spohn wrote:

Angelus - a wonderful soy, black olive and cedar nose, biggest and richest wine
of the flight, and also the longest finish. It lingers on palate with a hint of
dry cocoa at the very end. For me, I think this was the wine of the night, and
I think it would have been voted as such by more of the assembled multitude had
they not been swayed by Left Bank prejudice!


O, Joy! Thanks for the update, Bill. It makes me glad to have some in
the cellar. Any point in waiting more for it?

What a great lineup of wines, Bill. FWIW, has Gavroche reopened? I
haven't seen you post any notes from there in quite a long while.

Mark Lipton
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Old 26-05-2004, 08:29 PM
Dale Williams
 
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Default 1989 Bordeaux

nice notes, thanks!
Dale

Dale Williams
Drop "damnspam" to reply


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Old 26-05-2004, 10:32 PM
Bill Spohn
 
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Default 1989 Bordeaux

What a great lineup of wines, Bill. FWIW, has Gavroche reopened? I
haven't seen you post any notes from there in quite a long while.


Bien sur, mon ami.

Your luncheon table awaits you the next time you venture this way.

I normally post lunch notes without mentioning venue.

Next Monday - more notes!
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Old 27-05-2004, 06:09 AM
Tom S
 
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Default 1989 Bordeaux


"Bill Spohn" wrote in message
...
Lafite - sweet vanilla nose, medium dark colour, good bright fruit and

good
length. It probably needs 10 years, but it is a medium bodied wine with
elegance, not a Latour. It was interesting to see people automatically

turn on
the adulation when a first growth turned up instead of properly assessing

the
wine. This is why I do all my own events blind, so the identity of the

wine has
no influence.


Hi, Bill -
FWIW, I agree that blind tasting is best - and I take your notes with a
grain of salt, due to the fact that this tasting was apparently not blind.

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)?

Now my disclaimer: I love Lafite and Haut Brion the most among Bordeaux
first growths.

Tom S


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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 -
consistency.

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.
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