1990 Leoville Barton, 1990 Lynch Bages, etc.
Had a loosely themed dinner recently pitting some CA Cabernet against Bordeaux, and thought some of you would be interested in the 1990 Bordeaux notes. All wines served single blind.
1990 Leoville Barton - Wasn't sure what to expect from my first Leoville Barton...had heard plenty of their more restrained style, but in a warm vintage these things have a way of canceling out. Showed bright red and black fruit that jumped out well on the nose, along with the soil and oak components you'd expect. Medium weight in the mouth, to which a friend commented, "they don't make Bordeaux like this anymore". Yes, this was classic Bordeaux, classic "Claret" as the English would say. If compared to music, this was straight ahead classic rock n' roll, recorded in analog. Of course, it had that charm to it that only old-world styled, lower alcohol wines can have. Tannins were mostly resolved, had lovely acids, giving the fruit a tartness to it we all appreciated, and seemed to pair well enough with the thin crust pizza's we were nibbling on. Not a very powerful finish on this, though it was very smooth and captivating in its own, subdued way. One thing I loved about this wine was its stubborness, it wouldn't fade at all into the night, just held its own over the hours we spent at the table and I seemed to appreciate it more with every additional taste. Built like a tank. 93-94 points
1996 Mayacamus Cabernet Sauvignon - This was the first wine served blind. My first impression was California, as I got some more fruit impressions on the palate and the nose didn't quite have the elements of Bordeaux. A friend commented that he wasn't getting so much fruit, and by no means was this modern CA Cab, it was one of the very few CA producers known for their old-world style. Plenty here for the acid hounds, the sour fruit really launched an attack on my palate, perhaps a little two dimensional, but tasty all the same. This also would improve with air, though all in all its personality was the same. 90 points
1990 Lynch Bages - If we were rating the nose only, this would've been the WOTN by a good margin. Really one of the finer and complex boquets I've come accross, with great intensity of ripe red fruits, bitter soil, and oak. Definitely some tannic strength left on this, wounds the esophagus slightly, and was quite a bit austere to start off. We guessed that this would blow off after 45 minutes or so, and it did. This was definitely the most complex wine and consensus wine of the night, though I'm not sure I enjoyed it as much as I should have. Also served blind. 93+ points
1994 Caymus Special Selection - The Yin to Lynch's Yang, or is it the other way around? This was the third single blind wine we tasted in a row, and was definitely from the other side of the tracks. Over-ripe, or Chuck Waggoner's "peak ripeness"? I have to admit, where the Leoville Barton and Lynch Bages stimulated my mind, this grabbed the attention of my senses, as I definitely have a weakness for this hedonistic style of wine. Most of us seemed to be impressed with the density of fruit this was showing, and of course it had enough acidity to survive 15+ years of cellaring after release. I called out tree bark from the nose, another claimed licorice before he could take it back, though most of us agreed licorice was a good call, those first instincts are so often most true. Clearly, this was showing some Merlot/Right Bank characteristics of licorice, chocolate, ripe fruit. Also had some mint freshness to it, and a good amount of oak. Nice length on the puckering finish. 92+ points.
1986 La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon - Very well made wine...a treat to drink a Cal cab with about a quarter century on it. Just about all of the fruit was gone, but it still showed terrific balance in its decline. Olive notes were called out, though I couldn't say that I got that. 88 points
1986 Clerc Milon - Smokier nose than the Leoville Barton. The fruit was buried a bit on the palate, though it resolved well with a nice and even finish. Didn't take many notes on this wine, and regretfully didn't go back to revisit, but there was just too much competition in that regard. 87 points
I would say the top few wines were very closely rated, with differing styles. Most classic was the Leoville Barton, while the Lynch Bages won on complexity, with a "wow" nose to boot. Caymus SS was a big win for the pleasure seekers.
Thank you for these notes.
Excellent Haut-Bailly 1990 and Sociando-Mallet 1990 recently (95/100).
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